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.

Lit Motors is Runner-Up at TechCrunch Disrupt Conference

09/14/2012 @ 4:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Lit Motors is Runner Up at TechCrunch Disrupt Conference Lit Motors C1

One of my daily stops in the blogsphere is a little tech blog called TechCrunch, which is known for its pretty firm grasp on the pulse of Silicon Valley, and balances its coverage of this fantasy ecosystem we have here in the San Francisco Bay Area with the appropriate amount of irreverence. As much as I like the site, the two-wheeled coverage of TechCrunch is fairly abysmal in its analysis and superficial in its depth, but that is probably a good thing, since it keeps me gainfully employed.

That being said, we should all be thankful for any coverage outside of motorcycling’s very small footprint, as when a tech blog behemoth like TechCrunch covers motorcycles, it exposes our little industry to a new audience of potential future motorcyclists. Such is the case with Lit Motors, which before this week was an obscure EV startup with a novel idea, but now after being named the first runner-up of the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco conference, the Lit Motors C-1 has significantly more buzz about it.

A fully-enclosed electric motorcycle, the defining feature of the Lit Motors C-1 is its ability to stay upright when stopped, thanks to some gyroscopes inside the vehicle. Similar to the MonoTracer design that has been bouncing around for over the past decade or so, the Lit Motors C-1 offers all the comfort and safety benefits of an enclosed vehicle, yet Lit’s design irons out some of the kinks and drawbacks to what MonoTracer was trying to do with its approach.

Touted by founder Danny Kim as having “all the efficiency and romance of a motorcycle, combined with the safety and comfort of a car,” the Lit Motors C-1 uses “1/4 the batter pack of  Nissan Leaf” (that’s a 6 kWh battery pack according to our math…we’ve seen quotes of a 8kWh pack elsewhere though), which the company says is good for 200+ miles.

We all know how accurate these sort of estimates from EV companies are though; and for reference, the 14 kWh battery pack on the Mission R from Mission Motors lasted us a grand total of 75 miles in spirited riding conditions, and the 9 kWh battery pack on the Zero S ZF9 was good for about 60 miles in everyday driving.

As a motorcyclist, I have a hard time with the Lit concept. If you cannot already tell, I’m hardly excited about the C-1. But, that might be the point. The technology around the gyro-stablization that Lit has developed brings up a host of interesting possibilities in the two-wheeled world, and if something like the Lit Motors C-1 appeals to people outside of the already establish (and very conservative) motorcycling community, then more power to it.

I cringed my way through this 13 minute presentation/pitch at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference, but keep in mind that these are the reactions and opinions of non-motorcyclists. If this industry is to grow, it better take heed as it is going to be through winning the hearts and minds of people currently outside of motorcycling’s core constituents. Something to chew on for the weekend indeed.

Source: TechCrunch


  1. Angus McFangus says:

    U.G.LY., you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly!
    And Mr. Kim really needs to work on his presentations…he’s terrible.

  2. Gritboy says:

    Mr. Kim wasn’t great, but man that was a tough audience. He should have ridden in and done a tip over test in person, so they’d already be wowed.

  3. Gutterslob says:

    TechCrunch doesn’t exactly ooze credibility in tech circles, to be frank (MG Siegler is a certified twat), but congrats to Lit nonetheless. I don’t see an ounce of “romance” in that shape, though. Heck, I don’t even see bromance.

  4. I’m with you on your first comment Grit. Already knowing about the project, I thought for sure when they pulled the cover off the bike, they’d show it just standing there, not on the stand, and then demonstrate that it couldn’t be pushed over. Hell, that’d probably be my whole pitch.

    I don’t think there’s a lot here as a product, but as a technology…my head is spinning…no pun intended.

  5. Jonathan says:

    *A brainstorming session somewhere in Sillycon Valley.*

    “Ok, so let’s reboot the motorcycle. Can anyone suggest what makes the motorcycle a poor product?”

    “You get wet when it rains?”

    “It makes you look badass and antisocial?”

    “It doesn’t have a steering wheel?”

    “Good, good. And can anyone suggest what makes the motorcycle a cool product?”



    “It has, ummm… two wheels?”

    “Excellent! I think we have enough information to work with, so grab your crayons and start sketching…”

    Jesus, is it April 1st again already? That said, I would pay real folding money to watch these things race.

  6. PD says:

    Aesthetics need a lot of work, but if they can hit their targets (0-60 in 6 secs, 100 mph top speed, 200 mile range, $16,000-$19,000, significantly better safety than bikes), this could be something else. The gyroscope technology actually works (at least from the test ride video), and if they can allow it to seamlessly integrate into natural leans during turns, and otherwise generally perform intuitively and “naturally,” its positives may be enough to create a new market. Certainly, there would be nothing else out there like it (assuming they can pull off their targets).

