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.

Is Your Motorcycle Helmet Making You Deaf?

08/05/2011 @ 10:50 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Is Your Motorcycle Helmet Making You Deaf? bmw s1000rr wind tunnel

I ride bikes for a living, in case you didn’t know this already. I ride more miles on two wheels in a year, than the average American does in their automobile (I put more four-wheel miles down a year than the average American does as well, if that gives you any idea how much of Asphalt & Rubber is written while on the road). With all this riding, I’ve become increasingly concerned over my hearing, as I’d like still to have it when I’m older. Thus for my own personal benefit, I’ve been trying out the different kinds of ear protection that are available to motorcyclists, as well as a variety of helmets from manufacturers (articles surely to ensue).

So when the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America published a study titled “Aeroacoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise” in which the various frequencies and decibel levels of helmet-generated noise were measured and tested, I became very interested in the study’s findings. Bear in mind I’m a staunch believer in helmet laws and riding with a full-face helmet (my apologies to the Libertarians in the group), so when the study suggested that my two main concerns regarding my head may be at odds with each other, it piqued my interest.

The study conducted by the University of Bath and Bath Spa University in England performed a very intuitive test where they placed a mannequin’s head in a wind tunnel, turned on the wind, and recorded the sound volume and frequency at various points in and around the helmet. The conclusion was that at even normal legal riding speeds, deafening levels of sound were reaching the eardrum, primarily due to the chin bar on the helmet.

The researchers plan on following up the wind tunnel test with real-life situational testing, but the results so far are interesting. The idea that the helmet itself could be creating wind noise that could deafen a rider over time is a bit shocking, but not counterintuitive. The obvious affect from this study is that it will give some fodder to the anti-helmet law consortium, though I’d like to be the first to point out the fallacy in that logic, since there’s no data at this point to suggest that the basic wind noise from riding helmetless isn’t any less damaging (I don’t think we need a university study to figure this one out, just maybe a college writing class to fix that double-negative).

Instead the takeaway here is perhaps how extra important wearing ear protection with your helmet is to your hearing, and also perhaps shines a light on an industry segment that hasn’t seen a tremendous amount of innovation and progress in the past 30 years. While composite materials have changed, and perhaps the perception of safety with them, the fact remains that we still see helmet manufacturers not addressing how the motorcycle helmets have failed to change with consumers’ needs (active noise reduction? hands-free communication?).

Maybe if a published study shows proof that helmets are creating noise that causes hearing loss, more than say riding without a helmet, helmet manufacturer will perceive that there’s a product liability situation and improve on their design before some crafty lawyers show up at their door. Just sayin’…

Source: DealerNews


  1. Keith says:

    only about 10 or so years behind the american research. No how many of you have worn ear plugs for over 30 years? (raises hand high and proud) Did ANY of you need some grad student with a mic to tell you that the helmet internal Db is over 100? Hmmmm?

    Next I suppose the experts will tell us the sky is actually blue.

  2. Keith, I think the distinction here is not that the volume inside the helmet is loud and deafen, but the fact that helmets could be making that volume even louder.

  3. Kevin says:

    I’ve worn earplugs with my helmet for years. It didn’t take long to realize that more than a few minutes of wind noise at 70+ mph was damaging. I find that ear plugs aren’t that inhibiting and that the trade off for increased venting and a cooler head is worth it.

    I can’t speak to the wind noise without a helmet, because I always wear a full face helmet…law or no law.

  4. BikePilot says:

    Even with good earplugs I sometimes wonder if the noise will cause hearing loss over time for those of us who spend a lot of time on a bike. I suspect the real world test will be a lot different by bike, road conditions and rider. I’ve noticed for example on a bandit 1250 its quite loud at 80mph in a normal riding position, but if I stand up the noise drops by probably half – presumably a lot of noise is from turbulence off the windscreen, mirrors etc. (or, more precisely, is from turbulent air striking the helmet).

    I’ve also noticed that my bell star is much quieter if I’m leaning forward sport-bike-style than sitting upright on the dual sport even absent turbulence.

    I’d pay a lot for a super-quiet ANR lid as long as it wasn’t heavy.

  5. Shawn says:

    “Bear in mind I’m a staunch believer in helmet laws and riding with a full-face helmet (my apologies to the Libertarians in the group)…”

    No need to apologize for safety advocacy!

  6. Westward says:

    I think the easy solution to counter the wind noise, would be, to drown it out with loud exhaust pipes…

  7. Rexr says:

    No cos I have a shoei adjust the visor so it seals properly and use a good pair of ear plugs…..no wind noise…….simples

  8. Dan F. says:

    Hearing loss among we riders and rockers is inevitable. Too many great engines and songs to be heard.

    Even with lots of hearing protection, race engines and amps will take their toll, and even my friends and relatives who play with stem cells and ears for a living say that regenerating nerve cells and treating the cochlea is a long time away and very tricky business. Blame Yamaha!

    Nerve cell regeneration is showing signs of life, yes, but to get them inside the sealed containers that is the cochlea….how will they do THAT?

  9. Dan F. says:

    By the way, i recently got one of those “socks” that sticks to the outside/bottom of the helmet and has soft light, elastic (Pro Line is the brand name on it, presumably not the fishing boat manufacturer). About $15 on Ebay, shipped from the UK.

