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 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.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

Fuel or Electronics? Where Are Nicky Hayden & Scott Redding Losing Out on the Honda RCV1000R?

The news that Honda would be building a production racer to compete in MotoGP aroused much excitement among fans. There was much speculation over just how quick it would be, and whether it would be possible for a talented rider to beat the satellite bikes on some tracks. In the hands of active MotoGP riders, the gap was around 2 seconds at the Sepang tests. Nicky Hayden – of whom much had been expected, not least by himself – had made significant improvements, especially on corner entry. The difference in performance and the big gap to the front has been cause for much speculation. Where are the Honda production racers losing out to the Factory Option bikes?

Will the Mission R Actually Be Built? Yes, No, Maybe So…

08/06/2012 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Will the Mission R Actually Be Built? Yes, No, Maybe So... mission motors mission r test ride 10

If you didn’t have the time to read my 3,700 word tome on what it is like to ride the Mission R electric superbike through San Francisco’s motorcycling playground, I will break it down for you: it was awesome. Of course, riding an entirely custom-built motorcycle with the absolute best components, design, and engineering available should be an awesome experience, especially when you add in one of the most sophisticated electric powertrains on the market. The Mission R isn’t some exercise in hugging trees and saving humpback whales though, it is an exercise in building a better motorcycle than what we have today.

We have known the downside to this discourse for some time though: Mission Motors is no longer in the business of selling motorcycles, and the Mission R is not, and will not, be available for sale (just ask Ryan Reynolds, who was turned down by Mission when he tried to get a Mission R of his very own) — sad trombone. If you too feel a might blue because of that news, I have some information that will pick you up this Monday afternoon. The guys at Mission Motors have been floating the idea of licensing the Mission R to a manufacturer, creating the possibility that if the right OEM was interested, the Mission R could become a publicly available motorcycle for your two-wheeling pleasure.

Tight-lipped on specifics, the only formal comment that Mission Motors will make about the subject is that conversations of this nature have taken place with OEMs, and that the company is open to the idea of either licensing the entire Mission R, or just its powertrain, to a well-qualified motorcycle manufacturer. While the Mission R in its current trim is easily a six-figure machine, using more obtainable components, and producing a run of some volume could bring the electric superbike’s price down into the $40,000 to $50,000 price range. Still a pricey endeavor to be sure, but not entirely unheard of when it comes to limited edition sport bikes.

When you take a step back for a minute, it is with great irony that Mission Motors made the Mission R electric superbike when it did. Known as Hum Cycles when it first set out to build an electric motorcycle, the company would later change its name as it came out of stealth mode and debuted the avant garde Mission One PLE. Despite the favorable press at the time, the Mission One by most accounts is now considered an epic failure.

Beautiful in its own right, the Mission One’s design however was entirely too edgy for the conservative tastes of the motorcycling community, which was already struggling to wrap its collective heads around the idea that the motorcycles of the future would that run off electricity rather than fossil fuels.

To complicate matters, the company’s first racing effort would end with a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2009 Isle of Man TT, and while the electric powertrain components on the Mission One were quite good (they were after all Mission’s core competency), the chassis was considerably under-developed, as was the bike as a whole. The $70,000 price tag didn’t help things much either.

Around the same time as Forrest North’s departure from the company in February 2010, Mission Motors went under a drastic change regarding its corporate direction. Focusing instead on supplying electric drive components to automotive OEMs, the company left its formal two-wheeled pursuits behind. However by the end of the year, Mission Motors debuted its second-generation electric motorcycle, the Mission R.

Learning from the mistakes of the Mission One, the Mission R features a well-sorted chassis, courtesy of James Parker of GSX-RADD fame, as well as a modern, but approachable, style that was tastefully done by Tim Prentice at Motonium. The best part about the Mission R though is that the bike has some serious racing chops — obliterating the competitive 2011 TTXGP field at Laguna Seca in with lap times that would have qualified it fifth on the AMA Supersport grid. The company then saw the departure of its last remaining founder, Edward West.

A looker and a runner, Mission Motors has broken many hearts, both in the electric & internal combustion realms, with the news that it would not be producing the Mission R for public consumption. The irony then, if you haven’t already caught onto yet, is that when Mission Motors was in the business of making electric motorcycles, it failed in that endeavor.

