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.

How the Law of Supply & Demand is Growing MotoGP

06/11/2013 @ 3:34 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

How the Law of Supply & Demand is Growing MotoGP apple orange freakonomics 635x642

Dorna took Suzuki’s departure from MotoGP at the end of the 2011 season badly. After bending over backwards to accommodate the Japanese factory during their final few years in the class, Suzuki finally pulled out of the series altogether, though they promised to return at a later date.

This of course was after Dorna gave Suzuki an exemption from the (now defunct) Rookie Rule, allowed the factory a larger engine allocation, and finally accepted the reduction from a two-rider effort to just a single entry, that of Alvaro Bautista.

Coming on top of Kawasaki’s withdrawal ahead of the 2009 season, Suzuki were the second Japanese factory to depart the class after a string of broken promises.

So unsurprisingly, when Suzuki opened talks about a return to MotoGP, Dorna was hesitant. Their entry was to be subject to a number of restrictions; Suzuki would be made to pay penance for their initial abandoning of the series. Initially Suzuki were told that they would only be allowed to enter through an existing team, rather than creating their own infrastructure.

The idea behind this was that none of the teams who had remained in the series should lose out just because Suzuki wanted to return. When it became clear that the teams which were candidates to aid Suzuki weren’t really up to supporting a full factory effort, that idea was quietly dropped.

Instead, Suzuki was informed that it could enter the series as a separate factory team, with its own staff and equipment, but that it would have to buy out an existing team and purchase its grid slots.

Dorna and Suzuki agreed that a fair price for two MotoGP grid slots would be around 1.6 million euros, and Davide Brivio, hired by Suzuki to run their MotoGP effort, started assembling a factory team at a workshop in Italy.

At that point, Suzuki and Dorna ran into a basic law of economics. When a commodity is limited, and demand outstrips supply, then economic theory says that prices rise to reflect that increasing demand. Precisely this appears to have happened to Suzuki.

According to reports last week in the Spanish newspaper El Periodico, none of the existing teams were inclined to sell Suzuki a grid slot for a mere 1.6 million euros. Prices being asked by existing teams went through the roof, settling somewhere between 5 and 6 million euros for a pair of slots.

That is way too much money for Suzuki – probably between 10 and 20 percent of their total MotoGP budget – and an amount that even Dorna was unwilling to countenance. Dorna had felt that the teams deserved adequate recompense, but this looked like outright price gouging. Dorna should not have been surprised, of course.

One of the very first lessons in any economics class is the law of supply and demand, that prices rise when demand is greater than supply, and fall when supply is greater than demand. By insisting that grid size would remain unchanged at 24 grid slots, and by allowing Suzuki to enter, they had increased demand, with the inevitable consequence that prices would rise.

Dorna was forced to look for a solution, and that solution is to alter the other variable in the equation. It now looks as if Suzuki is to be admitted as a new entry, with the grid size increasing to 26 slots. That leaves the teams who, in the eyes of Dorna, had tried to make money off the back of Suzuki’s entry with empty hands, and also opens the door to further teams entering into MotoGP.

The two most successful Moto2 teams are known to be considering moving up to MotoGP, with the Marc VDS Racing team looking at an entry for Scott Redding, and Sito Pons hoping to make a return to the premier class after being forced to abandon it back in 2006.

The entry of Marc VDS and the return of Sito Pons has been made more attractive by the prospect of more competitive machinery being available. Marc VDS has been in talks with Kalex and Yamaha over leasing a Yamaha M1 engine for Scott Redding, to be housed in a Kalex chassis. Pons, meanwhile, has a long history with Honda, and is reported by El Periodico to be looking at entering Honda’s production racer in 2014.

The Kalex Yamaha option is not the only one for Marc VDS, as Redding’s outstanding 2013 Moto2 season has generated a lot of factory interest in the young Englishman, and Redding is still in the frame for a satellite machine for next season.

