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.

Ride Review: Riding the BMW S1000RR Superstock, Satellite Superbike, and Factory World Superbikes

08/01/2011 @ 6:56 pm, by Lorenzo Gargiulo2 COMMENTS

Ride Review: Riding the BMW S1000RR Superstock, Satellite Superbike, and Factory World Superbikes BMW S1000RR test Monza Haslam Superbike 81 635x421

Our good friends over at have shared with us today their experience riding BMW’s World Supersport and World Superbike S1000RR machinery. Getting a chance to flog the bikes of Sylvain Barrier, Lorenza Zanetti, Ayrton Badovini, James Toseland, Leon Haslam, and Troy Corser around the famous Monza circuit in Italy, OmniMoto’s Lorenzo Gargiulo certainly had a tough day in the office. Even translated into English, this Italian bike tester is well…very Italian in his assessments, but we think the subtle differences between the Superstock, satellite Superbike, and factory Superbike shine through in his writing. Enjoy. — Ed.

There are opportunities in the moto-journalism profession that are to be jumped on, and this is one of them. I could tell you the story about how today, in order to reach Monza to try the three motorcycles I’m about to write about, I slept only 3 hours, or how I had to work on a Saturday, and how I had to somehow fit in 1,000 other obligations and make up a lot of excuses in order to free my schedule, but the basic fact is the following: the opportunity to ride on a track, three SWBK motorcycles is so overwhelming that everything else became of secondary relevance.

So, when I received the invite from BMW to go ride around Monza with the very best of its motorcycles, my response was simply the most obvious one… I’m COMING!

Standard, Superstock, & Superbike
I already participated last year in the test organized by BMW Motorrad Italy with the S1000RR Superstock, with which only a month later Ayrton Badovini used to crown himself the 2010 World Champion, and now that BMW Motorrad has redoubled its efforts with the WSBK Championship, the racing bike test has become an international event to which the whole international motorcycle press fleet is invited. The test in question entailed a progression that started us on a street legal, bone-stock, S1000RR, which helped us to warm up and get used to the newly refinished Prima Variante curve in Monza.

Our test then progressed to the Superstock bikes with which Sylvain Barrier and Lorenza Zanetti race, and continued with four laps in the seat of the S1000RR Superbike used by Ayrton Badovini and James Toseland of the BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike team. Lastly our test culminated in a final four laps on the WSBK-spec bikes normally ridden by Lean Haslam and Troy Corser. When I really think about it, last Saturday in Monza we were given a privilege that often is not even afforded to the above-mentioned riders…namely the ability to do a comparative ride between two motorcycles that are from the same family, and normally on the track are adversaries.

Ride Review: Riding the BMW S1000RR Superstock, Satellite Superbike, and Factory World Superbikes BMW S1000RR test Monza Barrier Superbike 7 635x422

Superstock: Sylvain Barrier #20
The first surprise in the Monza test came from the S1000RR Superstock bike of Sylvain Barrier. I had tried this bike last year when Ayrton Badovini was riding on it, and even though I was working for another brand, I had enjoyed the ride enormously. With now a year having passed, I sat on this bike almost petrified by the differences that had occurred to this motorcycle over the past months. Ayrton’s bike from last year was easy, with supple suspension, and was well manageable in the braking zones, while Barrier’s bike from this year was hard like a rock. The French rider expects a very controlled ride, so consequently his forks have very rigid settings. This means that one must be absolutely on top of what he wants to do with the bike, because with a front-end that is so stiff, there are few possibilities for trajectory changes once you are set in a turn.

Even the rear of the bike is set extremely hard, which helps with the mid-line changes, and is where this year’s Superstock machine shows great traction as long as the surface of the track is very smooth. One has to say that at Monza, where there aren’t many back and forth corners or tight turns, it is advantageous to have a stiff suspension setup, but in my opinion these settings used by Barrier are excessive. On the exit of the Varianta Ascari turn, one has to stay far from the tightest inside line, because if you happen to ride onto the edge, as one normally might do, Sylvain Barrier’s BMW starts to shudder as the suspension doesn’t absorb the bumps, making a rider lose precious time. In addition to this, Barrier adopts a riding position with an extremely high seat, which reduces further the comfort level that one can attain with the BMW S1000R. In braking for example, one must squeeze very hard with his knees on the gas tank to avoid the unpleasant feeling of being catapulted forward, whilst having to counteract all the bike’s inertia with your arms.

