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.

2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer Breaks Cover

10/24/2011 @ 8:52 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer Breaks Cover 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer 635x476

Officially breaking cover now, the 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer continues the British company’s revamping of its adventure-tourer line. Featuring a 1200cc three-cylinder motor, the Tiger Explorer is the bigger brother of the popular mid-sized Tiger 800, which debuted last year after much build-up. Sans a few spy photos and some rumormill, Triumph has taken a decidedly different and more low-key approach in getting buyers excited about the new Tiger, though we think Triumph fans will like what they see.

2011 Aprilia Tuareg 1200 Rumors Heat Up

09/21/2010 @ 10:23 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2011 Aprilia Tuareg 1200 Rumors Heat Up Aprilia Tuareg sketch 560x344

After letting the cat out of the bag about the 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, speculation almost immediately began about what other machines in the 2011 Aprilia line-up could be using the 1200cc mill as well. While we still await word on a Shiver 1200, the company from Noale seems set to debut a restart to its well-aged Tuareg line. Expected to be unveiled at the EICMA show later this year, the 2011 Aprilia Tuareg 1200 was hinted at by Roberto Colaninno, head of the Piaggio Group, during the company’s Milan HQ launch party.

Horex VR6 1200cc Supercharged Concept

06/15/2010 @ 3:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Horex VR6 1200cc Supercharged Concept Horex VR6 635x458

Out of stealth mode today in Munich, Horex Motorcycles is back after getting the axe from Daimler-Benz back in 1960. To help usher the company back into the motorcycle industry, Horex has developed a V6 1200cc supercharged concept bike that uses a VR6 cylinder configuration. A solid looking street-standard, the Horex VR6 concept is expected to begin production late in 2011, and make somewhere between 175hp-200hp, and over 110lbs•ft of torque.

Aprilia Tuareg Adventure Tourer Rumored

03/31/2010 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Aprilia Tuareg Adventure Tourer Rumored aprilia tuareg sketch

On the heels of a strong Dakar Rally showing, Aprilia is rumored to have a full-tilt adventure bike in the works. Based on the Shiver platform, the Aprilia Tuareg will feature a 750cc v-twin motor, steel tube chassis, and a 21″ front wheel for maximum off-road capability. The Aprilia Toureg is expected to tip the scales under 200kg (441lbs), and a road version with a 19″ front wheel and 1200cc motor could also make the 2011 line-up.

Spy Shots: Moto Morini 1200cc Motard

08/25/2009 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Spy Shots: Moto Morini 1200cc Motard Moto Morini 1200cc motard 3 560x372

Motoclismo must have a permanent seat at the hot test tracks in Italy, because they’ve caught Moto Morini’s contender to the Strada Aperta taking laps at the Adria circuit. Essentially a motard version of the Granpasso, the new bike has an ugly interesting head-on profile, but looks the business from the rear and sides.

New Honda VFR Confirmed for Spring 2010 Delivery, Fall 2009 Unveiling

06/20/2009 @ 3:07 am, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

New Honda VFR Confirmed for Spring 2010 Delivery, Fall 2009 Unveiling Honda VFR 1200 V4 560x396

UPDATE: You can see the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F here.

We’ve got an update on Honda’s hotly-anticipated new V4-powered bike. It has been confirmed by Honda’s Senior Managing Director, Shigeru Takagi, that the new VFR will be seen in its finished form sometime this Fall, and will be in dealer showrooms next Spring.

The VFR1200, as you might have guessed from its name, will be a 1200cc version of the VFR model line. With the added displacement, the new V4 will take on the likes of the Hayabusa and ZX-14R, while Honda phases out the 800cc VFR and CBR1100xx.