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.

Honda Will Race in the 2013 Dakar Rally with Factory Team

07/02/2012 @ 10:25 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Honda Will Race in the 2013 Dakar Rally with Factory Team Honda HRC Dakar Rally Concept 635x442

Honda has announced that it will field a factory entry in the upcoming 2013 Dakar Rally, which starts January 2013 and goes through Peru, Argentina, and Chile. Enlisting four riders to ride on the yet to be released HRC adventure racer, the return of HRC factory team to The Dakar is a boon for the series, which has been dominated by KTM in recent years.

Coming into the series with a pedigree of winning in the 1980′s, HRC hopes that Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues, who came in third in the 2012 Dakar Rally, will be able to contend with KTM’s factory-backed efforts for Marc Coma and Cyril Despres.

Touratech’s Husqvarna Nuda-X-Cross

06/08/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Touratechs Husqvarna Nuda X Cross Husqvarna Touratech Nuda X Cross 08 635x451

I imagine that for some, despite the business case to the contrary, a Husqvarna should always play well in the dirt, which seems to be the mantra with the folks over at Touratech. Taking Husky’s first true-born road bike, and baptizing it with mud, the Touratech Nuda-X-Cross looks perfectly capable going where the sidewalk ends.

Shod with a set of knobbies, some purpose-built bodywork from Touratech’s line, and a new attitude, we dig what the ADV-touring parts company has done with Swedish brand’s latest offering. Not just a looker, Touratech intends on racing two Touratech Nuda-X-Cross bikes in the grueling Erzberg Rodeo, held in the Austrian Alps. Even that makes our street-bound hearts skip a beat. More photos after the jump.

BRD RedShift MX – Your Electric Lites-Class Race Bike

03/15/2012 @ 1:44 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

BRD RedShift MX   Your Electric Lites Class Race Bike BRD RedShift MX 03 635x408

First breaking cover at the Indy Dealer Expo, BRD Motorcycles has finally gotten the BRD RedShift MX into the studio for some glamor shots, and it is showing off its “goooollllddddd” paint scheme very nicely indeed. The off-road variant to the BRD RedShift SM prototype that we tested several months ago, the RedShift MX is the San Francisco company’s electric equivalent to a 250cc lites-class off-roader. Promising a super-linear 40+ hp on tap, the model currently has 5.2 kWh of battery on-board, which should be good for two hours of mixed use.

Tipping the scales at 270 lbs in street trim, the BRD RedShift MX is a paltry 250 lbs in racing form, which makes for a very competitive power-to-weight ratio in this category of dirt bike. Priced at $14,995, this electric dirt bike is still an expensive proposition (even with its WP suspension), though its competitive race performance, low-cost of use, and super-smooth electric drive train helps make it a more attractive package for more serious riders. Enjoy the high-resolution photos after the jump.

Photos: The Mud of SX at Daytona

03/12/2012 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Photos: The Mud of SX at Daytona AMA Supercross SX Daytona mud Suzuki Metcalfe 04 635x952

AMA Supercross was in Daytona this past weekend, and apparently so was the rain. While the day’s earlier sessions were relatively unaffected, the evening’s main event looked like it was held in the bogs of the Florida Everglades, rather than the Daytona International Speedway.

With the AMA shortening the 450 race by four laps, many competitors still dropped out mid-race, leaving James Stewart to win with a comfortable seven and a half second lead. Similarly, the lites-class ran the course with three fewer laps than previously planned, with Justin Barcia continuing his dominance of the 2012 season.

While virtually every sport is more fun when played in the mud, after looking at the photos from Daytona, we are sure many racers will be glad to be leaving Florida behind them.

BRD RedShift MX Will Break Cover at Indy

02/15/2012 @ 1:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

BRD RedShift MX Will Break Cover at Indy BRD RedShift MX tease 01 635x444

There is a reason our humble motorcycle blog is called Asphalt & Rubber, as we tend to stick to the street side of the motorcycling equation. Growing up in a house where motorcycles were verboden, I often think that I’m the only person “in the industry” that didn’t grow up riding a dirt bike (something I hope to rectify this year, so more on that later). Still, I wanted to give some love to our friends across the bridge, as BRD Motorcycles is about to unveil the next motorcycle in its electric line-up: the BRD RedShift MX.

As the name implies, the MX version is not terribly dissimilar from the BRD RedShift SM prototype that I rode at Infineon a couple months ago, and will make its public debut at the Indy Dealer Expo later this week. Changing out the brakes, sprockets, wheels, and tires, the conversion from SM to MX seems fairly straight-forward with the BRD RedShift (I’d expect to see some kind of kit available from BRD for this). Perhaps that’s because the digital drivetrain is where most of the magic happens as far as making the RedShift a dirt-clawing demon instead of a street-chewing monster (can you gasoline motor do that?).

