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.

Photos: Mugen Shinden Caught Naked & Testing

05/26/2012 @ 6:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Photos: Mugen Shinden Caught Naked & Testing Mugen Shinden electric motorcycle 15 635x476

The 2012 SES TT Zero may not exactly be the talk of the TT paddock right now (Conor Cummins’ broken hand is still all the buzz here at the Isle of Man), but if you casually ask those familiar with one of motorcycling’s finest traditions, the Honda Mugen Shinden is a strong favorite to win this year’s premier electric motorcycle race.

You would be hard pressed to find either Mugen or Honda willing to admit Big Red’s involvement with the God of Electricity, as the name translates from Japanese, but it is clear that 17-time TT race winner John McGuinness will be climbing aboard a very competent machine later in this TT fortnight.

While Michael Czysz has been waxing poetic about the razor-like aerodynamical efficiencies the MotoCzysz team has been cooking up in the lab, and is ready to bring to the electric motorcycle racing table this year at the Isle of Man TT, Mugen has clearly chosen a counter-pointed melody with its brute force approach.

There is a good yin & yang dynamic brewing between the TT Zero’s two favored parties, but if the latest photos coming from McGuinness and Mugen can be believed, the Mugen Shinden is one beast of a machine.

While MotoCzysz has a considerable amount of road-racing experience under its belt, having competed in all three electric motorcycle races at the Isle of Man TT (not to mention more than a few closed circuit races as well), our sources in Honda HQ suggest that the Japanese manufacturer is no stranger to electric motorcycles as well, and has had an electric motorcycle project in the works for over the past decade.

Whether or not Honda is involved with the Mugen racing effort at the TT Zero we will leave for debate, but certainly some of that expertise has been passed down to the Mugen squad — we also hear that McGuinness fellow is no slouch behind the handlebars, and he’s not a bad photographer either (see photo above).

From the company’s own photos, it appears there are multiple Mugen Shinden race bikes in existence, which should not be too surprising from such a well-organized racing effort. Getting to see some more details of the Shinden’s carbon frame and structure, a massive battery pack can be deciphered from the bike’s lines.

Also, judging from the words of the British rider and from these track photos (below), the Shinden’s 570 lbs of bulk is clearly not meant to create a nimble machine, but if that weight comes from a massive amount of battery storage, as we surely believe, it should suit the electric motorcycle extremely well over energy intensive Mountain Course.

More photos and details on the Mugen Shinden as we get them here on the Isle of Man. Until then, these photos from Mugen’s testing session(s) in Japan will have to suffice.

Photos: Mugen Shinden Caught Naked & Testing Mugen Shinden electric motorcycle 05 635x423

Photos: Mugen Shinden Caught Naked & Testing Mugen Shinden electric motorcycle 12 635x423

Photos: Mugen Shinden Caught Naked & Testing Mugen Shinden electric motorcycle 14 635x423

Photos: Mugen Shinden Caught Naked & Testing Mugen Shinden electric motorcycle 18 635x423

Source: Mugen & John McGuinness (Twitter)


  1. Harlan says:

    Is that a pillion pad?

  2. RT Moto says:

    Looks really beefy. I like the fact that this electric bike thing is starting to take off. I look forward to someday owning one once the battery technology and recharging infrastructure is improved and expanded. The sound of an electric motor whining is different but cool none the less.

  3. Photos: Mugen Shinden Caught Naked & Testing – #motorcycle

  4. I think the explorations into alternative fueling is all win, but with the emphasis on rare-earth metals that these current technologies employ makes them unsustainable. I think fuel cell technology, while further from reality than we’d like, is still the view of a sustainable future.

  5. Richard Gozinya says:

    @Trane Francks

    Actually as it stands right now, batteries are a more sustainable and practical approach, though even they’re still not ready for mass consumption. The methods used to make H2 end up costing more energy than is provided, much like ethanol. At least H2 doesn’t ruin gas tanks like ethanol does. In either case, whether it be batteries or fuel cells, it’s still quite a ways off. The very best batteries still have less than 1/20th the energy density of gasoline, a hurdle that could be cleared within the next few years, but even then, there’s still production issues, and as you stated, the rare earth elements.

    Still we need people developing this technology, otherwise it’ll never get anywhere, and we’ll be stuck with an ever dwindling resource.

