Photos from 250+ Feet up COTA’s Petrolsaurus Rex

Standing 251 feet above Turns 16, 17, & 18, the COTA observation tower provides a bird’s eye view of just about every tun on the circuit, if you can stomach its subtle sway in the wind and clear-glass floor at the precipice. Officially called by COTA as the “Observation Tower” – it really needs a better name for casual conversation. We’ve heard COTA Cobra used a few times with some lovely alliteration, but the structure has always struck us as less snake-like, and more like a big dinosaur — we’re going to use the name “Petrolsaurus Rex” until I hear something better, or COTA sends me a cease and desist order. I climbed to the top of Petrolsaurus Rex (read: took the elevator) during the MotoGP Warm-Up session, and snapped a few photos in the process. Enjoy!

MV Agusta F3 800 Ago Now Officially Debuts

We already announced the bike last November, and brought you a bevy of hi-res images of the special edition machine. Although now that we think of it, MV Agusta never released anything on this Giacomo Agostini tribute motorcycle — better late than never, right? Back at the EICMA show launch, where the MV Agusta F3 800 Ago was first shown to the public (and Agostini himself), the Varese brand promised us two additional motorcycle launches in early 2014. MV Agsuta made good on half that promise with the Dragster 800 model, hopefully this Ago special edition isn’t the other half of that statement, and MV Agusta still has something waiting in the wings. That being said, the Tricolore & Gold paint scheme is gorgeous, and looks even better in person.

Isle of Man TT Gets TV Deal for Australia & USA

Want to watch the Isle of Man TT from the comfort of your non-British TV, but haven’t been able to in the past? A new TV from the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development will do just that. Inking a new TV contract with North One TV, the Isle of Man TT will be televised in the American, Australian, and of course British markets, making it easier than ever to watch the iconic road race. With a five-year contract with the Velocity Channel in the US, the American cable channel will show seven one-hour race shows. Each segment will air within 24hrs of each race, and be tailored for the American market.

Castiglioni Denies Fiat Buyout of MV Agusta Is in the Works

After reporting 22% growth in Q1 2014, Giovanni Castiglioni had some closing words about the rumors that Fiat could acquire MV Agusta — a popular rumor that has been swirling around in the press the last two months. Denying outright that MV Agusta had, or was in, talks with the Fiat-Chrysler group about an acquisition (some reports linked even MV Agusta to being bought by Fiat-owned Ferrari), Castiglioni said the Italian company solely was focused on building growth, and building motorcycles. “Moreover, I’d like to take this opportunity to deny rumours circulated by the media over the last few days concerning supposed negotiations vis-à-vis the sale of a share of MV Agusta to the Fiat-Chrysler Group,” said Giovanni Castiglioni, the President and CEO of MV Agusta.

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 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.

5 Interesting Facts from Harley-Davidson’s Annual Report

02/25/2011 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

5 Interesting Facts from Harley Davidsons Annual Report Harley Davidson Marissa Miller American Bombshell 635x508

While we’re still poring over Harley-Davidson‘s annual report, making Excel spreadsheets, and winning at bullshit bingo, a couple interesting facts have struck us about the company and some of the trends it is experiencing. While it’s been mostly doom and gloom around Harley-Davidson in 2010, the Milwaukee-based company does appear to be solely in business because of the strong cost-cutting CEO Keith Wandell has been able to achieve during his tenure. Despite the moaning and groaning from the Bar & Shield loyal about Wandell’s non-motorcycle riding lifestyle, the CEO knows how to trim the fat, which is exactly what this HOG needed. Find five interesting facts for you to mull over this weekend after the jump.

  • Over a third (37.4%) of all new Harley-Davidson motorcycles sold, were sold outside of the United States.
  • If trends continue, Harley-Davidson could be selling more motorcycles abroad than domestically within two years. This is not because international sales are booming (international sales were only up 3% in 2010 compared to sales in 2006), but instead because domestic sales are crashing (sales in the United States were down 52% over the same time period).
  • Harley-Davidson sold 49% fewer motorcycles in 2010 than it did in 2006. By model family those sales decreases are as follows: 36% (Sportster), 46% (Custom), & 34%.
  • 2010 is the first year since 2006 that Harley-Davidson’s sales figures dropped by a single digit factor (8.9%). Sales have decreased by 11.6% (2007), 14.6% (2008), 30% (2009) over the past four years.
  • 66% of Harley-Davidson purchasers in 2010 did not have a college degree
  • Harley-Davidson Financial Services financed 47.9% of all new Harley-Davidson purchases in the United States for 2010.

Source: Harley-Davidson & Google Finance


  1. jack says:

    The really surprising figure is that 34% of the people that purchased Harleys were college graduates. The 52% drop in domestic sales shows that the “image” is finally wearing off.

  2. Mark says:

    The 52% drop in domestic sales has little to do with HD’s image and everything to do with the complete collapse of consumer purchasing power in this country.
    How many typical motorcycle buyers are in a position to spend thousands on a new bike when they’re not even sure they’ll still have a job in 6 months, their credit cards are still maxed out, their health insurance is gobbling up 20% of their income, and they now own more money on their house than it’s worth?

  3. Mark,

    Harley-Davidson lost 24.5% of its sales in 2007 & 2008, at the height of the economy. Still think it’s consumer purchasing power at play? Yeah Harley-Davidson saw its biggest drop in sales during the recession, but this was a trend that started well before the economic mess of late.

