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 Mugello: The Prospect of Racing & How To Win a Championship

06/01/2013 @ 10:43 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Mugello: The Prospect of Racing & How To Win a Championship Saturday Italian GP Mugello MotoGP Scott Jones 04 635x423

It looks like we may have a race on Sunday at Mugello. In fact, it looks like we might have two races, looking at the times set in MotoGP and Moto2. The last two races of the day at Mugello promise to have battles for the lead and for the podium, and could well provide some top flight entertainment.

There won’t be much of a race in Moto3, however. Mugello’s artisans are probably already engraving Maverick Vinales’s name into the winner’s trophy to save some time, such is the advantage of the young Spaniard. Vinales is basically four tenths a lap faster than anyone else in Moto3, with nobody capable of matching his pace.

Even Jonas Folger’s pole position was Vinales’ by proxy, the German acknowledging in the qualifying press conference that he wasn’t able to make that lap time alone and that he had a tow from Vinales to thank for it. The battle in Moto3 will be for the remaining podium places, and it would take a brave man to lay money against Alex Rins and Luis Salom making it an all Spanish podium.

Such a podium is unlikely to be repeated in Moto2. Scott Redding is increasing his vice-like grip on the Moto2 class, thanks in small part to the inconsistency of his rivals, but in much, much larger part to the confidence he has been showing all season. Redding is acting like a champion, and by acting like a champion, he is beating a path to his first title, and a thoroughly deserved one at that, though the road is still very, very long.

His attitude is paying off twofold. First, his confidence is allowing him to not sweat the small stuff, and stay calm when others might get flustered. After feeling uncomfortable on the bike on Friday, he completely destroyed his machine on Saturday morning on his third lap out of the pits. Instead of getting flustered, he jumped on the back of a scooter, got back to the pits, changed his leathers and sat calmly watching as his crew busily repaired his bike.

Had he been worried? “No. I just did my part to be ready to go, and the guys were doing their part. Watching the guys going round, when I looked at the time yesterday when I wasn’t feeling comfortable, and I was still within half a second, I knew, OK, I was sure I could get half a second on them.” Instead of worrying about what others were doing on the track, he concentrated on what he was capable of, and then went out and did it in the afternoon.

That confidence is also helping him disrupt his opponents. Pol Espargaro had not been particularly fast on Friday when Redding was on the track, but as soon as he dropped out of FP3, the Spaniard went straight to the top of the timesheets, setting his fastest time of the weekend. Once Redding returned for qualifying, and started leading the session, Espargaro was struggling again, qualifying a lowly tenth.

His speed in the morning proved that he is easily capable of doing the lap times, and it is only his focus on Redding which is causing him to struggle. When Redding was asked about this, his answer was simple: “You work it out.” He also returned a little dig which Espargaro had flung at him via the Spanish press. “There was a quote from Pol [Espargaro] last week about me being weak and inconsistent,” Redding said. “But for me it’s not true. To have a crash in the morning, and put it on pole, it’s giving the words back.”

Tire life, often a problem for Redding, is not an issue for him at Mugello, but Takaaki Nakagami and Tito Rabat might be. The Italtrans rider and the Tuenti HP 40 rider have both been consistently fast throughout the weekend, and look capable of matching Redding for race pace. Mugello looks like being a similar story to Jerez, with Redding, Rabat, and Nakagami all being pretty close together. Rabat ended up running away with that race, but it is hard to see any of the three running away in Italy.

In MotoGP, it is a different story. Two men are head and shoulders above the rest, two or three tenths a lap better than everyone else. Picking a winner between Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa is hard, though, as there is nothing to choose between them. Lorenzo has been fast from the opening session, while Pedrosa has got progressively quicker as the weekend has gone and grip levels have improved.

Right now, Lorenzo looks in better shape, and the Spaniard said as much in the press conference, claiming that he had the better race pace. But if Pedrosa and his crew continue to exploit the ever-improving grip at Mugello, as the weather improves and temperatures rise, Pedrosa could end up with the edge.

What we hope for is a repeat of Brno 2012, and Mugello has all of the ingredients to provide it: a track which allows riders and bikes with different styles to be fast, two rider/bike combinations which are evenly matched, and two men with a point to prove. Dani Pedrosa wants to press home the early advantage he has built up over in the last three races, while Jorge Lorenzo wants to seize back the initiative.

Picking a rider to be third is another matter altogether. There is a large group of riders all closely matched for pace, making it almost a toss up as to who will come out on top. Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl, Andrea Dovizioso, and maybe even Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista. Of that group, Bradl, Crutchlow and Rossi would appear to have the strongest hand, with Rossi and Bradl perhaps boasting the strongest race pace.

