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 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.

BMW Motorrad Sales Up 5.6% YTD, But Where?

03/07/2012 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

BMW Motorrad Sales Up 5.6% YTD, But Where? BMW R7 635x423

BMW Motorrad released yet another glowing sales report, as the German brand continues to build steam and market share in an otherwise luke warm and uncertain marketplace. Boasting a 1.8% worldwide sales increase in February and a 5.6% year-to-date (YTD) sales increase, BMW Motorrad has sold 12,078 motorcycles worldwide thus far in 2012. While the gains are modest at best, the news that BMW has found a way to grow despite the economy is something we have talked about ad nauseam. As such, I almost skipped this press release all together for our coverage, but then I saw a quote from Hendrik von Kuenheim, BMW Motorrad’s General Director.

“As seen at the global level, the trends on the motorcycle markets are very much mixed,” said von Kuenheim. “Whereas the South European markets are suffering under economic uncertainties, those in Germany, the USA, Brazil, and France are booming.” This quote highlights one of the more pertinent issues for BMW and premium motorcycle brands as a whole, the recession and its effect on motorcycle purchases is varying greatly over a number of demographic figures — not surprising, but worthy of some pondering.

On a geographic level, we can see countries hit harder than others (Hendrik von Kuenheim goes out of his way not to mention the Mediterranean countries by name). Even on a domestic level here in the United States we can a stratification of the rebound from the credit crisis by different socioeconomic groups. There are a lot of factors that go into the relative success that premium brands like BMW, Ducati, Triumph, and KTM have had here in the United States, but surely one of those factors surely has to be the core demographics of those brands.

What does that say about how this past recession has been different from previous ones, like say the .com bust? Does this change what we think of when we talk about the growth centers for premium motorcycle brands versus commodity-based brands? Does that change anything about brand engagement?

Source: BMW Motorrad

Comment:

  1. kevin says:

    I wonder if BMW has given any serious thought to a middleweight sporting machine (kinda like the street triple). Offering a performance oriented bike, a BMW badge, and a reduced price could bring more riders into the fold.

    Anyways, congrats to BMW on their sales success. I saw elsewhere they’ve had their best February ever across their car (BMW, Rolls Royce, Mini) lines.

  2. Doctor Jelly says:

    You mean like the F800S? Middleweight, sporty-esque, decent price (for a BMW), and dropped from production within a year or so.

    I believe somewhere BMW (in reference to a smaller S1000RR that would probably compete with the 600cc class) said that the profit margin is just not there. So we probably won’t see a downsized sportbike again from them anytime soon…

  3. Richard Gozinya says:

    BMW has the F800R, which is much more a competitor with the Street Triple than the F800S was. The S had a fairing, and a seriously ugly one at that. But even so, the F800R isn’t much of a bike compared to the Triple.

  4. Jim says:

    Making the assumption that US & European brands = ‘luxury’ brands, the fact that the are doing well in the current economy is not a surprise. The comfortable is where the money is and the rest are struggling.

    For the last year the financial press has been noting the growth in profitability of companies that produce luxury consumer goods while at the same time Wal-Mart has reported flat sales. A factoid, the other day there was a published report that in 2010, better than 90% of the wealth created during the year accrued to the top 1%. If that indeed is true and if that becomes a trend, then the future of ‘hobby’ product manufacturers, that appeal to a broad economic demographic is tenuous.

  5. Dawg says:

    Like Triumph I believe BMW will probably start building smaller capacity bikes, maybe 350-400cc. These will make increasing sense given the rocketing price of fuel. The market for small capacity machines in Asia is enormous. We are also losing a generation of bikers here in the UK, so in the future there may not be enough people who want to, or can afford to, buy a large ‘leisure’ machine but they may be interested in a smaller economical commuter bike.

    If people buy commuter bikes, they may then get a thirst for biking and buy a hobby machine. This is how it was with previous generations here in the UK when people had a bike as their only transport.

  6. Mitch says:

    I for one would love a 350-500cc street bike from Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Triumph, KTM, or BMW; really, I’d love a bike that size from any manufacturer, though of course I’m partial to the ‘premiums.’ However, people talk about how the smaller capacity would be more appealing and create a new generation of riders, and I’m not convinced that is the case. Most aspiring riders that I’ve met here in the States balk at the idea of anything less than a tuned-up 600 or something over 800cc (of course they have no clue). I’m the only one I know who would be happy with 30-50 HP, good mileage, cheap insurance, and a light, maneuverable bike. I’m so excited about the Duke 350, but fear that it won’t come here. The only other bike I’m seriously considering is the MG V7 Classic; even the Monster 696 seems a little overkill to me.

    I ride a Suzuki TU250x right now.

  7. WetMan says:

    Off course the fact that all European biking magazines are so pro-BMW and Ducati that it is starting to be sickening doesn’t hurt their sales. BMW bikes win all the tests, because they always take all possible pricey options for the test bikes. Thus they compare 15k Suzuki’s to 25k BMW’s. Without blinking once. Any technical problem with a BMW is only mentioned years later when a new model comes out that finally solves the problem. And now I have the sneaky suspicion that the S1000rr didn’t quite make it through a 50000 km reliability test unscaved, because the test was promised months ago in my favorite mag and since then it has gone awefully quiet…

  8. Kyle says:

    I worked for a BMW dealer until recently and I talked to the rep about a middle weight BMWrr type bike. His thoughts were that it’s not economically feasible to produce one because the cost would be close to the 1000 and no one would pay the needed market price to be profitable.