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 Catalunya: Of Italian Earthquakes, Ducati’s Electronics, and MotoGP’s Backyard

06/01/2012 @ 5:38 am, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Catalunya: Of Italian Earthquakes, Ducatis Electronics, and MotoGPs Backyard Dani Pedrosa Jorge Lorenzo MotoGP press conference Scott Jones

If MotoGP can be said to have a backyard, then the Montmelo circuit just outside Barcelona is surely it. Series organizer Dorna has its offices just south of the city, and the Catalunya region – and especially the dormitory towns surrounding Barcelona – has provide a rich seam of riding talent, a seam almost as rich as its Italian counterpart surrounding the Misano circuit, comprising Cattolica, Riccione and the immediate area. So this is a home race for everyone, almost literally for some people. Where normally, nearly everyone in the paddock stays in hotels or rented accommodation, Dorna staff and some team members are now commuting to work from their homes in Barcelona.

And there are plenty of riders in more or less the same boat. Jorge Lorenzo lives in the city, Dani Pedrosa is from Sabadell, the industrial town just south of the track, while the Espargaro brothers Aleix and Pol are from Granollers, the town just a stone’s throw from the Montmelo track. The pressure is enormous, as both Dani Pedrosa and Lorge Lorenzo acknowledged in the press conference today. Media appearances go through the roof, friends, family, sponsors, business contacts, everyone wants a piece of the Spanish riders, and they barely get a moments rest. Actually riding a MotoGP bike at the limit feels like a blessed relief.

After Casey Stoner dropped not so much a bombshell as a tactical nuke at the previous pre-event press conference at Le Mans, announcing he would be retiring, Thursday at Barcelona was a positively tedious affair, with little of any novelty or excitement to report. Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo all gave their thoughts on the Rookie Rule,with both Rossi and Pedrosa pointing out that whatever team Marc Marquez ends up on, the bike he gets will be a full factory affair. “As a rider, maybe you wish to go to a factory team,” Pedrosa remarked, adding “if it’s a factory bike, obviously it doesn’t change much. If you’re a talented guy, it doesn’t matter much.”

Jorge Lorenzo added some levity to the press conference, when asked by a long-time Dutch journalist about his relationship with Dani Pedrosa. The two had a long-standing feud, the low point being perhaps the podium at Jerez in 2008, where it took Juan Carlos II, the King of Spain, to get the two men to shake hands. Yet at Qatar, Lorenzo and Pedrosa embraced after the race as if the rivalry had been between two men who had always been friends. What had happened, asked Henk Keulemans? “In 2003 we were enemies, in 2005 we were worse enemies, and in 2008 even worse enemies. Now we can have a hug,” Lorenzo quipped. “Maybe in two or three years we will get married.”

One real subject of interest was the private test Ducati ran at Mugello. Several new parts had been tested, including eagerly-awaited engine upgrade – or should that be downgrade – parts to smooth power delivery. The new engine parts had been a disappointment, both Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi told the media. Though bottom end power had been improved, it had meant sacrificing too much top end, meaning that Hayden had been slower with the new engine than with the old one. Those modifications will be shelved, Hayden stating that he did not believe it was worth pursuing further. A major upgrade is expected at Laguna Seca, and Rossi and Hayden are confident that it will make a difference.

What will also make a difference is the new electronics package. “Nicky had a big smile on his face”, Vitto Guareschi told me when I asked him about the new electronics, and both Hayden and Rossi were encouraged by the changes. The first touch of throttle was much less aggressive, making it easier to get out of the corner. Both men will be using the new electronics package at Barcelona, giving their expectations a boost.

Valentino Rossi will also be using the new aluminium swingarm that he and Hayden test at Mugello, as he really liked the feeling that it gave. Hayden was mildly positive, liking the feeling of the aluminium swingarm, but staying away from it for the moment as it also created chatter. That chatter was not a problem for Rossi, and the two #46 Ducatis were already equipped with the new part for Friday’s first sessions.

