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.

Honda Wraps-Up Domination at Third Day of Sepang

02/24/2011 @ 6:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Honda Wraps Up Domination at Third Day of Sepang Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Sepang test MotoGP 635x421

“Veni, Vidi, Vici” might as well be stenciled on the four factory Honda RC212V race bikes of Stoner, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, and Simoncelli, as the foursome has dominated the Malaysian track over the past three days of MotoGP testing. Casey Stoner takes the top prize though, climbing once again to the top of the time sheets, with Dani Pedrosa right behind him as the only other man to crack under the two minute barrier at Sepang. While these results aren’t too surprising to those following the off-season closely, the time sheets speak an interesting story for the rest of the field.

The Top 13 riders are clumped by manufacturer, and who leads each group is a bit surprising. Ben Spies bested teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who also found himself behind Colin Edwards from the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech3 squad. In the Ducati camp, it was Hector Barbera who had the fastest time, ahead of Hayden and Rossi who both shared a best lap of 2:01.469 in Day Three. Even Alvaro Bautista’s Suzuki made a surprisingly quick journey around the track at Sepang, as the Spanish rider was 8th fastest overall for the day.

Of course the times and rankings matter for very little at the end of the day, and it’s the improvements and development data the teams have gathered that are the true measures of success at a testing session. In that regard Honda has faired very well once again, as Casey Stoner reports that he has decided on which chassis he will use and continue to develop for the 2011 season, the same can also be said of Jorge Lorenzo.

The factory Ducati squad however finds themselves behind on what they wanted to accomplish in Sepang, as the team is still struggling with getting the Desmosedici GP11 to work properly. Development issues were compounded by Valentino Rossi missing the second day of testing to the flu, and the Italian rider admits that he his behind on where he wanted to be with the Ducati.

Pos.No.RiderBikeTimeDiffDiff Previous
127Casey StonerHonda1:59.665--
226Dani PedrosaHonda1:59.8030.1380.138
358Marco SimoncelliHonda2:00.1630.4980.360
44Andrea DoviziosoHonda2:00.5410.8760.378
511Ben SpiesYamaha2:00.6781.0130.137
65Colin EdwardsYamaha2:00.9661.3010.288
71Jorge LorenzoYamaha2:01.0031.3380.037
819Alvaro BautistaSuzuki2:01.1941.5290.191
97Hiroshi AoyamaHonda2:01.3281.6630.134
1040Hector BarberaDucati2:01.3461.6810.018
1146Valentino RossiDucati2:01.4691.8040.123
1269Nicky HaydenDucati2:01.4691.8040.000
1365Loris CapirossiDucati2:01.4931.8280.024
1435Cal CrutchlowYamaha2:02.0342.3690.541
1514Randy de PunietDucati2:02.1552.4900.121
1624Toni EliasHonda2:02.4102.7450.255
17100T1Yamaha2:02.4572.7920.047
1817Karel AbrahamDucati2:02.5062.8410.049
19200T2Yamaha2:03.0163.3510.510

Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda – 1st:
“We had a good day comparing the chassis again and I’m happy we have made our decision on which one we’ll use for the season. We also tried a lot of electronics with engine braking and found improvements in a few areas, and some losses in others so we need to rectify these. The chassis we’ve chosen always behaves in the way we want it to; no matter what set-up we use, we are also able to adapt it fairly easily. So when we get to Qatar in a few weeks we’ll be able to test different set-up’s at the same time and get more track time on it. Some changes can be quite time consuming to do, so having the two bikes with identical chassis will be useful. The test here has been very productive for us; we did a long run here today – almost race distance – and gathered some key information. I’m feeling more and more comfortable on the RC212V and I can’t wait to get to Qatar.”

Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda – 2nd:
“We did a very good three days testing; both tests here in Sepang have been very positive. We improved the braking and worked a lot with different chassis configurations and electronics. It’s been a much better winter test than last year, even if we know that everybody will improve for the first race. I’m leaving Sepang satisfied and I think testing in Qatar will give further opportunity to check our work at another circuit, with a different layout and track conditions to what we have had here. I’ve spent more or less the same time with last year’s chassis and the modified 2011 chassis and my best lap time was with the 2011 version, but it will be nice to check it again in Qatar and take there the final decision. I think the bike and myself are in a good shape and we are getting to Qatar with more confidence than last year, but we need to keep our feet on the ground because we had many problems at the beginning of last season and then we improved a lot, so the others can do the same. Nothing is clear until we start racing.”

