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.

MotoGP: Thursday at Jerez Round Up: Of Excess Horsepower, Long Runs, and the Chances of Rain

04/27/2012 @ 10:04 am, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Thursday at Jerez Round Up: Of Excess Horsepower, Long Runs, and the Chances of Rain 2012 MotoGP 02 Jerez Thursday 0010

Though the night race at Qatar is spectacular, the paddock at Jerez feels like a proper paddock. There is a bustle missing from Qatar, and the return of the hospitality units means that it is an altogether more colorful place. The presence of the hospitality units also means seeing more old friends, the men and women who slave all weekend putting the units together and ensuring that everything runs smoothly within them, and that the guests who spend their time there – including, most importantly, the people who foot the bill for this whole MotoGP malarkey – pass it as pleasantly as possible. These are the people who are the backbone of MotoGP, the foundation on which it is built, and it is always a happy moment meeting them again.

The reappearance of the hospitality units also sees the reopening of another, more informal competition. Not content with just facing each other out on the track, the teams also vie for attention in the paddock as well. The rules of the contest are simple and rather childish: the team with the biggest, shiniest, most impressive hospitality unit wins. This year, the contest is already over: Avintia Racing, fielding Maverick Vinales in Moto3, Julian Simon in Moto2, and Yonny Hernandez and Ivan Silva in MotoGP, have erected a structure that can only be described as humungous (see photo). Where most units are the size of a spacious lounge, the Avintia hospitality unit is about the size of a basketball stadium. The fact that Avintia is a construction company has doubtless influenced their design decisions, and if the racing doesn’t work out, they can always turn it into an olympic sized swimming pool.

With no on-track action – other than the usual laps of the track on a scooter, taking care to avoid trucks carrying advertising hoardings and wandering journalists – the riders contented themselves with the usual round of press conferences ahead of the event. The biggest draw – naturally – was Valentino Rossi, interest even greater, if possible, due to his remarks on Italian television expressing his exasperation with the situation. Those remarks had been born of frustration, Rossi admitted, and overall, he was much more hopeful for this weekend.

“I am very happy to be here,” he told the assembled media, “because this track is very important for me, I did lot of good results in the past, and I like a lot this track. But especially in the last test before the start of the season, my performance with the Desmosedici was not so bad. I did some good lap times and especially at the end, I finish in 6th position.” A month later, and with enough data to make a go of it, Rossi was confident of being substantially closer to the sharp end than the dismal weekend he had at Qatar.

Asked about the rumors concerning an early exit from Ducati, Rossi was emphatic. “No,” Rossi answered. “I never thought to leave Ducati, I have zero chance to ride another bike.” The Italian knew what he was getting himself into from the start. “You know, when you sign a contract, you have to arrive at the end giving the maximum effort. So this is our target now.”

But Rossi stood by his comments on the weakness of the bike. When asked whether the horsepower of the Ducati (or the “lion in the cowling” as Rossi had dubbed it at Qatar) could be tamed using electronics, or whether a new engine was needed, Rossi was very clear. It was the engine that needed modifying, Rossi said, adding “This is one of the most important targets to improve our performance, because I have always some difficulty in acceleration, to open the throttle. More important than managing the power is to have the right link between the throttle and what’s happening in the engine,” Rossi said. “Our engine is very powerful, and we have to use a lot of electronics for use this power. So I think to improve the acceleration of this bike, we need to work more on the engine, not just the electronics. Also with this we can try to use less electronics.”

Would he like to try a bike with a narrower V angle engine, Rossi was asked, and though he acknowledged that many people in the paddock had suggested this, he himself did not know for sure. “Sincerely, I don’t know, I don’t have the answer. But to modify the angle of our engine needs a lot of time, because you have to do the engine again.” But a version of the engine modified to produce less power was already under production, Rossi said. At the Estoril test, he hoped to test “the same engine but with two or three modifications for better delivery,” Rossi said. Whether it would be ready on time was uncertain: “Filippo is not here, because he is working on this this week, but I don’t know if it will be ready for Portugal test. Fortunately, we have some other tests later, so at this moment, we don’t know, but we hope, we hope as soon as possible.”

In the press conference, Nicky Hayden concurred that the biggest problem with the Ducati was the amount of power the bike had, and trying to get it on the ground. “We’ve struggled with traction all year,” Hayden told the press conference, “we need a smoother engine.”

