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.

Electric Teams Just Want to Race Against the Best

02/17/2010 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Electric Teams Just Want to Race Against the Best Mission One testing Infineon 560x353

In the flurry of press releases sent out by TTXGP regarding what teams were signing up for its racing events, TTXGP mentioned that several teams had agreed to exclusive deals to compete only in the TTXGP series of races. At the time, this meant that the teams would be racing in their local TTXGP series events, the Isle of Man, and possibly at the Championship event in Spain. However with the announcement that TT Zero would replace TTXGP at the Isle of Man, teams that were hoping to race at the Isle of Man, may find themselves precluded from the event because of these prior obligations. Talking to a number of American electric motorcycle teams this past week, it is clear the first priority for all these teams is to race at the venues where the best competition will be…wherever that may be.

For many teams the Isle of Man represents the pinnacle of electric motorcycle racing. Having already run the Mountain Course before, there is a tangible baseline in electric racing that is defined by the historic course. On top of this, the Isle of Man offers an opportunity for teams around the world to compete against each other in a race that has gained a great deal of exposure over the past year, and is a known entity to everyday motorcyclists.

For the teams involved this presents a quandary on where to race, and who will be there…an issue most of these teams would rather not face. For example Edward West President of Mission Motors, and the man in charge of Mission’s racing efforts, expressed to us a sentiment that we’ve heard variations of from a number of American based electric motorcycle teams, “We have very little interest in the politics of the situation. What we are interested in is racing, and we’re interested in pushing forward this technological envelope with the best competition in the world”

Where the competition will be is the uncertainty. A lot remains to be seen as to where Brammo and MotoCzysz will decide to race. It seems unlikely that either team would miss a opportunity to race at the TTXGP opener at Infineon in May, especially since Zero and Mission Motors will be there and track is just “down the road” from them. However it also is hard to think that the Oregon crew will miss out on tackling the Isle of Man as well this year, as both teams are rumored to have new bikes in the works, and have much prove with a year’s worth of time to refine and build new race bikes.

For a team like Mission Motors, the road is less clear. With an exclusivity presumably keeping them from racing again at the TT Zero event, they may be precluded from racing with the best caliber of racers available. However, with the changes in the electric racing climate, some could say that TTXGP’s ousting from the Isle of Man is a material change to any agreement made.

Whatever the reasoning, the TT Zero announcement is enough to give Mission Motors pause, as Edward West told us, “there was a sea of change in my mind when they lost their crown jewel event…and that is something that we are absolutely reconsidering right now, as a result of the fallout from the TT Zero decision.” Knowing that Brammo, MotoCzysz, Agni, and others will likely be at the Isle of Man this year, it would seem Mission would be better placed racing against the best competitors on the Island, rather than racing around Road America by themselves. Who knows what final decision they will make, but we’re expecting a very quiet race in Wisconsin later this year.

Comment:

  1. Brammofan says:

    “Who knows what final decision they will make, but we’re expecting a very quiet race in Wisconsin later this year.” That’s pretty clever, Jensen. You’re an “I told you so” kind of guy, aren’t you? I can respect that. That sentence will be correct whether they have a field of 40 bikes, a dozen, none, or heck, even if the planet gets blown to bits. Because, as we all know, “In Space, no one can hear your electric motor whirring.”

  2. Zinger! Ha, nice one Harry.

  3. ev fan says:

    couple of points i find strange that iw ould love your view on…

    For an online magazine jumping up and down about your own IP and content being stolen by another, you seem to be a little less supportive of the originator when referring to someone else’s IP … hypocritical possibly or do you have good reason not to believe in TTXGP ? If yes do tell – why keep the juicy stuff to yourself?

    Another possible angle for this story was reported today by MCN – makes interesting reading and I believe their take on the situation as it looks like they dug a little deeper in looking for the “truth” – although, like most, am open to be convinced otherwise by the A&R legend…

    http://www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/News/newsresults/General-news/2010/February/feb1710-iom-minister-blasts-tt-organisers-over-ttxgp-split/

  4. skadamo says:

    “Talking to a number of American electric motorcycle teams this past week, it is clear the first priority for all these teams is to race at the venues where the best competition will be…wherever that may be.”

