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.

Friday Summary at Austin: Cold Sun, No Grip, Marquez, and the Qualifying Gamble

04/20/2013 @ 6:37 am, by David EmmettComments Off

Friday Summary at Austin: Cold Sun, No Grip, Marquez, and the Qualifying Gamble Friday COTA MotoGP Scott Jones 12 635x422

The first day of practice at the Circuit of The Americas was summed up with eloquent brevity by the headline of the press release issued by the RW Racing GP Moto3 team of Jasper Iwema and Jakub Kornfeil: “No grip in Texas.” Despite the awesome facility, a fascinating and difficult track, and clear blue Texan skies, the times set by all three Grand Prix classes in Austin were a very long way off what had been expected, as the riders struggled to find any grip anywhere.

Why was the grip so low? The heavy rains from the previous day didn’t help, washing any rubber that was on the track away. Not that there was much, on a track that has seen very little bike use in its short existence so far.

Then there was the cool temperatures, with thermostats showing just 13°C/55°F in the morning, and a strong wind blowing away any heat the sun managed to get into the tarmac. “Like riding on ice,” was the common consensus in the morning, with times some five and a half seconds off that set by Marc Marquez at the previous test back in mid March, at which conditions were far from ideal.

Three free practice sessions in the morning, a little less wind and a full day of sun worked wonders in the afternoon, with all three classes taking big chunks of time off their lap times from the morning. By the time the day had ended, all three classes were some three seconds or more faster than they started off. Tomorrow, most riders said, should be even better now there’s more rubber on the track. Warmer temperatures should help too, as will the wind dropping off.

The contrast between the three classes was intriguing, once the riders had spent a morning learning which way the track went. Moto3 was dominated by the names you would expect to see: Maverick Viñales led comfortably, ahead of Alex Rins and Luis Salom. Moto2 was a little more surprising: Scott Redding topped the timesheets, quickly getting to grips with the new track, ending ahead of Xavier Simeon and Johann Zarco, both men known to excel in low-grip conditions.

That the five men who tested here a month ago should be topping the timesheets comes as no surprise, nor should it surprise anyone that the order between testing and the first day of practice is also unchanged. Three Hondas sit atop the times, with Marc Marquez unsurprisingly at the helm, and by an impressive margin.

The rookie is over half a second quicker than his teammate Dani Pedrosa, and more than 1.1 seconds faster than third-place man Stefan Bradl. Jorge Lorenzo is just 4th, over 1.6 seconds behind Marquez, and over a second behind Pedrosa. Valentino Rossi is fifth, but he is only just quicker than Cal Crutchlow, who rode the circuit for the first time this weekend, and had not been at the test.

Marc Marquez is looking untouchable, though it is still a little early to be handing out trophies. The young Spaniard is clearly an exception, but it is also clear that the stop-and-go nature of the Austin circuit favors the Hondas. With several hard acceleration points, it plays to the Honda’s strengths, Marquez told the press.

But it is more than just the bike. Fellow MotoGP rookie Bradley Smith put it succinctly and memorably: “The 93 is blowing everything out the water.” Spectacularly fast, once again he is proving to be something special.

Dani Pedrosa is looking for more grip, and hoping to find it if the track improves on Saturday. He hopes to use his experience in the class to claw time back on Marquez, and bring the gap back down to manageable proportions. Jorge Lorenzo is less happy, the low grip punishing Yamaha right where they are weakest, in edge grip and carrying speed through the corners.

A low grip track usually favors the Hondas, as they can use their ability to stop the bike, get it turned and then fire the thing out of the corner and make use of the blazing acceleration of the RC213V. That only works on stop-and-go type circuits; at more sweeping circuits, their strengths become a weakness.

The tires were also a problem for the Yamahas, with Lorenzo’s team boss Wilco Zeelenberg saying that the tires looked almost untouched even after having close to full race distance put on them. This is in part because they are simply not warming up enough to work properly, a combination of the cold track and a lack of rubber to give the riders confidence to go hard into the corners, which in turn heats the tires and allows them to work better.

Though Lorenzo and Rossi were hoping for improvements to close the gap on the Hondas – which should come, if the higher temperatures improves tire grip – Rossi did not believe that they would get close enough to form a serious threat.

Asked if he thought a podium was possible, or perhaps even a win, Rossi was adamant. “A win? No!” he told reporters. A podium was possible, though it would be difficult with three Hondas and his teammate faster than him on the first day, but victory looked to be out of the question.

Qualifying could prove crucial, everyone agreed, especially at a track with a lap of well over two minutes. The ideal is to have four flying laps in the new 15-minute qualifying sessions, but that would be tough. An out lap of 2’20, two fast laps of 2’04, 2’05, and an in lap of 2’20 takes over half the session already.

Swapping tires, then another out lap leaves you with enough time for one fast lap, but the second will be hard to get in unless you take off out of the pits right off the bat. The trouble is, all 12 qualifiers will be trying to do the same, and so finding clear track that early will be difficult. The alternative is to wait for 30 seconds to get a clear track ahead of you. That may give you a better shot of a fast lap, but it almost guarantees you will only get three flying laps instead of four.

You have to be pretty confident to gamble on three flying laps being enough to secure a good grid slot, but the alternative is to risk getting caught up in traffic and coming up empty handed anyway. Expect there to be a real drag race to the first corner once the green lights go on for qualifying. One rider, maybe two, will get a shot at a clean and fast lap, the others are more likely to be getting in each others’ way.

On a technical track like Austin, being pushed off line for any length of time leaves you without a hope in hell of redemption. Qualifying at Austin should be an intriguing spectacle indeed. But first, let us see whether the weather is willing to play ball. The Circuit of The Americas is a remarkable facility. A surprise pole or front row would be fitting for the place.

Photo: © 2013 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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