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.

Mission One Electric Sportbike Shakes Industry

02/05/2009 @ 3:25 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Mission One Electric Sportbike Shakes Industry mission one 6 560x299

It’s the Mission One. It’s the electric motorcycle the blogsphere is buzzing about. It’s green (in energy, not color…although there are a lot of earth tones going on in its design). It’s electric. It will hit 150mph, go 150 miles, make 100 ft lbs of torque, and take 8hrs to charge on a standard home outlet. Oh, and it’s also going to cost $68,995. That’s the bike in a nutshell, but digging deeper finds there is much more to it.

Electric motors, of course, mean instant power on tap, which will make for some neck-snapping launches. With a top-end that goes all the way to 150mph, the Mission One will easily get the road blurring by you on the street, and most tracks. Power-wise on paper, the Mission One seems to stack up to comparable gasoline-powered motorcycles.

But the Mission One is not like gasoline-powered bikes, and that’s the point.

Instead of hitting up the Exxon station, you hit up your wall outlet. Recharging is said to take just two hours using a 240v outlet, and 8 hours on your standard 120v wall jack. Even on a standard jack though, 80% of the bikes battery life can be recharged in only an hour. With all these ticks in the right box, it is easy to see why some many news outlets are praising Mission and their years of hard work. We’d have to agree as well, the Mission One sounds like it will be a great bike if it meets all these benchmarks, and the company seems to have the right people behind this project to make sure exactly that happens.

Mission Motor Company consists of the venerable dream team for motorcycling. As a former venture capitalist, I can say that I would invest in this product based purely on the team alone. Forrest North and his two co-founders, Edward West and Mason Cabot, are the main principles responsible for the Mission One concept, and they have found talent to match their ambition and scope, and who also have CV’s with companies like Tesla Motors, Ducati and Google on them.

It is easy to liken the Mission One to the Tesla roadster, and even easier to sandbag the idea after all the adversity that Tesla has seen over the past few years. It is true that electric vehicles are a technology and product that still have a tremendous amount of growing to do, and lockstep with that is more growing pains. Tesla has faced many of these problems, problems that probably all EV base companies will have to face as this space is vetted out. Tesla has also faced problems that are completely unrelated to electric vehicles, but no stranger to the world of startups (especially VC backed startups). And then again, some of the problems Tesla has faced have to be chalked up to plain and simple poor business, management, and personal decisions.

Are there issues with the Mission One concept? You bet. The sideline bike-builders have already pointed out there’s no mention of curb weight or chassis construction. Surely all those batteries will tip the scales on the heavy side, and maybe even throw the weight distribution and handling characteristics off. And we also have no way of knowing if the bike will be centered around another current gas-powered street bike, or be sourced from within. No one is even certain that the Mission One will be able to deliver everything it promises, or even make it out the doors of Mission Motor’s California office.

Looming over this bike is the fact tit hasn’t even been built yet. Sure there have been test mules for technological proof-of-concepts, and the CGI is all set and ready to go, but no one has put metal to welding torch and constructed the Mission One (at least not that we’ve seen so far, but then again this company did manage to stay off the radar for a few years while it was in development). A lot is learned and changed about a product when it’s actually built. There will surely be changes down the line. In the VC world, we realize that what a company looks like today isn’t what it will look like a week, month, or year down the line. What we look for are people who will be able to make the right decisions to guide and grow their vision in the face of adversity. Mission Motors seems to have those people, and their vision looks pretty good so far. Time will tell though.

Electric motorcycles are the future. Maybe not our immediate future, but our future none-the-less. For now, there are 50 Mission One’s available for pre-order for the 2010 production date. If you want to be able to say you owned one of the first of many generations of electric motorcycles to come, now is your chance to put your money down.

