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 Assen: Of Tricky Surfaces, Fast Riders, & Career Choices

06/30/2012 @ 12:33 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Assen: Of Tricky Surfaces, Fast Riders, & Career Choices Valentino Rossi Ducati Corse Assen 635x427

Assen’s surface is pretty good when it’s dry, and it’s not too bad when it’s wet, but this is 2012, and there’s a MotoGP race this weekend, so of course, the conditions are as bad as they can possibly be. For Assen, that means a few spots of rain here and there, just enough to create patches damp enough to catch out the unwary, or even the wary, as Casey Stoner found out this morning.

Heading down the Veenslang Stoner noticed the first spots of rain on his visor. Through the Ruskenhoek, it turned into drizzle, and he had already backed off into De Bult when he was flung from the bike in what he described as one of the worst crashes of his career. He took a knock to the head, banged his left shoulder and left wrist, and suffered a big and very painful contusion to his right knee, that left him hobbling around like an old man in the afternoon.

The problem is the asphalt. The current surface means it is impossible to see when the track is damp, rather than wet, meaning that it is easy to get caught out, Ben Spies said, an explanation later verified by Wilco Zeelenberg, Jorge Lorenzo’s team manager. The track is fine when it’s dry, and when it’s wet, the water sits pretty evenly, making for a predictable surface. But the first few spots of rain are lethal. If that were to happen in the race, it could make for a very dangerous situation, Spies said.

Rain and dry in the morning was followed by rain and dry in the afternoon, leaving the riders stranded in the pits for much of qualifying. A battered and bruised Casey Stoner found himself down in 9th when he decided that this was “not acceptable” and pushed for two awe-inspiring laps to get first onto the front row, and then to take pole, with only his teammate Dani Pedrosa able to get anywhere near. Though he is clearly fast, Stoner’s problem – apart from the physical problems, his knee being the worst injury, especially as the injury will get worse as he rests it – is that while the soft tire is working very well, the hard tire is still causing them problems. Stoner told the media that he expected to be able to race the soft tire, but the drop off in performance could leave him struggling in the latter stages of the race.

So while Stoner’s pole is deeply impressive, the real star of the weekend is Jorge Lorenzo. Once again, the bike is working well, everything is running smoothly and Lorenzo is riding as well as he has ever done. Talk to Andrea Dovizioso about what Lorenzo is doing and he admits to being impressed with the way Lorenzo finds his speed, braking earlier but rolling into corners faster and carrying more speed with less risk. Starting from the front row, Lorenzo is the man to beat on Sunday.

The two Hondas will be with him: Cal Crutchlow – after blasting Hector Barbera for getting in his way and saying that the Spaniard should not be in MotoGP – predicted that the fight will be between Stoner, Pedrosa and Lorenzo, but Lorenzo is surely the favorite of the three. Ben Spies got unlucky with traffic, running into Aleix Espargaro, but his bike was good enough for the front row, he told reporters. Spies could be right there with the front runners if his luck changes, and frankly, it’s about due. He needs some strong results, and with contract negotiations likely to get very serious directly after Laguna Seca, he has four races in which to make his mark. Spies believes he has the talent, and since Estoril, has had the bike on his side too, but small mistakes and bad luck have been getting in his way. If that bad luck continues, his place at the factory Yamaha team could be in jeopardy.

While Stoner’s lap was impressive, it is pretty much what we have come to expect from the Australian. Stefan Bradl’s 4th place, however, is punching pretty far above his weight. The German has performed above expectations so far in his rookie year, but his fast lap at Assen was a sign that there is much more to come from him. Though Bradl set his qualifying lap following Valentino Rossi, he was fully a second quicker than the Italian. Perhaps he was just watching where Rossi braked, and choosing to brake a little bit later, but whatever he was doing it worked, and the German secured his best ever MotoGP qualifying spot.

In Moto2, Marc Marquez put an end to Pol Espargaro’s domination of the weekend so far. Marquez posted a scorching lap in his final session to secure pole and topple Espargaro from the top spot, but Marquez also managed to crash a couple of times. Marquez is wringing the utmost out of the Suter, no longer the weapon of choice in Moto2, that having been displaced by the Kalex chassis. Whether Marquez can hold on for a whole race is open to question, but with Marquez, Espargaro and Iannone on the front row, we are in for another barnstorming Moto2 race. Espargaro has the pace and needs the points, and more importantly, he’s on a roll. That’s good enough for the gambling types.

