The hybrid electric bike is being developed in partnership with BRD Motorcycles, an all-electric motorcycle manufacturer in San Francisco. The new platform will combine Logos Technologies’ quieted, multi-fuel hybrid-electric power system with a cutting-edge off-road electric motorcycle design being developed by BRD.
The RedShift MX motorcycle will form the basis for the design of the silent, stealthy all-electric motorcycle for the U.S. military.
Logos Technologies of Fairfax, Va., has received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) research grant to develop a hybrid-electric motorcycle with near-silent capability for the U.S. military. The motorcycle would allow small military teams to move long distances quickly and stealthily across harsh terrain.
Marc Fenigstein, chief executive officer of BRD, says his company’s consumer RedShift MX model is the vehicle on which the military bike will be based. “The RedShift MX is a professional level motorcycle platform designed for motocross racing,” he notes, “which is one of the most abusive environments possible for a motorcycle with dust, mud, massive ruts, and bumps and jumps of over 100 feet on some tracks.”
Wade Pulliam, manager of advanced concepts for Logos Technologies, points out Logos has a hybrid-electric propulsion system that’s already been proven on a prior aircraft program, and the fact that the RedShift MX already is in a low rate of production, will give the project a head start toward field deployment.
Pulliam says the hybrid bike easily can maintain a range of 100 miles between refuels and, while operating in near-silent, all-electric mode, is capable of traveling a “militarily significant” proportion of its full range (as requested by DARPA).
With regard to noise-level requirements, the hybrid bike must maintain a 75 decibel level at 7 meters during normal operation.
“To put that in perspective,” Pulliam notes, “that is roughly the same volume as a telephone’s dial tone in a listener’s ear. When the bike is running solely on electric power, the noise level will drop significantly to just the sound of the tires.”
Fenigstein points out a major advantage of the vehicle’s hybrid drive train is that range isn’t limited by battery capacity.
“Think ‘range-extended electric’ like a Chevy Volt,” he says, “except that on this bike, the operator is using the 100-percent-electric mode for tactical reasons rather than efficiency.”
Pulliam adds that another interesting feature of the bike is it can be a supply of auxiliary power for personnel in the field.
“This was one of the critical insights made by DARPA,” he says. “More and more, we are seeing electronic technology on the battlefield, from tablets and sensor systems to night vision systems. We plan to make it possible for our bike to allow operators in the field to recharge their devices from the battery.”
Pulliam says the hybrid bike could serve as a mobility option for the U.S. Marine Corps as it implements its plan to move to small units covering larger areas, and the bike also could be tactically beneficial for Special Forces who can be inserted with their bikes via aircraft, like helicopters or V-22 Ospreys, and be able to close the distance to an objective rapidly, switching to silent mode for the final leg of the approach to maintain speed as well as an element of surprise.
“It also would allow for patrols and excursions outside of forward operating or fire bases more quickly and at greater range than on foot,” Pulliam says, “and much more quietly than in other vehicles.”
About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.