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.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

TTXGP & FIM Create New Electric Motorcycle Racing Series

03/05/2013 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

TTXGP & FIM Create New Electric Motorcycle Racing Series Brammo TTXGP Infineon race Steve Atlas 635x457

Suffering falling outs with both the Isle of Man TT and the FIM, the TTXGP electric motorcycle series has had to reinvent itself since its first event in back in 2009. A massive collision of three parties all trying to control the next big thing in motorcycle racing, fans of the electric motorcycle racing eventually saw it split over three competing series: the TT Zero race at the Isle of Man TT, the FIM’s e-Power Championship, and of course the TTXGP series.

The resulting fracture created a lack of cohesion in the sport, and created a situation where the heavy-hitters in the electric motorcycle industry would cherry-pick the events they attended, often with no formidable competition alongside them at the starting grid. This not only created a disparity in performance between competitors on any given race day, but also denied enthusiasts the chance to see real head-to-head racing amongst the brands that were dominating the newswires.

A major division in these different electric motorcycle racing series is about to heal itself though, as the FIM and TTXGP have finally come to an agreement on a future joint electric motorcycle racing series.

The plan set forth by the FIM and TTXGP is one of stepping stones, as for 2013 the series will be billed as an FIM World Cup series, and will be a support class at four races in the USA, as well as four races in Europe, with a final race that will be held in Asia, to crown the World Champion (this calendar is very similar to the current TTXGP setup).

For 2014, the series will be bumped to a championship calendar schedule, with six races that will be held over three continents (we imagine those again will be North America, Europe, and Asia). Lastly, in 2015 the series will be given World Championship status, and will run as a stand-alone event with a global calendar, much in the way the TTXGP series was originally envisioned.

“Through this agreement, we are taking another important step towards the growth and promotion of clean electric road racing,” said FIM President Vito Ippolito. “The FIM is committed to furthering sports events for electric motorcycles which will certainly be a major component of the motor sport of the future.”

“This partnership with the FIM clears the way for a single destination for all the world’s innovators to drive the next generation of technologies for competitive motor sport beyond the grid,” added TTXGP Founder Azhar Hussain. “We look forward to working with the FIM on this exciting project.”

As of this time, the new series is still without a name, and its 2013 events list is still forthcoming. That being said, this is a major step in electric motorcycle racing, which until recently has been easy to pass off as a sideshow mired in egos, politics, and a healthy amount of land-grabbing…and that is without commenting on what was taking place on the race course.

With the FIM able to put the electric races at premier venues and events, and the TTXGP marketing the new series to EV enthusiasts and petrol-heads alike, the new forthcoming series appears to take the best aspects from each party’s previous attempts at running an electric motorcycle racing series.

Electric motorcycle racing still has many hurdles to overcome, both from a logistical and operations point-of-view, but also from a racing product perspective, but today’s events are certainly one step, of many still to come, in the right direction.

Source: FIM; Photo: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. Bob says:

    Good news that they kissed and made up. However, there still seems to be a lack of electric motorcycle teams. Brammo has been consistent, but what about Zero, Csyz, Mission, Flying Banana…etc? They don’t seem have the engineering skills/resources/time/money to actually get out there and race. Heck, even Brammo’s bike bucked two riders (nearly killed a guy) last season – sorry, not gonna pony up 16 grand for a half baked machine. This sport is very much in its infancy and I looked forward to it actually maturing.

  2. Julian Bond says:

    So will we see the TT-Zero merged back in as well? And re teams will Honda, sorry Mugen, compete in the new series?

  3. BrammoBrian says:

    Bob,

    The Brammo rider that got “bucked” did not almost die or even come close. He walked away from the crash and was later diagnosed with some cracked vertebrae. He came back in the next round, won the race, and went on to win the National championship as well as the World TTXGP Championship. Using your logic, 100% of gas bikes racing are “half-baked” as they have all been crashed at one point or another.

    Here’s a video filmed directly following Steve’s impressive victory at Portland International Raceway.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilMQA-fgreg

    Agreed that it’s nice to see the series mature.

  4. Dr. Gellar says:

    This really is great news…not only in that the FIM and TTXGP have finally reunited, but that they are apparently giving teams and manufacturers about two years to get all their ducks in a row for when the series becomes a World Championship in 2015. It’ll be really cool to see who’s on the grid for this series by the time that happens. Hopefully we’ll see some full-time commitments by some if not most of the current top teams.

  5. Bob says:

    Brian, crack vertebrae sound awfully serious. Am I wrong? I recall seeing the rider in a neck brace. IIRC, another rider was throw from the same bike because of a similar malfunction. My point is: the bike had some sort of electrical/software glitch that caused the wreck. Gas bike accidents wreck b/c of rider error, NOT electrical/software glitches. That is the distinction I was trying to make.

    Sorry to be an internet critique, but I have to give my honest opinion on these machines. When I see them running error free, race after race, then I will be sold. I noticed your team had quite a few glitches at Daytona, so I still think there’s a ways to go. Correct me if I’m wrong. I realize it must be a lot of work to get these machines working flawlessly, but that is what the public demands out of a commercial machine. I think you guys are very near that point, and wish you all continued success.

  6. protomech says:

    Bob: the second crash was due to a radiator leak, iirc. Not sure about the first crash – but bear in mind the RR is still very much a continuously-developing prototype GP bike, not a production race replica. If you haven’t seen prototype bikes (regardless of propulsion system) crash due to a “glitch” of some type, you haven’t been watching..

    If you want to see electric bikes running error free, race after race, then take a look at the production eSuperStock class. Zero raced 4 of their street bikes in every race except the final of the north american TTXGP. Zero glitches. Zero errors.

    Granted, the Zero streetbikes are much slower than the prototype racebikes. But that will improve with time; both Brammo and Zero are expected to race production streetbikes this year, with double the power vs last year (~25 hp 2012 up to 54 hp 2013).

  7. Westward says:

    Ice bikes don’t run error free, so why is it electrics have to? In recent times both Pedrosa and Dovi had serious faults with their Honda bikes, injuring one and potential injuring the other. Even Spies had a crucial engineering failure on his Yamaha M1 that could have killed him, and at all places the Corkscrew decent at Laguna Seca.

    I think the TTXGP should have a relay system, where the pilot has two bikes and a set amount of batteries to complete a certain numbers of laps, forcing the pilot to pit and switch bikes on the fly. Thus the pit crew has to setup the newly pitted bike with fresh batteries to complete the last leg of the race.

    Now if a manufacturer can come up with the technology to extend the charge capacity to avoid having to pit, then more power to them (pun intended). However the number of laps required should to set 3x beyond current storage capacity, making for two switches.

    This would add a dynamic to Electric races that would differentiate further from conventional racing..

  8. ttxgpfan says:

    @Bob, I have interviewed Brian and have an interview with Eric Bostrom that is being edited out right now for my podcast (not to distract from A&R). We talk about the concerns you express about the RR. I think the production bike is anything but half baked from all of the owner reviews over on the Brammoforums. I will say that EBoz said one of the reasons he has decided to stay with the team is that because the street Empulse is so good it proved to him they can and do learn from their track experience. But the easier thing to do is watch Shelina Moreda on the Empulse TTX taking on Moto Zero this year. I have little doubt you will see nothing but absolute reliability. I suspect the RR will be much more reliable as they figured out that their problems were all about the encoders which is an inexpensive part.

    I share your frustration about the other teams not showing up. With most of the races being at FIM events this year there should be big enough crowds and hence enough sponsorship money available to get them to show up. According to EBoz, Brammo is going to have something for them this year.