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.

Good Idea: BEARTek Bluetooth Motorcycle Gloves

12/03/2012 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Good Idea: BEARTek Bluetooth Motorcycle Gloves BEARtek bluetooth motorcycle glove

Having used a number of bluetooth headsets over the years, I can tell you that I generally loathe the technology. For starters, it usually means an add-on item that involves wires snaking around my head and neck, with some sort of cumbersome box precariously latched to the side of my helmet (or worse, permanently affixed). Over the past decade, the technology has gotten better, especially with the popularity and compatibility of bluetooth devices, but I have yet to see an elegant solution in this space. Most of this boils down to the UX.

With leather riding gloves, hopelessly small buttons become impossible to manage, and heaven forbid I am wearing thicker winter gloves. Voice-activated controls are sketchy as well, especially when on a revving motorcycle, and somehow my audible commands to change an MP3 track have me instead accidentally calling ex-girl friend, which only leads to more frantic fumblings for the right button/command combination — keep in mind, this is all while riding a motorcycle at speed on a freeway, an endeavor already with its own set of perils.

At this point in time, I have pretty much given up on a good integrated solution. Established manufacturers don’t seem to be answering the call (pun intended) by upgrading their offerings to keep pace with technology, and add-on systems are still cumbersome and inelegant solutions. Yet, I still have the desire for intercity rides where I can listen to turn-by-turn directions, and long highway treks where my Pandora stations could make the miles pass a little quicker.

One small company is helping me keep the faith a this point, as the motorcycle gloves from BEARTek are showing some promise. Devising a glove-based bluetooth controlling system, BEARTek has devised a clever way of controlling one’s smartphone while on a motorcycle, making at least part of the connected-rider equation look promising. I have some business notes though…of course.

Placing six touch-points on the fingers of motorcycle glove (it looks like they have other models for snowmobilers, skiers, etc as well), BEARTek’s system makes it easy for one to adjust the volume, changes audio tracks, and answer calls with ease and minimal distraction.

Half the issues I have with current systems are that I have to take my clutch hand off the bike, and bring it up to my helmet in order to fumble with an add-on system. Not only does this make for an awkward position, but in the process of knocking my helmet around, one of my two hands is hopelessly far away from where it should be while riding a motorcycle.

However, with BEARTek’s system, simple commands are made with slight gestures, which cuts down on how much of a rider’s attention is taken away from actually riding the motorcycle, as well as keeping the intrusion to the riding position at a minimum. Chewy.

Launching the idea on Kickstarter, BEARTek is currently about $40,000 from reaching its funding goal for the project, though a $170 pledge gets you a pair of the company’s motorcycle gloves through the funding site (they have their own website as well). A very innovative and smart idea, if you happen to like the gloves being offered, we would recommend picking a set up from the American company (we would be interested in hearing some reviews from readers as well).

As much as I love this idea though, it is still a non-starter for me. For the same reason I don’t buy the bluetooth integrated helmets that are on the market, I have no interest in buying a generic brand motorcycle glove…even if it has a very smart bluetooth system built into it. Instead, I would like to see BEARTek license the technology to companies like Dainese, Alpinestars, REV’IT, etc.

A licensing deal would not only be a better business move for BEARTek, but it would benefit riders as well, as they would get the protection they are looking for with the name brands, but also the value-added technology developed by BEARTek.

Paired with a bluetooth enabled helmet (Dainese/AGV anyone? Or better yet a universal system where an Arai helmet talks to a pair of gloves from Alpinestars), this could be a real knockout punch item. We’ll have to wait and see where things go, but it is good to see some innovation going on in the motorcycle apparel space. Keep it up guys.

Source: BEARTek via Bikes in the Fast Lane

Comment:

  1. Kevin says:

    To tweek your point and make it my own, as much as I love this idea, it is still a non-starter for me. For the same reason I don’t buy the bluetooth integrated helmets that are on the market, I have no interest in buying anything that allows me to talk on my phone or listen to music while riding a motorcycle.

    I appreciate the technology advancement, but when is enough stimulation enough? As if riding a motorcycle isn’t entertaining or engaging enough, we need to be able to talk on our cell phone and listen to Pandora while riding? I think not.

  2. I can see where you’re coming, though I think the pivot point comes when you’re commuting, not joyriding.

    Getting nav directions in my ear when I’m going somewhere new saves me a lot of time, especially when I have to pull over, get my gloves off, and fish out my phone for the map app when I’m lost…which is often.

  3. Daniel Croft says:

    I have an external BT headset that I use quite a lot. I’ve tried several helmets with integrated BT and found them to be lacking. I think the fundamental issue with BT helmets (aside from UX) is that helmet manufacturers haven’t really innovated (or every really created a new product) in 20 years. But, we all keep paying top dollar for it so why change?

  4. RibzMcSaucy says:

    What button do I push to be able to make my bike slide like that at the end of the video?

  5. Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

    I’m with Kevin but also agree with Jensen. I don’t desire the extra elecronic stimulation on a joy ride but I do listen to music while on a 6000 mile vacation. So it has its place.

    I also agree with Jensen on the licensing of the technology. The company will likely sell a limited amount of gloves for the very reason he states….it’s not a name brand and model that riders are familiar with. I’m an Alpinestars guy myself…GP Pro and WR-3 for winter. There’s a whole lot of money to be made by licensing the tech to all the manufacturers out there simply because it can end up on a specific model glove that has a huge following already. Beartek doesn’t make gloves. It’s not their specialty. Leave that to those that do specialize in it. Beartek can stick to what they know.

    Perhaps if they contacted a manufacturer and asked them to build a run of 1000 GP Pro or whatever gloves and asked them to offer them along side their current line, they’d get where they are going and quicker.

  6. froryde says:

    Wouldn’t voice control / command be a better solution (assuming it works flawlessly)? You don’t even have to take your hands off the grips at all then.

  7. MotoBell says:

    On the Business:
    - point is valid on licensing but beartek has to prove a market exists and then will be able to license
    - you could argue the licensing the ip once developed and proven is a bigger business play for them than become a safety equipment mfr

    On the technology:
    - Agree with Kevin , I don’t want it

    On consumer experience:
    - Neat but still I have to charge multiple BT devices

  8. MotoBell says:

    oh wanted to add.

    I think this has more viability in skiing and snowboarding as a market than motorcycling. I actually would pay for this for my snowboarding and don;t care who makes the glove as longs as it has the requisite thinsulate etc..

    where on 2 wheels, I only want to ride and even if this is useable on long tours I want it on trusted safety equipment manufacturer

  9. Darth Vader says:

    You have failed me for the last time General!

  10. Keith says:

    No thanks, don’t need bluetooth anything. Don’t have a cellphone, not even a disposable tracphone. Don’t need one. Heck I don’t even own a GPS and haven’t used one since 03 (was using a Rockwell GPS). I’ve a pair of headphone / earplugs that I dont’ even plug into my tapeplayer anymore. If you can’t navigate without GPS…you sholdn’t be leaving the house anyway. Help? Heh…if I can’t fix it I walk, if I can’t walk I’ll crawl and if I can’t crawl. Well I guess it’s time for a nap…

  11. BBQdog says:

    Why don’t they invent a helmet with bleutooth which detects a riders stops and opens the visor just a little bit. Or ventilate it in another way. Now I have to do this at every traffic light myself :-(