    It finally mutes the wind noise that ear plugs won’t. This is on a Fulmer helmet; perhaps other brands have some of that type of wind-noise-reducing material designed in.

  10. Lisa G says:

    The windblockers that close the area around the neck do wonders for helmet noise. Properly inserted foamie earplugs are required. If I forget to put them in, I stop at the first convenient place and do it. I think there are a lot of things that can be done to improve the noise of motorcycle helmets. A flight helmet developed for pilots two decades ago featured earcups that were tensioned against the ear after the helmt was in place. Having a ear cup around the ear that was sealed did a lot to bring down the noise. Why not in a motorcycle helmet? Another thing for EMTs to learn but I would take that risk.

  11. Gus says:

    About 3 years ago I took the plunge and bought a set of Westone in-ear monitors. These are what musicians wear. They weren’t cheap and I had to go to an audiologist to have impressions of my ears made, but the result was well worth the price. They allow me to listen to music while at the same time getting about 25 DB noise reduction. Another strong point is that they have an almost no-profile design so getting the helmet on and off with them in my ear isn’t an issue (no more ear buds flying off).
    I just went looking for the link to add here and found this:

  12. Bjorn says:

    For the first 5 years of my riding life I never considered earplugs. After an older and wiser friend put me onto the idea of earplugs I embraced them wholeheartedly. Not so much because of the long-term hearing protection, but because I found the noise reduction improved concentration; allowing me to ride any given sequence of bends faster.
    Fast forward another twelve years and I had a hearing test as part of a pre-employment medical examination. The docs found, “A significant degree of hearing loss commensurate with riding a motorcycle without hearing protection.” It was either that or all the punk bands I saw in my youth.
    Hearing does not regenerate and despite protecting my hearing scrupulously over the past 16 years; it was the damage done prior to that point that means I have trouble picking out the thread of a conversation when there is any background noise.

  13. The study and stated experiences here help identify the importance of wearing ear plugs even if wearing full face motorcycle helmets.

  14. proud41american says:

    I work in a helicopter on a daily basis, and our helmets are equipped with Active Noise Reduction (ANR). I always wear soft earplugs in my full-face motorcycle helmets (would never ride w/o one), but I’m looking forward to the day when ANR technology advances to the point where motorcycle helmets will have it built-in, and it’s powered by an easily-replaceable AAA or AA battery.

  15. Sean in Oz says:

    The thing I noticed most about wearing ear plugs while riding was that I felt less mentally fatigued after a long ride.

    The chin bar on a helmet is already a trade off in strength between being strong enough to protect against an impact and weak enough to avoid spinal injury. Redesigning it for wind noise as well may be a poor compromise when earplugs are cheap and effective.

    Designing helmets for wind noise will always be a difficult since the position of the helmet in the airflow differs significantly between riders and bikes.

  16. Westward says:

    I have a few pair of in-ear headphones to choose from, that I usually wear, that seem to effectively act as earplugs. Also, whenever I get a phone call or need to make one, it is easy enough for me to pull over and conduct a call without having to remove my helmet.

    I know there are noise reduction headphones that they sell, generally for people that travel on planes and trains, that are the in-ear type. I’m sure those could be somewhat helpfully to certain individuals…

  17. Odie says:

    I did a tour in Naval Aviation back in the 90′s and they had spent a lot of money in trying to keep their sailors from loosing hearing around jets. So, they had these “cranials”. You see them on everyone’s head in any video of flight deck operations. They include sound attenuators that, I thought, were pretty good. When I left the Navy they gave me a exit physical and they compared my hearing before and after. Even during the testing itself, I could tell the difference. When the technician compared the results, he went “Whoa! That’s not good”. I had lost quite a bit even though I was very diligent about wearing my cranial.

    I started riding motos just a few years ago and I it took one ride at highway speeds to give me ringing in the ears for a few days.

    Now, I don’t ride without really good earplugs. I mean, if I can’t find my earplugs, I cancel my ride.

    I also notice that I can focus better on my riding when I have good earplugs in.

  18. mxs says:

    Why in the world would anyone think that wearing a full face helmet is OK without wearing ear plugs????

    Who needs a study for that, raise your hand … common, don’t be shy.

  19. Jake Fox says:

    Wow… I commute every day without ear plugs. It’s only about a 15 minute commute, 6 miles each way. I’m only on the highway for a few minutes of that. I’ve never noticed a problem but do you think I should wear ear plugs? My Arai full-face always seemed pretty quiet to me.

  20. Greg in oz says:

    I have tried earplugs over the last couple of years but I can’t seem to find a make that is comfortable and adequately reduces the noise. I have a Nolan helmet and find that if i wear a scarf around my neck most of the noise disappears, this Ok on Canberra’s minus 8 winter mornings but not much fun on a 40 degree summer afternoon. I have also found that wearing a hoody is just about as effective at reducing noise as the scarf and both are better than earplugs! It is better to remove the cause of the noise (turbulence around the helmet rim) than reduce the impact of the noise with earplugs. I wish the manufacturers would take this problem more seriously but maybe they can’t hear our plees’?