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 Jerez: Of Crashes, Tires, & Optimism

05/04/2013 @ 9:30 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Jerez: Of Crashes, Tires, & Optimism cal crutchlow monster yamaha tech 3 jerez

Saturday at Jerez was a crash fest, in just about every class. Why? The heat – well, perhaps heat is an exaggeration, but certainly the weather was better than anyone expected a few weeks ago. Once the heat hits the Andalusian track, the grip drops off a cliff, and the riders are left struggling to cope. In Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP, a lot of riders hit the deck on Saturday afternoon.

Alex Rins was one of the first to fall, crashing out during qualifying for the Moto3 class. It did not slow him down though, with the Spaniard grabbing pole for the second race in succession.

MotoGP was much worse: during the final session of free practice, Cal Crutchlow threw his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha away at the start of the back straight. Later in that session, Crutchlow watched from behind as Marc Marquez fought a losing battle with gravity at the other end of the straight, the front folding and the rear whipping round on him despite valiant efforts to save it.

“I was willing him to save it,” Crutchlow joked afterwards, “but in the end gravity won.”

The QP2 session was even more eventful, with Crutchlow crashing again, in a much more spectacular fashion this time, followed by Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi. While Pedrosa and Rossi walked away virtually unhurt (despite Pedrosa tumbling through the gravel, the Spaniard grateful for the airbag in his suit for protecting him from another collar bone injury), Crutchlow was less lucky.

At the circuit medical center, they cleared him of any broken bones, but he still had blood on his kidney from where he hit the ground so hard. That was after he had been out for a second run, setting the fourth fastest time in the session.

Crutchlow was philosophical after the event, despite being in a good deal of pain. “We race motorcycles, and sometimes we crash,” he said, before opining that he felt he could have been on the front row, and maybe even the pole, if he hadn’t have crashed. His fastest lap was set almost by accident, the Tech 3 man concentrating more on not crashing than on pushing for a fast lap.

Ironically, the day before, former Yamaha boss Masahiko Nakajima had complimented Crutchlow on not having crashed so far during the season. Crutchlow then proceeded to make it up to him by flinging his bike up the road twice.

The problem at Jerez are the tires, and especially the fronts. The hard tires brought to Jerez are too soft, is the near-unanimous complaint, leaving the soft fronts usable only on the first outing of the weekend on Friday morning, to be set aside after that.

Consensus among the riders suggests that the problem lies in the extra weight the MotoGP bikes are carrying, with three kilos added to bring the minimum weight up to 160kg. Ironically, the softer construction front was brought in after a couple of races last year, to help the tires get up to operating temperature more quickly. That is no longer a problem, but the heavier bikes mean they soon pass that optimum temperature and start to wear out fast.

This is going to be the main problem during the race, with tire wear likely to be a significant factor. Everyone can manage six or seven laps at full chat, but after that, the performance of the front will drop off.

The rider who nurses his tire home best will win the race, most parties believe, and on the evidence so far, that will be birthday boy Jorge Lorenzo. The factory Yamaha man treated himself to pole on his 26th birthday, and judging by his pace will be a tough nut to crack in the race.

Assistance – if you can call it that – will come from the rear tires, which are also a problem for the teams. But while opinions are united on the front tire, that the hard is too soft and a harder option should have been brought, the riders are divided on what to do on the rear.

The Yamahas can only really use the softer of the two options, the hard tire lacking the edge grip which the Yamahas need to maintain their high corner speed. The Ducatis, on the other hand, can use the harsh throttle response of the Desmosedici to help get the hard tire up to temperature, the Italian team not being able to make the soft rear last.

As for the Hondas, both Repsol Honda men were cagey in the press conference. They would not be drawn on which tire they had selected, suggesting that all options are open. The Hondas, with the more aggressive point-and-shoot style, may well be able to get the hard tires to work, and if they do, they should also be in much better shape to handle tire wear than the Yamahas, destined to use up the soft in a few laps, then nurse the bike home.

Look at the timesheets and it is hard to bet against Jorge Lorenzo walking away with victory from the front, stringing together lap after lap in the low 1’39s. In reality, Lorenzo could well be rapidly caught again, as the Hondas and – maybe, just maybe – the Ducatis coming into their own with the harder tire. Betting against a Lorenzo victory may not be wise, but it is not the work of a madman either.

Whatever the outcome, the crowd is likely to see a pretty thrilling race, tire wear and conditions proving to be the great leveller. And that crowd is likely to be larger than last year, perhaps by a significant amount. The hillsides on Saturday already seemed fuller than 2012, the crowds returning to the Jerez race in some numbers. Attendance in the past few years has been pitifully sparse, by Jerez standards. That could all change on Sunday.

Where this improvement comes from is hard to say. Having a number of exciting and fast Spaniards surely helps draw in the crowds. The annual fair due to take place in the city of Jerez may also help, with visitors combining a trip to the races with a few days at the Feria in Jerez.

It is also possible that the Spanish economy has reached rock bottom, and is showing the very first signs of rebounding. There are the first signs of optimism in the air in Spain, though I fear I maybe mistaking spring with optimism.

Whatever it is, it is certainly a very good thing. Optimism is what both MotoGP and the Spanish economy needs, to give themselves a boost. Sunday could go a long way towards helping in that respect.

Photo: Monster Yamaha Tech 3

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


  1. TexusTim says:

    ok I think dovi has a shot at a podium here.

  2. Faust says:

    Spec tires need to go away. If they know that there are grip issues at Jerez, it doesn’t matter because with the spec tires they just have to make due with whatever Bridgestone feels like giving them. What’s the point of spending millions to refine an engine and chassis package, if you have no input on one of the most critical aspects of modern bike performance?