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: The Mathematics of Marc Marquez

05/31/2012 @ 6:06 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: The Mathematics of Marc Marquez Marc Marquz podium scott jones

Casey Stoner’s retirement announcement marked the – unhealthily early – opening of MotoGP’s silly season, and with just two weeks having passed, it is, in the words of Nicky Hayden, “too early to start thinking about that.” At the moment, factories, teams, and riders are still absorbing the news and pondering their strategy for the many talks and negotiations which will surely follow. Though the paddock, the media, and the internet are full of speculation, everything is so open that even the wildest guess may turn out to be true.

Even so, there are a few hard truths that we can be sure of, and most of them revolve around Marc Marquez. After Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Marquez will play a key role in who goes where in 2013. Honda is a strong supporter of the Spaniard, in no small part due to the backing of oil giant Repsol. It seems almost certain (almost, but not completely) that Marquez will end up on a Honda in 2013, but that brings its own set of challenges. For the question is not so much what Marquez is to ride – money bet on it being a factory-spec and factory-supported Honda RC213V is probably the safest investment going given the troubled time the stock markets are going through – as which team he will be riding it in.

In years past, the answer to that question would have been self-evident: Marc Marquez would have gone straight into the factory Repsol Honda team on a two-year contract with the expectation that he would spend the first year learning and the second year as a title contender. But since the introduction of the Rookie Rule – introduced in 2009, and informally referred to as the Ben Spies Rule, as it prevented the Texan from going straight to a factory team – that has been impossible. Now, any new entrant into the MotoGP class has to spend a year with an independent team, either satellite or CRT.

That rule will not change, as Carmelo Ezpeleta has made it clear in any number of interviews. The last time that the rule was bent – to accommodate Suzuki and allow Alvaro Bautista to go straight to the factory team, Suzuki not having a satellite team to place the Spaniard with, after claims by Suzuki that having Bautista would allow them to continue competing in MotoGP – Suzuki pulled out anyway, and the Dorna boss is not inclined to be taken advantage of again in the same way.

Ezpeleta has already granted the factories another set of concessions, postponing the introduction of the rev limit (now more likely to be 14,500 than 15,000 RPM) until 2015 rather than 2014, giving the factories another year on the engines they developed around the rules for this season. The continuing existence of the Rookie Rule is the price the factories have had to pay for that extra year of engine life. The satellite teams are all very happy with the way the Rookie Rule is working. “The Rookie Rule was designed to help independent teams,” said IRTA boss Mike Trimby, “and it’s working very well.”

The logical alternative to that would be for Marquez to follow Valentino Rossi’s example, and Marquez’ current Moto2 Monlau Competicion team to move up to MotoGP with Marquez as a rider. A factory bike would not be a problem – the rule merely prohibits rookies from going to factory teams, it says nothing about what kind of equipment they must have – and Marquez has the financial backing to do whatever he wants.

Valentino Rossi drew the comparison with his own situation back when he first entered the class back in the year 2000, when asked about the rookie rule during the pre-event press conference at Barcelona “I think that things won’t change a lot for Marc next year,” Rossi said, “because if the [rookie] rule stops, he can go to a full factory team, but if the rule remains, for sure Honda will give him a factory bike in his own team, a little bit like me in 2000.”

But that introduces another complication into the equation: from 2013, each manufacturer will be limited to supplying bikes for just 4 riders, 2 in a factory team and 2 in satellite teams. That rule is now certain for next season, which Trimby confirmed to us. The arrival of Marquez means that one of the teams will face a major shakeup for one of the five satellite teams, though most probably for one of the two Honda teams, Gresini or LCR. Marquez’ team is keen to move up to MotoGP, a source close to the team told us at Estoril, but with only 2 satellite Hondas on offer, that will mean that somebody is likely to lose out.

The Monlau Competicion team moving up as a separate entity would mean that Gresini and LCR, both of whom have been competing in MotoGP for years now, would face losing a satellite bike. Gresini is the stronger of the two private teams, but Cecchinello has shown a truly innovative approach to raising funding for the team, and has functioned well in the series.

Taking away the satellite bike from either team would severely impact their ability to raise sponsorship and jeopardize their long-term future in the class. Allowing their place to be taken by the Monlau Competicion team would be risky, as that team will likely be absorbed into the Repsol Honda squad in 2014, once Marquez moves to the factory squad, as expected. A good existing team would be lost for short-term gain.

But absorbing Marquez’ team into either LCR or Gresini is similarly risky, as room would have to be made for the crew that Marquez brings with him, which in turn would probably mean firing crew that have been working with a team for years. Marquez’ crew would then depart again a year later with the Spaniard for the factory squad, leaving either LCR or Gresini with a vacancy for not just a rider, but also for a complete crew to support that rider, their old crew having dissipated through the paddock. One year’s benefit would cause more problems in the longer term once Marquez departs.

Perhaps the most realistic option is for the Monlau Competicion team to join forces with one of the two Honda satellite teams and take over the running of the factory-backed RC213V for Marquez, with Marquez’ sponsors supplying sufficient cash for the team to run a second CRT entry alongside Marquez. That scenario is probably more realistic for LCR than for Gresini, as Gresini already has two bikes using such a set up.

In the end, the decision will be made by Honda. It is HRC who will ultimately decide who they will lease their bikes to, and it is up to HRC to weigh the importance of Marquez to the plans for the factory team against the importance of having strong satellite teams they can nurture talent in and represent the marque. It is a decision they are likely to spend quite some time considering.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

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

Comment:

  1. PD says:

    In light of economic conditions, rules changes are being made primarily for two reasons: 1) to lower the cost of bikes, and 2) to increase the field. Limitations on the number of factory bikes to be fielded per factory addresses neither of these primary objectives. Unless the overriding true goal is to eventually get rid of all the factories, and have the entire field be comprised of CRT bikes, this proposed rule limiting factory bikes to 4 per factory makes zero sense – as, in an ideal world, you would want to have a large field (~24 bikes) of all factory prototypes (or whatever bikes are performing at the highest of levels).

    I get the need for CRT bikes (simplistically, for the two main reasons already mentioned). I support the direction of the rules heading toward limits on revs and stricter limits on electronics. I support hard caps on the cost of leased bikes. However, this potential rule limiting the number of bikes per factory seems to serve no purpose (other than, again, if indeed this is the ultimate aim of Dorna, to pave the way for an all-CRT MotoGP down the road).

  2. Westward says:

    I agree, the limit of factory bikes make no sense what-so-ever. I would seem as though they are trying to become some kind of version of World Superbike.

    MotoGP needs new management, the current one is either clueless or extremely corrupt…

  3. Westward wrote: “I agree, the limit of factory bikes make no sense what-so-ever.”

    THIS! What the heck is that rule going to accomplish other than to reduce the ranks? It takes away on the one hand what the other hand giveth. Senseless and stupid. I think CRT bikes are great an’ all, but I also view a myriad of factory-supported teams as well as privateer entries on “generic factory bikes” as in the old TZ750/TZ500 days to be vital to the sustainability of the sport. Getting rid of the factory involvement altogether might reduce costs, but it will reduce the draw to MotoGP itself. Everybody even mildly interested in racing knows who Honda and Yamaha are, but it isn’t until you’re an enthusiast that you recognize names such as Kalex and Suter.

    For the sport to maintain growth, you need a strong factory presence, IMO, alongside a field of non-factory bikes. Limiting factory bikes reduces the spectacle, which potentially keeps advertisers away. Not a winning scenario.