  6. @Richard: I completely agree that current battery technology makes them more practical than fuel cells, but because of the rare-earth metals, they’re not sustainable. That said, until better tech comes along, projects such as the Mugen push represent the very best of breed.

  7. Random says:

    @ Richard Gozinya

    Putting ethanol on a tank (and fuel line) prepared for it brings no problems for most of the projected duration of the vehicle. It’s common to see flex-fuel cars (ethanol or gasoline-powered) with 10+ years in perfect condition. Even ethanol-only cars from the 1980′s still run today with no more care needed than gas ones. Just like rust can be avoided on external surfaces it can be dealt with on the internal ones. The reduced lubricity (sp?) of ethanol compared to gas is much more of a concern, because it affects valves, valve sealings and chamber pressure.

    Sugarcane ethanol production may consume a lot of energy, but it is still viable economically. A lot of money was dumped on it for research, but nowadays it doesn’t enjoy any tax benefit here in Brazil – well, at least compared with gas as both have a small subside. Production and transport of the fuel also utilizes subproducts that would be otherwise wasted.

    Ethanol works, is ready for mass consumption, is a renewable resource, and pollutes less than gas. Besides, it is helped by the 100+ years of development of combustion engines and gives the range needed for most people. It may not work in every country but saying as someone living in one it does work, it seems the perfect energy density solution for personal transport, making our bikes (and cages) sound, feel and ride just like gas (despite the funny smell).

  8. Ed Gray says:

    I know I am showing my age, but the way the frame blends with the body work reminds me of the first rendition of the NR500 with the “engine” bolted into the “body work”.

  9. Richard Gozinya says:


    It’s misleading to say that ethanol fueled vehicles run as well as gas. Ethanol vehicles get worse fuel economy, and have less power. Because ethanol lacks the energy density of gasoline. Ethanol has about 2/3 the energy density of gasoline. On the plus side, at least for Brazil, sugarcane ethanol takes significantly less energy to produce than corn ethanol does, which is what makes it a viable alternative. Though from what information I’ve seen, Brazil’s the only country to make it in an environmentally friendly way, the rest seem to make ethanol that’s dirtier than gasoline. I don’t know what the difference in processes are, but everybody else’s sugarcane ethanol is some of the dirtiest stuff out there, up around the level of coal.

    As for the damage it can cause to vehicles, I was referring specifically to the problem Ducati fuel tanks have had with American gasoline, which often contains small amounts of ethanol. Something I’m not sure they’ve managed to fix yet.

  10. Bob says:

    I’d be curious if Brammo, Lightning, Zero or Mission Motors plans to attend. Anyone know? I guess Mission is doubtful, seeing as how they haven’t raced since the first TTzero, where their bike crapped out.

  11. Brammo: No
    Mission: No
    Lightning: Yes
    MotoCzysz: Yes

    FYI, Mission Raced at Laguna Seca last year, and decimated the field.

  12. Random says:

    @ Richard Gozinya:

    It boils down to what you understand by “running well”. From a efficience standpoint ethanol is worse than gas, increasing consumption by about 30%. However, I was talking about the performance (i.e. torque and power) using the fuel. I’m no expert, but ethanol somehow needs (or sustains) higher compression rates, and thus it is also capable of delivering higher power and torque . For example, the brazilian Corolla is rated 132cv w/ gas and 136 w/ethanol – using a relatively high (for gas) 11,3:1 compression rate. Ethanol-only cars of mid 1980′s used compression rates of up to 14:1, and despite the richer fuel mixture they always performed better than gas-powered ones.

    From a user standpoint there are no differences in performance when using both fuels, and in low-power/speed situations (i.e slow city driving) consumption is pretty similar. In highway driving there’s a bigger difference, but other factors (e.g number of gears in auto boxes, cruising rpm, foot weight :) ) influence much more than the fuel.

    Judging from TV and newspaper investigative articles ethanol production seems to be a self-contained process: the cane is smashed for sugar, the remainings are used to fertilize the land and a part is burned to enhace the fermentation process. “Green” initatives use a part of the subproduct to produce generic “PET” plastic for coke bottles an “plastic” bags (yeah, just what we need to be green, more plastic).

    I’ll remember to look for tank problems when I trade my 250 ninja for a Duke! :)