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: First in Flight

08/27/2013 @ 12:42 pm, by Scott Jones13 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: First in Flight 2013 motogp 09 laguna seca sunday 0432 e 635x423

The longer you spend trackside at a given circuit, the more you think you know what that circuit has to offer. The good shots are in this turn in the morning, that turn in the afternoon, and so on. It’s easy to hang on to this belief in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

The fact is that small changes in location or perspective can turn a good image into an amazing one. I see this all the time when shooting at a track such as Catalunya or Phillip Island, where the trackside view of the circuit is not limited by large fences and their gaps. Often a turn looks good from one spot, but if you move a few steps farther along, the perspective changes dramatically.

But the more days you spend shooting at a given circuit, the easier it is to think you have it wired. Laguna Seca is getting to be like that for me. I’ve been attending and photographing races there as an amateur and then a pro for many years. Good friend and fellow photographer Jules Cisek and I were commiserating in July about our shared feeling of being a bit bored with our home track. The weekend before we’d both been at the Sachsenring, he for the first time, I for the second, and that had seemed like blissfully undiscovered country.

But Jules and I have only been shooting Laguna with credentials for a handful of years, so in fact it hasn’t taken long for this feeling of dull familiarity to set in. Just imagine if you were one of the long-time MotoGP regulars who have been following the series for 10, 15, 20 or more years. Back to Assen for the 20th time… That sounds like a good problem to have, right?

If small changes in perspective can make a big difference, what about a dramatic change of location? On Saturday afternoon I was amused to find myself in a spot at Laguna Seca I’d never been before, inside Turn 1. This location doesn’t seem very promising for several reasons, the main ones being the speed at which the MotoGP bikes approach and the fact that you can’t see them coming until they appear in a flash, and are just as suddenly gone.

Another fact of MotoGP photography is that the bikes are often going much too fast for even the best pro photo equipment to keep up with them. We photographers flock to the tightest sections of the tracks we shoot, and look for opportunities to show speed when the bikes are going their slowest–even their slowest is pretty fast. You don’t see many pros trying to catch MotoGP bikes before they hit the brakes at the end of a long straight. Our cameras focus can’t track quickly enough. The only solution is to prefocus on a spot, and try to pan with the bikes into that small area. This is challenging.

Turn 1 at Laguna Seca is one of those challenging spots. Not only are the bikes approaching too quickly for autofocus to keep up, but you don’t know for sure which bike is coming up next. If you’re paying close attention, you might have a good idea that it’s Pedrosa instead of Pesek, but you won’t know for sure until you see an orange blur instead of a black one.

Earlier Saturday, though, I’d heard inside the paddock that some of the MotoGP riders were reporting both wheels off the ground at this spot. So I decided it might be worth gathering up all the skill I could muster, and all the luck I had lying around, hoping the latter was at least equal to the former, and seeing if I could get lucky enough to grab a still image of this short flight.

Laguna Seca has large, troublesome fences around most of the circuit, with occasional holes cut into the fencing for TV cameras and for still photographers. I do a lot of shooting through these fences at Laguna, since the available holes are often not where I’d cut them had I been consulted when the pliers were out. And since certain types of shots are possible through the fence design used at Laguna Seca.

But for a super high-speed shot requiring rapid movement of the camera lens, you need a photo hole. There are only a couple of choices in the area around Turn 1, so any photographer trying to reverse engineer the shot above should find it pretty easy to do. Getting the shot, however, is more of a challenge than finding where to stand.

The trickiest part was that I didn’t know where exactly on track both wheels might be coming of the ground. It took part of Saturday’s afternoon session to figure this out, and even then I had to get lucky to find it. I managed one very blurry shot in which it appeared that both wheels of the bike where in the air. Once I knew where this might happen, I tried to recreate Saturday’s results on Sunday during the race, hoping I could manage to get a flying bike in focus.

As with Blue Fire, it took many, many tries, 99+% of which went into the trash, to get the shot above. When I left Turn 1 to get some different shots of the race, I didn’t know if I’d just wasted my time or not. It wasn’t until I returned to the media center and started trashing shot after shot that this one jumped out on screen. It might have been any other rider, but again, my luck outweighed my talent and the best shot of the few I managed happened to be of Marc Marquez.

So though I was lucky to hear about the flying riders just in time to do something about it, and was further lucky enough to pull the shot off with the winning rider, I expect that to be a crowded section of track next year as some of my colleagues take their chances. I look forward to seeing what other photographers, with more skill and/or more luck, can do in this same challenging section of track.

If you’re a Marc Marquez fan and would like to own a signed copy of the above image, please click here for details on First in Flight, an edition limited to 50 copies each signed by Marc Marquez.

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. Marc F says:

    Spectacular. Well done, Scott.

  2. Bruce says:

    That is some split second timing Scott. Takes patience. But I’m biased as I have Blue Fire on my wall.

  3. TexusTim says:

    what a shot ! excellent work Mr. Jones.

  4. L2C says:

    Excellent as always, Scott. Love your writing!

  5. motobell says:

    Wow Scott! equally as impressive is ability to tell the story too – AWESOME PHOTO AND WORDS!

  6. Mark Roberts says:

    How appropriate that the Red Bull slogan on his visor is “Gives you wings” :-)

  7. taikebo says:

    holy sh*t. Marc is flying while cornering. Well… that explains why he can be fast LOL

  8. arimichael says:

    Not to somehow insult Mr. Jones work – because it’s always fantastic – but wasn’t there similar images of Mladin doing this 4 or 5 years ago?

  9. Scott says:

    And just think how this will increase his tires’ life !

  10. Thanks for the comments and compliments, all.

    arimichael, I’d love a link to the Mladin shot if you can find one!

  11. Just to be clear. This is Laguna, turn one, the bikes are in 6th flat out, leant over. And they’re getting air under both wheels? Oh, f***!

  12. Hi Scott and fellow race-fans -
    That is a cool well-timed shot BUT it dos not look like it’s from turn 1 at Laguna Seca
    …because there are no trees in the background in T1 ground level, just a sandy hillside below the Red Bull Energy Center. There are some trees to the side of the energy center by the start-finish bridge, and it would have to be fantastic luck and perfect co-incidence for them to perfectly form the background in Scott’s shot. You can look around turn 1 on the track on Google maps and see what I mean.

  13. Get almost down to the Andretti Hairpin, Look for the hole in the fencing on the inside of the track. Look back up the track to the brow of the hill. Imagine you’re using a long lens. There are trees that would be in the background.