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.

Management Shake-Up at Zero Motorcycles – Neal Saiki Out

02/11/2011 @ 4:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Management Shake Up at Zero Motorcycles   Neal Saiki Out 2011 zero motorcycles zero ds 08 635x453

The news coming out of the Santa Cruz area today is that there’s been a management shake-up at Zero Motorcycles, as multiple people at the top of the company’s leadership have been given pink slips, including company Founder & CTO Neal Saiki. Recently talking to PlugBike.com‘s John Adamo, Zero Motorcycles CEO Gene Banman denied that Saiki had been let go from the company, saying that Saiki’s absence at the company was due to his child’s recent birth and Saiki’s desire to spend time with his newborn.

However multiple sources close to the company have confirmed to Asphalt & Rubber that Neal Saiki was a part of a larger management shake-up that was precipitated by the company’s lead investor. With many of the terminations expected to be finalized next month, and spanning more than one division at the California-based startup, there appears to be a considerable personnel and culture shift occurring at Zero at this point in time.

Zero Motorcycles’ 2011 product line appears to be an extension of this shift at the Scotts Valley company, with the 2011 bikes receiving upgraded components, new designs, and stronger chassis designs. These product design changes go counter to Saiki’s controversial bicycle-inspired designs that focused on bringing strong but light components to electric motorcycles.

The electric news lately has been dominated by Zero, as the company just finished raising another $2 million in funding, announced expansion of its production facilities, and signed a deal with Mexican distributor Dofesa Aventura.

2011 Zero Motorcycles Zero S:

Comment:

  1. Mark says:

    So how does the founder of his own company get a pink slip?

  2. He loses control of the BOD, likely from giving up more than a majority share in stock.

  3. Mark says:

    I wasn’t aware that Zero was a public company yet, when did that happen?

  4. It’s not a publicly traded company, but privately held companies can still have a board of directors, stock offerings, etc.

  5. Mark says:

    Correction, I guess you don’t need to be a public company to sell shares in a company.

  6. Bruce Monighan says:

    Taking venture capitol money is like selling your soul to the devil. You use their money to develop a product or idea you are passionate about and as soon as the income potential arises you are out on the street. Usually it is about the integrity of your idea or your passion to make something better and the investor seeing a chance to make a buck. And sure as hell they got majority control of your company in exchange for the funding. Great ideas and products are littered with this tragedy. Remember Eric Buell? There is a reason that the “venture” as in venture capitol sounds suspiciously like “vulture”.

    Corporate greed wins again and the rest of the good guys suck wind.

  7. Brammofan says:

    @Bruce – There is no reason to be suspicious about the similarity of sound of “venture” and “vulture.” Venture’s origin is from aventure – risk of loss. Vulture is supposedly from the Latin vellere, “to pluck and tear.” Without VC money, none of these companies would have gotten much farther than showing prototypes of designs… or rendered drawings of prototypes. I don’t even think it’s fair to consider VCs as a necessary evil. Necessary? Sure. Evil? No – they are the ones who are risking the loss of their money. What’s the alternative? Federal or other public grants? They come with strings attached, too.

    The hope, of course, is that the product will be successful in the marketplace and the investors will get paid back, earn a profit on their investment, and invest some more to keep the ball (or the bike) rolling. What’s wrong about the VC “seeing a chance to make a buck”? Would you invest in a company if you knew there was no chance to make your money back? That’s not venture capitalism, that’s charity.

  8. brij says:

    Well put brammfan! I agree with you totally. I hope this dream lives on and the only way that can happen is if the company shows some profit.

  9. skadamo says:

    Looking forward to an official statement on this.

    I’m also wondering where Neal will end up next.

  10. Will says:

    @brammofan

    Spoken like a lawyer.

    Funny, it always sounds so reasonable when lawyers speak. But words like ethics, trust, faith, belief, the words that are behind the great accomplishments of our civilization, never seem to come out of the mouths of lawyers….except in their own defense…..

  11. Brammofan says:

    @Will Spoken with the ethics, trust, faith and belief of an anonymous poster during a drive-by attack on an entire profession. What, specifically, do you disagree with in my post about venture capitalism? Surely you didn’t drop in just to slander lawyers.

  12. Marc says:

    Sad news. While I had my critiques of Neil’s approaches, he was first to market and a true innovator. Every electric motorcycle to follow owes him a debt. It’s upsetting to see him forced to leave his own creation. I wish both him and Zero the brightest futures.

  13. @Will & @Brammofan:

    It’s caveat emptor when dealing with institutional money like venture capital and private equity funds. Sadly in entrepreneurship, like things regarding law, the unexperienced and naive usually end up getting eaten by the meat-grinder of veteran players.

    There’s a joke in here somewhere about how it’s not possible to slander (libel?) a lawyer with derogatory words, only positive ones. ;) This of course coming from someone who has worked in venture capital, and holds a law degree.

  14. Will says:

    @jensen

    Well spoken.

  15. Stevil_Knevil says:

    Looks like a good point in the conversation to start a rumor:

    Neil Saiki has left Zero to work for Honda!!!

  16. David Larson says:

    How does a founder get a pink slip? The only way I know is by selling too much of the company to others. It happens….ask Erik Buell.

  17. Zerofan says:

    Sounds promising. Regarding the mediocre advances of Zero towards the market so far, there might be a chance to improve things at Zero. The product is superior, the service inferior.

    It’s a pity. But sometimes I really wonder: who has taught the guys at Zero marketing and sales. They do have a great product, so it is very hard to understand why they do not succeed. Maybe that low margins for sales people and demo bikes, long delivery times even on spare parts, lack of financing for dealers and an overpriced product are just not the right way to get fast results. Hopefully the start to rethink their approach to the market.

  18. Alfonso Rodriguez says:

    What a pile! A 500 two stroke twin would be much lighter and hellaciously more powerful. I’m sorry, but this electric bike crap does “Zero” for me and I long for lightweight and Fxxking fast two strokes. Yamaha, can you please bring back the TDR but in 350, or better yet, 400 cubic centimeters? Please? Put direct injection on it so it will not “destroy” the environment like big diesels do and the tree huggers should not complain too much. Hell, Al Gore (if he is a motorcyclist) might even buy one!

  19. thedude says:

    We shall see if a rubber-band drive train and some silly plastics make or break them this year…. pretty typical upper management blame here”we all screwed up…. lets blame the brain”.

    Neal has some good things locked in his head…. to bad the newbies at Zero didn’t care to show him respect. These Ex Failing Gas MC Company Execs rolled in and think they know how to reinvent the wheel.

    Good Luck Neal EVMC Builders owe you big time!

  20. haha neal! says:

    neal – good riddens!

    it is about time – 1st his wife, now neal!