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 Misano: Of Pedrosa vs Lorenzo, The Battle For 3rd, & Rossi’s Helmet Explained

09/16/2012 @ 2:35 am, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Misano: Of Pedrosa vs Lorenzo, The Battle For 3rd, & Rossis Helmet Explained Friday Misano San Marino GP MotoGP Scott Jones051

Finally it stopped raining. The light drizzle that has plagued the Misano circuit since Friday morning petered out around lunchtime, making way for the sun to dry the track out. Though the riders were glad to see the back of the rain, it left them with an awful lot of work to do. The set up work from the three lost sessions all had to be squeezed into the single hour of qualifying, leaving space for the mad fifteen minute scramble for grid positions. “It was a pretty tight session,” Dani Pedrosa said after qualifying. “We had to test tires, set up, and get a feeling for the bike in just 60 minutes.”

It had not been that much of a problem for Pedrosa. The Repsol Honda man had looked strong throughout the session, leading for much of it and striking back whenever anyone else had the temerity to better his time. Jorge Lorenzo had come close, but had taken a little longer to get up to speed than Pedrosa, struggling to find his rhythm again after sitting out the first day and then putting in a very few very tentative laps on Saturday morning. In the end, he could not quite match the times of the Repsol Honda man, though Lorenzo’s race pace matched that of his championship rival.

The root cause of the problems at Misano was the track surface, which drains water surprisingly well. That would seem to be more of a benefit than a disadvantage, but it means that it takes a long time for enough standing water to develop to allow wet tires to come into their own. The situation is very similar at Jerez: light rain sees most of the water drain quickly, leaving only a thin layer on the track.

This is not enough to cool wet tires in the rain, but it is sufficient to leach the heat out of slick tires, making the track too slick for riders to brake with the confidence needed to force heat into the tires. Full-wets heat up and lose performance, slicks lose the heat from the tire warmers and never regain it; both situations are far from ideal, but without the ability to cut slicks on the few occasions per year they are needed, there is nothing that can be done about it.

Sixty minutes was all Dani Pedrosa needed, however, and was enough for Jorge Lorenzo as well. The race pace of both is a step above the rest of the field, despite Cal Crutchlow scoring an outstanding second front-row start. Rumors that he was being helped with extra parts from Yamaha to try to take points away from Pedrosa were denied by the Englishman. “I wish!” he quipped, going on to say that he was not expecting any upgrades until the end of the year. Crutchlow’s aim is to get away with Lorenzo and Pedrosa, but that might be difficult given the pace the two title contenders are setting.

Getting through the first chicane is key; the reversal of the direction the track was run in when MotoGP returned in 2007 after a 14 year absence means that what used to be the final chicane is now the first corner complex. All too often, riders have been run off into the dirt or taken out completely. And all too often, those riders have included Nicky Hayden, for whom Misano remains a bogey track.

Even this year, luck is running against Hayden at Misano, the American uncertain whether he will be able to race on Sunday, the broken metacarpal in his crucial right hand lacking strength to control the bike completely, especially on corner exit. He will make a decision on whether he will race or not after warm up, the factory Ducati man told reporters. On past form, deciding not to race will spare him from being taken out by a reckless move from behind at the first corner.

The race win is almost certain to go to either Dani Pedrosa or Jorge Lorenzo, but just who will have the upper hand at Misano? On current form and bike performance, you would have to give the advantage to Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda having an edge in acceleration out of Misano’s many slow corners. But the advantage is not just in the machinery: something has changed in Pedrosa himself. As the riders stood chatting to each other, waiting for the press conference to start, veteran journalist Dennis Noyes leaned over to me and said “Dani’s even standing like a champion.”

It’s true: the Spaniard is standing more upright, looking more cheerful, and exuding the kind of confidence that only winners do. Jorge Lorenzo is not short of confidence himself, but just how formidable a rival Pedrosa is at the moment should not be understood. Confidence is not everything, but it may just give him the slimmest of edges over Lorenzo over the distance of a race.

