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: The Silly Suzuki Season

05/21/2013 @ 11:06 pm, by Scott Jones19 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: The Silly Suzuki Season ben spies laguna seca suzuki gsv r wild card scott jones 635x423

As Randy de Puniet heads to Japan to test Suzuki’s 2014 MotoGP bike, the possible availability (some won’t be convinced it’s a reality until a pair of Suzuki motorcycles appear on the grid in Qatar next April) of two new factory seats has spawned a Silly Season unto itself.

If that possibility entailed another satellite prototype team, the furor would be considerable, but that it’s a new factory team means reason and rationality are running for their lives.

So once again we have the chance to observe the unique mindset of the top level motorbike racer. To that mindset, at least in this modern era, the factory ride is the Holy Grail of motorcycle racing. It’s easy to see why this has happened.

After the days of the 500cc two-strokes, when a highly-developed formula meant a privateer team could compete with the deep-pocket teams, the four-stroke era has seen costs skyrocket, and factory-deep pockets dominate the win column. It’s for very good reasons that riders feel you have to be on a factory bike to win races. But the thing is, not all factories are equal.

Consider Marco Melandri. In 2006 he won three races with Fortuna Honda. After a winless 2007 with Gresini Honda, he landed a factory ride at Ducati, and that didn’t turn out to be all he’d hoped. Only Casey Stoner was able to make a factory Ducati seat mean something in the neighborhood of a factory Honda or factory Yamaha ride.

And yet, when Valentino Rossi left Ducati, the availability of a factory seat with the Italian marque had Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso ready and willing to leave the best satellite ride simply because the opportunity contained the word ‘factory.’

In the four-stroke era, a factory Suzuki seat wasn’t exactly the cat’s pajamas, either. But as 2014 approaches, and Suzuki looks to be coming back to add a fourth manufacturer to the prototype competition, Factory Fever is catching.

I have it: I would LOVE to see Suzuki come into 2014 with a bike capable of breaking up the Honda-Yamaha show. I simply think it’s unlikely for a company that limped out of MotoGP with one uncompetitive bike to come back and compete with the Goliath known as HRC and the crafty David known as Yamaha without several seasons of development funded by strong street bike sales. (Cue crickets.)

But no riders have texted me to ask what I think, so I’m ready to jump into this Suzuki Silly Season with both feet and if nothing else, enjoy the possibilities. Suzuki comes back to MotoGP with a wide range of talent in front of which to dangle the “factory” bait, and given the lure of that magic word, the manufacturer has a fine chance of getting some top talent on their team.

Current contracts be damned–a factory will spend what it must to get the riders it wants, right? RIGHT?

Cal Crutchlow must be at the top of the list, and he appears ready to roll the dice in spite of a 2nd place finish at Le Mans and a spot with a team that is as good a satellite effort as one can get in the modern era. Will factory Suzuki be better than Tech 3 Yamaha? Fortune favors the bold, so…

Alvaro Bautista was Suzuki’s most recent rider, and might easily be tempted to head back to that factory given how his Honda results have gone. The factory magic didn’t work for him in Rizla Blue, but…

Stefan Bradl is under pressure to perform now that he has the factory-spec Honda, and given his results through the first four races, he may be looking for new opportunities. And Suzuki could certainly do worse than the talented German rider…

It’s not impossible that Suzuki would like to have a veteran on one bike (assuming they bring two to the grid) to guide its growth. Nicky Hayden’s Ducati contract is up at the end of this year, and given his commitment and work ethic and experience, and more to the point, what he brings with him regardless of his race results, he might find the phone ringing…

If your name were Colin Edwards, and Suzuki wanted to talk about receiving the input of MotoGP’s most senior veteran, how good would that sound compared to the CRT experience? It might sound pretty darned good…

Aleix Espargaro seems on track to be the best CRT rider again, and a lot of folks in the paddock are impressed with what he brings to each race. Perhaps Suzuki also likes what they see…

