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.

First Look: Mugen Shinden Ni (神電 貳)

04/17/2013 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

First Look: Mugen Shinden Ni (神電 貳) Mugen Shinden Ni test 01

With the start of the racing season just barely into its second round for many of the world’s various series, it is hard to believe that we should start hearing about entries for the 2013 Isle of Man TT, but June is truly just around the corner. Returning for the TT Zero race, Team Mugen returns to the Isle of Man with its new Shinden Ni electric motorcycle.

Piloted last year by the King of the Mountain himself, John McGuinness returns to Team Mugen where he hopes to improve upon his second place finish, and the 102.2 mph average lap speed he posted during last year’s competition.

McPint will be going for the top spot on the podium this year, but will have stiff competition from both Michael Rutter (the 2011 & 2012 TT Zero winner) and Mark Miller (the 2010 TT Zero winner) of the MotoCzysz crew.

We don’t have a plethora of details on the Mugen Shinden Ni (神電 貳) motorcycle, but Mugen says that the team has built an all-new chassis and powertrain, and is working on finalizing the bodywork as well, which we can only imagine will be more aerodynamical.

We do know that the Shinden Ni will be lighter than its predecessor, which was tipped to be the heaviest entry at last year’s race, and featured a massive battery pack.

Perhaps more importantly, Mugen and McGuinness will race in 2013 with more information and a better understanding of what it takes to race around the 37.76 miles of the Mountain Course with an electric motorcycle. Expect the competition to be fierce this year — we can’t wait.

First Look: Mugen Shinden Ni (神電 貳) Mugen Shinden Ni test 02

Photos of the 2012 Mugen Shinden:

Source: Team Mugen; Photos: © 2012 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0


  1. Kenny says:

    Ha! That bike must have been named by engineers. Ni means 2.
    Still I can’t wait to see how they get on. Especially since I seem to remember that Rutter was claiming the Motoczysz would do a 110mph lap in 2013.

  2. Gutterslob says:

    So next year it’ll be the Shinden San. Since “san” can also mean “Mr.”, we can expect it to have full AI and transform into a full-on humanoid Mr. Shinden

    Joking aside, best of luck to them. I still find electric racing rather eerie (the lack of noise), but if they can get the weight down and manage 2 x 120mph laps around the mountain course on a single charge in the next few years, it’ll be great news for production bikes.

  3. paulus - Thailand says:

    Electric series are getting interesting.
    The ‘TT-Zero’ and the ‘Pikes peak’ entries are both going to be worth watching.

  4. Damo says:

    How awesome does it look in matte black though. Dude looks like Vader San.

  5. Norm G. says:


  6. Heatsoak says:

    Is he wearing a GT-Air? Interesting choice for a track test…

  7. talkriver says:

    I am a Japanese. “神電 弐” is strange spelling. Correct spelling is just “神電 弐”. End letter “つ” should be deleted.
    The rider on those photos are Hikaru Miyagi, who is one of famous riders in Japan, cooperated to develop the first 神電 last year as well.

  8. talkriver says:

    Stone me. Strange spelling is “神電 弐つ”.

  9. Thanks, my Japanese is a bit rough.

  10. Damo says:


    I mean it is Shoei’s most recent helmet design and is supposedly aerodynamically superior to most full race helmets.

    Also by dropping the Snell Safety standard in favor of the superior DOT and ECE standards, the GT Air weighs less than and Arai Corsair V.

    Just a heads up.

  11. protomech says:

    Looks quite a bit smaller than 2012 Shinden (Shinden Ichi?).

    A couple of options for multiple laps:

    1. No battery swap, lower speed endurance vs sprint (single-lap)
    2. Quick battery swap
    3. Quick battery charge

    For #1, given a choice between a single 110 mph lap or two 80 mph laps, I’ll take the 110 mph lap..

    For #2, battery swaps are certainly possible. Hollywood Electrics pulled off ~24 second swaps and rider changes at the M1GP 8H6 8 hour endurance race. Battery swaps do significantly drive up cost, which in turn means smaller grids.

    For #3, quick charging is the most applicable to production street bikes. However, like all the other options it introduces significant tradeoffs. Charging is not (hopefully) exciting to watch, it forces a tradeoff between very energy dense packs (for tracks like IOM) and packs that can accept high charge rates (so laptimes again are slower). Given a choice between two 20 minute laps @ 100 mph + 30 minutes of charging @ 30 kW vs two 30 minute laps @ 67 mph, the slower laps win (which brings us back to option #1).

    Eventually grid sizes, sponsorship and interest will improve and quick battery swaps will probably become the norm. Maybe a TT Zero Enduro race could start .. MotoCzysz used to design bikes with swappable battery packs, they may still do so.

  12. BenFaster says:

    Really glad to see this – competition is what will move the needle on this. Seems like a fast battery swap would be the most appropriate – keep the speeds up so its interesting – fast charges might be a little more dangerous etc.