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.

Management Shake-Up at Zero Motorcycles – Neal Saiki Out

02/11/2011 @ 4:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Management Shake Up at Zero Motorcycles   Neal Saiki Out 2011 zero motorcycles zero ds 08 635x453

The news coming out of the Santa Cruz area today is that there’s been a management shake-up at Zero Motorcycles, as multiple people at the top of the company’s leadership have been given pink slips, including company Founder & CTO Neal Saiki. Recently talking to PlugBike.com‘s John Adamo, Zero Motorcycles CEO Gene Banman denied that Saiki had been let go from the company, saying that Saiki’s absence at the company was due to his child’s recent birth and Saiki’s desire to spend time with his newborn.

However multiple sources close to the company have confirmed to Asphalt & Rubber that Neal Saiki was a part of a larger management shake-up that was precipitated by the company’s lead investor. With many of the terminations expected to be finalized next month, and spanning more than one division at the California-based startup, there appears to be a considerable personnel and culture shift occurring at Zero at this point in time.

Zero Motorcycles’ 2011 product line appears to be an extension of this shift at the Scotts Valley company, with the 2011 bikes receiving upgraded components, new designs, and stronger chassis designs. These product design changes go counter to Saiki’s controversial bicycle-inspired designs that focused on bringing strong but light components to electric motorcycles.

The electric news lately has been dominated by Zero, as the company just finished raising another $2 million in funding, announced expansion of its production facilities, and signed a deal with Mexican distributor Dofesa Aventura.

2011 Zero Motorcycles Zero S:

Comment:

  1. Mark says:

    So how does the founder of his own company get a pink slip?

  2. He loses control of the BOD, likely from giving up more than a majority share in stock.

  3. Mark says:

    I wasn’t aware that Zero was a public company yet, when did that happen?

  4. It’s not a publicly traded company, but privately held companies can still have a board of directors, stock offerings, etc.

  5. Mark says:

    Correction, I guess you don’t need to be a public company to sell shares in a company.

  6. Bruce Monighan says:

    Taking venture capitol money is like selling your soul to the devil. You use their money to develop a product or idea you are passionate about and as soon as the income potential arises you are out on the street. Usually it is about the integrity of your idea or your passion to make something better and the investor seeing a chance to make a buck. And sure as hell they got majority control of your company in exchange for the funding. Great ideas and products are littered with this tragedy. Remember Eric Buell? There is a reason that the “venture” as in venture capitol sounds suspiciously like “vulture”.

    Corporate greed wins again and the rest of the good guys suck wind.

  7. Brammofan says:

    @Bruce – There is no reason to be suspicious about the similarity of sound of “venture” and “vulture.” Venture’s origin is from aventure – risk of loss. Vulture is supposedly from the Latin vellere, “to pluck and tear.” Without VC money, none of these companies would have gotten much farther than showing prototypes of designs… or rendered drawings of prototypes. I don’t even think it’s fair to consider VCs as a necessary evil. Necessary? Sure. Evil? No – they are the ones who are risking the loss of their money. What’s the alternative? Federal or other public grants? They come with strings attached, too.

    The hope, of course, is that the product will be successful in the marketplace and the investors will get paid back, earn a profit on their investment, and invest some more to keep the ball (or the bike) rolling. What’s wrong about the VC “seeing a chance to make a buck”? Would you invest in a company if you knew there was no chance to make your money back? That’s not venture capitalism, that’s charity.

  8. brij says:

    Well put brammfan! I agree with you totally. I hope this dream lives on and the only way that can happen is if the company shows some profit.

  9. skadamo says:

    Looking forward to an official statement on this.

    I’m also wondering where Neal will end up next.

  10. Will says:

    @brammofan

    Spoken like a lawyer.

    Funny, it always sounds so reasonable when lawyers speak. But words like ethics, trust, faith, belief, the words that are behind the great accomplishments of our civilization, never seem to come out of the mouths of lawyers….except in their own defense…..

  11. Brammofan says:

    @Will Spoken with the ethics, trust, faith and belief of an anonymous poster during a drive-by attack on an entire profession. What, specifically, do you disagree with in my post about venture capitalism? Surely you didn’t drop in just to slander lawyers.

  12. Marc says:

    Sad news. While I had my critiques of Neil’s approaches, he was first to market and a true innovator. Every electric motorcycle to follow owes him a debt. It’s upsetting to see him forced to leave his own creation. I wish both him and Zero the brightest futures.

  13. @Will & @Brammofan:

    It’s caveat emptor when dealing with institutional money like venture capital and private equity funds. Sadly in entrepreneurship, like things regarding law, the unexperienced and naive usually end up getting eaten by the meat-grinder of veteran players.

    There’s a joke in here somewhere about how it’s not possible to slander (libel?) a lawyer with derogatory words, only positive ones. ;) This of course coming from someone who has worked in venture capital, and holds a law degree.

  14. Will says:

    @jensen

    Well spoken.

  15. Stevil_Knevil says:

    Looks like a good point in the conversation to start a rumor:

    Neil Saiki has left Zero to work for Honda!!!

  16. David Larson says:

    How does a founder get a pink slip? The only way I know is by selling too much of the company to others. It happens….ask Erik Buell.

  17. Zerofan says:

    Sounds promising. Regarding the mediocre advances of Zero towards the market so far, there might be a chance to improve things at Zero. The product is superior, the service inferior.

    It’s a pity. But sometimes I really wonder: who has taught the guys at Zero marketing and sales. They do have a great product, so it is very hard to understand why they do not succeed. Maybe that low margins for sales people and demo bikes, long delivery times even on spare parts, lack of financing for dealers and an overpriced product are just not the right way to get fast results. Hopefully the start to rethink their approach to the market.

  18. Alfonso Rodriguez says:

    What a pile! A 500 two stroke twin would be much lighter and hellaciously more powerful. I’m sorry, but this electric bike crap does “Zero” for me and I long for lightweight and Fxxking fast two strokes. Yamaha, can you please bring back the TDR but in 350, or better yet, 400 cubic centimeters? Please? Put direct injection on it so it will not “destroy” the environment like big diesels do and the tree huggers should not complain too much. Hell, Al Gore (if he is a motorcyclist) might even buy one!

  19. thedude says:

    We shall see if a rubber-band drive train and some silly plastics make or break them this year…. pretty typical upper management blame here”we all screwed up…. lets blame the brain”.

    Neal has some good things locked in his head…. to bad the newbies at Zero didn’t care to show him respect. These Ex Failing Gas MC Company Execs rolled in and think they know how to reinvent the wheel.

    Good Luck Neal EVMC Builders owe you big time!

  20. haha neal! says:

    neal – good riddens!

    it is about time – 1st his wife, now neal!