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.

IOMTT: Kawasaki-Zytek ZX10ev Breaks Cover with 134hp, Six-Speed Gearbox, & Kawasaki Motors UK

05/22/2012 @ 5:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Kawasaki Zytek ZX10ev Breaks Cover with 134hp, Six Speed Gearbox, & Kawasaki Motors UK Kawasaki Zytek TT Zero electric motorcycle 635x423

With Honda’s electric motorcycle racing effort thinly disguised as the Mugen Shinden and getting a tremendous amount of attention, the motorcycle racing press missed the very subtle joint-entry by Zytek Automotive and Bournemouth Kawasaki Racing into the 2012 TT Zero. Already incorporating one of the most advanced technology groups in electric and hybrid automotive technology, as well as one of the top Isle of Man TT racing teams, the Kawasaki-Zytek ZX10ev race bike also benefits from another important element: the backing of Kawasaki Motors UK.

Using one of Zytek’s 100 kW (134 hp) permanent magnet oil-cooled KERS motors for its power plant, the Kawasaki-Zytek ZX10ev has the added benefit of a six-speed gearbox, which like the bike’s chassis, is a recycled component from the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R donor bike the electric racer is built from. Using the firm’s automotive racing experience to its benefit, Zytek’s motor design has previously been used on the company’s Hybrid Le-Mans 24 hour race-winning car, and uses technology similar to Zytek KERS system used in the 2009 Formula 1 Championship.

Powering the motor will be four 15Ah LiFeP04 cylindrical cell battery packs, which have been located in the ZX-10R’s fuel tank, airbox, radiator, & exhaust for a total of 11.8 kWh in energy storage. “The shape of the Ninja ZX-10R frame is designed to curve around a conventional engine, and does not lend itself naturally to the fitment of a battery,” said Zytek Project Manager Des Hill. “We have ended up filling the area normally use by the tank, air-box, radiator and exhaust with four sculpted packs. In total we have 240 power cells carefully distributed around the bike.”

Riding the Kawasaki-Zytek ZX10ev will be the TT’s “best newcomer” James Hillier, who finished in 8th place at last year’s Senior TT race, and has been campaigning in the British Superbike Championship on the Kawasaki ZX-10R. “The TT course is over 37 miles long and is reckoned to be perhaps the most demanding road racing circuit in the world”, said Hillier. “Having competed here several times I can attest to that reputation. I am really excited by the challenge of piloting the electric powered Ninja through the myriad corners and ascents that includes the famous “mountain” part of the TT circuit. As a test of contemporary and possible future two-wheeled technology there could be no better stage than this.”

The Kawasaki/Zytek entry is an interesting one for a variety of reasons, but most prominently it is because of the team’s use of a tradition ICE gearbox with its race bike design. Continuing the debate as to whether electric motorcycle drivetrains need to be mated to transmissions, and whether a six-speed close-ratio design is the best package for the application, Zytek and Kawasaki have taken things a step further by using a conventional ICE unit.

Contrast this development with the one currently underway by Brammo, who acquired SMRE’s IET six-speed gearbox for use on the company’s recently unveiled Brammo Empulse R electric street bike. Talking to Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann at Sears Point a few weekends ago, Wismann explained that the efficiencies of a gearbox like Brammo’s IET were lost on higher-voltage machines, like the Kawasaki-Zytek ZX10ev, hence the reason the IET gearbox was not used on the 2012 Brammo Empulse RR.

Zytek’s Des Hill would seem to disagree about the choice of application though. “I watched the TT Zero race last year from the Gooseneck corner at the start of the steep ‘mountain’ section and, frankly, many of the entries were very slow, said Hill. “Using Direct Drive and no gearbox they simply didn’t have the torque to pull away from Ramsey Hairpin and accelerate up the mountain in same way as a conventional engined bike would.”

The team hopes the Kawasaki gearbox will allow Hillier to get a rapid launch from the TT’s standing start and slower corners, as well as being able to post 200+ mph speeds on the road course’s fastest sections, like the mile and a half long Sulby Straight.

The proof will be in the pudding as to the gearbox debate, but one thing is for certain: the involvement of Kawasaki Motors UK is not only a huge boon to the sport of electric motorcycle racing, but to the Isle of Man TT as well. With two traditional ICE OEMs now vying for position on the Mountain Course, along with up-starts MotoCzysz and Lightning Motorcycles, this year’s TT Zero should prove to be an interesting event, with a number of teams poised to takedown the 100 mph barrier, and then some.

The 2012 Isle of Man TT practice sessions start this weekend, and of course Asphalt & Rubber will be on the Isle to bring you the latest news from the TT fortnight. Stay tuned.

Source: Zytek


  1. Riccardo says:

    That’s it? One pic?

    They sure are secretive. I’d like to see how they matted the engine to the transmission.

  2. Dr. Gellar says:

    It’ll be really interesting to see how this bike does vs. the new-for-2012 MotoCzysz E1pc’s and the Mugen Shinden. I’m hoping this will someday lead to a purpose-built Kawasaki e-racer (as hopefully the Mugen bike will lead to an eventual HRC e-racer).

    On a side note, since Kawasaki’s sportbike moniker is the Ninja, it would only be appropriate if some day in the future they would come out with a high performance electric sportbike that lived up even more to that name than it’s current range (with respect to the near/relative silence of an electric motorcycle).

  3. GeddyT says:

    200+ miles per hour from 135 bhp? Um… no.

  4. Richard Gozinya says:


    There’s also the issue of having enough energy to finish the race. If someone takes it as hard as they can, they’re likely to run out of juice before the finish line. 11.8kWh might sound like a lot, but it’s less than one gallon of gasoline. Running a 134hp motor hard will eat that juice up in a big hurry.

    On the subject of transmissions, I think it really depends on the transmission. I remember reading about one in development that would boost performance by 20% or something, which they could put into efficiency, or speed, or somewhere in between. It was just a three speed, but that seems to make more sense, given an electric motor’s torque curve.

  5. Keith says:

    heh, I think that some don’t understand racing electric. You gear to time/distance…trading off speed for time/distance. BUT when you consider that electric motors make their best torque at 0rpm…a gear box is a SMART thing to do for those slow corners and points when you have to reaccelerate after decelerating.