Andrea Dovizioso – Repsol Honda – 4th:
“The good point is that we are really fast, and to have the first two tests like this is a great thing. Also, when we tried the race simulation we were fast, so this is confirmed that we are strong and can fight. However, after completing the simulation I discovered a problem in the front – as I had in some races in 2009 – after a few laps I lose some grip in the middle of the corner. I will leave this test very happy, but we’re far from perfect. We need to study what we changed that caused this problem as it occurred after we added just five litres more of fuel. Anyway, even with this problem I completed many fast laps and we are very fast compared to last year. I feel without the problem I had in the front of the bike, I would be able to achieve a similar pace to Dani and Casey, so I’m happy about this.”

Ben Spies – Yamaha Racing – 5th:
“It was a productive test, we got through a lot. I had one small mistake but on the plus side we had a lot of stuff we accomplished so it’s all good. We still have some work to do obviously but we’re not too far off race pace. We need to figure out how to get the bike a little bit quicker for a few laps, definitely for qualifying and the beginning of the race. It wasn’t the most ideal conditions today for a quick lap, I did go to put in a few this morning and was pretty pleased with the time. I’m looking forward to a few days rest now in cooler temperatures at home before Qatar! The team have been awesome again, I’m really pleased with how we’re working together.”

Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha Racing – 7th:
“I feel quite tired, after two and a half days of testing I’ve finished with a long 20 lap run. The results have been quite good, we had a very consistent pace and I was happy to have improved some things with the bike. I think we’ve made some big steps forward with traction and feel, although we still need to improve our lap time.”

Valentino Rossi – Ducati Marlboro – 11th:
“We can’t be satisfied with this test because we didn’t reach our goals, which were to finish close to the top six and especially to reduce the gap to the front. Instead, we’re 1.8 seconds back, and our rhythm is also lacking. After the first day, we thought we could do it. We had started well and were able to make the bike work with the hard tyres, which is good. After that though, we didn’t take steps forward. Although we have some good ideas for the electronics that I’m optimistic will solve those problems relatively easily, I’m not as confident about the chassis setup. We tried hard, but we haven’t yet managed it. I’m able to brake hard, but I’m still having trouble in mid-corner. It was definitely a disadvantage to only ride two days instead of three because we had to rush at the end and try many things in order to understand as much as we could. We were prepared for that possibility, but it started to drizzle, making it impossible to push. There could be some good solutions for the future, but we weren’t able to confirm them. This circuit hasn’t traditionally been favorable to the Ducati. The next test is in Qatar, where the track is different, so we’ll see if we can go faster there.”

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Marlboro – 12th:
“We’ve tested a lot of options over the course of this test, like different geometry and electronics. We’ve just been trying to improve the feeling and eliminate stuff that didn’t work, focusing mainly on finding a base setup that could work for this season. We’re still behind, not because of any major problem, but a combination of little details that prevented us from getting the results that we’d hoped for. I’ve got a good bike and team, and we definitely need to do better than this. We’ve got a lot more work to do, but we’ve made progress this week, and we’ve still got some options we can try at the next test. It’s going to be a competitive season, no doubt. A lot of guys are going fast and pushing hard. We’ll have to work hard to try to take full advantage of this bike’s potential. It’s been three long days, and our team—everybody from engineers to mechanics to tire guys to suspension guys—has worked really hard the whole time.”

Álvaro Bautista – Rizla Suzuki – 8th:
“I felt a little better this morning, especially after the Clinica guys gave me a special vitamin drip. On my first run I made my best Sepang time so far, but actually I made a couple of mistakes and it really should have been a 2.00 something, after that everybody was using older tyres and the track is getting hotter so it gets less easy to make similar times, but I was happy to be able to make mid 2.01’s on old tyres. The test wasn’t the best on my side, because my condition wasn’t great and I didn’t make the long run today – sorry to Suzuki’s engineers about that – but we have improved the bike in areas that I really believe will help us in different conditions. The Suzuki is now stable, has good feeling and it’s fast – I hope we have the same feeling in the colder conditions of Qatar – now I just want to race!”

