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.

Why the MotoGP Weight Limit Was Changed

03/07/2012 @ 11:16 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

Why the MotoGP Weight Limit Was Changed Ducati Corse GP11 MotoGP Scott Jones

The weight increase in the MotoGP class introduced for 2012 – from 153kg, as originally agreed when the 2012 regulations were drawn up back in August 2010, to 157kg – has had many repercussions. The addition of 4kg to the 1000cc MotoGP machines has been blamed for causing the chatter that Honda’s RC213V suffers from, and for complicating the pursuit of the ideal weight distribution for both Honda and Yamaha, which the two Japanese factories had spent most of 2011 perfecting ahead of the 2012 MotoGP season.

The decision was taken in a Grand Prix Commission meeting held on December 14th of 2011 in Madrid, and though it drew little comment at the time, once the MotoGP paddock reassembled at Sepang for the first test of the year, some intriguing details started to appear. Crash.net’s Peter McLaren has an excellent reconstruction of the decision process, from which it is clear that the path to adoption the proposal faced was far more complex than usual. It also reveals some of the underlying tensions in both the Grand Prix Commission and the MSMA which will go on to play a major role in the rule-making process for 2013 and beyond.

When the weight increase was first announced, the finger of suspicion was immediately pointed at Ducati. The switch from the carbon fiber (and then aluminium) subframe design using the engine as a stressed member to a full aluminium twin spar chassis design has increased the weight of the Ducati GP12; to get an idea of the significance of the switch, the Ducati Panigale – which dropped the steel trellis frame used by the 1198 for a subframe design based on the GP11 MotoGP bike – lost some 5kg in weight, just because of the minimalist chassis design. Ducati’s detractors claimed that the weight increase was made to benefit the Ducati, as they would not have to search for areas to cut the weight gained by the move to a full twin spar frame.

The reality is rather more prosaic: the weight increase was proposed by Dorna to keep costs down for the Claiming Rule Teams. The initial proposal – 160kg – is 5kg less than the minimum weight in World Superbikes, and given that carbon fiber bodywork is banned in WSBK, building a bike around a production-based engine down to that minimum weight could be achieved without spending vast amounts of money in pursuit of the last few grams of weight loss. Even at 157kg, the CRT machines can get close to the minimum weight limit without breaking the bank, keeping their disadvantage with respect to the factory prototypes – already large, as the factory prototypes are designed for the race track from the ground up, have the most sophisticated electronics, and, in the case of the factory teams, by far the best riders – can be kept to a minimum.

That does not necessarily mean that Ducati had nothing to do with the decision. As McLaren reports on Crash.net, Carmelo Ezpeleta revealed that the weight increase had been proposed at the Valencia meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, held on November 5th. That proposal had been vetoed by the manufacturers assocation, the MSMA, as they have the right to do for all technical regulations under the contract which Dorna had with the MSMA from 2002 until December 31st 2011. However, that right of veto only applies when the MSMA make a unanimous decision on a proposal, with all of the MotoGP manufacturers agreeing. At Valencia, MSMA representative Takanao Tsubouchi told the Grand Prix Commission that opposition to the weight increase was unanimous among MSMA members, but at some time between November and mid-December, the other members of the GPC learned that the decision had not been been unanimous, but that the votes had gone 2-1 against the proposal.

Given that both Yamaha and Honda are now complaining about the weight increase – see, for example, this story by Matt Birt of MCN - the identity of the dissenting opinion is easy to guess. At Madrid, the GPC formally asked for the minutes of the MSMA meeting, where they learned that the proposal had not been rejected unanimously, meaning that the MSMA veto of the weight increase was not valid. The weight increase proposal was reintroduced, and as a compromise, it was phased in over two years, with the minimum weight bumped to 157kg for 2012, rising to 160kg for 2013.

So how did the other GPC members find out about the discrepancy between Tsubouchi-san’s report at Valencia and the actual events at the MSMA meeting? As the minutes of MSMA meetings are not public, one of the three MSMA members must have made it apparent to the GPC members that they might find something interesting in the MSMA minutes. There is no evidence to link any of the individual MSMA members to such a leak, but logic would suggest that the dissenting MSMA member has the most to gain by making the erroneous reports by the MSMA’s representative public.

