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.

Monday Addendum at Sachsenring: Sometimes, The Winner Gets Overlooked

07/10/2012 @ 12:48 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

Monday Addendum at Sachsenring: Sometimes, The Winner Gets Overlooked Dani Pedrosa HRC Sachsenring MotoGP 635x421

There was one glaring omission from the post-Sachsenring roundup I wrote on Sunday night. Well, two actually, but the biggest was that I neglected to give Dani Pedrosa the attention he deserved for a fantastic win, his first in over nine months. Pedrosa managed the race brilliantly, starting on a bike which had seen massive changes ahead of the race, and which he took a few laps to get accustomed to.

He did so by dropping behind Stoner, and following in the wake of the reigning World Champion, until he was comfortable enough to make a pass. He accomplished this with ease, and the pair engaged in some synchronized drifting until the end of the race, when Pedrosa upped his pace and forced Stoner into an error. The Australian may have believed that he had the pace and the moves to beat Pedrosa, but the fact that he crashed would suggest that Pedrosa was forcing Stoner much closer to the limit than the champion realized.

The win was important to Pedrosa, not just because he has not yet put pen to paper on the two-year extension of his Repsol Honda deal, but also because he felt he owed it to his team for all the hard work they have put in, he said. This year, he had felt very comfortable on the bike – chatter notwithstanding, from both the rear with the existing tire and from the front with new ’33′ spec tire – and he felt he had the pace to win. But every time there was always someone else who was faster on the day. Until Sunday.

“When you do 2nd or 3rd, always is a good feeling,” Pedrosa told the media on Sunday, “but winning is the best feeling for the rider. When you win it’s extra, you feel just perfect. Not only for me, but also for the people that work for you. They push hard, and maybe in a race it looks like you will win, but in the end you don’t. This is so frustrating also for the mechanics, from my point of view. They give 100%, and if you can’t win it’s a little bit disappointing for the team, so I really want win always to give back something for all the support they give to me.”

When Stoner crashed, there were some who thought that the rain might have had something to do with it. The rain did not really start to fall until after Pedrosa crossed the line, though the Spaniard said he knew it was coming, because of the sudden mass of flies splattered across his visor. In my ignorance, I asked him about the flies on his visor, never having realized that this was the case. “Sometimes you get one fly, two flies, and at the end of the race you have many flies,” Pedrosa explained patiently, “but when they come so quickly this means the rain is coming.”

Thomas Baujard, French journalist for Moto Journal and ex-racer, explained the phenomenon further: when the pressure drops suddenly, the moisture increases in the air, and both flies and birds start flying a lot lower due to the air pressure. “Obviously, when you are riding at 300 km/h it’s not such a good idea to start looking up to see where the birds are flying,” Baujard commented wryly, but the mass appearance of flies on your visor was a hint that it is about to get very wet.

This kind of attention to detail is what marks out the very elite among racers. Riders will often speak of looking at the jumbo screens around the circuit to see what is going on, despite being engaged in hard battles at speeds that make most mortals tremble. Pedrosa once commented that he had been extremely concerned about the state of his tire, after seeing a shot of it on a jumbo screen during a race.

He had recognized the orange wheel as belonging to a Repsol Honda, and his bike from the camera angle. The human mind is an incredible instrument, and racers at this level use their minds just as much as their bodies, picking up details wherever they can.

Speaking of tires, that was my other omission from Sunday. Despite taking a comfortable lead in the championship, and despite taking 2nd in the race, it was a highly irritated Jorge Lorenzo who appeared at the post-race press conference. He had known from the start of the race that he would not be able to match the pace of the Hondas, having no feeling at all with the harder of the two options.

His own preference would have been to run the softer tire – “I was one and a half seconds faster with it in the morning warm up,” he told the press – but Bridgestone had told him they could not guarantee the soft tire would last. Big problems were expected from the halfway point, Bridgestone had told both Yamaha riders, and though the tire would not have been dangerous, they were uncertain of the performance of the tire.

It worked OK for Alvaro Bautista. The Spaniard rode an outstanding race on the softer option to finish in 7th, after starting dead last on the grid. Jorge Lorenzo’s team boss Wilco Zeelenberg was on Lorenzo’s side, and had wanted to take a chance on the softer tire. “I would have gambled on the softer tire, but then I like a gamble,” he told me.

Lorenzo and his team had not had enough dry time to get the harder tire to work with the bike, with only Friday’s FP1 and Sunday’s warm up run in the dry. Their hand forced by Bridgestone, both Lorenzo and Spies had struggled, whatever the results sheet said. Zeelenberg summed it up succinctly: “Shit race, good result.”

Bridgestone’s advice had been based on the much higher temperatures that appeared during the race, but the PR disaster at Assen, where Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies had lost massive chunks from their rear tires, must surely also have played a role. Bridgestone is now playing it more conservatively once again, after having found themselves in deep trouble while listening to the requests of the Safety Commission and the riders for a softer tire that warms up more quickly.

Bridgestone have reaped the rewards of being the sole-tire supplier, but for the past couple of years, they have also suffered the disadvantages too. They took massive criticism when riders were suffering cold-tire highsides and hurting themselves badly; they fixed that this year, and now they are copping criticism for excessive tire wear and dangerous heat build up in the tires.

Whether the criticism is justified or not, or at least the amount of criticism they have faced is justified or not, there is a quick and deeply cynical fix, as employed in most other series which use a spec tire. In those series, riders are forbidden by contract from criticizing the tires, facing massive fines – five figures, it is said, in one championship – if they do speak out about it. That makes the tires look great in those other series, though former WSBK rider Cal Crutchlow has spoken more freely since moving to MotoGP.

“Sometimes you would have five identical tires,” the Brit told reporters recently, “and each one would feel completely different.” At the time, he couldn’t complain about it publicly, but no such constraints exist in MotoGP. If Bridgestone – or Dorna – wanted to remove the illusion that results are determined by tires, then imposing a fine on speaking out would be quick fix. It would be fundamentally wrong, just as it is fundamentally wrong in other series, but it would be effective. Let’s hope they can rise above the situation and the temptation.

Photo: HRC

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


  1. Damo says:

    If Dani charged back to form and won the championship this year, I would be beyond pumped.

  2. Patron says:

    As a non Pedrosa fan, I thought he rode a brilliant race. Stoner pretty much flat out refused to admit that he was beaten heads up, but that’s exactly what happened. Pedrosa may not have won with a bunch of paint trading passes muscling stoner out of the way, but he beat him by dropping times to scorching levels and lulled Stoner into a false sense of security. Was fun to watch

  3. Westward says:

    Never really took to Pedrosa since 2006 and his attitude towards Hayden, but then became absolutely against him when he refused to shake Simoncelli’s hand as shown in a candid shot from a hallway after the LeMans incident…

    Don’t feel sorry for him one bit, or for him…

    As for the tyre issue, it would seem that from a cynical point of view, Dorna and Bridgestone could determine winners and losers… I would liked to have seen the Sachsenring race run with Yamaha M1′s on soft tyres too, for a different result…