Randy de Puniet is testing the bike! Surely he’s at least in the running for one of the seats after his years of trying so very hard on second-tier equipment and showing so much raw talent…

Rumors have Pol Espargaro in talks with Yamaha for a Tech 3 seat, but now that the rookie rule is gone, perhaps Pol has a chance to skip the satellite path and go straight to a factory bike…

Scott Redding will be ready for the premier class, and if Suzuki renews its ties to British management, whether it’s Paul Denning or not, Redding is a rising power in Moto2 and someone to consider for a young team looking at the future…

Insert in this space your own WSBK wildcard: Leon Camier? Chaz Davies? Eugene Laverty? Jonathan Rea? Tom Sykes? Marco Melandri! MAX BIAGGI!!!!!!!

Sentimental favorite John Hopkins rated his Suzuki reunion chances at 50% when speaking to BBC commentator Matt Roberts at Le Mans. What Hayden does for Ducati in the US market, Hopper might do for Suzuki…

All of the above are, in my mind, candidates for ONE of the likely two Suzuki bikes that may appear in 2014. But my pick for the other: Ben Spies. Spies and Crutchlow on competitive Suzukis in 2014? THAT would be good…

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: © 2008 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. zipidachimp says:

    didn’t we decide last week that mr.spies had lost his mojo? suzuki should choose to start fresh with some new faces from moto 2 and not current retreads.

  2. Phil says:

    Get Cal Crutchlow.

  3. thefundaddy says:

    I think Scott Redding should be on the LCR Honda next year, ready for when Pedrosa gets the boot from the factory in two years.

  4. Trendmfg says:

    Scott redding is too large to fit a factory RCV. The VDS team should lease an M1 powerplant and build him a chassis.

    Suzuki should jump on Cal.

  5. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    What if Rossi comes to his senses that he’s past it (another season festooned with mid pack finishes isn’t very good for his ego or his legacy) so he decides to retire after this year?

    I see Spies heading back to WSB after this season. I think he’s had it with MotoGP.

  6. Ken C. says:

    I would love to see Spies and Crutchlow on the Suzuki squad. Unfortunately, I think Spies’ days in MotoGP are numbered unless he can produce some results this year. I sincerely hope he steps up. The Americans need a successful rep in MotoGP, no offense to Nicky Hayden who’s doing his best with crap machinery. Spies’ chances on the same, if not inferior equipment, aren’t good. Hopkins would be an interesting choice. He has a great relationship with Suzuki and the experience to boot, but he’s prone to injury and is arguably past his prime.

    The possibilities are endless. It’s early for silly season, isn’t it?

  7. MP says:

    What about an Espagro one/tw0? Aelix and Pol on the same GP factory team? That would be a marketable package.

  8. alex says:

    Suzuki needs to look high and low for a true professional and then let it be known that only backbreaking work is going to keep them in the seat.

    It’s time for teams to demand 20 million per year in effort and professionalism from their riders – not tribal tattoos and temper tantrums.

  9. John D says:

    I see no possibility of a Spies reunion with Suzuki. Whether his fault, his results have not lived up to the hype. So, unless he will take a giant pay cut, I see better talent available elsewhere on the grid (Crutchlow) and in Moto 2 (several). I would really love to see a Suzuki satellite team in additon to a factory team. 16 prototypes, a couple of Honda production racers and an equal number of leased M1 engined bikes and CRT is gone…

  10. Sluggo says:

    While reading your article, I kept thinking… what about Ben Spies? You saved my pick for last. Ben has had a rough time over the last two seasons, but still has speed & has won 3 titles for Suzuki.

    Based on hard riding & a never give up attitude, if anyone in MotoGP or Moto2 deserves a factory ride, it’s Cal Crutchlow. But, his factory ride should be a Yamaha. Unless he wins a race or two, I think Rossi will retire at the end of the 2013 season… Cal should inherit his ride.

