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.

Hervé Poncharal of Monster Tech3 Yamaha Sits Down with Asphalt & Rubber at Laguna Seca

07/27/2010 @ 7:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hervé Poncharal of Monster Tech3 Yamaha Sits Down with Asphalt & Rubber at Laguna Seca Herve Poncharal interview 560x407

During the Red Bull US GP weekend, Asphalt & Rubber’s Jensen Beeler got a chance to sit down with Hervé Poncharal, Team Manager of the Monster Tech3 Yamaha MotoGP team, and have a lengthy discussion. Sharing with us his insights into the race weekend, which for his riders was to a home crowed, Poncharal talks about the development of Ben Spies as a MotoGP rider, and role Colin Edwards has played in helping his teammate adjust to racing in MotoGP. Giving some insight about how the 2011 season will shape up for both Ben and Colin, Poncharal hints that we could see a British rider on the satellite team next year. Read the full interview transcript after the jump.

Jensen Beeler: Obviously you had a very good day today, Ben was 5th, Colin was 7th, fastest satellite team …

Hervé Poncharal: Yesterday afternoon and this morning, I think we’ve done really well. For sure, there a lot of people in the paddock who are stopping me and telling me “you’re going to win this race!” or “you’re going to be on the podium!” I think for sure we would love to win this race, we would love to be on the podium, but we have to be realistic. Already, to be 5th and 7th like this morning is a really good achievement. Both riders are riding really strong, really well.

Of course we were expecting Ben to do really well. And he is doing well. But the big thing for me here is for the very first time this season, I’ve seen Colin pushing, I’ve seen Colin with a smile, and I’ve seen Colin doing really well. So this is good, because so far, Ben has been doing extremely good and Colin was struggling a bit this year.

You know, we’re a team, Colin has been a team player for quite a lot of seasons, this is the third season we’ve been together, he’s been really good with us, and, you know, you like to have your two riders together, so, I’m really pleased with what has happened so far, it’s only FP2, Saturday morning, and as we could see, all year long, qualifying is very important, position on the grid is very, very important. It’s difficult to pass, and if you don’t start with the front runners, by the time you have passed the guys in front of you, it’s too late. Clearly it is essential for us to be top 6, which is first or second row. It will be difficult, as we can see, but at least if we can have one of them on the second row and one of them on the third row, this is the mission of today. So far, we are happy, but it’s only free practice.

JB: Obviously, Ben and Colin know the track very well, it’s their home crowd, they seem to get along very well as teammates, does that add to a positive mental aspect?

HP: Sure, sure. You know, especially with Ben, last weekend and a lot of races this year, for him he had to learn the track. Which means Friday afternoon is almost wasted in terms of working on the bike setting, because the main thing was for him to go round and learn the track. That was difficult.

He’s been doing extremely well, but clearly, to be on a track he knows is a plus. I don’t think this is a big bonus for him or Colin, because now all the other competitors know the place very well too. For sure, year 1 we all remember Nicky and Colin, you know? But I don’t think now this is a big advantage. If there is an advantage, it is more the good pressure from the media, from the fans, from the family, from the friends, and you know both Colin and Ben are both very patriotic, they are really supporting their flag and they have an extra motivation for sure. But I don’t think the knowledge of the track now is any more a big bonus.

JB: Obviously there’s been some complaints from Colin and Ben about the Yamaha not having as much power compared to the factory bikes…

HP: You know I’ve always said that I didn’t really agree with and support that. Because, clearly, you always want more. Every rider wants more, more acceleration, more top speed, better handling; and that’s the game, this is what we’re doing. But, we have to remember that the past two years we were the first independent team by far. That means Yamaha supports us quite well.

On Ben’s department, this is very clear, he’s got a two-year deal with Yamaha Japan; he’s in year one, which is his learning year, in an independent team which is Tech 3. So far, he’s been doing quite well. He’s 8th in the championship, 16 points from 4th position, so everything is still quite possible, especially because in the second part of the championship he will know many more tracks than in the beginning. And he will know more MotoGP, the M1, the Bridgestone tires, etc etc. We must not forget that already, he has a podium. And he started I think 7th or 8th, and he has been catching and passing factory Ducatis and factory Hondas.

So you know, you cannot say that the bike is not good. It’s never good enough, but as I said before, Ben is in a learning year. And even with the best of the best, still he has to cope with understanding the Bridgestones, understanding the MotoGP bike, learning all the tracks. He was not in a position that he was going to win the championship in year one. So I think so far, everything is on schedule.

