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.

Let’s Hype This Bitch! – 60 Day Wait for the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200

05/24/2010 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Lets Hype This Bitch!   60 Day Wait for the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 2010 ducati multistrada 1200 canary islands 2 560x373

Ducati has reported that the first 500 initial pre-orders for the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 have been filled, and there is now a 60 day waiting period for the new sport-tourer. Citing a strong reception to the Multistrada’s “four-bikes-in-one” capability, Ducati sees an additional 500 units to be sold in the coming months. This last statement seems sort of like a no-brainer, after-all another 500 bikes will be sold eventually, right?

Actually, the entire statement is sort of strange when you consider what 500 pre-sold orders really entails in a markets like the United States & Canada. With a plethora of dealers in these countries, the reality is that this statement amounts to dealerships pre-selling their initial inventory, which consisted of one or two motorcycles. Yes, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 is sold-out for the next two month, but when you ship only 500 units to the entire North American market, you can almost guarantee being sold out on a bike during its release, right?

Good marketing or bad supply chain management, that’s the question here (maybe it’s both?). On the marketing side of the equation, Ducati has gone to great lengths to hype the Multistrada 1200 before its launch at Milan last year, with spy photos popping up every couple of weeks, showing the beak-nosed sport-tourer under duct tape camouflage. We’ve never seen that many photo leaks before here at Asphalt & Rubber, and for good reason…those kind of events happen for a reason.

The 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 is immensely important for the Italian company, not only is it debuting during a time when sales are slumping, and revenues are dropping, the bike signals a marked shift in the company’s overall structure as a manufacturer, and a distinct change to the corporate image and brand values. Virtually the entire industry is operating at or near break-even levels for production, so new models like the Multistrada 1200 are expected to help bolster numbers back into the black. Additionally as Ducati moves from a sport/superbike based company, to a multi-segment manufacturer with a performance edge, the launch of the revamped Multistrada is increasingly important to move Ducati one more step up the mountain to this goal.

It’s hard to find someone who will publicly admit this, but the original Multistrada was one of Ducati’s success stories as far as sales are concerned, selling over 4,000 units. Like its predecessor, the Multistrada 1200 has its fans and haters, and perhaps that’s an element to the Multistrada brand name. Regardless of where you fall on the fan spectrum of the Multistrada 1200, it cannot be questioned what the success of this bike has to could mean for Ducati.

Since the launch of the Hypermotard series, we’ve seen Ducati more purposefully explore segments outside of WSBK bread superbikes and retro classics. With sportbikes gaining the ire of local authorities both domestically and more so in Europe, the prospect of being a sportbike only company is becoming unrealistic. Additionally the added popularity and higher margins found in the sport-touring segment are more than appealing, and for Ducati both of these reasons bore the ethos of the new Multistrada.

With so much riding on the wheels of one motorcycle, the great lengths Ducati is going through in order to assure a positive reception of this machine are becoming apparent. Check the listing of “Bikes” on the Ducati corporate website, and you’ll find: Model Year 2010, Configurator, & Multistrada 1200. Interesting, no? Ducati North America has also tapped the Multistrada 1200 to tackle Pikes Peak, much in a similar way the company promoted the Hypermotard (which faced similar concerns as the MTS 1200) when it debuted. This is done no-doubt to show the Multistrada 1200′s racing heritage lines, and to also dispel any notions that this bike isn’t a performer (even in the dirt).

All of this buzz seems like a scene straight out of Entourage, where one of television’s great gems of a character, Ari Gold, fandangos his client into the latest blockbuster film by using pressure, finesse, and most of all hype. Taking a page out of Gold’s repertoire, Ducati’s marketing campagin for the MTS 1200 is full of pumping the market full of media interactions (some meaningful, and others well…not so meaningful), which at the very least continued to get us talking about this motorcycle. With this latest announcement, which I still haven’t really understood the purported purpose of, we can only assume that Ducati has finally taken a page out of the tech industry marketing manual (they are across the street from Apple, Inc. you know).

