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.

The Spies Enigma: Where Will Ben Spies Be Racing in 2013?

09/04/2012 @ 9:07 am, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

The Spies Enigma: Where Will Ben Spies Be Racing in 2013? Indianapolis GP Friday Jules Cisek 07 635x423

To say that Ben Spies has caused a few surprises in 2012 is one of the larger understatements of the year. Sadly for the Texan, though, those surprises have not come in the form of podiums and race wins, as he himself may have hoped. Rather the opposite, and often through no fault of his own, Spies’ 2012 season has been dogged by bad luck, unusual mechanical failures, and mistakes.

The surprises reached their apogee the week before the Red Bull US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, when Spies announced he would be leaving Yamaha at the end of the 2012 season. That he should be leaving Yamaha was unusual enough – the factory Yamaha ride is probably the most desirable seat in the MotoGP paddock, as the M1 has proven to be the most competitive bike this season – but his choice of media was extraordinary: a post on his Twitter feed, followed by a more conventional (if unusually timed) phone call to Superbikeplanet to explain his decision in a little more detail.

Since that stunning revelation, Spies has stayed almost silent. He has continually played down rumors about where he could be headed for next season, leaving much room for speculation, conjecture and rumor, some reliable, others much less so. So where will Ben Spies be racing in 2013? MotoGP, World Superbikes, or will he even be racing at all?

To answer the last question first, the Texan is almost certain to be racing somewhere – with one small caveat. Early reports suggested Spies was thinking of retiring, but the American was quick to quash such thoughts. The first reports to emerge from outside the Spies camp linked him to a ride in World Superbikes with the BMW Italia team, who will be running BMW’s factory effort for 2013. Initially, BMW Italia’s team manager Serafino Foti rated the chances of Spies riding for the team at 99%, but by the time the World Superbike paddock alighted in Silverstone, those odds had dropped to “70 to 80%”, Foti told Bikesportnews.com.

At Indianapolis, Spies had left American reporters with the impression that he had had enough of the MotoGP paddock, and wanted out. At Brno, he was much less resolute in his rejection of MotoGP. “There is a possibility [of staying in MotoGP] but it is slim,” Spies said. “For me, World Superbikes is something I am looking at very strongly and now I am looking as some GP offers but I can assure you nothing is done yet.” The key factor would come down to having the right offer: the right support in the right team is what Spies was after. “I don’t want to look back in ten years and say maybe I left too soon but to stay is has to be the right scenario, the right package and that’s what I am working on right now.”

Spies’ change of heart seems to have been brought about by talks with Fausto Gresini, owner of the San Carlo Gresini Honda team. Gresini was rumored to have offered Spies a Honda RC213V with factory support, an offer which Spies acknowledged existed. Then on Monday, rumors started emerging of an offer to Spies from Ducati, of a factory Desmosedici inside the Pramac team alongside Andrea Iannone. Ducati are looking at creating a satellite team with factory support, something similar to the situation that existed at Gresini Honda with Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri in the past. The “Ducati Junior Team”, as the project has been dubbed, would see a team – probably Pramac – run two bikes with factory support and very close to the spec of the bikes used by Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso in the factory team.

But Spies has another option as well, one that would put him in a more difficult situation for 2013, with the promise of a full-factory ride and almost certainly #1 rider status in 2014. Spies has been in talks with Suzuki since Indianapolis over a return to the factory, to help develop the brand new inline four that Suzuki is working on for their return to MotoGP in 2014. Several sources have reported that Suzuki is looking for “a top level rider” to help develop the bike, the problem being that the factory has little to offer for next season.

The initial plan was to have wildcards in 2013, but Suzuki bosses visiting Brno for talks with Dorna about their plans played down any chances of wildcards for next year. That would leave Spies racing a Suzuki in World Superbikes for a season – a tough proposition, for the long-in-the-tooth GSX-R1000 has been far from competitive in WSBK this year – while developing the bike at the same time.

So where will Spies finally end up? Leaving the MotoGP paddock is a risk, as he acknowledged himself at Brno. “Honestly, I think if I left there isn’t much of a possibility I would be coming back, so it’s more looking at the packages we have here now, seeing if it is good enough to fight up front,” Spies told reporters. On the other hand, the rides on offer in World Superbikes would put him in a position to be immediately competitive for the championship. What’s more, if Spies went with either the Suzuki or the BMW WSBK rides, those would be his best chances of making the step back to MotoGP in the near future.

Spies’ problem is that time is starting to run short. The World Superbike grid is slowly but surely filling up, and the last few rides in MotoGP are also being taken. It is looking increasingly likely that Scott Redding will end up on the Gresini Honda, with just the details over sponsorship and funding to be filled in – a much simpler proposition, as the money that Redding would have to find to take the ride is probably a tenth of what Spies would want to race the Gresini Honda – and that is if Spies would be willing to accept using Showa suspension, reported to be a stumbling block for the Texan.

