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.

Tough Times Ahead for Harley-Davidson as Riders Get Older

03/26/2009 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Tough Times Ahead for Harley Davidson as Riders Get Older harley davidson  v rod by mrspockofvulcan 560x385

The New York Times ran a great article this week about the challenges facing Harley-Davidson, both from the current economic depression, and more generally as the quintessential Harley rider gets older in age. In summation, Harley-Davidson dealers around the US and overseas are seeing sales drop dramatically as people scale back their expensive purchases, and as the access to credit becomes increasingly difficult. There’s no real surprise there, and any hardcore fan will be quick to tell you that Harley will be back on top once this financial turmoil is over. However, looking farther down the road at Harley-Davidson’s long-term business position, there is additional trouble brewing as well. Baby-boomers account for the majority of Harley sales, and they are getting older. The NY times ends there with its commentary, but we think there’s more to the story on Harley-Davidson and the American bike market in general. 


The rise of Harley was seen simultaneously as the baby-boomer generation went through its “mid-life crisis”, as well as when this group started acquiring expendable capital, presumably as they were rising through the ranks of their corporate careers. As these riders enter into their 60′s, they seem to be just as fanatical about the brand, and continue to purchase Harley-Davidson motorcycles (as well as BMW’s, etc). Harley-Davidson feels that it can get at least another 15 years out of these riders, although presumably we can expect to see them tampering off much earlier than that timeline. 

The big problem in all this for Harley is that these older riders are not being replaced by a fresh batch of younger riders. The median Harley rider is 49, up from 42 five years ago. Instead of seeing sales centered and focused around a specific market segment, with new customers replacing older customers as their buying habits change, Harley is chasing its core demographic throughout their lifecycle. When these customers get too old to ride, and if all things are held constant, no one will be left to ride Harley cruisers. Compounding the problem, traditionally millenials (20-30 year olds) have shown a desire to differentiate themselves from their parents…meaning, the liklihood of them purchasing a big Harley cruiser when they’re 30 or 40 isn’t too good. Harley is getting great reoccurring sales from its current customers, but isn’t gaining any new customers. When these reoccurring customers are too old to ride, who will ride the iconic brand?

To combat this, Harley-Davidson will have to leave its tried and true marketing techniques behind if it wishes to appeal to a younger audience, and replenish its purchasing ranks. Speaking on this point, Gregory Carpenter, marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, says, “Harley understands the baby-boomer consumer incredibly well, in a holistic sense, but to grow and thrive, they must create a deep emotional connection with younger consumers.”

Looking at Harley’s portfolio of brands, there’s really only three avenues for new rider to be indoctrinated into the H-D house of brands: Harley-Davidson choppers, Buell sportbikes, and MV Agusta premium sportbikes. Each one of these brands has its challenges. For instance, if Harley tries to infuse youth into its core brand, it risks alienating its loyal core riders, and attempts like the V-Rod have shown that these efforts don’t seem have the traction necessary to bring younger riders into the fold. MV Agusta, has a similar problem. The premium sportbike is a luxury item for the rich and successful, to market it towards a younger crowd would be a departure from its core demographic as well, and would ruin the historic Italian name. This leaves Buell, the bastard-child of the sportbike segment.

Buell has marketed itself as the Harley-Davidson of the sportbike segment, employing air-cooled motors and American themes in its marketing campaigns. For its efforts, Buell dealers have had a tough time selling their bikes, and as one dealer told us “couldn’t give a bike away if they wanted to.” It would take a radical departure from the current Buell image and marketing campaigns to compete against the Big Japanese 4.

This leaves Harley three choices: create a new brand that targets what the younger audience ACTUALLY wants, re-invent how Buell is positioned in the market, or collapse in on itself like a dying star. The market has clearly asked for an American sportbike, and no one has yet to get it right, despite the work of Buell, Fischer, and now Roehr. With creditors eager to get their money out of their investments, we have no doubt some boardroom discussions are getting interesting in Milwaukee right now.

Source: NY Times


  1. [...] example here:  Tough Times Ahead for Harley-Davidson as Riders Get Older Share and [...]

  2. [...] as trying to compete with Harley-Davidson for the cruiser market, but the Italian brand may be able appeal to a younger crowd in a way that the American chopper brand cannot. [...]

  3. [...] may remember the NY Times article that we mentioned a few days ago that was critical of the company’s current status and [...]

  4. Steven T. Mayer says:

    Thanks, Ms. Gunn

    “but isn’t gaining any new customers” – Interesting statement by the NY Times.

    While the point may be that H-D’s revenue losses of last year (And to come) are consequent to a reduction in sales-base, the reality is that major purchases were scaled back on an unprecedented level in most market segments. That does not mean that H-D “isn’t gaining any new customers”.
    Oversimplifications aside, my trust is with the resources of the dynamic H-D’s business model.