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.

KTM Freeride Concept Gets Closer to Being Ready

03/23/2011 @ 7:50 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

KTM Freeride Concept Gets Closer to Being Ready KTM Freeride concept derestricted 2 635x423

When will the first true electric motorcycle from an large OEM hit dealer floors? Pretty soon by what we’re hearing come out of Austria lately. KTM’s Freeride is fairly straight-forward in concept, as it takes the tried and true KTM off-road package, and puts an electrical drive train inside it (easy enough, right?). Designed with help from Austrian firm Kiska, the KTM Freeride looks like a dirt bike, smells like a dirt bike…well, you get the idea.

While KTM Freeride concept has reportedly been more than peppy during testing, it’s big drawback during development has always been its battery life. That’s apparently about to change, as KTM’s lastest version has reportedly more power on-board (there’s been tremendous amounts of progress in battery density in just the past six months), and is set to come out later this year (we’d assume an EICMA launch in November).

This news is a double-edged sword for the electric space, as KTM’s long-awaited entry draws closer, it brings legitimacy to the space. From what we’ve gathered from our sources, the Freeride is more than capable of holding its own against its ICE compatriots, and sticks close to KTM’s “Ready to Race” mantra.

With the OEMs entering the marketplace though, the writing is on the wall for the current batch of electric startups, especially those in the off-road space right now. They’ll have to now compete on the merits (performance, price, build quality, etc) with a company that has a much larger dealer base, more money, and frankly more experience building, selling, and marketing motorcycles.

It’ll be interesting to see how KTM’s entry affects Quantya and Zero Motorcycles, since it is the obvious competitor to their offerings. Zero Motorcycles just held their press launch for its 2011 model line, garnering from the most favorable of outlets only mixed reviews for its updated motorcycles (one more critical test rider we spoke to simply called the bikes “total shit”).

Meanwhile the big positive point that journos are throwing Zero’s way in their reviews seems to be the company’s departure from bicycle components to more standard motorcycle fare. Certainly a step in the right direction for the California-based company, but sort of along the lines of giving bonus points for making a bike with two wheels, a seat, and some handlebars.

If that’s where the bar is set in this space, KTM might have a wreaking ball on its hands with the Freeride. While the idea that electrics can encourage non-riders to get on two wheels is intriguing, the triple digit sales figures we’ve seen from the companies hanging their hat on that approach suggests that the opportunity there is much smaller than it originally seemed.

Instead it would seem that from the quoting of non-rider purchaser figures there is proof that no one has made a compelling electric motorcycle that core enthusiasts will accept. From what we’ve heard, the KTM Freeride might change that.

Photos: desrestricted


  1. 2strokesrule says:

    man its gonna be weird not having to shift..

  2. Steve says:

    When can I buy it?!

  3. BBQdog says:

    As long as the largest part of all electricity comes from fossile fuels electric bikes are a great way of fooling yourself and qua autonomy a big stap backwards.

  4. fazer6 says:

    Electrics have many more advantages than just lower emissions, but the real barriers still to overcome are range and price. I’m excited to see where KTM lands.

  5. Bikertwitts says:

    RT @Asphalt_Rubber: KTM Freeride Concept Gets Closer to Being Ready – http://aspha.lt/ed #motorcycle

  6. independent says:

    I want an EXC version! Go anywhere, with stealth…

  7. gloverka says:

    RT @Asphalt_Rubber: KTM Freeride Concept Gets Closer to Being Ready – http://aspha.lt/ed #motorcycle http://ow.ly/1bTN6s

  8. GeddyT says:

    Can’t freakin’ wait. But I need to be able to ride (and ride HARD) for four hours and then swap batteries or no dice.

    And, as will be stated on the internet for the billionth time, even if 100% of the power generated for use in electric vehicles come from coal, they STILL have lower emissions and higher efficiency than gasoline engines. It is much easier to clean up emissions at a large centralized source than in a million little engines where exhaust weight is crucial and catalysts are expensive and heavy.

    But that’s not the point. The good news of this is all of the “off limits” trail systems that will suddenly become wide open. They’ll never know you’re there…

  9. sculptor666 says:

    the problem with zero, brammo, and the rest isn’t that they’re bad motorcycles… they’re bad motorcycles that cost $7-10,000. if they cost $3k, we’d all have one.. and for an extra few hundred bucks, we’d be getting them shipped to our door = no dealer network needed. why not go a little further… since the gov’t effectively owned the automobile industry, it could have exercised control and re-tooled detroit to make these things.

  10. Dr. Gellar says:

    Great to see KTM is still pursuing an electric dirt bike. I’m interested to see how it ultimately stacks up against not only Zero’s and Quantya’s off-road e-machines, but KTM’s own ICE bikes as well.

    Speaking of Zero, there is a cool video over at plugbike.com showing a Zero MX competing in a Spanish off-road race. While the Zero gets beaten in outright speed on flat terrain by the ICE bikes, once things get tight and twisty, the Zero easily holds it’s own. That being said, if the Freeride is at least as good of a bike or better performance-wise, KTM could have a winner.

  11. Dr. G.: I think the last part of this statement is what’s really important: “I’m interested to see how it ultimately stacks up against not only Zero’s and Quantya’s off-road e-machines, but KTM’s own ICE bikes as well.”

    How the Freeride compares to a KTM 350 is going to be a huge thing for buyers. Something that needs to be brow-beat into some of these e-bike guys is that it isn’t about being green — we’ve seen the market on that demographic, and it’s literally about 500 bikes or so.

    Electrics need to be compelling against ICE motorcycles. The electric motor has obvious benefits over gas-powered ones, companies need to play to those strengths and solve some of the issues around battery storage/charging time, with the latter being more important.

    I feel another op-ed coming on…

  12. Bjorn says:

    It is as you’d expect with new technology; small non-traditional manufacturers do the the proof of concept work, watched carefully by the existing major players. If they can see a market, the traditional players step in and either buy up or attempt to out compete the innovators.

    I’m sure no-one at Zero et al assumed they would have the field to themselves once they proved the idea worked. This is where competition comes into play, whoever builds the best bike will win the most sales. Being an early innovator gives these companies a march on their rivals in the traditional motorcycle manufacturing sector. It is up to them whether they can hold that advantage by producing bikes that are competitive with the second generation offerings.
    As consumers we win when there is competition between manufacturers, because we have a choice of products that seek to win our purchasing dollars with their quality and features.

    Hopefully the original innovators can step to the mark, rather than becoming historical footnotes.

  13. Frank says:

    RT @NickESR: KTM Freeride Concept (electric moto) Gets Closer to Being Ready: http://bit.ly/gWQzqh — ready and waiting! :)

  14. Dr. Gellar says:

    Jensen: About electric motorcycles needing to be compelling against ICE bikes…I couldn’t agree with you more. Most of the electric motorcycles and scooters that have so far been offered for sale to the public appear to be pretty much junk, have major shortcomings, or are not nearly worth the price the manufacturers ask for them. These aspects are turn-offs to potential buyers.

  15. Fons says:

    I’ve been waiting a while for the electric KTM’s and looking everywhere for news about it and at last I found this article. Great news!

    I’m curious about the specs but it is a pitty that they don’t put any gearbox in those bikes, it would increase speed, acceleration and maybe range. Great for my daily commute (with the street version).

    And like GeddyT puts it: it is more efficient to produce electricity in some central power plants (efficiency of max about 60% these days) then to burn fuel into many engines with an efficiency of about 25%. And it displaces the pollotion too: cities smell (and sound) like like sh*t these days and it affects the health of all its inhabitants directly.