Marco Simoncelli – San Carlo Gresini Honda – 3rd:
“I am very happy for the time I did this morning. But today we were a bit confused during the race simulation. Yesterday, with the hard rubber I could be very fast, but this afternoon, from the beginning, I was considerably worse; I could not do the same time. Anyway, I’m pretty calm, because the performance today was determined by a choice of tyres, which was not just a good idea – maybe it would be better to opt for a soft rubber like other people did – and I was fast in in the race simulation. But I repeat, we are not at all worried and even go away from Malaysia very happy with the work done in these three days and also happy to change the track because after six days of evidence in these two tests at the Sepang circuit, I was quite exhausted by now.”

Hiroshi Aoyama – San Carlo Gresini Honda – 9th:
“Finally we have finished these tests, which have been very challenging for me. We have done so much work that I was partly satisfied and partly not. The team supported me a lot and together we are able to understand the way to go about the technical solutions to be taken for the season. In the end I’m happy and I can not wait to arrive in Qatar for the next test and begin to build on the great work on this circuit. I am happy to work with these guys and I hope to shortly give them satisfaction.”

Colin Edwards – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 6th:
“This test has been awesome for us and I’ve had a lot of fun, even though the conditions have been really extreme with the heat. I’ve got a lot of experience and I’ve been riding motorcycles forever, but even I’m still learning a lot and I’ve really enjoyed coming here and changing the bike to see what does and doesn’t work. I’ve figured out a lot of things with the new bike and the Bridgestone tyres and I’ve also learned that for an old guy, I’m not finished yet. I spent most of the test working on the new chassis, mainly experimenting with geometry and we made a lot of progress. My team is really smart and together we played around with a few ideas and got the bike to a point where I’m really satisfied. We improved front feeling compared to the last test and we can finish the corner a lot better. I’m really happy with the progress with rear traction too. Yamaha has done a great job and we leave Malaysia tired but with a lot of confidence. I’m now looking forward to getting Qatar and starting the racing.”

Cal Crutchlow – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 14th:
“It has certainly been an eventful week and the good thing is that it ended in positive fashion. The food poisoning I picked up on the way to Sepang didn’t help my preparations and I’ve felt weak all through the test as a result. Two crashes on the first day didn’t help my confidence and day two was a struggle to be honest. We made a lot of changes to the bike without helping me feel more comfortable. My team have b een fantastic though and given me great support and the last day was much better. For the first time I was able to do a decent lap time, but the important thing is I was able to be more consistent and feel more confident with the bike. We made improvements to the front and rear of the bike and I’m pretty happy with a low 2.02. The front felt more stable and while I’d like a bit more rear grip, we’ve made progress in that area as well. Qatar will be another big learning curve for me because I know the track, but I haven’t ridden a MotoGP bike there and I’ve never raced under the floodlights. I’m confident with the set-up changes we made here that I’ll be competitive in Qatar too.”

Toni Elias – LCR Honda – 16th:
“If we consider the three days in total we took a step forward on suspension set-up and chassis geometry. Now that we have a much clearer idea of the direction to go in I am happy with the work we have done. I´m not as happy with my lap time, but we were too busy working through other things. These days we have done several comparative tests and found a different feeling on the bike compared with the first outing here three weeks ago. Now we will check the data we gathered to be more competitive in Qatar for the last test session before the season starts. I want to thank the guys for their efforts because they are helping me a lot to adapt to this bike.”

Source: MotoMatters, HRC, Yamaha Racing, Ducati Corse, Rizla Suzuki, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Comment:

  1. Wow. That distribution of bikes reminds me of the days when I cared about F1, and the grid would be formed of pairs of identical cars. That suggested that drivers had little to do with the overall results — drivers’ skill or daring only mattered enough to influence the results when all other variables had been controlled for; ie _within_ their teams.

    While there’s no denying that the road _to_ a MotoGP seat is still very, very difficult (there may be a couple of seat burners at the back of the grid, but everyone is scary fast) this kind of formation flying makes me think the machines are fitted with too many rider aids. If you’re fast enough to get to MotoGP, once you’re there you’re only as fast as your machine and there’s little you can do about it.* If it really turns out that rider input variations are less than the deviation between ‘brands,’ that will be bad for MotoGP.

    *At any given race. Over the course of a season or contract, a genius might be able to make such a contribution to development that he could shift the balance of power. Let’s see, for example, if Lorenzo or Spies has the quality of input that will allow Yamaha to keep winning. Or if Rossi can raise Ducati’s game. But even that doesn’t redound to the development rider as much as to the team as a whole.