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 Qatar: Starting like a Champion & Qualifying Strategy

04/06/2013 @ 8:22 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Qatar: Starting like a Champion & Qualifying Strategy Saturday Qatar GP MotoGP Scott Jones 20 635x422

If you have aspirations of winning the championship, the first qualifying session of the year is your first chance to stake your claim. Qualifying is the moment you state your intentions, show everyone what you have, and what they are up against.

The rest of the year, pole position is nice, but the most important thing is to be on the front row, and get a good start. But at the first qualifying session of the year for the first race of the year, you need to send your opponents a message: This is what you are up against. This is what you face if you wish to beat me.

Champions know this. At Qatar, the champions made their presence felt, and announced their intent to the world. In MotoGP, the defending champion – and the man who starts the year as favorite – set a pace that none could follow, robbing upstart Cal Crutchlow of what would have been his first pole.

In Moto2, Pol Espargaro made a mistake, crashed, and corrected his error as soon as his bike was rebuilt, pushing hard to take pole in the dying seconds of the session. And In Moto3, Luis Salom took his first ever Grand Prix pole by putting it on the line when it mattered, seeing off all-comers in the final moments, while Maverick Viñales gritted his teeth to ride through the pain and grab 2nd on the grid.

While Salom’s qualifying lap was outstanding, the performance of Viñales should not be underestimated. The Calvo KTM rider lost the top of his finger just over two weeks ago, in a big crash at the final Jerez test, and has struggled all weekend.

But he has slowly made his way forward, from 10th in FP1 to 7th in FP3, getting 2nd in qualifying, and then taking first in the warm up session. Calling it a warm up session, when it is run last thing at night, with nearly a whole day before the riders will actually race, is something of a misnomer, but Qatar’s insane schedule forces that upon both the Moto3 and the Moto2 classes.

Can Viñales win it tomorrow? Fighting through the pain in practice is one thing, knuckling down over 18 laps is quite another, but the Spaniard has shown he is made of stern stuff. A Spaniard looks destined to win, with Salom on pole ahead of Viñales, and a rapidly maturing Alex Rins on the outside of the front row.

Rins has been thoroughly impressive this weekend, and in just his second year, he is going to cause Viñales and Salom, the two title candidates, some real trouble. And then there’s Jonas Folger, the young German on the Mapfre Aspar Kalex KTM, who will be right there at the front, and likely to spoil what the Spanish call a ‘triplete’, a clean sweep of the podium.

In Moto2, it’s hard to look beyond Pol Espargaro. Though Takaaki Nakagami has been impressive throughout the weekend, Espargaro has been there when it counts. His Tuenti HP 40 teammate Tito Rabat could also be in the mix, while Scott Redding appears not to be suffering as much coming onto the long straight as he did in previous years, now the combined weight rule has been introduced. But it’s a fair old drag to the finish line; Redding will need to start from well in front of anyone coming out of that corner, if he is not to lose out on the last lap.

As for MotoGP’s new qualifying system, Jorge Lorenzo summed it up succinctly: It’s like having qualifying tires again. Go out, push very hard, come back in again. Go out one more time. It makes for an intriguing spectacle.

The reaction was almost universal approval, with the two extra QP2 berths available in the QP1 session motivating riders to push that little bit harder, and then QP2 turning into a straight battle over pole. But it also adds a touch of strategy: 15 minutes is not long enough to spend time waiting around for a tow, and so you have to act decisively, and choose the right time to go for a lap.

Jorge Lorenzo timed it perfectly, his mind still clearly in that clockwork mode that won him the championship last year. His strategy had been simple: “Just start practice in first position, this is my routine,” he said. Leaving pit lane first gave him a clear track ahead of him, for both of the two runs he put in. The second run produced what he needed, grabbing pole position from Cal Crutchlow – “QP2 is too long,” Crutchlow joked, “If it was just 10 minutes, I might have had pole.”

Lorenzo starts from pole, but with a distinct advantage. He has the best race pace of the field, clearly a couple of tenths faster than anyone else.

Above all, his consistency shows: in the final session of free practice – the only real free practice session in the old sense of the world, with nothing at stake, now that FP1 through FP3 now decides which QP session you get to compete in – Lorenzo once again strung together a sequence fast laps of mind-boggling consistency: 1’56.2, 56.2, 56.2, 56.9, 56.4, 56.3, 56.1, 56.1.

Both Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow can lap at that speed, but the question is for how long. Jorge Lorenzo can run those laps all day long, or until his tank runs dry and his tires collapse.

Strategy – either strategy, or timing, or a mixture of both – is now clearly important in qualifying. Lorenzo aced it, as did Crutchlow, while Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi were all victims of traffic. Rossi’s problems were of his own making, he said afterwards, explaining that on his first fast lap on his second tire, he ran on at turn 1, losing 15 seconds in the process.

Those 15 seconds dropped him back into traffic, preventing him from taking another shot at improving his best time. It would be a costly mistake: Rossi starts from 7th on the grid, and with so much traffic ahead of him, it will be hard to negotiate his way forward. That is a shame, as Rossi’s race pace is strong. But as Cal Crutchlow discovered last year, a strong race pace when you are already three seconds behind the leaders is never going to make up for lost ground.

