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.

Saturday Summary at Phillip Island: Of Unstoppable Stoner, Honda’s Magic Gearbox, & A Dark Horse

10/27/2012 @ 3:18 pm, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Saturday Summary at Phillip Island: Of Unstoppable Stoner, Hondas Magic Gearbox, & A Dark Horse Saturday Phillip Island MotoGP Scott Jones 09

Two championships could be settled at Phillip Island on Sunday. Marc Marquez looks certain to wrap up the 2012 Moto2 title in Australia, as the Catalunya Caixa rider needs just 2 points to put the title out of reach of Pol Espargaro. Marquez’ chances of wrapping up the Moto2 title with a win look slim, though. Pol Espargaro has been in a class of his own at Phillip Island, his love for the circuit showing through in the way he has been riding.

The only man to get near to Espargaro all weekend has been Scott Redding, as Phillip Island is one place where Redding’s size is less of a handicap. With few places where hard acceleration from low speed is required, Redding can rely on his natural speed to get around the track. Despite still being the youngest rider ever to win a Grand Prix – a title he is likely to hold in perpetuity, since the minimum age went up to 16 – Redding is still winless in Moto2. If he can follow the pace of Espargaro, Phillip Island could well provide him with a real shot at his first win.

The MotoGP title may not be settled in Australia, though. Jorge Lorenzo leads Dani Pedrosa by 23 points, and just needs to finish ahead of the Honda man to wrap up the championship at Phillip Island. The odds of that happening looked much better on Saturday, Lorenzo taking 2nd spot in both the morning’s free practice and qualifying in the afternoon, finishing ahead of Pedrosa in both sessions.

But Lorenzo may yet have to leave the box of championship t-shirts in the flight cases, as a closer look at the race pace between Lorenzo and Pedrosa gives the advantage to the Honda man. Lorenzo is lapping consistently in the high 1’30s and low 1’31s, but Pedrosa has been reeling off strings of high 1’30s in race trim.

Lorenzo has a plan, however. At the press conference, the Factory Yamaha man told the media his plan was to latch onto the back of Stoner from the start and try to match his pace for the first couple of laps. That should be enough to break Pedrosa, and manage a gap all the way home. Even that plan could be difficult, though. “Casey is really on another planet here,” Lorenzo said of the Australian’s pace. Stoner is at least a tenth quicker in every sector, two tenths faster in some. Hanging on to his slipstream is more of a challenge than it seems.

That would leave the championship as a straight fight between Lorenzo and Pedrosa, an attractive prospect for the crowds. The chances of anything other than a Stoner win at the Island seem vanishingly remote, the Australian in a class entirely of his own. His name will already have been penciled in on the trophy; it would almost be worth the risk to go ahead and carve it.

While Pedrosa will get no help from his teammate in the championship fight – giving team orders to Casey Stoner would leave Shuhei Nakamoto looking rather too much like King Canute – assistance could come from an unexpected direction. The real dark horse at Phillip Island is Andrea Dovizioso, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man capable of matching Pedrosa’s pace, and possibly a little quicker than Lorenzo.

Dovizioso told reporters that he too had not been given any team orders by Yamaha, or instructed not to get ahead of Lorenzo. Given that Dovizioso is leaving Yamaha to go to the factory Ducati team in 2013, the Italian is unlikely to be sympathetic towards obeying Yamaha team orders, especially as a podium would earn him a healthy bonus from his team manager.

It is likely to be the Hondas that dominate, though. Even Stefan Bradl of the LCR team has been quick at the Island. The secret, according to Cal Crutchlow, is Honda’s seamless gearbox, the 650,000 euro unit which allows gear changes to be done much more quickly and without upsetting the bike. “Coming out, we can’t change gear with any spin, so if our bike is spinning we have to keep delaying and rolling the throttle,” Crutchlow told reporters.

Phillip Island consists of many fast corners where gear is being changed while leaned over. This is where the Honda is gaining the time: unlike the Yamaha, the Honda men can shift gear without upsetting the rear, smoothing the acceleration and making it easier to keep the power on through the fast, flowing corners.

Crutchlow also said that the Honda gearbox was helping with downshifts as well. “At [Honda Corner], you have to go back four gears. We have to use the clutch, with their seamless shift they don’t,” Crutchlow said. When Honda debuted their seamless shift – or rather, when the press first became aware of Honda’s seamless shift – the factory Honda riders said that downshifts were where the new gearbox suffered.

The stability they gained on upshifts while leaned over was lost in part by more difficult downshifts. That, however, was over 18 months ago, and since then, nobody has asked the Honda men many questions about the gearbox. It is likely that this is one area where Honda has focused their efforts on improving, with obvious success.

The system is likely managed mainly through electronics. A slight glitch in the engine braking system caused Casey Stoner to be flicked from his bike during qualifying, braking on a hard tire going into the hairpin. Fortunately for him – and for the massed crowds of Australian fans heading for the Island to see Stoner for the last time – Stoner came away unhurt, the only damage some bruising to his hip. His damaged ankle was fine: on his second flying lap after returning to the pits from his crash, Stoner was back into the 1’29s.

Honda’s gearbox could well be a major contributing factor to Honda’s opposition to a spec-ECU. If HRC have had to spend a lot of time writing software to deal with the special circumstances created by a seamless shift gearbox, then they would be loath to give up that advantage. There is more to the electronics package than just fuel economy and throttle response, the ECU and its software also have a massive role to play in engine braking, getting the bikes smoothly and without drama into the corners – see the Moto2 bikes for an example of a machine without sophisticated engine braking strategies.

Regardless of whether Honda has an advantage or not – and Casey Stoner vehemently denies that they have, consistently pointing out that the switch to the new tire construction has caused massive problems with chatter for all of the Honda riders – there will be no stopping Casey Stoner on Sunday. Stoner came back early from injury with just a single goal in mind: to win at Phillip Island, his favorite racetrack. It is hard to see how anyone will be able to stop him from achieving that target.

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.

Comment:

  1. TexusTim says:

    see this is what prototype racing is…it is very much who has the money to develope bikes,electronics,and the stratagies that goes with them…..moto gp is turning into wsbk ! it started with the crt bikes…….I wouldn’t mind seeing the elctronics be more even….but the gearbox isnt jut electronics and the theory and design is hondas why would they share that ?
    I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE COMPETETIVE RACING BUT IF IT MEANS DUMBING DOWN THE BIKES I’M NOT SURE IF IT WOULD KEEP SPONSORS OR MANUFACTORS FROM WONDERING IF THERE MONEY ISNT BETTER SPENT OVER AT WSBK. the challenge at motogp is how to keep it ahead and not end being an overpriced wsbk…unless of course the plan is to kill off production racing giving everyone no were else to race but motogp…then why not jusy have a production class in motogp ? and the crt bikes could race with them…..but of course no matter how you spin the bottle this is really all about the shrinking size of the moto gp field and how to deal with that..the other two classes have overfilled grids, MOTOGP not so much.