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.

TTXGP: Brammo Wins at Infineon

05/14/2011 @ 7:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

TTXGP: Brammo Wins at Infineon Brammo TTXGP Infineon race Steve Atlas 635x457

With rain threatening to put the kibosh on the West Coast Moto Jam’s Sunday events, the first of two scheduled TTXGP races was moved up to Saturday afternoon under the cooling wine country skies of Sonoma. With only four bikes taking to the starting grid (Lightning Motors’ two bikes were scratches, as was the Mission R by Mission Motors), it was a sparse showing for the first electric race of the 2011 season, which was disappointing considering Infineon’s proximity to a number of strong electric motorcycle entities.

Taking the overall win was Brammo Racing, which had motorcycle-racer-turned-motorcycle-journalist Steve Atlas at the helm of the Brammo Empulse RR. Brammo competed with Moto Electra’s Thad Wolff for the overall unlimited TTXGP class, while Kenyon Kluge on the VOLT bike finished third overall, besting Ely Schless and his Proto Moto bike in the Formula TTX75 class. Completing eight laps, Atlas took the Brammo Empulse RR to the winner’s circle with a 25 second gap and a best lap time of 1:57.875.

Today’s race at Infineon was a mixed bag at best. With only four bikes on the grid, two in each class, exciting and close racing was almost assured not to appear. Even the originally planned seven-bike grid was under-populated for what you would hope for in a race, and the absence of  high-profile teams like Agni, Lightning, Mission Motors, MotoCzysz, and Zero made Brammo’s first re-entry into racing since the very first TTXGP at the Isle of Man underwhelming. The team was deservedly all smiles in the winner’s circle though.

Dominating the field, even the performance of the Brammo Empulse RR was a disappointment for those hoping to see a progression in lap times from electrics. Posting a 1:57.875 best lap time during the race, Brammo and Steve Atlas were roughly a second off the best lap time from last year’s TTXGP race (1:56.948), which was set by the race winner Shawn Higbee on the Zero/Agni. This also makes the top time of today’s race roughly 10 seconds slower than the Harley-Davdison XR1200 spec-class (it also means that this reporter owes a Harley-Davidson PR person an In & Out Burger — animal style of course).

With talk of a race on Sunday (weather permitting), Richard Hatfield of Lightning Motors expressed to us that he might dust off the Flying Banana, last year’s runner-up here at Infineon & the North American TTXGP Championship winner, and come race since his 2011 bike is still being put together. The Flying Banana is currently over the weight limit imposed by TTXGP this year, which would require work by the Lightning Motors crew, which would likely distract from their efforts to now prepare the new Lightning bike for the Isle of Man. With a lot of if’s in those variables, it would still be interesting to see some closer racing on Sunday if all the variables come together.

The next time we’ll see most of these teams together will be Laguna Seca, as the FIM and TTXGP have collaborated on that race, as well as two others. TTXGP’s next event will be in New Hampshire on June 17th-18th.

Pos.No.RiderTeamTimeDiff.
158Steve AtlasBrammo17:44.506-
237Thad WolffMoto Electra18:10.07525.569
319Kenyon KlugeVOLT20:03.7782:19.272
418Ely SchlessProto Moto20:07.4761 Lap
Not Classified
DNS15Mike HannasLightning--
DNS80Michael BarnesLightning--
DNS17Steve RappMission Motors--

Photo: Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. ohio says:

    Wow, slower than last year’s Zero/Agni? Which was really the IoM bike from the year BEFORE that? 2 years is a really long time in electric bikes. Pretty poor showing… definitely had higher hopes for the Empulse RR based on Atlas’ write-ups in the past month.

  2. Dr. Gellar says:

    So much for what I said in an earlier post regarding the new Lightning race bikes: the professionalism of the electric motorcycle road-racing scene has a looooong way to go before it gets anywhere near where I’d like to see it, or where it should be in order to be taken seriously by the majority of the motorcycle racing community. I mean, come on….only 4 bikes in the race!?!? And then to have the two biggest competitors (Lightning and Mission) not even race because their bikes aren’t ready?!? What a sad joke. Very, very sad… Electric motorcycle racing needs to be so much more better than this.

