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.

Tradition Is Not A Business Model

09/28/2009 @ 2:58 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Tradition Is Not A Business Model tradition not business model 635x399

In my last year of business school I had to write a business plan in order to officially obtain a concentration in Corporate Innovation & Entrepreneurship. This was before the complete global economic meltdown, and entrepreneurship was still very much a dirty word in the hallowed walls of our MBA program. Many of my classmates were hoping for Wall Street jobs, and the class all-stars were all vying for jobs at the hottest hedge funds, so the idea of starting a company that would likely pay a negative paycheck in its first couple years was very much a foreign concept. It comes as no surprise then that only four or five business plans were submitted for consideration for the course concentration; one of which was mine, entitled Tradition is Not a Business Model – An American Sportbike Business Plan.

In this article, and its subsequent series of articles, I hope to re-examine what it means to start a motorcycle company in the United States. While my original business plan centered around the concept of a traditional motorcycle with an internal combustion engine, this series of articles will instead take the opportunity to look into corporate innovation in the motorcycle industry, through the lens of the newly formed electric motorcycle sector. In what I hope will become a weekly conversation on business in the motorcycle industry, we begin our discussion first with the perspectives of four entrepreneurs, which you’ll see in the coming Sunday Editions of Asphalt & Rubber.

Looking back on my business plan it is clear now that the title, Tradition is Not a Business Model, was of course a direct challenge to the many attempts to build an American bred sportbike that could compete against the best from Japan and Europe. Instead of focusing on building a brand that had red, white, and blue in the logo, my plan centered around the idea of creating a high-tech product design processes, modular components, and a distinct “American” school of design.

In essence, we wanted to try and rebuild a motorcycle company from the ground up, assuming that the barriers to change didn’t exist. At the same point, we didn’t want to build a motorcycle and sell it based on purely superficial notions. It was important to us that our customers purchase our hypothetical bike on its merits, and from its qualities, be proud that their purchase was made in the USA. Truly an exercise in entrepreneurship, our business plan was idealistic and passionate…it was also almost completely out-of-date by the time we finished writing it.

Months after starting this business plan, the full scope of the recession began to wrap its hands around the global economy. Even highly talented individuals like my classmates felt the slowdown in demand for future management. As a result, roughly half of our class was unemployed at the time of graduation. At some point we all got the same wake-up call; many of my classmates, myself included, faced the reality that there were no jobs ready to pluck us out of the debt of business school, and very likely our first new boss, would in fact be ourselves.

No one jumped off the business school roof that day, but the idea of starting something while in the middle of one the worst economic slowdowns seemed daunting to many. At that time funding was tight, and remains so today. Getting a business plan funded in some cases was harder than the actual implementation of the plan itself. For many, this seemed like the worst time to start a company.

I recently had someone from a startup tell me that “it’s harder to start a company in this recession,” and I couldn’t help but to argue the point. Sure, absolutely the recession makes business more difficult. But is that the same as saying it’s hard to start a good company in this economy? I’m not too quick to make the connection. Money isn’t gone per se, it’s just harder to get it out of people’s wallets, so what gets funded are arguably the “better” ideas.

If you can get funded in these uncertain times, it means your company has a solid footing, your business is planted in real provable concepts, you’re doing something innovative, and likely, your business centers around a new technology. Technology and innovation go hand-in-hand, and when we talk about corporate innovation, we can speak about it in two contexts: evolution & revolution.

I realize looking back on my original business plan that it was grounded in an evolutionary business step, a refinement on what was already out there. Entrepreneurship is often centered on evolutionary steps. No better example of this exists than the motorcycle. For the past 100 years we have been improving on the same basic concept: the internal combustion engine. We’ve made leaps and bounds of progress in that time, let’s not forget that, but let us also acknowledge that the motorcycle for all intents and purposes remains still a close cousin to its original self.

Recently I realized there are a series of companies writing their own business plans, with their own interpretations of what an American motorcycle company should look like. A couple of these companies take the approach I took, evolutionary steps that took the work of others, and improved upon them. But a select few decided to do something much more difficult, and also much more exciting. These companies were writing business plans that aimed to revolutionize the motorcycle industry. Succinctly, I’m talking about the recent advent of electric motorcycling.

