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.

Ducati Applies for Frameless Motorcycle Patent

03/19/2010 @ 3:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Ducati Applies for Frameless Motorcycle Patent Ducati frameless patent 635x408

Modular motorcycle design is the wave of the future, and it would seem Ducati agrees with this same sentiment that we’ve been harping on for the past 9 months or so. Perusing through the USPTO’s records for patent applications, we found this interesting nugget submitted by Ducati Motor Holdings S.p.A. Known better as Patent Application #US 2009/0308677 A1, or “Simplified Motorcycle”, Ducati’s patent application outlines a motorcycle that is devoid of a frame, and instead has all the components of the motorcycle bolt on directly onto the motor.

In it’s filing, Ducati’s lawyers use some inspired prose and jargon to describe what effectively could have been called a frameless motorcycle:

“A motorcycle comprising a propelling group or engine, a saddle support, a support for the rear wheel, and a front directional group comprising a handlebar integral to a steering headstock functionally associated to a supporting organ of the vehicle front wheel, wherein such front group is connected to a box-like body incorporating the function of filtering box, constrained to the engine and apt to support the latter by connecting it, therethrough, to said front directional group, said support for the rear wheel and said saddle support being constrained to the engine, the vehicle being not equipped with additional members apt to constrain said engine to such front directional group.”

This would seem to be the real world application of what we lovingly called “the nugget” back in early 2008, which we covered in the “Tradition is Not A Business Model” series. There’s an argument to be made that this patent will be considered null by the USPTO from prior art, but still it’s a worthy insight into where Ducati is exploring the future of its chassis design. What better way to replace the famous trellis frame design, than with a desmodromic lump. Thanks for the tip Jessica!

Source: Google Patents


  1. wayne says:

    Wasn’t the Britten V1000 also a ‘frameless’ bike. And yes, I have an OCD for that bike. Seriously though, I find it rather telling that almost 20 years later, folks are just now looking to concepts he embraced decades ahead of their time.

  2. jimmy says:

    I would hate for the piston to blow through the head and castrate me.

  3. Jenny Gun says:

    @jimmy, do you think there’s something preventing that from happen with Ducati’s current design?

  4. Bill Smith says:

    I see significant detriment with Ducati/v-twin vibration increasing to the rider touch points – many of the newer Ducati motorcycles suffer from this discomfort WITH the full trellis frame. I would also assume the astute rider would feel a significant difference in feedback/rigidity. I will guess there is (will be) a very different rear end suspension feel with a rear swing arm (especially the single swing arm design) bolted directly to the engine instead of the critical stress point on the frame.

    I would in fact challenge Ducati to move in the opposite direction to reinforce the existing frame and add alternate crank counter balance to resolve somewhat sever engine vibration. If you perform a direct comparison of the 2009 Monster to a mature Japanese inline four (as I did) you will agree that this is an area where Ducati motorcycles fall short of their Japanese counterparts; all critical attributes of rider comfort and fatigue.

  5. Ducati Applies for Frameless Motorcycle Patent – http://bit.ly/d0uuAe #motorcycle

  6. Bjorn says:

    @Bill Smith, The advent of Pantah engines in ’79 saw the swingarm pivot from the engine cases not the frame. This practice continued until the horsepower being extracted from the progressively lightened engine castings of the early ’00′s World Superbike homogolation models (linear decendants of the Pantah) required the frame to anchor the pivot as well as the engine cases.

    Ducati are no slouches when it comes to engineering and I’m sure they have done enough initial work to consider it’s worth their while to beef up the cases where nessecary to get rid of the frame.

    As to vibration, having logged plenty of miles on 2 and 4 valve Ducati machinery and Japanese in-line 4s, I disagree with you. Given the choice I’d much rather ride/race a twin with it’s gut rumbling vibes than the hand numbing tingle of an in-line 4.

    Is a mature Japanese in-line 4 an older bike or an old mans bike?

