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.

Seeking Alpha – On Ignite’s MotoGP Sponsorship

01/30/2013 @ 5:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Seeking Alpha   On Ignites MotoGP Sponsorship ben spies ducati ignite asset management 635x474

Ignite Asset Management is a new name in the MotoGP paddock’s lexicon, as well as the new sponsor of Ducati’s “junior” team. While each year sponsors come and go, Ignite is a bit different from the usual batch of names plastered on the side of a GP bike, and the investment firm is getting some interesting play in the otherwise unassuming motorcycle world.

If you are not sure what an “alternative asset management” investing firm happens to be, then the American company’s self-description as a “management firm led by a group of hedge fund industry veterans and supported by private investors that are driven by the undiscovered alpha” is going to really leave you really wondering what slicks-back the hair on these Wall Street types.

Boiled down to its essence, an alpha represents the ratio of an investments and measure how sizable a return was in relation to measured risk. A positive alpha coefficient signals that an investment was good not only in its return, but also in its risk management. Investors are always talking about “seeking alpha” and here Ignite is touting its professional ability of finding the diamond in the rough — standard Wall Street Napoleon Complex stuff.

So then, how does a company like Ignite Asset Management enter into a sport where the running joke about how to make $10 million dollars is to start with $100 million?

Talking about the decision on Bloomberg TV, Ignite’s Ryan Bonifacino explains what is the next progression in thinking for sports sponsorship, the relationship-based economy.

Bonifacino drops a familiar phrase in his description, saying that MotoGP is the “Formula One of motorcycle racing,” which is perhaps the easiest way to define the MotoGP Championship to non-racing or non-motorcycle fans, and on the surface that description is accurate.

However with the complexity in which Formula One operates, MotoGP in-turn comes across as rather simple in nature. Most riders in the paddock at this point in time are basically paying to ride, supplementing their income with personal sponsorships, or coming into a team with the expectation that their presence will bring sponsorship money into the team (did you read the story about how Valentino Rossi brought Monster to Yamaha?).

Dollars-per-eyeballs, is the name of the game in the paddock, which makes a rider’s number one job actually serving the sponsors’ whims, not racing the bike.

Purists may argue that point, but pragmatists won’t, and there we have the great battle in MotoGP: to build a sport that is entertaining enough to attract spectators, media-savvy enough to attract the advertisers, and lucrative enough to attract everyone else. I would argue that as of late, MotoGP has failed on all three metrics.

So how has MotoGP failed where Formula One has succeeded? On the surface the two sports seem very similar, but the underpinnings of each of these racing series is very different. For a long time now, Formula One has served as a deal-maker to big business; and for example, companies wishing to do business in São Paulo or Shanghai could leverage their involvement in the series to gain entry into these markets. F1 was the grease for business deals, and its fee for providing the context, introductions, and venue was simply the requirement that a company put money into the show that made everything possible.

With television rights revenues being 101% the only metric concerning MotoGP’s guiding light, Dorna Sports, the idea of providing something more to sponsors fails to exist. If Formula One constitutes the open platform business model, then MotoGP is the proprietary closed-door variant, except for one exception: Ducati Corse.

Ducati Corse is an interesting entity in the MotoGP paddock. The group has by far the only brand in the paddock with any real gravitas, and more interesting is that Ducati foots very little of its own racing bill, with instead Phillip-Morris picking up most of the check at the end of the season. One would think that with the ban on cigarette advertisements, and even the “barcode” paint scheme all but a memory, that Marlboro (the brand in front of Phillip-Morris) would have left long ago as well, but instead the American cancer-stick purveyor remains…and thrives.

If this puzzles you, then you need to realize the drawing power of the Ducati brand, and the opportunities that MotoGP creates for a company like Phillip-Morris. While Marlboro may not reap the same eyeballs-for-dollars that most sponsors concern themselves with, Marlboro realizes that its involvement in MotoGP allows it to conduct its core business more effectively. MotoGP opens up new markets to the Marlboro brand, it creates a venue to conduct and court business for Phillip-Morris, and most importantly, it allows the cigarette manufacturer to maintain its existing business relationships, giving perks to important buyers and vendors.

Think now back to the investment community, and Ignite Asset Management’s self-proclaimed quest to seek alpha — finance firms in general operate in a highly competitive market, where at the top levels the rolodex you bring to a firm is just as important as the numbers you crunch at the end of year. A firm like Ignite operates on the fringes of this delicate bubble, finding the deals that others overlooked,  uncovering the stones with treasures hidden underneath, and wadding into waters other firms wouldn’t venture into, like MotoGP.

For Ignite Asset Management, MotoGP is the ultimate expression of seeking alpha: very risky, buy potentially very lucrative. A doorway into new clients with high-wealth, a venue to manage relationships, a leg-up into the high-profile world of motorsport, it is an interesting and bold move. Time will tell if it pays off, and more importantly time will tell if MotoGP can open up its platform for other businesses to thrive.

Photo: Ducati Corse

Comment:

  1. Gerald says:

    “Did you read the story about how Valentino Rossi brought Monster to Yamaha?”

    Where can I find it?

  2. Ken C. says:

    I was wondering who Ignite was when I saw Ben Spies’s new ride. Thanks for posting this article. Good stuff.

  3. @MotoLen says:

    “management firm led by a group of hedge fund industry veterans…”. The economic equivalent of strip-mining robber barons. Let’s hope this ends well.

  4. JoeD says:

    Well written. It would be nice to have more coverage of motorcycle racing in the main stream here in the US. Speed TV coverage is abysmal with programming air times. AMA races shown late night and others days after. NASCAR winter testing shown live though.

  5. BikePilot says:

    I like where this is going… MotoGP displaces golf as choice business networking sport! ;)

    Now if only Ignite could find someone who could navigate the intricacies of motorsports, wall street, and private equity… not many such individuals around.