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.

Under the Radar: Riders Who Could Surprise You in 2013

01/09/2013 @ 10:33 am, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Under the Radar: Riders Who Could Surprise You in 2013 Danny Webb Indianapolis GP Jules Cisek 635x423

This is part 1 of a new series entitled ‘Under the Radar’. In it, we will be looking at stories we believe will have a major impact on MotoGP and World Superbikes in the next season, but which are not currently receiving much attention. While everyone expects Marc Marquez in MotoGP to be a big story, or Valentino Rossi’s return to Yamaha, these are the stories which you won’t hear much about by the start of the season, but which could end up playing a major role in 2013.

Everyone can guess the big names that are likely to make an impact in MotoGP in 2013: Marc Marquez will clearly be an exciting rookie to watch, Valentino Rossi should be competitive on a Yamaha, Pol Espargaro looks set to dominate Moto2, and Maverick Viñales and Luis Salom will be major players in Moto3. But look beyond the obvious candidates, and there are a number of candidates who could cause a surprise in 2013. Here are some of the riders to watch this season.

The Red Bull Rookie Invasion

The Red Bull Rookie Cup was set up to give young riders from around the world a shot at getting into MotoGP. The subtext has always been to avoid having a single nation or championship (i.e. the Spanish CEV championship) being the only viable route for anyone with aspirations of riding in MotoGP. In that, it has been remarkably successful, with its record improving with every year.

The crop of 2012 looks like being one of the best yet. The good news for MotoGP fans is that some of the cream of 2012 will be moving into Moto3 in 2013. German teenagers Philipp Oettl and Florian Alt have both been regular front-runners in the Rookies Cup for the past couple of years, Alt winning the title in 2012. Both young men have won races, with Alt showing the consistency to carry off a title at the end of the season, and both should make a positive transition into World Championship racing. Both join strong teams, Oettl heading to the Paddock TT squad, while Alt will be riding for the Kiefer squad in Moto3, and both men will be on competitive Kalex KTM bikes.

Also on a Kalex KTM will be Livio Loi, a young Belgian rider who had an outstanding first year in the Red Bull Rookies. Loi impressed most of all with the speed with which he learned, starting off the 2012 season with a string of rather modest results, but finding his feet halfway through the year. Once he got going, he looked pretty much unstoppable, winning at Brno and being robbed of victory at Aragon by a last-lap electrical problem. I was sceptical of Loi’s ability in the first half of the season, but by the end, he had made me a convert. Loi will be riding for the well-funded and extremely well-organized Marc VDS Racing team, and is on a two-year contract, taking much of the pressure off him to perform straight away.

There is still more to come from the Rookies: 2012 runner-up Scott Deroue will be remaining in the series for 2013, while Karel Hanika, tipped by many paddock outsiders as a truly exceptional talent, will have another year to develop. With Deroue coming from Holland and Hanika from the Czech Republic, the mix of nationalities in the Red Bull Rookies is looking very strong.

The CEV is still a strong source of riders, however. Young Italian Francesco Bagnaia tore up a couple of Spanish CEV Moto3 rounds, beating highly tipped riders such as Alex Marquez and Luca Amato. Bagnaia joins another Italian sensation, Romano Fenati, in the Team Italia squad, backed by the Italian motorcycling federation as part of their plan to raise the level of Italian racing again, in attempt to regain some of the dominance they used to have over the series. Those who have seen Bagnaia race are full of praise, and on a well-supported FTR Honda, the Italian could cause a few surprises in 2013.

Maturing to Moto3

Of those already in the series, there are two names worth keeping an eye on, one almost a veteran of the championship, the other a rider entering his second year. Danny Webb switches from Mahindra to the Ambrogio Racing squad for 2013, and though Ambrogio have only secured relatively modest results in past years, 2013 should be different. The team finances have been strengthened for this season, and obtaining Suter Hondas will give the team a better shot at some strong results. Webb has not often had decent machinery under him, his best results coming with the Andalucia Cajasol team in 2010. At 21 years of age, Webb needs a good season to get a shot at Moto2. 2013 could be his chance.

While Webb has been in the MotoGP paddock since 2007, Jack Miller only joined Moto3 at the start of 2012. The young Australian’s results in 2012 were not that much to write home about, but his potential is obvious. Miller contested last season aboard what was basically a bog standard Honda NSF250R, but despite that, regularly finished ahead of the competition on superior machinery. Miller’s main problem has been his maturity; speed he has plenty of, but concentration has sometimes been lacking. To assist him in this area, he has experienced endurance racer Damian Cudlin, who has been a calming and motivating influence on the Australian. Miller could be a real surprise package in 2013.

The Men of Moto2 

While it is hard to see Pol Espargaro missing out on the 2013 Moto2 title – though he will have a fight on his hands from Tom Luthi and Scott Redding, and maybe Simone Corsi, Alex de Angelis and Mattia Pasini as well – that does not mean that Moto2 will be predictable this year. Two men could shake things up nicely in Moto2 in 2013.

The first name is perhaps less surprising than it may at first seem. Julian Simon was widely tipped as a championship candidate in 2011, after finishing runner up in the first year of Moto2 in 2010. But a collision with Kenan Sofuoglu at Barcelona destroyed both his leg and his season in 2011, seeing him lose his place in the Aspar squad at the end of that year. His first outings with the FTR Moto2 bike in 2012 were far from impressive, but his fortunes did not improve much once he persuaded the BQR team to switch to Suter.

Simon’s started to see some improvement towards the end of the year, but the big change came with the news he had signed for the Italtrans squad for 2013. There, he will be riding a Kalex, and Simon was fast on board that bike as soon as he swung his leg over it. Simon ended the Valencia test just a tenth of a second behind Pol Espargaro, and looked smooth and fast every time he went out. Simon looks to be very much back in business for 2013.

The final man to watch for 2013 is another familiar face, and a rider who personifies the journeyman ethic of Australian motorcycle racers. Ant West has ridden almost every kind of motorcycle conceivable: 250cc two-strokes in the KTM, Honda and Aprilia flavors; 600cc Supersport machines, both Yamaha and Honda; Kawasaki’s 800cc ZX-RR MotoGP machine; and MZ, FTR, Moriwaki and Speed Up Moto2 bikes. His move to the QMMF squad at the beginning of 2012 did not bode well; the team had seen little success in 2011 and the Moriwaki appeared to be going backwards in terms of development.

Like Simon, West’s fortunes barely improved once the QMMF team dropped their original chassis and switched to the Speed Up bike. But as the year progressed, West started to figure the new bike out. During the three overseas rounds in Japan, Malaysia and Australia, West suddenly started to fly. The vital ingredient – confidence – which West had been missing for so long was back, and West stopped looking like a man with a Moriwaki and started looking like a man who had found his mojo.

My own abiding memory of Ant West is of his few appearances on Yamaha’s World Supersport R6 in 2007. His race at Silverstone in an utter downpour was almost other-worldly, leaving the rest of the field for dead. This was Ant West with confidence, comfortable with the bike and believing in himself. At the end of 2012, West started to show glimpses of that same form. If we see any more glimpses – and if he can be a little more careful about his choice of health supplements – West could finally live up to his potential in 2013.

Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey - All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Yeah, Ant West could be a really interesting rider to watch in 2013. I truly hope that he does well. I remember him flying in 2000 on a 250 from time to time. The boy’s been around the block for sure.