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.

Troy Bayliss Teases Ducati Announcement

09/16/2011 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

This Friday is looking to be full of videos and teasers, as Ducati has its own announcement that will be coming forthwith on Wednesday next week. Enlisting the help of three-time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss, the Australian motorcycle racer teased on YouTube today that he’s seen some interesting things at the Ducati factory, with promises of more to be revealed on the company’s video channel in the coming days. What those interesting things could be however is up for speculation.

Nicky Hayden Teases the Ducati Streetfighter 848

09/07/2011 @ 9:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden Teases the Ducati Streetfighter 848 Nicky Hayden Ducati Streetfighter 848 635x846

Spending some time at Borgo Panigale factory during the San Marino GP race week, Ducati Corse rider Nicky Hayden couldn’t help but tease the upcoming 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 that was “spied” testing last month. With this photo and tweet, Hayden affirms the news we broke in July, and with the message “Coming soon… #ducati #droppingonmonday” we can infer that Ducati will be taking the wraps off the Streetfighter 848 on Monday next week.

Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP Internet Leak Faked

09/05/2011 @ 6:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP Internet Leak Faked Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP screen capture fake 635x544

With an alleged screen capture posted to the Ducati.ms web forum, a tidal wave of sloppy journalism took off as the news spread that Ducati had unknowingly slipped the debut of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198 ahead of schedule. Though the larger-displacement SF is expected to break cover this month, some unscrupulous person put together a photoshoped screen capture of the Streetfigther S engine details list from Ducati.com, and swapped out the Streetfighter S name for “Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP” in the fading to black background image.

With some typos in the copy, and the use non-conforming use of Ducati’s “EVO” & “SP” nomenclature, the porported screen capture is a bit dubious to begin with, and should have tipped off enthusiasts that were quick to give it authenticity. Another red flag was the quoted 170hp figure, the exact same power output as the Superbike 1198. With the Streetfighter’s more restrictive air intake and smaller airbox, like the 1098cc version, comparable Superbike level power figures will not be achievable. Then of course there’s the whole issue regarding the fact that the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198 will use the Testastretta 11° motor, found currently on the Multistrada 1200 and Diavel, instead of the higher-maintenance 1198cc Superbike lump.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 & Ducati Streetfighter 1198 Coming in September

07/27/2011 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 & Ducati Streetfighter 1198 Coming in September ducait streetfighter light painting scott jones 7

Yelling at the top of our lungs words like “Scoop!” and “Exlclusive!” or the now more trendy “OMGLOLWTFBBQ” really isn’t our style, and let’s be honest, anyone with half a latte for a brain who had been paying attention to Ducati’s line-up the past few years could easily predict the Italian company’s next move with the Streetfighter line. That being said, we’ve gotten details from several highly credible sources that Ducati will debut to the public two new Streetfighters in September.

Replacing the Streetfighter 1098 is the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198, which as the name suggests, will get a 100cc displacement increase (full disclosure: an example of this motorcycle sits in my garage (said bike is shown above from a cool light-painting photo shoot that Scott Jones did), thus making me forever biased towards the original liquid-cooled v-twin wheelie monster from Bologna).

The catch however is that the new motor will not come from the leftover Superbike 1198 mills, and instead Ducati is using the Testastretta 11° motor (as seen in the Multistrada 1200 and Diavel) in the new Streetfighter 1198, meaning the motorcycle will by pass the bi-yearly Ducati tax (a valve job around here is roughly $1,000), and instead get hit with a perhaps more yearly 15,000 mile valve adjustment intervals (thank you Jesus!).