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.

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012

12/31/2012 @ 7:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 asphalt and rubber year in review 2012 635x400

It will be a new year soon, and for some of Asphalt & Rubber‘s more international readers, New Year’s Eve may have already given way to New Year’s Day (Happy New Year, if that’s already the case). Going through my RSS feed, it seems obligatory that we make some sort of Happy New Year proclamation, summarize the stories the site has covered, and share some insight on the inner-workings of our operation here at A&R. The Dude abides.

Unsurprisingly, the starting point to our story begins roughly 12 months ago, as with the start of each year I like to look back on the 365 or so days we just completed, and outline my plans for the coming year. Some of that planning is just basic business stuff like benchmarks I hope to achieve with the site traffic, readership, and financials, while the rest of that planning is comprised of stories or events I would like the site to attend and cover.

Four continents, a dozen or so timezones, and more countries than I can remember, the 1,000+ articles written this year on Asphalt & Rubber are truly international in their origin, as are the 4.5+ million of you who came here and read those stores 10 million times. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the site continues to grow in the double digits, with the A&R readership growing another 30% in 2012 over last year.

Pushing over 20 TB (the TB stands for terabytes, or 1,024 gigabytes) of data, those numbers make Asphalt & Rubber not only just the largest motorcycle blog in the United States, but one of the largest in the world — something I find mildly amusing, since yours truly is more than mildly dyslexic.

As for trends, being an online publication means that we are on the front line of watching the motorcycle industry’s adoption of social media, with 10% of our readers finding us on social networks. The real interesting part? This figure is up 40% over last year.

Instead of just listing our top ten or so stories this year, something which most of you could probably guess the list of quite easily, I have tried to cultivate some basic topics from within the industry and the stories that drove those topics this year, as well as some stories that stood out to our editorial eyes. Enjoy them after the jump.

Pump fake! Ok, one more thing. The categories are rank-ordered, and to give some idea of magnitude, I have put traffic multipliers in parenthesis. The multipliers are relative in their application, meaning that they apply within that specific category only, and not overall (a 3x in one category could mean more or less traffic than a 3x in another category). Ok, here we go for reals now.

The Most Popular Bikes of 2012 on A&R:

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 kawasaki ninja 300 635x423

One of the biggest stories on A&R this year, Kawasaki’s update to the Ninja 250R (along with the Ninja 300) was a big shot in the arm for small-displacement motorcycles. On the larger-displacement side of things though, the Ducati 1199 Panigale continued to captivate, as the superbike finally landed in the hands of customers and the press at the beginning of the year.

However, attention is now turning as the BMW HP4 has recently hit dealers and is bringing some serious tech to the sport bike demographic, namely its semi-active suspension. KTM rounds out the group with a two-pronged attack with its single-cylinder KTM 390 Duke and its twin-cylinder KTM 1290 SuperDuke prototype that Kiska put together.

  1. Kawasaki Ninja 250R (2x)
  2. Ducati 1199 Panigale (2x)
  3. BMW HP4 (2x)
  4. KTM 390 Duke
  5. KTM 1290 SuperDuke Prototype

Most Viral Stories on A&R in 2012:

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 Yamaha YZF R1 sand dunes 635x362

With 1,000 Facebook likes, and 100 twitter retweets, the photos of Yamaha’s YZF-R1 jumping through the sand dunes of Morocco were a huge hit with social media outlets, proving that there is a strong inner-child within motorcycle enthusiasts.

Sex also seemed to sell on the internets (shocking, we know) as MotoCorse’s seDUCATIve & MANigale campaigns showed some skin, and got the hetero men of American internet in a tizzy, especially when it came to talking about their penises, BMWs, and lawsuits.

Further abroad, our coverage of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R launch blew up in southeast asia, providing only more insight as to how important those markets are becoming for motorcycle brands (something we have talked about, at length). Wrapping up the social media blitz was Suter’s 500cc track bike, which insists that two-strokes are not dead.

  1. Yamaha’s 180hp Adventure Bike is Our Kind of Crazy (3x)
  2. Photos: seDUCATIve vs. MANigale (2x)
  3. 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R Breaks Cover in Indonesia
  4. Man Sues BMW for Causing Erection – No, Seriously
  5. Suter 500 Factory V4 – Thank You for Smoking

A&R‘s Top Motorcycle Racing Stories from 2012:

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 2013 ktm moto3 250 gpr production racer1 635x423

In motorcycle racing, we saw some big moments with the announcement of Casey Stoner from the sport, the moving of Valentino Rossi back to Yamaha, and witnessing Max Biaggi and Tom Sykes finish the closest World Superbike Championship in history.

Other big stories from racing included the saga of Ben Spies and his results in MotoGP on the factory Yamaha team, as well as Tyler O’Hara’s “interesting” pass on Michael Barnes at NOLA during the XR1200 class race. Both of these story lines were unbelievable in our eyes…we hope they get explained in a memoir some day.

While from an editorial point-of-view the above were the top stories, in terms of traffic, the big stories were the production racers from KTM and Honda. While KTM’s bike will live only in GP racing, Honda plans on bringing its V4 bike to consumers, though the price will be steep from what we hear. We wouldn’t kick it out of our garage though.

