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 Sepang: Of MotoGP’s Future in the East, Honda’s Chatter, & The Chances of Rain

10/20/2012 @ 10:57 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

Saturday Summary at Sepang: Of MotoGPs Future in the East, Hondas Chatter, & The Chances of Rain Dani Pedrosa Sepang HRC MotoGP 635x421

This year’s Malaysian round of the MotoGP series has offered a glimpse of the future, for those with an interest in seeing it. While the series is locked in a series of arguments over the future of the technical regulations, the massive economic problems in its key television markets, and the Spanish domination of the sport in all classes, Sepang pointed the way forward, and that way is definitely east.

It starts with the crowds. Where crowd numbers have been falling almost everywhere at the European rounds, Sepang is seeing record attendances this weekend. Grandstand tickets are selling out fast, and despite the rain, fans are turning up in large numbers.

How much those numbers are being inflated by Australians flocking to the circuits they can fly to affordably to see Casey Stoner ride the last few races of his career is uncertain, but that they should be packing the grandstands in Malaysia seems unlikely. There are also plenty of local fans, coming to see riders from the region threaten the top of the time sheets for the first time in history, and not just make up the numbers at the rear.

They have had a treat this weekend. On Friday, local wildcard Hafizh Syahrin topped an admittedly wet session of Moto2 free practice by getting out early when it was relatively dry, but he had sufficient competition for his result to have been noteworthy.

On Saturday morning, Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami topped Moto2 FP3, once again by judging the conditions correctly. And on Saturday afternoon, the fans were in for a massive treat, when Zulfahmi Khairuddin bagged his first ever pole position in front of his home crowd, becoming the first ever Malaysian to start from pole in a Grand Prix. And on his 21st birthday too.

Khairuddin’s success has been coming for a long time. The young Malaysian has shown a great deal of progress this season, regularly running at the front. His problem so far has been his tendency to be fast in the early part of the race, but drop down the order as the race goes on. That is something that can be learned, and nothing quite motivates a young man to learn than racing in front of his home crowd. Khairuddin will be on the podium one day soon; whether he can do it on Sunday, though, is debatable.

The front couple of rows for Moto3 suggest that the era of Spanish domination in Grand Prix motorcycle racing is coming to an end. Besides the Malaysian Khairuddin sit two Germans, Jonas Folger, who has shone since leaving the IODA team, and switching to the Kalex KTM in the Aspar team, and Sandro Cortese, who looks set to wrap up his first Moto3 title at Sepang on Sunday.

There is the Frenchman Louis Rossi in 4th, the Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira in 5th ,and the South African Brad Binder in 7th. Efren Vazquez is the first Spaniard on the grid, starting from 6th on the FTR Honda, with Alex Rins the next Spanish rider in 8th.

There are naturally some mitigating circumstances: if Maverick Viñales had not split with his team, there would have been every chance of him starting from the front two rows at Sepang. And Luis Salom actually set the 5th fastest time, but has been forced to start from 10th because of the grid penalty imposed after his last-lap crash at Motegi. The odds of the Spanish stranglehold on the sport being broken are looking better and better, though.

The Moto3 is not the only title that could be wrapped up at Sepang. Cortese’s odds of taking the inaugural Moto3 title look excellent, especially with Salom starting from 10th on the grid. A 3rd place would be enough if Salom should pull off a miracle and win, otherwise a top 6 finish will be enough.

In Moto2, the only way that Pol Espargaro can delay Marc Marquez’ inevitable ascent to the title is by winning the race, something which in the dry, he looks eminently capable of doing, having had the Moto2 class firmly in hand throughout. Espargaro was particularly impressive during qualifying, controlling the session with ease, demoting an outstanding Scott Redding into 2nd.

Redding could well end up helping Espargaro at Sepang, the young Englishman showing a good turn of pace in both free practice and qualifying. If Redding can insert himself between Marquez and Espargaro, it will increase Espargaro’s chances even further.

If it is wet, however, then all that could change. Marquez was stunningly quick in the wet on Friday, and with rain forecast to fall on Sunday afternoon, Marquez could just wrap this up after all. The race is scheduled for 2:20pm local time, the rain is forecast to start falling at the end of the morning. Whether the rain obeys the rules laid out by the weather experts is open to question.

The MotoGP title could be settled in Sepang as well, but that is much more of a long shot. It would require Jorge Lorenzo to win, while Dani Pedrosa ended the race outside the top 12. The former is a realistic possibility; the latter requires another disaster for the Repsol Honda man.

In the dry, the odds are stacked against Lorenzo wrapping up his second MotoGP title at Sepang. Though Lorenzo has secured pole for Sunday’s race, his race pace is fractionally behind that of Pedrosa’s. Both men are in a league of their own – though it looks like Andrea Dovizioso will be able to stick with them, at least in the early stages of the race – but the race looks likely to settle into the same pattern we have seen since the summer break. Lorenzo and Pedrosa will probably get away early, but Pedrosa could settle the race at the halfway point.

The irony of the situation is while that Lorenzo is reasonably content with his Yamaha – the bike lacks a little pace, he says, but he believes he has a chance of winning on Sunday – Pedrosa is having massive problems with chatter.

The Honda continues to suffer with chatter, a result of the new, less stiff tires which Bridgestone introduced at the Jerez test at the start of the year. Pedrosa is not alone: Casey Stoner, Stefan Bradl, Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden all have the same problem, the nature of the track possibly making things worse. All of the riders have been complaining that the track is bumpy and lacks grip, and this could possibly be a contributory cause.

But it is worst for the Hondas. Was there anywhere in particular they were suffering from it, both Stoner and Pedrosa were asked? “Every corner,” the Australian replied. It is all down to the tire, Stoner explained, saying that the RC213V was probably the best bike he had ever ridden when he first tested it at Brno on the old spec tires. Now, it was one of the worst, because the chatter. Honda have tried new chassis, new swingarms, and a host of smaller parts to try to fix the issue, but it will not go away.

Pedrosa may complain of chatter, but it does not look like it will slow him up. Jorge Lorenzo will have his hands full on Sunday, as he has had throughout the end of the season.

The wildcard is the rain. The race is set to be run at 4pm local time, to better suit European TV schedules – 4pm is 10am in Spain and Italy, a time at which TV audiences might be expected to be larger than at the ungodly hours the Japanese and Australian races are held.

But 4pm is also the time the tropical rains usually arrive, even on dry days, increasing the odds of having to run the race in the wet. The forecast is for heavy rain for the late afternoon, and with nobody having any proper track time in the wet, it could turn into a bit of a gamble. In that case, all bets are off, and we could well see a race. That would definitely get people out of their beds and in front of their TVs.

Photo: HRC

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

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