  4. jack says:

    BMW and Triumph actually had an increase in sales last year.

  5. Richard Gozinya says:


    Them, as well as Ducati had great years. Don’t know about Aprilia, MV Agusta and Moto Guzzi, would be interesting to see if all the European brands have seen gains, or just those three.

    As for Harley, screw ‘em. They don’t bother improving their products, they shouldn’t expect people to keep buying them.

  6. Downer says:

    I think it is interesting how few have college degrees considering the average price of a Harley. What are the college graduates buying? With the days of easy credit over what is going to happen to their customer base. People are continually being critical of HD for the aging customer base I would think they are more worried about the income of their potential customer. With more and more decent paying jobs facing salary and benefit cuts and the lack of job security buying a Harley is going to be a dream.

  7. Scooter says:

    Harley made a huge mistake closing Buell. Buell was the only bike made by HD that was available to the younger buyer. The younger buyer will not buy a Harley and dress up like a pirate. Harley’s sales will continue to drop while companies like Triumph and BMW that improve there line up and come out with new models with see increased sales. The new BMW K1600 touring bike is light years ahead of any HD touring bike. Even the long on the tooth Honda Gold Wing is far superior to any Harley. How can HD expect to continue in business selling there 1960′s motorcycles at 2011 prices.

  8. HD made the right call dumping Buell. The brand sold 9,500 bikes in 2009 (the last full year before it closed). I’d bet good money that if you did the activity based cost accounting on that, Harley lost money on every Buell sold, which is more than likely the reason why it was ultimately shutdown. That’s just smart business.

    Now how Harley-Davidson managed Buell, and the constraints it put on the company…that’s some poor decision making. You can’t make a sportbike brand act like a cruiser brand. Two different markets, two different buyer, operated with the same game plan: that’s a recipe for failure.

  9. Shaitan says:

    One interesting fact: there are SIX facts listed, not five.

  10. patron says:

    Only 5 are interesting

  11. Tom says:

    Jensen, you’re dead wrong about Buell. Other than the Blast, every report I ever read said that Buell was in the black. Even if not, the smart business sense was to SELL Buell to Buell and make some money off the deal – you know, like HD completely failed to do with MV Agusta.

  12. I’ll reiterate my sentence, “I’d bet good money that if you did the activity based cost accounting on that, Harley lost money on every Buell sold.” What costs did those “reports” you read take into account? How did it account for them?

    For same reason I don’t think Buell made money when factoring activity based costs, is the same reason Buell couldn’t be spun out from Harley-Davidson. The business side of Buell was too extensively piggybacked off Harley-Davidson for it to be removed and still be freestanding.

    What exactly would Harley have sold there? How much would it really have been worth? At the end of the day the write-off Harley could take on closing Buell was a better deal than what they would have gotten from a buyer, likely by an order of magnitude.

    I love the Buell conspiracy theorists that think closing the brand was to slight Erik. Harley-Davidson did what it did because it was the best business decision to make. End of story.

  13. Sheldon says:

    Hey Jensen, how about a more thorough explanation here? What does “activity based costs” mean? What does “business side of Buell was too extensively piggybacked off Harley- Davidson” mean? I, and I suspect others, don’t fully understand why Buell could not have been sold. If Harely has no more plans for the brand, why not license it back to Erik so he can continue building bikes with his name on it? Harley’s decision to delete the brand without providing much of an explanation why other options weren’t pursued is a main reason why Buell fans are so mad at HD.

    If anyone else can shed some light on this, please enlighten us.

  14. F1 says:

    Buell (or at least a younger image brand) was, and still is important to Harley’s future. They didn’t sell many bikes because most of the R&D money wasn’t recouped during the the first years. That was mostly due to the earned perception (or fact) they were brand new “old” bikes. They weren’t fast, or light, they didn’t handle well, and they were poorly made. So after the initial “honeymoon”, people bought better bikes elsewhere. Selling cruisers and sport-bikes with the technology, performance and efficiency from the 70s, aside from the muffler location and the rim mounted brakes, (and selling them) today is the biggest reason for lack of growth. Aside from a traditionalist why would you buy either one. Every other sport-bike made was better in every way than a Buell,, in every way!.. And the Japs figured out how to make a cruiser that didn’t weight north of 700lbs and it has more than 60 horsepower. Again, you can’t sell a bike from the 70′s in 2011. The Buell should have been created from ground zero to compete directly with the best liter bikes, not 600′s (stupid AMA/DMG),, Ducati made a world-beating twin with half the budget,, and they have been doing it for over 20 years.
    In the end Harley will go chapter 7 or 11,, then a group of finance kings will buy it, and if they don’t do something different,, it will go the way of Indian. Different means compliment your updated (lighter, easier to ride, with pick-up truck beating acceleration) cruiser line with BMW/Ducati like sport tourers and sport bikes.,,, yep, re-invent the brand…
    BTW – I was set on buying a “Lightning” until it got pissed-on in most measurable categories in a magazine shootout.

  15. Jason says:

    Harley is selling a sports bike for the past few years besides Buell. Since 2009 in the states. XR1200. Wish they would market the bike better, cause it’s a great bike and probably overal, the safest and most advance bike Harley sales.