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 Jerez: Yamaha vs. Honda, Or Going Just as Fast in Two Very Different Ways

05/03/2013 @ 6:23 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Jerez: Yamaha vs. Honda, Or Going Just as Fast in Two Very Different Ways jorge lorenzo motogp jerez yamaha racing 635x423

For the past couple of years, it has seemed as if there is some kind of unwritten law which states that any MotoGP weekend must be accompanied by rain. The weekends without the threat of rain or some other form of ill weather have been few and far between, so it is both a relief and a joy to come to Jerez, and have the prospect of a full weekend of stable and dry weather.

That’s not to say that no rain has fallen: this morning, as we walked to the car, we felt three or four large drops, but that was all. From the forecast, this looks like the entire quota of rain for the weekend, and the paddock is duly grateful for small mercies.

A consistently dry track still posed problems for the riders, however. The last time MotoGP was here, back in March, conditions were far from ideal. It rained, every day, with plenty of sunshine in between, leaving the track treacherous and difficult, with low grip levels and a patchy surface.

Though the teams collected plenty of data at that test, very little of it is usable this weekend, with much higher temperatures and better grip. Until the afternoon, that is, when the warmer temperatures meant that grip levels started to drop again, a perennial problem at Jerez. The bumps, too, are an issue, with many riders running wide after hitting them as they braked for the hairpins at the circuit.

Despite the fact that the conditions are better, times so far have not been faster than at the test. Quickest man on the first day of practice was Jorge Lorenzo, the reigning champion picking up where he left off at Qatar before the rude interruption of Austin. His advantage is small – just over a tenth over Dani Pedrosa, a fraction more over Cal Crutchlow – but his race pace is impressive so far. Lorenzo put a lot of laps on a single set of tires, testing tire wear, and getting ready for the race.

Though he is clearly fastest, the top five are looking very close indeed. Less than a third of a second separates the factory Yamaha of Lorenzo and the Repsol Honda of Marc Marquez, with Pedrosa, Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi all between them. It looks like these five men will run at the front for most of the season, their form at Jerez building on results at the two previous races.

The closeness of the top three illustrates the battle between Yamaha and Honda all too well. The two bikes are very different, and require very different styles, yet they both end up lapping at around the same pace.

Even the tires that the two bikes will probably use on Sunday are different: the Hondas can make use of the harder of the two rear options, while the Yamaha men will have to run with the softer tire, because of a lack of edge grip with the harder option.

Only if the temperatures rise significantly will the Yamaha men be able to consider using the harder rear; Valentino Rossi was the only one to try it, and he discarded it almost immediately.

The difference between the bikes was explained in some detail by Bradley Smith, who spent some time explaining to reporters just where he is struggling with the Yamaha. “I’m used to pushing 100% on 125s and Moto2 bikes, to try to squeeze everything out of it,” Smith explained. When he tried to do the same on the Yamaha, he said, he just ended up making mistakes and going slower.

The trick was to be as smooth as possible in the transitions, and to use the power of the bike to help slow the bike into corners. “Lorenzo is rolling off before me, but he’s still getting to the apex faster than I am,” Smith said, perplexed. “When I try to do that, it feels like I’m out for a Sunday ride to the shops.”

Corner entry was where speed was to be gained, by keeping the wheels in line. That is the diametrical opposite of a Moto2 bike, Smith said, where you used the clutch and rear tire to help slow the bike and get it turned. A lack of electronics on a Moto2 machine meant that subtlety was lost on corner entry, but this was precisely what was needed with the Yamaha. “It’s like a 250 horsepower 125,” Smith explained, where being smooth and keeping the wheels in line was all that counted.

The Honda may have been easier to bike to switch to coming from Moto2, Smith opined. That looks like a bike which you had to push harder to get the best out of, judging by the way the riders treated the Honda. Brake hard, pitch the bike in, stand it up and get on the gas.

This is obvious if you go and stand after one of Jerez’ hairpins: you see the Hondas turn the bike faster than you would believe possible, then physically push the bike up as they exit the corner, to get up on the fat part of the tire. This is why the Hondas can use the harder tire, as edge grip is much less of an issue. With the Honda, you spend as little time as possible on the edge of the tire.

