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.

Gino Borsoi’s MotoGP Dilemma for Team Aspar

07/05/2013 @ 3:57 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

Gino Borsois MotoGP Dilemma for Team Aspar randy de puniet aprilia art aspar COTA Jensen Beeler 635x423

The Power Electronics Aspar team have seized the opportunity offered by the CRT rules with both hands. By teaming up with Aprilia and employing two talented and fast riders, Aspar has helped turn the RSV4-based ART machine into a genuinely competitive machine, in every respect except for horsepower.

At Assen, Aleix Espargaro finished eighth, ahead of two factory Ducatis and three other satellite MotoGP machines. The bike is clearly good.

For 2014, however, Aspar must face a dilemma. With the introduction of the spec-electronics system, teams choosing to race the ART bikes will lose the current advantage those machines have, a highly-developed and very effective electronics package.

Teams running ART machines must choose, either to accept the Magneti Marelli developed software, and keep 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines, or persuade Aprilia to port their software to the spec-ECU Marelli, and try to race with 20 liters of fuel and either 5 or 9 engines, depending on whether the Grand Prix Commission decided Aprilia had already been competing in MotoGP as an MSMA member or not.

The subject is highly sensitive in the Aspar team. When I asked team manager Gino Borsoi about the team’s plans for 2014, his first response was to deflect the question with a joke: “I will be on holiday, so I don’t know what the team is doing!” More seriously, Borsoi said the team faced some serious decisions ahead of them.

“We haven’t decided yet, right now,” Borsoi  said. “We have to study with Aprilia what will be the future of our electronics. And after that, we have a clear situation, we can decide if it’s better to stay or move to another project like a Yamaha or Honda.”

The announcement of the Honda production racer and the ability to lease Yamaha engines were options which could steer Aspar away from the Aprilia ART bike, Borsoi admitted.

“There are three good projects at the moment. Honda, for sure everybody know that when Honda do something, they make a really good job. The Yamaha option for sure is one of the best solutions, because you can get an engine with as much performance as the factory, and you can have 24 liters [of fuel].”

But staying with the Aprilia ART was still a very serious option, especially given the proven competitiveness of the bike.

“Our bike now is at a really good level,” Borsoi said. “We are fighting with the factory bikes. We have information, we have data, we have a lot of material too, in our truck, so for us it would be a little bit easier if we continue in the same way. But the new rules are really important for us to decide which kind of situation we want to be in.”

Borsoi agreed that the new rules were hardest on their team, with the Aspar bikes already so competitive.

The key decision for the Aspar team to make is whether they would stay as a non-MSMA entry, and use the standard software, or continue to use the Aprilia software package as an MSMA entry, and accept the cut in fuel allowance to 20 liters and the reduction in engines. Using less fuel would be hard, but it would not provide an insurmountable problem.

Were Aspar currently using too much fuel, over the current allowance of 21 liters for the factory prototypes? “Not too much fuel, no,” Borsoi admitted. “We are near the limit, but if we have to go with 20 liters, we will have to work a lot.” It would be a major challenge, though not impossible. “Not a big step, but definitely not easy,” Borsoi said.

The question of engine reliability would be much more difficult if Aspar decided to compete as an MSMA entry. At present, it is unclear whether Aprilia will be regarded as a new factory, who have not raced in MotoGP since 2007 and will therefore be allowed a total of 9 engines, or whether they will be regarded as an existing factory, and have to survive with just 5 engines.

In the latter case, it would be almost impossible for Aspar to manage the season, Borsoi admitted. “Five engines, at the moment it’s impossible,” said the former Italian rider. “Maybe Aprilia decide to change this engine, to make some upgrade to it. But for us, nine engines should be a perfect number. Less [than nine], it’s a risk for us.”

If Aspar wish to switch to Yamaha, they will have to make a decision soon, as the Japanese factory has indicated they want to know by the summer break which teams will be using their leased engine options.

If they decide to switch to Honda or stay with Aprilia, they have a little more time. But at some point, they will have to face up to that dilemma, and make a choice for the future.

Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

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

Comment:

  1. Norm G. says:

    re: “At present, it is unclear whether Aprilia will be regarded as a new factory, who have not raced in MotoGP since 2007″

    they’ve already been hard done so rest assured they WILL be extended special dispensation.

    Suzuki, no dispensation FOR YOU…!!! (soup nazi voice)

    re: “Maybe Aprilia decide to change this engine, to make some upgrade to it. But for us, nine engines should be a perfect number. Less [than nine], it’s a risk for us.”

    breaking news, it’s a risk on 9 engines. once you start building those things, you’ll need all you can get (hell 12 might not be enough?). observe, the factory just scattered 2. the limitations that I’ve only been on about for years are starting to show.

    so that leaves only 1 choice… start the eggheads porting the software, then take your 24 liters and 12 engines and get outta dodge. you can thank me later.

  2. jeram says:

    Norm G, retaining the software while retaining 24L and 12 engines is not an option. it requires the spec ECU

    Porting the exisiting software required 20L and 5-9 engines

  3. TheSwede says:

    I say go spec electronics. They’re gonna keep getting better, they have to at least come close to factory stuff so Dorna can convince (force?) everyone to accept it. The series is heading to a spec ECU, it just needs to get good enough first.

    So go with that, and keep the fuel, engines and soft tires. Because I have a sneaking suspicion that Aprilla is gonna keep embarrassing Ducati and have that ART turned into a podium finisher by the end of 2014. Espargaro has been working his ass off developing it, and they keep improving in leaps and bounds. Winning in today’s championship requires a bike built to suit the tires, and they’re doing a fantastic job of it. Maybe it isn’t that hard? There’s mountains of data on the tires and their performance, and if you know exactly how the tires work, shouldn’t that help the design process?.. Ducati should be seriously mortified..

  4. Ray says:

    Why are they only using 21 litres now? I thought they were allowed 24.

  5. I’ve thought a lot about this particular problem. Aspar made a difficult decision to use the Aprilia ECU this year, as it puts them above the other CRTs when it comes to performance this season, but they’ll be starting from scratch with a spec ECU and software starting next season. NGM Forward will have a whole season of tweaking the Magneti Marelli software under their belts and so one would expect them to continue forward progress compared to Aspar taking a huge step backwards.

    I will be very, very interesting to see how this plays out.

  6. “I will be”

    Proofreading FAIL. *roll eyes*

  7. Norm G. says:

    re: “Norm G, retaining the software while retaining 24L and 12 engines is not an option. it requires the spec ECU Porting the exisiting software required 20L and 5-9 engines”

    thanks misread. ok I hereby rephrase, accept the MagMar ecu (they’re just 1′s and 0′s. it’s not like it’s going to make that big a difference), then take your 24 liters, 12 engines and keep it movin’.

    now that crossplanes (and possibly d16′s) are going on lease, the engine issue supercedes any other considerations.