    I agree. No one is showing their cards yet. I think everyone is also asking “at the end of 2010, will a win at Albacete look better than a win at IOM? I agree that there is a baseline at IOM that everyone will want to beat. But everyone wants a headline to help them sell bikes. I personally think winning a series such as eGrandPrix/TTXGP is the greater win than the TT Zero. Especially if Team Agni does not show up.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Can’t wait to hear what you, Wes, Guy and Ivar know that I don’t :D

    P.S. I don’t believe Mission is not paying attention to the politics or at least some of it. I have some serious concerns about whatever organization is not telling the truth. How could Mission not?

  5. skadamo says:

    Where’s the edit button? When I said “Especially if Team Agni does not show up” I meant at IOM.

  6. @skadamo
    I’m not sure what a race at Albacete will look like…if what i’m hearing is true, there will be a significant stratifcation between the “professionals” and “amateurs” (using this terms loosely, hence the quotes) as far as performance goes. These race outcomes are still more about the bike and not the rider, and will continue to be that way for some time.

    With this in mind, here are my early predictions:

    TTXGP Italy: snooze fest watching the crp racing/mavizen’s make up 99% of the grid.

    TTXGP UK: Agni blowing the hobbyist and universities out of the water

    TTXGP USA: Too hard to say what the whole series will look like if there’s even a meaningful grid outside of Infineon, but at we’ll get a preview at Infineon of what TT Zero will be like.

    That being said, if the American companies really have improved that much more in one year’s time…Albacete will be like Infineon with Agni showing up as well….that’s assuming that TT Zero hasn’t already settled things. If I was a Brammo/MotoCzysz/Mission Motors, why would I run at Albacete against everyone I already beat at Infineon and TT Zero? That’s $10,000+ in capital I can save for next year.

    @ev fan
    There’s no IP in racing rules…at least not legally. We can debate “moral” rights and wrongs, but TTXGP has zero recourse in a courtroom. There’s also some debate as to who actually wrote those rules, not everyone agrees TTXGP is the author. Azhar has been pretty quiet on that point, and other sites have been the one trumpeting that issue, so…

    I wouldn’t mind taking a quick straw vote from all the sites that cover this space, and see which writers have actually sat down in person and talked with Azhar. I’ve met him twice. I’ve never had someone ask me for a story retraction and a favor within a 10 minute’s time.

  7. Electric Teams Just Want to Race Against the Best http://bit.ly/9hqOjZ

  8. John Adamo says:

    Electric Teams Just Want to Race with the Best – http://bit.ly/a3728j #motorcycle (via @Asphalt_Rubber)

  9. Electric Teams Just Want to Race with the Best – http://bit.ly/a3728j #motorcycle

  10. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Electric Teams Just Want to Race with the Best – http://bit.ly/a3728j #motorcycle

  11. RT@Asphalt_Rubber:Electric Teams Just Want to Race with the Best – http://bit.ly/a3728j

  12. IvarK says:

    @Jensen
    I guess I’m one of the sites that covers this space. I’ve spent more time talking to Azhar and FIM than I’ve done on any other story. Noone has asked me to retract anything. Being asked for favours is a good thing. It means someone thinks you’ve got influence. It doesn’t mean you have to say yes.

    With regards to the article: Of course they are “uninterested in the politics” and “just want to race against the best”, but it’s naive to think it’s possible. As the situation is, choosing where to race is politics.

  13. skadamo says:

    @Jensen Good point on the cost of running TTXGP Series vs IOM. Would love to see a breakdown of IOM vs. TTXGP series.

    On the bright side I think TTXGP will provide more visibility to sponsors. Maybe Azhar could help these teams find some sponsors? I hear there is a lot of money in this Green tech stuff. :)

    I still think winning the TTXGP series would be better. There would be a lot of learning and technology advances in 5 rounds of racing versus 1 lap at IOM.

