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.

If I Were Testing the Waters on a New Motorcycle…

03/14/2011 @ 7:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

If I Were Testing the Waters on a New Motorcycle... Motus MST R streetfighter 635x427

Making a new motorcycle is a tricky business. Despite the image that motorcyclists are these rebels without a cause and offshoots from the so-called mainstream of society, the truth of the matter is that as a whole, motorcyclists are just about the most resistant group to change as you can find. When a manufacturer wants to release a new motorcycle, it has to take into account that if it strays too far away from what has been previously proscribed, the motorcycling community is likely going to hate it (or at least say it hates it).

This is why manufacturers now make bikes by committee, consult with focus groups/experts, and tease concepts (or spy shots of actual bikes). These processes give motorcycle manufacturers valuable feedback into how their product will be received in the marketplace, and this concept extends to markets outside of motorcycling. If I was a new manufacturer, and I was about to launch a whole new motorcycle, I’d be very careful on how I introduced the bike to the painfully orthodox members of the Church of Motorcycling.

In launching the bike, there’d be the build-up of course. I’d make sure I had plenty of content to slowly feed out to media outlets, maybe picking a few that I had close ties with, who would in-turn get special materials, thus ensuring the information hit favorable ears first – this is of course a standard operating procedure for PR savvy marketers.

I’d want to keep the technical aspects of the project vague for as long as possible, not only does this allow you to keep the product relevant by slowly releasing that information (again, keeping a steady trickle of information to keep the buzz meter up), but it also allows you to change the product development goals on the motorcycle to meet the expectations of the consumer. This also allows you to preform what I like to call “the late hit.” Under-promising and over-delivering not only hooks your would-be buyers, but also is another avenue to create some last minute buzz on the bike  - if you liked it at 140hp, you’ll love it at 160hp, right?

Next comes the soft launch. Really more of a staple in the hospitality industry, the idea is that you open for business before you’re “open for business,” thus allowing the kinks to be massaged out before you have a tremendous amount of skin in the game, and keeps the first impressions of your product or service favorable (something that can make or break you in the motorcycle business). The soft launch in motorcycling serves two big purposes, and really only requires a company to build one or two motorcycles to pull off effectively.

The first benefit of the soft launch is that it gives consumers something tangible about my project, something that they can assess and give feedback on (this part is huge). Second, it enables my motorcycle company to give consumers, and more importantly investors, something that they can see and touch that makes my motorcycle project feel “real” to them and quiets questions on product feasibility and business execution.

Once I have my soft launch bike(s) ready, I would wheel them out in front of as many people as possible. If my company was based in the United States, I’d target places where “American bikers” are (in Germany, where German bikers are, etc), all the while listening very closely to what these bikers liked and didn’t like about my creation. If I had multiple motorcycles for my soft launch, I’d make sure I had some differences between them. This is a great way to see what’s really sticking to the market.

This is called A/B testing, and it allows you to track the responses or changes over multiple variations. Do customers like the bike with upgraded suspension? Wheels? More power? A different look? If I make bikes that differ on these axes, and see how people respond, then blamo! I’ve just done some A-grade market research (some would call it crowdsourcing), in conjuction with some damn fine demand marketing. That’s called a win/win sir, and now I’m cooking with fire.

Having a more fully developed understanding of what my consumers are looking for in a motorcycle, I’d take the feedback I’ve received, and use it to refine my bike, maybe collecting some of ideas that are outside of my core concept, and using them for derivative second model. If I was on the fence for doing the latter, I’d make sure consumers knew that if they were interested in that iteration, to make their voices known, thus helping prove the market. I might even drop the hint to some more publications, since motorcycle journalists are basically employed to wet the appetites of motorcyclists.

In the end, the people who buy my motorcycles will see the changes and ideas they voiced in the bike(s). Some of these ideas I probably already planned from the get-go, but it doesn’t matter as my buyers will be empowered by the idea that they had a hand in their motorcycle’s final design. My company would be known for listening to its riders, and giving them the bike they wanted…even if it’s the bike I planned to build all along.

Comment:

  1. ryan says:

    Déjà vu?
    I would probably also not select a photo theme similar to what another manufacturer has already done…

    http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/bikes/2010-vyrus-987-c3-4v-supercharged-infects-eicma/

  2. Josh says:

    That bike is looking better all the time. Tuck those headers in and tidy up the wiring/hoses and it wouldn’t be too shabby at all.

  3. Buellista says:

    I agree with Josh. The Motus bike is not bad looking. Certainly, it could go cross country faster than those high-tech electric piles of shi-ite being touted as, “the future”. Gag ! Barf!! Just add more petrol to the Motus and you are on your way. With an electric pile, several hours are required to re-charge the HEAVY batteries while all your friends are already on the road leaving you to re-charge your eco-scoot.

  4. Tom says:

    If I were starting a motorcycle company, I would focus on being profitable and relevant instead of having dreams of hundreds of thousands of units sold and swimming in seas of cash. The world economy shows that unless you’re already a major player, as long as you are profitable, there is nothing wrong with being a niche manufacturer.

  5. KLS says:

    Sorry to nitpick, but…

    A great big steak will “wet the appetites” of many of us. Journalists, however, would likely prefer to “…whet the appetites” of their readers.

    As for the Motus, I love the powerplant but care not a whit for the rest.

  6. irksome says:

    I’d fold out the mirrors before I took the picture.