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.

Wednesday Summary at Assen: Of Chatter, Silly Season Updates, And Expected Rule Changes

06/28/2012 @ 11:38 am, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

Wednesday Summary at Assen: Of Chatter, Silly Season Updates, And Expected Rule Changes carbon brake disc ducati corse motogp scott jones

Three races in 15 days, right in the middle and most important part of the season. MotoGP lines up at Assen with one third of the season gone. By the time the triple header is finished at Mugello, just over two weeks’ later, we are half way through the season and the title is a lot closer to being settled. These three races are crucial.

Not that it changes anyone’s approach. During the press conference, I asked the riders if they took a more cautious approach, knowing that the cost of injury is much, much greater now than it is when there is more time to recover between races. They looked at me as if I were stupid – a conclusion they have some justification for drawing – and told me that they treat these three races the same as the first race, the last race, and every other race in between. Flat out, and trying to win. It is impossible to win championships without winning races, as Casey Stoner likes to point out, so it is better to focus on that than on worrying about what might happen.

Winning races for Stoner and his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa is no easy thing. The Honda still has debilitating chatter, making the bike – or rather, the factory bike – very hard to ride. The chatter at the rear is fixed, or very nearly, but the new Bridgestone front tire created chatter at the front, negating any gains from fixing the rear chatter. HRC’s list for Santa Claus is very short: all they want is the 2011-spec front Bridgestone back again, and the Championship would be blown wide open. That tire, though, is gone, and so they have to deal with the “33″, the new-spec front Bridgestone. It’s like the weather, one engineer commented to me: you have to deal with what the world throws at you, and what is out of your control.

For now, Honda’s work is damage limitation, trying to keep the gap between Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo as small as possible. Lorenzo’s recent form has been relentless, struggling occasionally in practice but always coming good during the race. The Yamahas are working well, and Lorenzo’s is working better than anyone’s. Andrea Dovizioso tried to explain what he had learned from following Lorenzo the last couple of races: what he could see was that Lorenzo was braking earlier but carrying more corner speed, and this, paradoxically, gave him more margin. Where Dovizioso, Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow were all on the limit in mid-corner, Lorenzo had bought himself a little safety thanks to his corner entry, carrying more speed through and out of the corner, yet risking less.

That lesson had been an eye-opener for the Italian, and something he was determined to exploit at Assen. After spending all of his career riding a Honda, Dovizioso is now a Yamaha man through and through. He now understands the bike and believes he can get on the podium regularly, though winning is a little more tricky given the level of competition and the fact that the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha satellite bikes are two engine steps and one chassis step behind the factory bikes, at least according to Cal Crutchlow.

Dovizioso has his eye on the prize, and that prize is the second seat in the Factory Yamaha team. Dovizioso was cagey on his options on Wednesday, saying only that he was talking with a few parties, as is customary at this stage in the season. He was cautious on suggestions of going to a satellite Honda squad – the Italian media have been linking him with a bike at Gresini – pointing out that what was important was the bike, not the team. His aim was the Factory Yamaha seat, on this, Dovizioso was clear, but reading between the lines of his answers to the questions put to him about next year, then only a firm commitment of a factory bike and factory support would tempt him to Gresini and away from a satellite Yamaha. This bike, he said, gives him his best chance of performing.

Dovizioso faces some stiff competition for the Factory Yamaha seat – MotoGP’s hot seat for 2013 – from some big name riders. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Cal Crutchlow is hoping for a factory ride, and if he does not get one from Yamaha, then the 7-figure offer he has received from Ducati will tempt him away. He believes he deserves to make the step from satellite to factory equipment, Crutchlow said, as winning on a satellite bike was nigh-on impossible. “I came to MotoGP with ambitions of being World Champion,” Crutchlow said, “but you’re not going to win on a privateer bike.” A factory bike was a prerequisite, Crutchlow kept repeating, and Ducati were hard at work trying to make the bike competitive. Next year’s bike, Crutchlow affirmed, will be much better than this year’s bike. The problem is, the same is true of the Honda and Yamaha.

Valentino Rossi is now the key player in MotoGP’s silly season, and he waved away comments from Carmelo Ezpeleta about being on a competitive bike in 2013. As far as he was concerned, Rossi said, that bike would be the Ducati, which by then should well be competitive. Work continues apace, but progress is slow, and for every step that Ducati makes, Honda and Yamaha make one that is bigger. The mountain they have to climb just does not seem to ever get any smaller. The new engine expected for Laguna may be a small help, but the changes to that engine are only minor, aimed at improving engine response and making the power delivery less aggressive. Rumors of an altered engine angle were just that, rumors, Vitto Guareschi told Italian website GPOne.com. The engine was the same, but with altered internals to improve power delivery. From the outside, he told me at Silverstone, the engine will look identical.

