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 Valencia: Of the Futility of Chasing the Weather, & Fast Debuts

11/14/2012 @ 6:44 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Wednesday Summary at Valencia: Of the Futility of Chasing the Weather, & Fast Debuts Marc Marquez HRC MotoGP Valencia Test 635x421

Tuesday afternoon at Valencia saw groups of people huddled together up and down the paddock discussing what to do. With the weather having made the first day of testing difficult, and much, much worse forecast for Wednesday – half an inch or more of rain was forecast to fall during the seven hours of the test on Wednesday – several teams contemplated the prospect of packing up and heading elsewhere in search of a dry track.

In the end only Yamaha decided to go, heading off to Aragon, one of their nominated test tracks. In their wake, a string of journalists followed, hoping to get more of an idea of just how fast Valentino Rossi still is after his misadventure with Ducati, by being able to compare his times with those of Jorge Lorenzo’s. It turned out to be a waste of time. The rain fell in Aragon, Valentino Rossi did a single lap – out, and then straight back into the pits – and Jorge Lorenzo posted nine laps in the wet before crashing, and walking away unhurt.

Meanwhile in Valencia, those left behind woke to clear skies and sunshine. The track was still soaking from the overnight rain, and occasional clouds dropped the odd light shower on the track, but slowly the surface started to improve, aided by the small group of riders circulating and helping to dry the track. It seemed to take forever, though, the asphalt staying wet for such a long time that some people, including journalists and a couple of teams, gave up and headed home, deciding that there would be no more action at the track.

They were wrong. The forecasted rain never fell, and the track slowly started drying out, allowing more and more riders to take to the track. Conditions were never ideal – the area in Turn 1 was particularly bad, with damp patches stubbornly refusing to dry up – but they were good enough for everyone still at the circuit to go out and post some serious laps.

That included this year’s rookies, the crowd of photographers outside the Repsol Honda garage finally getting the other shot they had been waiting for the past two days, adding Marc Marquez leaving the garage to the shots of Rossi’s first ride out on the Yamaha.

It was worth the wait. Marquez rolled out late, but built speed slowly, dropping a couple of tenths off his time every time he crossed the line. In his first run of six laps, he progressed from looking a little awkward and stiff, missing a shift coming out of the final corner on his second lap, to looking comfortable. At the end of the day – just twenty seven laps in total, on his first outing on the bike – Marquez looked like he had never ridden anything else, in total control of the machine.

The Spaniard ended the day as 7th fastest, just over a second behind the fastest man, his new teammate Dani Pedrosa. An impressive debut, but given the short period of time he had on the bike and the difficulty of the conditions, it is hard to place his results into any context. He did everything that was expected of him, and he built the speed that was needed, and above all, he had enjoyed himself.

When asked what his first reaction was to riding the Honda, Marquez replied “My first reaction was a smile!” After his difficult first run – he had got off the bike “destroyed” he said, stiff from being cramped on the bike – he soon loosened up, trying to alter his style to adapt to a MotoGP bike. The hardest part had been learning to brake deep into the corner while turning the bike, working the front tire to get temperature in to it.

The horsepower had been impressive, Marquez said, the bike wanting to wheelie everywhere, the Spaniard struggling to keep the front wheel on the ground. The biggest difference he had found with the Moto2 bike was getting drive out of the corners: he was having to stand the bike up a lot earlier, using less lean angle than he was used to, as the electronics cut in a lot earlier when the bike was banked over. Electronics, Marquez emphasized, were a bad thing: they cut power you could be using to your advantage, and made you go slower. Casey Stoner’s bike could not be in better hands.

Marquez’ new rivals were impressed by his debut, despite having only a few laps to judge him by. When asked what he thought of Marquez’ first laps on the Honda, Nicky Hayden joked that he felt Marquez had moved up too early. “He could have spent another year in Moto2. Maybe two,” the American quipped.

Cal Crutchlow reiterated his belief in Marquez’ extraordinary talent. “I think he’s probably the best rider in the world at the moment,” Crutchlow said. “I don’t think he’s going to challenge Lorenzo and Pedrosa for the title next year, but he’ll give them a hard time now and again. He’s special, no doubt about that.”

The debut of Marquez rather overshadowed Bradley Smith’s first laps on the Yamaha M1. After stalking around the pits in his leathers on Tuesday, desperate to ride, but his team preventing him, the Tech 3 team finally unleashed him on a set of wet tires on Wednesday. Smith also adapted well, though his times were not in the same league as Marquez’. The power was more linear than he had expected, 250 horsepower coming in much more smoothly than he had expected.

Even the Bridgestone tires had been easy to learn, Smith said, quipping that as he had not had that much feeling from the front end of his Moto2 bike, the lack of feedback from the Bridgestones did not represent a problem. Comparing Smith’s gap to the leader to the gap which Stefan Bradl had on his first ride of a MotoGP bike at Valencia in 2011, or Cal Crutchlow’s in 2010, and the difference is pretty similar. All three men were around 2.2 seconds off the fastest man, putting Smith roughly on course for a decent debut.

