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.

MotoGP: Friday at Jerez Round Up: Of Weather, Tires, and Why the Ducati Works in the Wet

04/27/2012 @ 11:50 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Friday at Jerez Round Up: Of Weather, Tires, and Why the Ducati Works in the Wet 2012 Spanish GP Jerez Friday Scott Jones 51

There were plenty of big names to watch out for at Jerez, but the real star of the show was the weather. She turned out to be such a prima donna that she almost completely halted on-track action for the first session of MotoGP, though not so much through her ferocity as by her fickleness. A rain shower at the end of the previous Moto3 made the track just greasy enough for it to be no use for slick tires, and nowhere near wet enough to get any useful information from wets, and so the vast majority of the MotoGP grid spent all of FP1 suited up but twiddling their thumbs.

A few brave souls did venture out – 9 of the 21 MotoGP riders eventually set a time – but for most, it was little more than a quick lap to test wet settings once the rain started falling in earnest. With the afternoon session taking place on a much wetter track, the CRT bikes took their very first scalp. Ivan Silva, riding a Kawasaki-powered Avintia Blusens bike topped the combined timesheets from both sessions of practice, though the place was more a reflection of the amount of work Silva and his team had to do rather than his natural pace in the wet. Silva has a new chassis to test at Jerez, a combined carbon fiber/aluminium hybrid built by Inmotec and based on their Moto2 bike, a chassis that won a race – admittedly in a downpour – in the Spanish CEV championship last year. Jerez is the first shakedown for the chassis, and so Silva had plenty of reason to be out, whatever the weather. After setting the fastest lap of the day on the FTR chassis, focus switched to the Inmotec, which obviously is in need of a lot more work.

The afternoon session was a little more ordinary, though the weather still played a significant role. Practice started wet, but the track started to dry out relatively quickly, causing huge problems for the tires, though times were a long way from record pace. But at the end of FP2, it was Dani Pedrosa who nabbed the fastest time, the Repsol Honda man the rider who complained least about tires. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi took second – yes, you read that right, again more of which anon – finishing ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner, with the second Ducati of Nicky Hayden in 5th.

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow had a simple explanation for Pedrosa’s speed: “he’s lighter than everyone else, so he’s not loading the tires as much, and they’re lasting much better. He’ll be lapping riders pretty quickly.” Pedrosa was also concerned about tire wear, though his worries were more about the front, but his comments were merely part of a massive chorus of disapproval about the tires and the way they were being destroyed within three or four laps – or just one lap, if you put your mind to it, according to Andrea Dovizioso.

Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso; everyone you spoke to said the same thing: in the half-wet, half-dry conditions that have prevailed at Jerez – a mirror image of what happened last year – the wet tires started spinning, getting way too hot and shedding their tread as a result. Despite switching to a harder compound for the wets, the result was the same, tires that destroyed themselves in just a few laps.

That a Bridgestone rain tire should destroy itself so quickly comes as something as a surprise. In the early days of competing in MotoGP, Bridgestone sent test riders out on rain tires to ride on a fully dry track, to find out how long the tire would last before it was destroyed. Casey Stoner was adamant that the older generation of Bridgestone rain tires were indeed much better when the track started to dry. “With the old Bridgestones, we used to get movement in the tire, but it would stay together,” Stoner said. The new tires were the opposite, much more stable, but they were tearing themselves apart within four laps.

Jorge Lorenzo’s displeasure was visible even on the TV screens: at the end of FP2, Lorenzo stormed to the back of the garage, angry at the rate of tire wear and the inability of his crew to find a solution. The tire dropped off too much and too quickly, he said, and this was something they had to fix.

That, however, may well prove to be impossible. Though he too was disappointed by the rate at which the tires destroyed themselves, Andrea Dovizioso regarded it as inevitable. “It’s impossible to make a tire for these conditions,” the Italian said. Rain tires are never going to last once the track starts to dry.

Several journalists raised the question of intermediate tires, but here opinion was split. Casey Stoner dismissed the idea out of hand, saying that he had never found a use for intermediate tires, preferring to run either full wets or chance it on a slick. Cal Crutchlow, however, viewed it differently: if conditions were to be anything like they were on Friday, then his preference would be to start on an intermediate, and hope that it would last the difference. With intermediates having been banned since the introduction of the single tire rule, Crutchlow would instead choose to start on a rain tire, and then pit early and gamble on it staying dry enough to use slicks. With the tires dropping off so quickly, matching the times of a destroyed wet with a slick on a damp track should be easily possible.

While the general tone among most of the riders was one of irritation, the mood in the Ducati garage – or at least, Rossi’s side of the garage – was very different indeed. The Italian was, if not delighted, then at least very pleased with his 2nd spot, and his result had reawakened a belief that he could be competitive in the wet. After 18 months of looking tentative on the bike, at Jerez, Rossi at last showed some aggression, pushing the bike hard and looking for the first time like he was really trying. No doubt his outburst of frustration on Italian TV had relieved some of the tension for Rossi, and imbued him with a new sense of purpose. Watching him ride, it certainly looked like it.

