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.

In the Future, Will You Even Wear a Helmet?

01/07/2013 @ 5:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

In the Future, Will You Even Wear a Helmet? Human Head Motorcycle Helmet 635x350

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we spend some pixels talking about the finer points of helmet usage, especially when it comes to the debate regarding mandatory helmet laws. Looking at helmets from 50 years ago, and the basic concept hasn’t changed all that much in the time since.

A hard shell, some impact material, and a soft lining mated to a visor and chin-strap system, over the last half-century most of the improvements to the basic helmet design have been for added fit and comfort, or cheaper and lighter materials — even the more creative and innovative designs that are being hocked around the internet right now don’t stray far from the current concept.

Think 50 years ahead though, and it is hard to imagine the same shapes and designs staying constant. In fact, it becomes even possible to imagine motorcyclists wearing not helmets at all. No, I am not talking about some sort of libertarian movement that will rush through our political system, freeing us from the shackles of big government. Instead, I am talking about the true next-generation of safety devices for the gray matter that resides between your ears, which might put the mandatory helmet law debate to rest (well…probably not).

The (r)evolution I am talking about here is the advent of active body protection systems, the most primitive form being the ubiquitous airbag. Already being used on the race tracks of MotoGP, WSBK, and even the AMA, we see the use of airbag systems in racing suits of companies like Alpinestars and Dainese, and it won’t be much longer until airbag system for street use will readily be available to consumers as well.

It is not hard then to see the writing on the wall for motorcycle safety apparel, as the rate of progress in regards to the development of the current helmet design has so obviously plateaued out, while the pace of development for active body protection systems is increasing rapidly.

While it might be easier to develop and incorporate an airbag into a rider’s jacket, the logical progression of the solution to a rider’s head is not far off. Already exploring the concept for human-powered two-wheelers, some Swedish entrepreneurs have developed a stylish solution for bicycle riders (checkout the video below). Is it so hard to imagine something similar being developed for motorcycles in the next fifty years? A decade seems more like it.

Source: Hövding

Comment:

  1. Lindz says:

    The problem with an “invisible helmet” in a motorcycle application is that at higher speeds, you need the hard shell areas of your gear to deflect energy and allow you to slide, just as much as you need the soft layers and absorb energy to reduce impact.

    On a bicycle where you’d experience speeds of what, 30 mph max on average(?) you can get away with passive safety items that are soft and purely absorb an impact.

    Without going too far into this, I’d predict that an “invisible helmet” might be a legal alternative one day and I could see it’s use on cruiser bikes. Hell, having that as a legal alternative to a hard shell helmet would be great. But on a sport(y)bike with high speeds involved I don’t think we’ll get away from the formula of hard shell/absorption material/soft liner.

  2. Isaac (Spektre76) says:

    I really cannot understand why there is a fuss about helmets in the first place! I know, I know the HOG riders want to “Ride Free” but let’s get real folks. Your brain is a precious thing. Do you really want your children growing up with out you? I ride a Harley and I wear my helmet and all other associated safety gear. I guess you can’t tech common sense.

  3. paulus - Thailand says:

    The helmet has not changed becasue the head has not changed. it needs some help when bouncing at speed.

    I just don’t agree with the article, if anything safety systems are becoming more expansive. We wear more today than any time before (with the exception of knights). The last 30 years has seen a massive increase in wearable protection. Full race leathers used on the road, spin protectors, proper boots and gloves, knee braces, neck braces, airbags.

  4. Kevin says:

    I love creativity and science. Passionate enthusiasm isn’t bad either.

    I believe that impact sensitive gels that can “adapt” their dampening
    ability already exist but might be costly. Outer shells have already been
    proven to be more than effective even when thinner and lighter. What is
    stopping their from being a lightweight “adaptive” gel, smaller helmet
    with a thinner interior mass that forms to you? Change is hard.

  5. Keith says:

    If memory serves at least one sci-fi novel has already presented the idea…it’s called Snowcrash. Good book, even has a side car with a nuke in it. ;) But no thanks a helmet does more than protect against crashes…you get over about 35 for any length of time and that wind in the hair sucks and bugs HURT! So does gravel etc.

  6. Andrew says:

    You want creativity and science? Fine: why stuff around with helmets at all, I propose genetically re-engineering the human body so when threatened with collision we can draw our heads and other extremities in. Like turtles do :)

  7. Alex MacPherson says:

    It is good to see people pushing the limits of what’s possible. There are lots of other factors to look at with motorcycles of course. Yes the helmet protects in a crash but it also protects from the elements, road debris, bugs, rain ect.
    I am sure in the next 20 years there will be all kinds of innovations with new technologies… nanotechnology ect. for motorcycle safety.
    Hats off to the Swedish girls for leading the way!