The engine of the BMW S1000RR Superstock is only slightly different compared to the original. The lack of butterfly valves in the exhaust slightly reduces the backpressure, and consequently the torque at low revs, so it is best to keep the engine towards the top-end of the rev range. Up high, the four cylinder from Munich tends to rev more freely compared to the stock engine, but the power differences are however negligible. My verdict as soon as I got off Sylvain Barrier’s #20 bike was undoubtedly uncontroversial: the engine is great, the brakes are good, and the transition and corner speed is also an improvement over the stock machine. However, such a stiff suspension setting is not the most adept solution for a bike that wants to win races. It would have been useful to also try Lorenzo Zanetti’s bike as those who have had a chance to try the #87 machine, found the bike to be much more balanced, and with a riding position that is definitely less exclusive. Unfortunately our test only allowed for us to try one bike per segment.

Ride Review: Riding the BMW S1000RR Superstock, Satellite Superbike, and Factory World Superbikes BMW S1000RR test Monza Badovini Superbike 4 635x423

Superbike: Ayrton Badovini #86
Only a few steps, and I reach the adjacent garage to find the #86 S1000RR belonging to Ayrton Badovini all prepped and ready to go. Hopefully James Toseland doesn’t read this and get upset, but I was especially looking forward to trying Ayrton’s bike, not only because I know the racer’s great bike development skills, but also because I have a long-standing friendship with him from a time way back when nobody even knew his name, and when the Italian was still trying to establish himself in the racing world.

A few meters are all that is necessary to be enraptured by this bike. The suspension and chassis are perfectly balanced, and the feedback that one receives from this bike makes it extremely easy to ride. The chassis is perfectly center-balanced, and the Öhlins suspension (which are the “Kit 2011” version while on the German team uses the “Official Öhlins 2011” pieces) is extremely smooth and supple. The #86 machine makes it clear that the excellent results with which Ayrton has had throughout this Championship season are the fruits of a chassis and engine that have been constantly fine-tuned over the course of the season.

The chassis is truly on-point: in braking the Öhlins front fork is like butter, and the Brembo braking system allows you to apply the brakes well past the point when your sense of self-preservation would tell you to stop. Corner entry on the S1000RR is fast but progressive, and offers a great feeling of safety. On corner exits, the Öhlins TTX rear shock is exceptional, and is able to combine the need for tire adhesion with bump absorption. From the apex and on, the traction control is very helpful to the rider in understanding where he can push with the power application. The traction control’s activation point on Badovini’s bike is noticeable, but very smooth in its action. Already at mid-turn one can open the throttle to the stop while aiming towards the outside of the turn, and feel that the TC is offering the maximum available traction and control to the rider.

The power delivery deserves special mention, as the BMW Italia mechanics have been able to create an engine map for the S1000RR that enables the horsepower to always arrive in a controlled and composed manner. In the tighter sections at Monza, one can also appreciate the effect that even very small variations in throttle openings can have on the power delivery, as the on-off abruptness is practically non-existent on Badovini’s BMW. Once the revs are increased, the S1000RR’s power delivery shows an elasticity that is simply unrecognizable in the Superstock version.

Here you feel all the power, but it always exhibits itself in a smooth and non-scary way to the rider. Another characteristic that I especially liked was this particular type of slipper-clutch system, which allows the rider to break hard without the rear losing traction, but with enough engine braking to be used as an aid to the rider. Unfortunately, like all wonderful moments, my test on Andrea Badovini’s bike ended too soon, and I had to move on to Leon Haslam’s bike.