  1. KTM’s Moto3 Race Bike (4x)
  2. Honda MotoGP Production Racer & Street Bike (3x)
  3. Valentino Rossi Signs with Yamaha Racing (3x)
  4. Tyler O’Hara’s Pass on Michael Barnes at NOLA (2x)
  5. The Ben Spies MotoGP Saga
  6. Casey Stoner’s Retirement from Motorcycle Racing

Electric Motorcycle Coverage on A&R in 2012:

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 MotoCzysz E1pc test PIR 07 635x421

The past year saw moves in both directions for the electric motorcycle scene. While the 100 mph average speed barrier was broken at the Isle of Man TT, we saw the TTXGP and FIM e-Power series slip farther into the “I don’t care” box for general motorcycle enthusiasts.

On the production side of things, Brammo finally debuted its Empulse street bike, only 22 months late and $5,000 more than expected (the first units have just gotten into the hands of customers), while Zero underwhelmed again with some modest updates to its line for the coming year.

Breaking our hearts by not putting the Mission R into production, Mission Motors twisted the knife by making their race bike street legal (though they were kind enough to give A&R a ride on it). The company’s OEM parts supply business is reportedly not going well, as layoffs have been reported at the San Francisco company.

While we continue to wait for the BRD RedShift, just about the only positive news is the MotoCzysz race program. First and third at the 2012 TT Zero event, the Portland-based company has some new competition: the Mugen Shinden electric sport bike, which some guy named John McGuinness rode to a 100+ mph lap with a second-place finish at the TT. The rivalry continues next year, and we hear rumors of a two-rider team from Mugen in 2013.

  1. MotoCzysz (3.5x)
  2. Brammo (3x)
  3. Mission Motors (3x)
  4. Mugen (3x)
  5. Zero Motorcycles (2x)
  6. Lightning Motorcycles
  7. BRD Motorcycles

Top Motorcycles Reviews by A&R in 2012:

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 ducati streetfighter 848 palm springs test 06 635x423

Starting the year off on a pair of Ducati motorcycles, our ride reviews from Bologna showed two potent machines, and even got this Ducati Streetfighter 1098 owner wondering why his bike wasn’t as good as the “lesser” 848cc version. The real highlight to our year though was riding three sets of machines that mortals almost never get a chance to swing a leg over.

Taking BMW’s WSBK race bikes for a jaunt around Misano, we grinned ear-to-ear at what these “production” machines can do on a race track. Our exclusive test rides continued with the MotoCzysz E1pc and Mission Motors Mission R, two bikes that few publications have gotten a chance to ride…let alone both.

  1. Ducati Streetfighter 848 (5x)
  2. Ducati 1199 Panigale (3x)
  3. Mission Motors Mission R
  4. MotoCzysz E1pc
  5. BMW World Superbikes

Editor’s Top Stories on A&R from 2012:

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 jason pridmore two up 635x423

The influence of  the articles on Asphalt & Rubber continued in 2012, with a bevy of stories getting some interesting follow-up emails and responses from the industry and readers.

Perhaps most interesting were the emails from Japan and the US regarding our “Chrysanthemum and the Sword” article, though we think it is a coincidence that Honda announced its intentions to build a premium “production racer” sport bike just a few months after we examined the issue in depth.

In our race coverage, we were excited to welcome the voice of David Emmett to our pages, as he continues to be the rock the MotoGP paddock with his insightful analysis and opinion. We all look forward to shaking things up further across the industry in 2013, and we have some exciting new things in store for 2013.

  1. BMW Erection Lawsuit & Follow-Up (17x)
  2. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (5x)
  3. An Analysis of Valentino Rossi’s Options for the Future (5x)
  4. Why Today is the Most Important Day for Ducati…Ever (3x)
  5. Lies, Damned Lies, & The MIC’s Electric Range Estimates

Happy New Year & See You in 2013!

Comment:

  1. Gutterslob says:

    Juat wanna thank you for all the great articles in 2012. Here’s hoping you continue raising the bar (and enjoying yourself in the process) throughout 2013 and beyond. Ride safe!!

  2. Good work Jensen. Happy new year!

  3. bemer2six says:

    Happy New Year Jensen you’ve done a awesome job. Win every thing in 2013 don’t even leave a crumb for the competition!!

  4. Alex MacPherson says:

    A&R is the best moto blog on the web … bar none.

    Happy New Year, Jensen

  5. TexusTim says:

    !!HAPPY NEW YEAR !! A&R

  6. Drew says:

    Jensen, thanks for an amazing site – your blog is the first place I go every day for my motorcycle news! Also, thanks for adding the racing articles from Dave Emmett. Happy New Year and best wishes for your continued success!

  7. Giova says:

    Thanks mate! A&R rocks!

  8. Dave says:

    Thanks for being there!

  9. AC says:

    This site is amazing and I’m so glad it exists. Such a contract to that other site that puts their content behind a pay wall…

  10. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Happy New Year

  11. Motobell says:

    Thanks A&R – I am sure there are many like me who spent everyday of 2012 visiting you and will do it again in 2013.

    A REQUEST -I would like to learn about A&R – the people, the passion and behind the scenes – where are you guys etc.

  12. ngads says:

    keep up the great work guys…this is my favorite site!

  13. Damo says:

    Great work, great site! Now get me a 2013 Hypermotard review! ;)

  14. DareN says:

    There is reason I start my day on the computer with you – before I open my work app…Keep it up!

  15. Eddie says:

    Great site, must read!

  16. jjbbmm says:

    Thanks for the site! Great blog, keep up the good work in 2013, and beyond

  17. Joshua Minix says:

    Great work indeed!