Husqvarna Debuts Off-Road Anti-Lock Braking System

11/04/2011 @ 7:13 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Debuts Off Road Anti Lock Braking System Husqvarna off road anti lock braking system 09 635x423

Taking the “anti-lock brakes don’t work off-road” mentality head-on, Husqvarna has debuted an anti-lock braking system (ABS) package designed specifically for off-road use. Derived from BMW’s extensive experience with the technology (BMW Motorrad was the first OEM to fit ABS to a production motorcycle), Husqvarna has taken the lessons learned by its German parent company, specifically BMW’s Race ABS from the S1000RR superbike, and adapted the technology for its dirt models for off-road racing.

Continuing to prove our “electronics are the new horsepower” hypothesis and fitting the flagship Husqvarna TE 449 with the new off-road ABS technology, Husqvarna hopes to make a statement not only about the use of ABS in off-street conditions, but is taking things a step further by putting anti-lock brakes on a race-bred dirt bike. The key to the off-road ABS technology from Husqvarna is two-fold. First, Husqvarna’s dual-channel ABS still allows for the rear tire to be locked-up while under heavy braking (this can also be achieved on the S1000RR’s ABS package under the “slick” mode setting). Second, the system, like its road-going counterpart, is extremely light, and only adds 1.5kg (3.3 lbs) of weight to the bike.

Brammo Going Racing at the AMA Mini Moto SX

04/26/2011 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Brammo Going Racing at the AMA Mini Moto SX dirt supercross course 635x367

The Asphalt & Rubber Bothan spies were hard at work over the weekend. Taking a break from finding ALL of the Easter Eggs in the A&R office, the Bothans did what they do best, and found the entry list to the AMA Mini Moto SX that’s going on next week in Las Vegas.

Sure enough in the paperwork was our favorite Ashland-based motorcycle company, which isn’t surprising since Brammo likes to go racing, but raises some eyebrows since you might recall the Mini Moto event is an off-road supercross-style race. Since a company doesn’t just decide to go racing on a whim, this surely must mean that Brammo has dirt bikes on the brain.

US Motorcycle Sales up 7% in Q1 2011

04/25/2011 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

US Motorcycle Sales up 7% in Q1 2011 ktm 690 duke wheelie 635x422

The Motorcycle Industry Council is reporting that US motorcycle sales are up 7% in Q1 of 2011, with 102,547 units being sold in the year’s first three months. Leading the charge were scooter sales, which were up nearly 50% to 6,246 units, while on-road units were up as well, pushing 70,879 units in Q1 (a 6.9% gain).

Despite the strong numbers from on-road and dual-sport models, off-road vehicles did not fare as well, with ATV sales down 16% and off-road motorcycle sales down 5.5% (47,702 & 18,725 units respectively), making 2011 still a mixed bag depending on what side of the industry you are on.

Erik Buell Racing Eyes 450cc Off-Road Machine

11/29/2010 @ 7:41 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing Eyes 450cc Off Road Machine dirt bike tire marks1 635x423

In an interview with Alan Cathcart, Erik Buell talks to the famed motorcycle journalist about his departure from Harley-Davidson, and what the future holds for Erik Buell and Erik Buell Racing. Perhaps one of the most interesting things to come out of the pair’s conversation (read a translated version at Motonline) is the fact that in late-2006/early-2007 Harley-Davidson killed off a project to build a 450cc Buell off-road machine. Still believing that there is a market for a Buell-branded dirt bike, Buell confessed to Cathcart that EBR is taking up the 450cc project again, which uses a special single-cylinder Rotax motor as its power plant.

Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré

11/21/2010 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré Yamaha Super Tenere review 191 635x423

Asphalt & Rubber was recently one of a few blogs, along with the usual suspects from the American media, to be invited out to Arizona for Yamaha’s press launch of the Super Ténéré adventure-tourer motorcycle (because we know Americans have no idea what to do with an accented “e”, think “tay-nay-ray” for pronunciation…or just cheat like us and say “ten-air-ray”). The earth is orange here in Arizona, and between the mesas and evergreen forests, Sedona makes for a picturesque setting, that’s away from the bustling metropolitans and city life. This serves our purpose well as its an ideal environment to show-off the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré against the desert’s beautiful backdrop and star-filled skies, but it also serves as the type of destination Super Ténéré owners would likely visit on Yamaha’s new motorcycle, putting us right in the shoes of the target customer.

A market segment based around compromises, adventure-tourers sit somewhere between the juxtaposition of dirt and touring bikes. Based on the idea that the journey doesn’t end where the road does, the adventure-tourer market has taken over from the Harley-Davidson crowd as the next expression of freedom on the open road. Essentially created by the BMW GS series, it is impossible to talk about adventure bikes without mentioning the GS, but other manufacturers as well have entered into this growing market, coming up with different ideas on what riders are looking for when they want to escape from the daily grind.

Built to ride both on and off the street, adventure bikes pose the unique problem of having to decide where to make the trade-offs between these two different purposes, and in this regard we find the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré, leaning more heavily to the street side of this equation than say the BMW R1200GS. As a publication that centers around street bikes generally (hence the name Asphalt & Rubber), we too lean towards the street side of that equation, making the Yamaha Super Ténéré a strong congruency to what we look for in this motorcycle segment, and a bike we wouldn’t mind adding to our stable of daily riders and long-distance tourers.