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.

Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc

09/27/2010 @ 2:49 pm, by Tim Hoefer9 COMMENTS

Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring review 1 560x398

Dubbed the Best Motorcycle of the 2009 EICMA show, the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring has a lofty title that we’ve been itching to test since we saw the bike debut in Milan last year. While the new Multistrada 1200 comes in many flavors, we somehow managed to get our hands on the Multistrada 1200 S Touring version, or as we like to call it: “King Duc”. The Multistrada line has been Ducati’s attempt to be more than a sportbike-driven brand, and with this latest incarnation we can see that the Bologna-based company has taken a serious stab at making a go-anywhere GS-killer, with Italian style of course.

We were anxious to bring the Multistrada 1200 to our happy hunting grounds in Santa Barbara, CA where we had just recently test ridden the groundbreaking Honda VFR1200F a month back. Our adventures with the new Multi actually began with a very long and boring two-hour drive into Brea, CA on four wheels. Traveling on four wheels in Los Angeles is the stuff suicide notes are made of, and naturally the return trip from Brea was a more pleasurable experience for a certain test rider, than it was for one editor stuck in LA gridlock. Of course that didn’t stop me from having the pleasurable experience of becoming acquainted with the Multistrada 1200 in its natural territory, the open road.

Knowing the sporty nature of Ducati motorcycles (and the seemingly inverse relationship between sportiness and comfort), we were skeptical of how enjoyable the 150-mile ride back from Brea would be on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring. Suffering through the almost endless miles of parked cars on the highway that laid between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, I pulled over and sent the first text message back about the bike, “So much fun!!!!” it read, along with a picture of the Multistrada sitting on the side of dead-end road.

Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring review 11 560x374Editor’s note: This is first time I’ve ever seen Timmy use an exclamation point, let alone four of them. With Central California and the Grapevine climbing to near 100F weather, I thought to myself “dear God, he’s having a heat stroke.”  Finally arriving to where he had pulled-over, I found Tim not only alive, but beaming ear-to-ear. “This bike is way more fun than the VFR.”

Arriving in Santa Barbara, we finally got to spend some time with King Duc, taking in the full aesthetic of this bird-beaked motorcycle (or is it an anteater’s snout?), without any Ducati personnel around. Regardless of your choice in animal analogies, the looks of the Multistrada 1200, while distracting at first, grows on you over time (GS owners know what we mean), and by the time we had to give the bike back to Ducati, the Multistrada 1200 earned remarks like “distinguishably good looking” from our otherwise critical group of motorcycling compatriots.

There are gripes about the bike that do not go away over with time though. Certain things about the Multistrada 1200 S Touring’s design that we never could come to grips with, namely how damn tall this motorcycle sits. At 33.5” seat height, we really don’t know for whom this motorcycle was built for. I tower at 6’4” and Jensen is 6’2”, yet only one of us could flat-foot the bike at a stop, and getting on and off the bike proved to be a yoga exercise in its own right for both of us. The biggest hurdle seems to be getting your leg over and around the saddlebags without scratching them, a move we failed at time and time again…we may or may not have laid a few boot scuffs over the four days and 500+ miles we had the Multistrada 1200 S Touring for. Eventually we even began to loathe the saddlebags, until of course we had to haul camera equipment and lunch around with us.

The swingarm is distinctly Ducati, as is the bike’s overall fit and finish. Once you get past the carbon fiber nose job, the Multistrada 1200’s lines are quite flowing, except for one point: the seat. When it comes to your butt, Ducati has taken the function over form approach, and we thank them for that kindness.

Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring review 2 560x374The rear seat on King Duc overhangs the front seat by nearly an inch, which catches the eye and looks like an after-thought from the Ducati design department. But when you sit your ass down on the Multistrada, your butt is cupped like a yearly physical exam. Hitting your lower back, the passenger seat aids in this process, and provides a fair amount of lumbar support. In the debate between sport vs. comfort, the Multi should be the gold standard where the two intersect. Providing a solid and comfortable riding platform, we found the Multistrada 1200 S Touring to be an easy and confident motorcycle that you easily burn a thousand miles on in a day if you were so inclined… as long as you didn’t attempt to dismount the bike quickly and without stretching.

Long before we picked up King Duc, our interest was piqued to see and feel the bike’s integrated and electronically controlled Öhlins suspension along with its on-the-fly matching ECU re-mapping. The Multistrada 1200 S Touring features four adept modes of user-selectable drive modes: Urban, Enduro, Touring, and Sport. Switching between modes was easily accomplished while riding the bike with a couple of button presses, and cutting the throttle while at speed. Since Ducati thought you might like to take a friend and luggage along for the adventure, you could also setup the Multistrada 1200 to adjust for a passenger’s weight and full saddlebags.

