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.

An Easy Decision: Harley-Davidson Circles the Wagons Around Milwaukee

10/16/2009 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

An Easy Decision: Harley Davidson Circles the Wagons Around Milwaukee cirlce the wagons 635x315

What do you do when the financial arm of your company goes from making $100 million a year to losing $100 million a year? Why you kill off two other brands in your company of course. That is the move the Keith Wandell and the Harley-Davidson board of directors made yesterday with their announcement of shutting down Buell, and selling off MV Agusta. Realizing that the Harley-Davidson brand accounts for the majority of Harley-Davidson Inc.’s income, Harley-Davidson executives saw there being little choice but to sacrifice its other two holdings to save their namesake.

In their press release, Harley-Davidson tried to gloss over its shocking news, by putting a positive spin on the fact it had to glean its holdings back down to the core H-D brand. Choosing to use the phrase “go-forward strategy,” a better set of hyperbole might have been a good old fashioned “circling of the wagons.”

“Harley-Davidson also unveiled major elements of its go-forward business strategy to drive growth through a single-minded focus of efforts and resources on the unique strengths of the Harley-Davidson brand, and to enhance productivity and profitability through continuous improvement. As approved yesterday by Harley-Davidson’s Board of Directors, the Company will discontinue its Buell product line and divest its MV Agusta unit as part of this strategy.”

What many assumed when they read Harley’s announcement of this “strategy” was that the reason for closing down Buell was because of slumping sales or perceived weakness in the brand. Now while it’s true that all of the motorcycle industry is experiencing slumping sales figures compared to last year’s numbers, Harley-Davidson, along with Buell, has not been the biggest loser in the global motorcycle industry recession. In fact, it is suspected that Buell’s sales decline mirrors Harley’s at 21%. With this information, and Buell finally getting traction with its water-cooled 1125 series, there seems little reason to close the company down at this point in time. That is of course unless you’re Harley-Davidson, and you owe $600 million at 15% interest.

While revenue has only slipped 17% from last year, net income (the amount that actually makes it into HD’s bank account) has dropped to a virtual trickle, down by 71%. With interest accruing, and lenders who want their monthly checks, the decision to kill Buell is a simple one for Harley-Davidson, there’s just not enough cash coming into the company to pay all of these debts.

The choice to kill Buell instead of selling it like MV Agusta is also a simple one for Harley-Davidson. Considering how intertwined the two brands are in their supply chains, financing, and brading, it would be impossible to excise the sportbike company from its parent, and leave something worthwhile to a prospective buyer. Thus, it would seem the only part of Buell that will live on at Harley-Davidson is Erik Buell himself, who is rumored to be returning back to the mothership in Milwaukee, where he first got his start.

It would seem for Buell, things come full-circle in this story, but for Harley-Davidson the metaphors are quite different. This business strategy proposed by Keith Wandell is a Hail Mary pass for the Milwaukee company. They’ve placed all their eggs in one basket now, and still face all the same problems as before. Without other brands to leverage itself into new markets, all eyes will be on Wandell to see how he’ll revitalize this American brand post-economic apocalypse. As for Erik Buell, the road might even be tougher as he works to move on from the closure of his personal dream.


  1. amiejean says:

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  2. Bill Smith says:

    If you look exclusively at Buell numbers, their inability to innovate to or beyond the level of the Asian/Italian manufacturers, and Eric Buell’s stubborn insistence to cram bad V-twin engines in poorly designed sport bikes you cannot act surprised.

    Eric touts innovations that in fact were nothing more than over-priced poor concepts confirmed by leading competitors (there are no adaptations of Eric’s ideas overseas). Eric, there are very valid reasons why the REAL sport bike designers won’t support fuel in frame, calipers in swing arms, single rim-mounted brake rotors, large (ugly) under-frame muffles, and belt drive (which I happen to like). They were all bad Ideas formed in cheese chalets and back-yard beer festivals in Milwaukee Wisconsin!

    Placing Harley engines (excluding the V-Rod/Rotax engine) in sport bikes made Eric the laughing stock of the sport bike industry. Buell was never a threat to the Asian/Italian competitors and was always the bastard step-child of Harley Davidson. A combination destined for failure.

    I was always quite surprised the Harley Davidson (HD) corporate culture didn’t fix the obvious problems at Buell (in the design shop) and the lack of any real marketing to the proper target segment. But then again, HD knew Eric had been designing substandard product that just could not compete with power-house designers/manufactures like Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Ducati.

    Good luck Eric,

    The sad owner of a Buell 1125r

  3. Allan Engel says:

    I have never been a Buell fan and I have no idea if Bill Smith’s comments have any validity but Buell’s are quite popular in some European markets, especially France. It may have something to do with horsepower caps in certain countries on the continent; France has a 100 hp limit. H-D is making a mistake. With the average owner approaching 50, probably within 10-years of hanging up his spurs permanently, and the following generation having little interest following in dad’s footsteps – where will Harley find new buyers? Kids growing up in an environment of “extreme sports” look at Harleys as motorbikes for old fat guys. But I have a feeling H-D has a plan. It will interesting.

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  5. Harley says:

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  7. Ed Stuck says:

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