Marc VDS owner Marc van der Straten has backed Redding personally since Redding joined the team, and is keen to remain associated with the Gloucestershire rider. Pons, meanwhile, would be able to take Tito Rabat up to MotoGP, and perhaps also Pol Espargaro, if Yamaha lose interest in the former 2013 title favorite.

So the MotoGP grid could grow as large as 28 entries, and this in turn creates a problem for Dorna. The reason to limit the grid to 24 entries was to act as a quality control, and to restrict payouts to the teams. A total of 24 entries was a way of keeping out the weaker teams in the paddock, and ensuring a certain level of quality in the field.

In previous years, with unlimited grids, riders were often present who were many seconds a lap slower than the top riders, and ended up acting as rolling chicanes, increasing the danger to both front runners and back markers. Having only 24 riders on the grid also meant a cost saving for Dorna, who still pay out sizable sums to the teams in the form of transportation expenses, start money, and prize purses.

Dorna appears to have found a way to address this issue as well. According to a report on the MCN website, Dorna is currently looking at cutting support for the teams that finish last in the championship. The new entries in 2014 would not receive any support for next year, and the teams which finish at the bottom of the standings in 2014 would be offered little or no support for the 2015 season.

That would mean that any entries in 2014 would need to be strong enough and have sufficient sponsorship backing to survive the season with assistance from Dorna, and the teams which finish last would either have to drop down a category, where they may still be eligible to receive support at a reduced level, or go out and raise enough sponsorship to stand on their own two feet.

The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP’s rule-making body, is set to meet this weekend at Barcelona, and according to MCN, this is one of the subjects under discussion.

Source: MCNEl Periodico

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

Comment:

  1. Interesting issue. The problem of competitiveness within a larger grid would easily be solved by tightening the so-called “107% rule” to, say, 105% or so. Of course, if you were to have 30 bikes on the grid all highly competitive, there’d be a lot of money for Dorna to pay the teams. That said, one should think that the spectacle of the show would increase attendance/viewers such that the whole enterprise were more profitable.

    Who wouldn’t want to see 30+ bikes — all extremely competitive — with whom a large number could win on any given day? Oh, snap. Moto2 already does that. Carry on. ;-)

  2. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Exactly. Moto2 is the benchmark. WSB isn’t far behind it, it’s exciting too. MotoGP-I’m having a blast watching this season unfold but if they could capture the moto2 lightning in a bottle they’d really have something for sure.

  3. Singletrack says:

    I’m all for a larger grid in MotoGP, and I do agree tighter competition is needed. But this proposition almost seems reasonable.

    “That would mean that any entries in 2014 would need to be strong enough and have sufficient sponsorship backing to survive the season with assistance from Dorna, and the teams which finish last would either have to drop down a category, where they may still be eligible to receive support at a reduced level, or go out and raise enough sponsorship to stand on their own two feet.”

    This should get rid of perennial backmarkers, and professional last place teams. They need to keep new blood coming into the premier class.

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “Prices being asked by existing teams went through the roof, settling somewhere between 5 and 6 million euros for a pair of slots. That is way too much money for Suzuki”

    truth be told, the 1.6 is way too much money for Suzuki.

  5. Norm G. says:

    re: “So the MotoGP grid could grow as large as 28 entries, and this in turn creates a problem for Dorna. The reason to limit the grid to 24 entries was to act as a quality control, and to restrict payouts to the teams. A total of 24 entries was a way of keeping out the weaker teams in the paddock, and ensuring a certain level of quality in the field.”

    exactly, this is grandprix. just because you have a “want” or a “desire” to be here…? doesn’t mean you get to be here.

    to paraphrase casey… ambition exceeds your talent.

  6. Westward says:

    That’s why I didn’t mind there only being 17 bikes on the grid. Only the best of the best where on the grid. Now it seem if you can afford it you have a place, ie. Cardion AB…

  7. mxs says:

    That’s a nice looking orapple … :-)