Leaving all the hype, rhetoric, and politics of motorcycling behind, I went on a trip to talk to the founders of these companies about the state of the motorcycle industry, and about the trials and tribulations of launching a start-up company in our industry and amidst the current economic state.

Over the next few weeks I will share with you the thoughts and insights from the founders of Zero Motorcycles, Brammo, MotoCzysz, and Mission Motors. Mixed in with their similar goals of creating an electric motorcycle are ideas on what it means to be an entrepreneur in this economy, center a company around revolutionary principles of innovation, and in true motorcyclist fashion, challenge the status quo.


  1. stephen says:

    this seems like an exiting series of articles. i myself am interested in one day running a business (hopefully centered around motorcycles).
    I wait with anticipation.

  2. Tradition Is Not a Business Model – http://bit.ly/ZOgAs #motorcycle

  3. John Adamo says:

    Man, can’t wait for this! :D RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Tradition Is Not a Business Model – http://bit.ly/ZOgAs #motorcycle #electric #ev

  4. Ceolwulf says:

    I likewise am really looking forward to the rest of these.

  5. Rene says:

    This is real interesting, instead of being screaming about the crisis this is the right thing to do, to take some action.
    As Stephen said before, i´m also interested in the motorcycle bussines, maybe this´ll help.

  6. jar_o_flies says:

    I’m interested in seeing these thoughts continue as well.

    I’m not a huge fan of E-powered vehicles (although I believe that bicycles/motorcycles are a bit more of a logical place to start), and hope that IC discussions are not completely left for dead.

    In particular, I’m interested to see how “innovation” is described, as I see little difference from one e-powertrain to the next – most innovation seems to be on the “control” side of things, where more technical systems (ABS, Fly by wire, traction control) seem to be much more attainable with an E-powertrain and control system.

    I’m also curious to understand how much some of the companies mentioned are actively involved in battery/motor development – which seems like a lot to bite off when one is still attempting to get a viable vehicle to market. We know Tesla did very little in this regard, providing little more than a glorified “cooler” for its massive amount of (conventional) batteries feeding a (conventional) spec’d and sourced AC motor.

    In my opinion, the companies mentioned above become “real” and their business models become “real” when they contribute valid solutions to the powertrain side, batteries/motors, versus offering unique, possibly pretty, functional packaging exercises of existing components into a two wheeled device. But, I suppose, times are changing, and perhaps with E-vehicles, the vertical design and development of road going vehicles will completely give way to a handful of battery companies and motor companies supplying various “coach building” companies……not all bad I suppose…..

  7. Brammofan says:

    What a timely subject to address. A fresh perspective on this industry from someone who doesn’t necessarily start off with the opinion that “if it can’t match an ICE bike in acceleration, range, price and volume, then it ain’t s4!T!” is just what the doctor ordered. And you’ve got a J.D., too. Should be a fun read.

  8. jar_o_flies says:

    Brammofan – such a business case has already been presented and executed, the Segway won few fans.

  9. Very nice piece. I am going to pass on your link to an ad exec buddy of mine called Laughingman, who operates a private blog, along with other auto / motor / engine industry folks. He may pay you a visit.

    As for the issue of entrepreneurship:

    Here’s a thumbnail of what it takes, in my view, for a society to be prosperous:

    1) An inventive / innovative class; people have to want to invent things and processes;

    2) Cross-culturalization, where multiple inventors get together and compare their inventions, and newer \ better inventions are created;

    3) Seaports or trade route intersections;

    4) Business flowing from invention / innovation;

    5) Decent Jobs flowing from business, so people can take care of their families with pride;

    6) A reasonably decent life flowing from more people having jobs; and

    7) Education encouraging the repeat of the process

    Either some force in society sets this in motion, governs the process, and maintains it, or it does not. If you leave it to chance, you might be on top for a while but you will be not on top indefinitely. But that is a cost of freedom, when you do not direct people what to do with their lives.

    My suspicion is that China will be the next world power because they tell more people what to do, and they are more controlling. More free? Of course not. But more planning, organization, consistency, and coordination take place under their model. We in the U.S. use the “herding cats” model, and there are benefits and costs associated with it.

    We’ve needed more inventors for years, and few in our country have paid attention to that issue.

  10. Well-written. A reason all by itself to visit this site repeatedly.

    Looking forward to the rest in the series.