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.

Willie G. Davidson Retires from Harley-Davidson

03/16/2012 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Willie G. Davidson Retires from Harley Davidson Willie G Davidson Harley Davidson 635x889

Grandson to William A. Davidson, one of the founders of Harley-Davidson, and son to William H. Davidson, Harley-Davidson’s second President, Willie G. Davidson is the personification of the Harley-Davidson brand as we know it, and has been the personal link between Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners and the corporate entity.

Both literally and figuratively the brand’s goodwill ambassador, Willie G. has spent the past 49 years helping forge the iconic brand of Harley-Davidson, and has defined the Harley-Davidson aesthetic by serving as the company’s Chief Styling Officer.

Announcing his retirement today in a company press release, Willie G. will stay on as an ambassador of sorts, and also retain the title Chief Styling Officer Emeritus, though his day-to-day duties at the Bar & Shield brand will be over, effective April 30th, 2012.

A fixture in the Harley-Davidson community, the Milwaukee brand says that Willie G. Davidson will still have involvement with the company as an ambassador at motorcycle rallies and events, and through special design projects as “Chief Styling Officer Emeritus,” which has largely been the 78-year-old’s role in the company to date.

“Throughout my life, I have been truly fortunate to have the opportunity to marry my passion for design with my love for this amazing brand that runs so deeply in my veins,” said Willie G. “What’s most rewarding has been to see the impact our motorcycles have on the lives of our customers. Everything we do in styling is based on the notion that form follows function, but both report to emotion.”

With so much of Willie G. Davidson’s on-paper responsibilities at Harley-Davidson remaining, it is interesting to hear news of his retirement from the company. One of the 13 executives to buy-back Harley-Davidson from AMF in 1981, much of the direction Harley-Davidson has taken in the past 30 years is owed in part to Willie G. With Harley-Davidson at a crossroads now with its brand identity and design philosophy, it will be interesting to see if Davidson’s official departure from the company is a signal of further change yet to come down the road.

Harley-Davidson’s styling department is now led by 19-year company veteran Ray Drea, who holds the title of Vice President and Director of Styling. Drea has worked extensively with Willie G. Davidson on past Harley-Davidson models, so it will of interest to see if Harley continues with the same design aesthetics, or explores a new route. Seeing this announcement come across our desks at close-of-business before a holiday weekend, we can’t but help and raise an eyebrow what this all means for Harley-Davidson.

Anytime a company loses a keystone employee, you have to think about how that change will affect the company’s ever-evolving culture. Similarly, anytime a company loses key personnel, you have to think about the reasons for their departure. Did Willie G. Davidson leave because of something coming down the line at Harley-Davidson that he didn’t want to be associated with? Is his retirement a signal of a change in ethos, power, or philosophy that he disagreed with? Or after 49 years, did Willie G. Davidson just want to take a break from creating one of the most iconic companies in America? Only time will tell.

Source: Harley-Davidson


  1. SPEKTRE76 says:

    Godspeed “Willie G”, thank you for all you have done for us. I especially love the ’48 and ’72 models you have released in the last 5 years. And I also thank you for my 1999 XL1200C. She sure is beautiful. Ride hard, rest easy my brother.

  2. “Godspeed”? “rest easy”? He’s retiring, not dead…

  3. M.I. says:

    Good riddance. Maybe HD will finally make performance motorcycles for a broader market.

  4. Doctor Jelly says:

    Harley is working to the future (slowly, but surely) and the future has no need for our father’s traditions. Willy G. may be a fixture at the MoCo, and has certainly had his successes in designing (along with his share of flops), but it’s hard to be innovative while keeping your style after so many years. Not to mention he is opposed to anything but classic Harley style which doesn’t bode well for him with water cooled and electric futures:

    This is similar to when the MoCo dropped their advertising company of however many decades, and all of a sudden Harley campaigns are doing well again:

    While I haven’t agreed with all their decisions (*cough*Buell*cough*) I think the fat trimming points to a good and progressive future for the company. It might be 10 years or so before we see a real turning point, but it is coming, mark my words.

  5. Richard Gozinya says:

    Can’t ever forget the real gems that Harley’s put out while Willie G was around. The XLCR, the Super Glide Sport, the Street Rod, the Night Rod (Not the special), and the XL1200R. All sales disasters, but all built to be ridden.

  6. Jonathan says:

    @ Richard Gozinya: I hear you! While there are a lot of complaints about the Harley “range” being nothing more than variations on a theme, perhaps the problem is with the customer and not the bikes.
    HD has a huge racing heritage – it’s such a shame to see it ignored.

  7. Dean says:

    I’m not a Harley guy, but I gotta admit that they know a LOT about marketing and using technology to make a bike “look” a certain way (take the frame geometry on the Electraglide for example). I just wish they could take their masses of fans and nudge them along into the future a little faster.

  8. Vic Friesen says:

    Willie. Thanks for all the good years. I’m picking up my new Ultra Classic this Wed. I hope your retirement will be as colourful and rewarding as your years with Harley. Vic

  9. SPEKTRE76 says:

    @Mark, yes I know that. I’ve said that to people retiring before. It can be used either way.

  10. MikeD says:

    Relevant ONLY IF they’ll start building OTHER bikes than CRUISERS, NO ! …i don’t want them trying to compete with the S1000RR or anything remotely like that.

  11. irksome says:

    HD: “Forward, into the past!”

    Nothing about HD’s corporate mind-set will change until all the wanna-be pirates die out or buy walkers and RVs.