But when the San Franciscan upstart focused its efforts in other directions, its “rolling showcase” became a very competent motorcycle — something I got to witness first-hand not too long ago, and bringing us full-circle in this diatribe.

While today’s news isn’t a resounding confirmation that the Mission R is coming to fruition, it at least cracks the door open to the possibility that one of the best street-legal electric motorcycles in existence could come to some sort of purchasable realization.

Our next question is whom, if anyone, will pick-up the project from Mission, and if they do, will the Mission R have been in the public space too long for its unique design and characteristics to be relevant to a motorcycle buyer. Only time can tell.

Photos: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved


  1. Archer says:

    “if the right OEM was interested, the Mission R could become a publicly available motorcycle for seventy five miles of your two-wheeling pleasure.”

    there, fixed that for you. Carry on good sir. ;)

  2. Actually, the interesting part about this is that by the time it came to market, the Mission R would have probably have double the battery pack on board. So, make that 150 miles of your two-wheeling pleasure.

  3. Spektre76 says:

    The guys at Mission Motors have been floating the idea of licensing the Mission R to a manufacturer, creating the possibility that if the right OEM was interested, the Mission R could become a publicly available motorcycle for your two-wheeling pleasure.

    So, greed wins again?

  4. protomech says:

    Mission R has what, around 14 kWh? That should be good for around 75 miles of riding like a lunatic or about 100 miles at legal speeds on the freeway. Around town – at speeds of 45-55 mph – it should see 120+ miles.

    Lightning claims 100 miles on the freeway from a 12 kWh pack, and Brammo claims 56 miles on the freeway from its 9.3 kWh pack.

    Mission also has some very nice onboard charger designs that share a liquid cooling system with the motor for reduced weight and packaging. The sample charger is a 4.5 kW unit, which almost certainly is not integrated into the R race bike. A future production model could be upgraded to a 30A or 40A unit .. which would give you recharge speeds of around 45 to 60 freeway miles per hour charging.

    The ultimate solution to bury “range anxiety” is fast DC charging. Ubiquitous, compatible fast DC charging stations – like the 480V CHAdeMO charging system used in the Nissan Leaf – could fill a Mission R-like bike to about 80% in 15 minutes (an effective rate of 320 freeway miles / hour).

    Wrinkles abound: batteries that can be charged quickly are compromised in other ways; regular fast charging can prematurely age today’s batteries; SAE and CHAdeMO are struggling with competing standards; 480v supply is uncommon. Most of these are engineering problems. We’re good at solving engineering problems.

  5. DeezToolz says:

    @img 14 of 33: Well those cops weren’t there because of a noise violation!

  6. NickGr46 says:

    To Mission Ones’s boss.

    Sell it to a japanese manufacturer, then let him build it in China or India.

    After that maybe the whole world is able to ride it….:P

  7. Hugh says:

    Man, that helmet is so cool. What I wouldn’t give to fit AGV’s…

    Oh and bike’s pretty neat too!

  8. Westward says:

    I’m guessing Honda

  9. Adam Silver says:

    Now they have Audi’s backing, Ducati should do this. However, I suspect there’s a big NIH culture at Ducati – so unlikely.

  10. Everett says:

    I didn’t get a chance to write in with the previous article, but I knew the results as soon as I saw the review: “the best bike that you can’t have (and only goes 75 miles)’. But now, with this, I’m stoked again, need to start saving. Do want.

  11. David says:

    Why in the hell would an OEM want to buy a POS like this when they (Honda maybe) could (if they ever get serious) pop out these kind of bikes in their sleep without even trying.?

    Once the large OEM’s decide there is a market for electric sportbikes then their massive engineering departments will start coming out with stuff that is megawatts ahead of what the current little guys are building.

  12. MR. X says:

    David, I’m no great fan of electrics, but really, calling it a POS? Who are you? Because you’d better have some serious cred to take that stance against something this complicated and difficult to create.
    Seriously, what merits have you to say that?
    I’m waiting.

  13. Marc F says:

    David, I think you grossly overestimate the ability of large OEMs to create highly focused products, especially in new categories, let alone excel in those categories. As the perfect counterpoint (laced with behind-the-scenes irony), Honda DID in fact build an electric superbike. It competed at Isle of Mann this year under the Mugen team. It did pretty well (3rd), but the Mission R is a superior bike (as were the two MotoCsysz bikes that beat the Mugen at IoM) despite being a full year older.

