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 Laguna Seca: Lorenzo’s Blistering Pace, Stoner’s Traffic Problems, and Rossi’s Ducati Offer

07/29/2012 @ 10:28 am, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Laguna Seca: Lorenzos Blistering Pace, Stoners Traffic Problems, and Rossis Ducati Offer 2012 MotoGP 10 LagunaSeca Saturday 0432

Despite dominating the Championship so far, Jorge Lorenzo does not get a lot of pole positions. Except at Laguna: though this was only his third of the season, Saturday’s pole position was Lorenzo’s fourth in a row at the circuit, and he secured it in convincing style. The circuit record tumbled – it had stood since 2008, set by Casey Stoner when he looked on his way to dominating the US GP at Laguna, before his run in with Valentino Rossi of course. There has been much complaining about the Bridgestone tires of late, yet both Lorenzo and Stoner beat the pole record on the tire they will probably race on, a pole record set on super-soft special qualifiers, which at a track like Laguna Seca you could just about eke two laps out of before they were finished. In reality, there is not so much wrong with these tires.

The pole record could have been beaten by a lot more, but Casey Stoner kept running into traffic each time he went for a fast lap. Up by a tenth or more at each split a number of times, he would suddenly run into a rider cruising, or a CRT machine on a hot lap, and lose out. On his last attempt, he ran into Danilo Petrucci just before the final corner, working his way swiftly past to take pole from Lorenzo with a couple of minutes to go. But Lorenzo would not be denied, pushing hard in the final sector to get pole back from Stoner in the dying moments.

Afterwards, Stoner was annoyed and frustrated, saying that if it hadn’t been for the traffic, he could have had pole. He may be right, but it may not matter: Stoner was fast on softs when qualifying, but Lorenzo’s race pace is once again utterly oppressive, as it has been all year. The Yamaha man set his fastest lap of the weekend on his third lap out of the pits during qualifying, going on to crack the 1’20 barrier two laps later. His race pace is high 1’20s, low 1’21s, and the only man who can follow him is Dani Pedrosa. The Repsol Honda man is very happy with the new chassis he tested at Mugello, based on the version of the bike originally planned to be introduced in 2013, and is fast with the bike. So fast that he will race it on Sunday.

Stoner, on race pace, is a couple of tenths slower than the two Spaniards, but is confident of being competitive. The Australian had spent a lot of time working on the hard tire, the tire that he does not like, and felt that he and his crew had achieved a good pace on it. The soft worked well enough anyway, and so whatever the temperature, he believes he can run with Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

Behind the three front runners, there is a fair gap. Where Lorenzo and Pedrosa are running low 1’21s, with Stoner not that far off, Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso are running high 1’21s and low 1’22s. Spies has the added handicap of being badly shaken, having sprained his ankle in a monster highside at Turn 3 and suffered a minor concussion. He will be fit to race, but at Laguna’s tight and twisty circuit, giving the riders no place to rest, he is in for a very tough afternoon.

The Ducatis are in a bit more trouble. Though Nicky Hayden is not far off the pace of the Yamahas – the second group, not Lorenzo, who is in a world of his own – Valentino Rossi is struggling. The problems are the same, Rossi said: once they put a new soft tire in, they simply cannot find the extra few tenths that would move them up the grid, the extra time that everyone else – including teammate Hayden – seems to find without too much trouble.

Bearing this in mind, Rossi spent most of the session working on race pace, which puts him pretty close to the group of Yamahas. Rossi’s problem is that he and his crew face a dilemma: the bike is spinning up too much, and so they are moving weight backward to conserve the tire and improve drive. When they do that, Rossi loses front end feel and can’t get into the corner fast enough.

Part of the problem is that the parts that were supposed to have helped solve the problem – a revised positioning of the ECU and fuel tank, and parts meant for the inlet tract to help smooth power delivery – have not all be supplied on time and tested. A few parts are being used, but much more is to come “in the second half of the year” according to Vitto Guareschi. But Ducati have been promising this for a while, and each time new parts are promised, they take longer than hoped to arrive.

