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.

Regulation Refresher: A FAQ on the Rule Changes for the 2013 MotoGP Season

04/03/2013 @ 11:04 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

Regulation Refresher: A FAQ on the Rule Changes for the 2013 MotoGP Season stefan bradl lcr honda misano motogp scott jones 635x422

With the 2013 MotoGP season just a few hours away, it’s time for a quick recap on the rule changes which come into effect this year. Though the technical rule changes are minor – slightly more significant changes are to be made for 2014, but that is a story for another day – the change to qualifying is significant, and will have a real impact on all of the practice session, albeit indirectly.

So here’s what has changed for 2013:

Fewer Engines

The engine allocation for the MotoGP prototypes has been dropped from six engines per rider per season to five engines. The request for the reduction came from the factories themselves, in pursuit of further engineering challenges applicable to production bikes.

The reduction in engine allocation is unlikely to have a drastic effect. In his championship year in 2011, Casey Stoner only used five engines all season, and in 2012, Jorge Lorenzo managed relatively comfortably after losing a brand new engine at Assen in a first-corner crash. Even the penalty imposed on Valentino Rossi for taking an extra engine in 2011 was down to his desire to use a different frame, one for which his original engines did not have the necessary mounting points.

Yet there are a few signs of concern. There were rumors of reliability issues in the Yamaha garages at the Sepang tests, as the Japanese factory tried to balance performance with reliability. It is better to blow up engines during testing than during a race weekend, of course, and the problems could well have helped pinpoint issues which guarantee engine longevity with one fewer engine.

More Weight

The minimum weight for the MotoGP bikes has been increased once again, from 157kg to 160kg, as was originally planned for the 2012 season.

The addition of three more kilograms is unlikely to make much difference for most of the factories. Honda spent most of the first Sepang test sorting out where to put the extra weight, while Yamaha was already fairly happy with where they had to put the extra weight. Ducati had struggled with the previous limits, and switching to 160kg means they will make the weight easily, and save some money into the bargain.

Qualifying – Radical Shake Up, But Similar Outcomes?

The biggest change to MotoGP this year comes in qualifying. The last big change to the rules came in 2005, when the original two one-hour qualifying sessions were dropped, and replaced with a free practice session and a single QP to set the grid.

From this season, qualifying for MotoGP becomes a three-stage affair, in effect. The original hour of qualifying is replaced with an extra half hour of free practice, and two fifteen minute qualifying session, split between the faster and slower halves of the grid. Here’s how it works:

Though all three free practice sessions are still just that, free practice, at the end of FP3, the riders will be ranked by their best time set in any of the three sessions. The ten riders with the fastest times will automatically qualify for QP2. The remainder will take part in QP1, where the top two will go through to QP2, while places thirteen and beyond are distributed among the remaining riders.

Other than the two fastest riders in QP1, the difference in times between QP1 and QP2 will not be taken into account. No matter how fast the time set by the third fastest rider in QP1, he will start from 13th spot, no matter how fast the rider in 12th was.  In theory – and given the weather which MotoGP has had over the past couple of years, most likely in practice too – if it rains just before QP2 starts, then all of the riders in QP1 could end up being faster than all of the riders in QP2, yet still start behind the men who had qualified for QP2.

The two riders who qualify for QP2 via the second-chance mechanism of taking first and second in QP1 start QP2 with the slates wiped clean. If their QP1 times were faster than the fastest time set in QP2, then that is tough luck, only their QP2 time will be used to assess their grid position.

What at first seems complicated is really just formalizing the previous reality of qualifying under a set of rules. The first half of qualifying was always more about working on set up than anything else, and so spinning that off into a thirty-minute FP4 session makes sense.

Splitting the remaining half hour into two fifteen-minute qualifying sessions means that both groups of riders face a far less busy track when trying to set their flying laps, and there will be much less of the dangerous tail-hanging which has blighted some sessions in recent years. Having two sessions means that the slower riders and the faster riders will get more exposure, with each group getting the director’s undivided attention for fifteen minutes.

The new system will only apply to the MotoGP class. The Moto2 and Moto3 classes retain the existing system of a single QP session to determine the order of the grid.

Penalty Points System

A system of penalty points starts this year, formalizing the system of warnings which had previously been applied. In 2013, Race Direction has the option of imposing penalty points on any rider who breaks the rules or endangers another rider. They can impose between 1 and 10 points for each infringement, and points are added up during the season. Once the rider in question has amassed 4 points, they will start the next race from the back of the grid. Once they reach 7 points, they will start from pit lane. Should they collect 10 points in total, they will be issued a single-race ban.

Once riders reach a total of 10 or more points, and have served their race ban, they will have their points reset to zero. Points are only valid for the current season: any points amassed during the 2013 season are dropped after the final Valencia round. Everyone starts a new season with a clean slate.

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.

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