What follows is based on rumor and hearsay, and off-the-record comments from sources close to the parties involved, and should therefore be regarded with a healthy dose of scepticism. But reconstructing the chain of decisions and events provides some insight into the future of MotoGP, and the future the rules are likely to take, and if nothing else, makes for an interesting intellectual exercise. The assumptions, conjecture and conclusions are entirely my own, and impossible to verify, at least publicly and on the record.

The dissenting opinion in the MSMA meeting was almost certainly Ducati, as the Bologna factory had the least to lose. Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi was about to embark on a massive project to redesign the Ducati GP12, based in part on the data collected by Valentino Rossi at the Valencia test. Building a heavier bike is always cheaper than building a lighter bike, and with plenty of work ahead of them, Ducati are unlikely to have been opposed to increasing the minimum weight for the class, giving them one less factor to worry about.

Once the GP commission rejected Dorna’s proposal to increase the minimum weight, Ducati would quickly have learned the reason for that rejection. The Italian factory has long been outnumbered and outgunned in the MSMA, but as Japanese manufacturers have dropped out of the series – ironically, as a direct result of the increased cost of competition caused by the rule changes imposed by the MSMA – the balance of power inside the MSMA has shifted dramatically. Where once Ducati faced a collective block of four other factories, now just the two Japanese manufacturers remain. After being forced to accept a number of decisions that they were less than happy with – the switch to 800cc was one of them – Ducati is now able to put up a stiffer resistance to Honda and Yamaha. Where previously, Ducati would have acquiesced to majority opinion, now, they are more determined to protect their own agenda.

And Ducati have a bone or two to pick with the Japanese manufacturers. In the run up to the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, Ducati looked like they might pull out of the race due to fears over radiation. Though most of those fears were allayed by the independent report commissioned by Dorna, there was also intense pressure on Ducati from the Japanese factories to attend the race. Unsubstantiated paddock rumor has it that Ducati was given to understand that if they decided against racing at Motegi, that might influence the way their proposals to the MSMA were viewed by the Japanese members. If they were to race at Motegi, the rumors suggest, then their proposals would be regarded in a much more positive light.

The lifting of the testing restrictions was seen in part as the Japanese factories making good on their promise to Ducati after the Bologna factory dropped their opposition to the Motegi race. The decision – common sense, given that testing was taking place anyway, only less effectively, using separate testing teams rather than the factory riders sitting at home being paid not to ride – was accepted with much complaint by the Japanese factories, HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto pointing out to me at Valencia that the decision benefited factories based in Europe, who had riders and race tracks close by, rather than Japanese factories, who would have to either fly bikes, parts and technicians to Europe, or riders and crew to Japan.

Once Ducati discovered that the MSMA had misrepresented the outcome of the meeting on Dorna’s weight increase proposal, they may have feared a return to the bad old days, where the Japanese factories would decide the MSMA’s response and steamroller the wishes of the Italian factory. Ducati may have believed they would benefit from a weight increase, but they cannot have been unaware of the importance of establishing their role in the MSMA.

But the decision also hints at the approach Dorna is to take to rule making for the 2013 MotoGP season. A meeting of the Grand Prix Commission is planned at the Jerez IRTA tests, with a view to thrashing out a set of rules for adoption in May. Dorna is proposing the imposition of a spec ECU and a maximum rev limit – probably in the region of 15,000 rpm – on the MotoGP class, to allow the CRT machines to be competitive and to drastically lower the barriers to entry for new manufacturers wishing to join the series. The factories are fiercely opposed to both these measures, and intend to reject the proposals.

The problem is that Dorna has not (yet) signed a new collective contract with the MSMA renewing their monopoly over the technical regulations. The old contract expired on December 31st, and no new contract has been signed, leaving all proposals to the Grand Prix Commission to be decided by a simple majority, or deferred to the Permanent Bureau, in which only the FIM and Dorna have a seat. If the MSMA do not come up with proposals which, in the view of Dorna, and especially their Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli, will not serve to drastically cut costs, especially the cost of leasing a MotoGP machine, then Dorna will push through its own proposals, leaving the factories to either accept them or leave. Given that neither Honda, Yamaha nor Ducati have any factory representation in the World Superbike series – and even if they do, they face an even harsher rule-making climate than in MotoGP – pulling out of MotoGP would be the very last resort. The factories know that even with identical bikes, only they can afford riders such as Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, and crew chiefs such as Jerry Burgess, Cristian Gabbarini and Ramon Forcada, who make the difference between winning and losing. Whatever the rules, Honda knows that their only real competition comes from Yamaha and Ducati, and the riders they can contract.

