BRD Motorcycles Blog

The blog of fast
When Handling Beats Power (Hint: Almost Always)
Posted on: February 24th, 2014 by marc Comments
Last November, a thread popped up on our local motorcycle message board Bay Area Rider’s Forum (BARF) that caught our eyes and then captured our souls. A forum member, Brandon Matthews (handle: “thenewwazoo”) shared a rebuild of a modern classic, the Honda NC35, aka the RVF400, aka “baby RC45,” a 400cc V4 screamer that is possibly the greatest small-displacement four-stroke sport bike ever built. Small, agile bikes hold a special place in our hearts at BRD, and there is something magical about them that has been lost in the last 20 years as bikes have developed to be more powerful, and consequently, heavier. In a write-up of his first ride, a trackday at Laguna Seca, Brandon describes this magic just about perfectly…

Fuck. I guess I’m doing this.

I don’t always do shakedown rides, but when I do, it’s at 6:15 AM and I’m on my way to the track. (more…)

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Why Electric Will Make Marquez (And You) Faster
Posted on: February 11th, 2014 by Aakash Comments
The heart of the beast

Over the last decade, the top levels of motorcycle racing, both on- and off-road, have revealed that performance isn’t just a function of power and weight; it’s a function of control, of HOW that power is delivered. Both formats took a weight penalty to move from 2 strokes to 4 strokes, and while we can argue over politics, lap times dropped when they did. And now in MotoGP, we are seeing major advantages from engine management that not only smooths the torque curve but smooths the gaps created when the vehicle up- and down-shifts.

The same problems that Honda has spent millions on in motoGP, lumpy torque output and gaps between shifts, electric solves naturally (and for slightly less than the cost of a GP bike). THAT is why BRD went electric, the promise of superior control, balance, and traction. Electric motors have come a long way from Nikola Tesla’s laboratory in 1888, occupying everything from your smartphone to your washing machine to that Tesla Model S in the driveway. Ignoring the question of energy storage for a moment (i.e. battery vs fuel), an electric motor is vastly more powerful than a combustion motor of equal size. It also delivers that power differently, so the ways we think about and measure vehicle performance are inadequate in articulating that difference.

(more…)

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The ride
Posted on: November 6th, 2012 by marc Comments
Our VP of Sales, Victor, is an Aerostich posterboy. A lifelong motorcyclist, a pioneer in mountaineering, mountain biking, and more recently electric two-wheelers, to name a few, the guy has lived several lives more full than most folks single shot at it, and continues to wear the rest of us down with his zeal. He commutes from Portland. To San Francisco. By motorcycle. The long way. Every chance he gets.

His last ride had him headed back home on an unusually perfect November weekend. Myself, I racked up about 200 miles ripping up HWY 1, across wine country and back to the coast, and I was pretty proud of myself. Victor logged somewhere between 50 and 70 thousand miles that day. Upon his arrival home, he shared this, and I have to share it with all of you:

My ride home was particularly beautiful. Somehow it did not rain. Winter on the Redwood Coast is amazing. The mists are like Japanese prints, the ocean gray and and roiling. The more agitated motion of the Winter seas bring up the strong scent of sea weed and salt. The change from the calm blue of summer to the gray of winter is startling, The mist cause the tops of the Giant Redwoods to disappear and they seem to be even bigger and taller. Oregon is about half evergreen and half deciduous. There is a short window of time between Fall and Winter, before the deciduous tree leaves fall, when they erupt in a riot of yellows, golds and reds. It doesn’t last long. Usually the rain is insistent and constant, and pulls the colorful leaves off the branches quickly. Occasionally there is a break in the rain, and on even rarer days there is brilliant sunshine to illuminate the colors and cause the countryside to gleam in a way that takes the breath away. Anyway, that is what happened on my ride home.

That is one of the reasons that I ride. It is not the same in a car, or airplane.
As the weather gets worse I will have to rely on more conventional transport. But then I’ll begin to look forward to riding again in the spring.

Our team loves motorcycles and I love our team. Ride safe, my friends, every chance you get.
Stay fast,
-Marc
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Some sweet video on a Wednesday afternoon
Posted on: October 4th, 2012 by marc Comments
This video needs to be up. And to be watched. Over and over (and over) again.

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Retromoto: Insider’s Archive, November 2010
Posted on: May 25th, 2012 by BRDmoto Comments
Amazing how far this company has come in the 18 or so months since we first shared pictures of the soon-to-be-beating heart of our demonic offspring.

____________________

November 11, 2010

Subject: ”Prototype Gestation”

Rapidistos,

This fast little bun is in the oven… aluminum, copper, rare-earth elements, and steel are being cut, molded, cast, wound, and gently messaged in the wombs of top-secret, underground fabrication facilities by an ancient cabal of go-fast monks as I write. Now we just let the wonders of nature take their course, and our bouncing demonic bundle of joy will emerge wheelie-ing and screaming. Like any pregnancy, this is where it gets awkward, ungainly and painful, but also beautiful in that miracle-of-creation-and-mood-swings way. Jeff has had wicked morning sickness and Derek is developing a taste for pickles and chocolate.

First sonogram:

(more…)
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Retromoto: Insider’s Archive, October 2010
Posted on: April 30th, 2012 by BRDmoto Comments
Origins of the RedShift species.
For context, up until this email a year and a half ago no one, not even insiders, had any idea what the hell we were building in there. For all they knew from the noise, we were trying to extract enemy intelligence from Wall-E.

