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.

Someone Forgot to Tell Aprilia and Ducati That They Weren’t Supposed to Be Fast This Year

02/28/2011 @ 6:38 pm, by Victoria Reid7 COMMENTS

Someone Forgot to Tell Aprilia and Ducati That They Werent Supposed to Be Fast This Year Max Biaggi Phillip Island 635x427

Phillip Island proved a smashingly good weekend for Aprilia, as Max Biaggi began to defend his #1 plate by qualifying and finishing second in both races, one nearly as uncontested as Carlos Checa’s wins, and one a ray of hope for close fighting all season. Though teammate Leon Camier did not fare nearly as well, his thirteenth and sixth place finishes were remarkable for someone contending with a nasty fever.

Overall, the opening round of the 2011 World Superbike season seems to belie the suspicions that all of Aprilia’s 2010 success came down to its “unfair” gear-driven camshaft, and that Ducatis could not be competitive in WSBK’s oppressive technical formula.

Aprilia brought the system to Phillip Island last season, and a general outcry prompted the FIM to clarify the rules (which did allow Aprilia’s design). Kept from using the upgrade until the round at Miller Motorsports Park at the end of May, Biaggi managed to double at both Monza and Portimao without the gear-driven camshaft. However after its use was approved, The Emperor went on to double at Miller and Misano, with single victories at Brno, and the final race at Magny-Cours (Biaggi’s Aprilia did not feature the “cheatershaft” in France).

With the uproar from the other teams in 2010, with some going so far as to suggest that Biaggi and Camier’s bikes be inspected fully after every race for other exploitation of loopholes, the FIM made the gear-driven camshaft illegal for 2011. Though this first round at Phillip Island is not a complete indication of how 2011 will progress, Biaggi’s performance seems to indicate that the uproar in the paddock and press might have been much ado about nothing.

Similar outcries forced the FIM to add weight and air restrictions to the Ducatis, in an effort to reduce their performance, and make the WSBK contest more equal. Being forced into these restrictions is one of the generally assumed reasons that Ducati withdrew its factory team for 2011. Instead, Checa is on a Althea Ducati privateer Ducati that is as near to factory as possible, and has run away with the first two races of the season, despite the restrictions.

There is a long way to go in the 2011 season: twelve more rounds and twenty-four more races, so there are plenty of opportunities for Checa to bin his Ducati one too many times, and for the other manufacturers to catch up to Aprilia’s speed. Even so, it now seems that all that rancor over a system that exploited a now-closed loophole made for useful posturing and extra column inches, rather than shining a light on an improper advantage.


  1. fasterthanyou says:

    good to see melandri up there

  2. Spytech says:

    Gear driven cams are NOT illegal. the rule was modified to not include kits (gear driven cam kit is sold to customers by aprilia), so now the bike would have to ship to customers with gear driven cams in order for them to use it in WSBK. RC30 and RC45 which do come with Gear driven cams and if they produced a bike like this, it would be allowed

    there are other things that were changed. the use of stock injectors fuel pumps/regulators must be used. which aprilia and most other factory high powered teams were not using the stock stuff. even without all this and no gear driven cams the aprilia team managed to make an additional 5hp.

    with all the extra juice the ape RSV4 has and 11mph more top speed than the fastest Ducati, it still could not keep the pace of checa. melandri must be fustrated knowing he was a better pilot than biaggi on the 2nd race of phillip island, but was out muscled by a beast of a bike that needed no slip stream to “checa out” on the straight.

    i hope the bologna Factory gives checa that little bit more juice (just a little more top end, just a bit) he is going to need in the european rounds of wsbk.

  3. The season, as almost always happens, will go to the best rider on the best bike. While that can seem like an overly obvious observation, the point is that in almost every case, the best rider _is_ on the best bike.

    I really doesn’t matter why this happens. The best riders are usually in a position to take the best offer; the richest teams who can bid for the best rider can also fund the most potent machines; the best riders have the development skills needed to help their team improve their bike; and last but not least, teams work harder for riders who absolutely give their all.

    Any of these factors typically outweigh the advantages garnered by teams’ abilities to exploit rules loopholes. (Remember the endless debate about Mladin and Yoshimura Suzuki’s did-they-or-didn’t-they-have-it Traction Control? The whiners who complained about it would have had trouble beating Mladin even if he’d been limited to a a _stock_ GSX-R. In fact, when the AMA severely restricted Superbike technical rules, Mat got faster. For the record, I hated that pr!(&, but I’m just saying…)

    Good point about Checa though. They don’t call him ‘Careless Chucker’ for nothing!

  4. Other Sean says:

    It’s too early to tell. Nearly everyone is on a new machine EXCEPT Checa and Biaggi, so that’s not too surprising.
    But the controversy around Aprilia’s gear driven cams won’t go away, because they weren’t available on customer bikes last year, and now they don’t have the gears this year, to come back into line with what is common sense rules. Jeesh, I’d even say Yamaha’s underseat gas tank was dubious last year, and again, that’s been changed.

    It’s all moot of course, onward and upward. Go Checa, I hope he stays consistent.

  5. mxs says:

    This was the most favorable track to twins they will see the whole year. Don’t read too much into Checa checking out twice in two races ….

  6. This made me chuckle: “Don’t read too much into Checa checking out twice in two races…”

    Spytech, you’ve got a nice circular argument going on there: there’s no rule that outlaws teams from using gear-driven cams, but teams can no longer use kits. Since none of the bikes have gear-driven cams in stock form, they can’t use them on the race bike, per this new rule. So there is a rule that makes it illegal for all teams to use gear-driven cams. Perhaps it just doesn’t explicitly state it, and that’s the point you’re going after.

  7. Spytech says:

    well, illegal would imply not allowed at all and that is not the case. aprilia could have produced a homologation special with gear driven cams just like ducati’s 1098R. twins are not allowed to change connecting rods like the 4 cylinder bikes. how does ducati get around this, their 1098R comes with ti rods. so if ape RSV4 came with gear driven cams, they would allow it. the fact that they do not come with gear driven cams does not make it illegal, they just havent met the requirement to use them.

    they dont produce the bike that way so they can not use it, but that doesnt make it illegal. in the end we are arguing semantics.