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.

New KTM Superbike Coming in 2012?

02/21/2011 @ 8:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

New KTM Superbike Coming in 2012? 2012 KTM Superbike nigh 635x422

With the announcements of KTM lopping $3,500 of the KTM 1198 RC8 R’s price tag, thus replacing the RC8 as the base superbike model in its line-up, and the new 2011 KTM RC8 R Race Spec track bike, something appears to be afoot with the Austrian brand. It’s no secret that with the down economy, RC8s (along with just about every other sport bike) haven’t exactly been flying off the dealer floors, which has lead to some speculation that the reduced price on the higher spec model could be purely to help spur sales of the “Ready to Race” awesomebike. We disagree in part.

If we’re to believe the idea that this is only a sales promotion to help KTM sell a few more bikes, it would first seem strange that KTM appears to only be concerned about moving its RC8 R superbikes, which account for very little of its product volume. It’s also very strange that after releasing the RC8 in 2008 that KTM would now, three years after the fact, begin to seriously push sales on its entry into the Superbike market (without similar heavy incentives for other bikes in its stable).

Bringing only 50 units over to the United States in 2008, RC8 & RC8 R sales haven’t exactly skyrocketed since, and have catered to a selective and affluent motorcyclist who is looking for a v-twin that’s not made in Italy. KTM has seemed content to let the RC8/RC8 R models do their thing, mired by a high sticker price and spotty dealer coverage (this is a brand after all known for its dirt, not street bikes). Call it the laissez-faire approach to superbike marketing.

Over the past 3+ years, KTM has released several limited edition models, presumably to help pump a few more bikes through the channels with a sufficiently high-priced margin. The latest of these creations being the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Race Spec track bike that features 180hp and a bevy of go-fast aftermarket parts. With the only notable revision in RC8′s model history being the larger displacement of the RC8 R series, the question begs to be asked why is the Austrian brand just now getting aggressive with its superbike offering? After all, it could just as easily let the model ride for another model year, as it has consistently done.

The answer is a simple one for those familiar with product development: a new model is coming down the pipe, that isn’t based off the current RC8 design. If the RC8 R was due for another minor revision for 2012, KTM would be under little pressure to push RC8 R’s out the door. But with its substantial $3,500 price cut on the awesomebike, KTM seems to be serious on moving some product, and soon. While we have no insider knowledge to suggest this is the case, the very fact that the RC8 design will be turning four years old (older if you want to count its 2005 public debut), is almost compelling enough evidence that the model is due for a ground-up re-tooling.

Despite the fact the RC8 R is more than capable, both on the spec sheet and on the track, against its Italian counterparts, it’s clear that 2012 will usher in a new game-changer for the market segment. With Aprilia nipping at both Ducati and KTM’s heels with its RSV4 Factory APRC SE, Ducati has already put into development its new Superbike offering. With reliable sources pegging the new Ducati as having 20+ hp and -20 lbs over its predecessor, the bar in the v-twin superbike category is about to get moved a bit higher.

Of course the interesting thing to note in the Ducati side of this equation is the fact that the Bologna-based company released its own “inventory incentive” bike this model year as well. The 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP is basically a 1198 S with some extra features and lower price tag, designed to help lure customers into dealers, while rumors and spy photos of its next Superbike will likely surface during the course of this summer and fall (Ducati also updated the 1198 base model with other add-on features). Aggressively priced and mildly updated models is the product strategist’s go-to tool for making sure old inventory clears out before a new model. Now, doesn’t that sound familiar?

Comment:

  1. Andre says:

    After reading your article about the price reduction the RC8R, I went to our local KTM dealer in Seattle. Apart from the fact the new price model has cast wheels not forged, the dipstick salesperson didn’t know squat about any of the road bikes. Spotty dealerships for sure… Cool bike but not so sure about the after sales service skill level.

  2. BBQDog says:

    Why doesn’t KTM create a nice affordeable 250 to 450cc single cilinder road bike ?
    The got all the components in the house.

  3. RT "@Asphalt_Rubber: New KTM Superbike Coming in 2012? – http://bit.ly/hpJHTU #motorcycle"

  4. BikePilot says:

    Another possibility is that KTM kept its price up and sales down for the first few years as it was pretty new to superbikes and probably still pretty high on the learning curve (which means also high on the cost curve). Now that they’ve been at it for a few years no doubt they’ve gotten better at making and tuning them and are starting to feel like they’ve slide down the learning and costs curves enough that they are ready to start moving bikes and getting into the street bike market in a serious, competitive way.

    BBQDog, KTM doesn’t have a sub-690cc motor in house that’d live more than a few days in a road bike (except maybe for the pre-production little dukes that have yet to go on sale). They’ve had a hard time keeping the 450 together long enough to finish races – extended freeway drones aren’t something its built to handle being a high strung off road race motor and all.

    The affordable bit is hard for them as well – even their simple dirt bikes are $8k.

  5. RSVDan says:

    Just spit ballin’ here, but KTM DOES have experience building a V4. Perhaps they have decided the V-Twin is not the platform they want to pursue for for racing any longer seeing as the RC8 saw limited use in that arena. That V4 they built and KR used for a season was an absolute jewel of a motor, and sounded absolutely wicked. It’s a shame they weren’t able to continue funding development for it while they were racing both 125 and 250, but they have the basic architecture there which could be used for a road bike.

    My only other concern for this being a sign of a new superbike, is KTM is notorious for plastering the media with prototype and pre-production pictures long before a new model is released. We saw images of the 950 Adventure and RC8 three years before they finally hit dealer floors. Maybe they learned their lesson that over-saturation and hype actually hinders excitement for a new model and have kept this one under wraps.

  6. I think the big thing there Dan is how radically different the RC8 was to what KTM was selling in 2005. Better to put a concept out there and see what sort of reaction you get, than go ahead and stealth mode and flop on the release. With how much brand equity KTM has, I’d be reluctant too to just storming into a new segment.

  7. RSVDan says:

    Very true. Things have certainly changed for KTM since the intro of the Adventure and RC8. I was mostly just talking out loud.

  8. BikePilot says:

    I sure hope they stick with twins, otherwise what’s the point? You can pick your flavor of ultra-fast, boring 4cyl racer reps from the Japanese (and now bmw). We surely don’t need another and I think ktm would find it extremely difficult to be competitive with the Japanese head-on (just like in MX – despite their long dirt bike history they still struggle to match the japanese in MX). If they stick to twins it’ll give people a reason to buy their bikes and will keep them poised against the Italians.

    I am of course quite biased in favor of twins :)

  9. Euro Twin says:

    I think the site here is making some silly presumptions. The reason they knocked the RC8R pricing down (2010 and older) by $3500 is due to the fact that the new bike is that much cheaper. If you bring in a lesser priced bike of the same name and actually updated components and parts, you are most likely going to kill any chance of selling older units.

    The dealers would be pretty miffed to find out a better and newer version is now $3500 cheaper than what they have on the floor.

    The fact that BMW has come to the table with an aggressive pricepoint and the Japanese brands are sitting around that same priceline, KTM might have been forced to reduce price to be competitive.

    Could there be a new 2012 Superbike as presumed? Sure! If I were a betting man in this side of motorcycling, they’ve had this bike for 4 seasons now. Why is it shocking to think somthing better is coming? It used to be every two years we saw new Japanese bikes and not a single concern…

    I think KTM is branching out more and focusing more because they see the street market coming back a bit. Afterall, since 2009, things have been fairly dark. Anyone ever heard of a brand called Suzuki and what has happened to them since 2009?