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.

Öhlins Releases a Semi-Active Suspension Upgrade for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S – But, What’s Next?

04/30/2013 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Öhlins Releases a Semi Active Suspension Upgrade for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S   But, Whats Next? ducati 1199 panigale s front wheel 635x397

An interesting development on the aftermarket side of things has graced our desks, as Öhlins has released a “suspension control unit” (SCU) that upgrades the electronically adjustable suspension on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S so that it becomes a semi-active suspension system. Whhhaaaat??!

So, if you’re the proud owner of a pre-2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, and you think that your electronically controlled Öhlins suspension is no longer boss, now that Ducati has released its Sachs-powered “Skyhook” semi-active suspension pieces on its new batch of Multistrada sport-tourers, there is a remedy for your motolust.

The upgrade itself is fairly straight-forward, as the Öhlins SCU is a direct plug-and-play replacement for the stock ECU on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S. Naturally, the new SCU uses Öhlins-made damping algorithms to adapt the rebound and compression settings for the road and riding conditions; and for bonus points, the Öhlins SCU upgrade works with Ducati’s four-way riding mode feature on the Multistrada. Booyah.

Beyond being another advance by Öhlins in brining semi-active suspension to the aftermarket masses, the move from the Swedish brand is pretty interesting. Öhlins is not competing head-to-head with Ducati, which no longer makes a standard-suspension MTS1200 S, and thus is providing a useful upgrade to current Multistrada 1200 S owners who feel a bit left out by Ducati’s mid-model upgrade.

However, one has to wonder about Ducati’s other motorcycle models with the electronically controlled suspension pieces: the Ducati 1199 Panigale SDucati 1199 Panigale R. The process for Öhlins, in adapting the Multistrada SCU to work on the Panigale, is a fairly “simple” goal to achieve — in that the R&D department has already done the hard part of decoding Ducati’s ECU (interesting DRM issues abound here though).

But the Panigale line has its own challenges. With the BMW HP4 raising the bar on what to expect from the superbike category, our thoughts after riding the Panigale R is that Ducati should have brought a semi-active suspension package to its flagship machine, which would have helped justify the Panigale R’s $30,000 price tag, and further distinguished the R-spec machine from its S-spec predecessors. But here, Ducati has a problem.

Customer feedback on the Sachs-powered Ducati Skyhook Suspension is that the brand is not perceived to be as prestigious as the Swedish one it replaces — never mind how the units actually work on the road. While Ducatisti might be more forgiving on a sport-touring bike’s suspension, you can bet that anything but Öhlins on a Ducati 1199 Panigale S or Ducati 1199 Panigale R would be considered superbike heresy.

While Öhlins has demonstrated that it has the means to create such a product, we doubt however that the Swedes will supersede Ducati in releasing such an option to the public ahead of Ducati’s own solution — after all, Ducati is one of Öhlins’s most-loyal customers.

Our prediction? Semi-active suspension for the Panigale to debut at the 2013 EICMA show, with Öhlins releasing an aftermarket solution for pre-2014 Panigale S & R owners. You heard it here first.

Source: Öhlins


  1. Interesting development. BTW Jensen I’m pretty sure Sachs is a German not a Japanese suspension company

  2. Mark, I had Showa on the brain.

  3. JCB says:

    So are you saying I should cancel my Panigale R order I placed yesterday and stick with my 1198SP?


  4. Jason says:

    I may be wrong, but I don’t think that a suspension control unit upgrade to the Ohlins available on previous Multistrada’s and current 1199′s will make those forks and shocks work like the semi-active Sachs units.

    I believe the Sachs units have an electrically actuated valve inside than can respond very quickly and can adjust damping very quickly as well.

    The Ohlins units just adjust spring preload, no?

    My point is that I don’t think that a new SCU will make your Panigale’s suspension work like an HP4′s.

  5. Jason, that’s not correct.

    The MTS1200 S had electronically adjustable pre-load, compression, and rebound. The Panigale S &R have electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping.

    The only thing ever holding back the DES systems from being semi-active suspension pieces was the software.

  6. paulus - Thailand says:

    Easy purchase decision.
    Ohlins; 30+ years of race developed and win proven credibility… at the highest level of motorcycle sports.

  7. smiler says:

    Norton also using a semi active suspension unit for the TT…….This is an Ohlins item though.