On Friday, the Grand Prix Commission is set to meet, ostensibly to seal the future rules which will govern the series from 2014 onwards. So far, though, the major changes – a rev limit and a spec ECU – do not look like being settled here. The rule package for 2013 will be more or less the same as the 2012 rules, though the Rookie Rule will be officially dropped. But the proposals for one bike per rider and the ban on carbon disks look like being rejected. The one bike rule was never a serious proposal, more a symbol of good will on the manufacturers. But despite having proposed it, they secretly opposed it, working behind the scenes to get it dropped. The cost of carbon disks looks like to be contained by Brembo, and with the one bike rule dropped, the need to switch from carbon to steel has disappeared.

All this, however, is just small beer. The really big stuff – the rev limit and the spec ECU – will not after all be decided here, the decisions being kicked down the road for further consideration. That they will happen is not in doubt; that they will have a profound impact on the current manufacturers is also not in question. The real question is when will the rule changes be introduced? As early as 2014, as Dorna and IRTA want? Or 2015 at the very earliest, as the manufacturers would like to see? That is a question that might take some time to answer. Friday is too early to say.

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. Jonathan says:

    Saturday spills in difficult conditions at Silverstone notwithstanding, I think that this year’s tyres are a lot more predictable from out of the warmers to the ineveitable degradation so I think that worrying about freak crashes in the first few laps (and the effect on the rest of the season) is less of an issue for the quick guys this year. Regarding the latter part of races I think that there will be a lot of cagey “wait to see what the other guy does and hope there’s a little left in the tank” tactics. The chatter must be a big worry for Honda, but at least the whole pack don’t have to worry about ending up in the gravel on a tyre that refuses to warm up.

    Last week I rated Cal as “Hardest Man On The Planet”. If he’s chasing a Duke ride with aspirations of becoming world champ I’ll either have to uprate him to “Hardest Being In The Universe”, or downgrade his status to “Fast, But Hopeless Optimist”. Time will tell. :)

  2. I’m really, really curious as to what will become of Cal Crutchlow, Vale and Nicky. I have a really hard time imagining who’ll wind up where! I’d love to see Cal on a factory bike, but I have my doubts as to whether the Ducati is better than a 2nd-tier Tech3 Yamaha. I guess we’ll know better next year.

  3. Jonathan says:

    @ Trane: it’s intriguing, isn’t it? And I’m the guy that always resists the lure of the silly season gossip… Ducati are such an enigma: Do they (if gossip is to be believed) eschew rider input and build the bike their way? Or has Valentino really lost his development mojo? If so, can Nicky pick up the pieces – and will Duke focus all their effort on him? (I really like Hayden and want to see him charging hard again). And what will Audi make of it all, I wonder?

    I’m with you on the Tech3 thing. Not just a great bike, but a supremely focussed and effective team effort – it would take a very confident performer to walk away from them.

  4. Mr. X says:

    Would Ducati really ditch their best big market pitch man after so few have ridden that bike as well? The US market is Ducati’s most important; the Euro economy is tanking…have you seen the Nicky autograph line at a USGP? The business equation: Nicky to sell bikes, but who to win races?

  5. @Jonathan: “I’m with you on the Tech3 thing. Not just a great bike, but a supremely focussed and effective team effort – it would take a very confident performer to walk away from them.”

    Not to mention that Hervé Poncharal has always been one of my favourite team owners. I like seeing him getting tied up with good talent, and this year with Dovi and Cal is a winner.

  6. MikeD says:

    Man, there’s SO MUCH BULL MANURE flying in MotoGP that it makes my head hurt.

    All this BULL Shiznit makes u wonder………WHY IN THE HELL did they ever moved away from the original FORMAT 500cc 2smokes if only all this DRAMA and B.S was going to be the outcome, maybe THE END of the series as we know it now ?

    So much CRAP just waiting to hit a fan.

  7. MikeD says:

    P.S: Loving the Carbon Brake Photo (^_^).

  8. Anti says:

    Ducati possibly don’t have the money to run a competitive bike, crap they just had to sell the company, and they are waiting for Audi dancing dollars (and they will add performance pressure (just look at the Euro situation right now)) to build a “winning” bike. That’s why Hayden wants to stay and possibly Rossi…