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.

Preview of Catalunya: Could This Be The Weekend Where Everything Changes?

06/14/2013 @ 12:08 am, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

Preview of Catalunya: Could This Be The Weekend Where Everything Changes? catalunya race track 635x423

This is going to be a big weekend in MotoGP, perhaps one of the most significant in a long while. The outcome of Sunday’s race is unlikely to be earth-shattering – the chance of the top three being entirely Spanish, and composed of two Repsol Hondas and a Factory Yamaha is pretty large – and the championship will look much the same on Sunday night as it does now. Yet this weekend will be key.

Much of the interest – and intrigue – revolves around the test on Monday. The most visible piece of the MotoGP puzzle will be in the Suzuki garage, where their brand new MotoGP machine is due to make its first real public debut.

The bike has had a number of private tests, some more secretive than others, the latest being last week at Motegi with Randy de Puniet. The times that were leaked from that test were respectable, though with only test riders for competition, it is hard to put them into context.

At Barcelona, a public test, with official timing, and up against the full MotoGP field, there will be nowhere to hide. Will the Suzuki be able to match the times of the Hondas and Yamahas? Unlikely, the bike is still at an early stage of development.

But it should be faster than the CRT machines, and close to the Ducati satellite bikes. De Puniet’s first target will be himself, and the time he sets during practice and the race on the Aprilia CRT he rides for Aspar.

Even more intriguing at the test is what Yamaha will be bringing. Rumors abound that the seamless transmission that the factory has been working on is due to be tested soon, with many believing it could get its first official run out in the hands of the factory riders at Barcelona on Monday.

Raising further suspicions that something major is afoot in the Yamaha camp is the fact that they also have a test scheduled for Aragon later in the week.

If the gearbox is not quite ready to be raced, then Yamaha could wait to try it at Aragon; if it is ready, trying it at two different circuits would be a good way of giving it a thorough workout. The difference between a seamless and a conventional gearbox is audible, so we should know soon enough.

Yamaha really do need the help of the seamless gearbox. Right now, the Honda is the superior package, though the Yamaha was still plenty good enough for Jorge Lorenzo to take an imperious victory at Mugello.

At other tracks, though, the tenth of a second or so a lap a seamless gearbox would gain on corner exit would be the difference between victory and a podium.

Ducati, too, will have items of interest to test on Monday, with the race-ready version of the GP13 lab bike set to make its first appearance on the track for Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.

The lab version has proved a small step forward over the bike they started this season with, though it is not the miracle cure which the Ducati men had been hoping for. Any improvement is welcome, though, on Ducati’s long march into the future.

But the person with the most at stake this weekend could well be Valentino Rossi. After a solid pre-season and promising race at Qatar, Rossi’s results have stagnated, the Italian now just 6th in the championship after five races, behind Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati and 24 points behind Cal Crutchlow on the satellite bike.

There are many mitigating and explanatory factors, but the biggest problem is his poor qualifying. This did not use to be the case: up until his crash at Mugello in 2010, Rossi qualified on the front row of the grid nearly two thirds of the time. Since his crash, his only front row starts have been at Motegi and Estoril in 2010, with none during his time at Ducati and this year.

Is Rossi’s poor qualifying performance the first sign he is losing the very keenest edge of his ability? At age 34, he is a veteran of the field, and by far the oldest of the front runners. Qualifying is the one session in which the riders are as close to the limit as they dare, as Crutchlow’s crashes during the sessions this year will attest. It is the first session any loss of speed will show up, however small that loss may be.

Rossi had had high hopes of a return at Mugello, back in front of his home crowd on a bike he is now once again more comfortable on. A first-lap clash with Alvaro Bautista took him out of the race, and leaving him regretting the lost opportunity.

Barcelona is perhaps Rossi’s second-favorite track, the Italian having a similarly impressive record at the circuit – six wins and total of ten podiums in the premier class – and it is a track where he will be out to prove himself.

The unforgettable last-lap thriller between himself and Jorge Lorenzo in 2009 will be at the front of his mind, as it is in the minds of many fans. When asked if we could see a repeat of that fantastic finish during the press conference, Rossi was as funny as he was realistic: “Only if Jorge waits for me.”

Barring crashes and racing incidents, if Rossi fails to get on the podium at Barcelona, he will surely take it as a sign that his ability to fight at the front is over. He has the bike, and he is at a track he loves, if he cannot succeed at Barcelona, then he knows his hopes of a title must be over, and his chances of ever winning another MotoGP race are rapidly waning.

The nine-time World Champion will start to wonder if he still has the passion and the motivation to be battling to be best of the rest. As a rule, that is not why riders go racing. For a man who has been the best in the world for such a long time, merely being one of the best is a step backwards.

In part, that is because the bar has been raised. The trio of Spaniards currently leading the MotoGP championship are a step above the remainder of the field. Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo faces the Repsol Honda pairing of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez determined to claw back some of the points he gave away early in the season and close down the gap in the championship.

Pedrosa comes looking to build on his championship lead, while Marquez comes determined to prove – well, determined to prove that he is Marc Marquez, that he is a genuine threat for the title in his rookie season.

The trio arrived at Mugello with much the same intentions, but Lorenzo came out of that clash on top. That was in part due to the special heat-resistant tires Bridgestone has brought to the fast tracks this year.

