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 Story Begins

04/09/2013 @ 4:21 pm, by Scott Jones8 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: The Story Begins Scott Jones MotoGP Qatar Valentino Rossi Grid 635x423

When I photograph a race, I get only portions of the story: the beginning, snippets of the middle, and the end. It’s something like reading a novel by skimming every third or fourth chapter until arriving at the last page and having someone summarize it. (I get the end if, that is, I can see the results on the tower as in Qatar. At some tracks I don’t know for sure who won until I get back to the media center.)

Each January we say “This season is going to be great!” and for 2013 there seems to be more reason to believe that than ever, which is how the weekend’s story began. When we arrived at Losail, there was more anticipation in the paddock for a great season of racing ahead than I can remember.

Even with Casey Stoner gone, pre-season testing had raised expectations for Marc Marquez even higher than they had been at the end of 2012. We knew Pedrosa would be fast and win races. And we knew Lorenzo would be the man to beat.

What we didn’t know was how competitve Valentino Rossi would be after his two years at Ducati. There seemed to be a visceral need in the paddock for him to return to form, to be Valentino again. After ups and downs in the practice and qualifying sessions, he would start from seventh place on the grid, with Lorenzo on pole and likely to run away into the night.

Would we see a return of the Rossi flair that has inspired millions of fans around the world? Or would the fairy tale turn out to be a tragedy?

One thing was for sure as we stood on the grid after a very long winter break, waiting to find out the answer to this question: The crowd, even though largely Spanish and there to support top riders in all three classes, was even more ready to see Rossi go fast again than those in the paddock.

The track announcer introduced the various riders, and when he came to Rossi, the sudden rise in enthusiasm hit like a wall of sound. Official attendance for Sunday was a paltry 9,704 fans, but it sounded like all of them were on their feet cheering as Rossi turned and waved.

If you watched the race on TV, you got to read each of the story’s chapters in order, saw the narrative unfold lap by lap, turn by turn. But when I could stay on the grid no longer, I hustled out to the media shuttle area and climbed into a luxurious BMW 5-something-or-other.

Elegant and utterly unsuited to its task of conveying forphotographers laden with so much heavy gear (climbing into the sultry leather seats was eclipsed in difficulty only by climbing back out again), we sped at a leisurely 20 mph toward the spot I had chosen for my Lap 1 photo. (The drivers of the media shuttles are strictly required to observe a speed limit regardless of how rudely their passengers urge them to hurry the $%#^ up.)

Trackside Tuesday: The Story Begins Scott Jones MotoGP Qatar T2 in 635x422

In position, I concentrated on holding the camera steady and getting the image, rather than on what type of start each rider had accomplished. As the pack moved left to right, I swung the camera around and caught them riding away.

Trackside Tuesday: The Story Begins Scott Jones MotoGP Qatar T2 out 635x422

From then on I got my usual snippets of the story as the bikes passed me on each lap. I didn’t see anyone run on because of aggressive braking. I saw the cloud of dust from Bradl’s crash but was too far away to get a usable shot of the aftermath. It’s just luck if something like that happens in front of you or on the other side of the circuit.

I tried to tell the story as well as I could based on what I saw each lap. I did register that Rossi was near the front, then suddenly he had fallen back. With Lorenzo alone at the front, a sub-plot became the real story, as the race for 2nd, 3rd and 4th between the Repsol Hondas and Cal Crutchlow unfolded, and soon another sub-plot of factory Ducati’s chasing Bautista emerged.

Rossi seemed to have settled into a no-man’s land, a lonely ride of no magic whatsoever.

I wasn’t aware of his fast laps as he chased down the 2-3-4 battle. Suddenly we was just right behind them, so I photographed that new development. And then just as suddenly, he was in second place!

I was standing beside one of the Milagro photographers, an otherwise taciturn Italian fellow, and when Rossi came around ahead of the Hondas and a distant Crutchlow, we both shook our heads in amazement. He did it again!! He’s really back!!

The effort I make to return to pit lane for the podium depends on who will be there. Rossi back on the podium in a proper, dry race was a story, for sure. But I also felt he’d do a massive wheelie in the section of track between Turns 6 and 7. I knew the podium would be well covered by others, so I decided to stay and get whatever celebration he displayed.

Trackside Tuesday: The Story Begins Scott Jones MotoGP Qatar Valentino 2up Andrea Iannone 635x422

I had no idea he’d run out of fuel until he came around on Iannone’s Pramac Ducati, doing a new form of the leg dangle to avoid burning his boot on the Ducati’s lower pipe. Not what I had in mind, but certainly a once-in-a-career image of something not likely to happen ever again. But I was hardly the only photographer there hoping for a big wheelie shot, so, not exactly unique, either.

I made it back to the podium anyway, and wasn’t too surprised when the crowd seemed twice as loud when cheering his second place than when applauding Lorenzo’s win. It wasn’t until later, when I was able to see a replay of the race, that I saw each chapter of the story. It was a great way to begin 2013, and certainly not only for Rossi’s return to form, but perhaps chiefly because of it.

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.

Photos: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. tyler says:

    Great as always, thank you!

  2. JW says:

    Great story, great season , great time to be alive. Motogp provides a positive outlet for so many enthusiastes around the world, we are all interconnected to this great sport!

  3. StevenK says:

    No post race fuel testing in motoGP like in F1??
    Running out of fuel in F1 would leave you with a 30 second penalty at least.

  4. smiler says:

    That comment from the article at the weekend about Rossi & Merguez versus Lil Dani and Lorenzo. The chargers and inpolite versus the consistent perfectionists hurried on by hungry brits with Cal and the possible chase to be given by Duchati.

  5. kev71 says:

    Did I read that right…. 9704 in attendance? Is attendance always this low at this venue?

  6. L2C says:

    Thanks for sharing, Scott. Great story, great photos.

  7. Jim says:

    I wonder if Iaonnone was the first available ride or if anyone passed him by once he ran out of gas

  8. Mike Lewis says:

    On this video, it’s hard to say but it looks like Iannone pulled over for Rossi right away. Here’s the cool part (near the end) and what you didn’t see in the regular race vid: Rossi gets on and taps Iannone on the shoulder to say “I’m ready.” Then Rossi gestures excitedly “I got second!” to Iannone. Pretty funny and it shows how much the race meant to him. See here: http://www.motogp.com/en/videos/latest+videos#Rough+cut+Rossis+podium+clinching+performance+at+Losail