  14. @skadamo
    It’s certainly a debate that has no clear answer (TT Zero vs. Albacete), and the two aren’t mutually exclusive (except for the lost points from not racing at Road America).

    I think the fact that companies like Mission Motors are even pondering what TTXGP not being at IOM means for them shows the importance the importance IOMTT plays in their mind…and they’re the ones whose opinion really matters.

    If everyone shows up at TT Zero and not at Albacete, which event are you going to give more prestige to in your mind?

  15. @Jensen .. maybe you have little understanding what “Intellectual property” means? There’s a lot of intellect and research and development that goes into developing something like a document on racing rules. It’s not something you hack out in an afternoon. Any time someone writes something there is an opportunity to put a copyright notice on it, and hence turn it into “property”. So technically there is both intellect and property associated with a set of racing rules. I do understand that FIM rules are published in a way that they’re widely used even outside FIM sanctioned races. For example the TT races, I understand, are run using FIM rules but not sanctioned by FIM. To do that FIM must be publishing under a copyright that allows for such use. As for who wrote the TTXGP rules – I think the TTXGP team has made it very clear that they put a lot of work into it. Certainly when I talk with Azhar that’s the story I get. It’s been very clear that for example they arranged with the IET to act as a technical advisory board, and that the IET did a lot of the work to define the rules. And remember that prior to the TTXGP coming onto the scene FIM’s idea of “clean” motorcycle racing was to research biofuels (look at past issues of the FIM newsletter for their clean motorcycle racing effort). Hence FIM had approximately zero expertise in electric anything.

  16. @David

    Your analysis only shows your complete lack of understanding for what copyright law is, and how it operates. Check my credentials, I’d be more than happy to let you borrow a copyright law text or two.

  17. @Jensen, huh? I have been dealing with copyright law for years in particular in regard to software copyrights on open source software. I am certainly very comfortable with the issues around copyrights. On the other hand your claim that there’s “There’s no IP in racing rules” struck me as extremely odd. I haven’t looked at what copyright FIM puts on their rules documents but I am very well aware of Berne Convention and other kinds of automatic copyrights.

    In other fields standards documents are often heavily protected behind copyright and other legal agreements.

  18. @Daivd

    You’re basing your argument on the attachment of copyright protection at the time a creative work is produced. Yes, that is a correct understanding of when copyright law attaches. No, it is not the proper analysis for this situation.

    Do me a favor and quote me fully next time. I said, “There’s no IP in racing rules…at least not legally.” I’m here to argue about authorship or moral rights and wrongs. I’m speaking about recourse in a court of law.

    Just because you write something down, doesn’t make it a copyright, even it requires “intellect” as you put it. Do me another favor, work out by hand the first 10 digits of Pi, and write them down. Do you proclaim to have a copyright on that work you just created? Calculating Pi isn’t easy, and takes a great degree of intellect.

    The best argument for there being IP protection in racing rules would be under a sui generis theory of law. You’re not arguing that here, nonetheless there’s no case law to suggest that sort of protection exists in this matter.

  19. @Jensen, perhaps my background in the software industry is doing me a disservice. I just read Mark Gardiner’s reports on this published on roadracerx.com and he quotes Crellin discussing the rules TT Zero would be using as an amalgam of rules picked from TTXGP 2009, IET/ACU and FIM’s e-Power. Clearly from IOMTT’s point of view it’s perfectly reasonable to pick up rules from wherever they wish to find them.

    In the software industry this sort of behavior is a big no-no. A particular issue is copyright and for example whether two works have compatible copyrights. But the strongest analogy here is the various standards to computer equipment and software. The race rules do define the specs of acceptable bikes in the same way that standards documents define the acceptable behavior of software of hardware. Standards like this are the basis of multi-billion-dollar industries and often the subject of lawsuits.

    Crellin’s attitude as related by Gardiner is very shocking. The equivalent in the software world would be for a company like Microsoft to take code from some other company and just put it in Windows without any acknowledgement or license agreement. Microsoft has done this several times and been successfully sued for doing so.