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.

Terra Motors & Zero Motorcycles – A Cautionary Tale

01/31/2014 @ 4:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Terra Motors & Zero Motorcycles   A Cautionary Tale terra motors kiwami 635x423

It must be hard to be a legitimate motorcycle manufacturer, because the market seems to be flooded with ripoff artists in every corner. Every year at the EICMA show, we see the Italy’s Guardia di Finanza haul out scooters and motorcycles that the trade regulator deems are too close to those of Italian brands.

Now granted, we suspect there is more to that story than meets the eye (if you were an Italian OEM, wouldn’t you want to keep out the budget-priced scooters from your market?), and some of these confiscated designs truly don’t seem infringing to my eye, but I digress.

With the case of the Terra Motors Kiwami though, what it seems we have here is that the Japanese brand has repurposed a Zero S electric street bike from California’s Zero Motorcycles for its own purposes.

We had a couple people in the industry email us about this gem of a story, wondering if Zero had licensed its design, or even sold an excess of inventory. to the Japanese company,  which plans on selling the Kiwami in the Indian market. However, before we could do some digging though, our good colleague Domenick Yoney at AutoBlog Green got the scoop on what is up.

AutoBlog Green says the story is a simple one: Zero’s Vice President of Global Marketing Scot Harden confirmed that the electric motorcycle OEM has no licensing or supply agreements whatsoever with Terra Motors, save for the fact that Zero sent the Japanese company a few drivetrains and a complete Zero S to test the waters with for prototype development.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the saying goes, and now we see that the Terra Motors Kiwami has the same frame, swingarm, motor, and presumably other bits as the Zero S — kinda makes you go “hmmm” huh? Check out AutoBlog Green’s gallery for the full extent of what we are talking about.

Debuting the Kiwami at Rs 18 lakh (over $28,000 USD), Terra Motors is charging quite the premium for “its” electric motorcycle, which comes complete with ’1,000cc superbike-level acceleration.’ With only 10 kW quoted for the motor power, we are a bit dubious about that claim (not matter what gearing is involved), as we are with the entire project.

According to AutoBlog Green, Zero Motorcycles is sending the Terra Motors a cease-and-desist letter, and exploring its other legal options — as it should.

The lesson here for Terra Motors is quite obvious, but there is one here for companies like Zero as well: be wary with who you get into business with — Zero isn’t the first electric motorcycle maker to find their IP sampled by a Asian manufacturer, and likely won’t be the last.

Source: AutoBlog Green


  1. FafPak says:

    A little confused…is Kiwami a Japanese or a Chinese company?

    |…what it seems we have here is that the Japanese brand …

    |…save for the fact that Zero sent the Chinese company a few drivetrains …

  2. KWW says:

    I suspect this is what happens when you outsource the bulk of your manufacturing overseas. I have no sympathies if that is the case. This is the difference between a manufacturer and an assembler of components.

  3. From what I understand, that scenario KWW really isn’t what happened here.

  4. Looter says:

    I’d expected this from a Chinese manufacturer; surprised its the Japanese this time

  5. Richard Gozinya says:

    I still can’t figure out why. It’s like copying off a C student’s test. Zero’s bikes are utterly unremarkable in every way imaginable. For the amount of effort it would take to reverse engineer one of their bikes, it seems like it would be about the same amount of work to come up with your own design.

  6. Doug says:

    “…be wary with who you get into business with …” but earlier you write this:

    “… Zero’s Vice President of Global Marketing Scot Harden confirmed that the electric motorcycle OEM has no licensing or supply agreements whatsoever with Terra Motors, save for the fact that Zero sent the Japanese company a few drivetrains and a complete Zero S to test the waters with for prototype development.”

    That to me doesn’t sound like they are getting into business with anyone aside from someone buying a zero as if they were a regular customer. Does the above not sound foolish to anyone else!

  7. FafPak says:

    @Looter hence my confusion….initial typo aside, that has since been corrected…couldn’t believe it was a Jap company that stooped so low…

  8. Doug says:

    Based on the post above, I can’t believe an American company would be so stupid

  9. Woodlandrider says:

    It makes no difference whether Zero sent them a bike or not – regardless of how stupid that was. If a company wants to rip off your design, they’ll just go and buy one and reverse engineer it. IP protection on a Worldwide scale is expensive and virtually powerless. I don’t see how a $28k copy is going to do that well anyway. If it were $10k it would be a different story.

  10. I agree with Woodlandrider, it doesnt make no difference!

  11. Doug says:

    Yes, it does make a difference. The more this “give up” attitude in your comment goes on, the harder it gets for everybody. Other countries want a higher standard of living by playing a role in the global economy? Well, that comes with price tags on things such as (worker) rights & intellectual infringement consequences….Might be a pipe dream now, but eventually the global economy will not work without those other costs.

    Sure it’s expensive and difficult to combat, especially when you’re small, but that doesn’t mean you make it easier. It also doesn’t help to have contradicting statements like the above which gives you less of a chance in court if you pursue it and looks foolish from a PR perspective

  12. Doug says:

    …and we’re not talking about a developing country that is not a member of the WTO. Some type of agreement probably would have made this situation easier to pursue.

  13. paulus says:

    It is not so easy to control suppliers… especially from China.
    Any international supply is expensive to deal with then things don’t work out.

    If the supplier sold Zero IP made from Zero tooling, it is clearly an infringement issue. However, fighting it will be expensive and difficult.
    If Zero bought third party supplier parts, then that factory has the right to sell to whoever it wishes.
    If Kiwami went to the same manufacturer with their own drawings and paid their own tooling…. it is a grey area. Kiwami would be at fault for the infringement, the factory just making to specification.
    Also… did Zero pay their bill? Did Zero pay for the development, or did the factory pay in advance, hoping to recover from promised orders? All of these (and more) affect the legal right to sell the product.

    It pays to have a clear and legally enforceable contract when dealing with ANYWHERE internationally.

  14. Uncle Tod says:

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of incompetence.”

  15. twoversion says:

    @Looter – it’s not uncommon for any county to pilfer, replicate or even steal. The big red did it in the early 70′s with its first car that look an awful lot like a small British car of the same era.