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.

MotoGP’s New Rules on ECUs & Factory Riders Explained

07/29/2013 @ 11:45 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

MotoGPs New Rules on ECUs & Factory Riders Explained ducati yamaha spy jensen beeler 635x423

There was a small flurry of excitement when the minutes of the last meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, including rules on the spec-ECU and factory entries were announced last week. That was then followed by a bout of confusion, as everyone tried to figure out what all of the various changes meant, and what impact they may have on the series. It appears that the answer to that question is “not as much as you might think,” so let us take a look at what has changed.

The changes announced in the FIM press release (read it here) outline two major changes, both regarding the replacement of CRTs for 2014. Since the return to a larger capacity, the Grand Prix Commission (MotoGP’s rulemaking body, comprising representatives of the FIM, Dorna, the teams and the manufacturers) opened the door to a simpler, cheaper form of racing, which in practice (though not by rule) consisted of putting tuned engines from road bikes into prototype chassis.

To help such teams compete against the engineering prowess of HRC, Yamaha Racing, and Ducati Corse, teams entering under the CRT rules were given extra engines and extra fuel, to allow them to make more power and sacrifice reliability. To prevent other factories from entering under the guise of a CRT, the GPC instituted a claiming rule, which meant that any factory could buy the engine from a CRT for 20,000 euros.

This Claiming Rule was felt to be a horrible compromise. It was in place despite a gentlemen’s agreement among the existing factories never to actually claim an engine from a CRT, and whether it was effective or not is still open to dispute. There have been persistent complaints that Aprilia’s ART machine is a covert factory Aprilia, with the Aspar team being fingered as a front for Aprilia’s operation. Given the rules – the team applied for, and was given CRT status, and has not had it revoked – such complaints were unjustified.

A more effective way of distinguishing between factory and non-factory entries has now been decided upon, made possible by the adoption of the spec-ECU. From 2014, teams can choose either to enter as an MSMA or “factory” entry and use their custom-written software, or they can use the spec-software commissioned by Dorna and supplied by Magneti Marelli. Factory entries get 20 liters of fuel per race and 5 engines to last the season, non-factory entries get 24 liters of fuel per race and a maximum of 12 engines per season.

With this new distinction, MotoGP is no longer divided between Factory Prototype and CRT, but between Factory and Non-Factory entries. Factory entries can be in either a factory or satellite team, and are free to use their own software; non-factory entries are private teams, and must use the spec-software supplied by Dorna.

At the Sachsenring, the GPC finally adopted the full set of technical specifications for the spec-ECU to be used in 2014. This means that the spec ECU has now finally been officially adopted, and the three factories involved in MotoGP can start work on porting the custom software they currently use on their MotoGP bikes to work with the spec ECU hardware to be used from next year. The FIM should make detailed specs about the standard ECU available online, but at the time of writing, no documents had been uploaded, and even the updated rulebook promised in the FIM press release had not been posted.

The use of the spec software now determines whether an entry is considered a factory entry or not. The spec software – currently being developed by Magneti Marelli based on the input of some of the existing CRTs – will be fully configurable based on a number of parameters defined by Magneti Marelli. It is fully functional, and includes traction control, launch control and wheelie control.

Factories, however, wish to retain control over their own software. Developing their own software allows them to find ways of managing fuel economy and vehicle dynamics (e.g. traction and wheelie control) which may be applicable to their road bikes. To that end, they prefer to write their own software so that they can more fully understand the underlying process of controlling a motorcycle, rather than just optimizing the equipment which they have been presented with.

With the method of distinguishing factory and non-factory efforts decided, the current limits on riders on factory machines were also extended, in a slightly modified form. Currently, each manufacturer may supply factory prototypes to a maximum of four riders, two in the factory team and two in the satellite team. At the Sachsenring, the GPC appears to have dropped the stipulation on which team the riders must be in, removing the limit on the maximum number of riders in each team.

The limit of four riders per manufacturer is still in place (though why that limit was ever imposed remains something of a mystery), but now, factories can support those riders in any team they wish. This opens the way for the return of the “superteam”, such as the three-man factory Honda team seen in 2011, when Casey Stoner joined Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso in the Repsol Honda squad.

