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.

Analyzing the Details of the 2014 WSBK & EVO Regulations

08/27/2013 @ 6:18 pm, by David Emmett20 COMMENTS

Analyzing the Details of the 2014 WSBK & EVO Regulations sylvain guintoli burnout aprilia racing 635x420

It’s been a busy couple of days at FIM headquarters, as they have been putting the finishing touches to the new rules for both the World Superbike and MotoGP series. The biggest news was the release of the detailed technical regulations for the World Superbike series for 2014 and beyond. The new rules had been announced in early August, but the precise details had to wait until now.

Though the changes are extremely detailed, they can be boiled down to a few major points: the introduction of the EVO class, which allows Superstock engines in Superbike chassis; the introduction of price caps on suspension and brakes; restrictions on gear ratios; and the introduction of an engine allocation system similar to that in MotoGP and also in Superstock.

The engine allocation system had long been expected, after Carmelo Ezpeleta made a series of barbed (and misleading) attacks on the number of engines supposedly used by Aprilia in WSBK in 2011 and 2012. The limit on the number of engines is relatively low: each rider will have 8 engines to last a season with.

Though that seems reasonable for some 13 or 14 race weekends, that requires the engines to last for 26 or more races. As in MotoGP, the engines are sealed to prevent maintenance on crankshaft, bottom and top ends, and the valve train, other than camchain tension adjustment.

The crankcases, cylinders, cylinder heads, and valve and cam covers are sealed. Seals may be broken to allow gearbox ratios to be changed – see below – but also as in MotoGP, that can only be done in the presence of a technical official from the series.

The aim of imposing restrictions on engine maintenance is to reduce cost, though the savings will be different in WSBK compared to MotoGP. The savings in MotoGP were largely in transport: previously, engines from some Japanese factories were flown back to Japan to be stripped, checked, and rebuilt, before being flown back for the next race.

For World Superbikes, engines are all maintained by the teams in their own workshops, and so shipping is not an issue. However, restricting the number of engines each team can use will reduce the amount of tuning which can be done.

Reliability will become a bigger factor, and as WSBK allows limited modification of engine internals, reducing the state of tune of the engines is the most obvious way of pursuing it.

This is likely to punish some manufacturers more than others: in its stock state, the Aprilia RSV4 produces 177hp at the crank. BMW’s S1000RR pumps out 193hp, and Kawasaki’s ZX-10R kicks out a smidgeon over 200hp.

Another change aimed at reducing cost is the restriction on gearbox ratios. Teams will be allowed two options: they can either have the choice of two sets of gearbox ratios, plus the choice of two primary drive ratios, or they can have the choice of three gearbox ratios. Though alternative ratios can be selected individually for each gear, they can only be changed as a predefined set of gears.

In other words, the teams have a choice of two or three gearboxes with set ratios they can use; they can’t mix and match individual gear ratios. Gear ratios will have to be selected at the beginning of each season, and declared to the series organizers. The idea behind restricting gear ratios is to reduce spending in three areas.

Firstly, the teams don’t have to carry as many physical gears around with them, as their choices are so restricted. Secondly, they don’t have to spend so much time either exchanging gears and building gearboxes, or running computer simulations to figure out the best possible combination of gear ratios.

Finally, as is the case with the restriction of engines, the hope is that the amount of engine tuning will be less, as the engines will have to be slightly more flexible in their power delivery. Fewer possible gear choices mean a broader spread of torque is required.

Of course, for some of the factory teams, the savings in time spent on gearing will just go into electronics to manage power delivery, so it remains to be seen how effective this will be.

Perhaps the biggest saving will come in the imposition of price caps on suspension and braking parts. Though the items themselves were not that expensive, the real cost was in the service contract which teams were forced to sign for the maintenance and set up of forks and shocks. A team might pay, say, 40,000 euros for a couple of sets of forks, but then over 100,000 euros for the technician to maintain them and advise and manage spring rates, damping, etc.

Under the new rules, suspension manufacturers will have to supply a list of available suspension parts, complete with the cost of spares. They must be prepared to supply any team which asks them, at the prices stated in the official lists. More importantly, the manufacturers must be willing to supply them without imposing a service contract on them. The teams are free to sign up to such a service contract if they wish – something the top teams will all almost certainly do – but it is no longer a compulsory part of purchase.

A similar set of rules has also been imposed on brakes and brake parts. Each brake manufacturer will have to supply a list of parts for approval, at a fixed price, and free of a service contract.

There were further minor tweaks to the technical regulations, including restrictions on the method of crankshaft balancing, the use of variable intake tract systems, and the use of the homologated air box. These changes were all refinements, however, not major shake ups.

The biggest change was the introduction of the EVO sub-class of WSBK machines. EVO bikes will race in the World Superbike series, much as the CRT bikes have raced in MotoGP for the past eighteen months. The EVO bikes are basically a hybrid of Superstock engines in full-blown Superbike chassis, with a few minor variations.

