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.

Ducati Superbike 1199 Will Have LED Headlight

06/30/2011 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Ducati Superbike 1199 Will Have LED Headlight Ducati Superbike projector headlight 635x475

After seeing the front fairing of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 last week, we idly speculated that the design included an LED (light-emitting diode) headlamp, as no bulbs or projector assemblies could be seen in the housing. Another tip-off were the slats in the headlight housing, which can readily be seen, and look very similar to the setup used by Audi on its R18 TDI Le Mans race car. Getting a few tips from our loyal readers, and following up with several of our sources, we can confirm that the new Ducati Superbike 1199 will use a completely LED-based headlight system — the first production motorcycle to use such an assembly.

There are several advantages for Ducati to switch to an LED system, with the biggest three being size, energy, and heat. LEDs are super efficient, and can produce a similar amount of light for a fraction of the energy used in halogen bulbs, with virtually none of the heat (RSV4 owners take note). While that factoid has the geek factor, what’s perhaps the most relevant to motorcycles is the size factor. LEDs don’t require bulky ballasts like HID systems, and they don’t require large and heavy housings like the more commonplace halogen systems.

Instead, it is a simple matter of setting up the circuit to the light-emitting diode (this actually isn’t that simple from a technical point-of-view), and securing the directional light source with the right vector. This makes the Superbike 1199′s headlight assembly not only super-compact (we hear it’s about an inch thick), but also super-light (less mass than two cups of espresso and one gelato — stracciatella if it makes a difference). If you were wonder how the 1199 lost 20 lbs over the 1198, this would be just one of many major areas where the bikes can trim some fat (the lack of a traditional frame probably helps too).

The issue with LEDs has always been the output in lumens, and the fact that LEDs only emit one frequency of light, making true-white LEDs virtually impossible (true white light is a mixture of all light frequencies). While there’s been some interesting research in that latter issue, which goes way beyond the scope of this article, the light output from LEDs has increased in leaps and bounds over the past 10 years, with prices dropping dramatically as well. With companies like Audi proving the technology under the rigors of the race track, we stand on the verge of major OEM adoption of LED headlights in the car industry, and with this news see Ducati being the first-mover in the motorcycle industry. Neat stuff, and better yet, no Bothans were injured while collecting this report.


  1. buellracerx says:

    only a matter of time before volume drove cost down enough to make this feasible. weight, I could see being the biggest factor; energy not so much (30W~.04-.05hp)

    looking forward to seeing what kind of bling factor this brings the new flagship duc

  2. If you’re Benelli the reduced energy draw from the alternator could be a big improvement…oh there I go again…

  3. Odie says:

    Actually, I think that 30w is way high. A normal automotive halogen bulb only pulls 50w or so.

  4. Giova says:

    I think, the MV Agusta F4 already has the LED lights. Ducati is not the fist in motorcycles to do it.

  5. RSVDan says:

    MV’s use a projector with LED running lights.

  6. 76 says:

    Really happy to see this move to full LED from a major player, this impacts the front facia greatly as to the size and how small the footprint of the headlamps need to be. Styling wise it provides much greater flexibility and packaging wise becomes much more effective and efficient, way to go Ducati

  7. hoyt says:

    This opens the door for a lot of original styling for both naked and faired bikes

  8. Yup, lot’s of bikes have LED markers, parking lights, and LED accents, but none have a true full-blown LED headlamp.

  9. smiffy says:

    The new KTM RC8 has LED headlights…not sure if they’re only running lights though.

  10. smiffy says:

    The article talks about the 1199 but the photo shows the 848 evo….does that mean they get the LED set up too??

  11. i’m waiting for LED ZEPPELIN headlamps on motorcycles.

    now THAT will be cool ;-)

  12. RSVDan says:

    Get back in yer corner, John.

  13. When the middleweight Superbike gets updated, I’m sure they’ll have LED headlights. That picture is to show the current projector setup on the Ducatis. There was no 1198 version.

  14. smiffy says:

    Jensen what do you mean there was no 1198 version?


  15. Of the photo (a good projector headlight shot) in Ducati’s official press kit.

  16. Jeram says:

    wont be long until the traditional round headlight is gone and replace with strips of LED’s or other stylish placements.

    I think it would be marvelous to have fully functioning strips on LEDs on the fork tubes of a naked bike… allowing full veiw of the triple clamps and frame headstock.

  17. Greg says:

    I have LED headlights on my streetfighter. They are vision-x solstice lights. Definitely brighter and more noticeable than the factory halogen. And they draw almost no current. Its about time somebody did this from the factory.

  18. I wonder just how many lumens these LED light stick out?