That does not mean that such a move is imminent. Currently, both Yamaha and Honda look set to maintain their current setups, with Yamaha retaining two riders in the factory squad and supplying the Tech 3 team with equipment for two riders, while Honda will continue to field the two-man Repsol Honda squad, and supplying one bike to LCR and one to the Gresini satellite squads.

The only factory likely to reorganize is Ducati. There have been long-term rumblings from within Ducati about the Pramac team, and Ducati could move the entire operation internally. In terms of finance, this would make little difference, as Ducati already pay the wages of both Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone, as well as most of the staff inside the Pramac team, but it would provide Ducati with more control.

Interestingly, the language of the new rules appears to open the way to factories supporting more than just the four riders they currently can. The press release says that manufacturers may “choose to enter up to 4 riders for the season who will participate with ‘Factory’ status”. In this case, ‘Factory status’ means in either a factory or a satellite team, but free to use the factory software, and limited to 20 liters of fuel and 5 engines.

Arguably, this could mean that the factories may decide to supply or support more riders, but they must be entered as non-factory riders, meaning they would have to use the spec Dorna-supplied software. This distinction is important, as it could mean that factories could place young riders in private teams on non-factory bikes, to give them a year to acclimatize to the class before moving them into satellite or factory teams.

For example, this could clear the way for HRC to support Scott Redding at Gresini, where Redding will ride one of Honda’s production racers. Or it could leave the way open for Yamaha to place a young rider on one of the NGM Forward Yamaha M1-powered bikes using the spec-software.

One of the reasons for the new rules is also the engine freeze, which will severely limit engine development over the next few years. Bore and stroke is already fixed until 2014, but the freeze on development will see a homologation process for engine internals instituted as well. If factories want to continue engine development, they will have to do it without factory status, which means through a private team.

Ducati is rumored to be considering such a path, with private teams running Desmosedicis using the spec software, while Ducati updates the engines to prepare for the end of the current freeze, and the start of the next one.

The rules announced at the Sachsenring, though ostensibly just tweaks to existing rules, pave the way to the future. Bigger changes are expected from 2017 onwards, with talks ongoing about the rules from then on. The spec-ECU – and just as important, built-in datalogger – are key in those developments. Dorna, the FIM, and IRTA are still pushing for a rev-limit to be introduced, and a datalogger is a crucial part of policing a rev limit.

They also hope to impose the spec-software on all teams from 2017, including the factory teams. From then, MotoGP should revert to a single class once again, with everyone competing under the same set of rules: one fuel allowance, one engine allocation, one rev-limit, and everyone using the spec software. That is still a long way away, and will face fierce opposition from the MSMA.

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.


  1. irksome says:

    Gawd I miss the 2-strokes.

  2. One word: TIRES.

    Without defining whether there will or will not be different tires available to non-MSMA entries, the entire element of close or not is wildly up in the air.

  3. Norm G. says:

    re: “but the freeze on development will see a homologation process for engine internals instituted as well. If factories want to continue engine development, they will have to do it without factory status, which means through a private team.

    Ducati is rumored to be considering such a path, with private teams running Desmosedicis using the spec software, while Ducati updates the engines to prepare for the end of the current freeze, and the start of the next one.”

    wait… what… whaa…?

  4. Goop says:

    All of this is about as clear as mud!

  5. motogpbonehead says:

    Interesting … we should setup a GitHub for spec ECU configs .. an open source approach to improving the software

  6. krissrock says:

    “From then, MotoGP should revert to a single class once again, with everyone competing under the same set of rules: one fuel allowance, one engine allocation, one rev-limit, and everyone using the spec software. ”

    this is not appealing to me… I thought motoGP was supposed to be the prototype class. the arena where new things are invented, discovered and created…

    I really think MotoGP should be a straight open class…bring whatever you want… U wanna slap a turob on your bike>? go for it…and deal with all the complexities that come with it. You wanna run frameless…fine, you wanna use a turbine engine.. Sweet! do it!

    I really think all the restrictions should have been left for other classes… How are we going to get new innovations with all these “spec” items.

    Sure the money to participate would steep, but there’s plenty of people out there doing their own. Creating competitive electric bikes, super aero dynamic bodywork…everything. they could bring these innovations to MGP and even if they’re not competitive, they’re still getting their ideas out and in the public…

  7. xbacksideslider says:

    MSMA and Dorna are to each other as crony capitalists are to government; they want regulation.
    Keep the riffraff out.