JB: You’re hitting those milestones you set out at the beginning of the season?

HP: Yes, and I’m sure there is plenty more to come from Ben, because as I said, he’s much more a MotoGP rider now than four or five months ago. And I have a lot of trust and faith in his capacity to do better and better at every race, to be ready next year to for sure have his first real MotoGP season then.

JB: Do you think it’s unreasonable for people to expect a podium or victory here at Laguna Seca or at some point during the season?

HP: No! He’s done one already [Spies scored a podium at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone], so why not here? It will be tough, when you look at the time from yesterday and this morning. We’re very happy as we said before because he’s 5th, but 5th is not on the podium: you’ve got only 3 spots on the podium. It’s not impossible, and you know if you give up or you don’t have big dreams, you shouldn’t be doing what we do. So of course this is a possibility, but it will be difficult, because again as I said, if you look at the timesheet, there are three or four guys who are really fast. But you know, anything is possible, Ben will have extra motivation, he will push, if he’s got a good qualifying position, why not?

JB: What about winning a race?

HP: Winning a race? I think on a really regular basis, which means, dry weather and no big incidents, it is never impossible, but it is going to be very, very, very difficult this year. Very difficult. But again as I said, we’re here to dream, and, you know, maybe it will happen here on Sunday. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, because you will come to see me on Sunday and say “Hey! You said it was impossible and he’s done it!”

But realistically? To beat Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi on the same day, it’s not easy. But it’s not impossible.

JB: Laguna Seca is the halfway point in the season. We have a six engine rule for the season. What’s been the strategy this season as far as motor usage and planning for that long-term course in the championship?

HP: You know, each single Yamaha rider – I think it’s the same for the other factories, but I can’t speak about the others – we had a batch of three engines that went through scrutineering and were sealed in Qatar. And so far, we’ve been using this three-engine batch. So we are on schedule, we don’t have any… I mean nobody is 100% safe, especially when you see what happened at the Sachsenring last week with Jorge, but so far, everything seems to be working like it’s supposed to work. And Yamaha brought for us a small engine upgrade, which is very welcome, which here is maybe not that crucial, because the track is a short track and the speed is not very high, and everybody is trying more to calm the engine down instead of pushing it. But at some other tracks, like the next one in the Czech Republic, it will be more welcome.

JB: It’s more horsepower?

HP: Yes, it’s a better engine spec, so for sure, a better engine spec means more power.

JB: Is there any sort of strategy as far as when you pull in your next motor, or when you use a fresh motor? We saw the two races where Ben did very well, the motors he was operating on had very few sessions on them? Was that by strategy?

HP: Of course. You always try to play so you get the fresher engines for the race. So as I told you before, we have three engines at the moment to use, and almost every session, we change engines, to have a rotation which is helping each engine to get the same mileage, but we are always keeping the fresher engines for the race. But this is done everywhere, it’s not very complicated.

JB: So you don’t say, “Well, Ben is very fast at Assen, we’ll give him a fresh engine there?”

HP: No, no. Because also you know, all the engines we have are still within the mileage they can do, and there is not so much difference. It’s more for safety than for performance.

Now is the time that we will have new engines coming, and hopefully with a better spec. Yamaha is working hard, like everybody. On the dyno in Japan, they are trying, trying, trying. But this year, the mission is a bit more difficult, because you need to have the real ability, and the power, sometimes. But I think everybody did well, because the lap times and the speed are everywhere at least the same or a bit better than last year, and we are lasting a lot more, so…

JB: Do you think it helps the sport overall?

HP: Yes, it is helping the sport in terms of cost. Because clearly the main cost factor in the MotoGP class and in motor racing altogether is the engine. So the fact that each rider cannot use more than six engines is helping to reduce the cost.

JB: Does it add an extra element to your preparation for the races? Is it something you really take into account?

HP: No, it doesn’t change anything. We’re working like before. The only thing is we have three engines, but because so far we didn’t have any problems, touch wood, it was not a big headache to look after.

JB: Looking at next season, there’s a lot of speculation, Valentino going to Ducati opens up a spot at Fiat Yamaha. A lot of people are saying that Ben’s going there.

HP: We all know, and of course I know, that Ben is contracted by Yamaha Japan for two years, 2010 and 2011. Although nothing is written, if there is a vacant spot in the factory team, Ben would be the ideal candidate to fill that spot. Because he’s proved that he’s fast. He will have had his rookie year with us, where he’s learned a lot, tracks, how to be a proper MotoGP rider. So for me, he’s ready, and I think the factory Yamaha team have got the same opinion.