    Still…I’m excited to check things out tomorrow if the rain doesn’t wash everything away. And congratulations to Brammo and the other competitors in today’s race….for at least showing up and giving it a go.

  3. We actually ran a FASTER race pace than last year. Look at last year’s average race speed. We also qualified faster. Steve ran consistently in the 1:57-1:58 range. The race leaders didn’t break 2:00 until the closing laps last year. Without pushing the bike or rider, and with no competition, we still ran a pace that would have walked away from last year’s winner. When Mission and Lightning get done talking and issuing press releases and actually turn a wheel on a track, we’ll see where everyone stands. Until then, a win is a win and in racing, you take them anyway you can get them. Looking forward to Seca…

  4. Gavin says:

    http://plugbike.com/2010/05/16/2010-ttxgp-round-1-results-at-infineon-raceway/

    Last years time was 25:33? So this years winner was almost 8 minutes faster over the nine laps???

    That sounds like a great improvement to me…maybe I have my numbers wrong? If not it seems this article could have a slightly more upbeat tone.

    Yes I would love more bikes racing. Yes I would love to see the electrics beat the gas bikes. Give it some time and both will happen.

    But a 30% improvement in race time in 1 year is fantastic.

    Gavin

  5. Big congrats to Brammo! The Empulse is officially a Race-Proven design!

  6. ohio says:

    Gavin, last year’s race was 11 laps, not 9 like yesterday’s. Given the limiting factor on these bikes is energy, and they ran two FEWER laps this year, the pace on the exact same bikes as last year would have considerably faster since they’d have about 20% more energy per lap to burn.

    BrammoBrian, you’re right, a win is a win for the race series, but the real battle is public perception and frankly having a 2 year old bike put up a better lap time on it’s final lap of 11 than this year’s bike doesn’t count like “walking away from last year’s winner” and doesn’t do much to convince the public that these are performance machines ready for prime time.

    I hope when Mission, Csysz and Lighting get their bikes together it’ll light a fire under the RR, and we’ll start seeing the improved performance I would have expected.

  7. “When Mission and Lightning get done talking and issuing press releases and actually turn a wheel on a track, we’ll see where everyone stands. Until then, a win is a win and in racing, you take them anyway you can get them. Looking forward to Seca…” sounds like a well put challenge to me Brian.

    For reference last year’s race was 11 laps, and this year’s was 8 laps…we could probably debate until we’re blue in the face about how that affects things.

    For the record, Brammo’s lap times for Race 1 were the following:

    Lap 1 – 3:51.142
    Lap 2 – 1:58.833
    Lap 3 – 1:58.064
    Lap 4 – 1:57.875 (best time)
    Lap 5 – 1:59.044
    Lap 6 – 1:58.441
    Lap 7 – 1:58.207
    Lap 8 – 2:02.899

    Make of that what you will; however the lap times for the second race put the issue to bed I think, with 1:55 and 1:56′s abounding.

  8. Gavin says:

    THanks for the info…I was wondering why Brammo was 8 minutes faster.

    Good to see Brammo open the RR up a bit more on the second day and set a new track record for an electric.

    Word has it that they were limiting the RR to 85 % power… Hopefully they will go even faster next race and get more in the 90 to 95% power limits.

    More teams and faster bikes are a good thing…hoping to see Mission and Lightning and more at the next race.

    Gavin

  9. Bob says:

    “When Mission and Lightning get done talking and issuing press releases and actually turn a wheel on a track, we’ll see where everyone stands”

    Ha! I loved that comment, especially from the main Brammo engineer. He’s so right though. You gotta give Brammo tons of credit for actually putting rubber on the road, unlike Mission’s vapor-ware bike!

  10. says:

    8 minutes faster? wow. that is a great improvement

  11. Kind of beating a dead horse here, but I’m still trying to track down why that first lap is listed as a 3:51.142. It looks like timing and scoring included the warm-up lap or at least some portion of it. Our on-board Motec data ac system records that first lap from a standing start as a 2:01.