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.

NHTSA Responds to AMA’s Criticism Over Motorcycle-Only Checkpoint Sponsorship Program

11/22/2010 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

NHTSA Responds to AMAs Criticism Over Motorcycle Only Checkpoint Sponsorship Program NHTSA logo large 635x396

After the AMA’s urging of the NHTSA to abandon plans to fund a national incentives program for motorcycle-only traffic stops, modeled off those used recently by the State of New York, NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland has responded to the Edward Moreland’s (Vice President of Government Relations at the American Motorcyclist Association) letter regarding how motorcycle-only traffic stops increase motorcycle safety. In his response, Strickland cites the State of New York’s findings of motorcyclists at one particular checkpoint (226 motorcycles inspected) were using unsafe tires (11%), illegal handlebars (1%), and illegal helmets (36%).

Strickland also goes on to mention the efficacy of such traffic stops in enforcing seat belt usage in automobiles and generally deterring drivers from driving while intoxicated. However the letter fails to address Moreland’s concerns about probable cause in these motorcycle-only traffic stops, which stop riders without discretion, and solely because of the fact their vehicle uses only two wheels instead of four. We have to agree with the NHTSA on the fact that the efforts to decrease rider fatalities must extend beyond merely crash prevention, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s supposition that motorcycle-only checkpoints further this goal still remains questionable, even with this response.

It is not clear why Strickland cites the results of only one traffic stop, since a sample size of 226 motorcycles at one traffic inspection point clearly cannot be held to represent the motorcycling population as whole. Despite this very serious deficiency, these statistics really boil down to a legitimate concern for why motorcyclists in New York are able to buy non-DOT certified helmets (we’ll wait for a definition on what an “unsafe tire” is defined as before postulating on that statistic). It is interesting to note that no statistics were quoted on instances where motorcyclists were found to be riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs at these this particular checkpoint (likely because there were none), which along with the lack of seat belts on motorcycles, would seem to defeat the NHTSA’s likening of motorcycle-only traffic stops to their automotive counterparts.

Since motorcyclist fatalities dropped in 2009 for the first time in 11 years, which happened to coincide with a substantial down-turn in new motorcycle purchases (especially by new riders), it would seem that at the very least there is a correlation between new riders buying motorcycles and motorcycle fatality rates (shocking news we know). Perhaps instead of funding programs that single-out motorcyclists at traffic stops, and adopting a broken windows policy on motorcycle modifications, the NHTSA can redouble its efforts on indoctrinating new riders (and current riders) into a safer motorcycling lifestyle with increased rider education and higher licensing standards.

Here’s a freebie fellas: if you want riders to wear DOT approved helmets (we’re generally for this idea, although libertarians might disagree), make proof of ownership compulsory when getting a Class M license. It seems to work pretty well in making drivers carry adequate liability insurance.

David L. Strickland’s (NHTSA) Response to the the AMA:

Thanks for the tip Doctor Jelly!

Comment:

  1. buellracerx says:

    just remember, 80% of statistics are b.s. made up on the spot.

    Definitely & wholly agree w/ the proof of ownership of a helmet, but I vote Snell-approved, as in racing.

  2. PeteN95 says:

    I would be curious what the findings would be of similar automobile inspections? I’ll bet plenty of bald tires and broken lights would be found. I also agree with the call for improved rider education and higher licensing standards.

  3. Tommy says:

    I read that letter a few times and it sounds to me that the two main contributions to motorcycle deaths are:

    1) No helmet or useless skull cap
    2) DWI

    So I guess from now on they can just stop Hells Angles and Pagans.

  4. Neil says:

    Sounds like just another way to drum up money for the state.
    If our “Government” continues to do these types of things people will stop riding motorcycles and continue to hurt the motorcycle industry which is already hurting to begin with.
    Although, I do agree with having to wear a helmet and safety gear.

    But why just motorcycles? Certain states don’t even have inspection stations.
    New York has a motorcycle inspection, so why would you have to go through a safety checkpoint?
    That should be covered when your bike is inspected once a year.
    (Tires, signal lights, etc…)
    It’s all about the money….

  5. JSH says:

    Why random checkpoints instead of once a year inspections? Considering the number of people that either remove illegal components for their inspection then reinstall them, or simple slip the inspector an extra $50 to pass an illegal vehicle, annual inspections aren’t very effective. On the other hand, there is not much you can do to hide your straight pipes if you come over a hill to find a checkpoint.

    As far as mandatory helmets or rider training, you will find the AMA is against these common sense solutions.

  6. Keith says:

    what load of rotting bovine excrement…I seriously doubt if he or anyone else at NHSTA could identify A) unsafe tires B) Unsafe helmets C) unsafe riding gear or anything else wrong on a motorcycle…without needing a library to look it up. Sheesh, I expect his kind of stupidity from an elected official, he’s just another hired (FSVOH) flunky and is SUPPOSED to knwo WTF he’s talking about or know who to ask that would know.

  7. Rolf says:

    If I understand correctly a Traffic Stop is a “trap” where traffic is lead to a parking and everything is checked (tyres, car, license, alcohol, etc). Over here that is a pretty common thing and I think it is a good idea. Over here ALL traffic is pulled over, regardless of vehicle type.

    What I find interesting is that there apparently is a difference between 2 wheels and more. This baffles me. Everybody is a part of traffic, and it is in everybody’s interest that things are checked.

    Bikers don’t want to be hit by unsafe cars. Cars don’t want to be hit by unsafe bikers. Pedestrians don’t want to be hit by either. So. Traffic stop for all, or no traffic stop at all.

  8. 76 says:

    all or nothing, not just 2 wheels, period

  9. BikePilot says:

    As a libertarian, I’d like to note that I’m very much in favor of wearing a quality helmet. I’m not in favor of a bureaucrat forcing me to do so or deciding for me what constitutes a quality lid.

