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 Motegi: Of Conspiracy Theories, Unnecessary Assistance, & Hot Brakes

10/12/2012 @ 1:34 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

Friday Summary at Motegi: Of Conspiracy Theories, Unnecessary Assistance, & Hot Brakes Dani Pedrosa 2012 Japanese MotoGP FP2 635x421

There is little that motorcycle racing fans more than a good conspiracy. No mishap, contract dispute, or rider swap is ever the result of chance, error, greed or incompetence; there are always darker and greater powers involved, be it Dorna, Honda, or a major sponsor. They do not let the fact that their theories bear little resemblance to reality in 99.999% of the cases spoil the fun, and rightly so, moving happily on to the next dark conspiracy.

It took less than 10 minutes of the first session of MotoGP free practice before they had plenty to get their teeth into. Casey Stoner barely made it out of the pits before his Honda RC213V packed up, and he was forced to park it up by the side of the track, the bike felled by a mystery electronics issue. Stoner lost a lot of time in that first session, working with just a single bike as his mechanics tried to find out what had caused his first bike to fail. In the afternoon, an issue with the brake caused Stoner similar problems, losing valuable track time he needs to get back up to speed again.

A plot to prevent Stoner from interfering with Dani Pedrosa’s shot at the title? An entertaining idea, but in the reality stakes, somewhere beyond the moon landings conspiracy. Stoner’s problems are the kind of issue that every team has from time to time, with minor technical issues conspiring to work against them.

As frustrating as it may have been, it will have had little effect on Stoner’s pace, though. The Australian is nowhere near race fitness, just 6 weeks into a recuperation period which really needs 6 months at the least, and Stoner is having to find ways around his rigid ankle, which he cannot bend to push himself forward on the pegs to keep weight over the front wheel under acceleration.

Instead, he is having to use his arms to pull himself forward, placing much more stress on them than he is used to. With his ankle immobilized, he has been unable to train, and Stoner is uncertain of his race fitness.

The Australian hopes to be better tomorrow, once he has had a chance to rest and devise ways or riding around his ankle. But hopes of winning races are growing slim: Stoner compared his situation to Indianapolis, when he raced immediately after injuring his ankle. Though surprisingly fast in the first part of the race, as the laps ticked off, his arms began to tire from having to compensate for his unwilling ankle and he had to slow up his pace.

The Motegi circuit doesn’t help, the track consisting of a lot of straights with short and tight corners connecting them. The bike spends a lot of time under either hard braking or hard acceleration, and it is the acceleration which is causing Stoner problems. Sepang should be better, and Phillip Island better still, but coming back so early is tougher than Stoner thought.

The question is whether Dani Pedrosa will even need any help. The Spaniard ended the day under the race lap record and on top of the timesheets, though his advantage over Jorge Lorenzo was small. Pedrosa had little to say after practice, usually a sign that things are going well. He had tried both the harder and the softer of the two compounds, and was pleased with the grip of the new asphalt of the resurfaced track.

Pedrosa is in the groove, hitting his stride in the second half of the season and is looking like the man to beat. If it hadn’t been for the mishap in Misano, he would be looking very much like a potential champion, but the points he lost in Italy have left him with a hill to climb.

The man in second place is satisfied as well. Jorge Lorenzo understands that the Hondas have an advantage at Motegi, but, as he pointed out, “Our bike is very good as well.” The factory Yamaha man got off to a good start, with a small tweak to the electronics giving him an extra boost of speed. Lorenzo was happy on both hard and soft tires, a little faster on the hard rear, but he believes the soft will be the tire for the race. The 2010 champion is confident: “I think we can fight for the victory here.”

His teammate Ben Spies agrees that the hard will not be the race tire, as he spent the entire day testing that hypothesis. So much time, in fact, that he missed out on the opportunity to try the soft, ending up well down the order in 6th and eight tenths off the pace. The soft tire should be good for a few tenths, however, and on Saturday, the Texan should find himself much closer to the action.

While Spies is down in 6th, the other fast Yamaha is that of Andrea Dovizioso, who has once again excelled at a track where he always goes well. Dovizioso has the pace to match Pedrosa and Lorenzo, he told MotoGP.com, but not over the full distance of the race. The good news is that they have just two or three problems to fix, and if they can do that, the Italian believes he has a shot at mixing it up all race.

One of Dovizioso’s problems is in braking, but he is not alone. Dovizioso, Spies and Valentino Rossi have all been complaining of overheating brakes, leaving them struggling, especially at the end of the long and fast back straight at Motegi.

More weight and the higher speeds of the 1000s mean that brake temperatures are up on what had been expected, despite the high mass carbon disks they are using. It is not yet causing a safety issue, Dovizioso said, but it is clearly a concern. Brembo have some work to do for next year.

Leaving brake temperature aside, Rossi was happy with his first day’s work. A modification at the end of the second session saw him gain the rear grip he has been missing and improve his acceleration. The improvement cut his deficit to the leaders to just six tenths of a second, a gap that gave the Italian confidence.

But the added speed came at a cost, the old Ducati bugbear of tire wear raising its head and Rossi losing a lot of time once the rear tire starts to slide after a few laps. If Rossi and his crew can fix the sliding rear and make the soft tire last the distance, then he believes he could be in with a shot at the podium. T

he problem is that there is a big group of riders all in the same time bracket, and he will have his hands full trying to stay ahead of them. It will not be easy.

Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden is having a much tougher time. His injured right hand is causing him problems with braking, the lack of strength a real issue at a circuit with so many hard braking areas. The new chassis is not helping as much as he had hoped either: Hayden has the new revision of the Ducati Desmosedici chassis which Rossi has been using since Misano, but he is not getting the braking feedback he was hoping for. Corner entry is a problem, and a solution is needed for the American.

The weather, at least, is playing along. Apart from the first session of Moto3 practice, when the track was still a little damp from the overnight rain, conditions have been just about ideal for motorcycle racing. It is looking likely that we could see an entirely dry weekend at Motegi, one of just a handful this year. The riders will be very happy indeed if it holds up.

Photo: HRC

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

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