____________________

October 7, 2010

Subject: ”Private Showing”

Rapidistos,
You’ve been patiently tolerating my obtuse and esoteric emails, and we at BRD appreciate that immensely. It’s been our firm policy from the start that we not make any public claims about what we’re creating until we know them to be true… Here in Silicon Valley, we’ve watched too many startups (not to mention big, established companies) over-promise and under-deliver. That said, we want to clue you in on what we’re really up to and why we think it’s something special. So keeping that in mind, and silently promising to keep this to yourselves, this is what BRD Motorcycles is about:

We love motorcycles. The best ones make you tingle when you look at them, giggle when you ride them, and scare you just a little bit (i.e. score a 90 or above on the Tingle-Giggle-Scream Index). We love going fast. And we love finding new ways and new places to go fast. Our goal from the beginning was to create motos that are faster and easier to ride fast than anything else out there. We think we can do that with electric drivetrains. It’s not about “good enough for an electric;” we are building what we expect to be the first electric vehicle that can beat a gas-powered vehicle in an existing mainstream race format – motocross. Because that’s what we, ourselves, would want to ride. Because we want the next bike we purchase, gas or electric, to be faster than the last bike we owned. Then we plan to take the take the face-ripping performance of that race bike directly to recreational dirt riders and urban commuters (hooligans?) who can suddenly benefit the power:weight of a race bike while never stalling, never having to feather a clutch, never skipping a ride because they haven’t changed the oil, and being able to slip out for backyard laps and midnight runs without getting the cops called for noise complaints.

So here it is, no more teasers, the BRD RedShift (more…)

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Born In the Dirt
Posted on: February 22nd, 2012 by marc Comments
Dirt bikes make great street bikes. Better street bikes. Counter-intuitive, no? Let’s have a history lesson…

Meet Kenny. Kenny is from Modesto California and grew up riding dirt bikes. Kenny changed motorcycle racing forever. In the dirt, a motorcycle is always slipping, sliding, moving. Getting the rear tire to hook up and keep the bike upright is a constant challenge compared to a road bike on grippy tires that is self balancing as long as the tires stick. When Kenny took on Grand Prix road racing in a era when motorcycle motors were a lot better than the chassis and tires that carried them, he became dominant by being more comfortable on the bikes at and past their limits of traction than any of the riders that had come up without the dirt ((flat track, to be specific) background. He changed the way road racers position their bodies on the bike, getting off the inside of the bike to improve the tire contact patch and using his knee for stability and lean angle reference like a dirt rider’s boot. He changed the way racers steer their bikes, breaking the rear tire loose and spinning it through the corners (a prospect that was terrifying to road racers but natural to flat track dirt racers) to line up the straightaway and accelerate out of a turn as soon as possible. (more…)

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RedShift in action – track day and first journalist rides
Posted on: December 9th, 2011 by marc Comments
We hauled our precious out to Infineon’s kart track last Sunday for a day of supermoto with new resident Fast Guy, Drew Dickson, and a pair of journalists from Asphalt & Rubber and Hell For Leather Magazine. We had some gorgeous, crisp blue weather and a dry, swept track and a wonderful hostess named Becky who was extremely tolerant of our antics.

Before boring you with the details, how about some pretty (moving) pictures, courtesy of Wes Rowe (you’ll want to view in HD, 1080p if you can):

(more…)

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Class continued (BRD 102)
Posted on: December 5th, 2011 by marc Comments
BRD 102 – Intro to Batteries
My last post explained why electric motors are the shizzle, producing outrageous power out of a tiny package, with little to no maintenance.
Okay, so why don’t electric motors already rule the world? It’s because of the front side of that “energy in, power out” equation. Unfortunately, today’s batteries have nothing on a tank of gas. For the same weight, gasoline holds a magnitude more energy than the best batteries commercially available. Even with brushless electric motors being 3-4X more efficient than the best gas motors, that means it takes many times as much battery (by weight) than gas to go the same distance. And gas is cheap. Batteries are getting better and are finally (with Li-Ion tech) durable, reliable, and safe, but pound for pound they are no match for mother nature’s hydrocarbon magic and won’t be for awhile.
Hard to blame her. If you were creating a universe, would you store energy here:

Or here?

(more…)
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Class is in session (BRD 101)
Posted on: November 15th, 2011 by marc Comments
BRD 101 – Intro to Electric Motors
This is part of a little series we’re going to do to help the layperson understand electric vehicles, how they compare to gas vehicles, and how they compare to each other. Henry Ford did the same thing on his blog when his Model A was replacing horse and carriage. If you’re a professional or even an armchair engineer, you may want to skip it.

Vehicles, both gas and electric, can be split into two parts: input and output. In a gas vehicle, energy input is stored in your fuel tank and energy output comes from burning that fuel in an internal combustion (gas) engine. In an electric vehicle, the energy input is stored in a battery and energy output comes from an electric motor. Simple, right? Bear with us here.

In 101 we’ll look at energy output, aka the “fun side.” At BRD, we separate of electric drivetrains in two types, economy or performance, generally defined by their voltage and their motor technology. Systems that run on less than 100V or use brushed motors are generally simple and inexpensive to build, and are fairly reliable. Brushed motors are called such because they make a mechanical connection between the two moving parts of an electric motor which brush against each other to transfer electricity. This is a very simple way to make sure each part knows where the other part is, but it causes friction and the brushes wear out eventually. You’ll find these in your blender, your cordless drill, and in most electric scooters and golf carts. The basic technology has been around for 130 years and constitutes what we call the economy category. However, this technology doesn’t quite cut it for high-power applications like electric cars.

Brushed motor (image courtesy of DeWalt Tool Co)

(more…)

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