By forcing through the weight increase – especially after also forcing through the issue of front brake lever protectors and rear lights for use in the rain – Dorna is making clear to the MSMA that the rules of the game have changed, and that they now have the reins firmly in their grasp. The MSMA will either have to submit acceptable counter-proposals or start to lease satellite bikes for around a million euros per season, rather than the 2.5 to 4.5 million they currently cost. Either way, the real winner is MotoGP: the aim of the 2013 rule package is to limit the cost of the (satellite and CRT) bikes to a million euros, so that more teams can afford to take part. Neither a satellite bike nor a CRT bike is ever likely to win a MotoGP race – barring exceptional circumstances, such as the weather or a series of crashes – but if they are affordable enough for the stronger racing teams, and can at least be competitive enough to appease their sponsors, the future of the series should be assured.

Source: MCN, Crash.net, & CycleWorld; Photo: © 2011 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. Why the MotoGP Weight Limit Was Changed – http://t.co/ZRU6ZWxw #motorcycle

  2. irksome says:

    The key phrase here is “miscommunicated the outcome of the meeting”. Seems like everything else is Dorna’s attempting to level the field for CRT teams.

  3. Adam says:

    All of this weight thing doesn’t add up (in my eyes), how does an additional 9 lbs (4kg) create chater? I refer to the movie the doctor, the tornado and Kentucky kid the riders talk about it at one point and they don’t say weight is the problem…. I googled how much a liter of fuel weighs and surprisingly 1 liter of fuel weighs 0.7 kg, * 21L = 14.7kg of weight that reduces over the length of a race, so do they not experience chatter at the start of a race, dose a rider like Ben who is noticeably heavier then Jorge not experience chatter. And what about Dani? how is it that he is getting it as well as Casey? hes just a little guy. Are Ducati experiencing it as well? I think I read somewhere that they are…. so what could really be causing this? new tires?….

    As for rule changes, do what needs to be done so we can all watch races like Moto2 were there are many battles through out the race. If I wanted to watch time triles I would watch the TT but this is racing! the most exciting race I watch last year? the final AMA superbike round! now that is racing.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Isn’t all this political nonsense just re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic?

    I don’t really see that forcing manufacturers to lease satellite bikes at bargain-basement prices will do anything except downgrade the spec of those bikes. Spectators and sponsors want competitive racing, not a grid three-quarters full of mobile chicanes. As for forcing a spec. ECU, or a low rev limit: the factory teams will spend a fortune developing solutions and the rest of the field will still lag behind. That’s how racing in the blue riband class works.

    No, I don’t have any answers! However, I don’t think that imposing the same tyres on everyone helps encourage the sort of “out of the box” innovation that small, independent teams can excel at. I don’t feel that a fuel imit does anything but push up cost, either.

  5. Jon says:

    So by 2013, MotoGP will likely be 160kg minimum weight, control ECU, and 15,000rpm restricted, and fielding half a grid of bikes running modified superbike engines. Seeing as WSBK minimum is 165kg and the class will probably move to stock or control ECUs – what’s going to keep motoGP elevated as the ‘premier class’?

    I was under the impression the current 800s and everything before them were a ‘different animal’ to any bike mortals could comprehend, hence a long list of superbike riders who never prevailed in motoGP.

    With a 5kg weight difference, and hardly astronomical power difference, what’s left to separate? 16 vs 17 inch wheels?

  6. Jonathan says:

    I’m with you Jon – a “race to the bottom” with hamstrung bikes will destroy the premier class in the long run. It seems that one change that’s not up for discussion is the removal of electronic rider aids – but only because it’s a way of marketing them for road bikes. Developing the electronics is a huge cost for the racing teams, but the end product is a great way to milk the bike-buying public. The trouble is that the only people who benefit are the manufacturers. If you run a satellite team it just puts the price of the lease up and if you’re a crt team the development work you do is likely worth nothing to you (unless by some stroke of luck you happen to be in the business of developing rider aids)…

  7. Alex says:

    2012 is becoming 2002. Moving forward, there will be no incentive to spend tens of millions of dollars on prototyping when you can compete on a CRT bike.