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.

Zero Is Working on a Brammo-Killer for 2013

04/20/2012 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Zero Is Working on a Brammo Killer for 2013 Zero Brammo Killer photo crop

The nearly two-year wait for the Brammo Empulse is nearly over, as the Ashland-based company is set to debut the Brammo Empulse and Brammo Empulse R in Los Angeles (and online) May 8th. It should come as no surprise then that the A&R Bothan spy network is picking up on murmurings from Zero Motorcycles, and that the Californian company is working on an Empulse-killer for the 2013 model year.

Said to be building a proper electric sport bike, as well as suitable electric dirt bike package, Zero is seemingly finally on the verge of sunsetting its current motorcycle designs for more mature motorcycle offerings, and is putting companies like Brammo and BRD squarely in its sights.

The timing of the news is surely a bit of payback for the Scotts Valley company, which saw its pre-order list for the Zero S & Zero DS virtually vanish when the Brammo Empulse was unveiled. As the Brammo Empulse R is about to be publicly unveiled, Zero may be wanting to give potential Brammo purchasers something to think about before plunking down for the latest production electric motorcycle from the Oregonian company.

There has been no word on figures yet, but the 2013 Zeros are quietly being regarded as a make-it-or-break-it moment for the company’s management. Under tight control from investment firm Invus, Zero Motorcycles is said to be on a short leash, with a bevy of metrics and milestones laid out for the current administration to meet or exceed. Our sources report a mixed bag of those milestones being met, which could make the success of the 2013 line an even more important component for the company.

The Invus Group, the same private equity firm that brought you Weight Watchers, is not known for abandoning the companies it invests in, but has a healthy legacy of quick-failing the management teams in its portfolio companies. With the 2012 Zero Motorcycles line internally considered to be an unwelcomed legacy from the previous Saiki/Banman regime, the 2013 line will be a “no excuses” test for the current Zero management lead by Karl Wharton.

Considering the bevy of bred-out-of-the-motorcycle-industry-executives currently residing at Zero, next year’s models should be considerably different from the current Zero line. Chewy.

Source: Bothan Spies


  1. Sean says:

    Hopefully when Zero and Brammo both have mature sports bikes they will put their bikes up a real test like the TT-Zero race. The IOM2012 had a press launch this week and in the press pack they mention 18(!) electric bikes will be racing this year, including Motoczysz, Mugen(Honda) and ‘Kawasaki-Zytek’. If Zero could beat a Mugen or a Kawasaki that would get mainstream bikers interested.

  2. Weight Watchers, eh? Maybe _they_ can tell EV moto makers how to shed some weight without running low on energy…

  3. BrammoBrian says:

    But what about Brammo’s 2013 Zero Brammo-Killer Killer? :)

    We did go to the Isle of Man in 2009 and finished on the podium as the top American team. We will return, but not this year. Best of luck to the teams competing – it’s a truly life-changing experience to attend the TT.

  4. RSVDan says:

    I spoke to someone from Mission today and asked why they hadn’t brought their gorgeous race bike to market in street trim now that I have seen it running around the streets of San Francisco. They reckon it would take many millions of capitol to ramp up production, and even if they could, the bike would likely come in around $40K! They said once peak production was achieved, they could bring the price down to around $25K, but they don’t think anyone is willing to pay that for an electric sport bike at this time. They hope to some day, but are sticking with building drive trains for OEMs for the time being. I guess the idea of a true electric superbike for the street is still a bit of a dream.

  5. 18 bikes at the IOM huh. Well the year before that it was over 20, 9 actually showed and 5 finished. The IOM is a very cool event, and quite the feat to accomplish, but I prefer to watch the consistency of a road race championship (TTXGP and e-Power) and see how these folks compete race after race. Lighting has WAY more rep in that area than Zero, who has little to no participation in the any road racing series, much less the IOM.

    My biggest concern is Zero possibly shooting themselves in the foot by letting news like this get out? I mean, the current models sold like hot cakes. By letting everyone know that yet again there will be a much better bike out next year from them kill this year’s sales?

    Sorry Brian, but from my interview with you, and an interview I saw with Mr. Bramscher, it seems to me that Brammo is on a more typical 2-3 year development cycle. Which I would think would allow them to sell strong for at least a year and a half on one model before replacing it. Letting things leak now seems more like they are taking a shot at taking Brammo down with them, rather than taking them down a notch. Really, Brammo can’t refute the “vaporware” tag until people are actually receiving their Empulses, but its looking like Zero and Hollywood Electrics may have to eat some crow after earlier statements. It’d be nice if they just talked about their product and how good it is from now on, and left the attitude behind.

  6. Westward says:

    I hope Zero keeps the Buell like belt drive and adds a perimeter brake system too. I’m still in the market for an electric, but also waiting for the second hand, 1000 miles or less version, for less than half original MSRP model. Which should be 6 months to a year after launch…

  7. mxs says:

    Second hand with 1K for less than 1/2 MSRP??? …. chances are slim you are going to run into an idiot who is willing to sell it at that price …. :-(

    People who buy these will be keeping them to get their huge money investment back. Look for deals with ICE bikes, but not in electric …. in 10-15 years maybe?