  7. Jonathan says:

    OK, I’ll bite. Jensen mentioned the “very conservative” motorcycle community and he’s right up to a point – gizmos are regarded with suspicion because they are often perceived as adding unwarranted cost / complexity / weight without adding anything to the experience of actually riding a motorcycle. That’s not to say that all advances are unwelcome – we’ve all benefitted from improvements in materials technology, better control of ignition and fuelling, computer aided design and whatnot, but if you earwig on a group of motorcyclists in any car park on any Sunday then the majority won’t be talking about their ABS, or the handy little thinger that they can plug their GPS into. They’ll be comparing how their bikes run, how they sound, or look, turn, or brake. They’ll be exchanging tall tales about “that close shave back in the canyon”, or discussing which suspension tuner / engine shop to pay a visit. And of course they’ll be shooting admiring glances at other bikes and quizzing each other on where a certain accessory was bought from, or how a particular tyre feels. Seemingly mundane stuff, but discussion will be intense, because it matters. It’s part of the buzz. These guys (and girls!) don’t care a jot about the fancy acronym that the manufacturer dreamed up for this year’s combustion chamber design – as long as it works and doesn’t get in the way of the ride…

    The only guys who talk lovingly of the hyperbole in the manufacturers’ brochures are the “me too” crowd. We all know someone like that – they’re a certain age, they have all the gear (colourmatched of course) and their bikes are generally dipped inthe latest and loudest carbon fibre / chrome accessories (delete where applicable). They remind me of the kids at school who used to hang around on the periphery of the “kool gang”, while the rest of us just accepted our nerdiness and did our own thing.

    Hmmm, I appear to have gotten a bit off-track…

    So, the Lit Motors C-1. Catchy name – they must be angling for the BMW crowd. But who will actually buy one? Perhaps the well-heeled Silicon Valley types, but only if Lit can convince them that it’s not actually a motorcycle, even if it does only have two wheels. In fact it’s probably best for all of us that the words “Lit Motors C1″ and “motorcycle” are never mentioned in the same breath. Ever. Because when our non-motorcycling friends see this then they will laugh at us. Oh, the shame! ; )

    And I wonder just how long it’ll be before someone with no prior experience on two wheels catches a crosswind whilst driving one of these things and sails straight under the wheels of a truck. It is a two wheeler after all, even if it’s not a motorcycle. That gyro had better be smart.

  8. Westward says:

    Tough crowd indeed. I tend to not expect a founder, or specifically a tech guy to be all that charismatic and entertaining on stage. Though they do try.

    The videos on their website are rather impressive. I am sure this is not the final look of the vehicle if and when it is ever produced. I believe the Carver or the Persu V3 continually go through design iterations as well…

    However, I do see the vast potential in the vehicle itself. I still dream of a Tron style lightcycle or an Akira bike, and this at least gets the world closer to one of those concepts…

  9. Jonathan says:

    @ Westward: I too dream of a Tron / Akira bike (well, who wouldn’t?), but somehow I don’t think they’re chasing our particular demographic. This is like dreaming of a lightsabre and waking up with a bloody iPhone. “Well, it’s very nice and all, but it’s not quite what I was hoping for…”

    As for the tough crowd – I guess it’s called the Scientific Method. They all laughed at the guy who invented the helicopter ejection seat, but that’s because he was an idiot. And anyway, this isn’t a bike – it’s a car minus two wheels. An interesting exercise in technology, but remember that the road along which electrically powered, gyroscopically stabilised vehicles can be a rocky one. Quite literally:


  10. Doug Panting says:

    I really think they have something here.

    I would want the convertible hardtop version for the nice days. What this is now and what it could become age very different. It could morph into something for the Goldwing crowd. It might turn into an Akira bike.

    ” (that’s a 6 kWh battery pack according to our math…we’ve seen quotes of a 8kWh pack elsewhere though), which the company says is good for 200+ miles.”

    The key here is good aerodynamics. 8 kWh pack and 200 miles is 40 watts per mile. We have seen partially streamlined bikes do 40 watts per mile at 35 miles an hour.

    Perhaps they can get their vehicle to 40 watts per mile at 50 miles per hour?

  11. Jonathan says:

    @ Doug: aerodynamic efficiency is defo one are where they could gain an advantage (at least above town speeds), but they may want to consider fairing the wheels into the bodywork if that is a high priority. But I suspect this is more of a styling exercise.

    I’m wondering about the significance of the presence of a steering wheel. Anyone who’s jumped off a bike and onto a quad knows that radically different steering inputs are required for both machines. Similarly, hopping out of a car and into a “Tron” with a steering wheel would provoke the same level of brain recalibration. I’m assuming it has some kind of fly by wire to convert the noob’s “lock to lock” steering input into the delicate countersteering required to tilt and turn a bike.

    I also suspect that the prototype has the turning circle of a barge.

  12. paulus says:

    Kudos to them for getting off their arses and trying.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Zomg! ^^^We’ve been spammed!^^^

    paulus: “Kudos to them for getting off their arses and trying.”

    Trying to do what exactly? Build a car with two wheels? Might as well take the bus – at least you’re not going to look like a complete asshat. ;)