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: 2011 Ducati Diavel

03/17/2011 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Ride Review: 2011 Ducati Diavel Ducati Diavel Asphalt and Rubber 635x422

Even before its launch in Milan last year, the 2011 Ducati Diavel has been the talk of the motorcycle industry since its first spy photo was released. It amuses me that Ducati chose to name the Diavel (say: dee-ahh-vole) after the Bolognese word for the devil. The linguistic foreplay from Ducati is just asking for a response from motorcyclists who feel that Bologna company has over-stepped its prescribed branding boundaries, and sold its soul to the Devil of bottom-line thinking.

While rife with metaphor, there is an important financial reason for the genesis of the Ducati Diavel. As I’ve already explained the business reasons behind Ducati’s choice (or non-choice) to make the Diavel in a previous article. My analysis continues from there, and brings us to the question of: How does the Ducati power cruiser ride, 240mm-wide tire and all?

Setting out to the City of Angels (I seriously couldn’t ask for better fodder from Ducati here), I swung a leg over the Ducati Diavel for a day of riding on some of Los Angeles’s finest and most well know routes. The short answer to how the Diavel fared: damningly well.

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First Impressions:
Walking up to the Ducati Diavel, it’s instantly apparent why the name Mega Monster was floated about as a possible name for the machine. Ducati again retained the services of Bart Janssen-Groesbeek to head the Diavel project, the same man who began revamping the Ducati Monster line with the Monster 696 in 2007. Ducati borrowed extensively from its Monster designs for its new bike, and according to the company, the Diavel is the synthesis of three different styles of motorcycles: a standard, a sport bike, and a cruiser.

When I first saw the spy photos of the Diavel, and subsequently the studio photos of the bike, I was put off by the incorporation of the Monster’s headlight into the design. I never cared for the headlight on the street-standard, and on the Diavel it does little to invoke the idea of a muscle machine for strong burly men. I was raised with the understanding that hate is a terribly strong word to use (dislike intensely was the preferred nomenclature in the Beeler household), that being said…yes, I hate this part of the Diavel. That’s how strongly I feel about Janssen-Groesbeek’s aesthetic choice here.

I was hoping my first impression to the Diavel would be much like my introduction to the Ducati Streetfighter, which also did little for me in two-dimensions (I screamed “shoot her!” upon first sight of the press photos), but upon experiencing the Streetfighter in the flesh, the Italian company quickly departed with $14,000 or so of my hard-earned blogging dollars. Such was not the case with the Diavel, and is perhaps the largest real criticism I can levy against the machine. As with all things on aesthetics, your mileage will vary.

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Saddling Up:
As you take a seat on the Diavel, you’re presented with a fuel tank that feels like a place setting at the grown-ups’ table. The tank sprawls out in front of you seemingly forever, interrupted only by a fuel cap and secondary dash unit. The effect is a lot like one of those infinity pools you see in the backyards of the über-rich, and only exacerbates the long reach to the Diavel’s handlebars.

Even with my six-foot wingspan, I found the Diavel’s reach from seat to bars to be something of note. Mix the seat-to-handlebars-distance with an almost chair-like but crouching seating posture, and Ducati has seemingly built a bike for riders who are both simultaneously under and over six feet tall. These ergonomics surely come from the bike’s design synthesis, as the bars are clearly cruiser in nature and style, while the footpegs herald from more of a sportbike design, and seat resides two inches lower to the ground.

My initial thought when saddling the Diavel was how strange it was to have my legs crouched like I was on a 1198 Superbike, yet upright and reaching like I would be on a V-Rod. Blasting through Topanga Canyon and cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway though, it’s clear that Ducati intended the Diavel to be used in a sporting, yet comfortable nature. It’s a weird thing to behold at first, but seems pragmatic when put to task. As for my legs, they were no worse for the wear after a day’s ride, though the shifter and rear-brake lever had to be adjusted to accommodate my touring boots.

With the handlebars turning inward more than my hands would like, my only real complaint with the ergonomics is that I’d replace the handlebar if a Diavel found its way into my garage, and I had some extra cash in my wallet. Otherwise the ergonomics were comfortable, and it’s refreshing to finally find a motorcycle seat that firmly tells your ass where to be during both braking and acceleration. Couple that with the fact that the Diavel’s seating position puts you in the prime location to handle the bike at speed, and you’ve found yourself at the part of the review where I tell you how this Ducati power cruiser handles in the corners.

