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.

Rumor: OEM Entering Electric Racing This Season

02/14/2011 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Rumor: OEM Entering Electric Racing This Season infineon blur 635x424

There’s a quiet rumor going on in the electric racing circles that a major OEM of internal combustion motorcycles is poised to enter one of the electric racing series this season. Which manufacturer and which series is not being openly discussed, but judging from whom is talking about the possibility, and perhaps more importantly who is not talking about it, our best guess would be a Japanese manufacturer like Honda is at the center of the rumor. Honda has already been caught testing hybrid componentry at the 25hrs of Thunderhill, coincidentally with technology produced by electric motorcycle upstart Mission Motors.

The addition of a company, like Honda, would be an effective kingmaker to the fractured state of the electric racing landscape, and could be the definitive action that sees one series outshine the other(s). Current race teams would surely want to test their mettle against an established brand name, and with an OEM’s presence there surely would be more buzz about the series and the events it holds. There is also of course the added allure of David beating Goliath in such a race, which could appeal to smaller companies who are trying to make a name for themselves.

The issue of what would happen when the OEMs comes out to play has been one of great prognostication in the EV world. Not only would there presence legitimize the space of electric motorcycle racing, but it could facilitate more money and exposure to the sport. In a sport where homegrown efforts have dominated the entries, the addition of an OEM could also help mature the field. We’ll let you decide in the comment section if that’s good or bad for the evolution of electrics. Watch this space for more developments on this rumor.

Comment:

  1. Dan says:

    Good for the biz, bad for the small guys. Especially in typical Honda fashion, they ride in on a multimillion dollar rail of hightech advancement.

  2. I’d love to see Honda enter an EV bike, especially at the TT, where the course itself is still a great test of any street bike. Given the high efficiency of electric motors and the widespread belief that no one has a particular jump in basic battery technology, I don’t see even Honda having an inherent powertrain advantage over much smaller players. (There are marginal advantages to be had with front-wheel KERS, two-speed gearboxes, smarter GPS-based battery management software, etc., but how complex do you want to make your first bike?)

    Where a Honda or BMW would have a big advantage is in chassis dynamics and/or aerodynamics. So far, the smaller ‘EVpreneurs’ are really following conventional sportbike architecture (or actually building on conventional rolling chassis) because they can’t afford to create a new vehicle from scratch. So basing your geometry on an existing ICE solution is the devil you know.

    I believe that, if EV bikes are going to weigh over 100 pounds more than ICE bikes (as they will for the foreseeable future) a ‘blank page’ chassis solution could look a lot different than a conventional sport bike. I think a long, low, fully-enclosed solution (think some devil love child of a Gurney alligator and a late ’30s dustbin roadracer) would reduce drag, minimize the inherent problems of monowheeling under braking or acceleration, and make front wheel KERS – perhaps in the context of a 2WD system easier to execute.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘conventional’ sportbikes. I’m just not really a fan of conventional thinking.

  3. We hope that the rumor is true. Having one of the big 4 OEMs compete in electric motorcycle racing will raise the bar and speed the development of all electric motorcycles. We look forward to competing!

    Richard Hatfield
    Lightning Motorcycles

  4. Tom says:

    Richard, I hope that you forward to competing more than did Tucker or DeLorean.

  5. Dr. Gellar says:

    If this turns out to be true, it’ll be very exciting. For a while now, I’ve been thinking about how cool it would be to see an electric MotoGP (or equivalent series) racer produced by one of the big manufacturers in the not-so-distant future (I always pictured Yamaha for some reason, but Honda works just the same). Honda entering the fray will certainly raise the bar in electric motorcycle racing in general, and force the current main players to up their game. That’s a win-situation for pretty much everyone.

    Hopefully the machine will be something just as top-notch as their MotoGP machines, only powered by an electric motor instead of an ICE.

    At the same time I am excited by Honda or another OEM potentially racing an electric motorcycle, I hope the teams like MotoCzysz, Lightning and Brammo can show them that the small guys can make a bike every bit as innovative and competitive as theirs, if not better.

  6. Tim Stevens says:

    Hoping this rumor about OEMs getting into electric bike racing is true. It's about time one of them dipped in a toe http://bit.ly/fcWHEP

  7. Westward says:

    YEAH … WHAT THEY SAID…

  8. Mike L. says:

    Here we go.

  9. BenFaster says:

    Its time – come on lets make the switch ;)

  10. Adrian says:

    I am fairly sure this rumour started life when Paul Phillips the TT and Motorsport Development Manager for the Isle of Man government included the following paragraph in a letter he sent to teams on January 12th 2011

    “To assist with your expectations, we are expecting a starting grid in the region of 25 machines, potentially including one of the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers up against the best the EV specialist the world has to offer, not to mention the University teams who this year are competing for a special cash prize. The Department has created a new ‘University Prize’ of £5,000, which will be awarded to the fastest University or College team as part of the 2011 Race. “