Ride Review: Riding the BMW S1000RR Superstock, Satellite Superbike, and Factory World Superbikes BMW S1000RR test Monza Haslam Superbike 8 635x421

Superbike: Leon Haslam #91
A few more steps, and I’m already seated on Leon Haslam’s bike, directly prepared by the official BMW Motorrad team. The minute I sit on the bike, I can immediately tell the difference with BMW Italia machine. Both riders have a slight physique, but Haslam’s bike has a much more compact seating position, with tighter handlebars and footpegs that are even higher than the Italian’s race bike. Of note, the seat padding is practically non-existent compared to Badovini’s bike, which allows him to lock himself into the tank much more easily, especially in braking zones. To be honest I have to say that I preferred Haslam’s neoprene seat over the alcantara one that Ayrton uses, as the latter has almost too much grip with the rider’s butt. This is because with the alcantara seat, one must lift up to move from one side to the other of the bike, while with the neoprene it is easier to slide from right to left.

Haslam’s chassis settings are much more radical compared to the ones used by Badovini. The whole bike is weighted far more on the front, allowing the S1000RR a much faster turn-in on corner entry. This also means that as it moves around more when you’re leaned over, and as a result, the traction control has to do a bit more work to keep the BMW in line in check. In fact on the factory WSBK machine, one can definitely tell the distinct moment when the TC engages, and the engagement is much rougher than on the BMW Italia racing machine. This forward-charged chassis setting makes braking quite a bit tougher, as the lighter rear end makes it easier for the bike to move around under deceleration. Again in the braking zones, I was able to see that the slipper-clutch system used by the factory team is much rougher in its activation, but offers greater engine braking at the same time.

The power delivery on this Superbike is much more violent than on the Italian version, especially when one is getting back on the gas after the tighter turns. One can also see that when you open the throttle, there is significantly more power at hand than on the BMW Italia S1000RR. As the revs rise the differences aren’t as great, but at intermediate engine speeds you can definitely feel the greater amount of torque that this engine is delivering. Objectively, you can feel the greater power from the factory machine, but I’m not sure this necessarily translates to a real advantage against the stopwatch, as the times that Badovini has been putting down this season prove this point.

Ride Review: Riding the BMW S1000RR Superstock, Satellite Superbike, and Factory World Superbikes BMW S1000RR test Monza Haslam Superbike 5 635x423

At the end of this incredible day, I have a thousand thoughts overlapping themselves in my mind. The first among them is to be thankful for the sport of motorcycle riding as it’s still a sport where the human rider makes a difference. Also I’m grateful for being able to touch and feel with my own hands every small technical differences that three bikes, with the same DNA, still so special — and that makes me love this sport even more.

The other main thought that crossed my mind is that the technological progress attained in the last few racing seasons with these bikes’ electronic and dynamic controls has completely up-ended how we race, rendering the perfect setup an ever more elusive goal, while making these bikes incredibly more easy to ride by even an amateur rider. If I had to make a comparison with the last Superbikes that I rode, I would immediately think about the Honda CBR1000RR from the Ten Kate, team which I was able to test in 2005. At that time the Honda had no traction control, no anti-wheeling, and riding it was a true test and a true challenge since the power was basically equal to today’s bikes! In summary, because of electronics, the development of today’s race bikes is ever more important. Our thanks to BMW Motorrad Italia which has given us such the opportunity to explore this, and especially thank you to World Superbike for existing, as it really is the most beautiful racing class.

Thanks again to our friends at OmniMoto for sharing this article with us, and also thank you to A&R reader Alessandro Borroni for his translation of the original article into English.


  1. damien says:

    Great report. I keep rooting for the BMW’s in WSBK, they just can’t seem to run up front the whole race… Wish they would take on the spec electronics package.

  2. Fernando says:

    Loved Emilianos´s report. Technicalities are essencial to a technology-oriented sport like ours, but the passion and enthusiasm the he demonstrates reminds me of why it is so good to ride a superbike…
    On BMW, I really hope that they can bring the s1000rr to a higher level of competitiveness… They deserve it, after such beautiful effort and investment. Especially in a time where Ducati and Yamaha take the opposite approach and simply decide to exit the paddock…