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.

Don’t Call It a Comeback: Honda Q1 2012 Sales Up 39%

05/11/2012 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Dont Call It a Comeback: Honda Q1 2012 Sales Up 39% Honda logo 635x442

The untold story of the global economic collapse, Honda was on a worrisome three-year downward spiral during the recession. Posting sales of 453,000, 320,000, & 189,000 powersport units in 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively, Honda’s 2011 fiscal year sales figure of 200,000 units posts a 8.1% gain for the Japanese company, and a new healthier trajectory.

Helping the company turn that corner, Honda has reported that its Q1 2012 (Q4 2011 fiscal) sales were up 39% over last year’s figures. Selling 53,000 powersports models in the last three months, Honda is projecting that its 2012 fiscal year will see 255,000 units in North American.

Worldwide, Honda had its best first quarter ever, in terms of sales. Pumping out 3.456 million motorcycles worldwide in Q1 2012, Big Red is up 18% over Q1 2011 (it is important to note that Honda includes scooters, ATV’s, and side-by-sides in its “motorcycle” figures). With Asia accounting for 2.741 million of the units sold in Q1 (79% of total sales), it is clear to see where the growth opportunities in the industry are located. Honda’s worldwide motorcycle sales topped 12.559 million units for the 2011 fiscal year.

With this increase in sales, it should not be surprising to hear that Honda motorcycle incomes were up 4.7%, netting $16.766 billion. However, Honda’s balance sheet as a whole was down for the fiscal year, with the company reporting only $2.627 billion in total net income, thanks mainly to struggling automotive and power parts businesses that were affected by last year’s earthquake and tsunami.

Source: Honda America & Honda Worldwide

Comment:

  1. Westward says:

    Aside from scooters, I wonder how much of it can be attributed to their 250R…

  2. Damo says:

    @Westward

    The wife just bought one. Can’t miss with a 71 mpg little sport bike for a starter. I have been seeing them pop up quite a bit. Right time right price point for Honda, me thinks.

    I almost pulled the trigger on a brand new Fireblade after I crashed my poor aprilia Mille *sniff*, but I tracked down a mint condition 2005 RC51 SP2 and grabbed that instead.

  3. MikeD says:

    Any way to know what models are making the fat part of those numbers ?
    I must say, im a Honda HATER, for most of the time…but im glad they are staying alive and improving their situation. REALLY HOPE the others get their shiznit straight…or improve a little like Honda. Man, i really miss those days when SuperBikes were completely overhauled every 2 years…aaahhh, i think it’ll never be like that again…at least for a really LONG time.

    @Damo: Feel for you.

    http://miami.craigslist.org/brw/mcy/2993109254.html

    http://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/mcy/2971098739.html

    http://miami.craigslist.org/pbc/mcy/2985520243.html

  4. Damo says:

    @MikeD

    Thanks man. I was gutted. I found the aprilia 2 winters ago for only $3400! It was was a 2003 RSV Mille and it was in pretty mint shape. When I crashed it I priced out used parts to fix it and it would have hit my wallet for about $2900. I decided to cut the aprilia loos for $1000 in parts and bought the RC51.

    Overall I love the RC51, always wanted an SP2. If honda would just quit bullshitting and come out with a V4 superbike, maybe they would get one more sale!

  5. Westward says:

    A friend of mine let me ride his RC51 around the block, and let me tell you, it was the most nerve racking meters I ever rode, especially since the bike was near mint condition… I know what you are going through, and hope you enjoy your new to you bike…

  6. Westward says:

    Cause that bike is not for everyone….

  7. Paul McM says:

    “Honda’s worldwide motorcycle sales topped 12.559 million units for the 2011 fiscal year.”

    If I read that report correctly, and we divide 200,000 US-market motorcycle sales by total units worldwide, then the USA market is only 1.6% of Honda’s global motocycle sales.

    One point six percent. No wonder we don’t get all the good stuff!