If Lorenzo and Pedrosa are in a class of their own – a sentiment Ben Spies certainly agrees with, the Texan telling reporters “It seems like right now they’re above everybody else” – the battle for 3rd could be very interesting indeed. Crutchlow’s front row start puts him at an advantage, but in terms of race pace, there is a big group all in with a shot at the final podium spot. Crutchlow is obviously at the head of that group, but Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista are in there as well.

Ben Spies is confident he can contend with them, despite his modest qualifying session. That had been caused by a crash on one of the many bumps which appear to have sprouted just off line at Misano, meaning that Spies lost the chance to use the bike he felt most comfortable with. With a few tweaks to the suspension and electronics, Spies said, he could be up their battling for the podium.

There is even a realistic chance that Valentino Rossi could see his first dry weather podium with the Ducati. The new chassis and swingarm he had tested at Misano were working well, and though the core problems remained, this combination was a clear step forward. “We can modify the position of the front a lot,” Rossi told reporters, “so the feeling and the stability is better.” The stability of the rear had also been helped, the rear tire not pumping quite so badly on corner exit. Rossi was also confident he could match the pace of the group fighting for 3rd, though his concern was still over whether the changes had helped with tire life.

This had been a problem with the Ducati throughout, Rossi managing to post a decent pace in the early laps before the rear tire started to spin too much. Once that happened, performance degraded too much, and Rossi would quickly drop off the pace. Rossi had put a lot of laps on at the test he had here just over two weeks ago, but they were not consecutive laps, which heats and loads the tire differently. The improvement in corner entry and a fraction less pumping should help with tire life towards the end of the race.

As is his custom at races in his home country, Rossi also unveiled a special helmet, designed by Aldo Drudi after an idea concocted by Rossi’s inner circle, together with the legendary Italian designer. This helmet shows Rossi hanging on the ropes, one eye blackened, with the words “Come vado?” or “how am I doing?” in a speech bubble. The helmet is one half of a well-known Italian joke, an Italian journalist explained to me.

The joke is that a boxer who is taking a beating returns to his corner, sits down and asks his trainer “How am I doing against this guy?” The trainer, not wanting to discourage the boxer, replies “If you kill this guy, then the judges might just call it a draw.” Rossi’s humor is sometimes incomprehensibly Italian, as humor can so often be (and I say that as someone who has had to explain his own peculiarly British sense of irony to his Dutch friends and neighbors).

But this helmet shows that Rossi is still able to laugh at himself. That’s quite an achievement after two very tough years. Fortunately for Rossi, he has only six more races before he can get off the bike he refers to as “the Ducati” and return to the bike he calls “the M1″. From Valencia, that will once again be “My M1.”

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. Pretty good race, some excitement at the finish. I wish Moto GP got the kind of more complete coverage we see being given to Formula One races here in the states. For those of us who love motorcycle racing, it’s really hard to keep track of what’s going on if you rely only on what’s broadcast alone, which is the bare minimum. Zero coverage of qualifying, practice etc. means the sport does not get the kind of promotion it deserves. And this goes for World Superbike Racing as well.

  2. Lawyer says:

    I completely agree. It sucks that motorcycle racing gets zero coverage for those without cable TV, while I can watch basketball, football, and other lame ass sports all day long.

  3. Westward says:

    The Moto3 and Moto2 races were insane… Rossi’s first dry podium at home non the less was brilliant…

    F ‘ing BBC cut to BS…

  4. The coverage of all three races via the MotoGP web site was, as usual, excellent. Talk about drama in the first minutes of MotoGP. Epic.

    @Westward: In an earlier comment, you suggested that Rossi-fumi might get a dry podium. I doubted it, but kept my thoughts to myself. Well, it was delightful to be proven wrong. Rossi rode a very, very strong race. Kudos to Bautista, too; the Gresini squad really deserved a podium after all they’ve been through in the last couple of years.