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.

Mission Motors Changes Management Line-up – Appoints Jit Bhattacharya as Interim CEO

02/11/2010 @ 10:20 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Mission Motors Changes Management Line up – Appoints Jit Bhattacharya as Interim CEO tradition is not a business model mission motors 6 635x423

Mission Motors has announced today that they have replaced co-founder Forrest North in his role as company CEO. The move signals a change within Mission Motors that shows the company focusing on bringing products into production and putting them into consumers’ hands. In their announcement, Mission Motors’ Board of Directors have begun their search for a long-term CEO with experience in product development and automotive manufacturing, but in the interim the company will be headed by its current COO Jit Bhattacharya.

The transition, while seemingly drastic, is one that every startup must face as it moves from a visionary and industry challenging mindset to a functional and operational capacity. This movement in management is one that virtually all startups face at some point or another, and something we’ve talked about here in some detail in our “Tradition is not a Business Model” series, so it’s announcement at this point in time isn’t terribly surprising to this author, and storied lesson in entrepreneurship that transcends even into the motorcycle industry.

Speaking exclusively to Asphalt & Rubber, Bhattacharya explained to us the importance of North’s contribution to Mission Motors, and his continued presence in the company’s big picture planning. “We’re now at a point where the needs of the company have shifted from that visionary role, to the need for leadership in a much more operational capacity,” explained Bhattacharya. “Forrest’s vision and personality is such an integral part to everything that’s happened here. Forrest was the leader and one of the founders that was principle to everything we achieved last year, and that’s been critical to us getting to this point in the first place.”

Forrest North will remain on Mission Motors’ Board of Directors, and will continue to serve as a big picture strategist and company evangelist. North was instrumental in Mission Motors’ design and execution of the Mission One prototype, which has been acknowledged not only for its iconic design, but also its stout performance characteristics. As Mission Motors tries to put the Mission One into customer hands, it will need new leadership to help shift the company focus to having a larger emphasis in bringing the Mission One to market, as well as other motorcycles. Both of these goals will require a leader with operational and manufacturing experience, as well as an understanding of the hurdles required to handle government regulations.

“We need to find the long-term leadership that will be able to take this company into the future, so the board has begun a leadership search, in the interim I was the person who knew the company, I’ve been the COO, everybody understands that I know the process, and it’s something that caters to my skills, much more than it caters to Forrest’s,” Bhattacharya told us. Bhattacharya is a mechanical engineering graduate from Stanford, and holds an M.B.A. from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. In his past role as the company’s COO, Bhattacharya had been responsible for managing the Mission Motors’ team of engineers who have developed the company’s technology surrounding the Mission One and future products.

Despite the company’s missed production and timeline milestones, and difficulty raising capital during the recession, Mission Motors’ investors remain bullish about the company’s future, and are continuing to invest additional capital into the San Francisco start-up. While it covered only a brief portion of our conversation, this is perhaps the greatest point we took away from the interview. Having early-stage investors re-dip into funding a company is a strong indication of a company’s continued viability, and commitment by its investing group in seeing Mission Motors only sign “the right” deals, instead of contracting into obligations purely to stay afloat. In venture capital, sometimes the hardest investors to win over, are the ones that have already invested in you, and when they are anxious to continue pouring money into your company, it’s an indication that you’re onto something big, and more importantly that you’re on the path to achieving it.

For a small company like Mission Motors, bringing their bikes and technology into production will mean partnering with larger companies who are capable of large-scale manufacturing. One such early indication as to where Mission Motors is eying partnership already came out last week, as overseas newswires picked up Chinese manufacturer Zongshen’s memorandum of intent to do business with Mission Motors. While it’s unclear if Mission Motors will partner with Zongshen, and that the Chinese manufacturer represents one of those “right deals”, it’s representative of the opportunities abroad that companies like Mission Motors are weighing in their minds.

As Bhattacharya tells us, “with a partnership with someone like Zongshen, all of a sudden there is a potential to merge our technology with something they excel at, which is manufacturing motorcycles for the Chinese market. It’s a chance to take our technology and scale its impact enormously.”

China is obviously a large opportunity for any company at this point in time, especially those in the transportation sector. As we saw in the Olympic games, China has severe problems with its air-quality control, which makes the country and enticing opportunity for alternative fuel companies like Mission Motors.

It’s already a busy year in the electric motorcycle world, and if our discussion with Mission Motors are any indication, you can expect many more announcements in the near future as they continue to move forward with their goals.

Photo: Jason Yu / Asphalt & Rubber

Comment:

  1. John Adamo says:

    Mission CEO hunt begins. RT @Asphalt_Rubber Mission Motors Changes Management. Appoints Jit Bhattacharya as Interim CEO http://bit.ly/bjhNYM

  2. RT @skadamo: Mission CEO hunt begins RT @Asphalt_Rubber Mission Motors Changes Management. Jit Bhattacharya Interim CEO http://bit.ly/bjhNYM

  3. topsy_top20k_en says:

    Mission CEO hunt begins. RT @Asphalt_Rubber Mission Motors Changes Management. Appoints Jit Bhattacharya as Interim CEO http://bit.ly/bjhNYM

  4. Brammofan says:

    Help wanted, New CEO: RT @Asphalt_Rubber Mission Motors Changes Management. Jit Bhattacharya Interim CEO http://bit.ly/bjhNYM

  5. Mission Motors's new CEO to focus on putting electric bikes into consumers’ hands. http://bit.ly/bJBrC7

  6. RT @Asphalt_Rubber Mission Motors Changes Management. Jit Bhattacharya Interim CEO http://bit.ly/bjhNYM