Indianapolis GP Named Best Grand Prix by MotoGP

At the conclusion of each GP season, an awards ceremony is held to celebrate the year’s champions, crowning the top riders in each category, the top manufacturers, and even the top venue for the season. This year, the honors of the latter went to familiar locale, as the Red Bull Indianapolis GP round was named the “Best Grand Prix” of the 2014 season, making it the first North American round to receive such an honor. Selection criteria for the award included consideration of the venue, promotion, and overall facility operations. For the 2014 race, Indianapolis Motor Speedway once again repaved its infield section, making alterations to several turns in order to facilitate passing and adding to the track’s overall consistency.

Up-Close with the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200

If there’s a motorcycle that launched at EICMA that I wish we had given more coverage to, it would be the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200. The new adventure-sport machine from Ducati is all-new for the next model year, though it would be hard to tell it from the photos. Even our modest collection of “up-close” photos here don’t do justice to the venerable Multistrada. The face of the Multistrada 1200 has been reworked, with the “beak” softened a bit from its falcon-like profile. The intake inlets are larger in appearance, and the headlight housing is noticeably different with its six LED projectors for the Ducati Corner Lights system (on the “S” model). This perhaps makes for an interesting “face” on the motorcycle, and like its predecessor, you will either love it or hate it.

Marco Melandri Returns to MotoGP, with Aprilia

After finishing fifth in the 2014 World Superbike Championship with Aprilia, Marco Melandri will continue with the Italian manufacturer, but switch to the MotoGP paddock for next season. Melandri will join Alvaro Bautista in the Aprilia Racing garage, where they will compete on an updated version of the ART machine, which was originally built to compete under the CRT bike rules. The team, now operated by Gresini Racing, will come up to speed during the 2015 season, and in 2016 they will race with a brand new race bike, which will use the compulsory “open” spec-electronics from Magneti Marelli. For Melandri, the move to MotoGP is a bit of gamble, with Aprilia’s program uncertain.

Up-Close with the Honda RC213V-S Prototype

I can’t decide whether to be elated or disappointed over the Honda RC213V-S prototype, which was debuted this week at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. On the one hand, the RC213V-S lived up to the hype…literally a MotoGP race bike with lights, mirrors, turn signals, and a license plate. On the other hand, for all the waiting and consternation from Honda, what they brought to Milan was a fairly derivative and obvious design. Rumors of a true MotoGP-derived sport bike from Honda have been circling for several years now (closer to a decade, if you’re a reader of MCN), and the project borrows the ethos found in the Ducati Desmosedici RR project, another exclusive GP-bike-for-the-street motorcycle.

The Ducati Streetfighter 848 Is Spared the Axe for 2015

The Ducati Streetfighter lives for another year, as Ducat is showing off the Ducati Streetfighter 848 as a 2015 model year machine at the EICMA show in Milan. There had been doubts about the Streetfighter 848 continuing to be a part of the Ducati lineup going forth, especially as the Italian company has moved away from the 849cc v-twin platform, favoring the 821cc engine variations for the Hypermotard the Monster lines, and the 899cc Superquadro for the Panigale. The Streetfighter was never a big hit in the world market, becoming more of a cult classic machine amongst riders. Combined sales with the Hypermotard account for roughly 20% of Ducati’s annual sales, with the Hypermotard doing the majority of the heavy-lifting in that regard.

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Prototype

Cruisers really aren’t our cup of tea here at Asphalt & Rubber, which might explain the lack of coverage for America’s gift to the two-wheeled world on our website. That being said, it’s hard to pass on the lurid Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype that is on display at this year’s EICMA show. A reworked Moto Guzzi California 1400, the MGX-21 is clad in carbon fiber, matte black paint, and red highlights. The carbon fiber disc wheels are a nice touch too (that’s a 21″ wheel up front, by the way), as are the sweeping lines from the front cowl and fenders. We’re finding ourselves a bit smitten with this Moto Guzzi, as true to the brand, it strays from the cruiser norm. We think you’ll like it too, check out the photos after the jump.

