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 Mugello: Examining Marquez’s Crash & Yamaha’s Fears of Honda Improvement

05/31/2013 @ 6:25 pm, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Mugello: Examining Marquezs Crash & Yamahas Fears of Honda Improvement Friday Mugello Italian GP MotoGP Scott Jones 14 635x423

There are a lot of things that make Mugello special. Its location, in the heart of Tuscany, a sumptuously beautiful part of the world; its layout, fast, flowing, winding naturally up and round the valley it is set in.

The wide open nature of the track, all third and fourth gear combinations which require the perfect combination of intelligence, talent, and sheer courage that make it close to the perfect test of skill. It is fast, it is flowing, and it is undulating.

Even the front straight isn’t really a straight, but a rolling sinew of asphalt that winds down to the first corner. You come down out of the last turn, hammer on the gas, shifting up to sixth as you go, and ride up the rise towards the crest.

Drift right then left through the slight kink in the straight which becomes something resembling a 330 km/h chicane, then just as your front wheel floats free over the crest, you need to get it back down again and get on the brakes for the first corner, the 90 km/h San Donato.

The straight and the braking area are immensely difficult to get right, and a simple error can leave you hurtling into the gravel. Or, in the case of Marc Marquez, drifting towards a wall.

Each rider has their own technique, but subtlety is the key to getting it right. Jorge Lorenzo told the press that he does not really brake over the crest, nor does he use rear brake to keep the front down, but instead Lorenzo rolls off the throttle a fraction.

This puts the front tire back in contact with the tarmac, and allows him to brake at full force for San Donato. Dani Pedrosa’s technique is slightly different, but achieves the same result. “You never really hit the brake at once,” he said, “you squeeze and put the pressure a little after.”

It is a skill you only really need to master once you hit MotoGP. The Moto2 bikes hit around 280 km/h at the fastest point on the track. Rookies coming into MotoGP from Moto2 suddenly find themselves hurtling towards San Donato 50 to 60 km/h faster, riders regularly exceeding 340 km/h along the front straight. It is not something which is mastered in a single session.

Cal Crutchlow is in his third season in the class, and is still getting to grips with Mugello, and especially with turn one. “It’s a really tough track, and every year it’s the same, it’s difficult,” he said on Friday. “I think [Mugello] is a real experience track. It’s got so many tricks of the trade, and I haven’t got them down to a tee yet.”

Braking for San Donato was something he was still struggling with. “The brake point, I think a little bit of inconsistency in the braking zone,” was his reply to the question of where he was having the most problems.

Marc Marquez found out the hard way just how difficult the braking zone for San Donato can be. The Repsol Honda rookie hit 339.5 km/h along the front straight as the rise crested. As he hit the brakes, he grabbed just a little too much brake too early, before the front tire had regained full grip on the tarmac.

He locked the front at 337 km/h, the front-end folding, but Marquez almost miraculously got the front-end back again. His efforts left his bike heading off at an oblique angle to his original direction, and drifting quickly off the track, on to the grass, and toward the wall.

After a hundred meters, and after the bike had scrubbed off about 60 km/h, he was forced to bail, laying the bike down to avoid hitting the wall. He was dragged along through the grass and then the gravel, barely grazing the wall before tumbling to a halt in the gravel.

It looked horrific. It looked like the kind of crash that ends with very, very serious injury, especially as he was dragged so very close to the wall. But a combination of Marquez’ astonishing reflexes and excellent luck meant he was only banged up, with some bruising on his elbow, a nasty graze on his chin and a neck strain from where his helmet was pushed back.

His most visible injury is his chin, which is now quite badly swollen. “He looks like Michael Schumacher now,” HRC Team Principal Livio Suppo joked with Israeli TV presenter Tammy Gorali. The fact that Honda’s team boss is able to joke about Marquez’ injury tells you all you need to know about just how lightly Marquez escaped.

It is not yet 100% certain that he will ride again on Saturday, needing a night’s rest before he will know just how badly the other bruising – especially his arm and his elbow – will affect him.

The real question, though, is just what the wall at that point at the circuit is doing quite so close to the circuit. On an ordinary straight, even a high-speed one like Barcelona or Qatar, having walls close to the track is not a problem, for only the most freakish of accidents would see a bike or rider getting anywhere near the wall.

But at Mugello, where the fast kink narrows the track to a place you have to thread the needle, that point of the circuit is a place where crashes can happen. Having a wall so close to the track is downright dangerous, as the riders have pointed out in the MotoGP Safety Commission for many years.

Both Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi told reporters that they had raised the issue in the Safety Commission, but each time they did, they were told it was not possible.

It is not the first time a nasty accident has happened at that point. When the rear tire of Shinya Nakano’s Kawasaki MotoGP bike blew out in 2004, the Japanese rider was sent tumbling along the asphalt and almost hit the same point.

Though both Nakano’s crash and the Marquez incident are unusual, having two incidents is a sign that something needs to be done. Pushing the wall back 10 meters or so past the crest would offer a clear benefit at Mugello.

Before Marquez’a crash grabbed the headlines, all the talk was of Yamaha’s domination at the Italian circuit. Though the morning session took place on a wet track, the rain which looked like hampering the weekend held off all day, leaving the afternoon session of practice to take place on a dry track.

In front of his home crowd, Valentino Rossi’s determination to put on a decent display shone through. Rossi pushed hard, but came up just short in the end, Jorge Lorenzo just nipping ahead of him in the last few minutes of the session. Cal Crutchlow’s third place meant that Yamaha had a clean sweep.

That looks good for now, yet neither Valentino Rossi nor Cal Crutchlow were entirely happy. The rain had left the track green and lacking in grip, conditions under which the Yamahas perform best. These are also the conditions in which the Hondas suffer most, lacking the grip that gives them real drive.

