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.

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team

02/01/2011 @ 9:59 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team LCR Honda Playboy bunny Antonio Esposito 2 635x423

Testing has already gotten underway and concluded at Sepang today, meaning the teams of MotoGP have released their livery for the next season with varying degrees of fanfare and showmanship. It’s no surprise then that we found a couple photos of the LCR Honda RC212V adorned with a seductive Playboy bunny affixed to it, in what surely has to be the best GP team launch in 2011.

If you read Asphalt & Rubber on a religious basis (we are your motorcycling zen temple, right?), you’ve likely divined by now that I’ll chastise just about any company that uses the premise that “sex sells” (nothing boils my blood more than this cleverly short, yet misguided maxim), and that I love a good scrappy startup that’s got more hustle than funding (case in point: A&R is a penniless motorcycle startup trying to make it in this crazy online world).

So how does a the multi-million dollar motorcycle racing team with half-naked women draped all over their machinery get such accolades from our humble motorcycle blog? Because LCR Honda is the epitome of innovation on the business side of MotoGP racing.

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team 2010 LCR Honda Playboy Givi 635x423

Let me Tarantino my thought process, and start with the fact that despite the considerable amount of cash that funds LCR Honda (we’re talking roll around naked in it money here) the sum is really just a fraction of what the factory teams spend. Yet early in the 2010 season, when all the Honda-based teams were using the same machinery, LCR Honda and Randy de Puniet were serious contenders on Sunday afternoons. Apparently no one told the patron saint of A&R that satellite teams aren’t supposed to go faster than their factory counterparts.

To say that LCR makes the best out what it has is perhaps an understatement, but even the way Lucio Cecchinello (that would be the LC in LCR) manages his sponsorships shows some strokes of genius from the former Italian motorcycle racer. Unlike the other teams in GP paddock, Cecchinello doesn’t sign sponsors to a season long engagement. Instead of this traditional method, LCR Honda is sponsored on a per race basis by brands like Playboy, Givi, Rizoma, etc.

This event segmentation is nothing new to savvy marketers, but is still an entirely new concept in motorcycle racing. Take localized markets, find a brand that wants to service that specific market, and charge a premium for that targeted advertising message. There’s some good business school bingo in that last sentence, so let me put it this way: have any Americans here bought Repsol petroleum products in the past 10 years? The brand wasn’t even available in the United States until recently, and it’s still a hard to find item. What about Rizla cigarette papers? We surely have a plethora of those in gas station convinence stores, right?

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team LCR Honda Lucio Cecchinello

The reality is that there is a disconnect in motorcycle racing that sees localized and regional brands advertising in a sport that operates on a global level. Instead of fighting that problem, and trying to sell smaller companies on the value of sponsoring a MotoGP team as it hopscotches from one country to the next, Cecchinello has turn the tables, and made it a strength for his team. The result is two-fold, and mutually beneficial for both LCR and its event title sponsors: LCR can charge a higher sponsorship cost (when calculated from a per event basis), yet the actual cost of getting on a GP bike is considerably less for the sponsor, since it’s only paying for a handful of races, instead of an entire season.

For its second year now, LCR Honda has seen one brand among the others engage its racing team under this premise: Playboy. The highlight of the MotoGP paddock, the relationship between Cecchinello and Playboy is celebrated by fans for obvious reasons, but from a pure marketing, promotion, and branding perspective it is equally intriguing. LCR Honda has teamed up with one of the most recognizable brands across the world. A strong feature to have in a sponsor, this point is illustrated by the title graphic on this post; as only a simple silhouette of a woman with a bunny tail and ears, resting seductively on a motorcycle, is needed to jog the viewers mind as to whom is sponsoring this motorcycle team (it’s ok, you can scroll up again and ogle for a moment, we’ll wait for you).

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team 2010 LCR Honda Playboy livery1 635x405

But Jensen haven’t you called marketers who use sex as means to hock their wares “no-talent clowns who should be replaced with monkeys”? That doesn’t sound like something I’d say, but generally yes that’s the rule…except in this case. What makes the half-naked girl (remember she has on at least bunny ears and tail) standing next to a motorcycle such great marketing is the fact what’s being sold…is in fact sex. Make no mistake men are not buying Playboy magazines for the articles contained within, but instead for the centerfold pictorials that…shall we say, arose the senses.

Traditionally sex is used to sell the product it’s paired with, but in the case with LCR Honda and Playboy, the sex is selling itself, and the fact that you might overlook the RC212V below, with its dual exhaust, Bridgestone racing slicks, and titanium sub-frame, is a moot point, LCR already made its money on that photo, and isn’t trying to put a Honda in your garage.

