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.

Trackside Tuesday: Great Expectations

07/16/2013 @ 5:47 pm, by Scott Jones11 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Great Expectations cal crutchlow crash sachsenring motogp scott jones 635x422

After Jorge Lorenzo’s heroic ride at Assen, where he’d broken his left collarbone only two days before, the German GP had many of us asking “how much is too much?” in terms of riding with injuries.

Two weeks after Lorenzo had risked, perhaps not ‘everything’ but certainly ‘a lot,’ to limit his injury’s effect on the championship standings (he finished 5th, one place behind a struggling Dani Pedrosa), the topic came up in Thursday’s Press Conference at the German GP. Cal Crutchlow remarked that Lorenzo’s decision at Assen had raised the bar for all riders facing the question: Should I race with this injury?

Ironically, or perhaps not, Crutchlow himself had raised this bar at Silverstone last season when he slipped past the medical exam process to turn in his own amazing ride through the pack with a broken ankle. He pointed out that now more riders would be using Lorenzo’s Assen ride as a precedent: if he was allowed to ride at Assen, why can’t I?

Lorenzo didn’t like the sound of that, saying other riders should not use him as an example and instead listen to their own bodies to determine if they should sit out or compete while injured.

All weekend I heard different responses to the situation, from respect for athletes who push through pain, to scorn for the willingness to put others at risk by competing at well below 100% fitness.

One paddock insider expressed the opinion that riding a MotoGP bike is difficult enough at full fitness–any physical or mental weakness is a liability that increases the risk of crashing, and thus increases the chances of a crash involving other riders.

The risk to other riders is one side of the issue that doesn’t seem to get much discussion in the paddock.

We admire the riders when they show us their toughness, but when, after Pedrosa’s huge highside Saturday morning, the championship leader reported dizziness and vision problems, more and more whispers of he’s unfit to race moved through the paddock.

And Unfit to Race isn’t a decision the medical staff makes solely to protect the injured rider. It is also intended to protect those with whom that rider shares the track.

Consider the amount of criticism Casey Stoner received in 2009 for skipping three races when he just wasn’t feeling well. Changing his diet allowed him to return to fitness and winning, but declaring himself unfit to race, when he was not merely unable to do his best but also a danger to other riders, received more scorn than praise.

Saturday night I saw Dani Pedrosa come into the Honda hospitality after a long afternoon of medical tests. Though his collarbone fracture had not been detected on site, it was discovered at the hospital where he had undergone MRI and CT scans.

He was clearly in discomfort, as he moved cautiously to a seat in the corner of the hospitality, but my own expectation was that that he would be on the grid the next day.

This was, after all, a golden opportunity to take points away from Lorenzo, who had left the track for another surgery in Barcelona. Until earlier that day, Pedrosa had enjoyed a rare thing indeed: a season without a major injury.

Yet here he was, another collarbone broken, but this time perhaps not badly enough to keep him off the grid, especially after Lorenzo’s performance at Assen. After all, if Lorenzo was willing to take the risk to claim another world title, what would it say about Pedrosa’s character if he didn’t do the same thing?

When I heard that Pedrosa was not going to race, I was relieved and impressed with what must have been a very difficult decision. I suspect he could have decided not to report that he was dizzy, and to say his vision was fine, and thus put his fellow riders at risk by entering a race when he was unfit to ride.

My respect for Pedrosa has only increased after this weekend, because of how he did the right thing rather than give in to expectations. Ironically, or perhaps not, he did just what in Thursday’s press conference Lorenzo has said other riders should do.

Expectations, both internal (in the riders’ minds) and external (in the minds of the riders’ peers, friends, media and fans), make sensible answers to the question Do I race with this injury? difficult, indeed.

When you add to those expectations the complication of a world championship fight, and the status and fiscal benefits that go along with winning a title, sensible decisions are even harder to come by.

Though we love motorcycle racing and are inspired when riders like Crutchlow and Lorenzo (among others) battle through pain and difficulty to succeed, we also regret the injuries of Wayne Rainey and Joan Lascorz (among others), and we mourn the loss of Marco SImoncelli and Shoya Tomizawa (again, among others).

I think we’d all prefer to see our heroes in the paddock the way we often see Giacomo Agostini, enjoying their later years in at least fairly good shape.

While the names mentioned above accepted the risks of motorcycle racing, and fortunately were not injured or killed due to incidents with other riders who were unfit to race, I bring them up as examples of why we should do everything we can to make our beloved sport as safe as possible.