Rossi himself was confident that his pace in the race would be strong. Not enough to match Pedrosa and Lorenzo, but good enough to battle for the podium. He was feeling comfortable on the bike, and though he was still not perfectly happy with the performance on the brakes, it was good enough for a podium, he said. What made it hard, though, was his poor qualifying position.

This time he did not feel that his team had got the strategy wrong, but he had still ended up giving others a tow. In this case, Marc Marquez, who managed to use Rossi’s slipstream to post a quicker time than him (“Rossi is the best person to follow here,” he said wryly). Why didn’t Rossi try the same? “When I let them go past, they roll off the throttle,” Rossi said. At Mugello, Rossi was the locomotive, not the carriage.

Of the others, Stefan Bradl looks to have the strongest credentials. Marc Marquez is surprisingly quick, and has bounced back astonishingly well after his massive crash on Saturday. The first time he crested the hill at the end of the straight on Saturday morning, he was a little cautious, and he continued to lose several tenths a lap in that one section alone.

But little by little he regained his confidence, upping the speed and perfecting his braking for the corner. Having to come through Q1 helped, as it gave him a little extra track time, enough to build on his confidence some more.

By 2pm on Sunday, he should be plenty fast enough, but his fitness may not necessarily be enough to withstand 23 laps of Mugello. He has a slight fracture in his right arm, and pain in most places. Marquez has proven to be a fighter, though, and give all he can to remain on the podium.

Cal Crutchlow was quick too, but a qualifying crash left him struggling. The problem was caused by hay fever, a common problem at rural Mugello. Along the long front straight, the combination of wind and pollen conspired to leave Crutchlow’s eyes watering, and by the time he got to Poggio Secco his eyes were streaming.

“Normally, I can blink it away but I actually touched a kerb at turn three because I was unsighted. That made me twist the gas and I ended up falling off the side of the bike,” the Tech 3 man said. There is every chance that Crutchlow will have a similar problem tomorrow.

Treating it is difficult, as so many of the available remedies either make you drowsy or are on the banned substance list. The anti-doping list is there for a reason, but it can sometimes have an adverse effect.

Pleasing the home crowd was Andrea Dovizioso’s second front row start in two races, but Dovizioso was under no illusions for the race. He had made his qualifying time following Dani Pedrosa, and it was not a time he could manage on his own. Tire wear and his neck problems will make a podium difficult, but at least he should be fighting at the front for a while.

A little physiotherapy and help from the Clinica Mobile had helped, but Dovizioso was uncertain how his neck would hold up for the duration of the race. The problem is that he cannot bend his neck backwards, which is precisely what he needs to do to get into a racing crouch.

On Saturday, it was just about bearable, where it had been impossible on Friday. With another night’s rest and some more physio, it might improve a little more. But with a painful neck and the tire wear Ducati still suffer late in the race, a podium seems a little far fetched.

The weather, at least, looks favorable. The weekend had threatened to be a washout, but the outlook has improved day by day. It should stay sunny and dry right up to race day, and throughout all of the race. It will rain on Sunday, but probably not until the racing is done. That is an outcome the fans will willingly accept.

Photo: © 2013 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:

    wow..moto 2 was awsome..somthing occured to me watching the moto 2 race..there is some talent about to come thru in the next two years that will likley cause a mix up in motogp…the men at the top like lorenzo,pedrosa.crutchlow,and rossi will have a hard time keeping there rides in 2 or three years..moto 2 is making some fast racers, there young like marquez and have all grown up with electronics…lets hope scott redding doesnt suffer the same fate as crutchlow when he gets there…the teams want eu riders that simple to see

  2. I agree that Moto2 is bringing up some seriously good talent. I don’t agree about the electronics, though, as the rules changed with the move from 250 to Moto2. In the 250 class, a few factories began introducing traction control. In Moto2, electronics are limited to data loggers and transponders. No anti-wheelie, ABS or traction control features are allowed in the class whatsoever. Which, of course, is one of the big reasons that we get to enjoy the likes of Scott Redding backing their bikes into the corners. Predictable tires + no electronics = big slides.

    And to the article: “There was a quote from Pol [Espargaro] last week about me being weak and inconsistent,” Redding said.

    It’s an interesting pot-shot, but it doesn’t seem to be relevant to Scott Redding in 2013. It’s more of a pot/kettle/black comment in my eyes. Espargaro is struggling with inconsistency since the first round. If he wants a shot at the championship, he’d better get his house in order soon, lest Redding win the title with a handful of rounds left to go.