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.

Brammo Empulse Delivery Delayed to 2012 – IET Coming?

05/06/2011 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Brammo Empulse Delivery Delayed to 2012   IET Coming? brammo empulse flux capacitor 635x425

Our good friend Ted Dillard from The Electric Chronicles got an interesting email from Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher this past week, in which the Oregonian company stated that it will be pushing deliveries of the Brammo Empulse back yet another year to 2012, and then fairly bluntly hinted that the revamped Empulse would be fitted with the company’s newly licensed Integrated Electric Transmission (IET).

In his email to Dillard, Bramscher states that “Brammo teams and suppliers across the globe are working hard to deliver you a motorcycle of the level of quality Brammo riders have come to expect. We had a tough decision to make recently: Deliver the Empulse this riding season, or integrate our latest technology and deliver a superior bike in 2012. After much deliberation, we decided to be true to our values and build the best bike we can.”

“This week we will be announcing some new prototype models based on the new technology. These bikes have helped us thoroughly test and prove the technology that is being integrated into the Empulse,” continued Bramscher. This new technology surely must be the new IET gearbox, unless Brammo is keeping some secret feature on the Engage under tight lips.

The move isn’t surprising for a couple reasons. It’s widely speculated that Brammo hasn’t been able to get the 1,000 pre-orders needed to go into production with the Empulse, despite the fact no money has to be put down to pre-order the electric motorcycle. While the pre-order program has put a kibosh on Zero DS sales, our sources have told us the 1,000 pre-sale figure is the magic number for that project going forward (likely because of funding). Naturally with each passing day, the likelihood of Brammo reaching that goal diminishes, as interest in the current bike wanes as technology progresses forward.

Thus it makes logical sense that to keep interest piqued on the Brammo Empulse, a revision to the design was in order. The fact that a new powertrain is in the works for the Empulse is also unsurprising, as the Empulse  motor has been problematic since its quasi-public debut before the Laguna Seca MotoGP round last year. Unable to participate in the FIM e-Power Championship round, an over-heated motor was widely speculated as the cause of the bike’s racing plans being scuttled.

The same motor issue arose recently while MotorcycleUSA’s Steve Atlas was at the helm, which doesn’t show a promising pace of development for 10 month’s time. It should be noted though that when we watched the Empulse RR lap around Thunderhill earlier this year, no issues seemingly arrived, though Brammo Director of Product Development Brian Wismann only did five to six lap stints during that testing day, which could factor into things (in fairness, it should be noted that this could also be due to maintaining a charge level that would allow for a full-day’s testing).

Whatever the case may be, the new IET technology would either replace the current Empulse drivetrain, or perhaps puts the motor in a more optimal rev zone. The news is additionally worrisome as it puts more credence to the vaporware reputation Brammo is building for itself. To the best of our knowledge, Brammo hasn’t even begun selling its Enertia Plus motorcycles in earnest, which with this week’s announcement brings a total of four out of five of the company’s announced model lines as unavailable for sale to the public. With few technical details coming out about the Engage and Encite, and both bikes debuting still in prototype form, it’s anyone’s guess as to when these bikes will be finalized and put into production.

Our Bothan Spies were hard at work today, even as we were finishing this article, as we get word that Brammo is currently testing with Steve Atlas today at Infineon Raceway. Reports state the bike has been doing short lap stints, and according to one Bothan “my bike makes 78 hp, and I could motor it on the straight. How’s that for a gas vs electric comparo?” Hat tip to MotoUSA’s Steve Atlas though, as our spy added “Atlas on the leathers. Kid could ride.”

Source: The Electric Chronicles & Bothan Spies; Photos: Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. there is an inaccuracy in the post.
    the empulses motor is different from the empulse rr motor.
    the Empulse has a Perm with 30 kw peak power while the empulse rr has a 60 kw parker motor.
    the problems have been encountered on the parker motor aren’t found on perm.

  2. Updated to clarify.

  3. Uh, sorry, has the motor for the production Empulse actually been confirmed? Not to my understanding… I’ve held off posting motor specs for that very reason, I was told by Brammo several times that they were leaving that door open, even still… maybe I’m not up to date on that detail though.

  4. from images of the prototype looks like a Perm motor but I don’t know if they are changing. You know more?

