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.

Thursday Summary at Phillip Island: An Australian Farewell

10/25/2012 @ 4:42 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Phillip Island: An Australian Farewell Casey Stoner Corner Phillip Island MotoGP Scott Jones

This weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island is going to be a very Australian affair, more so than most other years. For one obvious reason: this is the last chance to see Casey Stoner race a Grand Prix motorcycle at the iconic venue before he hangs up his helmet and retires from MotoGP. Record crowds are expected, and local media coverage has expanded as everyone gathers to say goodbye to the latest in a long and honorable line of Australian Grand Prix champions who have left an indelible mark on motorcycle racing.

The weekend started off with Stoner’s name being added to those of Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan, in a ceremony to rename Turn 3 Stoner Corner. Gardner’s name has been given to the front straight, Doohan’s to Turn 1, and Stoner’s name follows after the Southern Loop. It is a fitting tribute to the man who has started from pole four times in a row, won here five times in a row, and achieved some remarkable feats in MotoGP.

The only man to have won on a Ducati MotoGP machine since 2007, when Loris Capirossi won a flag-to-flag race in difficult conditions at Motegi. The only rider to have regained the premier class title after three seasons. Tied with Mike Hailwood for 4th in the all-time list of premier class winners, with 37 MotoGP victories. Tied with contemporaries Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa for 8th in the standings for victories in all classes, the three leading riders in the championship having 44 wins each, though the two Spaniards have vastly fewer wins in the top class.

I spoke to a selection of riders and team managers for a story I am writing about Casey Stoner once his career comes to a close, and all of them said the same thing. Jorge Lorenzo summed it up best: “Casey Stoner is the rider with the most raw talent I have ever seen.” Stoner’s place in MotoGP history was already assured, the renaming of Turn 3 into Stoner Corner now immortalizes his name for as long as there will be racing at the circuit.

Why Turn 3? For a full explanation, see the story on the renaming ceremony elsewhere on MotoMatters, but the gist of it is that this is the corner where Stoner dominates. Fast — 260km/h fast, or a touch over 161 mph in old money — sweeping, a corner that requires talent, commitment, and the courage to combine the two without backing off.

It was a corner he had struggled with in his early years at the track – Stoner only came to race at the circuit when he started racing Grand Prix, having left Australia before he was old enough to race at the circuit – but he had unlocked its secrets and found a way to go fast through there. Was Stoner confident he was the fastest person through that corner, he was asked? “Without a doubt,” was his simple answer. Would he like to share the secret to his speed there? Maybe after the weekend is over.

Winning his sixth in a row at Phillip Island will not be quite so straightforward. Though he did not feel any real pressure to win there – that had grown during his first four wins, but had left him once he arrived at the track on Honda – but Stoner is still struggling with his ankle.

The ankle has gradually been swelling up since he returned to riding again at Motegi. “It’s not really enjoying the thrashing that we’re having to give it these last two races, and three races back to back is a lot of hard work,” Stoner said, before giving an insight into the kind of pain all of these riders have to endure when riding injured.

“They did recommend that I stay off it for a while and only put very light weight, but unfortunately I have to put quite a lot of weight on it,” Stoner explained, “I have to get it used to this before I get on a bike, then when I get on the bike, I’m used to it. When I’m on the bike I’m sure I’ll deal with it. It’s just mainly when I get off the bike the pain’s a lot worse.”

The good thing for Stoner is that the track goes mostly left, and there are very few sections where they are hard on the brakes. That means he does not have to test the mobility of his ankle quite so much, with more of the strain being carried by his uninjured left ankle. The track going left helps Stoner another way, in that the Honda RC213V suffers massively less with chatter when turning left. If there is a track where Stoner could win a final race before he retires, this is surely it.

He will have to deal with Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo first, however. Pedrosa is on roll, having won five out of the last six races, and is looking nigh on invincible. Pedrosa, too, has struggled with chatter, though you would not know it to watch him control the five races he won. The only race where Lorenzo could put up any resistance was Brno, the Yamaha man taking the fight right down to the wire. Since then, though, Pedrosa has been unstoppable, and it is hard to see what Lorenzo can do to prevent him from closing the gap even further.

This raises the question of whether Honda might consider telling Stoner to make way for Pedrosa, and help him close the gap on Lorenzo. The answer to that, though, is almost certainly no. All parties concerned, from HRC team boss Shuhei Nakamoto, to Dani Pedrosa to Casey Stoner himself, have all denied that team orders would either be issued or would be necessary, all three saying that championships should be won outright, rather than via assistance from teammates.

Even if team orders were issued, the chances of Casey Stoner listening are very slim indeed. The Australian is not known for his willingness to bend to authority, and as he will be leaving the team and the series at the end of the year, he has very little to lose by ignoring any orders given.

In truth, it may not make that much difference even if Stoner were to place himself between Pedrosa and Lorenzo. Pedrosa trails Lorenzo by 23 points, and if Pedrosa were to win and Lorenzo come 3rd, then that gap would be cut to 14 points. That would still require Pedrosa to win at Valencia – something he is more than capable of doing, and has done in the past – and Lorenzo to come 5th or worse in the final race for Pedrosa to take the title.