While only one of us attempted to checkout the Enduro mode, getting stuck in a dry creek bed in the process, we both found the other three modes pleasantly useful (Editor’s note: big thanks to the Los Padres National Park Service for asking if we needed help, and to Timmy for taking off when they stopped by during my off-road ‘excursion’). Bred off the Ducati Superbike 1198 power plant, the Multistrada 1200 is more than capable of whipping your neck back at full-throttle, but the large displacement v-twin can be frustrating at slower speeds in the city, which is where the Urban mode comes in to play.

While in Urban mode, the Multistrada 1200’s Testastretta 11° motor goes from an unwieldy 150hp, to a more manageable 100hp, which is better suited for the city streets. Ducati’s traction control (DTC) system also heightens its alertness, but we didn’t have the guts to check this feature out in the wild, let alone to fill out the $20,000 check if we were wrong, like another publication recently did. In the real world, Urban mode gives you much more useable power from stop to stop, and the Multistrada 1200 S allowed us more gear changes and lower revs without lurching around the bumpy and crowned streets of Santa Barbara. Matched with a softer suspension, the coastal city’s traffic was almost enjoyable, until we found a stretch of open road, and dropped the Multistrada 1200 S Touring back into Sport mode.

Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring review 7 560x374We’re sportbike guys at heart, and expect a bike from Ducati to act accordingly…even when they have panniers affixed to them. If you feel the same way, then Sport mode will make you grin. Showing King Duc in all her glory, Sport mode stiffens the suspension and lets the 1198cc motor do its thing unimpeded (we’re told you can stiffen the bike further manually if Sport mode isn’t sporty enough for you). At the first chance to crack the bike wide-open, we were astonished by how much power the Multistrada 1200 has to give, and kind of thankful for the seat that hugs your coccyx like no tomorrow. It will not win the next track day, but the Multistrada 1200 S Touring was no slouch on our highway roll-ons. With its grippy seat and up-right sitting position, you’ll be hindered getting off the seat to lean further long before the bike’s torque-laden motor holds you back in the corners. You will not be dragging any knees, but if you’re the last one around the bend on your Sunday morning ride, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

What the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring is really designed to do is travel some serious highway miles, regardless of road conditions. To this end, Bologna has made the Touring mode function. A cross between Sport and Urban, riding on the freeway in Touring mode has a nice lax suspension feel, while keeping more engine power on tap. Touring mode also sips less fuel out of the Multistrada 1200’s 5.3 gallon tank than Sport mode, which helps rack-up the miles quicker with fewer pit stops. Ultimately what mode you’ll use will depend on your mood and environment, which is kind of the point Ducati had in mind when they designed the system.

Other technologies on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 include the brightly lit LCD dash. This LCD panel is bright, and once you get a lay of the land the layout is fairly intuitive. Unlike the usually sparse Ducati displays, the Multistrada 1200’s shows a fair amount of information that can be toggled through while you ride. The special “HUD” can show additional information and settings, but why it has to be sequestered away from the rest of the dash is beyond us.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 comes with a keyless ignition, and an RFID key fob.  If you don’t pay close attention to the Ducati dealer when he briefs you on this feature, or if Ducati fails to give you a user manual when they hand you the keys to a 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring, the process of actually turning on the motorcycle can be quite confusing. The key here, and yes this pun is intended, is to have the keyless key fob on your person, this much is of course obvious. And then in what can only be described as the NES Contra Code Cheat, you curse and hope while entering in the magic code that will bring King Duc to life. Up, down, up, down, left, right, left, right B, A, select, start, and along with several dozen flips of the kill switch, and presto the Multistrada 1200 comes to life (reverse order to turn the motorcycle off).  Once you realize that you have to press the kill switch past the off position, everything becomes a lot clearer, and you feel like a moron…just as we did.

Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring review 5 560x374Either the air was thinning 33.5 inches off the ground, or the superiority complex of being on such a tall bike has gotten to our heads, but suffice it to say that once you’ve made it actually onto the bike, your perch is quite high. This of course facilitates the Multistrada 1200’s suitable ground clearance, but also lets the rider stretch his or her legs out (although see our displeasure about the centerstand further down in the article), which avoids leg cramps. Arm positioning is upright, but neutral. Clearly Ducati had long rides in mind. The only thing that would hold us back from a long ride would be the wind blast.

Despite arming the Multistrada 1200 with an adjustable windshield, we could find little difference in moving the shield up and down its five or so inches of travel. Seemingly funneling wind right into our helmets, it’s hard to imagine how this feature got past R&D with a stamp of approval, yet it did. Riders of different heights will vary on their assessment, but for our six-foot plus frames, we’d look at aftermarket options if your neck begins to tire.

