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.

Lin Jarvis: Sponsorship, Vision, & Races Outside of Europe

03/22/2013 @ 5:56 pm, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

Lin Jarvis: Sponsorship, Vision, & Races Outside of Europe Valentino Rossi 2013 Yamaha YZR M1 635x424

At the presentation of Yamaha’s 2013 MotoGP campaign, where the bike which Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will ride in the coming season was unveiled, it was clear that there was one thing missing from the bike: this season, as for the last two years, Yamaha’s MotoGP team will not have a title sponsor, but will campaign in corporate colors once again.

Though the news hardly came as a surprise – the colors being used throughout the winter testing period suggested that Yamaha would be racing without a title sponsor – we were interested to find out whether the current situation is sustainable.

To that end, we cornered Yamaha Racing’s Managing Director Lin Jarvis, and put a few questions to him. Firstly, we asked, could Yamaha’s MotoGP team manage without a title sponsor, or was the expanded support from non-title sponsors sufficient? The answer to those questions was “yes and yes” Jarvis quipped.

“We can manage, because we are a factory team, and so the basic point of us racing is not to make a profit the basic idea is to promote Yamaha’s brand image around the world, to generate excitement in our industry and to develop our engineers and our technologies. Certainly, having more income definitely helps us, so we’re constantly searching for new sponsorships, new partners.”

“What I’m happy about is that we have retained almost all of our sponsors from last year, and some of them have stepped up. IVECO have stepped up, and increased. We’ve got Monster Energy on board now. They’ve been with the riders in the past, with Ben, but Monster coming on board has been a real boost, and has enabled us to put both riders together under the same Monster umbrella. That’s completed what I call the Monster pyramid, because they support us in so many classes, but they missed that top class of MotoGP with the factory team. Our situation is better than last year in terms of income, but we still are constantly looking and pushing, not only for income, but also for new partners to promote.”

But what was lacking, Jarvis said several times, was a vision of the future. Since the start of the financial crisis, too much time had been spent worrying about the next few months, and not enough about the next few years. “The sport needs a little bit of a future vision. At the moment, we’ve been focusing on trying to survive in the past years, but I think it’s time to say, ‘this is where we are, where do we want to be in three years, five years time?’ and take those steps to make that happen now.”

Part of that view towards the future lies in looking beyond MotoGP’s current markets, towards South America and Southeast Asia. The cancellation of the race in Argentina had been an unfortunate move, Jarvis said. “We’re finally unfortunately not going to South America,” Jarvis told us.

“We still only have one race in Southeast Asia, and I think we definitely have to change our global footprint. We have too many races in the Latin markets. In the past, that was a strength because a lot of the sponsors came from the passion in Italy and Spain, but right now, that strength has become a real weakness. We have to step away from that.”

Moving out of Europe and out of MotoGP’s traditional heartland was just one part of the process, Jarvis said. “It’s one of the important things we should do. I think we also have to work at making better programming, better use of media, the riders also have to work harder to promote themselves and the sponsors.” The rise of new forms of communication such as Twitter and Facebook had been a big help. “The social media trend in the past few years has definitely helped, and our two riders are I think two of the most active riders and two of the best here, this will definitely help us,” Jarvis said.

That in itself was not enough, however. “But also we as a team, we have to provide better facilities for our sponsors, better sponsor satisfaction, and we need to take the message further afield, and it’s not easy, trust me it’s not easy. So what we’re doing as a kind of counter-measure right now, we consider ourselves, Yamaha Motor Company to be the title sponsor, so we really really try to use the MotoGP project as Yamaha’s number one marketing asset globally. Wherever we go, we try to bring our riders there, bring the sport there, make things happen, use them for TV campaigns, for advertising. This year we did a huge event in Indonesia with Jorge Lorenzo, massive, last week Valentino Rossi went to Brazil, the first time he’s been there for a long long time. Carmelo [Ezpeleta, Dorna's CEO]] told me we should be going there for 2014 for sure. We hope that this pre-promotion we have done is good for the sport. That’s where we should be, we should be in South America.”

The massive popularity of MotoGP in Southeast Asia, and especially in Indonesia, was also crucial. Paddock sources have intimated that there could be a race in Indonesia in the near future, but the stumbling block appears to be political support for a race in the country, despite the sport’s popularity. How important is it to Yamaha to have a race in Indonesia?

“What’s important is that the people there remain passionate for the sport because this is helping us promote our brand in Indonesia. The fact that they are so passionate is more important than having a race there, but the way in my opinion to generate even more passion and secure that passion is to bring a race there,” Jarvis replied.

“Having the TV there is critical, and I’m always astonished when we go to Indonesia just how incredibly the sport is there, considering they have no heritage and considering we don’t go there, it’s amazing to me. But we have to keep working there.”

Indonesia was just one component in the puzzle, Jarvis explained. “India is also a very very important growing market, but also Malaysia’s important, Thailand is very very important, Vietnam is important, the Philippines are important. This is the kind of growth area or the area where the motorcycle business is booming, and that’s why I think we should be there.”

What about the concentration of races in just a few countries? There are three US rounds of MotoGP to be held this season. “Can we sustain three races in America? I would like to think so, if the US economy starts to recover, and if more finance comes in from US sponsors and partners, maybe we can,” Jarvis replied.

“There’s a huge amount of work still to be done, and I think the sport has so much potential. That’s what kind of keeps me here and keeps me motivated, despite it’s difficulties since 2008, since the Lehman Brothers crisis we have been in a bit of an economic meltdown in this world, but there is huge potential, so if we can just turn the corner and decide where we want to go and reinvest.”

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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

Comment:

  1. ctk says:

    Dude’s optimism is refreshing. Dorna has to maximize the marketing potential though. They are not reaching anywhere near the audience they could, esp w/bungling stuff like broadcasting on Speed, and having no way for Westerners to watch races, even after the fact, for free. You can’t have a sport survive w/o letting people watch it, that’s ground zero

  2. afac says:

    i wonder why Malboro doesn’t want to take advantage of the returning Rossi to Yamaha..

    if so, we can see again the legend livery on M1, like it used to be long time ago..

  3. matt says:

    @afac

    It’s because a few years ago moto gp banned tobacco companies from having their names on the bikes. Marlboro sponsored Ducati but after that rule they could no longer have their name on the bike but continued to sponsor it which made no sense to them. The Rizla Suzukis were the exception being that Rizla wasn’t a tobacco company but rather a “rolling papers” company so it was one of those grey areas.

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “It’s because a few years ago moto gp banned tobacco companies from having their names on the bikes. Marlboro sponsored Ducati but after that rule they could no longer have their name on the bike but continued to sponsor it which made no sense to them.”

    see guys, matt gets it.

    Q: what value stealth advertising…?

    A: zero.

    with each passing year comes a new crop of viewers, each less informed than last. those showing up in 2012 think the orangey/red of ducati grandprix means it’s time to bin their old flat screen for a new one…? color control’s sh#%t the bed. whaddaya gon’ do.