  8. Sean says:


    Don’t get me wrong I’m all for the ttxgp/ePower series, especially its international aspects, but for media impact and comparability against ICE bikes then IOM or Pikes Peak works better. At the IOM race the elctric bikes are hitting speeds near the gas bikes (for short times) and as the track is so tight they look just as fast even though there is no aural cue, in the ttxgp it is hard to judge quite how fast the bikes are going and the gaps can be large meaning little action (timetrialling doesn’t suffer from that). TT-Zero gets coverage on TV of millions of bike fans here in the UK on race weekend – albeit less than the main gas races, but maybe more if they break 100mph average this year. Pikes peak is also good as it will be the first venue where electric will beat gas, and that will be big news.
    ps – BTW I wouldn’t bring up numbers of competitors when you are making a case for ttxgp against IOM. And the fact that some don’t turn up is unfortunate but also reflects that the race attracts university, privateers as well as professional teams.

  9. Westward says:


    There will always be those people who will buy for the novelty of it, or the rush to be the first on the block. Then for some, the practicality of their circumstances will not be compatible for ownership, and the hassle of recuperating cost is more of a burden then they can bare. Lets face it, it you buy one of these you can afford it, cause you are paying a premium. It’s not like your dropping your last dime on technology that has not proven itself for decades.

    In short, I’m looking for that guy. I will find him, it might take up to three years, but I’m patient. But for $14,000, right now, make mine Ducati Street Fighter 848, or an MV Agusta F3…

  10. paulus says:

    This is similar to the SEGWAY… but more people walk in their daily routine than ride motorcycles.
    it is a niche product. More expensive for less performance.
    There will be some early adopters… but it will take long term cash and the right market price to get it to mass acceptance.

  11. Tessier says:

    Brammo screwed themselves big time by showing there hand and then promptly taking 2+ years to finally produce them. This gave Zero ample time to come up with something big to counter with. Sure is getting interesting hopefully no one gets zapped lol!

  12. Denis says:

    Kingston Uni News for the IOM:

    Two bikes involved this year!

    And I’m absolutely sure that we are going to break the 100mph average speed.

  13. Spiffster says:

    @Tessier I think the production Empulse to be revealed on May 8th will be very different than what was revealed 2 years ago. Both companies currently bring very different products to the table, but that may change soon. Things will get interesting this year indeed.

  14. sgh says:

    Sigh… in the E.V. world of big hype and not enough funding, “working on X for 2013″ means that at the moment this bike is a collection of whiteboard sketches and Wild Ass Guesses and we’ll not see it til 2014 at the earliest…there will undoubtedly be some delays/excuses to come. Why even talk about this now? For goodness sake, just pretend like you’re a normal industry and announce a product when it’s ready!

  15. mxs says:

    Why to talk about it? It’s called start up funding. They are all start ups if you think about it. So, I wouldn’t be necessarily chastising them for it. Nobody is forcing anybody …. if you believe what I am planning to sell, you are more than welcome to invest. It’s all good in my opinion. Plans fail all the time in the world of investments, nothing new.

    There might not be enough funding right now, but wait when oil shoots up again. It doesn’t really take that much to be honest with you, in this speculative world of stock and commodity pricing.

    Now, if one of the big established company promised X and didn’t deliver, like Honda, Suzuki etc. surely that would be unacceptable, but they are not starting up from scratch. These are companies with deep R&D pockets. The reason they are not going a full tilt just yet is because a) oil price is too low for us to be lining up for electric product 2) battery as a fuel is holding them back (reliability, warranties and price could kill a large manufacturer). Once those two obstacles are removed, watch out for them to take off. That’s what I see in my crustal ball anyways … LOL

  16. sgh says:

    Yeah, to be fair, this is a “leak”, not an announcement. Though many leaks are not accidental.

    Brammo appears to be building momentum and Zero appears a bit desperate. I have not seen any positive reviews of the new Zero bikes. Brammo has connected solidly with a viable target audience with the Empulse. Zero seems to struggle with finding their niche. The bikes are not “cool” enough for serious motorcyclists, unfortunately. I don’t think they wanted their buyers to all be Silicon Valley Enginerds but that’s about the only type I’ve ever seen on one.

    Westworld – loving the belt drive? perimeter brakes? what? wanting a half price new electric bike? what? I am trying hard to understand you but I just can’t…. you seem to have very unrealistic expectations for e-bikes at this stage.

  17. Brammofan says:

    @sgh – If you haven’t seen positive reviews of the Zero bikes, perhaps you’re not looking in the right places. I think that most of the reviews I’ve read of the 2012 bikes have been at least generally positive, if not glowing. The belt drive has always been reviewed as a great feature of the 2012 bikes and, although I’m aware of the downsides of a belt, I sometimes wish my 2010 Brammo Enertia had it instead of a chain. Anyway, there’s room in the market for all types of bikes, and although I prefer the styling of the Enertia (and the Empulse) more than the bikes from Zero, the bikes are being sold to many happy new owners.

  18. Dr. Gellar says:

    I think this is great! I’m very interested to see what Zero comes out with as an answer to Brammo’s Empulse. Personally, I think a little bit of competition and rivalry between these two brands (and any others who want to play) is a good thing, and will eventually benefit customers greatly as the products of both companies will likely improve as one tries to best the other.

    Is there any word if Zero intends to reboot their entire model line in 2013 in one fell swoop?! I can see the 2013 Zero S and DS staying relatively unchanged cosmetically while the rest of the line-up is reborn, but this is purely S.W.A.G. on my part.

  19. Arffy says:

    It will be the management at 0, that takes them down the drain. To late with design changes to capture the market that was there for the taking…….several years with a leg up on the competition, and nothing to show for it….sad.