The Ducati Junior team / Pramac satellite squad looks like Ben Spies’ best option for staying in MotoGP for 2013, but as the saga surrounding Cal Crutchlow demonstrated, Ducati takes a long time to make a decision, and when they do, the outcome may be very different from what was expected. At Mugello in July, Ducati boss Alessandro Cicognani told us that he expected to have the Ducati junior team sorted out in two to four weeks: that was now more than six weeks’ ago.

While Spies has stayed silent on his deliberations, the biggest hint that he gave came in a (now deleted) tweet on his Twitter feed, saying he would be going ‘back where I belong’. That would suggest to most that his preference would be Suzuki, a preference supported by other comments the Texan has made. But that is a very big risk indeed, given that is impossible to judge where the Suzuki MotoGP bike stands in terms of competitiveness, as well as what Spies would do to fill in the season without racing.

Whatever Ben Spies decides to do, he will have to make a decision soon. If he does not, then he could find himself in more trouble than he intended. And that would be a waste of a prodigious talent indeed.

Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved

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

Comment:

  1. frod says:

    I’m checking Ben’s twitter feed every day to see where he is going to end up. hoping not Ducati as we all know what is going to happen with his motogp career (long live front end problems and rear tire grip issues) I would say Grenissi is his best option.

  2. smiler says:

    Given the state Suzuki is in. Would have thought they would want Ben Spies. In 15th place in WSB and no MotoGP. Who else are they going to get?
    Spies would work well in WSB for a year, get his confidence back. He has done it and will havbe time for the MotoGP gig as well, ready for 2014.
    Think most people underrate what Ducati or rather Audi via Lambo will do with the GP bike. Audi will not be interested in their flagship bike presence not being competitive. If the link in MotoGP between developement and trickle down into the rest of the bike range is broken then Ducati will be able to make a proper prototype, not one derived and linkes to the rest of its range.

  3. Ken C. says:

    Ben Spies has been my favorite rider for the past few years. He doesn’t seem to let the chaos of the paddock affect him too much. He still keeps his feet on the ground, and has other interests outside of MotoGP. I admire that. However, drawing out this decision is killing me. It’s a great way to keep up the interest in him though. Kudos to his PR team. :P

  4. Brandon says:

    Spies should be smart enough to see Ducati GP isn’t a joke, its a tragedy. Just because Audi wants to win in MotoGP with the Ducati brand doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I’m sure Ducati has wanted to win for a long time, more than anyone, but it hasn’t happened. I figure the existing development team is what is slowing them down. BMW took three years to be competitive in SBK with a good package in place: Ducati is a bad package. Staying the coarse is going to be trouble, starting new will take years to be competitive. Spies should go the BMW route, win another championship, then work to develop the BMW MotGP bike.

  5. Choco says:

    Ben needs to go to Honda Gresini and chase down those blue Yamahas. I’d love to see him finish ahead of Jorge and Rossi from time to time.

  6. Damo says:

    Would love to see him back at Suzuki.

  7. Gutterslob says:

    So it’s either joining Suzuki and taking a year off MotoGP to ride a superbike before coming back with their new MotoGP bike, or joining Ducaudi and riding a Diesel Desmo with all-wheel drive (Twattro?), or riding a Gresini Honda with suspension that’s not Ohlins?

  8. Westward says:

    Ducati has more heart than Suzuki ever had. Plus Audi was serious enough to overpay for Ducati. If either of his options seem more likely to produce a championship in MotoGP I would think it to be going the Ducati route or quit possibly the BMW one…

    Besides, he will have Ohlins suspension, a factory spec bike that is currently able to race around fourth to sixth. Who knows, maybe, just maybe he will toss a leg over that D16 and end up being well suited for it, and be a podium finisher or race winner immediately.

    The desire and determination of Ducati/Audi, for outweighs that of Suzuki or the Gresini team. The only options for an up-side are with either Ducati or BMW.

    However, I think Ducati are much closer to a MotoGP championship in the next five seasons than BMW are. Suzuki are not even close, and Gresini will never as long as there is a Repsol, and Spies is not Spanish enough for that to work…

  9. Flyingfox says:

    Ben is mad not to take up the BMW offer, he will immediately be competitive in WSBK on the fast developing (now proven) BMW and the brand will not let him down. Suzuki is a few bridges too far from competitive in either WSBK or MotoGP to be a realistic option. Ben has the talent to shine on the BMW and that will lead him back to the MotoGP paddock if that’s where he wants to go.
    Ducati is poison and the rider who drops his leathers to ride the mongrel thing will kill his career in one season.
    BMW ~ Ben (got a nice ring to it!)

  10. MikeD says:

    Good read. Got my pop-corn ready for any event/development.