The weather at Mugello was cold – colder than on the Isle of Man, a thousand miles further north, where practice for the TT was being held – which meant that the tires were not reaching the temperatures expected.

That hit the Hondas hardest, as it meant the tires lacked grip in the drive part of the tire, just off the edge, at the point where the Honda riders pick the bike up and open the taps. That is right where the Hondas are strongest, and with Jorge Lorenzo still able to carry his customary corner speed, the Yamaha man disposed of the Repsol riders with ease.

Those same tires will be used at Barcelona, but here, the tables could be turned. Tire technicians will have no worries about tires reaching their operating range, as the weather at the Montmelo circuit is perfect. A searing Spanish sun is set to blaze down on the track all weekend, so temperature will not be an issue.

The Hondas should be able to use the tires properly, robbing Lorenzo of his advantage. Of the Repsol pair, Dani Pedrosa has the best shot at the win, but also the most to lose as championship leader. Marquez, meanwhile, may be a fraction more cautious after his unexpected crash at Mugello during the race, when both tires let go at the Casanova Savelli combination.

The other big crash he had at Mugello – laying the bike down at 320 km/h to avoid a wall at the end of Mugello’s long straight – has had no discernible effect, as his race at Mugello showed. The Spaniard is now healed well enough from that incident to race without giving it a second thought.

If the Hondas are doing well, Cal Crutchlow could have a tougher weekend than normal. Stefan Bradl finally seemed to find his mojo at Mugello, after it had gone missing for the first few races. A lack of confidence in the front end of his LCR Honda seems now to be solved, and Bradl is now starting to show some of the form he displayed last year.

If he can get up to speed early at Barcelona, he could start to make life difficult for Crutchlow, who so far has been the only man to consistently get near the Spanish trio.

But that will need a big step from Bradl, as Crutchlow has been remarkable in his third year in the class. Coming off the back of two podiums in a row, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider is strong and determined. He is also keen to make a point, as he fights to persuade Yamaha to step up their support for him.

He wants a factory ride, and every weekend he makes his point both on and off the track. A meeting at Mugello helped clear the air, and went some way towards bringing both sides closer to extending Crutchlow’s contract for next year. Getting in among the Hondas at Barcelona would strengthen his hand even further with Yamaha.

The Moto2 race at Barcelona could be a real thriller too. Scott Redding comes into the weekend with a massive lead in the championship and clearly in control. After winning two races in a row, Redding has assumed the mantle of title favorite, a mantle he has taken from Pol Espargaro and the other Spaniard.

But the Montmelo circuit is truly the lion’s den for the young Englishman: it lies just a stone’s throw away from Granollers, Espargaro’s home town, and the circuit always sees a large turn out of the Espargarins, the fans of both Espargaro brothers. With Aleix looking untouchable as the best CRT rider in MotoGP, and causing trouble for a number of the satellite riders, there will be pressure on Pol to perform.

Espargaro’s confidence has been shattered early in the season, after his debut win at Qatar, but an excellent test at Mugello may have restored his faith in himself. If he can be fast at Montmelo, and win over his home crowd, this may be just the boost he needs to get his title challenge back on track. He also wants revenge for last year, when he was knocked off his bike at the end of the race by Marc Marquez, and robbed of a certain podium.

But Espargaro is not the only Spaniard out for blood at Barcelona. Nico Terol has performed well all year, energized since the end of last season by his podium at Valencia, backing that up with a win at Austin. Tito Rabat has transformed himself from an occasionally fast rider to a man who is fast everywhere, and will want to perform in front of his home crowd, Rabat hailing originally from Barcelona.

Redding’s hope is that Mika Kallio can get in among the Spaniards and slow them up a little. Kallio has been the consummate wing man for the Marc VDS Racing team, getting on the podium twice and taking two more 4th place finishes.

Like Redding, his consistency has been the key to his performance, and his job will be to steal points from as many riders as possible. From all except Redding, of course, but in his current form, he may not need much help. If Redding can finish ahead of Espargaro and Terol at Barcelona, he will have struck a huge blow for the championship. This will be a big weekend for Moto2, as well as MotoGP.

Barcelona could turn out to be a key moment in the 2013 MotoGP season, the fulcrum around which the entire season revolves. Championships and careers could be changed on Sunday, and there is truly all to play for. It will be a momentous and an intriguing weekend.

Photo: MotoGP

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

Comment:

  1. Gabe says:

    I am not so sure things will change much for Rossi. In qualifying this year he’s been temporarily on pole or 2nd, only to be relegated further down the order in the last minutes, even by other riders who’ve got a tow from him (Marquez comes to mind.) Maybe it’s time for Rossi to hitch his caravan to the back wheel of a faster rider in QP, a la Barbera.

    I see Rossi doing better by qualifying higher and catching a tow from one of the leaders during the race until the tires start to degrade.

  2. TheSwede says:

    How current is that picture of the track? It doesn’t have the alternate 14/15 chicane the cars use..

  3. Meanwhile, Rossi finishes on top in FP2. It surely will be an interesting weekend. Let’s see where the standings are at the end of qualifying.

  4. YMH says:

    But it should be faster than the CRT machines, and close to the Ducati satellite bikes. Sorry but CRT (crap racing teams) are faster than duc satellite bikes. So Suz must be better!