  8. Jay says:

    I like the idea for a bicycle and I agree with the women that bicycle helmets feel cumbersome. However, on a motorcycle I want to wear a helmet. It keeps my head warm and I need the eye protection a full-face helmet with a face shield gives me.

  9. TexusTim says:

    Buy a good helmet,use it and survive most crashes…do the oposite and your going to get hurt or worse die….that being said I dont want anymore goverment agency’s telling me what to do.

  10. RandyS says:

    There *have* been some big advancements in helmets in the last 50 years, but so far they are proprietary and thus not very widespread. For instance, SuperSkin, which reduces rotational energy in a crash:
    http://www.lazerhelmets.com/innovations/superskin/

  11. Robert Chase says:

    Despite the neat technology modern helmets provide more than just crash protection. They are wind and noise protection as well as protection from the rain. Even if they were able to perfect the modern technology so that it would actually protect you better than a helmet many people would not adopt those technologies because they dont provide wind, noise and rain protection. :)

  12. Damo says:

    I wear a helmet not just for safety, but to keep bugs out of my grill.

    @Keith

    Snowcrash is awesome.

  13. Daniel Croft says:

    @RandyS – I wouldn’t call that a big advance at all. It’s an evolutionary change to the base design that’s been around, almost unchanged, for a ridiculous length of time.

    In other markets, technology has advanced (D3o for example, and other impact attenuation materials that are capable of dissipating energy and are multiple use, not to mention lower profile) to the point that it’s affecting the materials and profiles of helmets that people are using and yet the motorcycle helmet market has remained largely static. Why?

    It’s a proven design but only proven to work in certain circumstances. It’s much easier for manufacturers to avoid legal entanglements but sticking to what’s known than invest in new technology when we’re all still happily buying the thing that requires no R&D.

    I’m not saying that these other technologies are necessarily better but there seems to be no effort to explore these technologies to provide a lower profile, lighter weight and equally (or, ideally, better) protective solution.

    Clearly just IMO. :-)

  14. Bruce says:

    I’m willing to try new technology if it is practical and reasonably priced. That said, an invisible helmet fixes a problem I don’t have. As stated above the hard shell provides a layer of safety not available with a soft system, and the modern full face helmet protects from the elements; sun, rain, debris, cold, heat, etc. Helmets provide a unique look, and whether riders will admit or not, a fashion statement of sorts, otherwise they would all be white. Also, with all the smoked and mirrored shields, a level of anonymity.

  15. JET057 says:

    This article from jensen beeler makes me think that you guys are loosing your edge,by researching and contacting the major helmet company’s out there jensen would have written at the stride’s that have been done instead of what he was trying to say whiich is ????????

  16. MikeD says:

    Lindz took the words out of my mouth, thanks for saving this lazy as some extra typing. lol.

  17. Oh God not this again PLEASE!

    If you don’t want to wear a helmet, please cut your head off and leave it at home.

    The balloon defense system would only work if it inflated before impact, it’s the initial impact that does the majority of the damage in most road accidents. So what you would need is a system like an airbag, that would sense the initial impact and inflate before that impact.

    What motorcycle riders really need, is a MAD defense, that’s Mutually Assured Destruction for you post Cold War kids. You can achieve this on a motorcycle by attaching Claymore mines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M18_Claymore_mine to the front rear and sides of your motorcycle, creating multiple kill zones with these shaped charges. That way when some inattentive driver nails you, the mine explodes and takes out everyone in the offending vehicle.

    Very shortly the word will get around, hit a motorcycle, you and your whole family die. Then those in four-wheel vehicles will developed a healthy fear of creaming a bike and do anything to avoid that lethal impact. I predict a marked drop in car collisions with motorcycles, but of course the death rate from those who accidentally dropped their bike will rise significantly. lol

  18. pooch says:

    I dunno, they’re talking about bulk and being uncomfortable, that is one mother of a overstuffed scarf they are wearing. Maybe in Sweden it’s a more realistic proposition than for those who live in hot climates like me. The idea though is cool, a bit lower profile and it would be a winner. but in it’s present form, I simply can’t imagine putting that huge collar on, on a hot day.

  19. CTK says:

    I am OK with wearing a helmet. I think advances will enable helmets to get lighter and maybe more aerodynamic (think golf ball dimples), but I don’t think the form will change much. Remember you are talking about a community that still clings desperately to the telescoping fork and complains bitterly about even incremental change. The motorcycle world is not a place for bold ingenuity. Hell at this point I would be happy with Scorpion re-releasing their high viz colorways for lower end helmets.