If the track stays dry and grip returns, then the Hondas will get up to speed and be back at the front again, Crutchlow said, and that would wipe out Yamaha’s advantage.

Rossi, too, was concerned. He was happy about his performance, and happy with his feeling on the bike. The balance was good, and the braking issues which he had been having were slightly improved, but he feared what would happen on Saturday.

“In other races, like Le Mans, I was very strong on Friday but it looks like we suffer more on Saturday,” Rossi said. Their rivals made big steps forward on the Saturday, while Rossi struggled to many any improvement at all.

What did he need to be able to be at the front on Saturday for qualifying, and through the race? “Maybe another second.” Given the track conditions on Friday, a second is not impossible, but it could well be a big ask.

Both the Hondas and the Ducatis are hoping for more grip, as it will allow them to exploit their superior drive. The Ducatis did rather well on Friday, despite the relative lack of grip. Nicky Hayden ended the afternoon in fourth, while Andrea Dovizioso was not so far behind in seventh.

It was a disappointed and frustrated Dovizioso who spoke to the press, however, and his frustration was aimed entirely at himself. He had made what he regarded as a “stupid mistake” on Friday morning, and had a rather painful tumble at Turn One.

This had exacerbated a neck problem he suffers with occasionally, leaving him unable to lift his head up properly, especially when tucked behind the fairing of the Desmosedici. The long and fast straight at Mugello presented an almost insurmountable problem, as he was having to drop his head and look down every second or so, to relieve the strain in his neck.

That could make racing dangerous, if he continues to suffer the same issues, but he was determined to race if at all possible. “You think at Mugello I am going to watch the race from the box?” he said.

If he did decide not to race, he would not be the only rider watching from the pit box. Bradley Smith had a big highside – he got “a bit giddy” on a fresh set of tires, and they bit him – and got his left hand trapped under the bike.

He now has a nasty wound on his little finger that will need a skin graft as quickly as possible. Smith will be seeing if he can ride the bike on Saturday, before making a decision on whether to race on Sunday.

Ben Spies, too, is struggling to be fit enough to race. Though his shoulder had held up well during rehab, riding a MotoGP bike at Mugello was another thing altogether, he had discovered to his dismay.

The weakness in his right shoulder meant that the fast changes of direction were difficult. Braking in a straight line was now manageable, an improvement from Austin, but the fast left-right combinations were hard.

Maintaining the subtle control of brake and throttle while flinging the bike from left to right or vice versa was proving much more difficult than expected. He was to have meetings with the team on Friday night to discuss whether or not he will continue.

Shoulder injuries are extremely difficult to manage, and take an awful long time to heal. Spies’ doctors have advised him that it will take another two months to recover completely, but Spies is keen to get back to racing as soon as possible. Sunday at Mugello may yet prove to be too soon.

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. TheSwede says:

    Marquez’s crash looked downright terrifying. I only saw onboard footage of it, and to recover after the lock up was impressive enough but the way the bike recovered grip and just aimed itself off the track and towards the wall was scary. That wall is way too close to the track.. Interested to see how he recovers from it though, and I enjoyed the Schumacher crack.

    Here’s a view of it for those who don’t have a MotoGP.com subscription: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9LfrBImd6E

  2. Slangbuster says:

    It looks like the Honda left a 20 foot darkie with the front tire before hooking back up. What a horrifying crash and glad he wasn’t hurt worse.

  3. smiler says:

    Lil Dani, Rossi, Lorenzo podium?
    Cal 4th, Ducati 5 and 6?

    Another Rossi Lorenzo duel would be great to watch. Lil Dani does not seem to exchanges of paint.

    You could see the smile on Rossi’s face behdin Megeuz when e crasheed de ferst timea. This is what Rossi has been waiting for.

    Might just be a good race.

  4. TexusTim says:

    damn MM was lucky he didnt get injured..I agree that wall is way too close…just like another track I know of “persoanly” the bulders /owners think they know were a bike will go in a crash but this highlites thats not allway as predicatble as they think..call it wishfullthinking I call it stupid logic.too bad ben had too pull out I think the ducs are going to come good this weekend but with dovi not feeling it we now have pirro and crazy joe to pull for…im going with iannone

  5. TexusTim says:

    oopa of course we have Nicky how stupid of me..I blame it on the meds..still recovering from surgery..watching fp3 right now, of any track in the world this is the one I want to go to..one day I wll.

  6. Faust says:

    Marquez has had some bad luck crashing during a few weekends this year but his ability to bounce back and still perform on race day has been amazing. I hope it continues. The pace that he’s learning at is spectacular…. if Pedrosa ever wants to win a title, I think he needs to do it this year. He’s been runner up way too many times, and I think Marquez is only going to get better from here. This is Dani’s moment, and I hope he can pull it off.

  7. TexusTim says:

    yea this has to be pedrosa’s year, but marquez seems intent on shaking it up…he would be the youngest ever if he does, he is already breaking rossi’s records.
    I like the way he sandbags these guys in the press confrence then goes out and spanks em.

  8. Mariano says:

    I think he looks more like Jay Leno……glad he’s doing fine. They have to move that wall, it’s one of those ” freak” accidents, like the one who killed Kato, waiting to happen all over again.

  9. Yeah, really glad that MM pulled himself together. His qualifying wasn’t so bad. Pedrosa stomped it, though. Wow. What a last-minute effort. Rossi down in 7th? It looked good for a front row for a while there. Dovi shone yet again.

    That lap from Dani …. Wow. Just wow.

  10. Robby Como says:

    Marquez is very brave, even before the crash he had the courage to compete again, props to him.