Rossi has his sights set on a podium, which he believes is entirely possible if it is wet. Teammate Nicky Hayden even described the Ducati as “the best bike in the wet” and that was an opinion share by Valentino Rossi. The session today had confirmed what Ducati had hoped for the new bike: that it would be as good in the wet as the GP11 was, and that had given Rossi heart.

The problem is, though, that Ducati do not understand exactly why they are so fast in the wet, while they continue to struggle in the dry. Both Hayden and Rossi were mystified, though Rossi explained that when the bike had the carbon fiber chassis, they believed that it was the stiffness of the chassis that actually helped. “Our chassis was too stiff in the dry,” Rossi said, “but in the wet, all the chassis are too stiff.” The theory was that the very stiffness of the chassis helped work the tires harder, making them warm up quicker and providing better grip. The problem with this theory, Rossi acknowledged, was that the same thing happened with the aluminium monocoque chassis that had replaced the carbon fiber at Aragon last year, and the aluminium twin spar chassis currently housing the Desmosedici GP12 also showed the same behavior.

It appears that Ducati do not have an adequate explanation for why their bike works in the wet but not in the dry, but a process of deduction points to a number of possible candidates. Firstly, what is clear is that the style of chassis is frankly irrelevant; the bike behaved the same with the CF chassis as it did with aluminium, and both the monocoque and full twin spar showed the same tendency to run wide and not give feedback. Rolling the engine back so that the V is at 45 degrees to the horizontal has helped, at least in terms of easier setup and the bike responding to changes as expected, but the GP12 still runs wide, and it still won’t turn the way the riders want it too.

The response to rolling the engine back is a positive aspect, but the real benefit would come from having a narrower V angle. A tighter, more compact engine would produce a better weight distribution, and allow Ducati to put more weight over the front wheel without compromising rake or trail.

The other problem is clearly one of power delivery. The engine is too aggressive, and this makes managing the throttle through the corners quite a handful. Too much electronic intervention is required to tame the power delivery, and this is interfering with the connection between the rider’s right wrist and the power at the back wheel. The reason the bike improves massively in the wet is because the engine never really gets into its power band, the bike spinning up well before the engine turns vicious. Andrea Dovizioso put it very well, when he said “the best riders in the wet are the ones that use the least throttle.” Gentle, smooth, coaxing the bike forward is the way to go in the wet. Once the track dries, and the wet mapping cutting power by 20-odd percent is replaced with the full-fat fire-breathing one, the bike once again becomes unmanageable.

Ducati’s savior may come in the unlikely form of Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. Ezpeleta is determined to push through a rev limit – looking increasingly like it will be set even lower than expected, at 14,500rpm, rather than 15,000 – and such a rev limit will terminate Ducati’s wild goose chase for power. Filippo Preziosi seems to believe that Ducati’s strength lies in exploiting the advantages of the desmodromic system to create more power at high revs, while all of the riders say that the engine is already too powerful and too aggressive.

A lower rev limit will force Ducati to create an engine with a wider powerband, while still benefiting from the lower power losses of the desmodromic valves when compared to a conventional spring. If Carmelo Ezpeleta gets his way – and he will, you can be sure of that – then he may just turn out to be the reason that Valentino Rossi returns to winning ways. Dorna have long been accused of manipulating the series to favor Rossi, but in this case, the Italian could well be the unwitting beneficiary of a rule aimed at something completely different.

What the weather really will do on Saturday and Sunday remains to be seen. More rain is expected, but the forecast is changing from hour to hour. What the riders really want is for the race to be either completely wet or completely dry, but knowing MotoGP’s luck with weather, it’s going to be very much neither fish nor flesh. Which should at least make for a very entertaining race.

Photo: © 2012 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.


  1. CrankyHippo says:

    Very good assessment of the situation, i feel the riders that will take advantage of wet/dry conditions will probably first be CRT riders closing the gap on the prototypes & riders like Rossi, Crutchlow, and maybe Lorenzo who have consistently have had the ability to ride “butter” smooth . Also sounds like Ducati should focus on engine design vs frame, I’d like to see a more even playing field other then Yamaha & Honda which have seemed to close the power gap between each other. Although its so early in he season and i still think that in good conditions Stoner is the best rider on the best bike.

  2. frogy6 says:

    O gawd does this mean the direction they’re going with ducati sportsbikes and particularly with the new panigale is completely wrong. (of pushing the power higher and higher untill the midrange is gone and has a sudden and savage rise in power at high revs)

    I find this comical

  3. Westward says:

    I would like to see the AMG replaced with the Audi symbol, and TIM replaced with ALICE…