  7. Jim says:

    Not sure that Ducati has something that is patentable, the Britten and oil-head BMWs have the head stock and rear suspension members supported by the engine and no other connection between them.

  8. Bob says:

    Don’t forget the Quantel Nortons, Vincents, and the original Virago. All used engines as a stressed member.

  9. LASOVAN says:

    This is the GP10 “110%stressed v4″ He,He… nice job Britten ehm ,i mean Ducati……took u 20 years??????????

  10. Bill Smith says:

    @ Mrs. Bjorn Borg,

    I certainly would never question Ducati’s design engineering prowess – only their direction and results. I love the new Monster 1100 but after a 30 minute test ride I discovered the following:

    Wrists/hands: numb
    The engine barely sputters below 3k rpm (but it is extremely powerful from 3.5 k rpm to redline)
    You’ll need an athletic supporter when you ride (very common complaint from current owners)

    The Monster 1100 has many great features (including the fantastic Ducati visual design) but it is years behind the refinement of the Japanese liter equivalent. I own a Yamaha FZ1 and as an equivalent, it is a Series 7 compared to a Passat (Ducati Monster 1100).

    I’m sure we’ll see a level of refinement over the next few years but at this moment — it (the Monster 1100) is a very Inferior motorcycle.

  11. giova says:

    hey bill,
    the monster 1100 is an air cooled bike and of course is not going to feel as good as your yamaha watercooled bike. Your bike is about 60 lbs more than the monster and it doesn’t handle as nice as the monster. I had the chance to ride one too and the thing that I love the most was the handling. Ducati builts quality not quantaty.

  12. Bjorn says:

    @Bill Smith, Stop with the cutting jokes about my name. You’re killing me with your sophisticated wit, at least thats what I’m assuming it is.

    As Giova points out, the M1100 is an old technology air cooled machine (the cooling fins may have given it away), comparing it to your beloved Fz1 is a bit like comparing a VW Passat to a BMW 7 Series (I assume that’s what you were talking about) or perhaps a Fiat 500 to a Toyota Camry, just to be correct with our nationalities. I’ve never understood the need of motorcyclists to draw analogies with cars.

    A more reasonable comparison might be an S4 Monster (4 vave water cooled) to the FZ1. As a rule Japanese 4 cylinder bikes feel smoother due to their 180 degree cranks, but many people are looking for a more viscerial feeling from their motorcycle, hence the popularity of Ducati, Motor Guzzi and Harley Davidson.

    I’m aware that ergonomics are pretty subjective things and what fits Jack may not fit John (or Bill). I certainly suffered no ill effects from a 600 km round trip on an M750 a number of years ago, but that doesn’t mean it would be my choice for serious miles.

    Keep riding your motorcycle and loving it Bill, cos that’s what it’s all about. But be open to the fact that just because you don’t enjoy something, doesn’t make it intrinsically bad.

  13. Nice shameless plug Guy.

  14. Bzzr says:

    Back to the original topic….this would be sweet (even if it has been done in some form or another before)….and to the side topic, I don’t think ‘refined’ and ‘Ducati’ belong in the same sentence….I don’t ride a Ducati because I want refined (I’ve compared my friends Triumph Sprint ST 1150 to my ST4s and while the Sprint is a dream to ride, shift and lean, it’s not for me…I prefer the raw rumble and torque of my v-twin)….it all comes down to rider preference….in the car world I don’t think you could call a Shelby Cobra ‘refined’, but it is a sweet ride that livens up the senses!

  15. What are they getting a patent on exactly? As has been pointed out it has all been done already over many many decades. Is there something “unique” about this design?

  16. carboncanyon says:

    Also the Sachs Beast has no frame…

  17. Bjorn says:

    Considering it is a patent application rather than an actual patent, it will be interesting to see if the patent office judge it to be unique enough in an enviroment where such designs already exist to grant it to Ducati.

    Happy Easter to A&R and all the riders who comment here.

  18. Gody says:

    Do you know why I like Ducati as a company? They file for awesome patents like this http://cl.ly/3RY7 They remind me of Apple.