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.

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.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill

01/28/2011 @ 4:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill Brammo Empulse Thunderhill Jan 2011 test 10 635x423

Yesterday was a sunny day in the San Francisco/Bay Area, with weather in the mid-60′s. Just recently getting my bike back from a tune-up, I was itching for a ride and decided to pack things up early for the day, and go for a quick jaunt up to Thunderhill Raceway to gatecrash Brammo’s latest testing session with the Empulse RR electric race bike (close-up shots from Laguna Seca last year here).

Using my best ear-to-ear smile at the front gate, I rode into the paddock to see Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann shaking his head upon my arrival, and muttering something about someone posting the session’s schedule online. Always a good-sport, Wismann graciously allowed me to stick around for the remaining day’s sessions, while Brammo’s CEO Craig Bramscher definitively removed me from his Christmas card list (you’ll still get a card from me though Craig).

Gearing up for the electric motorcycle racing calendar, Brammo was out at T-Hill catching up on testing that they had to put off because of the winter weather (yeah, winter in California is officially only three weeks long). With various data acquisition packages attached to the Empulse RR, Wismann piloted the electric bike himself for quick three-lap spurts (out lap, hot lap, in lap), gradually tweeking the Empule’s power settings, and running over various technical things that makes my social sciences degrees look a Denny’s coloring pad.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill Brammo Empulse Thunderhill Jan 2011 test 3 635x423

“We couldn’t have asked for better weather in January, so I’m really glad for that and think we had a very fun and productive day at the track. It’s nice to get the team out from behind the computers every once in awhile as well! This was Brammo’s first test of the new year with the Empulse RR since it’s returned from a couple of shows in Europe (EICMA in Milan and EuroMold in Frankfurt) and was mainly aimed at validating some new drivetrain components,” said Wismann.

“The mass of electronics taped to the tail is our data acquistion system (it’s not pretty, but it gets the job done!), which was used to gather GPS, chassis accelerometer, suspension travel, and multiple temperatures within the motor and cooling system.”

“We, of course, also run the Empulse RR with our VCU (Vehicle Control Unit), which is the same used on the Enertia production bike, that allows us to measure and record all parameters of the battery and motor controller system among others,” he added.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill Brammo Empulse Thunderhill Jan 2011 test 7 635x423

Missing last year’s season, Brammo looks ready to take on the established entries of MotoCzysz and Lightning Motorcycles, as well as Mission Motors’ new race bike the Mission R. The Empulse RR is fairly quick out of the corners, and is capable of some impressive outright speed. The real danger for other teams though is going to be Brammo’s maneuverability and cornering ability. While in the photos you can see some scars from the Empulse RR’s bellypan finding the tarmac, Wismann looked able to easily dive into corners and make mid-corner corrections on the nimble RR, even if the day’s goal wasn’t outright ludicrous speed.

“Given that the track was cold and dirty, and we were just out to gather data rather than light the track on fire, my limited riding skills could be put to use,” Wismann humbly explained. “As the pace increases for future tests and we start focusing on suspension setup for racing, you’ll probably see a more accomplished test rider on the bike.”

Brammo has yet to announce who will be at the helm of the Empulse RR, and which events specifically we’ll see them enter. But Wismann did hint it would likely be at events that run in conjunction with established series, so as to bring more press and fans to the event. Still, we wouldn’t be surprised if an electric backyard death match of Oregon vs. California emerged on a lazy afternoon.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill Brammo Empulse Thunderhill Jan 2011 test 21 635x423

Photos: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0;
Videos: Courtesy of Brammo

Comment:

  1. sexy… weird to say that about electric, but the last couple of years have really changed that.

    thanks Jensen! way to make a guy jealous!
    -peter

  2. Eric says:

    I never thought I’d be interested in an electric sport bike. I knew the speed would be there eventually, but I just didn’t think they’d be able to provide any kind of audible experience what so ever. However, I was wrong, they sound like Tie Fighter’s. As soon as they can get the range up to 250 miles or so I’m going to make the switch.

  3. Funny thing about the sound Eric: all these electrics sound like jet planes once they get up to speed. At T-Hill with no one else there, I had to stop every few minutes (totally running around a hot race course, which you shouldn’t do) to check and see if the sound I heard was a plane going by overhead, or Brian coming around the next corner. Very cool to hear it go by with a turbine’s whir, and then have total silence again.

  4. Brammofan says:

    Great article and pics, Jensen! I posted all five videos over on my humble blog. ;)

  5. That’s why you’re the Brammo fan Harry, you get all the perks. Brian only sent this “enthusiast” two videos, lol.

  6. Judy LaParne says:

    I had the opportunity to visit the Brammo headquarters last year and I was allowed to sit on the Empulse.. but not ride!! It was the sweetest thing and if I could have rolled it out a side door, I would have been gone.
    I cant wait until I can test ride the Enertia Plus and the Empulse. The wait is killing me! I love my Enertia and have no complaints but the extra range on the Plus would be great. I can trade it out, keep my custom painted panels, and get some extras, as well. I think Brammo should be thanked for thinking of their current owners when making the upgrades to the Enertia. They are a fabulous company and that was a must when I made the investment in an electric bike, not just a great bike.

  7. Für die Freunde des verkleideten Supersportlers hat Brammo wohl auch bald was im Angebot! http://t.co/6QehIUM #empulseRR

  8. DS says:

    I know there is a lot of progress to be had with electrics, but I’m struggling with that higher pitched whine sound.

  9. How about the fighter jet sound you hear as they approach?

  10. JP says:

    I’m really looking forward to getting on a decent e-bike like this — my next bike will not be a gas bike.

  11. BRAMMO says:

    RT @sosyourfacee: the sound of the future. love it. http://t.co/SQYUo7o @BrammoSays