After qualifying, all eyes turned to the Ducati garage, where Valentino Rossi made some pointed statements to Italian TV about the lack of development in his eyes which is going into the Desmosedici. The Honda has a new chassis to try to combat the chatter they are suffering with, Rossi pointed out. Ducati has a new engine coming – a relatively modest upgrade to smooth power delivery – but beyond that, nothing much. The understeer, which has plagued the bike since the beginning of this year, is still there, and set up changes alone will not fix it.

Rossi told the press he had identified the understeer problem to Ducati Corse boss and chief designer Filippo Preziosi after the IRTA test at Jerez, and they had reached the end of the road setup-wise at Estoril. This was all they could do by modifying geometry and weight distribution, and a more radical change was needed. “We need a clear and better plan to fix this,” Rossi said, but would not elaborate on what he meant when asked about it. Ducati needs to listen to its riders, Rossi had told Italian journalists earlier.

The honeymoon is very much over between Rossi and Ducati. When asked, Rossi still says that his aim is to stay at Ducati and make the bike competitive, but there are ever fewer people who believe him. MotoGP’s silly season is currently on hold, waiting for Valentino Rossi to decide on his future. Nicky Hayden has been told that Ducati is waiting for the Audi deal to be finalized by the EU before they can offer him a contract, and the situation at Yamaha and Honda is similarly on hold. The factory Yamaha team looks like one of two possible destinations for Rossi, the other being inside the satellite Gresini Honda team.

Rossi would have to swallow a healthy serving of humble pie to return to the factory Yamaha team – Jorge Lorenzo was already joking about not requiring a wall in the Yamaha garage if Rossi does become his teammate – and even so, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis is believed not to be too thrilled at the prospect of having Rossi back. His saving grace would be his ability to bring a sponsor to a cash-strapped factory, and his public statement of his willingness to take a pay cut almost certainly went down well.

If Rossi goes to the factory Yamaha team – and it’s a big if – then Ben Spies will probably be dropped back into Tech 3 with factory support, financed by Yamaha USA. That pushes Cal Crutchlow into the arms of Ducati – I had a long discussion with Cal Crutchlow today, after off-the-cuff comments I had made at the introductory evening held for the Pole Position travel company. Crutchlow emphasized to me that his goal was to have a shot at the World Championship, and that to do that, he knew he had to have a factory bike.

His first preference was to join the factory Yamaha team, but if Spies’ spot were to be taken by Valentino Rossi, then there would be no room for Crutchlow, and so he would take his chances at Ducati. Yes, that would mean a significant pay rise, he acknowledged – my comments were about the size of Crutchlow’s offer – but, Crutchlow emphasized, that was just a nice bonus, and had nothing to do with his decision. A Championship, he repeated, is what he wanted, and he believed that he needed a factory bike to achieve that. If it had been solely about money, he would have signed a very long time ago.

The next four races – including Saturday’s race at Assen – will be crucial, in many respects. If Stoner is banged up too much, then it will be hard for him at Assen and at the Sachsenring, two very physical tracks. Ben Spies needs results to retain his position, and the modified engine which Ducati are testing at Mugello after the race and then taking to Laguna Seca looks like being the last chance that the Italian factory has of retaining Valentino Rossi’s services, despite the Italian’s protestations that it is not so. It is going to be a hectic and exhausting month, but the shape of both the 2012 and 2013 MotoGP seasons will be much clearer after that.

Photo: Ducati Corse

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

Comment:

  1. Andreas says:

    Why do you use so many pictures of Rossi?

  2. joe says:

    I can’t see Rossi leaving Ducati.

  3. BBQdog says:

    @Andreas: because of the colours, style, details, stickers, etc etc ????

  4. Andreas says:

    @BBQdog: OK, so you are a Rossi fan. :-) Also, the graphics designers have done a good job at mixing bright yellow with red and it also matches A&R logo colors.

  5. Greg says:

    Is this site just a repost of every David Emmit story from MotoMatters? Seem like that’s all it is.