In the tech world, it’s hard to find a product launch that isn’t rife with anticipation, buzz, and an inevitable under-supply of product come launch time. It’s a strange ballet, that is not so different from a car company trying to sell you an extend warranty.

“Yes, we make one of the finest built automobiles in the market, it will surely out live yourself, but you really should buy this added warranty…you’d hate to pay out of pocket for a work defect 5 years from now, wouldn’t you?”

In the same vein, tech marketers (and now Ducati) put forth hours of work and considerable capital to create an aura around a product, and to get people (more accurately, the right people) talking about their product…bonus points if it’s in a favorable light. But then when it comes time to actually sell machines, the carpet is swept out from underneath our legs, and we’re told supply doesn’t meet demand…well who created the demand? The parallel here is that these companies purposefully do something to generate consumer interest, and the purposefully do another thing to avoid meeting consumer demand.

The presumption is that this continues the buzz machine, which helps sell more product in the long-run. It worked for the Wii, it worked for the iPhone, it looks like it’s working for the iPad, but of course with these shining three examples comes a laundry list of failures.

Like any company running a good buzz media campaign, you walk a fine line. Could a delay in supply keep potential customers from making a purchase? After all who wants to buy a motorcycle towards the end of summer? Pumping the hype machine is a lot like revving the throttle on a motorcycle, it doesn’t really get you anywhere if you don’t put that power down to the ground. This of course brings us back to the question: good marketing or bad supply management? Has interest been generated to exceed demand? Or has Ducati been unable to work around the clock to meet the unexpected demand from consumers? You make the call.

Comment:

  1. Cole says:

    Ducati North America did they same marketing ploy with the Street Fighter. It was available until June and the 1st unit in was for display only and wasn’t to be sold for a certain predeterminded time frame that seem to vary across dealers. Some people got the 1st unit in despite the lame marketing ploy as most, myself included, had to wait for the next unit a month later despite having a deposit since January. Is it as bad as the gaming community? No but it still leaves the fowl taste of defeat in the consumer’s mouth.

  2. Rod says:

    If the wait is too long, people might go over to BMW where they updated the engine in the F1200 line. Fewer ponies but ready to ride off the showroom floor now! Get a GS or a GS Adventure and you are ready to roll anywhere the Multi can.

    So Ducatti, keep people waiting too long and all your hype and wait will push people down the street.

  3. Let’s Hype This Bitch! – 60 Day Wait for the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 – http://aspha.lt/11a #motorcycle

  4. BIll says:

    That seems to me a lot of conjectures.
    But what is the problem anyway? One is free to buy a BMW or a perhaps a Yamaha, if does not want to wait for the Multistrada, isn’t it?

  5. Rod says:

    Not a lot. Those that really want this bike will wait. Those that want the bike right now and can’t get it, will probably go BMW or someplace else. Not a lot of conjecture, human nature. imho

  6. Peter says:

    excellent article. i really enjoyed reading about the marketing side of things. i’m interested to see how this turns out for Ducati.

  7. Sean Mitchell says:

    Personally, I blame this unfocused swiss army knife of a bike for softening Ducati’s performance in WSBK and MotoGP. Put down the Victornox, pick the rapier back up, Bologna!

  8. I test rode the bike a week ago and will happily wait until they come in . It is a flat out amazing motorcycle and feels more like an inline 4 than a twin. Smooth, fast, flexible and the electronics are no gimick. There is a substantial “feel” to the different modes and they are easy to use on the fly. Lets see; active suspension, multiple engine maps, ABS, traction control, slipper clutch, comfy seat, feels like it weighs 250 lbs….got to love it.

  9. reva says:

    I’l be waiting for this motorcycle.

  10. David Heasley says:

    Finally found the ride I have been seeking for some time. My vigorous test ride put this magnificent machine through a range of paces that was only lacking of off-road excitement. Light, comfortable, with oodles of power and adjustability. If anyone is on a ship in the Atlantic with my red S Touring right now, please…… row faster!