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: No Place Like Home

09/03/2013 @ 3:51 pm, by Scott Jones1 COMMENT

Trackside Tuesday: No Place Like Home Scott Redding salutes crowd 635x422

The casual MotoGP fan may not realize just how much Grand Prix motorcycle racing means to the British. Similar to the long tradition of success for American riders, British motorbike history includes some great champions and an important legacy of cultural contributions to top level racing.

It has been a while since the British had a premier class champ, but just as America dominated for over a decade with Roberts, Spencer, Rainey, Lawson, and Schwantz, the British once ruled the two-wheeled world with such legendary names as Sheene, Read, Surtees, Duke, and perhaps the greatest of them all, Hailwood.

So the British Grand Prix is simply a weightier affair than a MotoGP race in a country without decades of tradition haunting the grandstands and paddock. This is especially true when there are British riders contending for victory in their home race.

Perhaps Cal Crutchlow wasn’t a favorite for victory, but many in the paddock feel that if any current rider is going to join Ben Spies as the only other non-alien to win a dry race, it will be Crutchlow, and if that is to happen, where better than at Silverstone?

Magic does happen, and magic often happens for the local rider, inspired by the crowd’s support to achieve beyond his habits. But just as being in one’s home race can inspire to greatness, it can also mount such pressure that delivering even a standard performance is a challenge.

Whether it is trying too hard in front of the home fans, or distractions from the greater demands of publicity and media responsibilities which are common at home races, or just rotten luck that for some reason had to happen at home, the home-field advantage can seem something like a curse rather than a blessing.

Each time I come to the British GP, I get the feeling that no group of riders has a more daunting challenge when it comes to performing for the home fans than do the British riders. I don’t suppose there is an empirical way to determine if I’m right — it’s just a feeling I first noticed at Donington in 2008, and have had every year since.

The crowd at the British GP is into it in a very nationalistic way. Sure, you see Spanish flags at the Spanish rounds, Italian flags at the Italian rounds, and so on. But for my part, I don’t feel the same level of nationalism anywhere outside of England.

It seems to me that the British fans want a British champ in a way only those who once ruled a sport, but long, long ago, can do. And if I can feel this as an American, I can’t only imagine what the British riders must feel in the same environment.

Since Cal Crutchlow is one of the MotoGP riders I know best, I’m always hoping for him to do well, and particularly at his home race. But he had another difficult British GP, with several crashes followed by a disappointing race. However, his disappointments came after an amazing performance by Scott Redding.

Leading up to Silverstone, Redding had many searching their memories for the last time a British rider of any G.P. class came to his home race while leading in championship points. Redding had commented that his first concern was the Moto2 title, and he’d put points above a victory if it came to that.

Still, among the native punters expectations were high for Redding’s success. Rival Takaaki Nakagami beat Redding for pole by four hundredths of a second, but clearly Redding’s pace was there if he could just avoid succumbing to the pressures of a home race.

When he’d won the 125cc race in 2008 at the tender age of fifteen, he was hardly a favorite as he’d not been on the podium in his first seven GP races, so expectations weren’t particularly high for a good result.

But even at fifteen, he’d shown he was a rider who could handle the pressure of the home race, and he stood on the top step alongside another fifteen year old, some Spanish kid named Marc Marquez who’d finished in third place.

When the Moto2 race began on Sunday, Redding grabbed the lead and thrilled the local crowd by battling with Thomas Luthi and Nakagami down to the final laps. Brave enough to don a UK-themed livery for the occasion (just ask James Toseland how this can backfire), Redding led much of the race until surrendering first place to a Japanese rival who was hungry for his first GP win.

Instead of sitting in second and accepting the 20 points, however, Redding fought back and claimed the victory, leaving Nakagami deflated in parc fermé after coming so close to that maiden victory.

So for the British fans it was a weekend of elation and heartbreak, but mainly, I think, of the former. Hearing God Save the Queen over the loudspeakers during the Moto2 podium ceremony was a lovely accompaniment to the memories of past British champions.

And as if helping to write my conclusion for me, after the race, Redding dedicated his victory to one of his heroes: Barry Sheene.

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. smiler says:

    It is paradoxical then that Dorna, in its wisdom bends over to promote Spanish riders wherever possible. It has also signed motogp rights to BT that no one watches. You have to wonder why 30% of the grid next year are Spanish but traditionally Spain has no other prominence in any form of motorsport.

    Unlike WSBK which has not favoured riders from any particular county and therefore if you look at the make up there are and have been many countries with successful riders in the past decade. Though Brits seem to have done well. Not surprising considering the popularity of motorcycle racing in the UK. 120,000 at Brands to watch Foggy was the highest number of people at any sporting event ever in the UK.
    Good to see Redding win and a real shame for Cal but like Bautista and De Puniet, to remain even relatively competitive the rider has to ride over the edge all too often.