For us it will be a shame. You know to lose a rider like Ben is not easy to accept, but this is the game. We are the independent team, we are the, let’s call us the B team inside the Yamaha organization, and I’m happy to be doing that, and we’re here to, you know, bring the young riders, the new riders into MotoGP, and hopefully when they are good enough, they will pass up to the factory team. So, you know, that could happen.

In a way, I will be sad, because for sure, I will not find anybody to replace Ben at the same level, so it’s sad for us, but I will be happy for him, because it’s going to be for sure a boost in his career. Because there for sure he will have everything. Slightly better spec bike…

JB: Colin’s been a big help this year, getting Ben up to speed in MotoGP, they’re obviously good friends. What happens when Ben leaves? Do you see Colin sticking around?

HP: It’s very early to say. You know, Colin has been a really good team player for Tech 3, absolutely, so I owe him a lot, we all owe him a lot. I think also this year, he’s been really good with Ben. Although he could have seen Ben as a threat, he knows Ben is beating him, and will be faster and faster. He never had anything like an attitude that he wanted to stay on his own side of the garage, to keep things for himself, to try and challenge Ben that way. For sure, on track he would like to challenge Ben, and if he has a possibility he will do it, and he will pass him. But altogether, he’s been really good to us, to Yamaha and to Ben. They have a great relationship, they spend a lot of time together talking when they’re not on the bike.

And this is good for us, to have a team where your two riders are getting on so well, because in the past, especially last year, it was not that easy. And for the whole team, it’s better when you have a good atmosphere in the evening in the hospitality, instead of two clans who almost don’t talk to each other.

JB: If Ben does leave, who do you see stepping into his shoes?

HP: That’s difficult, because clearly … I know that the three main factories which are Yamaha, Honda and Ducati, they are the main priority for all the top riders. We have some ideas, but we have to wait that there will be official announcements to see who is factory Yamaha, who is factory Ducati and Honda, and then we will start to look at the market. But until this is clear, all the really good riders are trying and hoping they can get a slot there.

JB: Would you prefer to bring in and groom a rider from outside of MotoGP?

HP: You know, it will be very difficult for us next year, because the rider is doing almost everything. I mean in motor racing and motorcycle racing especially the rider is a key element. And you can see that sometimes, in some teams with the same equipment, the results are very different. So the rider is something that we have really to pay attention to when we select our rider.

Clearly, who has the capacity and ability to ride a MotoGP bike? It’s either a current MotoGP rider, maybe a few Moto2, or World Superbike. If you look around MotoGP, it’s not easy to find somebody who could replace Ben and do well – somebody available, I mean. And cheap! Cheap enough for us to afford, to have.

Moto2, you have maybe three or four names, you have Elias, you have the young guy called Iannone who is doing really well, and maybe a few others, but not so many. And Superbike; I’m not rating Ben as a Superbike rider, because he’s an exceptional guy, but if you take Ben off, what has been tried in the past never really worked. So clearly, I think the only three guys that could come here are Cal Crutchlow, Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam. Because the others are more retired people from MotoGP and you don’t want them back here, because they are some of them almost 40.

But there is for me still a big question mark, how can they adapt? But it’s the same question mark for the Moto2 guys, because, you know, it’s never easy to make the casting. Every time you take you decide to take someone from another class or another championship, we saw in the past that quite often, it can work, but it can also be a big failure. And you know, in our world, you have to avoid big failure as much as you can.

JB: When you look at all the resources available to you, do you look to someone like Colin Edwards as a person who can bring up to speed the next person who comes into the team?

HP: I think, you know, Colin for sure is still somebody we are considering for next year. I think he expressed his wish to do one more year with Yamaha and Tech 3. And, you know, now we have to wait and see, as I said before, what is going to be Yamaha’s position, the sponsor’s position, to see if we can afford it. But then, even if we keep Colin, we have to find another rider in case Ben is moving. Which is quite likely. But I have a lot of names, but I don’t know who to pick up. So, anyway, anybody who is going to be the rider, that is going to be kind of a gamble.

Special thanks to MotoMatters for making a transcript of the interview.

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  1. Hervé Poncharal of Monster Tech3 Yamaha Sits Down with Asphalt & Rubber at Laguna Seca – http://aspha.lt/189 #motorcycle