This weekend is a massive weekend for Valentino Rossi, and one which could prove decisive for his future. He is due to meet with Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio to discuss some “details” for next season. One of those details is the basic salary of his contract, with Ducati rumored to be offering the Italian 17 million euros a season to stay at Bologna. The money is likely to be the least important detail – Rossi’s base salary forms well under half of his income – the more significant details being what goes on at Ducati Corse, and the influence Audi will bring to bear on that department.

His choice will come down to whether he believes Ducati can turn the project around and build a competitive bike. So far, the signs are not good, but walking away risks losing his reputation as a rider who can develop a bike. Whether the fault is his or Ducati’s will not be recorded in history, only that the Italian was incapable of making it competitive.

Ducati is already looking to the future. Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci are set to test the Desmosedici at Mugello next week, with rumors that Scott Redding might be at the very same test. Ducati’s plans for a junior team – plans confirmed to us by Ducati team boss Andrea Cicognani at Mugello – are taking shape, with the full details likely to be settled by the time the paddock lands at Indianapolis. With Nicky Hayden staying on for continuity, Ducati must be hoping that throwing a gaggle of fresh young riders at the problem. They might get lucky like in 2007. Or they might not…

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.


  1. jvp says:

    The question that Rossi needs to answer is whether he would like to earn more money while running the risk of not getting anymore “W” and losing some of his team, or earning less money and possibly returning to the bike of his dreams. At this point in his career, I think he could care less about money than wins. He wants to be the winningest Grand Prix racer of all time and he knows that he might not achieve this with the Ducati. As a Ducati fan, I’d like for him to stay and keep his reputation intact by building the Desmosedici into a winning bike. However, I also have to accept the fact that even if he stays, that he might not win that elusive win. I say offer 17 million euros to Casey Stoner after a year or two and bring him back from retirement. I’m sure Stoner will put the Ducati back into the winning column again.

  2. smiler says:

    “I’m sure Stoner will put the Ducati back into the winning column again”
    It was unfortunately Stoner that took it off the winning column in 08, so no reasonn to go there again.

    Cannot see at this point how changing faces and getting younger riders in will suddently improve the bike. Given that Ducati have more of a manufacturing scheduling problem than anything just now it would seem. Too much on I reckon.

  3. Westward says:

    – “Cannot see at this point how changing faces and getting younger riders in will suddently improve the bike.”

    It worked in 2007, as the article mentions. Stoner is literally a “Case” in point…

    Take Elias for example, in Moto2 he wins the title on a Moriwaki chassis, now he can barely get on in that same series on a Sutter…

    Dovizioso is another example, on a satellite Honda he made the podium once, yet on a Yamaha satellite bike, he has been a regular on the rostrum…

    I once took a advance mathematics course and nearly failed, and in the second term of that same year I changed schools. Different instructor and environment, but amazingly the moment I stepped foot in the door and took a seat, something just clicked and suddenly I just seemed to know how to work all the problems.

  4. Jake says:

    I’ve jumped on Rossi a lot since 2006 and pretty much lost a lot of appreciation for him because of all the but kissing and hype that follows him . But his post Laguna transcript earned a bit of my respect back. http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2012/Jul/120730c.htm

    Good to see he can still laugh at things during this period and he is aware of whats going on in the world outside of MotoGP and how that effects things inside of MotoGP. Plus a couple of other things. I have never understood the whole “Yamaha treated him wrong” deal” it made no sense what so ever. In the end Yamaha had to do what’s best for Yamaha. They treated Rossi the best they could up to the point that Rossi was making requests that risked the future of Yamaha. Even then their only “slight” to Rossi was to give him the opportunity to prove man matter over machine (as Rossi has long said) by giving him a strong teammate. No favorites equal treatment. Isn’t that what all these guys supposedly want? To prove they are the best? No questions asked?