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team LCR Honda Playboy bunny Antonio Esposito 1

What’s happened here is that Cecchinello and Playboy have again pivoted around an issue that’s normally problematic in motorcycling: the hot girl posed in some fashion on a motorcycle, and made it work to their ends. Instead of wondering whether people are looking at the bike or the girl, LCR is playing on the classic folly by marketers, and using the combined powers of both elements to make an even more rich brand experience that harkens to a meme in motorcycling. However this isn’t just some attractive strumpette standing next to a motor bike that’ll be plastered all over message forums 20 seconds from now, it’s a Playboy Bunny standing next to one of the top satellite teams in the garage, whose advertising message will go viral on its own accord.

The co-branding goes a step further, as LCR Honda was the only team last year to field a permanent umbrella girl to all its races (not including racers’ wives who have risen to the challenge and harsh work conditions of that duty). The affect is not only consistent branding and engagement, but also propels the LCR Honda umbrella girl to a new status in the paddock, which is easily recognizable and unprecedented.

The leggy Australian Lauren Vickers, who filled the role as LCR’s Bunny in 2010, found her career that could be described as a promising, yet still tediously tied to regional engagements, propelled onto a global level after working with the satellite GP team. Not only did Vickers land a cover photo on Playboy Italy, but she might have become the first non-hitched umbrella girl that fans actually recognized as a human being, and called for by name as she promenaded around the race track. Creating a brand of her own, Vickers became her own entity in the MotoGP paddock, which is a lot more than most of these 20-something models can say.

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team Lauren Vickers Playboy Bunny LCR Honda Aragon GP 635x423

As the 2011 season approaches, it looks like we’ll have a new umbrella girl from LCR Honda that we’ll get to know throughout the season, but the Italian racing team is holding firm to its continual process of innovating in a field where the business model has gone unchanged over the past 50 years. The best launch in the new season didn’t need an all-hands-on-deck getaway in the Alps, nor a strategic last-minute location for a wooed sponsor. It just needed a girl, some bunny ears, a bike, and photographer with an eye for subtlety. Well played Lucio.


  1. DeezToolz says:

    Another excellently written piece, Jensen. Keep them coming. The photos, I mean.

    Before I depart, I’ll second your notion that subtle is sexy. It takes a high level of refinement to produce something that might be considered simple and classy. Is that possible? Have we just witnessed it?

  2. DS says:

    Examples of the effectiveness for regional sponsorship & winning…
    After all of these years, I didn’t know Rizla made cigarette papers until now. However, I did look up Sterilgarda because Ben Spies was winning with them on his bike.

  3. Thanks Rick, the “good” photos are in your mailbox.

    DS did you buy any milk after that research?

  4. BikePilot says:

    Excellent article – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen writing or analysis of this quality in a moto-publication!

  5. Tyler Sanborn says:

    Wonderful article… A&R is by far the best motorcycle fanatic site on the planet… keep up the great work!

  6. 305ed says:

    “…the Italian racing team is holding firm…”. LMAO!
    You sir, are a genius!

  7. deejay51 says:

    Great read, oops, I haven’t actually read any of it, too busy with the pics!!

  8. Jay says:


    good article too i guess… :)

  9. Rob says:

    VERY well written, extremely clever. Such a cool site this is. I visit probably 5-10times daily just to check for updates like this.

  10. irksome says:

    Is that a hamburger on her ass or is she just happy to see me?

  11. auGSXR750 says:

    There were words?

  12. ken hague says:

    This has got to be one of the best looking bikes on the motogp circuit, i want one with free model attached :)

  13. EnvironMoto says:

    Yes, A&R is one of a handful of my “motorcycling zen temples”. The clean format and brilliant writing are right there and getting better all the time. Excellent article as usual, Jensen. Now if only I could write like you, Kevin Cameron, or Mark Gardiner…

  14. DS says:

    Jensen – good question/point. If Sterilgarda had brought un-spoiled milk to Miller Motorsports round of the WSB I may have had the opportunity to buy their stuff. This prompts the question as to whether or not bunnies will be seen selling subscriptions track-side?

  15. DS says:

    …give them a hand-held device to capture the subscription purchase.

    (that does look like a burger. funny!)

  16. Johndo says:

    What I wouldn’t give to ride that one…oh and the bike looks great too.

  17. Hamish says:

    I’ve never really wanted to ride Honda until now… And to top it off, my lucky number is 14!!! Any other pictures that I could use for a desktop are appreciated!!! Thanks guys. And kudos to LCR for getting a killer sponsor. I mean you can’t buy THAT kind of publicity. We need to get a little excitement going and draw more attention to Moto GP in North America (especially Canada!!) and this is one way to get the punters watching the racing. Good on ya’ LCR!

    Did I mention that more pics would be nice?? ;)

  18. MotoRandom says:

    I would have to agree. We need more pictures for…um…rsearch. BTW, what happened to the pics you had posted when Randy De Puinet signed on with Playboy? If you look for these on the web, most of the sites just point back to A&R and the gallery appears to be empty. Maybe we could get a new round?

  19. LV says:

    Nice article and nice photos, but that second photo is not Lauren Vickers – it’s Francesca Lukasik.

  20. LV says:

    Sorry, I meant the 3rd photo.

  21. Ughh…I hate it when I make mistakes like that.