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.

Yamaha MT-125 – Europe Gets Another MT

05/07/2014 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Yamaha MT 125   Europe Gets Another MT  Yamaha MT 125 03 635x476

Need a small-displacement naked bike for your urban commute? Yamaha has something for you then, as the tuning fork brand has announced the Yamaha MT-125 for the European market today. Based off the Yamaha YZF-R125 platform, the MT-125 is essentially the R125 stripped of its fairings.

Featuring the same steel delta box frame, and 124.7cc single-cylinder thumper as the Yamaha R125, the big changes to make the MT-125 are the obvious ones, namely the “MT” styling that we have seen on the Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 to us Americans) and the Yamaha MT-07.

2014 Yamaha YZF-R125 Debuts for Europe

02/18/2014 @ 12:06 pm, by Bryan Delohery7 COMMENTS

2014 Yamaha YZF R125 Debuts for Europe 2014 Yamaha YZF R125 17 635x476

Yamaha chose this year’s MCN London Motorcycle Show to announce the release of an updated version of the Yamaha YZF-R125 sports bike, which is scheduled to hit dealers in the Europe this April.

For 2014 the performance numbers remain largely unchanged from the 2013 model, still claiming 14.75 hp at 9,000 rpm, and just over 9 lbs•ft of torque at 8,000 rpm.

As a small displacement sports bike targeted for young riders and learners, Yamaha decided to upgrade stability and stopping power by coupling an upside-down front fork, a new radial front brake caliper design that clamps down on a 292 mm floating disc, along with a redesigned rear suspension linkage.

More Photos of the Honda MSX125

01/22/2013 @ 12:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

More Photos of the Honda MSX125 2013 Honda MSX125 05 635x500

Judging from the response we got on Asphalt & Rubber, there is a lot of buzz regarding Big Red’s new monkey bike, the 2013 Honda MSX125. A small-in-stature motorcycle with a single-cylinder 125cc thumper that puts out 9.7hp, the Honda MSX125 is designed to be a world-market machine that is both fun and practical in nature.

We don’t know how practical the MSX125 might be on the roads here in the United States (it makes a lot more sense in the tighter, pot-hole riddled, car-less roads elsewhere though), but man it sure looks like a fun small-displacement motorbike. Maybe the marketing is working on us? More photos after the jump.

Honda MSX125 Will Make a Monkey Out of You

01/09/2013 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Honda MSX125 Will Make a Monkey Out of You 2013 Honda MSX125 Monkey 04 635x539

If there ever was a motorcycle that earned the word “cute” is its best descriptor, the Honda Monkey might be it. A diminutive and fun motorcycle, it was hard to look good on Honda’s old Z-series bikes, though the machines themselves still carry their own unique flavor of cool to this day.

Fast-forward fifty-years later, and Honda is bringing the Monkey back, this time in the guise of the 2013 Honda MSX125. Manufactured in Thailand, the Honda MSX 125 (MSX = Mini Street X-treme 125), the 125cc, 9.7 hp, four-stroke, two-valve, single-cylinder, fuel-injected fun machine will be a Spring 2013 model in markets around the world (no word on North America though).

The ultimate pit bike for us Anglo-Saxons, the Honda MSX125 also serves as a practical and durable machine for markets where potholed asphalt is a luxury where roads rarely exist. With the seat just a touch above 30 inches off the ground (30.1″ to be exact), the new Honda Monkey is a friend to the short man (or woman) as well.

Aprilia RS4 125 Video – Who The Hell is This Bike For?

11/24/2010 @ 10:51 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Aprilia RS4 125 Video   Who The Hell is This Bike For? Aprilia RS4 125 white

The folks in Noale have a video out now (watch it after the jump), promoting the 2011 Aprilia RS4 125 – the four-stroke 125cc street bike that is a spitting image of the Aprilia RSV4 superbike. With 16hp coming out of that tiny single-cylinder motor and cool styling from its larger sibling, the Aprilia RS4 125 seems like the perfect beginner bike for some teenager in Europe, but we have our reservations about how the bike will sell here in the United States. A classic example of how ideas don’t always carryover, Aprilia seems hellbent on bringing this 125cc bike to a market that demands twice that displacement for practical street bikes.

2011 Aprilia RS4 125 Comes to America

11/02/2010 @ 5:16 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2011 Aprilia RS4 125 Comes to America 2011 Aprilia RS4 125cc 635x506

American youths can rejoice to the news that the 2011 Aprilia RS4 125 will be coming to the United States for 2011. The four-stroke 125cc beginner bike may only have 15hp, but it has been done-up to look like the RSV4, and that’s what matters right? Replacing the RS125, the RS4 125 is supposedly just a Derbi in sheep’s clothing, but considering both brands come from the Piaggio mother ship, we fail to see why that would be an issue to a 16-year-old who has somehow managed to convince his/her parents to buy them a motorcycle. The liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC motor comes with electric fuel-injection, and is mated to a six-speed gearbox. Weight is 264 lbs with a full 3.8 gallon tank of gas. Technical Specifications after the jump.

2011 KTM 125 Duke – The Bike Bajaj Built

10/09/2010 @ 1:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2011 KTM 125 Duke   The Bike Bajaj Built 2011 KTM 125 Duke 5 635x345

Finally officially debuted at Intermot, KTM took the wraps off its 2011 KTM 125 Duke, a single-cylinder street bike geared towards young riders. While KTM has always included off-road machines in its line-up that are aimed at getting younger riders to ride orange, the company until now has left a gapping hole in its on-road offering for the same demographic. With Bajaj taking a 35% stake in KTM, the Indian company has not only given the Austrian company the capital it needed to expand its line, but is also rumored to be the major driving force behind the 2011 KTM 125 Duke.

Lambretta Returns to 125GP Racing for 2010

02/01/2010 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

Lambretta Returns to 125GP Racing for 2010 Lambretta 125GP racing 560x361

After a 60 year hiatus, Lambretta is finally returning back to the 125GP racing stage. Entering as Lambretta Reparto Corse, the team has already confirmed Marco Ravaioli as one of their two riders. The move seems to be primarily to help get the iconic Italian brand back into the public limelight as Lambretta is set to start production of its first new range of scooters since the 1970’s.

According to Lambretta, the team will hold a racing department in Bologna at the workshops of Engines Engineering, despite Lambretta being based out of Milan. Nicola Casadei will serve as the team’s Sporting Director, while Giancarlo Cecchini will develop the bike’s rotary valve engine, which is expected to show up in new Lambretta designs.

KTM Withdraws from 125GP Racing

10/06/2009 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

KTM Withdraws from 125GP Racing KTM quits 125GP racing 560x401

After previously leaving 250GP racing and the Dakar Rally, KTM has announced its withdrawal from another race series: 125GP. Choosing instead to focus its 2010 racing efforts on the RC8‘s upcoming World Superbike debut, KTM cites financial difficulties as its reason for leaving the GP scene. KTM will continue to be involved with the Red Bull Rookies Cup, which features talented young riders racing around on spec KTM 125cc race bikes.

Megelli: 125cc Hotness You Won’t See Stateside

07/03/2009 @ 2:12 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Megelli: 125cc Hotness You Wont See Stateside Megelli Motorcycles 125r 560x310

In Europe, 125cc bikes and scooters are possibly more prevalent than the 600cc+ bikes we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the United States.

Due in part to the cost of insurance and fuel, as well as cultural difference, we’ll have to look over the latest creations from British firm Megelli, and know this is a line of motorcycles we’ll unfortunately never get to feast our eyes upon in person.