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 Catalunya: Of Tires, Weather, And Reasons To Win At Barcelona

06/03/2012 @ 7:42 am, by David EmmettComments Off

Saturday Summary at Catalunya: Of Tires, Weather, And Reasons To Win At Barcelona Valentino Rossi Ducati Corse Catalunya 635x422

It has been great to have some consistent weather, Casey Stoner said at the qualifying press conference at Barcelona, a sentiment that was shared by everyone at the Montmelo circuit, riders, teams, fans and media. Apart from the anomaly that is Qatar (a night race with practice in cooling temperatures) all of the MotoGP rounds held so far have featured massive changes in weather almost from session to session. With four session all with comparable temperatures – a little cooler in the mornings, a little warmer in the afternoons – the riders have been able to actually spend some time working on a consistent set up.

What they have learned is that the tires are going to be a huge part in Sunday’s race. The 2012 Bridgestones are built to a new specification and a new philosophy, softer to get up to temperature more quickly and to provide better feedback. This the Japanese tire company has succeeded in spectacularly well, the only downside (though that is debatable) is that the tires wear more quickly. This makes tire management critical for the race, with both hard and soft tires dropping off rapidly after 7 laps, and then needing managing to get them home.

In light of the tire management issues, Casey Stoner expressed his surprise that so many riders had spent time on the soft tire, but a quick survey of the paddock says that the soft tire is a viable race option. While Stoner is convinced that the hard tire will be the race compound, others are less certain. The Yamahas especially seem to prefer the soft tire, Andrea Dovizioso saying that the hard drops off more than the soft. Nicky Hayden found something similar: the hard spins too much, he told the press, and so the soft tire is easier to manage as the tires wear. Both are capable of lasting the distance, it will just be about which tire is in better shape at the end.

This promises much for the race. Big gaps may be opened early, as riders push on softer tires and then start to coast home, while others bide their time on hards hoping that they will last better. The difference in times between the two is very small, with the top all pretty close together. The top 6 riders in qualifying ended within four tenths of one another, and while the softer tire setup and closed some of the times up, it still looks pretty close.

Casey Stoner, at a track that he loves – I asked him what he was looking forward to this year, and he said “My season starts here, with fast tracks like Barcelona, Silverstone, Mugello and Brno” – is comfortable, relaxed – more relaxed than I have ever seen him – and fast. On hard tires, he was capable of doing occasional high 1’41s, but spent most of his time lapping in the mid 1’42s, a pace which is well inside that set last year in the race.

Stoner’s problem is that he is not the only one capable of that pace. Dani Pedrosa, at least in the cooler morning sessions, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso – the Italian said he had had the best pace on the hard tires – Cal Crutchlow, even Ben Spies, all are lapping at or around the same pace. This could be a fairly close race. It would come down to who wants it more, and the list of candidates for that is long.

Stoner needs to make up ground on Lorenzo. Lorenzo wants to extend his lead in the Championship, win at his home round, and give his bargaining position – already the strongest in the paddock – another boost, adding another million or so to his asking price. Dani Pedrosa needs his first win of the season, at his home race, to strengthen his bargaining position with Honda. Crutchlow wants a podium at least, something he’s got close to several times this season, and he needs to justify the 60,000 euros that someone splurged on the latest spec Brembo brakes for him. Andrea Dovizioso is auditioning for a factory ride at Yamaha – he reiterated again on Saturday that this was his goal – and to obtain that, he needs to podium at least.

Ben Spies is on the road to redemption, working his way through a confidence-rebuilding exercise after the run of bad luck. This was the worst he had had, he said on Saturday, when I asked him if he had gone through anything similar. He had had runs of good luck, Spies admitted, especially during his days in the AMA, but in WSBK and in his two years in MotoGP he had both good and bad luck. Nothing quite so persistent as this, though.

In the end, the weather could also end up playing a major role. Depending on which weather site you consult, and more importantly, which one you decide to believe, it will either by cloudy and dry, a bit damp, or a fairly heavy downpour tomorrow. The riders would all prefer a dry race – with the possible exception of Valentino Rossi, the Ducati man struggling once again, though the gap to the front has been reduced. Rossi felt that he could have qualified 7th if everything had gone his way, but the 3rd row is all that is in the bike. A wet race would allow him to do another Le Mans, and fight close to the front. We shall see whether he gets his way or not.

The Grand Prix Commission also met on Saturday, to discuss the future rules for MotoGP. There are a host of proposals on the table – a rev limit, a single ECU, one bike per rider, steel brakes – but decisions have all been delayed until the next time they meet, at Assen. The Rookie Rule is also subject to discussion, though Carmelo Ezpeleta has expressed his strong commitment to keeping it in place. Andrea Dovizioso had an interesting take on the rule, saying that it had both good points and bad points. But most important, Dovizioso emphasized, was that the rule stay in place and not be changed for one rider. Riders come and go, but changing rules all the time to accommodate a specific situation just makes the rule – and more importantly, the people who created the rule – look silly.

Of course, a lot of this depends on Marc Marquez. After a difficult first day of practice, the Spaniard was well down the order, and talk of a factory MotoGP ride seemed a little bit premature. But after finishing 12th on Friday, Marquez ended up on pole on Saturday, justifying the hype. The Spaniard faces fierce competition from Pol Espargaro and Thom Luthi. With Espargaro living literally up the road in Granollers – so close that he commutes the 4.5 km from home, rather than staying in a motorhome or a hotel – he will want to show beat Marquez in front of his home crowd.

There is an intensitty about Espargaro’s Pons 40 HP Tuenti team, each and every one of them dedicated to beating Spain’s golden boy Marc Marquez. Though Marquez has the edge in pace, Espargaro could pull a rabbit out of the hat in front of his home crowd. This truly is a fantastic rivalry, and promises to be a great race on Sunday.

Photo: Ducati Corse

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

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