Valentino Rossi’s comments to Italian TV were not the only subject to have been carried over from Qatar to Jerez. The other big story from the season opener was of Rossi’s arch rival Casey Stoner, and the arm pump that had mysteriously appeared and robbed him of the lead in Qatar. This, too, had been the subject of much speculation, with a lot of people pitching with their comments and advice. How Stoner had gone about trying to fix it, the Australian refused to say, though the sparse information we could glean from him suggested that it mainly concerned diet and stretching, but he was also adamant that this was a highly sporadic problem. Arm pump occurs occasionally, and this was only the second time in his career where it had been a problem. He ruled surgery out, as that was only a temporary fix, and meant that it would merely recur again a few months later. The scars on the forearms of Nicky Hayden bear witness to this, Hayden also having suffered with the problem.

The one thing that it wasn’t caused by was the lack of long runs, Stoner said. He was quite adamant that the length of time he spent on track meant nothing, and that the way he worked – many short runs, rather than a few long ones – had no effect on the condition. “I haven’t done it [only doing short runs - Ed.] my whole career, and I’ve never had arm pump,” Stoner said. He was unconvinced of the merits of long runs: “Everybody’s finding the excuse of why a long run is going to be beneficial, and I still haven’t found it yet,” Stoner explained, “Except when there was tire competition. Then, we were using tires that could just do race distance and we had to make sure they would finish the race.” That was no longer a factor. “Now, we’re on the same tires, and these tires can do stupid amounts of laps. We know the tire wear’s very good, we spend a lot of time watching the tire wear. Then we have fuel consumption, if we’re struggling with fuel consumption, then maybe a long run can give us a more clear idea, but at the same time, you calculate it for a certain amount of laps and you know what the fuel consumption is going to be.” Not doing long runs had not hurt him in the past, Stoner pointed out. “I’ve been using this same technique for a long time, we’ve won more races than anybody else in the last 5 years or so, so it works.”

Part of the problem had been that he’d been forced to use new gloves, and that as protection improved in the gloves, so they got stiffer. Breaking the gloves in was a problem: “The only way to break gloves in is by riding these bikes,” Stoner said, adding that he had tried all sorts of other ways of doing. Even wearing them while he raced karts, or wearing them around the house did not stretch the gloves correctly, and could even make the situation worse. Using the gloves for anything other than racing bikes meant you were stretching the gloves in the wrong places, and that could create folds in the material, which in turn would cause blisters. So modern gloves are like Bridgestone tires? I asked Stoner. “That’s a pretty good description,” he replied.

While all of the attention was being focused on Rossi and Stoner, a Spaniard is leading the championship, and is coming to two of his strongest tracks of the season. I asked Jorge Lorenzo’s manager Wilco Zeelenberg if Lorenzo minded that all of the media were talking about Rossi, and not about him, but Zeelenberg said that Lorenzo understood the situation. Rossi has always been at the center of the media storm, and everyone understands this. And frankly, Zeelenberg added, there was quite a tale to tell.

The weather could add a few dramatic twists to the plot this weekend, with the rain set to move in from tomorrow morning. One Italian journalist who had driven down from Lisbon – a question of return flights and hire cars – had said that he had driven all the way in the rain, until he arrived at Seville, some 100 km north of Jerez. The weather forecast has gotten worse – rain is now expected to start on Friday, and continue through Sunday, only letting up once the race is over. Though Lorenzo and Stoner were confident in the rain, the wet favors Ducati rather more. Rossi acknowledged that the Ducati was pretty good in the wet, and that a wet race was probably his best chance of a good result. The problem was that what Ducati needed was more time in the dry, to gather more data and try to find a solution to their problems. But if Rossi did end on the podium because it was wet, it is unlikely he’ll do much complaining about it.

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. TJ says:

    I am always impressed to read these writeups. Great job!

  2. MotoGP: Thursday at Jerez Round Up: Of Excess Horsepower, Long Runs, and the Chances of Rain – http://t.co/66CIwTJT #motorcycle

  3. MikeD says:

    Too much engine he says….Ha…

    I would gladly trade u my (140hp when new, now at 140k miles god knows) P.O.S 2.0L I-4 engine on my 96 Eclipse for ur UNCONTROLABLE 250hp+ 1.0L V-4 any day of the week.

    B.S aside, i know the feeling somehow…too much motor ain’t all that when u can’t control it.
    I felt more at home with a CARBURETED 90hp 1100cc air cooled I-4 than with me current 118hp EFI water cooled 90* V-2.

  4. MikeD says:

    C’mon Vale…make that frigging red beast work for u.