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 Valencia: Of Anticipation, Determination, Preparation, & New Rules for 2014

11/08/2012 @ 10:37 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Valencia: Of Anticipation, Determination, Preparation, & New Rules for 2014  Yamaha YZR M1 close up Scott Jones

The atmosphere in the paddock at Valencia is an odd mixture of fatigue, excitement and anticipation. Fatigue, because it is the end of a long season, and the teams and riders are barely recovered from the three back-to-back flyaway rounds; excitement, because this is the last race of the year, and the last chance to shine, and for some, the last chance to impress a team sufficiently to secure a ride next year; and anticipation, because with so many riders switching brands and classes, they are already thinking about the test to come on Tuesday.

Or in Casey Stoner’s case, thinking about a future outside of MotoGP. As his departure from the championship grows near, it is clear that he has had more than enough of the series. Asked if he was worried about the politics in V8 Supercars, where he is headed in the near future, he said he wasn’t, because he understood that V8 Supercars is a different kind of championship.

MotoGP, though, was supposed to be a professional championship, and in his opinion, it was ‘a joke’. Four races in Spain, another just over the border in Portugal, this was not a truly world championship, Stoner said. Instead, MotoGP is too much of a European championship, and it needed to rediscover its roots.

There is still a sense of disbelief that Stoner could retire from MotoGP at the tender age of 27, but he has been consistent and clear. This was not a decision he had reached just a couple of weeks ago, this is something he has known was coming for a long time, he told the pre-event press conference on Thursday. It would be unwise to bet any money at all on Casey Stoner ever making a return to the series. The loss of his talent is a tragedy for the championship, but as in an unhappy marriage, it is better for the two parties to go their separate ways.

The race, however, looks promising. With Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa on six wins each, and Casey Stoner having five, there is plenty at stake at Valencia. Stoner told the press conference he would be approaching the race just as he had Phillip Island, words which must have struck fear into most of the paddock given the Australian’s utter domination at his home track. Fortunately for them, he added that he did not expect it to be quite as special as Phillip Island.

If I had to call it, though, I would say that Jorge Lorenzo exudes the most determination at the moment. With the weight of the championship off his shoulders, he can ride a little more freely, he told the press conference. The fact that he is only equal with Pedrosa on race wins was not a concern, nor the fact that he could end the season with fewer wins than his Repsol Honda rival if Pedrosa were to take victory at Valencia.

“This statistic doesn’t worry me too much,” he said. “I just want to try to win, and for sure I will take more risks than the last race.” Earlier, when complimenting him on a near-perfect season, I mentioned that he needed to finish either first or second to keep the streak alive. “I don’t like second position,” Lorenzo quipped. “I will go for the win.” The competition has been warned.

Lorenzo’s flawless season received much attention from some quarters, his run of six wins and ten second places drawing universal admiration. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden was effusive, when he was asked about Lorenzo’s year so far. The American had seen portents of Lorenzo’s title even as early as Malaysia, but there was one factor which Hayden believed had been crucial.

“Lorenzo is really strong mentally,” Hayden told the press on Thursday. “Even this winter, we got to the Jerez test after being in Malaysia for two tests, and me and Filippo Preziosi were talking about something, saying Casey this, Casey that, and I said I think if I had to pick a champion, I thought Lorenzo was the favorite.”

Lorenzo’s preparation and attitude had been decisive, Hayden said. “He works extremely hard during the weekends, during testing. In the first practice, he’ll be the first guy on the track, and the guy with the most laps.” High praise indeed, coming from the man who as a rule has the most laps every single test.

“Even in the winter in Malaysia when we were testing, when it was hot in the afternoon and most people were staying in the box, he was out doing really long runs. Some people talked about long runs, but he was doing full race simulations, and it was clear he was ready, he was very hungry for this title,” Hayden said.

Lorenzo’s team boss at Yamaha concurred. It was his work ethic and his preparation which had made the difference, Wilco Zeelenberg said. “You saw it in the first few races. What were Casey and Dani complaining of? Arm pump. Jorge was ready, he knew the 1000s would put more strain on his arms.” Lorenzo had been putting in the hard work in testing, running full race simulations so he knew just how much more effort the 1000s would take to ride. He had adjusted his training and testing schedule to cope with the differences, and it paid off in spades.

Beyond Sunday, and even beyond the test on Tuesday – speaking of anticipation, Valentino Rossi almost had to remind himself he was still riding for Ducati when he was asked about riding the Yamaha on Tuesday – a rulebook for 2014 and beyond looks to be drawing near. The battle which was being played out both in the press and behind closed doors has settled into a debate, and for the first time, there is real progress, one source told me.

Though the rules are still not completely settled – when asked whether the spec-ECU would be enforced or not, the reply was “this is changing hour by hour” – the trench mentality has disappeared, and a genuine dialog is taking place. There is give and take on both sides, and both sides are actively making proposals to move the process forwards.