EVO bikes will be allowed to use 6 engines a season, rather than the 8 allowed for the full WSBK rules, but twice as many as the 3 allowed in the Superstock 1000 rules. Though engine modifications are as limited as they are in Superstock, the exhaust systems can be full Superbike systems, rather than the more restricted Superstock homologated systems. Clutches are similarly unregulated, with the same ability to replace the stock unit with modified or specialist racing clutches.

Gearbox rules are in the middle of the new WSBK and existing Superstock rules. A team running an EVO bike are free to select their own gear ratios, but they are only allowed a single set of ratios, which they must use all year. Primary drive ratios must remain as standard. The advantage is that EVO bikes are not stuck with the standard gear ratios, but once they have selected a set of gear ratios, they are stuck with them, and can only modify gearing by changing the final drive sprockets and chains.

The electronics remain as they are in Superstock, limited to either the standard ECU with modified software, or a manufacturer-approved kit ECU with a price cap. The price cap is slightly more generous than the Superstock rules. Data logging is also less restricted than Superstock, with 10 channels allowed rather than 7, but not as free as in WSBK, where there are no restrictions on how many channels can be logged. As with so many other items, the data logging system is price capped, in this case to 1,000 euros.

The point of the EVO class is to offer a cheap entry point for teams wishing to enter the class, and to help flesh out the grid. WSBK was down to 19 full time entries at the start of the 2013 season, but since the announcement of the EVO class, two teams have indicated their interest in moving up to the World Superbike class.

It seems unlikely that EVO is the desired end point of the WSBK technical regulations; due to the disparity in power of the various production bikes, performance is hard to balance without allowing engine modification.

The dominance of the BMW S1000RR, Ducati 1199 Panigale, and most especially the Kawasaki ZX-10R in Superstock 1000 show the difficulty in restricting engine modifications too much.

World Superbikes cannot afford to lose any more manufacturers. But given the severely anemic state of the grid, it cannot continue as it is, either.

The changes for the 2014 World Superbike regulations can be found in this PDF document on the FIM website. The EVO regulations can be found in this PDF document.

Photo: Aprilia Racing

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. smoke says:

    So here’s my question: what defines a homologation bike? Are we back to the day of small run high spec bikes to top the range off?

  2. paulus says:

    The perceived money saved will be burnt off testing and developing new ways to bend around the updated rules.

  3. 2ndclass says:

    @smoke: If memory serves the current production figures for WSBK homologation is 3000 bikes.

  4. smiler says:

    As the world recession comes to an end. Dorna introduce cost cutting. The CRT system just does not work. All it has done is made a 2 tier MotoGP grid with CRT bikes coming in nearlt one lap behind the others. Colin Edwards opinion is very relevant. Not content with that they then do the same with WSBK, the effect will be the same.
    BMW have withdrawn and Aprilia may as well. So how is this supposed to help WSBK?

    it would seem more sensible to do the following:
    1. Calendar races with the lowest possible number of long journeys.
    2. Make the races available to as many media outlets as possible to a lower individual price.
    3. Add races where there is genuine enthusiasm for racing. For example, Qatar is usually empty. This will keep the number of spectators up, advertising revenue up and sales of merchandise up.
    When WSBK was at Brands there were usually 1000,000 people, then they stopped WSBK at Brands….
    4. Restrict the amount of clobber allowed to be carried by each team and forbid any component to be maintained outside the race track.
    5. Keep the rules the same. Factory teams have 4 riders but must maintain a min 2 man satelite. If other teams wish to use their stuff then it is passed on at near cost.
    6. Encourage riders from countries other than Spain to join the series.
    As everyone feared Dorna are junking WSBK.

  5. Starmag says:

    smiler says:
    August 28, 2013 at 2:58 AM
    As the world recession comes to an end.

    How quaint. You still believe what the TV says. No wonder you’re smiling.

  6. paulus says:

    Smiler:

    Constructive suggestions. A great set of thoughts

  7. MikeG81 says:

    “The engine allocation system had long been expected, after Darth Vader made a series of barbed (and misleading) attacks on the number of engines supposedly used by Aprilia in WSBK in 2011 and 2012.”

    Fixed.

  8. Efforts to write rules that restrict budgets are really misguided, for the simple reason that everyone always spends all their budget, in whatever way they feel gives them the best competitive advantage. All we can really hope for is to reduce the marginal benefit (in lap times or results) of extra expenditure. If there’s a side benefit to all this, it could be that the more restrictive the rules, the greater the significance of the rider. Team budgets may shift to rider salaries.

  9. sburns2421 says:

    IMO the primary effect of limiting the modifications will be to keep bikes a bit behind firmly off the leaders. A manufacturer (KTM for sake of argument) would never come into the series knowing its engines were below par and rules prevent them from developing them to be compeititve.

    Ironically the manufacturer perhaps best suited to take advantage of these new rules was BMW, only now they have pulled out of the series.

