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.

2013 WSBK Calendar Shake Up: Istanbul To Replace Silverstone, TBA Round To Be Scrapped?

02/22/2013 @ 12:11 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

2013 WSBK Calendar Shake Up: Istanbul To Replace Silverstone, TBA Round To Be Scrapped? silverstone gravel trap wsbk 635x423

Despite the fact that the World Superbike series kicks off on Sunday, the provisional calendar is still very much in a state of flux. Rumors emanating from the WSBK paddock, gathered at Phillip Island for the 2013 season opener, suggest that major changes could stilll take place to the calendar.

The biggest change is that the UK round, set for Silverstone on 4th August, could be dropped altogether, and replaced with a round in Turkey, at the spectacular Istanbul Park Circuit in mid-September.

The rumors, reported by German-language website Speedweek, and confirmed by other WSBK sources, state that Silverstone is to be dropped because the circuit cannot afford to pay the sanctioning fee previously agreed with Infront, and now being demanded by Dorna.

Crowd numbers at Silverstone for World Superbikes were always low, in part because the flat nature of the circuit made viewing difficult, and in part due to relatively high ticket prices, which meant that ticket sales did not generate sufficient revenue to cover the circuit’s costs.

The round scheduled for Silverstone could now take place at Istanbul Park in Turkey. The circuit, once run by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, is under new management since Ecclestone withdrew at the end of last year, and is in need of events to host at the $200 million dollar facility.

While the new management is negotiating with Ecclestone over a return of Formula One, adding a World Superbikes round would be logical, given that Turkey has a reigning champion in the World Supersport class in Kenan Sofuoglu, and a candidate to repeat in 2013. Acording to Speedweek, the Turkish round of WSBK could be held on 15th September.

The rest of the calendar is also far from finalized. The round scheduled for 23rd June and marked as “to be announced” is now certain to be dropped, with the Brno circuit already having confirmed that they will not host a round of the series.

Both Imola and Portimao are still marked as being subject to contract, and given the economic situation in both Italy and Portugal, still under severe doubt. The Portimao circuit continues to teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, while doubts remain over the future of Imola.

The disappearance of Silverstone reduces the Superstock season – run at European rounds only, to keep the series cheap – to just 8 races. With both Superstock 1000 and 600 classes set to be scrapped for 2014, several riders and teams are taking a look at the rival series being set up in Central Europe, and based around the Brno circuit.

The problems at Silverstone highlight a key concern at the center of the business of hosting motorcycle racing. Crowd attendances at motorcycle racing have been historically good, and as tobacco advertising was still allowed at motor sport events, the circuits had extra ways of generating revenues.

But a combination of the ending of the loophole which allowed tobacco sponsorship, the decline in attendance as the sport became more clinical and professional, and the global economic collapse in 2008 meant that circuits started to struggle to pay the sanctioning fees charged by both Dorna and Infront (or FGSport, as it was then called) to organize MotoGP and World Superbike rounds.

The iconic WSBK round at Brands Hatch was one of the first casualties, the circuit being dropped from the WSBK calendar in 2009, after a dispute between the Flamminis and the MSVR, who run the circuit, over the level of fees to be charged.

The situation has grown worse since then. Several circuits, both on the WSBK and MotoGP calendars, continue to complain of the cost of hosting rounds, with several rounds under threat as a result. The Sachsenring circuit has struggled to pay the sanctioning fee for the German round of MotoGP for several years now, and is subject to constant negotiation with local government over subsidies.

Despite its history and the existence of a contract, the Jerez round of MotoGP has been in doubt for the past three years. Even the iconic Assen circuit has struggled to pay the fee required by Dorna, and is looking at ways of increasing crowds and building revenues again.

The problem is very much a chicken-and-egg situation: to recoup the sanctioning fees, the circuits need to set ticket pricing at an uncomfortably high level. But those higher prices are keeping some fans away, who simply cannot afford it. Finding the right balance between ticket prices and attendance number is extremely complex, and not entirely under the control of the circuits.

That the demand for racing is there is certain: at the Estoril round of MotoGP last year, the circuit – knowing it would be losing MotoGP – set its prices at extremely low levels – between 2 and 20 euros, in comparison to 90 euros and upwards for most other circuits. They filled the circuit, something which had not happened for many years at Estoril, which has traditionally had poor attendance. However, the revenues generated with such a low ticket price are simply not enough to cover costs.

Getting out of this precarious situation will be difficult. For Dorna, the way forward may not lie in continually raising sanctioning fees for both motorcycle racing series. Instead, they may have to try and capitalize on the intangible assets, raising income from sponsors by selling higher crowd attendances, and generating higher crowd attendances by lowering ticket prices.

But with Dorna under pressure from their owners, Bridgepoint and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, to generate income to pay off the loans which the private equity firm has burdened it with, the Spanish company has little room to maneuver.

Source: Speedweek; Photo: WorldSBK

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

Comment:

  1. Kevin says:

    I’ve never understood the “Circus” like business model of racing. You can’t charge the rates being charged in the current economic climate to try and recoup a bad business decision in a false economic climate like what we just came out of. It’s like trying to sell a house at market rates pre market collapse in a depressed market. The house will never sell and so goes it with Dorna and Bridgepoint.

    IMHO, the Canadian Pension fund should never have issued loans to a private equity to fund Dorna. The pensioners are surely going to loose on that one. This is a lesson of “stick to what you know” and Bridgepoint clearly didn’t have the necessary background or experience on their board to know how to run Dorna themselves. If you have no knowledge to do something yourself you have no ability to supervise someone who says they can. This is simple stuff and where failure happens. In good times Bridgepoint had plenty of money to “play with” and now that they have to actually earn it they find themselves in a bind. This is a repeated theme in business especially private equity when ego exceeds ability or reality.

  2. paulus - Thailand says:

    Shareholder capital…. Money, profits, year on year increases.

    Sanctioning fees are killing racing.
    TV rights, sponsorship, attendance… all ever increasing costs.
    Money is the goal. This is so wrong.

  3. Will says:

    I’d love to see Melandri pull off a win at Istanbul, giving another peace sign while sliding towards the finish line!