Pedrosa, too, made a tactical error, and again, it was one of his own making. The Repsol Honda man found the speed he had been missing once he got into qualifying mode, and was quick on his first run. On his second run, he felt he had too much traffic behind him, so he decided to back off – almost causing Marc Marquez to run into the back of him – and find some clear space that way.

By worrying more about what others were doing, and not about what he could do, Pedrosa may have missed out on an even better position. Whether he has the pace outside of qualifying is another matter: though Pedrosa avows that they have fixed the worst of the problems, the Repsol Honda man has been off the pace all weekend.

And what of Marc Marquez? Raw speed, he has plenty of, but how that translates to a 20 lap race is another thing altogether. Marquez has used others to help with his pace, following Rossi around in free practice to move further up the board. He can also do the laps on his own, but can he do that consistently? Given his extremely physical style on a bike, fatigue will surely be an issue, but can he last the distance. Clearly, Marquez is something special, but he may take a few races to get back up to speed.

Most surprising of all was Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian taking 4th on the Ducati, and seven tenths faster than he was last year, on the Tech 3 Yamaha that was supposedly easier to ride. Dovizioso had noticed that the wind had changed direction from the day before, meaning that where previously, he was having trouble keeping the front wheel down, now the wind was working in his favor. That meant he could use more power in some corners, which helped bump him up the grid.

Can Dovizioso take the Ducati even further? A podium is a little bit too much to ask, the Italian’s race pace not quite there yet. On new tires, the Ducatis are great, but once the tires drop off, so does their pace, and so the question is how long Dovizioso can run near the front for. But the improvement is itself significant; in some ways, Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden are benefiting from the design changes which Valentino Rossi and his team had pushed for throughout the Italian’s two-year stay with the factory.

Most of all, though, Ducati is benefiting from not having Valentino Rossi any more: without the unimaginable pressure which the fans and the media – especially the Italian media – put on Ducati to change the bike to suit Rossi, work can proceed at Ducati Corse in a calmer atmosphere.

The immediate need to provide something that will win now is now gone, and that is what had created such a stifling atmosphere for Ducati Corse, with the design rushing headlong forward into what appeared to be a few blind alleys. Now, in more peaceful waters, engineers can work with less interruption, and start to provide real benefits.

Likewise, Andrea Dovizioso is in a totally different situation to Valentino Rossi, in part due to Rossi’s departure. When Rossi arrived at Ducati, he quickly realized that being competitive on that bike was unrealistic, and so he operated in a constant pressure cooker environment. Rossi came to Ducati to take the place of Casey Stoner, who had won three of the last six races on the bike. To do anything other than win would be considered a failure.

Dovizioso comes to Ducati as the successor to Rossi, and whatever he achieves, he can only come out a winner. If he fails, then Rossi’s failure at Ducati is vindicated, and the failure is down to the bike. If he succeeds, then he has done better than the legendary Valentino Rossi, and so his stock can only grow. The reality is, as always, a lot messier and more complicated than that, but the natural narrative means that both Dovizioso and Ducati are operating with less stress. It shows, in Dovizioso’s results, and in the atmosphere in the team.

Will the races live up to the promise shown during qualifying? Moto3 looks like being a thriller, and Moto2 could well turn into an Espargaro runaway. MotoGP is a fascinating prospect. Though the most likely outcome is that Lorenzo runs away at the front, there will be plenty to watch even if he does so. As Nicky Hayden always says: “You never know what’s gonna happen. That’s why we line up on Sunday.”

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.


  1. JW says:

    After watching the qualifying, I walked away today with great respect for Dovi, I wish him a great race today. It would be nice to see a “3 brand” season and hopefully more in the future.

  2. Cpt.Slow says:

    Never understood why people sleep on Dovi… He was impressive on that fist hand-med-down Honda (not to mention a 250 standout).

    No mention of Alex Espagaro? Shame. Pol Espagara will be kicking some arse!

  3. Westward says:

    “If he fails, then Rossi’s failure at Ducati is vindicated, and the failure is down to the bike. If he succeeds, then he has done better than the legendary Valentino Rossi, and so his stock can only grow.”–SJ

    If he fails is it really down to the bike? Dovi on a Honda never really materialized as being better than Stoner nor Pedrosa. It is doubtful that he would be better than Marquez as well were he still to be on a Honda factory ride.

    As for his stint at Yamaha, they did not feel he was that much better than Cal, nor was he considered better than Spies. Spies’s potential was such that, they were willing to give him another chance, had not Rossi returned.

    Dovizioso is indeed a good pilot. But if he improves, makes the rostrum, or wins anything, it will be the bike that makes the difference. And the Italian press will vindicate Rossi, saying; “Look, if Ducati had listened to Rossi sooner. The results would have been there.”

    As the article states, Dovi & Nicky benefit from Rossi & company’s design cues. And might we add, Ianonne & Spies too. I suspect, if Spies were at full health, he might even be above Dovi in the standings.

    Spies got the better of him when it was Yamaha vs. Honda. Then Dovi bested Spies on the Satellite version of Spies’s M1 (though Spies’s season was riddled with gremlins) Now, they are on virtually the same bike, though Spies is hampered by a shoulder injury.