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 Brno: On Yamaha Tracks, Honda vs Yamaha, & Innovation in Moto2

08/23/2013 @ 4:33 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Brno: On Yamaha Tracks, Honda vs Yamaha, & Innovation in Moto2 stefan bradl brno hrc motogp

After visiting three Honda tracks in a row, MotoGP finally heads back to a Yamaha track. Brno is fast, flowing, with a multitude of left-right and right-left combinations which favor the agility and high corner speed of the Yamaha over the more stop-and-go Honda tracks. Here, it is the Yamaha’s turn to shine.

Well, that was the theory. At the end of the first day of practice, it’s the Honda of Stefan Bradl on top of the pile, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, and Cal Crutchlow. That’s Honda, Yamaha, Honda, Yamaha, Honda, Yamaha. So much for Yamaha domination. Then again, with just three tenths of a second separating Bradl in first from Crutchlow in sixth, Brno is hardly seeing the Hondas dominate either. There is very little to choose between any of them.

So how do you separate the leaders? It’s hard to do. All six men are posting consistent runs of mid to high 1’56s, the only exceptions being Stefan Bradl, who only upped his pace at the end of FP2, and Dani Pedrosa, who had opted to go for shorter runs.

Pedrosa was in more pain than expected, he said on Friday, and that had made it difficult to ride. He had not had much pain the previous couple of days, but back on the bike less than a week after the previous GP at Indianapolis and his collarbone was more painful than he had hoped. It didn’t slow him at Indy, though, so he should be just as fast as at Brno.

Jorge Lorenzo’s collarbone appears to be holding up much better. The Spaniard reported no pain from his broken and plated collarbone, and judging by the fact that he ran basically half-race distance in FP2 at race pace, it did not slow him up.

Teammate Valentino Rossi was also happy, the good feeling with the bike having returned, after gone missing in Indianapolis. They improved the set up in the afternoon, playing with weight distribution, bike length and height, and found a clear improvement. Rossi said he could release the brake earlier and carry more corner speed, the key to going fast at Brno.

Cal Crutchlow’s experience was the opposite, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man and his team had run through four completely different setups in pursuit of a better feeling, but none had been a particularly good setup. Crutchlow is the victim of his own pleading for the new fuel tank, which improves the feeling of the bike at the beginning of the race when the tank is full.

He now has the new tank, but he and his team have not had the time to test it, trying to figure out how to get the best out of the bike from the start of the race. Doing that on a race weekend is far from ideal, and is proving to be a struggle.

Making things worse is the fact that no matter what they do to the bike, Crutchlow is still clocking the same lap time. “To run three different bikes on completely different settings and do the same lap times every time is good, but not when you have to make a decision,” Crutchlow said.

The fact that the Hondas and Yamahas are so close raises the question of whether there are any Yamaha tracks left at all. Jorge Lorenzo certainly doesn’t think so. “For me, I didn’t see any clear Yamaha tracks at this moment,” Lorenzo told reporters. “I would like to see some, but we have to work to find in the future some Yamaha tracks. But now it’s difficult to find.” While Yamaha still rule the world of corner speed, Honda have moved the game along.

Where is the Honda better than Yamaha? It was a question asked of all of the Yamaha men at Brno on Friday, as well as of Marc Marquez. The consensus was that Yamaha still ruled in corner speed, and could even hold its own in acceleration nowadays, but that Honda’s strongest point was stability in braking.

The Hondas could brake later and still remain stable under braking, while the Yamahas brake earlier, but release the brake earlier carrying more corner speed. The Yamaha also turns better, making it easier to pick a line, though that was balanced by the fact that you can spin the Honda’s rear wheel and still get drive, something the Yamaha simply will not let you do.

In the words of Marquez, “In edge grip and the middle of the corner, Yamaha is stronger than us but we need to be focused on the brake point and corner exit, because it’s where we are stronger.” That is bad news for Yamaha, as the strategy they have chosen to follow is clearly the fastest way around the track.

The trouble is, it’s only the fastest way around the track when the track is clear and there is no one there with you. When you have a Honda behind you, you have two choices: brake later into the corner, lose too much corner speed, then get murdered on acceleration out of the corner; or brake earlier, watch the Hondas sail past on the brakes and get their bike stopped, ruining your fast line and forcing you to brake and lose too much corner speed, and then get murdered on acceleration out of the corner.

What Yamaha needs is a new chassis to make the bike more stable on the brakes. That, at least, was the opinion of Valentino Rossi. The braking issue could not be fixed with electronics alone, it needed some help to be able to brake later into corners while still maintaining corner speed.

According to Cal Crutchlow, the Honda was also helped by the fact that it uses more engine braking helping to slow the bike up. The Yamaha enters the corner more like a two-stroke, smooth, wheels in line, carrying corner speed like a 250. The Honda is a traditional four-stroke, using the engine to help get the bike stopped.

Two more things worthy of note at Brno, outside of the question of Honda versus Yamaha. The first was the performance of Martin Bauer, the Austrian wild card riding a Suter BMW at Brno. Most CRT wild cards in MotoGP have cruised around at the back of the pack, finding it hard to compete with the regulars.

Like those others, Bauer has had a test prior to joining the fray, but is close to the times of Karel Abraham and Michael Laverty, and ahead of Bryan Staring and Lukas Pesek. Bauer certainly won’t win the race on Sunday, and he won’t be fastest CRT either, but it is good to see an independent wild card rider come in and add to the spectacle, rather than just bring up the rear.

The other item worthy of note was the appearance of a ‘funny front end’ in Moto2, something which many had hoped the class would help stimulate. French wildcard rider Lucas Mahias is riding the Transfiormers Moto2 machine in the Promoto Sport team at Brno, the bike using a variation of the Hossack fork first developed by Claude Fior.

The Transfiormer bike uses a modified version of the original Fior front end. The benefit of such a set up is the separation of the braking forces from suspension, allowing suspension movement to continue under braking.

With a conventional telescopic fork, the first thing that happens when you slam on the brakes is that you use up all, or nearly all of the suspension travel in the front forks. In this set up, the suspension doesn’t dip as hard.

So far, Mahias is doing reasonably well on the bike, though he is very much trundling around at the rear. The Frenchman finished 32 of 34 in FP1, and 31st in FP2. Clearly, this is an idea which needs a lot of work and development if it is to reveal its potential.

But at least someone is actually trying, for a change. Moto2 was hoped to be a hotbed of innovation; instead it turned into the same fearful nest of conservative thinking. It’s nice to see something radically different on the grid.

Photo: HRC

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

Comment:

  1. Pietro says:

    Now we just need the Vyrus Moto2 Bike on the grid!

  2. Norm G. says:

    re: “Where is the Honda better than Yamaha? It was a question asked of all of the Yamaha men at Brno on Friday, as well as of Marc Marquez. The consensus was that Yamaha still ruled in corner speed, and could even hold its own in acceleration nowadays, but that Honda’s strongest point was stability in braking.”

    welcome to another unsung benefit of 90V’s and long engines. preoccupation with “mass centralization” is to overlook like 1,826 other tuning variables…!? all are critical to the objective of cutting fast lap times (repeat ALL)… not just the few we can comprehend or count on our one hand.

    re: “In this set up, the suspension doesn’t dip as hard”

    nor incur a geometry change. unless of course you set it up that way. ie. a tuning variable.