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.

Suzuki Q2 2011 – Profitable for the First Time in 11 Quarters

08/15/2011 @ 5:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Suzuki Q2 2011   Profitable for the First Time in 11 Quarters Suzuki GSXR 635x396

Sometimes when reading the posts made on other motorcycle sites, or the comments by readers across the web, I don’t think there is a full grasp as to how bad the recession was for the motorcycle industry. Granted company’s like Ducati, BMW, and Victory have shown remarkable growth in a down period, but their success, though due in-part to the failures of Harley-Davidson and the Japanese manufacturers, is limited on its bearing to the industry as a whole. This because, quite frankly, these companies comprise only a small portion of the industry’s sales, units, and revenue.

The fact that Harley-Davidson was so close to the brink that they dumped everything outside of its core business is but one sign that motorcycling was in trouble. Another sign would be that Suzuki reportedly didn’t import any new units for the 2010 model years, instead letting local inventories in the US handle the dwindling demand for the company’s motorcycles. The fact that the motorcycle industry as whole almost folded-up on itself like a tin can without anyone making a real fuss about it is perhaps a great signal as to how far various stakeholders heads are buried in the sand. So for our last attempt to put things into perspective, try this one on for size:

For the first time in nearly three years, Suzuki’s motorcycle division has posted a profit…or, the last time Suzuki made money selling motorcycles was Q2 2008 (the same timeframe that Bill Gates stepped down from his daily duties at Microsoft).

Making ¥300 million ($3.8 million) last quarter in operating income, Suzuki showed a mark improvement over its ¥1.8 billion ($22.9 million) loss it reported during the same time period last year. That turnaround of fortunes came as Suzuki posted ¥75.4 billion ($961.5 million) in revenue from motorcycle sales, up 8% over 2010′s ¥69.8 billion ($890 million).

While Suzuki’s financial fortunes are on the turnaround, the companies actual unit sales continue to plummet. Selling 642,000 motorcycles this past quarter (yes, twice as much as Harley-Davidson sells worldwide in a year), Suzuki’s motorcycle unit sales are down 21% as the company sold 813,000 motorcycles in Q2 2010.

This loss in sales volumes was primarily due to the massive sales decreases in China (-50% / 215,000 units), though Suzuki posted positive unit sales in in Japan (+10% / 20,000 units), Africa (+34% / 31,000 units), and Central & South America (+33% / 48,000 units). Also making the rostrum of negative sales trends were the big bike markets of the North America (-12% / 15,000 units) and Europe (-32% / 33,000).

Source: Suzuki via Motorcycle.com

Comment:

  1. ML says:

    If this were america, the CEO would get a 3.8 million dollar bonus.

  2. Chris says:

    @ML that would be funny if it wasn’t true

  3. Ah, if only things were that cut and dry.

    For instance, you could criticize Keith Wandell’s bonus from last year, especially as the Harley-Davidson began playing hardball with the unions, though I doubt Harley-Davidson would still be in business today had it not been for Wandell’s leadership and skill in restructuring H-D to be a leaner company.

    When you consider how many jobs he saved by keeping the company in business, you could argue that his bonus should have been bigger.

  4. sunstroke says:

    Could be good news for the AMA. Suzuki have big marketshare in the US.

  5. Chris says:

    Alan Mulally Ford CEO 26 million about 4 times Wandell I would argue they both get paid way too much. Japanese CEOs make about a tenth on average compared to American. I live in a city of 50,000 people our whole budget is 26 million a year.

  6. TonyS says:

    Lack of product evolution and development is not going to help things. Leaving the Euro brands aside, look at what Kawasaki already has out. Can you imagine what the CBR 1000/600 is going to have next year?

    It’s going to interesting to see, but there going to need some really innovative product to make up ground especially in markets like USA and Europe.

  7. John says:

    It is difficult to develop product if you are bleeding money. I’m confident that Suzuki will regain its position in the market in time as the situation in Japan stabilizes and the economy improves. European brands are posting increases, but let’s face it, if you are selling ten motorcycles in 2009 and in 2010 you sell twelve, you have had a 20% increase. The euro bikes just don’t do the volume the Japanese manufacturers do. Also, being pricer items, they cater to an upscale market and there are enough of them to support those makers and allow them to post gains. Those of us who are consumers of the “pedestrian” Japanese bikes have been much harder hit by the weak economy and loss of jobs, thus a dramatic loss of sales of those brands.

    Sportbikes are pretty glamorous, I like ‘em and lust for them. The fact is though, that modern sportbikes have been developed well beyond street needs for some time now. Perhaps what the market needs to be rekindled is more “standard” bikes that offer real world performance without the sportbike hyperformance, price and insurance costs. Sales of bikes like the Z1000, Ninja 1000, FZ 8 and other similar bikes may give us some idea of what the market is looking for.

  8. hoyt says:

    It can be argued that Wandell (and other CEOs) were doing their job, so why give them huge bonuses? How many people didn’t get a bonus because “we’re in a recession” yet those people still increased productivity ?

    Let’s see CEOs & “management” get praised for running lean businesses during good boom times. Grow the business smarter, then the bad times probably wouldn’t be as bad.

  9. Rich Melaun says:

    The disgusting thing about the HD restructuring is that it was their captive finance division that ran them into the ground. The executives approved selling subprime paper for increased sales volume and the house of cards collapsed. However, it is the unions that get wages cut to bail them out. What a deal.

  10. Shaitan says:

    Not a good time to be in the moto industry, but signs are definitely looking promising that the swing is going up again. I think between the mega cruiser and super track-oriented sportbikes, the market got stupid, greedy then the economy tanked. I know the U.S. market is tricky because practical bikes don’t sell well since most (not all) riders think of them as play toys and less as practical vehicles (unlike much of the rest of the world). I’m glad to see standards/nakeds making a comeback, and more adventure bike options too, but are they selling? I’m pleased engine sizes are coming back to a sane 600-800cc for many bikes, since these days those engines plenty fun, yet a bit safer and economical. Don’t get me wrong: I love kick-ass superbikes, chrome beasts of giant v-twinness and all that rot, but at least in the U.S., I want streetbikes to sell sell sell and not just be taken out for 3-4 weekends a year. The more bikes on the road, the more people will consider them legit transport (not just toys) and the more people will buy them.

  11. Honda is in a lot of markets besides motorcycles. Cars, lawnmowers, boat engines, etc. All very successful. Likewise Kawasaki makes huge ships, construction equipment, trains, etc. Both of these companies have mostly recession-proof sources of income to keep them going when motorcycle sales sag.

    Suzuki doesn’t have as much to fall back on. So they can’t prop up sales by investing heavily in attractive brand-new leading-edge products like Honda and Kawasaki can. On the other hand, Suzuki is now partially owned by Volkswagen:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/12/09/us-suzuki-volkswagen-alliance-idUSTRE5B80QV20091209
    VW has been doing really well during the recession. You would think that this influx of capital would allow Suzuki to move forward with exciting new products.