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.

Trouble Broods for Husqvarna as Austrians Come to Varese

04/29/2013 @ 11:08 am, by Michael Uhlarik8 COMMENTS

Trouble Broods for Husqvarna as Austrians Come to Varese husqvarna chainsaw 635x423

Only a couple of months after Husqvarnaʼs sale by BMW to Austriaʼs Pierer Industries, the storied motocross brand is once again making headlines, unfortunately of the wrong sort.

Reports from the La Provincia di Varese website, Varese News, as well as motorcycling’s GPOne are saying that the acquisition of Husqvarna has revealed significant problems with massive unsold inventory, labor, and the existing business plan.

As of Monday the 22nd of April, Pierer Industries announced that the factory will be closed until further notice, and let go all of the 211 factory workers employed by Husqvarna. The only staff remaining are in the sales and marketing departments, about 30 people.

Representatives of Husqvarna have not specified if there is a tentative date for resumption of production, despite having publicly stated that “The company expressly confirms the ongoing production, sale and service of the entire range, including the recently introduced models Terra and Strada 650 and the new Nuda 900 ABS.”

Speaking to newspapers, representatives from FIM-CISL and Fiom-Cgil, the two trade unions most affected by the layoffs, made clear that their view of the owners is not positive, nor the prognosis for Husqvarna good.

“There is a structural problem,” says Flavio Cervellino from FIM-CISL. “In the warehouses there are 12,000 unsold motorbikes, and it is clear that the problem is connected to the product, but the owners are not interested in investing in research and development, and so they don’t consider alternative solutions than sales activity.”

That staggering inventory figure exceeds the total sales that Husqvarna enjoyed in all of 2012, and more disturbingly, does not include the roughly 3,000 to 4,000 additional units that were manufactured in 2013.

The Austrians arrived only on March 11. In five weeks, they assessed the situation of the company, which they said was worse compared with the description given by the previous owners, BMW.

“It is a case of industrial looting,” says Nino Cartosio from Fiom-Cigl. “The aim is to empty this company. There is nothing left for the owner but the real estate and, above all, a prestigious brand.” Cartosio underlines, “In this company, we spent double on consulting advice than the whole payroll for the factory.”

As has been pointed out in previous analysis here at Asphalt & Rubber, Husquarna has been a difficult brand to maintain. Losses since 2010 total €182 million, and sales have declined sharply overall, despite signs of an uptick last year.

With the exception of the Nuda 900, the new 650cc road models were not well received by fans or dealers, being largely warmed over low-end BMW products with many components sourced from outside Italy.

“With the introduction of the street models, suppliers moved outside Italy, favouring especially German and Austrian companies,” says purchasing manager Fabio Murazzi.

“Buying even simple screws abroad became an extra cost, and so it was for every component. Also, BMW forced us to assemble Kymco engines here.” Rationalizing manufacturing activities are commonplace in all conglomerates, so much of this is unsurprising. BMW and Kymco already collaborate on engine design and manufacturing for both motorcycles and car projects.

Global off-road motorcycle sales have been stagnant to negative for decades, which is why KTM and BMW have focused new product development on road motorcycles instead. It’s been speculated by many observers, including this author, that Pierer Industries owner, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, bought Husqvarna with the intension of splicing parts of it onto the KTM portfolio and selling off others.

This news, combined with the catastrophic economic situation in Italy suggests that reopening of the Husqvarna plant in Varese is highly unlikely.

Source: La Provincia di VareseVarese News, & GPOne

Michael Uhlarik is an international award winning motorcycle designer and industry analyst with 14 years of experience with major OEMs in Asia, Europe and North America. He is also, together with partner Kevin O’Neil, behind the Amarok Racing team, and the P1 electric motorcycle experiment. He lives with his family in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is about as far away from the centre of the motorcycle universe as one can get. This may or may not be a coincidence.


  1. Gritboy says:

    Maybe I can pick up a Terra or Strada cheap now.

  2. Pinepig says:

    Ship those unsold Nuda’s to the USA would ya.

  3. TexusTim says:

    ktm just killed off a rival and let go all it’s employees…not a good sign and sounds like bmw slipped em one from the dark side. win win ?

  4. Ranger Jay says:

    The sales of off-road bikes in the U.S. will continue to dwindle, since most of the kids who would normally enter the sport in the past are now more interested in playing a motorcycle game on their consoles than attempting the real thing. Sad…

  5. JW says:

    That chainsaw is not very nice, but it kinda speaks out how BMW shafted KTM.

  6. 2ndclass says:

    What’s the ownership structure at KTM? Does Pierer AG have a stake in KTM?

  7. paulus - Thailand says:

    Massive inventories of product… this could be seen in due diligence.
    This is a strategic move to get an international brand name. Maybe to use in developing nations and not impact on the ‘mother brand’ (as BMW was considering themselves).
    Will be interesting too watch this unfold.

  8. Alasdair says:

    Ranger Jay, don’t blame consoles. I know you aren’t being specific but I love playing my Xbox 360 but I also love riding my Motorbike. Also, I can’t cut laps of Assen in real life given I live in Australia. I would also argue that games like SBK ’08 pushed me towards a road bike purchase. Let’s also not forget how expensive bikes are relative to gaming consoles, that for dirt bikes you often need a place to ride them, a trailer (if they aren’t road legal), a license and hundreds if not thousands of dollars of kit in case you fall off at speed. Down here it’s mostly rural people who start riding dirt bikes (usually on the farm) at a young age or else they are a toy for bogans (I would like to be one of them). Blame uninspiring/unattractive product. The motorcycling media here loved the Nuda but I have never seen one on the road. I personally think they are really ugly and at the end of the day as trivial as looks are, if you don’t like it you will shop elsewhere or not even try it.