Up-Close with the Honda “True Adventure” Prototype

One of the more anticipated motorcycles at the 2014 EICMA show, off-roaders were expecting to see the new Honda Africa Twin in Milan this week. Instead, Honda trotted out what they’re calling the “True Adventure” prototype. Despite not being a production model, the True Adventure prototype looks ready for prime time, and we got a series of “up-close” photos of the machine. Most obvious is the bike’s parallel twin engine, which is rumored to be 1,000cc in displacement. That sizing/weight class seems to jive with the dual front brake discs, which also sports an ABS tone ring. We can expect Honda to have traction control operating off the front and rear wheel speeds as well, and other electronic packages as well.

Money: Motorcycle Racing’s Biggest Problem

What is the biggest problem in motorcycle racing today? Is it the predominant role electronics are playing, ruining the racing? Is it the ever more restrictive rules imposed, killing bike development and the spirit of Grand Prix racing? Is it the lack of competitive machinery, making it impossible for anyone but a factory rider to win a race? Or is it the dominance of the two top manufacturers, driving costs up and discouraging wider manufacturer participation? You can point to all of those and more as being an issue, but they pale in comparison to the real problem the sport of motorcycle racing faces at the moment: Money. Specifically, the lack of it, and the inability of almost everyone involved in the sport to find ways of raising any. All of the ills of both MotoGP and World Superbikes can be traced back to this single failure.

Investcorp Buys 80% of Dainese for €130 Million

A story we have been chasing for some time now, Lino Dainese has finally found a buyer for his namesake company, Dainese. The purchaser is the aptly named private equity firm Investcorp, which is headquartered in Bahrain, and has additional offices in New York, London, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. Buying 80% of the company’s stock for a reported €130 million, Investcorp’s valuation of Dainese would therefore be set at €162.5 million. The other 20% of the company is retained by Lino Dainese, himself. Dainese’s future goals rest heavily on its airbag technology, as Dainese plans on bringing D-Air to markets outside of motorsport and sport in general. The company also has an aggressive plan to grow outside of Italy, making a bigger push into North America and developing markets.

Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen Concept

The second of Husqvarna’s street concepts, the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen is a scrambler styled machine that uses the same 373cc single-cylinder engine as the Vitpilen concept. Swedish for “Black Arrow”, the Svartpilen continues the idea that less is more, and applies the concept to a more off-road motif. Not all the dissimilar to the Moab and Baja concepts the Husqvarna showed before its acquisition by KTM, clearly the Swedish brand is keen to tap into its lost history of Steve McQueen and the scrambler motif. Perhaps Ducati’s foray into this space is added motivation, but the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen concept is a bike unique to itself. That might be because the concept machine is based off the KTM 390 Duke, which is an unlikely though budget-friendly donor machine.

Photos: A Future AMA Star in the Making

05/10/2012 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Photos: A Future AMA Star in the Making EBR 1190RS boy 08 635x425

One of the banes of any photographers existence is when someone walks right into the middle of your shot. There seems to be two schools of thought on how to deal with such an incident, with some preferring to let nature take its course, and wait for the intruder to leave the frame, while others prefer the scream/temper-tantrum school of thought that may or may not include throwing a gear bag in a fit of rage.

Where a photographer falls on that spectrum seems to be a function of how much time he or she spent setting up the shot, how much Red Bull had been consumed that morning, and whether it was another photographer who decided to start working with reckless abandon for his fellow photojournalists. However, there are some incidents where when someone walks into your shot, it is a welcomed addition. Snapping photos of the American flag-clad Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, I had such a moment, which I think touches the inner-child of all of us.

Up-Close with the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS ‘merica Edition

05/07/2012 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler67 COMMENTS

Up Close with the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS merica Edition Erik Buell Racing EBR 1190RS American Flag paint 23 635x425

Erik Buell Racing had a good weekend at Sears Point, with Danny Eslick riding the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS to its first podium in Race 1, with Team Hero. Making an encore podium in Race 2, Geoff May also put the EBR 1190RS on the third step, this time for Team Amsoil/Hero. With the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS benefiting from Sear Points emphasis on handling instead of horsepower, the EBR has made up a ton of ground in just a short amount of time.

While the EBR 1190RS race bikes were on the track, their $40,000+ street-legal counterparts were on display outside of the Erik Buell Racing garage. Rocking an American flag livery, I naturally took pictures of this show bike. Eye catching to say the least, nothing says “Made in ‘merica” better than a red, white, and blue color scheme, especially when it is laid over carbon fiber. And while I want to love this bike because of its nuances and outside-of-the-box technical design, I don’t.