    The response is so analytically pathetic as to be insulting. As noted, statistics from one traffic stop are meaningless. Further, without a point of reference re # of problems found with stopped cages in comparable traffic stops, it provides no basis for motorcycle-specific discrimination – which, I guess, was supposed to be the point of the response.

    Re proof of DOT helmet ownership, its an idea, but I think not a great one (even putting my libertarian objections to the whole notion aside). The problem is, unlike insurance, ownership of a DOT helmet doesn’t mean the rider will be covered by the DOT helmet when riding. Second, also unlike insurance, there isn’t an established method of ownership verification. I suspect that an attempt to implement this policy would result in either tremendous expense in establishing a formal reporting system or a bunch of useless red tape that will be easily circumvented by anyone opposed to DOT helmet ownership – much like the TSA BS.

    A larger issue is the absurdity of the amount of effort the government spends protecting us from ourselves wrt vehicle usage. As a libertarian I’d argue that I personally have better ways of spending my money. If I pretend to be a commie I’d still argue that there are much better governmental uses of these resources. Child abuse, rape, vehicle theft and other crimes that actually hurt innocent parties are much too common.

  10. BikePilot says:

    For the record, I’ve been singled out and pulled over more than 25 times. Not once has a citation been issued (or any infraction found). At my current billing rate, that’s about a $700 tax for riding a motorcycle. This doesn’t include the cost of paying the “enforcers” or traffic delays that inevitably result.

  11. Rolf says:

    BikePilot – If helmets are not regulated, the “libertarians” with a lesser eye for a good helmet are going to hurt themselves, end up in the hospital, taking up a bed and using healthcare money which could be used to help people with a real illness.

    I hate bureaucracy, and I hate it when I see governments spending public funds differently than I would have, but it’s not just the cost of the regulation. Regulation is usually prevention of a bigger, costlier problem. In the States, that probably translates to the umpteenth silly lawsuit where a poor sod charges some random company for his own stupidity (btw keep it up US, we can use a good laugh every now and then :-).

  12. Two wheel traffic stops – http://bit.ly/ikgaat – Good or Bad idea? I say maybe, but only if it's not too hot out.

  13. Bikepilot, you can lead a horse to water…

  14. BikePilot says:

    Rolf, only if those libertarians do so in a socialistic state. If I’m making helmet laws, presumably I’m making other laws too ;) By your logic we should also outlaw smoking, being fat, drinking heavily, being old, not exercising, motorcycling generally and anything else that increases average expected cost of needed medical care. That slope is too slippery for my tastes. Legal liability is just another form of regulation and often it goes bad too.

    All that said, as a matter of strategy in a world where I don’t make the laws, fighting the government over helmet-related issues is foolish. There are far more critical areas where the AMA and other MC interest groups could more usefully spend their time and resources. Then there’s also the public perception thing as well.

  15. Until we can police ourselves a little better, this is what you can expect.

    I’m worn out to seeing the fat Harley guys with their little dog-bowl helmets and aftermarket pipes that would wake the dead. I tired of seeing kids in shorts and muscle shirts wheelying their GSXR’s down the interstate in rush hour traffic. Do you really need a stretched Hyabusa with nitrous and enough chrome for twenty 57 Chevys and a fat enough back tire to do asphalt work trying to do ‘stunts’ at the mall?

    I live in Tennessee where you can walk in without a valid Motorcycle Operator’s License and/or proof of insurance, buy an R1 Yamaha for instance, crash it before you get out of sight, and nobody thinks anything is wrong with this arrangement ! ! There’s been four moto fatalities here in the last three months that were utterly preventable BY THE RIDER.

    So, if this sort of thing slows this carnage down, OK by me.

  16. Dau Tieng 59 says:

    When FL went to a helmet optional rule there was a major increase in motorcycle deaths. The NHTSA testified in Congress that 45% of the deaths were people without helmets, which leaves 55% that are wearing what?
    If helmets are such a beneift why don’t they require automobile drivers to wear them? BECAUSE wifey would kick their buttts for the inconvenience. This is another government display of “look, look, we’re doing something about the problem. The DOT “approved” helmets fail the 14 mph drop test over 60% of the time.
    I bet in TN you can buy a horse withouit a license and ride off and as “Superman” found out they are dangerous too.

  17. Blksam says:

    The number one cause of single vehicle motorcycle wrecks:RIDER DOES NOT KNOW THE BASICS OF COUNTERSTEERING.Read The Soft Science of Motorcycle Riding and A Twist of the Wrist.Now how are MC only stops going to reduce crashes?They are not!They are intended to catch a few fish in a large ocean.Gang Unit LEOs are at these stops.This is a clear violation of our civil rights.If you have been stopped,contact a lawyer.

  18. Blksam says:

    BTW Joey Wilson………..WHY ARE YOU CONCERNED WITH WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WEAR OR RIDE,as long as it doesn’t affect you.However,the open pipe noise bullies and suicide wheelie jockies do make all of us look bad.The non-riding public refers to all riders as “YOU GUYS”.As far as helmets are concerned,LET THOSE WHO RIDE DECIDE.Just remember to fill out the organ donor portion of your licence. LIVE FREE-RIDE FREE

  19. Troy Cardenas says:

    What ever happened to being responsible ones self and having to account for your own actions. You ride without a helmet and end up a veggie then it’s your own damn fault. I don’t want to live in a nanny state and that’s just where we are heading. Why don’t we just give up and wear padded suits and stay inside a little bubble where nothing can hurt us.

    Point is; life is dangerous enough. Anyone of of could walk out of our home and get hit by a bus but since we have the built in instinct of self preservation they haven’t had to outlaw busses yet.