    That 1.6% figure is astonishing and it clearly shows the declining role of the United States in the global economy.

    I hope Honda’s bean-counters don’t write off the American market altogether. It’s hard to justify the expense of marketing, lawyers, model certification, and dealer support for 1.6% of total sales.

  8. Westward says:

    The US probably buys as may Honda motorcycles as europe or asia does. It’s not that the US doesn’t buy enough motorcycles, it’s more that Americans don’t buy enough scooters, and the rest of the world buys millions of them.

  9. BBQdog says:

    @Damo/Westward/MikeD

    I am a Honda hater (and italo/Aprilia/Ducati fan) myself and surprised myself last year buying a CBR 250 R. Not much wrong with the bike, nice price, nice finish. Nice riding position, fuel economics, brakes, ABS, 6 gears etc. Don’t like the looks and it is 25kg too heavy for a 250.

    The problem is I can’t by an Aprilia RS4 250 (still got a mint condition RS 125 2008 in the garage)
    or some other sport/nimble 250. Probarbly will swap the CBR 250 R for a KTM Duke 350 next year or the KTM Moto3 350cc the year after. I only ride on little backroads and have no use for 100+ BHP bikes.

  10. Damo says:

    @BBQdog

    I am with you there. I got the RC51 because it is my favorite bike Japan even made. It is one of those bikes that haunt you until you own one and get it out of your system.

    I usually prefer Italian and British bikes, buy I am REALLY interested in the KTM Moto3 350cc. If anyone can make a sporty single correctly, we know it’s KTM. I am just glad they are bringing it to the states, although I wish they would bring the damn 690 Duke too.

  11. mxs says:

    Very few of you would have paid Honda price for new V4 street superbike. Which means they will never come with one, for their own sake.

    The same with any small I4 bikes, like CBR250RR back in a day. As labour expensive to put together as modern 600RR, so not enough people would buy them at slightly less prices than 600cc I4. It’s really that simple.

  12. MikeD says:

    @Damo:

    I almost bought one too, not many moons ago when i was on my late 20′s. But the better part of my brain and wallet told me not to.
    I think im glad i didn’t, because even with my current “relaxed compared to a sport bike” ride[SV1000N] i feel i want something more upright and comfy [i see one of those BIG DS in my future]…not to mention there’s no curves, canyons, good roads, etc in S.Florida…really no sense to own it…unless u gotta have it, wich im cool with anyways.

    @Westward:

    I think u pretty much nailed it, but i would like to add besides scooters each and every model under 250cc they make overseas and we don’t even know it exists.

    @MXS:

    +1 on the V4 Halo superbike. On the real world it would be pretty hard to justify it…and Honda being Honda i doubt they’ll price it anywhere close to their current CBR cash Cows…or is that EX cash Cows ?

    A “fun size”[250] CBR-RR wouldn’t sell here anyways…the land of “BIGGER & HEAVIER=BETTER”.
    + your argument makes a good point too…smaller components don’t necesarily translate as less cost at the end to both the builder and end consumer, if anything more of a pain in the arse to put togheter and completely not be interchangeable with the other models on the line-up. Just thinking out loud from the lowest part of my back. LOL.

  13. Damo says:

    @MikeD

    I am in the same boat at this point. I love my RC51 and I am very pleased with it, but being that I am a 8000+ mile a year rider this may be my last full race rep I buy. Next trip to the dealer is going to be for a naked liter bike of some sort.

  14. Gavin says:

    Honda topped road bike sales here in New Zealand this last summer (Northern hemisphere winter) by quite a margin after dumping a heap of old stock they hadn’t been able to move. This is a first for Honda who normally trail behind Suzuki in this market segment and I wonder how widespread this tactic has been? As a motorcycle dealer, I suspect they will suffer in the next couple of years as I’m sure a number of those sales will have been to potential buyers who couldn’t pass up such a golden opportunity and purchased early. Who could blame them with savings of up to NZ$12,000 to made!