Finishing 3rd is just about conceivable, especially at Phillip Island, with a determined Stoner and an on-form Pedrosa. Finishing 5th, however, would require nothing short of a miracle, the kind of race last seen in 2006, when Valentino Rossi crashed early to hand Nicky Hayden the title. So far, Jorge Lorenzo hasn’t put a foot wrong, winning when he can, and finishing lower than 2nd just once, when he was taken out by Alvaro Bautista in the first corner at Assen.

The pressure is on both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, and both are dealing with it in the same way. “Just try to go out and do good practices, try to enjoy, keep focused and ride well,” said Pedrosa in the press conference, echoing the earlier sentiments of Lorenzo. Take each session as it comes, focus on the work that needs to be done, and think no further ahead than that.

The weekend may end up with a Spanish winner, but it will still be a very Australian affair. Stoner will be etched into the memories of every Australian fan at the track, taking his place alongside Doohan, Darryl Beattie, Wayne Gardner and Troy Bayliss. The question is whether Stoner is to be the last in a line of success which has stretched almost unbroken since the mid-1980s.

Without Casey Stoner, it is hard to see where the next Australian success story is coming from. Ant West continues to race in Moto2, but the chances of West getting a competitive MotoGP ride seem remote. Jack Miller and Arthur Sissis have both made impressive debuts in the Moto3 class, with Miller being particularly impressive on what is almost a bog standard Honda NSF250R.

Casey Stoner expressed his concerns over the position of motor sports in general and motorcycle racing in particular. When asked who he saw as the future of Australian motorcycling, Stoner had no ready answers.

“To be honest, I don’t know,” he said. “Internationally, it’s going well as far as motor sport visiting Australia. But unfortunately, motor sport inside Australia doesn’t have support. There’s nobody out there that’s stepping up with sponsorship, or helping to find places to ride or start learning, or helping to run the Australian championship, or anything like this,” Stoner told the press conference. “There’s a lot of tracks being closed down. Motorsport in general in Australia struggles to a certain degree.”

Part of the blame lay in a change of culture, an Anglo-Saxon tendency to sue first and ask questions later. “It’s very disappointing,” Stoner said. “I think everybody wants to be wrapped up in cotton wool too much. There’s too many court cases fought out because something happened to some young rider. There’s many instances like that which I just think are unnecessary.”

Riders, their families, their teams should all be aware of the dangers of the sport. “Everyone does things at their own risks, understands the risks, and should just be there to enjoy it. Motorcycling is a fantastic thing, it’s what I grew up loving to do and will continue to do in the future. But it definitely needs a boost in Australia.”

As far as Stoner’s own future, he has two more races to go, and his racing career is at an end. He will race at both Phillip Island and Valencia, he said, in reply to a question asking whether he would consider quitting directly after his home race. He had decided to see out the season, Stoner said, and that is exactly what he would do. After that, he would continue riding, and would continue to visit the Island, terrifying the fast group at track days aboard a Honda CBR1000RR.

He will not make a return to racing, however, at least not on two wheels. Unless MotoGP dropped four strokes and went back to two strokes, something that seems almost impossible at the moment. But Stoner’s ears pricked up when French journalist Thomas Baujard of Moto Journal told him that Michelin still has the machine they used to build the tires used on the old 500cc two strokes. “Hmmm! Very interesting!” he replied, perking up considerably. “Why don’t we all start racing 500s! Then I’ll come back, no electronics!”

Given the advances being made with two-stroke technology, that may not be such a bad idea after all. There is not a MotoGP rider in the paddock who does not long to ride a 500cc stroker – or even a 750, as suggested by Stoner in the past. Given the exponential rate at which the four-stroke MotoGP bikes have driven up costs – something which many engineers had warned of prior to the switch from two strokes to four strokes – it might just be a way of bringing costs back down again.

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. Kelso says:

    750 two strokes would be glorious

  2. smiler says:

    The only 2 things he has mutter in recent history that make any sense: no elcetronics and 500 – 750cc smokers.

  3. smiler says:

    The weekend may end up with a Spanish winner, but it will still be a very Australian affair. Stoner will be etched into the memories of every Australian fan at the track, taking his place alongside Doohan, Darryl Beattie, Wayne Gardner and Troy Bayliss.

    Bet Troy Corser was happy with this comment. 7 top 3 finishes in wsb championship, 2 world titles and he has AMA and Aussie national titles. Riden for everyone other than Honda, even risking his life literally with Petronas.

  4. MikeD says:

    He’ll be back. Maybe not to MotoGP but he’ll be bitten by the High HP-MPH Motorcycle Racing Bug and we’ll see him again. SUCH A FRIGGIN WASTE of talent and youth.

    He’ll be back. Fingers crossed.

  5. “750 two strokes would be glorious”

    Jeeze, yes! Snaking expansion chambers and the snarl of angry bees at full song! And, frankly, I’d love to see Stoner sliding some 2-stroke monster through Stoner Corner at Phillip Island. Hell, I could watch his slo-mos through that turn all bloody day. Amazing, really.