    Why not have a horsepower cap rule? Set a reasonable max amount for the rear wheel (180 hp?) and a rigid testing procedure. Top five bikes are dyno tested immediately after the race. Bike has to have enough fuel left from the race to complete the test. Exceed the limit=DQ. Simple really.

    The rules for suspension and brakes are interesting for sure. It is probably going to be a situation where “in theory” a team could get going relatively cheaply, being competitive might be a different story of course. But maybe one positive side effect is you could see more wild cards at rounds, riding in the EVO class and now with the ability to have the same binders and boingers and the leaders.

  10. Norm G. says:

    re: “It’s been a busy couple of days at FIM headquarters, as they have been putting the finishing touches to the new rules for both the World Superbike and MotoGP series”

    taking post-it notes to a roulette wheel and spinning it.

  11. Norm G. says:

    re: “Top five bikes are dyno tested immediately after the race.”

    that’s what we did/do in CANSBK and the old FUSA series for the podium finishers.

  12. Norm G. says:

    re: “Though the items themselves were not that expensive, the real cost was in the service contract which teams were forced to sign for the maintenance and set up of forks and shocks.”

    they aren’t forced to sign anything. if you don’t want or can’t afford ohlins…? roll the dice and take your chances with something else.

    re: “A team might pay, say, 40,000 euros for a couple of sets of forks, but then over 100,000 euros for the technician to maintain them and advise and manage spring rates, damping, etc.”

    when a rich celebrity is on trial for DUI…? do they request a public defender…? or do they come off the dime for say… alan dershowitz…?

  13. Norm G. says:

    re: “This is likely to punish some manufacturers more than others”

    see entry for Yamaha R1.

  14. Mark B. says:

    re: “Why not have a horsepower cap rule? Set a reasonable max amount for the rear wheel (180 hp?) and a rigid testing procedure.”

    Because motorsports is a team competition: the work of the constructors is supposed to have an impact. If you have a horsepower cap, then the competition is less interesting for constructors. A cap for horsepower is much easier to implement as a spec engine, like they did for Moto2.

  15. Mariani says:

    Some of these rules are better than others.

    I do agree with engine allocations as well as the measures taken on suspensions and brakes, but creating a sub-category is a bad move.

    Why would a team purposefully seek an uncompetitive, more expensive machine on a higher category, rather than a truly competitive, less expensive one, in the lower classes?

    And like some have said above, these cost-caps might just lead the bigger teams to spend money elsewhere.

    In the end of the day, aren’t the electronics super expensive pieces of luxury that are completely unnecessary? Why not cut those off?

    That could give the ‘lesser’ teams a greater chance, as well as redirect development to a more pragmatic level.

  16. dc4go says:

    Power cap??? what???? How about stock engines, airbox, electronics run what you sell with full exhaust and stock gas tanks. Most bikes on the WSBK grid hardly resemble the stock bikes anymore, the Pinagale resembles the stock bike the most (gas tank, body work) and it’s struggleing to get into the top 5.

  17. sunstroke says:

    “Why not have a horsepower cap rule?”

    Horsepower is already capped in basically all forms of SBK and SS racing.

    This year, 4 manufacturers and 7 riders have won in WSBK. Last year, 5 manufacturers and 9 riders won races. In 2011, 5 manufacturers and 6 riders won races. In 2010, 5 manufacturers and 7 riders won races.

    The competitiveness in SBK racing is not an accident.

  18. DC4GO says:

    Cause no manufacture would agree to a power cap goes against all racing purpose. Having limits on engines/ fuel make engineers think of solutions to create as much power as possible while still meeting specs and rules. Having a power cap eliminates competitions between factories/manufactures cause every one would quit the series.. Moto 2 has great racing but it would be better if Honda, KTM, Yamaha, Aprilia, Kawasaki, Suzuki all raced in that series would more interest to a bigger audience.. Alot of people feel Moto 2 has close racing cause the electronics are limited not any other reason.

  19. Norm G. says:

    re: “Most bikes on the WSBK grid hardly resemble the stock bikes anymore”

    don’t believe the luddite hype. they don’t stray from their stock counterparts much more than they did 5, 10, and 15 years ago. like the name says on the letterhead, superbikes have always been… SUPER. aside from unseen electrics, there’s nothing new here.

  20. Anvil says:

    @Norm G.,

    While bikes of 15 years ago might have been nearly as modified, it doesn’t change the fact that building a respectable superbike costs well into six figures. That, to me, does not really resemble a production bike.

    I’ll try not to beat a dead horse again, but someone’s got to pay for this stuff. The fact is there aren’t loads of sponsors knocking down the door waving cash. There are 19 bikes on the grid this year and some teams are struggling to stay afloat. Economic reality and it’s not changing anytime soon.

    Marketing budgets of all kinds are being scrutinized down to the penny. The average CMO doesn’t give a rat’s ass about motorcycle racing and probably won’t even give it a sniff at the current costs.

    I agree that the unfortunate result of some of these rules will be more spending to gain an advantage, and teams with money will find ways to spend it. But the sport needs more bikes on the grid and less barriers to entry for teams and sponsors.