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: Hang Loose

08/14/2012 @ 6:09 pm, by Daniel Lo16 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Hang Loose dani pedrosa t5 635

The corkscrew is widely considered to be the masterpiece of Laguna Seca, and few would argue that there is a more iconic turn in all of motorsports. For race fans from around the world, a pilgrimage to the world-famous California track doesn’t truly end until they have reached the corkscrew.

However, Turn Five is what holds a special place in my heart, as that is where I first stumbled off a bus five years ago as a starry-eyed first-time race attendee. Having only experienced motorcycle racing on various television and computer screens up to that point, I will forever remember my jaw dropping to the ground as I finally witnessed firsthand the awesome and terrifying presence of MotoGP machines.

Diving into, and roaring out of, Turn Five at speeds that my brain refused to believe were real, when I try to explain the difference between watching a race on TV versus one in real life to friends back home, this is the story I reference.

Strangely enough, I never took any photos from that vantage point until just a couple weekends ago, at the 2012 Red Bull US GP. I admit I wasn’t even thinking of that particular memory at the time, but this image will always be the definitive snapshot of my first real-life glimpse into the racing world. Minus the leg-dangle of course.

Dan Lo is a motorsport photographer who covers AMA Superbike, World Superbike, and MotoGP. His online portfolio is at CornerSpeedPhoto.com and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

Photo: © 2012 Daniel Lo / Corner Speed Photo – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. CB says:

    Great picture. Just drove by Laguna Seca on Monday while on vacation with the family to see the Corkscrew in person. Even absent of racing or people that turn is beautiful to behold.

  2. Totally agree Dan,

    This last MotoGP race at Laguna Seca, was the first i had ever seen outside of my living room. My experience was the same as yours, awe stuck by the noise, speed, skill, that i was beholding. How could i ever explain the feeling of leaning on the fence with my 75-300mm at the start of the race grid and feel my insides vibrate as the bikes roared by. Having only had my T3i since Dec. 2011, my first DSLR, i was anxious to get pics from every vantage point possible. Especially the corkscrew, i was really impressed at how freely you could move around to line up shots, although I was jealous of those lucky photographers on the other side of the cyclone fence.

    After taking pictures from every possible corner i could walk to, i have to say Turn 5 was my favorite, something about that vantage point with the bikes nearly horizontal for so long was great for setting up shots. For me turn 5 in person really conveyed just how extremely good Casey Stoner is, the way he would dive into that turn and hold a line was on a godlike level.

  3. Everett says:

    Speaking of the leg-dangle: why do they do that? Is it to stretch out the leg? Feeler like the knee (but at a much higher position)? Leg pump? Wind break?

  4. JohnMc says:

    @Everett

    I can’t speak personally on this subject but from what I have read this is the best explanation for the “leg dangle” ; By moving their foot off the peg, riders are able get their bodies closer to the front of bike to help load front end while braking into a turn. Also the braking forces naturally throw the rider to the front of the bike. Resisting that force takes a great amount of effort by the rider, ie it takes much more energy to keep your foot planted on the peg than to let the foot flop forward. So it serves two purposes, to conserve energy throughout the race distance and help transfer more weight to the front. Occasionally you will see a rider dangle the right leg, but it is rare, most often the right leg stays on for trail braking into a turn.

  5. Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

    I remember watching Stoner bin it in turn 5 back in ’06 on the satellite Honda. Was like getting roosted at the MX track, but with gravel.

  6. Everett says:

    JMc, Thanks for the explanation, a lot of it makes sense. But at the same time, when braking, don’t you want to squeeze the tank to prevent from slamming into it? Another way I’ve noticed it, is it’s almost a rhythm thing. Like a baseball batter and their step before the swing. I see the dangle before a turn (in braking like you say) and then a ‘set’ back on the pegs just before the final dive in for a turn.

  7. Patron says:

    When I went to Indy for its first year (also my first year witnessing a MotoGP race live), I remember being disappointed that it rained on Friday for their practices. Naively thinking I was going to see less of a show due to the slower, wet weather speeds. I could not have been more wrong. Watching them take turn 5, in the soaking wet, faster than I had imagined they would take it dry was enough to keep my mouth open and eyes unblinked for 30 min. It almost prepared me for how fast they would be going on the dry Sat. Was an amazing and humbling experience to say the least.

  8. JohnMc says:

    Honestly to delve any further on this topic would be pure speculation on my behalf. Its an advanced maneuver that is only used in the highest echelons motorcycle racing, I will never achieve the ability or need to preform such technique in my daily bike riding. If I could speculate further, one could assume the rider is squeezing the tank and downshifting while braking for the corner. The leg dangle happens after gear selection so the rider is already against the tank. The leg comes out as they continue to brake deeper into the apex. The leg comes back on as they transition from brake to throttle mid corner.

    That is my amateur take it on.

  9. Patron says:

    No Americans do this “leg dangle” BTW. At least not in MotoGP. I always found that interesting

  10. I’ve heard a lot of opinions on this, but i remember seeing an interview with Rossi a few years ago about why he dangled his leg, since he was one of the first riders to adopt that style.

    From what i can remember was, to brake very hard like these riders do before every turn, he would brace himself using his arms much like if you were doing a bench press, because it’s very hard to brake as you turn not only to loss of traction, but just the shear force of braking alone. Getting your leg off before corner apex helps turn in the motorcycle and helps smoothly transfer weight as the rider leans off the bike.

    Also a lot of riders have thumb brakes on the left handle bar for the rear braking duties as well.

  11. Patron says:

    Rossi also said at one point that he has looked at his data and it provide no benefit, just feels better. Other riders just adopted it. All the more reason I like that American riders have none of it. Eventually I believe this will disappear. As I’ve never roadraced, I’ve never tried to see if there is something to its “feel”.

  12. justadude says:

    I , like a few others here, was absolutely blown away by my first live MotoGP (at Indy last year). So much so that I’m going back this year as well. Watching it TV just doesn’t do it justice. TV can’t convey the speed or all the glorious noise! We stood in Ducati Island near the pit exit road and watched them roar past while hitting turn 1. These guys truly are the upper echelon of motorcycle riders. I’m not sure I could even ride one of those bikes hard enough to warm the tires… I’d be a lap down on lap 2… :-) Truly amazing stuff.

  13. FernandoARG says:

    The leg dangle is done as I have heard from a couple of riders like Casey and Vale to help break the sturdy frame into turn angle as the motorcycle and the force plus speed make it difficult to turn these bikes, “breaking the frame into 2 from the middle of the bike is what supposedly helps with.

  14. Beary says:

    Dangling the leg is just to get some air flow into your balls :p

  15. Cj says:

    It is both to weight the front of the bike as well as to get extra wind resistance to slow down. Same principle as sitting up to slow down. If you are using all available braking power but still need to scrub off speed to keep a proper line sometimes a little extra wind resistance and front end traction is all it will take.

  16. Greg says:

    Laguna Seca is a truly special track. I started going there with my Dad to watch the historic auto races when I was a kid and hadn’t been there for many years until I began to ride a motorcycle and watch GP racing. The elevation changes not only make it more interesting, but a lot more spectator-friendly as well.

    If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend attending a track day at Laguna. Comparing my lap times with what the professionals are able to accomplish makes what they do that much more impressive (and humbling). I can’t wait to do my next track event there this fall.