  8. thatguy says:

    Not sure how this accomplished with just an ecu upgrade on the Ohlins. Without the front and rear accelerometers that the 2013 model has how does the Ohlins ECU “see” wheel travel and hence know when to dampen? Unless there are sensors already in the forks that we don’t know about I’m not sure this will work the same as the Sachs unit.

  9. thisguy says:

    thatguy is way off, you have no idea what you are talking about, you problem don’t even own a ducati or any Ohlins equipped motorcycle. that are sensors everywhere, that’s how the government keeps track of you. also very tiny cameras…

  10. thisguy says:

    Accelerometer is in the new ECU…

  11. jbrown says:

    Ducati still makes a standard model Multistrada 1200 with standard (manually adjusted) suspension. The standard model 2013 MTS1200 retails for $16,995 and comes with fully adjustable Marzocchi forks up front and an adjsutable sachs shock at the rear.

  12. thatguy says:

    Even IF the accelerometer is in the ECU that would only allow it to sense acceleration and heavy braking, and not very well at that. No way for it to adjust in real time to road conditions that way like the Sachs. So in the end it will not work as Sachs system does or as well. I want it to, as I do own a 2012 MTS S and I will take any upgrades I can get, but this looks to be the reality. Unless there is something I am missing Jenson?

  13. alessandro borroni says:

    all that matters is that gold color… we all know that 99% of us couldn’t pass a blinded test to identify what brand suspension we have. But, you know very well that gold forks give you hard-on.. so in the end.. Ohlins has achieved incredible brand equity and recognition, to the point that even when the OEM picks a potentially better option in a segment… that without the brand recognition customers will complain.

    I think Jensen’s prediction is insightful… and just may prove to be true. good article Jensen.

    PS. i heard you were chosen for bingo at Dainese SF… please read the numbers even faster than Clelland did and drive the Dainese girls crazy LOL.

  14. MikeD says:

    Interesting. . . i still hold hope ONE DAY to own AN AFFORDABLE motorcycle with fully automatic (active ?) adjustable suspension before i become an old fart that can’t hold on to the handle bar for dear life or die before my time.

    Key Word……………..AFFORDABLE………………i can’t yet justify anything on 2 wheels more than $5K.
    Sucks to be poor, tell me about it.

  15. Luke says:

    This will not make the Ohlins suspension work liek the Sachs skyhook. The Ohlins suspension uses stepper motors and the sachs suspesnion uses electronically controlled valves via a soleniod system. The Sachs system uses accelerometers and potentiometers throughout the bike to make damping adjustments.

    The DES system allows the rider to select 4 different settings while stationary depending on their requirements.

    My guess is that the new SCU will allow for adjustements while on the move. However, the adjustments will be slower due to the stepper motors. Ohlins have developed a minor upgrage. That’s all.

  16. Luke says:

    This can be classed as ‘semi- active’ as the Ohlins SCU will select the best predetermined setting based on the riding conditions the bike is subjected.

    Note: The Sachs Skyhook suspension will react in 10 milliseconds to every bump in the road. The Ohlins system with the new SCU will take 1-3 seconds to make adjustements.

  17. yung says:

    I think Luke is right here. Even though I’d love to add the SCU to my Multi S…the Ohlins hardware isn’t able to adjust as quickly as the Sachs hardware.

    Still waiting on a good review of this unit on the bike before I take the plunge

  18. MikeD says:


    If i were in your shoes i would rather sell your current steed, perhaps one of your kidneys & buy the new-er Sachs equipped Multi, IF what Luke said pans out to be THE TRUTH.

    Don’t settle for less, i know it would be bothering me always if it were me…that nagging feeling of “what if and why didn’t i” always on the back of my head.

  19. luke says:

    Hi Guys, To be honest my post does not explain in detail the system, just an overview.
    There is a bit of clever marketing from Öhlins going on here. They are right to categories this system as ‘semi active’ however it is not comparative to the Sachs system. Öhlins categorise the Sachs system as fully active.
    In part this is true, the damping is fully active, however a truly fully active system will have electronic automatic spring preload adjustment which the Sachs system does not.

    Anyway, the Öhlins system will improve your MS and allow for adjustments in damping characteristics while on the move. It’s up to you as to how much value this will add to your riding experience.