    My pick for Ben’s teammate, Scott Redding… young, fast & smart.

    Wonder if Suzuki & Yamaha will pay me a consultant fee?

  11. sideswipeasaurus says:

    First things first. Remove the idea of a factory M1 available next year or any of the other 3 top rides. Rossi will likely retire a factory Yamaha rider when he’s good and ready. Yamaha marketing and Dorna will see to that as long as the stands are filled will large swaths of day glo yellow and he turns in respectable factory #2 rider results.

    Pol hasn’t proven that he’s anyone’s answer to Marquez. He’s still got his hand full contending with the other Moto2 rivals. He may get slotted into Tech3 at someone else’s expense but his results don’t warrant a straight factory ride, unless maybe Suzuki can poach him.

    Crutchlow has the problem that there’s likely no where else to go but down so he might as well try and find a well paying factory ride at Ducati or Suzuki if available.

    Depuniet has his Suzuki ties and maybe that will carry him onto their bike but he STILL crashes too much. If they only field one bike I wouldn’t want to pin Suzuki development or future glory on him.

    Aleix-I could see him being an attractive option for Suzuki. Likewise for Redding but I figure him more for Ducati.

    Spies is the one I’d watch. As he was leaving Yamaha, considering WSBK, and then finally taking a one year deal with Ducati there was some hints about him and Suzuki. I think his one year deal with Ducati was a place holder and that he had plans further out than that. My bet is seeing him on a factory Suzuki.

  12. Marc F says:

    Rossi retires from Yamaha, Crutchlow bums up to Factory M1.
    Spies moves over to Suzuki for seat #1, and as the seasoned development rider. They’ll remember him best from SBK, it’s a bridge he hasn’t burned and you know he still wants to prove himself in GP.
    If I were Suzuki, I’d bet seat #2 on the long game – one of the Espargaros. Not seeing anyone else available with podium potential, so may as well pick someone that can be there in 3 years. It’ll take the bike that long to get good anyway, and the old guys won’t wait for that.

  13. Jonathan says:

    What? The four-stroke era has seen costs skyrocket? Really? And there was me believing all that guff we were spun years ago when the diesels were foisted upon us. Not.

    Interesting situation with Suzook – and I will be very happy to see ‘em back, especially as they bailed from MotoGP just when it had begun to look like the bike was beginning to improve.

    They’re not going to have deep pockets, but as the article suggests, it would seem that riders with potential will queue for *any* factory ride (even the red poisoned chalice). Interesting point about Crutchlow possibly being minded of a Rossi retirement and an available factory Yamaha seat – but it’s a bit early in the season to even make a guess about that.

    One American rider in the team would certainly make sense and unless Spies can prove his fitness then Nicky would be my preference. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bautista back with them either, but tbh as long as it’s a competitive machine I don’t really care who’s riding it.

    So long as it’s not Stoner. :)

  14. TexusTim says:

    I’m with you Crutchlow and Spies..this satisfy’s two markets and both would do well. I think both will be available at a decent price next year..still in the big bucks but not like honda or yamaha, taking it to the other factory teams..pricless.

  15. Alasdair says:

    I say pull Redding up from Moto2 and give the other seat to either RDP or Crutchlow. I’m also going to predict that the GP bike is launched simultaneously with the next gen GSXR

  16. crashtd says:

    What about Casey Stoner!! Uggh, that felt good to get out my system. Seriously though, wouldn’t it be great if Suzuki realized it needed bring in some more American riders. I don’t think Elena Myers quite has the talent, but Blake Young???!

  17. Melvin says:

    What he said.

  18. “I don’t think Elena Myers quite has the talent”

    Maybe a few more years. She’s definitely heading in the right direction.

  19. SquidleyMcSquidson says:

    I think that putting Elena Myers on a gp bike is not realistic. Bring her to moto2 first and see what happens. The only AMA racer who deserves a shot at the world stage right now is Cameron Beaubier. Someone get that guy onto a moto2 bike!