An issue that’s specific to only the Multistrada 1200 S Touring, and not the other variants, is the centerstand arrangement. Continuing a trend started with the Ducati Streetfighter, Ducati seems intent on putting things in the way of your natural foot position. Thus as a bonus item that comes on King Duc is the inconvenient centerstand, whose main responsibility is constantly hitting your left shoe. While riding King Duc on the balls of your feet and flat footed, the stand’s push bar comes in clear contact with your heal. Annoying at first, you later realize this could serve as a quick ejection method if you’re not careful. The heat grips on the other hand were quite lovely, and could probably boil an egg if left on their highest setting.

Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring review 10 560x374Our last gripe has to be the saddlebags, and how much difficulty these little bastards created in simply getting on and off Mt. Multistrada. Like a high school girl’s bra clasp, these devices seemed designed specifically to ruin our pre-pubescent fun, and still remain a quagmire in our adult lives. While you will eventually hoist yourself up onto King Duc, we hope you never ride through a rainstorm or charity event car wash. With noticeable gaps between the two-halves, we were thankful for Santa Barbara’s perpetual sunshine, and that everything we stowed was already in a waterproof bag. While fashionable (they really tie the room bike together) and stylish, we found that the only thing that frustrated us more than swinging our legs over the bags, were trying to close the damn things. Again like the ignition, you’ll figure it out over time if left on your own, but there has to be a better way…it’s not like you’re making a watertight seal after all.

Negatives aside this bike is a solid ride no doubt. From the get-go we had a bromance with its styling and Pikes Peak winning pedigree. The Multistrada 1200 truly has an air about it that pushes it past the envelope of its predecessors. Even though we never dragged a knee or did a back flip, we felt that this bike was the best of all endeavors combined, despite not being the best at any. If the Multistrada 1200 S Touring was still sleeping in our garage come Sunday morning, we’d have no excuse but to ride, and I personally would hate it for that. This is a genuinely enjoyable motorcycle to ride, and even if you’ve just ridden a couple hundred miles on it, you want to get right back on and do it all over again.

Familiar with the surfer mantra that if the waves are riding so are we, surely we would be fired from our jobs for never showing up. Our gainful employment spared another day, we reluctantly returned King Duc back to Ducati, leaving the Multistrada 1200 S Touring for the next lucky journalist. Ticking off his maintenance list for one very dirty motorcycle, the Ducati Brea mechanic exchanged one last pleasantry with us before we left, “I see you went down some fire trails.” Yeah, something like that.

Comment:

  1. Andrey says:

    “it’s hard to imagine how this feature got past R&D with a stamp of approval”
    … there are more than a few items that have done so on recent Ducati models, so this is no surprise.

    I agree the seat height is ridiculous; unless physically deformed, no person under 6′ can place both feet on the ground let alone flat footed… stupid really.

    You didn’t comment on the low speed fueling (relative to the terrible fueling on the Streetfighter) ……… was it perfect???

  2. Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc – http://aspha.lt/1e4 #motorcycle

  3. GeddyT says:

    Although I’ve never ridden the new ‘Strada, I have sat on one, and ergonomically it didn’t feel too different from an MTS1100S I used to have. Just about the same tall seat height and reach to the ground.

    As a 5’8″ rider, I used to freak out about seat height and tall bikes and reach to the ground and all that, but as confidence in my riding grew that just stopped bothering me at all, hence the Multistrada purchase. Although low speed fueling, leaky cam seals, and an engine that took FOREVER to warm up bothered the hell out of me to the point of selling the bike, I was never bothered by the awkward leg swing over the sky-high panniers that you described nor the fact that I could only get one foot down at a stoplight. These trade-offs were well worth it in exchange for both comfort and cornering clearance in the same machine.

    Besides, just mount it like a horse. Leave it on its kickstand, stand on one peg, and swing your other leg over. And be glad it’s not a real dirt bike with a 39″ seat!

  4. thanks again to @DucatiUSA for letting us test the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – http://aspha.lt/1e4 #ducati #motorcycle #review

  5. Brammofan says:

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  6. skadamo says:

    RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Ride Review: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Asphalt & Rubber Rides King Duc – http://aspha.lt/1e4 #motorcycle

  7. Andrey,

    As someone who has to deal with the Streetfighter’s issues at low rev’s on a daily basis, I can tell you the Multistrada 1200 is by far the smoother Ducati at low rev’s. It’s still a large displacement twin though, and doesn’t have the same polish as a three or four cylinder motorcycle, but the Testastretta 11° motor really was designed with this issue in mind (that and lower maintenance intervals). Also in this regard, dropping the bike down to Urban also makes a noticeable improvement over the bike from when its in Sport.

    If you’re sitting there wondering if you’ll walk into the same sub-15mph issues as the Streetfighter, I wouldn’t worry about it, but I’m not going to tell you it’s perfect either. For our rides though, it wasn’t an issue that was thought was worth getting riled up over. Now those saddlebags on the other hand…

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