    The right team will beat a big team in a new space every time.

  14. Ken C. says:

    Electric drivetrain technology isn’t just a matter of slapping an electric motor and a few batteries into a chassis. Anybody can do that. It’s the engineering and development that goes into making the most efficient and best performing drivetrains out there. Why do you think OEMs like Mercedes Benz and Toyota partnered with Tesla Motors for electric drivetrain development in cars. Companies like Mission Motors and Tesla are years ahead of anybody else in terms of EV development. Unless OEMs sink a gazillion dollars into development, they’ll never catch up.

    That said, if Tesla Motors can go from building a few Roadsters to mass producing the Model S, I say Mission Motors can go from building the Mission One to mass producing the Mission R. It just wouldn’t be the same if an OEM took the Mission R drivetrain and put it into, say, a Honda Ruckus. :P

  15. David says:

    I’ll concede that it might have some interesting technology underneath the bodywork. But,for me, the lack of range makes it a useless,overpriced,POS. Sorry if that offends you guys, but that’s just the way I feel about something so expensive and so useless.

    An electric golf cart is more useful then the Mission R.

    I’m fully aware that the handwriting is on the wall for ICE transportation. The electric revolution has only just begun. It may not be in my lifetime, but I expect somebodies Grand kids will be laughing at their GrandPa when he tells them about having to put gasoline in his fuel tank for his motor run.

  16. protomech says:

    Marc – the Mugen placed 2nd at IOM TT Zero with their freshman entry. MotoCzysz has been racing there since 2009.

    John McGuinness is the best there is on the IOM. I’m hugely impressed at MotoCzysz’s gains over 2011 and that they beat out a well-funded racing effort with McPint onboard. With that said, Mugen was very conservative with their energy management – I would put huge odds against MotoCzysz placing a bike on top in 2013.

    Tesla is on top of the electric car game because they’re spending huge sums to do so. They don’t have a lot of legacy baggage and bureaucracy, but the difference in resources for Tesla vs Nissan et al is much less than MotoCzysz / Brammo / Zero vs the Hondas of the world.

  17. Hugo says:

    Where is the problem?
    you get the frame from the guy who built it, you buy from Mission motor the powertrain, as it is what they appear to be interested in. You fit it with the components you like and there is your bike. How much it would cost?
    If you need to ask …..

  18. Rob says:

    Sorry but for $40k and only a 100 mile range of normal riding is kind of a joke. There aren’t enough charging stations so in reality what ever you get is really cut in half plus another 10% for some peace of mind. Once charging stations are everywhere like parking meters then a bike like this will make sense. Also prices have to be similar to gas powered motorcycles if electric motorcycles want to gain any type of market share.

  19. Marc F says:

    protomech, I’ll stand by my statement that the measure of resources is quality not quantity, and organizational capability is a bigger barrier than engineering capability. A huge team and bottomless cash reserves is not a formula for success in this nascent space. The challenge is simplified in a racing arena because the parameters for performance/success are tightly defined, and even there Honda first needed several first movers to define the challenge (fit as much battery on the bike as possible), and then some considerable outside help in creating a solution. A roadgoing bike is a far more complex problem than a race bike. Like the race space, Honda will wait for others to test and prove the waters. It will be 5 years or more before they are able to sell an electric superbike (barring an acquisition), at which point other players and likely several new brands will have established themselves.

    No one can optimize better than Honda, but they need other companies to point them to the spaces and products for optimization, and they take a long time to do it. They have an advantage in a space that is leveling off, but are too slow to create an advantage in one that is rapidly evolving. They can build a better bike than the Mission R, but by the time they do, Mission will have done the same, possibly twice over.

  20. Bob says:

    $40-50k is ludacris for 100 mile range. Missing has some catching up to do: the Brammo Empulse 100 mile range bike is $18k.

  21. Westward says:

    I agree with Rob.

    Bob, more like $19k, the federal incentives may be enough to negate tax, setup fees and such. But either way, its still too much for a theoretical 100 too…

  22. Bob

    Brammo still needs to actually deliver an Empulse R to the market, but when they do, I will be VERY surprised of it does 100 miles in real life use – especially with my heavy throttle hand.

    What EV OEMs claim on the test course, and what consumers experience in real life are two very different things.

  23. Spektre76 says:

    Maybe Mission just needs the financial backing of an OEM. Like the Audi / Ducati relationship.