Specifications

Powertrain
Battery Pack:     High Energy Lithium-Ion w/ Integrated Thermal Management System
Motor:     Liquid-cooled, 3-phase AC Induction
Torque:     100 lb-ft @ 0 to 6,500 rpm
Transmission:     Single speed

Chassis
Suspension/Front:     Ohlins 43mm inverted fork; fully adjustable, 4.5-in travel
Suspension/Rear:     Ohlins Single shock w/piggyback reservoir; fully adjustable, 4.5-in travel
Brakes/Front:     Dual Brembo 310mm disc; Brembo radial-mount forged 4-piston calipers
Brakes/Rear:     Brembo 220mm disc; single-piston caliper
Wheels/Tires/Front:     Marchesini forged aluminum 3.5″ x 17″, 120/70ZR17 – race Compound
Wheels/Tires/Rear:     Marchesini forged aluminum 6.0″x17″, 190/55ZR17 – race Compound

Target Performance
Top Speed:     150mph
Range:     150 miles per charge (est. EPA drive cycle)
Recharge Time:     Under 2 Hours @ 240V (8 Hours @ 120V)
Interactive Feature:     Adjustable regenerative rear wheel braking
Interactive Feature:     Intuitive / adjustable data acquisition system

PRESS RELEASE

America’s Newest Motorcycle Company, Mission Motors, Launches at TED2009
Mission One, World’s Fastest Production Electric Sportbike
Design by Yves Béhar & fuseproject

LONG BEACH, CA – February 4, 2009 –Today, Mission Motors unveils a revolutionary vehicle, the Mission One, the world’s fastest production all-electric motorcycle, at TED2009. Mission Motors CEO, Forrest North, along with lead designer Yves Béhar, founder of fuseproject, will present the vehicle in development onstage to the TED audience on February 4. Mission Motors will exhibit the vehicle throughout the conference at the Kohler LivingHome at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, and will be on hand to discuss the company’s vision for a radically new brand of motorcycles. The company will also provide attendees the opportunity to see inside the product development process through the installation of a motorcycle design studio inside the Kohler LivingHome.

“The Great Unveiling,” the TED2009 theme, makes a fitting platform for the launch of Mission Motors’ first vehicle, the Mission One. It is the first production electric sportbike that features uncompromised performance and an iconic new design created by world-renowned designers Yves Béhar and fuseproject. With a top speed of 150 MPH and an estimated range of 150 miles, the Mission One rivals gasoline sportbikes while dwarfing the performance of any other electric motorcycle on the market. The electric drivetrain creates a riding experience unlike anything currently available on a production vehicle. The electric motor’s linear torque curve provides peak torque at zero rpm, a feature gasoline engines cannot match. The motor delivers faster acceleration than most gasoline sportbikes without ever having to shift gears.

The announcement formally debuts Mission Motors, a San Francisco-based company geared to redefine the world of performance motorcycles, which was founded in 2007 by entrepreneurs Forrest North (CEO), Edward West (President), and Mason Cabot (VP of Engineering).

Building on their backgrounds in engineering, a desire to develop clean vehicles, and a passion for motorcycles, the Mission Motors founders developed a proprietary high energy lithium ion battery pack that could provide both the range and acceleration needed for a high performance sportbike. The company (named Hum Cycles at the time) placed second in the transportation category of the 2007 California Cleantech Open, the largest cleantech business plan competition on the West Coast.

“As a motorcycle enthusiast and engineer I knew I could combine my passion for motorcycles with my passion for innovation and create a motorcycle that truly sets a new standard in the perception of electric vehicles,” said Forrest North, Founder and CEO, Mission Motors. “With the Mission One, we’re writing the next chapter in motorcycle design, delivering a new riding experience without sacrificing performance or design in a zero emissions vehicle.”

With core engineering underway and an attractive business model, North and his co-founders turned to Yves Béhar’s fuseproject to create Mission’s unique brand and creative direction, as well as an iconic industrial design for the first product. The engineering team at Mission Motors and the design team at fuseproject worked in close collaboration to design the Mission One from the ground up, creating a machine that makes a bold statement about performance, technology, sustainability and design.

“This project was a dream come true: a statement about how design can make performance and sustainability come together without compromise,” said Yves Béhar. “I believe Mission is an icon for a new era of efficient and exciting vehicles. Designed to express speed and efficiency in it’s overall sharp lines, the Mission bike is also highly detailed with special attention to a riders needs, bringing a high level of product design and ergonomics to a new generation of performance transportation.”

About Mission Motors:
Mission Motors is building the fastest production electric motorcycle in the world. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the company combines innovative technology, iconic design, and superb performance with the freedom of a zero emissions riding experience. Mission’s elite team of engineers is creating the first motorcycle company built on the innovative spirit of the Silicon Valley. The concept is simple: Redefine the world of performance motorcycles. For more information on Mission Motors, visit www.ridemission.com.

Source: Mission Motors

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