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 Indianapolis: The New King Kenny, Yamaha’s Seamless Gearbox, & Returning Next Year?

08/17/2013 @ 6:53 am, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Indianapolis: The New King Kenny, Yamahas Seamless Gearbox, & Returning Next Year? Friday Indianapolis GP MotoGP Scott Jones 13 635x423

There’s something about America. Especially if you’re name is Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda Rookie led both sessions on the opening day of the Indianapolis Grand Prix (the last one? Too early to say) going quickest both in the tricky morning, when there was very little grip, and in the afternoon, once the bikes had laid down some rubber. Marquez has won both US rounds so far, dominating at Austin and winning comfortably at Laguna Seca, and he has picked up at Indy where he left off before the summer break.

Unsurprisingly, the parallels with Kenny Roberts are starting to be made, the only other rider to become world champion as a rookie. Those parallels are unfair yet perfectly valid: both men exceeded expectations and raised the bar, shaking up the established order with a radical new riding style. Yet Roberts and Marquez also came from totally different backgrounds: Kenny Roberts had grown up racing dirt track, switched to road racing and then came to Europe to win his the championship at the first attempt, on tracks he had never seen before.

Marc Marquez has had a classically European education: minibikes from a very young age, then nurtured through Spain’s many road racing series, before rising up through the ranks of 125, Moto2 and now MotoGP. Marquez knows all of the tracks MotoGP races like the back of his hand, with the exception of Austin, which nobody knew, it being a new circuit, and Laguna Seca, which didn’t prevent him from mastering and winning at his first attempt.

Of course, there is the small matter of half a MotoGP season before Marquez can match King Kenny’s achievement, and with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa now back from injury and approaching full fitness, the title is far from being a given. When asked if he thought Marquez was now favorite to win the championship, the ever astute Cal Crutchlow pointed out the glaringly obvious flaw in that line of argumentation.

“I still don’t agree that it will be solely his championship, because Lorenzo and Pedrosa are so strong always at the end of the year,” he told reporters. “I expect him to win this weekend, because of his pace and how good he was at Laguna. But I still think Pedrosa and Lorenzo are the strongest guys.” Marquez learns fast, though. “He’s fast,” Crutchlow affirmed. “You can’t slow him down, he gets faster every race.”

Fortunately for the championship – and the defending champion in particular – both Pedrosa and Lorenzo are in better shape than they feared. The pair had taken radically different approaches to recovering from their collarbone injuries. Lorenzo, ever the training monster, had spent all his time working on building strength and gaining flexibility. Pedrosa, more cautious, had proceeded more carefully, resting the shoulder as much as possible to allow it to recover.

Both approaches worked – demonstrating once again that no two collarbone or shoulder injuries are ever alike – with Pedrosa grabbing second spot just eight hundredths behind his teammate, and Lorenzo the fastest Yamaha a quarter of a second behind Marquez. Pedrosa will likely make the most progress, his shoulder loosening up as each session goes on, struggling less and less to force the bike to change direction and to control the bike wanting to wheelie.

Lorenzo and Pedrosa weren’t the only riders returning from MotoGP’s sick bay. Both Pramac Ducati men were also back from injury, Ben Spies after a long layoff to allow the shoulder he damaged at Sepang last year to heal, while Andrea Iannone injured his shoulder at the Sachsenring. For Spies, it was good news: “It’s great to be able to ride the bike with both arms,” he said.

Though he was only 13th fastest, 1.6 seconds behind Marquez, he felt he was riding at full fitness again, something he had not done since that injury at Sepang. The prognosis for Iannone was less favorable: the Italian has shooting pains in his shoulder in the change of direction, can’t tuck in properly and is suffering in braking. Painkillers may help him get through the weekend, but he faces two more on two consecutive weekends. Iannone may do better by following Spies’ example.

That the Hondas have an advantage at Indianapolis is clear. Marquez, Pedrosa and Stefan Bradl lead the session, the German continuing his solid progress on the LCR Honda, while Lorenzo leads Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi, the trio of Yamahas over a quarter of a second and more behind Marquez. That may yet change, as grip improves. Jorge Lorenzo complained that his bike was spinning too much, unable to get the drive to match the Hondas.

Watching the super slow motion shots set up at Turn 5, you could see the rear end of the Honda stepped out more, biting to help get the bike turned and making it easier for the Hondas to drive out of the corners. As the track cleans up, the improved grip should favor the Yamahas a little more, Cal Crutchlow said, allowing them to exploit their better edge grip and to reduce the spinning of the rear tire.

Would Yamaha’s seamless gearbox help? It’s hard to say. On Thursday, Jorge Lorenzo had pleaded with Yamaha to introduce it sooner rather than later. The gearbox, which he and Rossi had tested a week earlier at Brno, did not give the massive boost in lap times some had been expecting, Rossi had explained, but still made a big difference overall. “The big improvement is in 20 or 30 laps, because the bike becomes more easy to ride,” Rossi said.

It was more stable in acceleration, more stable in braking, and placed less stress on the tires. The gearbox made it easier to ride the bike at the limit, but it also allowed a change of riding style. Gear changes became less critical, allowing the rider to change up while the bikes is still leaned hard over, Rossi explained. “You don’t have to modify the style, but you can use some tricks for use gearbox to the maximum to go faster,” he said.

But Yamaha do not want to introduce it yet, much to Lorenzo’s discontent. The Spaniard would like to see it brought in as soon as possible, to allow him to challenge the Hondas at every circuit. But the risk is great, as if the gearbox locks up, there is no way of saving it. “I understand that Jorge wants the gearbox as soon as possible,” Rossi said. “Also me, I want the gearbox as soon as possible. But you know, the gearbox is a critical part, and I also agree with Yamaha that they want to be sure at 100%.” The penalty if things went wrong was high. “You have the good and the bad. You can take a risk for the advantage, but you can also have a problem. But anyway, Yamaha will decide,” Rossi said.

So Yamaha hope that the track conditions will come to them. The surface is the subject of much discussion, with riders due to debate the issue in the Safety Commission, there are calls for the multiple track surface changes to be fixed. Whether Indianapolis Motor Speedway heeds the call of the riders or not will depend on many things, most importantly whether there is a race at the track again next year.

The circuit is keen to retain the race, and though three races in the US are perhaps a little too much of a good thing, Dorna are keen to stay as well. Indy is a byword in American racing, and close to many of the US’ major markets. It is easier to sell motorcycle racing to an American audience when it is linked to such an iconic venue than if it stays only at Laguna Seca – also iconic, but really only for motorcycles and the smaller four-wheeled series – and Austin, a brand new circuit with no history.

Therein lies the conundrum for Dorna: try to hitch a ride on the coat tails of established traditions like the Indy 500, or try to build a new audience around the entirely foreign concept of road course motorcycle racing. Neither is simple, and when it comes down to it, smart promotion of the sport may be much more successful and significant than the location of the races. But until Dorna shows any sign of doing that – on the basis of past evidence, an impossible dream – then jumping on the Indy 500 bandwagon may be their best bet for conquering America, the world’s richest TV market.

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.

Comment:

  1. “One, Tw…” (1.6 seconds)

    Still amazes me that is all the difference between so many racers’ times during practice & qualifying (13 in this session)…it underscores what Lorenzo & Rossi were quoted in the article about the importance of making the bike easier to ride at its limit over the course of a race.

  2. Norm G. says:

    re: ” The gearbox, which he and Rossi had tested a week earlier at Brno, did not give the massive boost in lap times some had been expecting”

    well no, not with a single test. a single test didn’t do it for Honda either. it will however come in time with “full integration”. it’s not magic.