One of the main topics of conversation in the paddock is the earthquakes that have rocked the Emilia Romagna region, the area in which so many of the Italians involved in MotoGP live. Almost every Italian I spoke to reported having felt the quake, though almost miraculously, there is only one person reported as being affected by it, Alex de Angelis’ crew chief having been forced out of his home after it was badly damaged. But a number of people also reported having moved for a night or two to the beach, the safest place to be at the moment.

The earthquakes are believed to be part of a so-called “earthquake swarm” with shocks expected to keep happening over the course of several months. Just as Italy is struggling under financial austerity measures forced upon them in the wake of the economic crisis, they are faced with the extra cost of dealing with the aftermath of these earthquakes. We can only hope that the earthquakes pass quickly, and with minimal damage.

MotoGP’s Silly Season should offer some light relief to the tales of woe, but after Casey Stoner’s nuclear strike at Le Mans, everyone is going through their options before making approaches, and so Silly Season is at a rather low ebb at the moment. After the story I wrote earlier this week about the other side of Silly Season – where Casey Stoner’s crew might end up – I had a long and interesting chat with Stoner’s crew chief Cristian Gabarrini.

He said he had yet to give the matter much thought, though his preference was to stay with HRC for the foreseeable future. “I still have so much to learn,” Gabarrini said, adding that this what appealed to him so much about working in racing. He then rather surprised me, confessing that at some point in the distant future, he might like to work in either Enduro or Motocross, perhaps even the AMA Supercross series.

When I asked him why, Gabarrini said that whenever he talks to some of his friends involved in motocross, he always learns of different approaches to what is effectively the same problem: how to get the most out of the grip available to get around a circuit as fast as possible. There may be lessons there that could be applicable to motorcycle road racing, despite the massive difference in grip levels. For the moment, though, he has no intention of going anywhere, but talks have yet to be opened. A significant catch, wherever he goes.

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. Westward says:

    About every rule change and limitation seems to have a deleterious effect on MotoGP, save for the rookie rule…

    Whats the point of being a prototype series if you can’t use the prototypes you develop whenever you want…

  2. It’s about money. The factories are not playing like they used to (no more are there grids full of privateers on the 4-stroke equivalent of TZs or the Honda twins) and very few satellite teams are running, with fewer bikes in the ones that do (note Gresini has one CRT this season, so only one “factory” Honda there). The virtual removal of independent testing and a move to reduced in-season testing then is all about evening the playing field between the factories and satellite/privateer teams. It used to be that the factories would have guys like Doohan spending weeks at a time working out the kinks of the bike. Dudes climbing onto a generic 500 armed with some porting tweaks and some tires just couldn’t compete with that.

    I agree with you that it would be exciting to see some truly unique prototypes out there, but if costs run out of control and combine with a particular factory getting a huge advantage, the risk for the series is that people will pack up their toys and go home. Suzuki and Kawasaki have already done that, and I feel the sport is the poorer for it. As such, I’m all for regs that will end up tempting all the factories to enter the fray.

    As for the sport being somehow worse and worse, I just don’t see it. I’ve followed F1 and MotoGP since the ’70s and 2012 is turning out to be one of the better seasons in a long while, collectively across the classes. All sorts of people said that Moto2 wouldn’t work, yet look at the quality of racing! Moto3 was dismissed out of hand for being slower than the 125s, but now the teams are working out the kinks and they’re easily in that ballpark again. Moto3 offers great racing (I just wish they’d learn to crash a bit less – my heart can’t take it).

    This season, I think we’re going to see Cal Crutchlow break some hearts. Vale could see more podiums. RdP and Edwards, I hope, will be embarrassing one ore more satellite teams on a regular basis come 5-6 races from now. And all the while, we get some fabulous 1,000 fps sequences of the aliens doing things I could only dream of doing myself. Anybody else catch Pol Espargaro’s FP sequences with the sparks coming off his freakin’ elbow?

    Yeah. I’m liking it!