  5. I’ve been told on several occasions by Brammo directly that they have not made the final motor selection for the production bikes. My guess is that they have the Perm for the rolling prototype and photos only, and that they’re developing the Parker for the final production.

  6. it’s strange that test the empulse again with Perm air-cooled with peak powers of less than 30 kw and if Brammo wants build an electric superbike , I think we need more!

    The parker built liquid-cooled motors they will incorporate new radiator but I think this is a minor problem …

  7. So, here’s a crazy notion. the IET is an “Integrated Electric Transmission”, “integrated” here meaning integrated with the motor. Unless I’m missing the boat entirely, my updated guess is that they’re developing a motor with the SMRE guys. (Not too likely that SMRE is working with Parker on it, I reckon…)

  8. S.m.e.r.e. Haven’t know now on electric motors as Parker.

  9. Anvil says:

    Note to all electric motorcycle manufacturers: Stop talking.

    I really want to like these things, but all they’ve really got is a PR/VC pitch and and a bunch of “products” that aren’t yet commercially viable. That’s fine, but please stop making wild performance/range claims and pretentious statements like “Brammo teams and suppliers across the globe are working hard to deliver you a motorcycle of the level of quality Brammo riders have come to expect.” What Brammo riders? And what have they come to expect?

    Please just put your heads down and develop something worth talking about before making too much more noise.

  10. I feel your pain, but… Zero, Quantya, Roehr all have new bike models, and they’re readily available. Mission, MotoCzysz, Mavizen and others are taking orders and building on demand. Brammo is still delivering the Enertia. The vaporware is pretty much limited to companies we haven’t heard of before, floating big claims with no actual bikes, specs or even photos, hardly “manufacturers”.

    Brammo does have riders and a TTXGP team, with actual bikes. I’ve ridden one. And there is, in fact, a level of performance and quality that I have come to expect from the Brammo company.

  11. True about Zero & Quantya, and to some extent Roehr, however Mission and MotoCzysz do not have selling motorcycles as a part of their business plan…at least not for consumers. Mavizen has sold fewer bikes than I have fingers…remember, this was a company whose sole purpose was to line TTXGP’s pocket, and help fill the grid ranks.

    Brammo does have the Enertia, and has been selling it over the past two and a half years. In that time they’ve released the Empulse, Enertia Plus, Engage, and Encite. That’s four bikes that are still unavailable. In the case of the Empulse, we’ll be flirting with the two-year mark when/if it comes out. That’s the definition of vaporware to me.

    I imagine the argument you’d hear from Ashland is that now that they are going after dealerships, they need a full-line of motorcycles to offer. This statement has varying degrees of truth to it, but ultimately in the eyes of the consumer, the company is treading on losing its credibility. In the EV space, with so many others making false claims, that’s a huge issue for a company like Brammo, who has built itself a solid reputation. It worries me what I’m seeing here.

  12. Chris Martinez says:

    I agree with Jensen and my frustration makes me agree with Anvil.

    I’m bummed out about this. I had full intention of buying my Empulse this summer.

  13. Anvil says:

    Ted, I know that some manufacturers actually have products that we can buy. But why would we? Or at least, why would enough of us?

    Electric motorcycles in most cases are still so limited that it makes almost no sense for the vast majority of us to buy them. Few of the performance claims can be believed and, even if they could, they mostly only make any sense as expensive short-hop commuters or dirt play-bikes (Zero and Quantya are the only ones onto something remotely viable at the moment). Are more than a handful of people going to pony up $18K for a converted Hyosung with no dealer support? I seriously doubt it.

    Mission and MotoCzysz have resorted to only using the bikes as a test bed to develop their drive/power systems, even after a lot of talk about developing superbikes (frankly, their approach probably makes the most business sense). And, finally, no manufacturer is even within long-range spitting distance of ICE parity.

    Don’t get me wrong, as a development path, EVs are very interesting and I’ll be watching to see how much they evolve in the next few years. I’ll be checking out the races, too. I don’t think that they’ll replace ICE bikes in the near future, but I can see them coexisting. I might even like to own one–when they’re actually worth owning.

    But as a consumer product, these things are just not fully baked yet. Worse, I feel like there’s so much hype and PR posturing that the manufacturers seem only capable of manufacturing unrealistic expectations.