On the side of the manufacturers, things which had been deal breakers – such as a spec-ECU, which Carmelo Ezpeleta told the French magazine Moto Journal that Honda is now very close to accepting – have now become bargaining chips. From the side of Dorna, there is a recognition that the investment the factories made in the switch to 1000cc needs to be respected and appreciated.

Honda, Yamaha and Ducati all signed up to the 1000cc, bore-limited rules, and spent the extra money to build new bikes to suit the formula, just as Dorna asked them to do. They supported the championship, and the championship needs to respect that.

But the manufacturers have also accepted that Dorna needs to have something they can sell as an entertainment product to TV companies. That, after all, is what helps pay for the championship, where the R&D merely costs money. The grids have to be filled, and too much of a disparity makes selling the show a tough proposition.

The turnaround in relations came at Motegi. Two developments were key here, one old and one new. The old development is one which has been discussed at length previously: the use of CRT machines to fill the grid demonstrated all too clearly to the manufacturers that Dorna was willing to run a championship without them. There would be life after the MSMA, if the factories decided to pull out in protest at any proposed rule changes.

As a result, the MSMA may at last find a way of filling the grids, producing affordable racers to be made available to the teams. This has been the desire of Dorna and IRTA (the teams) ever since the financial crisis struck, but all previous requests to produce cheaper versions of their prototype MotoGP machines, either for sale or for lease, have fallen on deaf ears. With Dorna having it made clear that they can find cheap ways to fill the grid if the factories depart, it is starting to appear like the factories may have finally caved in.

The new development is more obvious, and has received pages of press coverage in the past. With Dorna taking over the World Superbike series, the factories’ threat to leave the series and do their R&D in the other world championship was effectively neutralized, with Dorna prepared to impose regulations to put a stop to any such suggestion.

Ironically, the takeover by Dorna may actually end up saving World Superbikes in a recognizable form. With the threat of factories jumping ship from MotoGP neutralized, there is no need to limit World Superbikes much more than they already are.

WSBK is unlikely to gain much technical sophistication in the medium term, but there is less reason to limit it a great deal. If the MSMA do start producing cheaper machines for the private MotoGP teams to use – leased engines, a production racer, etc – then the performance gap between MotoGP and WSBK can be maintained without hobbling WSBK.

The Grand Prix Commission meets on Saturday, and it looks likely that a set of stable rules to be applied through 2016 will be produced here. If not at Valencia, then certainly at the final GPC meeting in December.

This is the key to MotoGP’s long-term future. With stable rules, other factories can make realistic projections about the cost of entering the series. Once the 2014 rules have been agreed, discussions for more far-reaching changes can be discussed for 2017. That, though, is far enough in the future to give the factories time to prepare. MotoGP is set to turn a corner. At long, long last.

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. Crashmanjay says:

    I look at Stoner the way I look at Ricky Carmichael, both leaving mostly on their own terms, except Stoner will probably be a good 4 wheel racer immediately while Ricky has yet to show up in the top levels of NASCAR. Stoner is more Carmichael than James Stewart, more Kimi Raikkonen than Michael Schumacher. He might never come back to bikes and that is cool. V8 Supercars is better racing to me than NASCAR and a race in Austin (as scheduled) means Stoner can keep his name ‘out there’ in America. I agree with him that the series (MotoGP) is to European based and should be holding races around the globe but I understand the cost/savings situation of being able to truck gear to races vs fly. New economy and all that. I mean, reading in the stories about Suzuki USA dropping cars was news to me, but in the same article learning that Suzuki sells 40% of their cars in India?!! And that Suzuki owns 46% of the Indian car market? Like I said, new economy, adapt or perish.
    I’ll enjoy the race this week. I dropped cable a year ago and the MotoGP online season pass has been worth the money to me, especially compared to SpeedTV’s coverage. I’ll be paying again next year and if Dorna offers it for WSBK I’ll probably buy that package too.
    Fair winds and following seas Casey.

  2. WetMan says:

    It’s not a European championship, but a Spanish championship.
    With Spanish owners, Spanish sponsors (being propped up by the EU with my money) and Spanish drivers. And next year it will be even worse with three Spaniards fighting for the title and only a lone desperado Italian trying to prevent a Spanish clean sweep.

    Thanks also to Honda who is aiming for big sales in China and Spain.
    Even though the Chinese are dropping anything japanese like a rock and one in three Spaniards is unemployed.

  3. MacGuyTpa says:

    I second Dorna offering Season Pass for WSBK. Would also love to see AMA and BSB do the same.

  4. “the MotoGP online season pass has been worth the money to me, especially compared to SpeedTV’s coverage. I’ll be paying again next year and if Dorna offers it for WSBK I’ll probably buy that package too.”

    I’m definitely renewing my MotoGP subscription. And, yes, I’d definitely buy into a WSBK subscription were it offered. I would have LOVED to have seen Biaggi win this season’s championship. No WSBK coverage here in Japan that I can find.

  5. Cpt.Slow says:

    I agree with the online packages mentioned above