Not so on the Yamaha, which is much more of a machine for sweeping majestically through corners carrying a terrifying amount of lean angle and corner speed. Master of the game is Jorge Lorenzo, and this is turning into a disadvantage for the other riders. Every time Lorenzo wins a race, Yamaha’s decision to design the M1 around Lorenzo’s riding style is vindicated.

The trouble is, nobody can really duplicate Lorenzo’s riding style. Both Crutchlow and Rossi are used to braking harder and later, and not carrying quite so much lean angle, as when they do, they inevitably crash, according to Crutchlow.

Valentino Rossi finds himself in an unenviable position: after spending two years on a bike designed around another rider, he returns to his beloved Yamaha to find himself on an M1 designed around another rider — at least he can be competitive on this one.

But first, he and his team will need to find a solution to the balance problem he is having. The front tire is pushing, he said, while the rear was sliding under acceleration. This left him worried about his race rhythm, though his crew have some ideas to test in the morning.

Though it should surprise no one that Marc Marquez is up front, the difference with the test was marked. In March, Marquez had struggled here, but a radical modification to the geometry had made all the difference, he said.

It was something his team had worked on before arriving at Jerez, and after going out in the morning with the original setting from the test, Marquez had quickly switched to the new geometry and made a big leap forward. Marquez is undoubtedly a great rider, but his adaptation to MotoGP is clearly being helped by having one of the best pit crews in the business.

The biggest surprise on the timesheets – and promising to make qualifying intriguing – is the presence of two CRT machines in the top ten. Hector Barbera on the Avintia Blusens FTR-Kawasaki bagged 9th spot, a couple of thousandths ahead of Aleix Espargaro on the Power Electronics ART machine.

Barbera’s presence in the top ten was, as you might expect, down to getting a tow, latching on to the back of Cal Crutchlow to get into the 1’40s. Crutchlow was impressed by Barbera’s ability to post such a fast lap on the FTR-Kawasaki, but he was less impressed by Barbera loitering on the outside of the hairpin waiting for a tow.

“We’re on the limit in every corner here,” Crutchlow said. If anything went wrong, they could find themselves wiping out all those waiting for a tow. At least it was off the racing line, but it was still remarkably dangerous, as all of the riders had discussed in the Safety Commission at Austin.

In contrast to Barbera, Espargaro is capable of running 1’40s under his own steam. The Spaniard has been impressive all throughout this year, and could easily slide into the main Q2 qualifying session at the first attempt.

Qualifying promises to be a little less fraught than in Qatar and Austin, the riders agreed. With a significantly shorter lap, the pressure to get out and post a fast lap as soon as the lights go out is reduced.

If you want a clear track, there is no need to do as Jorge Lorenzo has done for the past two races, stand waiting at pit exit for the lights to go green like a teenager in a hotrod cruising the strip.

There is time to wait for the track to clear, and those lingering for a tow to give up and hit the track of their own accord.

That does not mean that the riders can take it easy, however. “The first two laps will be crucial,” Cal Crutchlow believes, as after that, the tires start to fade. But a free track and a short lap should give Valentino Rossi a chance to get onto the two front rows.

At both Qatar and Austin, the Italian had struggled with the new qualifying format, hitting traffic and getting held up. With more time available to him, he should be able to find some free track, and post a time good enough for the top five.

With the five fastest men of the weekend on the front two rows, and so very little between them, the race at Jerez could well turn out to be a genuine thriller. First, though, they all have to get through qualifying.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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


  1. MikeD says:

    Great article. . .BUT. . .not a word about DUCATI in all of it and sadly my translator ain’t working today so reading at motoblog.it is out of the question.

  2. “In contrast to Barbera, Espargaro is capable of running 1’40s under his own steam.”

    Barbera proved pretty impressively that he can run under his own steam by putting Ducati on its only front-row qualifying last year. His problem isn’t that he can’t do it, but rather that he often chooses not to.