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: Dani Pedrosa’s Misano Nightmare

09/18/2012 @ 3:06 pm, by Scott Jones15 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Dani Pedrosas Misano Nightmare Dani Pedrosa Misano Nightmare Scott Jones

It is a tribute to the skill of MotoGP mechanics how easily we can forget that motorbike racing truly is a team sport. Though the rider is the most visible member of the team, the one who captures the hearts of fans and the one whose talents are most likely to inspire us, without top level support from a team, the rider is helpless. On the rare occasion that the team fails their rider, only then are we likely to recognize how good a job they do the rest of the time.

Dani Pedrosa’s nightmare in Misano was a painful example of this. On pole position, 13 points behind Jorge Lorenzo, having finished every race so far this season, and with his best chance ever finally to win a premiere class title, Pedrosa was forced to start from the back of the grid after his team couldn’t free the front tire warmer and had to move his bike from the grid to pit lane. From outside HRC, we don’t know exactly what happened.

The theories currently moving through the paddock are that a brake problem locked the front wheel, the tire warmer locked against the mud guard, or that the tire warmer stuck to the carbon brakes because it touched them and melted. The only things we know for sure are that there were 21 bikes in the same situation, including three other Hondas, and that something happened to Dani’s bike that his team was not able to sort out in time to allow him to start from pole.

We may never know exactly why they couldn’t get the tire warmer off. TV coverage shows them frantically pulling and trying to free it, and being unable to do so before the officials cleared the grid. Once the bike was off the stand in pit lane, the warmer came loose and the mechanics returned the bike to its former spot, but the damage was done, the rule infringed, and Dani had to start from the back.

He may still have reached the front of the pack, but moving past the slower bikes put him in Hector Barbera’s line of fire, the Pramac Ducati rider missing a braking point and taking Pedrosa out on the first lap. If he’d started from pole as he should’ve, Dani would likely have been in first place at this point, given his rocket starts, and the championship might easily look much different than it does now.

Of course the chain of events started with Karel Abraham’s clutch problem forcing the yellow lights and restart. Dani’s team had done everything perfectly until then, as they usually do, as all of the teams usually do. But even these professionals operating at the highest form of motorbike racing are human, and for humans, things don’t always go to plan. Mechanics install and remove tire warmers many, many times each race weekend. So why couldn’t they get this one off at such a crucial time?

All they could do after the initial problem was move on with their usual efficiency, and having to start their rider from pit lane, one mechanic appears to have had the presence of mind to switch Dani’s pit lane limiter on. This was an example of their usual proficiency in remembering something crucial under pressure. Had this not been done, and Dani had to join the pack from pit lane, he’d likely have sped off in frustration and incurred a pit lane speed violation.

But once the bike was moved back onto the grid, that switch was not turned off, leaving Dani doing the pit lane speed limit on the re-grid lap. An already frazzled rider gestured his frustration and confusion to his mechanics as the other riders sped past on the second warm up lap.

He finally sorted out what had happened and got back up to speed, but there’s no telling what shape his head was in after so many things going apart from the plan. He may have been about to give us a fantastic display of strength in adversity by charging to the front, or perhaps just to salvage some valuable points after problems not his own fault. But Barbera cheated us of finding out which.

Each rider in the grid had to manage the distraction of Abraham’s clutch problem, and every other team managed to re-grid their rider for the restart. That a top team like Repsol Honda can suffer this type of problem just shows that no rider is immune to the possibility of things outside his control affecting his chances for a championship. Since no lives were lost, it’s perhaps not right to refer to a tire warmer being involved in such a disastrous weekend for a title contender as ‘tragic.’ But we may look back on Misano as being the fatal blow to Dani’s best shot at being world champion in the premiere class.

Some might use this as an opportunity to heap blame on HRC, but I expect Dani’s team are doing all that’s required along those lines as they hold themselves accountable for Sunday. I think it’s better to see this as a perspective from which to recognize how good these people are almost without exception. For it is this exception that reminds us of how in human endeavors, things can and will go wrong.

The fact that we so rarely see something like this in MotoGP shows us, with the reminder supplied by Dani’s Misano Nightmare, that most situations like this are avoided in the first place by the teams’ methodical preparation. From pit lane I see them disassembling and reassembling down the the smallest parts, observing ritualistic warm-up procedures to check for fluid leaks and other problems before those problems can affect the weekend’s result.

Day in and day out they follow the same procedures with the same attention to detail that have delivered each of them to the highest level of competition. Dani’s guys are as good as any team in the paddock, and if this kind of thing can happen to Dani, it can happen to any rider, to any team. Each rider who wins a title owes a great deal to the individuals who put him on the grid and in position to succeed.

This is what I think of when I see a rider come across the line as victor, cheered on by his team as they hang out over the wall. They have the right to celebrate their own contributions to that victory, which would not have been possible without them.

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: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved


  1. Singletrack says:

    Remind me again, why is radio communication between rider and pit not allowed in MotoGP?
    Seems like that might have helped him sort out the pit limiter switch faster.

    They’ve got everything else money can buy, but can’t use something every other motorsport uses.

  2. Tripps says:

    @Singletrack: that is a really good question

  3. Trackside Tuesday: Dani Pedrosa's Misano Nightmare – http://t.co/ptqaeKkL #motorcycle

  4. dc4go says:

    Pedrosa just isn’t going to win a title in the big class….. Blame Karel, blame Barbera, blame whoever u want but seems pretty simple to me the mechanics just got it wrong …. win as a team, lose as a team…

  5. Westward says:

    So maybe the best thing to happen to Spies is moving to Pramac, that is, unless his crew is going with him. Cause he has had consistent mechanical malfunctions over the last couple of years.

  6. @Westward:

    I thought about that a fair bit since this last race wrapped up. Prior to Vale’s excellent result, I kind of looked at the Ducati as the kiss of death for a rider in MotoGP. Who knows? Maybe they’ve really started to figure out how to make the bike go like hell without a Stoner on it to manhandle it despite of it being a pig. I really like Spies demeanor, so we can just hope that the relationship with Pramac goes well. And I really, really hope that Iannone adopts to the big bike, too; he’s been greatly entertaining in the Moto2 class.

  7. Dave says:

    Great article. As a Hayden fan who’s carried a Pedrosa grudge since 2006 I can safely the hatchet is buried. What happened to Dani really really sucked.

    …and what a time for MotoGP to find integrity. They couldn’t just let Pedrosa stay on pole position even if a rule was sort of broken on a technicality? For the sake of racing, for the sake of sport just bend the damn rules and say “ok, whatever, that was weird, just start from pole position anyway. Let’s go racing.”

    Good job MotoGP I got to watch Lorenzo race against…nobody.

  8. Keet says:

    even better than what happened to Pedrosa is the way Barbara handled it… the same way Pedrosa and Co. handled it when he took out Hayden! Karma, love it!!

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  10. beaujvp says:

    I cannot agree more. Take that Pedrosa and take that Alberto Puig. You know that your boy will NEVER win a title in the premier class.

  11. Chioke says:

    Mr. Jones. Yours is the most measured and insightful motorcycle commentary on the internet.

  12. Mrs Spies says:

    The fact that some of you think Dani had this coming is a little weak.

    Dani has kept his nose clean for many years, and has borne the brunt of collisions and title-destroying injuries through no fault of his own, yet still some of you want to go nya nya nya…. that’s a little bit pathetic.

  13. Well said, Mrs Spies. Well said.

  14. Curve Killa says:

    Winning the championship is 50% rider, 45% team, and 5% luck. Pedrosa used up his 5%.