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: 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Scooter

09/28/2011 @ 9:07 am, by Joanne Donn7 COMMENTS

Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Scooter 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F review 2 635x422

As fuel prices continue to go up, you might be considering another way to go to the movies, meet your friends for coffee, or run a quick errand. Such is the case in an urban city like San Francisco, and, If you’ve ever visited my beloved city, you know how impossible it is to find parking on a Friday night in a trendy neighborhood like the Mission or the Marina. And if you’re lucky enough to find parking after circling the block for 30 minutes, what if your car doesn’t quite fit that awkward spot between two driveways?

Imagine pulling up on a scooter, parking within minutes, and walking right into the restaurant without worrying if you’ve made your reservation on time. You leave your helmet and gloves in the storage compartment under the seat, and sit down to dinner a minute or two early even. If that sounds like a better alternative to the usual metropolitan shuffle, a nimble little ride like the Zuma might be the perfect choice for you.

Last week, Yamaha invited a bunch of moto-journalists to try out the redesigned 3rd generation, 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F. We spent 8 hours riding everywhere from the hills to the flats, Coit Tower to Twin Peaks, The Presidio to the Legion of Honor. Traversing the notably hilly city, there wasn’t one road that this little scooter couldn’t handle.

In the scooter world, the Zuma has a cult following, with loyal riders going all the way back to 1989 when Yamaha released its 1st generation model. Yamaha maintains that there is no single kind of “Zuma Rider”, and that Zumas are for everyone, regardless of lifestyle or fashion choice. Yamaha’s internal data for Zuma customers shows that the age, household income (HHI), and education vary widely from rider to rider. However of note, women make up a third of the Zuma’s customer base.

For Yamaha (and many other motorcycle/scooter manufacturers), there has been a direct correlation between fuel price increases and scooter sales. The 2nd generation model has experienced a 300% increase in sales over the decade since its release in 2001.

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Why is that? Well, it might be the estimated 132 mpg. With a fuel capacity of 1.2 gallons, you may find yourself filling up only once every few weeks or so, minimizing the mileage on your car/SUV.  Since fuel prices in San Francisco typically lead the national average by $0.50 – $0.75/gallon, that dollar savings can add up quickly.

The answer to that sales increase might also be the rugged feel of the slightly larger, yet knobby tires that provide a more solid ride as you hop over potholes, bumps, and uneven pavement, of which, San Francisco has plentiful supply. With its latest revision of the Zuma 50, Yamaha has made some significant improvements over the previous generations.

My first experience with the Zuma was back in 2004 while practicing for the DMV parking lot test. I was tackling the big circle of death on my Aprilia Scarabeo Ditech 50cc scooter, but my friend happened to be in the same parking lot on his Zuma, so he let me take his for a spin. I found the ergonomics awkward and the seating position felt too high and far forward, so I never thought I would find myself riding a Zuma again – until now.

Clearly sensing my displeasure, Yamaha has improved the ergonomics so that even the rear passenger would be comfortable on the back of a Zuma. The raised center floorboard also makes it more comfortable so my knees weren’t pushed up into my elbows, and espite these changes, the center of gravity is still nice and low, so it makes for an easy and comfortable ride.

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Another major improvement is that the seat is actually comfortable for more than 10 minutes! I rode around the streets of San Francisco from 9:30am to 4:30pm, and never felt like I needed a break, or wanted to sit on something different. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the seat felt, and it is notably a little wider and flatter than before, with less of a slope towards the driver.  If you do decide to pick up a passenger every now and then, he/she will feel rather comfortable doing riding on the back as you head to your City destination.

Though if you’re considering getting a scooter like the Zuma for you and/or your significant other, as something to ride around town or for a night on the town, I’d consider the 125cc version. In a hilly city like San Francisco, it’s impossible to go faster than 10-15mph with more than 1 adult on board. Even riding along the flattest street, it’s going to take awhile for you and your partner to get up to the speed limit in less than a minute.

Yamaha also offers additional accessories to make your Zuma an even better scooter. In addition to graphics kits, windscreens and soft luggage, an aftermarket accessory you may want to consider is the Garmin Zumo 220. Garmin has teamed up with Yamaha to provide not only a special mounting system that allows the unit to be connected directly to the battery, but also to the right of the instrument panel for ease of use. The buttons are also glove friendly, which is a bonus.

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So what else is there to consider when buying a scooter? Safety, of course! Yes, you will need to learn how to ride safely on your scooter, gear up, and get licensed. The requirements vary in every state, but you will probably need a motorcycle specific endorsement on your license, a DOT helmet. Check the DMV/DOT website in your state for exact licensing requirements. You can also learn to ride your scooter safely in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course. They even offer Scooter specific classes (depending on where you live).

And of course, gear. I’m always going to recommend a full face helmet, no matter what you ride or how far you’re going. You’re more likely to be impacted on the face or chin, rather than the top or back of the head when you’re on two wheels. At the minimum, I highly recommend wearing a jacket, full fingered leather gloves, long pants and sturdy over the ankle footwear. There are many scooter friendly gear options that are not only protective, but stylish and lightweight for your urban scooting needs. Remember, 20mph is 20mph, whether you’re on a scooter or motorcycle.

A list of accessories and more specifications for the Zuma can be found at Yamaha’s website.

Photos: Riles & Nelson

Jacket: Dainese Alice Textile; Pants: Dainese Drake Air Pants – Courtesy of Dainese D-Store San Francisco


  1. Leezardus says:

    Same thing I can do on my TL1000, in spite of fuel consumption…

  2. Honda City says:

    I love to be around cars a lot and you can say that its my passion too.That is why i visit your blog site as it always has a good news to tell about cars and its accessories.Keep posting such interesting posts always and i will keep visiting your blog again and again.

  3. jmz says:

    Thanks for disclosing that this was a Yamaha sponsored event for journalists to review the Zuma. http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2011/09/36-hours-in-san-francisco-on-a-yamaha-zuma/ doesn’t mention that, although it sounds like they were probably also there on Yamaha’s dime.

  4. We’ve also never been paid by an OEM to create content for our website.

  5. Pacasp says:

    Scooters are cool man! I was in Paris over the spring and these things were everywhere. Old women, men in suits, young kids with backpacks, couples on dates.
    But they’re impractical in most American cities. If I tried to ride one here around the streets of Columbus Ohio, I’d be killed immediately. I’ll stick to my 42mpg Kawi 650r.

  6. I have to admit, I ‘d probably have to get the 125 if I bought one of these. 50 is just a little too light for the drivers in San Francisco. I generally rely on my SV every day to keep up with (and stay ahead of!) traffic.

  7. my old motorcycle really requiresalterationor maybethrowing out should i belooking at a moped like one featured on this site. should i?