We make changes to circuits to improve safety, but we expect riders to compete when they are injured, at the expense of their safety and that of the riders, who share small sections of tarmac at high speeds.

Thanks to Dani’s not riding while dizzy and with impaired vision, the list of riders not in the hospital because he caused an accident includes Rossi, Marquez, Hayden, and every other rider. My hat’s off to Dani and the medical team that helped him stay off the grid on Sunday.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. TexusTim says:

    A+ article !

  2. Well when you lock on the Championship like Lorenzo do there is no question to ride or not, he just do it. I think its wrong but that’s Lorenzo- he put everything now he is with nothing – what a waist.

  3. Norm G. says:

    re: “One paddock insider expressed the opinion that riding a MotoGP bike is difficult enough at full fitness–any physical or mental weakness is a liability that increases the risk of crashing, and thus increases the chances of a crash involving other riders.”

    and there it is… “safety 1st”, not “safety 2nd”.

    embrace this as a mantra, and one NEVER has to question whether or not they are making the right choice. erring on the side caution is ALWAYS the right choice. so powerful and yet so simple.

  4. L2C says:

    That was truly exceptional, Scott. Gratitude.

    And thank you for being observant. Thank you for your clarity of focus and attention to detail. Thank you for being consciously aware of your surroundings. Thank you for handling this topic with the sensitivity that it deserves, and for composing such an outstanding and respectful piece. Thank you!

    Best regards,
    L2C

  5. A Very sensible article.

    Hat’s off Scott for the great eye to detail.

  6. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Ya, (comments above) that was the first thing that crossed my mind: great article! (forgot to mention Colin Edward’s 3rd place with broken collarbone).

    This sport needs “the bad cop.” The decision to race absolutely must not be in the hands of the riders.

    Every other sport has their bad cop. How many times in football, baseball, basketball, etc do you hear teams, coaches, etc… defer to the bad cop “…we’d love to have him but doctors say…” That’s how it must be in motoGP.

    When injury/health is involved the doctors should be taking the fall not the riders.

  7. Definitely a thumbs up to Dani for sitting out. And a thumbs up to Scott for an excellent article. Well written, sir.

  8. Philip James says:

    I love racing. It’s certainly interesting to watch. Could part of the problem be the underlying attitude that it’s “ok to crash”? I understand stuff happens when your riding out at the edge but a lot of this could be avoided with a better attitude towards crashing to begin with. All of this aggression and willing to win no matter even if it kills you will eventually do just that. Perhaps points penalties for crashing could inspire racers that want to win to have a better attitude towards stuffing bikes to prevent these accidents before they happen? It might even make the racing more interesting as well.

  9. ” Could part of the problem be the underlying attitude that it’s “ok to crash”?”

    I don’t think so. While crashes happen, everybody realizes that you can’t win a championship by crashing out of a race. At the top of the heap, it might only take one DNF to trash your chances at the title. And at the other end of the spectrum, all it takes is sliding over a kerb just the wrong way to end up as Wayne Rainey did. Nobody wants to crash.

    Ultimately, the issue is that when you’re going as fast as you possibly can without crashing, you’re close enough to that edge of uncertainty that you’re going to get caught out once in a while. If you impose penalties for crashes, you’ll wind up with a sport that mimics racing on the surface, but amounts to nothing more than fast parade laps. Not my cuppa.

  10. John Morris says:

    The DNF’s and broken bones don’t seem to be enough incentive for them to stay on the right side of the edge. It’s just a matter of time before there’s yet another death. But that’s what the fans want anyway. The danger and death are a huge attraction for the fan base despite what they say. MotoGP is like the Roman arena fights where “someone” had the possibility of loosing their lives.

  11. Grant Madden says:

    No rider wants to crash.that’s just silly.You crash that’s points lost and championships are all about points.Crash and score no points and that in itself is penalty enough.How could you think about fining riders for crashing?Silly silly silly.If a rider feels he is fit enough to ride then that is his decision.Why is every one talking about riders causing accidents when they are not fit enough to ride?This sort of thing is such a rare event that it’s hardly worth considering, although, when Carl Foggerty crashed in Australia then announced his retirement it wasn’t till much later we found out he had some vision problems with his right eye,the side he hit the other rider with.But this is such a rare event it’s not worth making difficult laws to stop it happening.If the rider passes a fitness test then it is his or her choice whether to race or not and it seems to me,no one else would be in a better position to decide.More power to them for making such a difficult decision but as we can see,the riders have their stuff together and none of them want to crash or get injured ever,simple really.