Ride Review: 2011 Ducati Diavel Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tire profile 635x384

Apex Dreaming:
The Diavel employs the Bologna company’s extensive knowledge in sport bike design, and it’s apparent that those years of experience have paid off. Before the Diavel’s official launch, perhaps the biggest bone of contention for desktop critics was the 240mm tire mounted to the rear of the motorcycle, which seemingly every other manufacturer has found a way to make handle like a 747 jumbo jet on ice.

Ducatisti can sleep well tonight though, as I can definitively tell you that the simile in the last paragraph does not apply with the Diavel. Teaming up with Pirelli, Ducati ensured that a 240mm rear tire could work in a sport application. Developing a tire with a taller profile and 17” wheel form factor, Pirelli’s new Diablo Rosso II tires performed admirably as we carved our way through the hills and canyons of LA — escorted by a Los Angeles Motorcycle Sheriff no less.

It’s in the canyons and open road where the Diavel shines its Ducati heritage, and puts the mind of a Ducatista to ease. Tractable and predictable, the Diavel is a surprisingly easy bike to maneuver at slow speeds, and is a sure-footed monster at a higher clip – no matter how heavy-handed your throttle hand becomes.

How much of the Diavel’s road prowess is owed to the Pirelli, and how much of it comes from Ducati’s chassis and suspension designs? In short, it’s impossible to tell from our time with the machine, but it is an interesting question to hear the response to, when asked separately to the two parties involved. Seeing as how Pirelli is the only shop in town for would-be Diavel owners who want to keep the stock tire dimensions, we imagine it’ll only take a few thousand miles (Pirelli vaguely rates the Diablo Rosso II’s life span as 2,000-6,000 miles) to see what happens when someone mounts different rubber to the bike.

That being said, the Diablo Rosso II’s fetch a modest price, and do their job oh-so-well that we imagine many owners will keep the OEM package as they put on the miles (likely something Pirelli is counting on).

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Weird Science:
At this point it’s worth mentioning Ducati’s ride control package, which lets you toggle from Urban, Touring, and Sport mode. Each setting can be individually tuned for horsepower output, traction control interference, and ABS sensitivity (yes, you can even turn off the anti-lock brakes). The effect is that each ride mode in its default setting is suited for various riding situations, and can be further refined by the rider to suit his or her tastes.

Despite being limited to 100hp, the Urban mode packs-in plenty of punch, and makes the 1,198cc Testastretta 11° v-twin motor more manageable at slower speeds (however, Ducati still seems incapable of making a silky smooth v-twin motor at sub-20 mph velocities). From here, a simple flick of the switch can take you into Touring mode, where all 162hp and 92 lbs•ft of torque are on-deck for your maximum momentum enjoyment (while the same motor as found in the Ducati Multistrada 1200, the Diavel’s freer-flowing exhaust and intake account for the 7hp power increase). Traction control is placed at a higher setting (limiting your wheelie efforts with a disapproving electronic intervention), and the throttle response is set at a value that should be quantified as “safe for maintaining retinal attachment.” Moving the dial over once more into Sport mode changes things however.

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The Diavel’s Sport mode is Ducati’s way of appeasing the Italian faithful. Out of all the models in Ducati’s line-up, you’d be surprised to learn that the Diavel makes more torque in the first half of the RPM range than the Ducati Superbike 1198. It’s at this setting that I think most riders will choose to enjoy their Diavel while having a romp on their favorite Sunday morning ride…and the Diavel won’t disappoint. While you Sinners of Swerve won’t be dragging a knee on Ducati’s latest creation anytime soon (there’s a challenge in there somewhere), the Diavel can take you right up to that point in the pace that qualifies as “questionably imprudent for street riding,” and begs you not to enjoy that fact in pious restraint.

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Street Level:
The suspension is sure-footed and provides ample feedback on what the bike is doing fore and aft – and I’m just talking about the lower-spec Ducati Diavel Diamond Black here. The Ducati Carbon, with its forged Marchesini wheels, machined brake disc carriers, and diamond-like coated forks, promises even more un-sprung goodness should you wish to cough up the extra $3,000. Turn-in is neutral, and confidence inspiring, and the Diavel tracks well while willing the ride-by-wire throttle to ludicrous speed for optimal corner-exit speed. I found some wallow mid-apex with the stock settings (although I had to go looking for it), but it was sorted easily enough with some rebound dampening on the rear and a couple turns on the remote preload adjuster.