Trading patriotism for originality, Erik Buell Racing is still pushing the same worn-out Americana marketing plan that Harley-Davidson built for the sport bike company way back when. With two podium victories, a gorgeous product, and a story that is an encapsulation of hard work overcoming adversity, you would think that the folks from East Troy could put away the cheap parlor trick of using Americana to sell motorcycles. One gorgeous bike in its own right, but a played out theme as well. What happened to being innovative guys? Photos after the jump.

The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

The Eleven of 2011   A Year in Review theelevenof2011 635x392

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

Video: EBR Nation Part 3 – “Made in America”

08/10/2011 @ 7:38 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Video: EBR Nation Part 3   Made in America 2012 erik buell racing 1190rs 635x476

Erik Buell Racing has another installment of its “EBR Nation” video set, with part three of the YouTube series focusing on EBR’s “Made in America” credential. Unlike the previous videos (Part 1 & Part 2), it’s hard to get behind this one, as Buell and his crew go back to the well with their “it’s made in America, so you should buy it” philosophy/sales pitch. The short clip starts out well enough, with Buell saying “over the last few years there was a feeling that the dream of America is getting away from us.” Whether you believe that is actually true or not, there certainly has been a movement expressing this very idea after watching the credit market collapse, and seeing someone like Buell trying to make something out of the ashes of the recession is a bit inspiring.

What isn’t inspiring is the same reused tagline that because something is built in the USA it is somehow automatically better that the competition. This sort of continued thinking its precisely what put Buell out of business the first time around, and like the reused action shots for this video (you may have seen many of these quick-cuts in Parts 1 & 2, and a couple are even used twice in Part 3), you get tired of hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again with no result.

The whole idea behind Erik Buell Racing was that it was a company that could flourish from outside Harley-Davidson’s thumb, and the whole purpose of the EBR 1190RS was that it was supposed to be an American superbike that we could appreciate on the merits. The fact that all of this is being done by Americans, in America, is all the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Rant over. The video is after the jump.

Video: EBR Nation Part 2 – “Fingertips”

07/27/2011 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Video: EBR Nation Part 2   Fingertips 2012 erik buell racing 1190rs hi res 1 635x476

Erik Buell Racing has the second part to its strobed-out EBR Nation video series (previously titled “The Making of the EBR 1190RS”), and we see the videos go from previously a more narrative take to a more promotional role (that’s marketing for yah). Like the Prologue, “Fingertips” has Geoff May talking about the bike, with a few sound bites from Erik Buell himself sprinkled in for good measure.

One of May’s more interesting comments is that the EBR 1190RS handles so well, that you’d have to go down to bikes half its displacement to find similar handling characteristics. Worthy praise for sure, though it’s probably a bit too soon on the heels of the Daytona Sportbike fiasco under Harley-Davidson’s reign.

There’s unfortunately little information to learn from the segment, which is a shame considering how few riders will actually get to experience the 100 hand-made 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles that will be produced (assuming EBR hits its production goals). Hopefully when Buell tips his hand more on the RX, SX, and AX models it’ll mean more attainable motorcycles for riders with mortal-sized wallets. Made for the true Buelltisti, you’ll get your East Troy fix after the jump.

Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

07/11/2011 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS? Chris Fillmore KTM 1190 RC8 R Mid Ohio AMA Superbike 5 635x423

Mid-Ohio is a great destination if you’re looking to do a track day (we’d recommend riding with these guys), and Mid-Ohio is an even better place to leave if you don’t have a motorcycle with you. However, once a year, the Buckeye State redeems itself by playing host to an AMA Pro Racing weekend. The AMA Superbike races at Mid-Ohio were extra special this year, as KTM debuted Chris Fillmore on its factory-backed KTM 1190 RC8 R Superbike, bringing the Austrian company into a more active relationship with the American Motorcyclist Association.

Also making its first racing debut was the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Superbike, the race version of Erik Buell’s latest street machine (or is it the 1190RS the street bike version of Buell’s latest race bike?). However which way you read that development process, this weekend was the first time Geoff May got to flog the EBR 1190RS in anger on a track with other racers present.

The much anticipated bigger horsepower Superbike was supposed to put Erik Buell Racing on an even playing field with the other manufacturers, as the team had previously been cobbled with its 1125cc homologated Buell 1125R, and accordingly the EBR team tent saw it’s fair share of visitors..

