A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Clarian Labs Rotary Generator Hybrid Solution

06/16/2011 @ 7:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Clarian Labs Rotary Generator Hybrid Solution clarian rotary generator

Clarian Labs, a Seattle-based tech startup that has been working on power source for the Department of Defense Humanoid Robot Program, has just pulled-out of stealth mode its rotary generator (read the patent here). A battery-sized hybrid generator solution, Clarian’s invention basically creates an electric power source that can be rapidly refueled by swapping out a fuel source pack (a host of fuels can be used in this regard including bio-fuels and hydrogen).

These fuels then in-turn power the rotary-piston motor, exactly as you’d find in any sort of Wankel-powered vehicle, except for one small detail: there’s no output shaft. Instead of mechanically driving the wheels of the vehicle, the unit uses rotational induction from the rotary-piston to create an electrical current, which would then power the electric motor of your choosing. In reality, the system isn’t that different from what is found on modern diesel locomotives (modern trains use a diesel motor as a generator which in-turn powers electric motors), except obviously more compact.

Realizing that battery technology is still a ways off from having the energy density, and perhaps more importantly the recharge time, necessary to be viable in an automotive application, Clarian’s approach is to use the benefits of existing fuels, and couple them with the advantages of electric output drives. With the energy density of hydrocarbon-based biofuels somewhere in the ballpark of 20-30 times more dense than current battery technology, there is still a considerable advantage for these fuels, even at a 30% energy conversion efficiency in modern drivetrains. Add on top of this a refuel time that’s comparable to current ICE engines, and there’s some weight to this idea of engines as generators.

What makes Clarian’s rotary generator extra unique is that the motion of the rotor assembly is not constant, and can be adjusted on the fly to produce more power, optimize fuel consumption, control vibration, and to limit peak loads. For even more adjustability and modularity, the generator can have several rotary pistons, but unlike in a car, they are not mated to a common crankshaft. This means that pistons can be activated and deactivated according to application demands, e.g. turning on an extra piston to create more power to race up a hill, or pull a heavier load.

Clarian wants us to think of its rotary generator as a “powerful self-contained electromechanical battery”, which is sort of a misnomer, since batteries store energy. However since the whole package can be self-contained, the form factor is certainly battery-sized. According to Clarian, the use of a rotary generator also means that the company’s solution has twice the power-to-weight ratio of traditional piston generators. What really tickles our fancy with this unit, is that if you ran the rotary generator off of hydrogen fuel, it would technically be race legal in any of the zer0-carbon race series currently running. Chewy, thanks for the tip Mike!

Source: GeekWire


  1. Keith says:

    kinky, a rotary with no gears.

  2. What am I missing here? This is, except for possibly the add-a-piston concept (cylinder deactivation, anyone?), a generator. Nothing more, nothing less. There are dozens of old and new generator designs around. So many concepts, in fact, that I wrote an article about it: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-post-whats-the-best-ev/. Rotaries are good, no doubt; but so are other designs. Still, I do really believe in range extenders, so I wish them good luck. (As to running hydrogen, huge freakin’ ha! Within reasonable design limits, any internal combustion engine can run on hydrogen — but hydrogen does not make the process magically “clean” unless the hydrogen came from renewable energy-powered electrolysis, and if that’s the case it’s far better to simply use the electricity in the first place and not use two processes to convert the electricity to hydrogen and back to electricity while losing about 70% of your electrical energy in the process).

  3. GeddyT says:

    I also don’t get it. Although Wankels do beat piston engines in power to size and, to a much smaller degree, power to weight, aren’t they also currently far less fuel efficient? All I see this design doing is eliminating the mechanical linkage between engine and generator. Is this really enough of an efficiency gain to offset the efficiency gap between a piston and Wankel engine? I’d think it’s at best a wash, but I’d like to see the numbers.

  4. Tres elegant little gadget.

    But, uh, ‘Humanoid Robot’?!? Talk about another Defense Dept. boondoggle. I mean sure, on the face of it it seems like a good idea to build robots you can send into combat zones, so that real people aren’t put into harm’s way. But the overwhelmingly white, urban- and suburban-dwelling readers of A&R should have already realized that despite the tens of thousands of casualties suffered in Irate and Afghastlystan, they don’t personally know or even see any killed or wounded vets. IE, there already is a program to send in proxy war-fighters — it’s called recruiting the poor, the black and latino, and rural-dwellers. We don’t need robots, we need an unbiased draft. In short order war zone casualties will plummet.

  5. But Mark, talking about humanoid battlebots makes us feel better about the social elite class structure Duh!

  6. Steve R says:

    First thing I thought of upon seeing the image was: I hope that is going in a motorbike!

    “Realizing that battery technology is still a ways off from having the energy density, and perhaps more importantly the recharge time, …”

    I agree on the density issue, but for applications where budget is not an issue (military, racing, etc.) a battery swap is as quick as a refuel. OK, maybe not all refueling types. I have a hard time imagining doing a battery swap on an inflight fighter jet! But for humanoid robots, it should be no problem!

  7. W says:

    @Mark Gardiner, first off I am not a Hawk, no desire for war, and no desire to go myself.

    I get what you are trying to say but your argument is not valid as long as joining the military is a personal choice, that those who join make. That choice is made for a number of reasons from a strong family history of service, to the simple patriotic desire to serve, to the promise of a college education, to the feeling that service might the only possible path to a better life, to a lack of another life plan. To categorically call our service members proxy fighters, inferring that somehow they are not capable of making a decision not to go is to discount that many valid reasons that the members of our military justify their choice to serve and it does them an incredible injustice.

    As to you suggestion of an unbiased draft, I agree (easy for me as someone who’s parents served but who has never had to face a draft). I do believe that mandatory military service combined with unsanitized war reporting (as you see in Europe) would reduce the desire in our country for any war.

    For now, if someone doesn’t want to join the military, they don’t have to. It really is that simple. Don’t make excuses for those who join, they don’t need them.

  8. Westward says:

    @ W

    Ones social-econimical environment dictates reality. There are areas in the US, where for some, the military seems like the only option for economic survival. Just like coal mining in certain areas West Virginia, or like fishing in a lot places of the world… No too long ago I watched a documentary, where the only means of financial support was shovelling piles of salt in the middle of nowhere, and they went to work on bicycles…

    Though I think I know where you are coming from, my father and his father served, I also understand what Mark is articulating. You are both right, and it’s not easy to generalise, as there is no black or white, but many shades of grey in between as well…

    As for the subject at hand, I really hope this helps to advance new technology in motorcycles. What we need is more, out of the box thinking like this before we hit the jackpot… I can’t wait for the day, when petrol is just another option to a couple of other different fuels on the market, like selecting a candy bar in the grocery checkout line…

  9. Fearnow says:

    Cripes! When did ‘reading the comments’ start to not suck?

    Good comments and reasonable responses….is there hope for this world yet? :)