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.

Jerez MotoGP Test – Monday Round Up

03/25/2013 @ 9:20 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Jerez MotoGP Test – Monday Round Up jorge lorenzo motogp yamaha racing jerez test 635x423

Three days of testing at Jerez is over, and the real star of the show is obvious for all to see: The Weather. Of the 18 hours of track time that the MotoGP riders had at their disposal, only about 4 were in consistent conditions, and that was in the pouring rain on Saturday.

An afternoon of dry track time – well, dryish, with groundwater seeping through the track from the hills at Jerez, which have been lashed by unusually heavy rain all winter long – on Sunday and a bright start to Monday morning left the riders hopeful, but it was not to be.

It took 15 minutes for the first rain to arrive. The track opened at 10am. At 10:15am, the rain started to fall, leaving most of the teams twiddling their thumbs in the garages and hoping for some dry track time.

Dani Pedrosa gave up on the day altogether; he had only really been testing odds and ends, new rear shock settings and one or two other bits and pieces anyway, and suffering with neck pain from a strain he suffered at Austin, he decided to call it quits and go home.

He missed a few dry hours at the end of the day, but given the stiffness with which he was turning his head to answer the questions of journalists on Sunday evening, choosing to rest his neck was probably a wise move.

While Pedrosa was on his way home, Jorge Lorenzo was doing yet another of his punishing race simulations, pounding out 22 laps of the Jerez track at the kind of pace that secured 2nd place for him at last year’s race over 27 laps, a very strong performance given the conditions on the track.

Lorenzo finished in a (for him) lowly 4th spot, but his best time was set on the third lap of his race simulation. This is the approach that helped bring him the title in 2012, and the comparison with Pedrosa’s physical woes is a valid one. Pedrosa strained a neck muscle whilst riding; Lorenzo has been training both on and off the track to ensure he does not suffer such injuries. Lorenzo is ready to race, and by that, I mean the full race distance.

While Lorenzo’s race run may have slipped under the radar of a casual glance at the timesheets, Cal Crutchlow’s fast lap certainly did not. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man leaves the Jerez test not just as fastest on Day 3, but fastest over all three days, a matter of pride amongst riders as they head to the first race of the season.

While Crutchlow’s fast lap made the headlines, the way he set that time did not. Like Lorenzo, the Englishman set his fastest lap in a long run of laps (though only half the length of Lorenzo’s monster run), setting a pace which was close to that of the Spaniard.

Crutchlow has proved not just to be fast, but also to be consistent. The Englishman looks smoother on the bike, more in control, and is promising to be a real problem for the expected favorites, mixing it with the podium regulars despite his complaints of having inferior equipment.

But then again, he is turning that deficit into a positive. Crutchlow is a street brawler, a man who relishes the role of underdog, who feeds off the sense of perceived injustice to get the best out of himself. “I’ll show them,” he seems to be saying to himself, and on the basis of the Jerez test, you would have to suspect that he will do just that.

The fast times were possible because the track dried out completely in the late afternoon at Jerez, but even then, it is hard to draw hard conclusions from the test. The track surface has remained greasy and unpredictable throughout the test, even in the dry, with grip changing constantly as water comes and goes at some parts of the track.

The conditions probably meant that the signal-to-noise ratio was too great to separate the fine differences between the very top riders, but the test produced enough evidence to conclude which group will be running at the front, if not to predict who will lead and who will follow.

One of the things that has become apparent is that Valentino Rossi is once again a contender. After topping the timesheets on Sunday, he was 2nd to Cal Crutchlow on Monday, and leaves as 2nd fastest overall.

That will help convince himself that he is capable of running at the front with Pedrosa and Lorenzo, though he told Italian journalists he felt he still had to prove himself, but he took this as a motivation.

Being fast in testing is one thing, though, the race is something else altogether. Historically, on a Yamaha, Rossi has been better in the races than in qualifying so his initial goal – battling with the two title favorites and aiming to get on the podium – looks eminently achievable.

Rossi had not done a long run today, focusing instead on shorter runs and testing a new chassis. It was not a big improvement, as far as he could tell, offering greater stability, but making corner entry slightly worse, and he has ruled out using it in the first two races.