The other rookie making his debut was Andrea Iannone, the flamboyant Italian taking to the track in the Pramac Ducati junior team. Iannone was fast from the start, riding in mixed conditions, and ending half a second behind Marquez, and some nine tenths off the time of Nicky Hayden.

Iannone has the advantage of having previous experience on the Ducati, having tested earlier in the season at Mugello. The biggest hurdle he felt he faced was the electronics, and all the options which he had at his disposal. With some dry track time at Jerez, Iannone should be able to get a better idea of his potential for next season.

Iannone was slower than Michele Pirro, Pirro having been contracted as Ducati’s new test rider. He posted impressive times at the test, putting in a lot of laps in different conditions, getting up to speed quickly on the bike. Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi pronounced himself pleased with Pirro’s times, adding that this was part of Ducati’s wider plan. They now had two test riders for two different objectives, Franco Battaini there for grinding out the miles and testing reliability, while Pirro was fast enough to stress components and do a preselection of parts to be handed over to the factory riders.

The hiring of Pirro was one of what Preziosi called one of the ‘details’ of Ducati’s new approach in 2013. Though he did not comment on recent reports of him being replaced, Preziosi did explain that restructuring was going on inside Ducati, to take advantage of the resources now available to them via their new owners Audi. But Preziosi has reportedly been taking part in meetings discussing both the 2012 season and the plans for the 2013 season, making it seem probable that he will not be replaced after all.

This would be positive, as there seem to be signs of progress from Ducati. Nicky Hayden tried a new chassis with a revised stiffness that helped the bike turn. Testing at Valencia had been good because the lack of bumps made it easier to eliminate one of the weakness of the bike, but if Ducati arrive at a bumpy track, there is no guarantee that improved turning will still be there, Hayden told reporters.

Andrea Dovizioso had been happy to end the test just a few tenths behind Nicky Hayden, he said at the end of the day. The bike had been good in the dry, and had impressed Dovizioso with its acceleration, and there was still room for improvement. Dovizioso was convinced that there was plenty more to come once he arrived at a dry track and could spend some time working on set up. There have been previous riders at Ducati who have thought the same thing, though, so only once Dovizioso has actually had a couple of days in the dry will he know for sure.

The fastest man in the test had not had much to do, Dani Pedrosa told reporters. Pedrosa had worked mainly on the three kilograms extra which the MotoGP bikes are to carry from next season. The four kilos extra which had been added for 2012 had caused Pedrosa a good deal of bother in the early part of the 2012 season, as his team looked for the best location to place the extra weight. So Pedrosa and his team had worked mainly on the next weight increase, especially important to get a head start on 2013.

Whether the work they put in had any value or not was uncertain, however. Pedrosa explained that one of the challenges the team faced was that Dorna changed the camera packages fitted to the bikes every year, affecting the weight balance of the bike as well. Cameras, battery packs and wiring saw weight distributed at various points on the bike, leaving Honda to take that into account when they added weight to bring the bike up from 157kg to 160kg for 2013. Until the final camera package was known, adding a balance package would be complicated.

But Pedrosa ends 2012 with a win and as the fastest man in the last group test of the year, before the factories head off to their nominated test tracks for further testing. Pedrosa himself was philosophical about going out on top, however. “It is always good to be in front,” Pedrosa said, “but the most important thing is to know what you need for next year.” On the evidence of the last half of 2012, and with the arrival of Marc Marquez, Honda may already have everything they need.

Photo: HRC

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. pooch says:

    MM looks a lot like Stoner in that pic… hanging right off the bike. A worthy replacement for one of the fastest men of all time.

  2. Sixty7 says:

    He maybe be fast on his own……but lets just wait til he rides in a group on race day……lets also hope he don’t torpedo anyone…..

  3. MikeD says:

    Soooo……..when are we getting another taste of things to come ? Hopefully on the dry.

    I don’t care for Marquez, i can’t wait to see Dovi, Spies and the other young blood trying to tame that FRIGGIN Desmo, pull it’s hair and smack it’s ass…LMAO.

  4. MikeD says:

    OH SHOOT, forgot about old man Rossi……………can’t wait to see him give the other hell again.
    Not even a fan of him……….i just want more variety on the front and podium.

  5. “He maybe be fast on his own……but lets just wait til he rides in a group on race day……”

    Judging by Motegi and Valencia this season, Marquez doesn’t so much ride _in_ a group as passes through it as a hot knife through butter. Honda must be giggling to themselves at the luck of replacing Stoner with Marquez. I agree with Mr. Emmett’s statement of the bike being in the best possible hands. I hope that, just as Stoner did, Marquez keeps the electronics dialed back and he unleashes his beast. God help the tires.

  6. Halfie 30 says:

    2013 should be a good year… Should be…