True to the power cruiser label many have been affixing to it, the Diavel provides a cushy ride on rutted roads, which is surprising considering the prior paragraph where I praised its canyon carving ability. Riders pampered by the plush seats and trampoline-like suspension of a Harley-Davidson will likely find the Diavel stiff, and providing too much tarmac feedback, yet it won’t ever be jarring. Pitching the bike to a sportier clientele, I think most Diavel owners will be thankful for Ducati’s choice to keep the bike closer to the sporty side of the spectrum, not to mention that decision plays well into the Italian company’s ethos.

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Parting Thoughts:
As a died-in-the-wool sport bike guy, to be candid the Diavel is a hard bike to review. I don’t think Ducati is making any fronts that this bike is aimed at its current legion of loyal customers (myself included), but is instead fishing into new waters. That being said, as a self-proclaimed performance enthusiast, the Diavel appeased my need for top-speed horsepower and throttle-cracking torque. If that doesn’t squarely put the Diavel in Ducati’s wheelhouse of fine Italian machines with a racing heritage, then I don’t know what does in this market segment.

At $16,999 a pop for the base model and $19,999 for the Diavel Carbon, Ducati’s newest machine doesn’t come cheap, though it does price well against the Yamaha VMax’s $19,890 MSRP and Harley-Davidson’s $14,999 V-Rod. The differentiation between the two Diavel models though is going to be a tough sell (I imagine the Diavel Carbon will be a more image/aspirational purchase for its owners); however the Diavel itself is going to be a no-brainer acquisition for riders looking for a relaxed street bike that can more than easily embarrass an unsuspecting sport bike rider out in the twisties.

Ducati’s line-up needed a Monster-derived water-cooled performance-based standard (say that three times fast), and the Bologna brand has found it in the Diavel (balancing the bike well with the already available Superbike-derived Streetfighter). The fact that the Diavel also adeptly plays into the performance cruiser segment descriptions, bringing a new facet to the jeweled company, extends the bike’s differentiation from both the Monster and Streetfighter. Customers finding themselves unengaged by the aforementioned bikes should head to their Ducati dealership to try out a Diavel on a test ride to see if it suits them (the Diavel should be at North American dealers by now), I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with what Ducati has produced in the Diavel.

Photos: Riles & Nelson

Helmet: AGV T2 Sergeant White; Jacket: Dainese G. Rebel Pelle Estivo; Pants: Dainese P. Alien Pelle; Gloves: Dainese Guanto 4-Stroke; Boots: Dainese ST-TRQ Race OUT

Comment:

  1. KDubya says:

    It seems I was wrong to lose my faith in Bologna

  2. Say 3 Hail Marys & 4 Our Fathers, and all will be forgiven.

  3. Other Sean says:

    My faith still wavers…

  4. Greg says:

    I don’t mind that Ducati made a power cruiser or whatever you want to call it, I do mind that it is quite possibly the most hideous form of transportation I have ever seen, 2 wheels or otherwise.

  5. Josh says:

    It seems a fine bit of engineering, but still holds the questionable title as the only ducati in recent memory that I have no interest in owning. I liked the S4R a lot and was sad to see it go. Fortunately the SF and MTS1200 are excellent alternatives. Its not really ducati though – its me. I’m even less interested in a V-max or v-rod. I sincerely hope this sells well, allows ducati to gain greater economies of scale and make even better non-cruisers :)

  6. Dutch says:

    Nice piece, good riding with you.

    Wonder how those Ducati faithful will react to the knowledge that this is Bologna’s fastest production bike with a sub 2.6 time for 0-60….. Making up for that headlight yet?

    We’ll be taking one to the strip in a few weeks, should be fun…

    cheers

  7. Thanks Dutch, it was good riding with you as well. The Diavel should be a hoot on the strip, clutch should fare a lot better than a V-Rod’s too.

  8. RobG says:

    I got to sit on one at the Long Beach show in December and really liked it. In short, I want one!