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.

MotoGP: When Will Yamaha’s Seamless Gearbox Arrive? Probably Not This Season

06/19/2013 @ 10:36 pm, by David Emmett15 COMMENTS

MotoGP: When Will Yamahas Seamless Gearbox Arrive? Probably Not This Season yamaha yzr m1 clutch 635x425

Why did the factory Yamaha team head to the Motorland Aragon circuit to join Honda and Suzuki at a private test? Was it perhaps to give Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi their first taste of the seamless gearbox Yamaha have been developing, to counter Honda’s advantage?

That is the question which many fans have been asking, and in recent days – and weeks – I have been inundated with questions about the seamless gearbox. Well, question, singular, actually, as it all boils down to just the one: When will Yamaha finally start to race their seamless gearbox?

It is a question I have been trying to pursue since the start of the season, since rumors first emerged that they may have used the gearbox at the first race of the year. All inquiries I made, at all levels of the Yamaha organization, received the same answers: Yes, Yamaha is developing a seamless gearbox, and is testing it back in Japan. No, Yamaha has not yet raced it, and has no plans to race it. And no, it is not yet ready to be tested.

Of course, the answer given to you by someone in the pay of Yamaha cannot always be taken at face value. The answer you receive from a member of any factory team to a specific question is nearly always part of the carefully controlled corporate line, which means that while most of the time, the answer is something close to the truth, sometimes that answer is a spin on the facts, or a deflection from the facts, or sometimes a downright, well, let’s not call it a lie, let’s call it being economical with the truth. So it behooves you to check, through whatever other sources are available.

Fortunately for me, the seamless gearbox has a telltale audio signature. Stand at trackside and listen to the bikes go by, and you can hear the difference, the Honda slipping effortlessly and almost imperceptibly from gear to gear, the Yamaha producing a giant boom, as the quickshifter cuts power, and then pausing audibly.

Taking audio samples at the Jerez test and measuring the length of gearchanges, I concluded that Yamaha was neither testing nor racing a seamless gearbox. I sporadically check at other racetracks, and each time, the answer is the same: Yamaha is either not using a seamless gearbox, or if it is using one, the Japanese company needs to throw it away and start again.

Coming into Barcelona, I was led to believe that Yamaha would be bringing a seamless gearbox to test. Questioning Yamaha staff about this – who are looking more and more exasperated, each time you ask them – kept eliciting the same response, over and over again.

No, we have not brought a seamless gearbox to test. No, there are no plans to race the gearbox. No, there are no plans to test the gearbox in the near future. Once again, a quick check from audio recordings made at trackside during the Barcelona test – more of which later in the week – produced the same result: No seamless gearbox.

If Yamaha had intended to race the seamless gearbox, then this was probably the last chance to have the factory riders test the gearbox properly before finalizing it ready for use. The Barcelona test was the second of the three official tests scheduled for this year – the next one is at Misano, in September – and having the Aragon test directly afterwards would have given Yamaha plenty of track time to ensure that the gearbox was working, and offered a clear benefit.

Now, Yamaha only has the Misano test in September, unless they were to schedule a private test at one of their designated test circuits. Given the fullness of the schedule, that would only really leave the summer break, the four weeks between Laguna Seca and Indianapolis, for Lorenzo and Rossi to try the gearbox.

With the MotoGP teams due to leave their bikes and equipment in the US between the two rounds, that would leave only Austin, Texas as the track where Yamaha could have Rossi and Lorenzo test the gearbox, and given that the average temperature in that part of Texas is 36°C in July and August, that would be both punishing on the riders and difficult on the tires and machines. The feasibility of such a test is extremely doubtful.

It seems likely, then, that the first opportunity the Yamaha riders will have to test the seamless gearbox will be at the post-race test in Misano. If the gearbox comes through for that test, then it will be far to late to be adopted for the 2013 season. In part because the results of the test would have to be confirmed once again in Japan, but mostly because by that time, Yamaha will likely be using all five of its allocation of engines.

Given the complexity of a seamless gearbox, it seems unlikely that such a transmission could fit into the standard Yamaha M1 cases. (As a general reminder, the transmission can usually be removed from a sealed engine, without breaking the seals).

Though we do not know exactly how Honda’s gearbox works, nor which design Yamaha have chosen, the most common seamless gearbox designs require both the gearbox shafts to consist of two shafts, one rotating inside the other, and engaging and disengaging a ratchet mechanism either on the selector dogs or on the gears themselves.

Such shafts are physically larger than standard gearbox shafts, and require extra bearings to manage them, as well as extra space for the secondary ratchet selcection mechanism. The extra size and larger bearings would preclude the use of a seamless gearbox in standard cases, unless Yamaha had decided to build the standard engine ready to accept the seamless gearbox once it was tested and ready to use. That, though, would probably create too many disadvantages for the standard engine, in terms of size, weight distribution and increased friction.

This would appear to confirm what I was told by a member of Yamaha’s staff at Barcelona. “If we test the seamless gearbox at Misano, then there is no way we will use it this season.”

So why the delay? Jorge Lorenzo’s team boss Wilco Zeelenberg explained it best. Gearboxes tend to either work, or not work; they have a rather binary functionality. If something goes wrong with a gearbox, then that usually means a DNF for the rider who sufferes the gearbox issue.

With a gearbox set up as complicated as the seamless transmissions appear to be, the chances of a gearbox which has not been fully tested locking up completely are too high to risk. Jorge Lorenzo knows all too well that titles are won and lost on consistency – his 2012 season saw him finish only 1st or 2nd, except for 2 DNFS – and not finishing is too big a risk to take. Lorenzo needs all the points he can get, if he is to retain his world title.