Conditions were not ideal for testing a new chassis properly, however. To give it a full workout requires pushing the bike to the limit, and that can only really be done on a dry track with good grip. Today was not a day to be taking risks for the sake of a minor improvement.

Risk was something which Ben Spies chose to avoid. The Texan did not ride on the final day of the test, choosing not to risk reinjuring the shoulder he has just had surgery to fix. Surgery on cartilage tissue in shoulder joints is notorious for taking a long time to heal – six to eight months is common – and Spies expects his shoulder not to be 100% for another couple of months.

Until then, Spies will struggle a little, lacking the strength to control the Ducati fully, holding up his attempts to learn to ride the Ducati.

Fortunately for Spies, progress is being made. Andrea Dovizioso has taken up where Valentino Rossi left off, complaining about understeer, but the revised weight distribution is clearly an improvement.

Both Spies and Andrea Iannone had been testing an electronics package to improve the first touch of the throttle, trying to smooth power delivery when the throttle is first opened, but this is a package that has already been rejected by Nicky Hayden and Dovizioso.

Hayden said that though the electronics helped smooth power delivery, it lost throttle connection, the feeling of a direct response between the ride-by-wire throttle and the response of the engine. He had had it turned off for a while, Hayden said on Sunday.

If Spies has struggled, his (semi) teammate Andrea Iannone has shone. The Italian ended 9th on Sunday, ahead of Hayden and 1.6 off the time of Rossi, and came 6th on Monday, the gap down to eight tenths. How much of Iannone’s time is down to the conditions is hard to say, but on any given day, Iannone appears to be capable of being as fast on the Ducati as he was on his Speed Up Moto2 bike.

So the MotoGP teams are now packed up and the bikes and equipment is ready to ship off to Qatar. There, at least, they should be safe from rain. In theory, anyway, although Alex Cudlin, the Australian rider racing in the QMMF-run Asian series, reported that the second race of the meeting he raced in last weekend was the sudden victim of a downpour.

There are those who still remember the chaos of rebooked flights and panic reorganization in 2009, when the race had to be rescheduled from Sunday to Monday due to rain in the desert night. They don’t want to go through that again, but it is the weather gods who will have the final say.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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

Comment:

  1. JulietNatoWhiskey says:

    To call 9th place and 1.6 sec/lap behind Valentino Rossi “shining” makes one wonder what you mean by the term? Shining, glowing brightly behind the handlebars of a turnip truck? Please tell me more.

  2. Gutterslob says:

    Lorenzo doing the metronome – Expected

    Crutchlow doing the metronome – Welcomed

    Rossi commenting that yesterday was the first time in 2 years that he’s had a bike respond predictably to setup changes – Priceless

  3. Damo says:

    “While Pedrosa was on his way home, Jorge Lorenzo was doing yet another of his punishing race simulations”

    And that is why you never hear Jorge complain of arm pump, exhaustion, etc.

    Like Jorge or not, the man’s self discipline is rock solid.

  4. ctk says:

    Im still not convinced by Rossi. It is true though that test times only mean so much. There is a psychological aspect of actually racing and battling for the same point in space and time that is missing, and I think that mental chess may be where Rossi gets his mojo back and Marquez takes a back seat.

  5. Westward says:

    On any given Sunday, or the occasional Saturday in the Netherlands, if Rossi is within .6 seconds before race day, he’s is good to make the podium if not the win…

    Also, Crutchlow seemed to indicate that Pedrosa’s early exit meant that he was satisfied with his bikes setup. Which means the the neck issue was secondary…

    Also, a healthy Spies would have place better than Iannone, maybe even shockingly so.

  6. BenFaster says:

    Man, different riders – but the bikes more or less in the same order? I own a Ducati – I am an American , Texan even! So I love everything about what is happening – almost everything. Ducati is enjoying record bike sales in spite of what is the most bizarre issue I have ever seen in racing. Their premier bike is just terrible and it has been terrible for a very long time. There is no better proof than for Rossi to jump back on Yamaha and get right back up with the aliens. Really makes you wonder about the politics going on in the Ducati camp. How in the world can their lack of performance continue for so long? I guess win on Sunday and sell on Monday just doesn’t work with MotoGP. I’m going to Austin to watch my boys run around in 8th and 11th and 19th ( Collin) but man I wish Ducati would get the arms around this! Can’t wait!