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.

Trackside Tuesday: Our Most Precious Resource

11/20/2012 @ 1:08 pm, by Scott Jones5 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Our Most Precious Resource Bankia MotoGP Valencia Scott Jones

It’s easy to forget that motorcycle racing is a sport for children. Their courage on track is remarkable, and even more so because of their young age. They start at five, four, sometimes three, riding their tiny motorbikes around the paddock or on dirt tracks in rural towns and lonely desert spaces and sometimes in organized series such as the Cuna Campeones Bankia.

At this moment there are thousands of kids either on their little machines or wishing they were riding, counting the minutes until they get to put the helmet back on and ride, perhaps just for the joy or perhaps with dreams of a world championship.

They have various levels of support from adults, ranging from the tolerant, to the indulging, to the demanding. As in all endeavors, most of the individuals either don’t reach their potential due to other demands on their time, energy or budget, or they approach that potential, and are judged to have too little talent in their bodies and minds to warrant moving to the next level.

Those who have the talent and desire, and are lucky enough to be recognized as such, might receive the support to compete at higher and higher levels. And sometimes by the onset of adolescence these kids are worldly and experienced in the ways of competition, travel, sponsorship, and so on.

Maverick Viñales started racing minimotos at 3 years old. In 2007 and 2008 he won the Catalonian 125cc Championship. He is now 17 years old, already a champion and G.P. race winner, having finished 3rd in his first two seasons.

Marc Márquez climbed aboard a factory Honda last weekend at Valencia at the tender age of 19. Being not quite single-handedly responsible for the removal of the inconvenient Rookie Rule (money had a lot to do with it, as well as his talent), Marquez must now, at 19, negotiate the world of top level motor sports and all that goes along with it.

Viñales recently made dramatic news by walking away from his team while still contending for the Moto3 title, stating conflicts of interest with his personal/team manager who had not revealed to him offers from other teams for the 2013 season. At Valencia Viñales announced he had renewed his contract with the same fellow in spite of the former allegations. A tough spot to be in at 17 years old.

At 19 Márquez brings his undeniable riding talent to the Repsol Honda team, and he brings his immaturities as well. One colleague in the paddock described Márquez as a liability for all associated with him, given his past and frequent adventures leading to injuries, his own and that of other riders unfortunate enough to get in his way.

Now that he’s on a MotoGP bike, the potential for more disastrous consequences of these errors in judgement is greater, and given his competitive spirit, he will be after results immediately. Perhaps if he were introduced to the premier class on a satellite team, with lower expectations, everyone might be safer. Perhaps not.

Viñales and Márquez are only two examples of young men dealing with situations of great complexity. Certainly both of these teenagers are much more talented and experienced than I was at their ages. But if I consider my own level of maturity at 17 and then at 19–well, I would’ve been a disaster on all fronts, and fortunately my lack of talent spared me these particular failures.

But we’ve also seen older, more mature individuals show strain from the challenges these kids face when it comes to living in the spotlight. Media attention, sponsor demands, and growing numbers of fans telling you in person and on Twitter how great you are, it all complicates a life off the track, while the life on track involves the risk of debilitating injury and loss of life.

Sometimes I wonder as I make my living photographing young men (and in the case of Elena Rosell, a young woman) what responsibility I share for their well-being. As a father of two young girls, I constantly consider how best to encourage my own kids to explore their abilities and interests while at the same time safeguarding their emotional and physical well-being.

If my own kids showed the talent and passion required to excel at motorcycle racing, I’d too probably encourage them to find their limits and see how far they could go, though I’d be a nervous wreck the entire way. I’m sure the fathers of Viñales and Márquez, both of whom accompany their sons to race weekends, feel the same paternal conflicts of wanting both accomplishment and safety for their kids.

For my own part, I remind myself often that many of the brave souls in leathers and helmets are still just that: kids. They are kids who risk their lives for their enjoyment and for mine because we both feel our own kinds of passion for motorbike racing. Perhaps there is no way to reconcile the risks of motorbike racing with the youth of most of its participants.

But as an international community, we do well to remember at all times how young are our heros in leathers, and as fans, journalists, businesspeople, to guard their well-being, physical and spiritual, as if they were our own kids.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. L2C says:

    Great post, Scott! Thank you.

  2. Andres Freire says:

    I can’t wait to see Marquez battle it out with the Aliens. Maybe this will finally bring some much needed life to MotoGP. Wish him the best of luck.

  3. David Emmett says:

    Trackside Tuesday: Our Most Precious Resource – http://t.co/Z7KCv7Wa #motorcycle

  4. David says:

    Riding motorcycles keeps a person young.

    I will forever be young in mind and heart.

  5. bemer2six says:

    An awesome read Scott…