And title apart, gearbox issues are the problems riders fear most, because of the awful consequences if something goes wrong. If an engine seizes or blows up, then the riders has the option of whipping in the clutch and cruising to a halt. The gearbox is after the clutch, and so if it locks up, the rear wheel locks up, with the most likely scenario being that the rider is flung from the bike. Gearbox seizures end all too often in injury, and that, too, is a risk which neither Lorenzo nor Rossi can afford to take.

Add all this together, and the odds of Yamaha having a seamless gearbox before the end of the year look extremely slim. But given Jorge Lorenzo’s results this year – three wins from six races, two more podiums, and a deficit of just 7 points in the championship – the reigning World Champion appears to be doing just fine without the seamless gearbox.

The Yamaha YZR-M1 is still an exceptionally good machine, despite it lacking a seamless gearbox. There is still a very good chance that Lorenzo will successfully defend his title regardless of the gear change technology available.

Of course, the whole debate could quite easily have been avoided, and costs drastically cut into the bargain. If only the Grand Prix Commission hadn’t decided to ban dual-clutch technology way back in 2008…

Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

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

Comment:

  1. Crazy says:

    Well it seems that Jorge not realy need the seamless shift this season. thats because at the moment Jorge is the Best rider out there. And now Rossi seems to have found some positive things in testing. Let Yamaha end this season and next year use the seamless gearbox. btw honda didn’t develop the seamless gearbox but an english company did for them.Jorge is inj testing 4 tenths quicker then stoner record so nothing wrong with the Yam!! Go Yamaha

  2. HisAirness says:

    Which one is better (and faster), the seamless gearbox or the dual-clutch transmission? Because as far as I know, the seamless transmission shitfs gears as fast as, if not faster than a dual-clutch, you can check on an older post here on A&R that the Hondas have an average of 0.009s in gears changing. So it is pretty damn fast!
    Also, wouldn’t the dual-clutch be too heavy compared to the seamless box?

  3. Seb says:

    I’m starting to think the seamless gearbox could be one of the factors that makes the Hondas engines last longer. The rpm variation is most certainly much smaller between gears compared with a more “regular” gearbox. Probably not a huge difference here, but small things add up.

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “I’m starting to think the seamless gearbox could be one of the factors that makes the Hondas engines last longer.”

    think no more. it’s the added balance and efficiency attained from opening the v-angle back out to 90. mind, we’re not talking an illegal amount just a fractional improvement, but every lil’ bit helps. HRC (of all boffins) know full well the merits. see entry for RVF750R, RC30, RC45, R51/Sp1, etc.

  5. Variable says:

    Norm

    “not talking an illegal amount”? An illegal amount of what? I just read the section of the FIM 2013 rules (with 2014 changes) on GP engines, and I have no idea what you are talking about. Illegal amount of efficiency? Degree angle of the V? I don’t understand what you mean, because none of that is in the rules, so how could anything you’re saying be illegal?

  6. CTK says:

    MotoGP rules are so stupid. They should let the bikes run dual clutch transmissions. Though to be honest I’m not sure they would come close to the seamless box. They’d def be easier on the engine though

  7. Bruce says:

    This whole seamless gearbox issue is starting to sound like the “Ducati’s handling sucks because they use a 90 degree V engine”. The beauty of mechanical engineering is that there is always a way to achieve the desired results with completely different designs. That fact makes writing rules to ban technology difficult. Then when you have companies like Honda, that think it is good corporate policy to have engineers solve complicated problems with out a need for short term profit realization, the rule makers are always going to end up behind.

  8. twoversion says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEcTIQQjLsI to understand how a seamless transmission works

    as far as Honda’s lasting longer – that’s what billions in shared motor racing tech and employees can bring

  9. Norm G. says:

    re: ” I don’t understand what you mean, because none of that is in the rules, so how could anything you’re saying be illegal?”

    apologies. it’s just a cheeky way of saying alot of something or a great quantity or sum.

  10. Norm G. says:

    re: “btw honda didn’t develop the seamless gearbox but an english company did for them.”

    who themselves licensed it from a kiwi.

  11. Norm G. says:

    re: “The Yamaha YZR-M1 is still an exceptionally good machine, despite it lacking a seamless gearbox. There is still a very good chance that Lorenzo will successfully defend his title regardless of the gear change technology available.”

    yup, the best laid plans of mice and men (ie. million dollar gearboxes) are all easily trumped by crude, blunt force technology known as a “BAUTISTA”.

  12. MikeD says:

    How come this “UNOBTANIUM + GAZILLION DOLLARS to refurbish” Seamless gear box is allowed BUT a “Everybody & their Buddies have one, mostly main stream technology, more-less affordable” Dual Clutch setup is NOT ALLOWED ?

    Seriously ? Whoever came up with that law should be hung by the sack from the highest street lite.

    I can see how some of us here go rambling how all these “laws” do nothing but hold back he sport in the name of “fairness” towards the other “less fortunate$$$$$$ players”……………..UBBER B.S….that’s what it is.

  13. mxs says:

    Yamaha will need extra engine or two to finish the boring season, rather than a seamless gearbox.

  14. Norm G. says:

    Q: “How come this “UNOBTANIUM + GAZILLION DOLLARS to refurbish” Seamless gear box is allowed BUT a “Everybody & their Buddies have one, mostly main stream technology, more-less affordable” Dual Clutch setup is NOT ALLOWED ?”

    A: a classic exploitation of a loophole in the regs. as the rules are written, the ban is specifically on “dual clutch setups”, not on the concept of eliminating torque breaks between the crankshaft and the rear tire during gear change. Honda’s set up doesn’t use dual clutches, so there ya go. cue elbow dragging, orange marauders.