    The last thing they want is wide open competition. Unlimited, anything goes? Horrors! Someone might invent a new way of doing things!

    They want to keep out the newbie innovators who, out of no where, might out compete them, restrict entry to the members of the club, insiders only, all while controlling the expense of playing the game.

  8. “They want to keep out the newbie innovators who, out of no where, might out compete them, restrict entry to the members of the club, insiders only, all while controlling the expense of playing the game.”

    That conspiracy theory is utterly adorable.

    Putting on grands prix is very expensive business. The teams want a bucketload of compensation for filling the grid at every race. Only the ones with the sponsorship to go the distance with development of the bike and being able to pay competitive riders (bike + rider must qualify within 107% of the fastest time) are invited to play. The commitment is non-trivial, and it’s why Dorna got completely pissed with Suzuki for bailing. When your contract states 2 bikes for X years, then you drop one bike and quit the championship all together the following year, well …. Yeah.

    So, yes, entry is selective. That said, if TeamNoob Innovations has the many millions to field two bikes for 2-to-5 years, then Dorna would be more than happy to listen. After all, various teams already get to wildcard. It’s not unheard of for wildcard riders (and even teams) to wind up as full-time series participants.

  9. Dale says:

    This could be quite funny, with privateer teams giving full factory teams a thumping!

    If I understand these rules correctly, Yamaha supply (sell/lease/however) their MotoGP engines (designed to last longer as per factory rules) to a privateer team who can then (if Yamaha allow it) up the compression or do other trick things to make that engine faster at the expense of durability & fuel consumption.
    All that needs to happen is for the privateer teams chassis to be near the performance of the factory chassis, & for Magnetti Marelli to hit a home run on the ECU software … & Rossi / Lorenzo could spend the season looking up the tailpipe of Colin Edwards!

  10. xbacksideslider says:

    Blah blah blah . .. . name calling “conspiracy theory” belies your argument. And, then, blah blah blah they spend a lot of money and commitments and contracts and rules and Suzuki bailed and . . . so what? If TeamNoob Innovations did show up then are they supposed to beg MSMA to be allowed to play? You make my argument. Dorna submits to MSMA.

    No, go unlimited; no rules, two wheels and a human rider, that’s all. Just enough to know what is being raced. Any fuel, any fuel consumption, any engine, any chassis. No rules.

  11. “No, go unlimited; no rules, two wheels and a human rider, that’s all. Just enough to know what is being raced. Any fuel, any fuel consumption, any engine, any chassis. No rules.”

    I don’t have a problem with that; it wasn’t what my comment was about. If TeamNoob Innovations has the scratch to play for 2-4 seasons, then I’ve no doubt that Dorna would be interested. That said, even in rich times I don’t think we’ll ever see 30+ GP bikes on the grid again. Which is a shame.

    “Dorna submits to MSMA.”

    Yeah, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that there’s a power struggle between both organizations. I don’t think there’s a winning solution that’d make everybody happy, though. Dorna’s damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they try to push the rules to “improve the show” in a direction the MSMA doesn’t like, MSMA pitches a hissy fit and threatens to take their toys elsewhere. If Dorna were run by a “Bernie Ecclestone”-type, those threats would be nipped in bud. (Yeah? There’s the door. Don’t let it hit you on the way out.)

    Cheers. :)

  12. xbacksideslider says:

    Variation on a theme.

    AMA roadracing got bought out by a consortium of track owners; a different set of incentives prevails. Now which tracks get which races and will a new or better track be allowed into the club of track owners or get frozen out is decided by the existing owners cartel. Meanwhile, riders’ complaints about unsafe track design/conditions get discounted and the manufacturers/tire companies get told how much they’ll pay to showcase their product.

    Just like track owners, manufacturers have a lot of money invested. That means that they get a seat at the table. If not, they walk.

    Another variation – “spec tires.” That’s another word for monopoly. Moto GP riders should have had the choice to ride on Michelins or Dunlops. Riders get cut out of tire endorsement money so Dorna can collect Bridgestone’s money? In AMA, they get forced to ride on Dunlops, remember a few years back when all the 600s were losing the front end? No choices.

    The riders are the losers. Why should they get free or discounted tires/bikes/parts when the suppliers have already paid someone else for their monopoly? And again, rider complaints about unsafe tracks/conditions get brushed off.