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 Silverstone: Up-And-Down Kind of Day

06/16/2012 @ 2:59 am, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Friday Summary at Silverstone: Up And Down Kind of Day 2012 MotoGP 06 Silverstone Friday 0007

“It was an up-and-down day,” Ben Spies said after practice on Friday, and truly, he spoke for a large part of the paddock. It started with the weather: the overnight rain continued for the better part of the morning, leaving the track soaking during FP1. The sun came out at lunchtime, quickly drying out the track, helped by the strong winds buffeting the circuit. The dry track helped, the wind certainly didn’t. “That’s what happens when you build a circuit on an airfield,” Cal Crutchlow commented curtly, after complaining about being blown around by the gusting wind in the afternoon.

The up-and-down nature of the day was illustrated most neatly by Valentino Rossi. The Italian topped the timesheets in the morning when the track was soaking – the first time he has done so since warm up in Assen last year, and that was in a torrential downpour too – then ended the afternoon session in 11th, and last of the factory prototypes. Rossi had no real explanation for the paradox, saying only “the places we are very fast in the wet are the same places we are very slow in the dry.” He was losing six tenths in the space of just 500 meters compared to Nicky Hayden, Rossi said, putting the difficulty down in part to still having to learn the track.

Silverstone is a very technical circuit, the Italian explained, summing it up as “very long, very wide, and very fast.” The problem is the number of blind corners, Rossi said, where you have to brake from memorized points and turn in long before you can see where the track is going. But 11th was not an entirely accurate reflection of where they felt they were, he added, saying that the brief shower of rain that fell in the middle of FP2 meant they had not had time to try a final setting which he and the team believed would make a major improvement. Nicky Hayden had tried the same setting in the afternoon, and ended the dry session in 4th.

The encouraging news for Hayden was not so much his position, as the gap to the fastest man of FP2, Casey Stoner. Hayden was just half a second off the pace of the Repsol Honda man, and though he may have lost his position if the Yamahas had not struggled so badly in the afternoon, the gap is very acceptable. The American and his team had been playing around with the steering head, moving the offset and the steering head. This had worked out well, and it was this modification which Rossi had not had a chance to test.

Best of the Yamahas was Ben Spies, the Texan doing very well after a crash in the wet in the morning. Ironically, Spies’ success is a reversal of his fortunes so far this season, the Texan often struggling while the other Yamahas blitz the top of the timesheets. At Silverstone on Friday, it was the turn of the Monster Tech 3 bikes and Jorge Lorenzo to have problems, while Spies ran a consistently fast pace in the dry. Spies merely said he felt the team were working pretty well, but Cal Crutchlow offered a plausible explanation. Spies’ style and setup were very different from the rest of the Yamaha riders, Crutchlow suggested, meaning that he could benefit while the rest struggled.

Each Yamaha rider was struggling in his own way, however. For Cal Crutchlow, the problem was in part the wind, but mostly, it was about getting the bike stopped. For Jorge Lorenzo, the issue was one of rear traction, and getting the electronics to work. Andrea Dovizioso’s main problem was controlling the bike with the wind. Despite the problems, the gap to Stoner was small: Crutchlow was slowest, just under eight tenths off the time of the Australian, while Dovizioso was two thirds of a second off Stoner’s pace. A little improvement would suffice to get them much closer to Stoner, bringing a front-row start well into reach.

As for Casey Stoner, his main problem was with the track, rather than anything else. His team had solved most of the chatter issues the bike had been having, the Australian saying they needed just one more dry session to make it go away completely – at least at the rear. The track he was less complimentary about: the new repaved section – the whole section from The Loop through Village and Luffield – was very bumpy, despite having been resurfaced. The bumps were upsetting braking, Stoner said, making it very hard to ride. Stoner’s ability to sense the smallest changes on the bike and track may be getting in his way here, as the consensus of the other riders was generally that the new asphalt was an improvement. Yes there were still bumps there, the riders said – “It is not perfect,” as Valentino Rossi put it – but it was definitely better than last year. The track surface had more grip, and that was the most important thing.

Whether the things the teams learned will be of any use for the rest of the weekend remains to be seen. The weather appears to be improving, and while there should be some rain again on Saturday, the race on Sunday looks like it will be run in the dry. The wind is set to continue again on Saturday, though, making controlling the bike and keeping the front wheel down an added problem. But come Sunday, the track could well be dry and the wind should have died down considerably. That will ruin Valentino Rossi’s best chance of another podium, Rossi admitted, but more dry track time will help them work on the bike. Solutions should be found at Yamaha, and Dani Pedrosa should also be closer to the front. Strange days indeed, a wet and windy Friday at Silverstone, but normality may yet return.

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.


  1. irksome says:

    Crutchlow’s “that’s what happens when you build a circuit on an airfield…” reminds me of my favorite quote in all of sport history, pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd when a game at Cleveland Stadium was cancelled for fog: “That’s what happens when you build a ballpark on the ocean.” Mr. Boyd was a quote machine.

    For you non-Americans or those who are geographically-challenged, Cleveland is on Lake Erie.