With KTM making its first AMA race outing on its otherwise tried and tested RC8 R platform, and Buell banking on several AMA season’s worth of racing experience to launch its previously un-raced 1190RS Superbike, and interesting contrast comes out from AMA Pro Racing’s latest stop at Lexington, Ohio.

First Shot: Erik Buell Racing 1190RS in Race Trim

07/09/2011 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

First Shot: Erik Buell Racing 1190RS in Race Trim ebr 1190rs mid ohio 635x476

This is the first picture we’ve see of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS in its AMSOIL race livery. On-site for the Mid-Ohio round of AMA Superbike, Geoff May will pilot the EBR 1190RS for the first time in a race, as the team (and the public) have been anxiously waiting to see the debut of the new Superbike and its bounty of extra horsepower. Hopefully the 1190RS will keep all its bits together, and bring home a good result for the Erik Buell Racing team this weekend (May has qualified 12th on the 1190RS as of this writing).

Source: My Little Lotus Blossom

Eight Hi-Res Photos of the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS

06/15/2011 @ 2:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Eight Hi Res Photos of the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS 2012 Erik Buell Racing hi res 3 635x476

Last week Erik Buell Racing debuted the full technical specifications and price tag on the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS superbike with turn signals. With it were 15 photos that were…how do we say this politely…disproportionate to the grand performance figures EBR is boasting for its first street bike. We know there’s some Buell loyality in the Asphalt & Rubber readership (you guys are troopers considering the amount of punishment we give the American brand), so it’s with great pleasure we bring you these eight high-resolution photos of the EBR 1190RS.

For extra kicks, we decided not to downsize some of the larger photos, so you can do whatever you want with them. Like for instance, make life-size print outs and paste them onto your existing bike (with only 100 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles being made, at a hefty $40k MSRP we might add, this option might be as close as many of us get to owning one). Note: if anyone actually does this, please send us a photo. We’ll have to see what sort of penance we’ll have to do here at A&R in order to swing a leg over an 1190RS, until then we eagerly await to hear what the teased RX, SX, and AX models have in store for us. Find the photos after the jump.

How Do You Build an Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

04/16/2011 @ 7:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

How Do You Build an Erik Buell Racing 1190RS? erik buell racing 1190rs 4 635x423

Erik Buell Racing finally has its own official YouTube channel, which is sort of strange considering how well the small company has taken to the internet and viral marketing. Sidestepping that oddity, there is of course the issue of what good is there in having a YouTube channel if it doesn’t have a video — not to worry, the folks at EBR have our backs there. We’re not sure if the EBR 1190RS is the great white hope of American sportbikes, but we like Buell’s gumption and grit to start anew in one of the worst economic climates since WWII.

For some weekend eyecandy, feast your eyes on a time lapse video of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motor being built, along with some cool footage of the Erik Buell Racing’s streetbike being tested on the dyno. Only 100 EBR 1190RS street machines will be made, at a price Erik Buell Racing calls comparable to “the price of a top of the line minivan,” which sounds pretty steep for a motorcycle, but will help the Wisconsin company comply with AMA homologation regulations, and race the EBR 1190RS at Infineon later this May.

2011 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Breaks Cover

02/17/2011 @ 7:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

2011 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Breaks Cover Erik Buell Racing 1190RS 635x423

It looks like we didn’t have to wait until tomorrow to see the 2011 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS finally out in the open (and with its clothes on this time). Finally breaking cover, we can see the details of the EBR 1190RS that Erik Buell has been hiding from his fans for all this time. Called the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Carbon Edition, the name implies what material the bike mostly consists of, as this is supposed to be the premium model that will be sold in limited quantities to help get the 1190RS homologated for racing duty.

Only 100 or so models are needed for such a purpose, meaning this will be limited-run, and one expensive endevour for the intrepid few (Buell isn’t quoting prices just yet, but Ducati 1198R prices are being banded about). While the high-cost will keep many Buell fans left out in the cold, cheaper, more production-ready examples of the 1190RS are expected down the line. It seems Erik Buell Racing wants the 1190RS Carbon Edition to be its halo bike, as the company looks to recreate a dealer network, woo investors, and begin racing on a more even playing field with the other 1,200cc racing v-twins and 1,000 racing inline-fours.