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.

Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Concept

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna 701 supermoto, the Swedish brand had two street concepts to unveil at the EICMA show. First up is the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen concept, which is a café racer inspired model. With a 373cc single-cylidner thumper at its core, the Vitpilen (Swedish for White Arrow) sports an attractive and clean design. A modern riff on the 1953 Husqvarna Silverpilen, the idea behind the Husqvarna Vitpilen is that less is more. Making a modest 43hp, the Vitpilen weights a paltry 297 lbs (135kg). Clever details abound on the Vitpilen, and we particularly enjoy the high-tech LED meets retro-scrambler headlight design that sits prominently at the front of the bike.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today. Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin. Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup. Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

2014 Honda CBR650F Coming to America Too

02/04/2014 @ 8:39 pm, by Aakash Desai12 COMMENTS

2014 Honda CBR650F Coming to America Too 2014 Honda CBR650F 01 635x423

With the introduction of Honda’s 500cc bikes last year (Honda CBR500R, Honda CB500F, and Honda CB500X), Honda provided newer and experienced riders with a practical and cheap option in an otherwise relatively polarized motorcycle market. While those bikes were sensible choices indeed, they were commonly criticized for their relatively modest power.

So here comes yet another color in the choice spectrum from the Japanese maker: a middleweight faired sport bike, with street-centric aspirations, and a palatable price tag. So if the Honda Interceptor is too rich for your blood, the inline-4 Honda CBR650F might just be the bike for you.

2014 Honda CBR650F — More of a Good Thing

11/08/2013 @ 1:15 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2014 Honda CBR650F    More of a Good Thing 2014 Honda CBR650F 10 635x423

We didn’t get the Honda CBR600F here in the States, so it seems unlikely that we will get that bike’s successor, the 2014 Honda CBR650F. Taking the popular road bike platform, and slapping an obvious 50cc of additional engine displacement, Honda’s mantra for 2014 is clear: more is better.

We already saw that the Honda CBR300R added 37cc to Big Red’s baby CBR, and the Japanese OEM has done a similar treatments with its new NC750 platform as well. As they say, there is no replacement for displacement, but the 2014 Honda CBR650F is more than just a re-worked street bike — it is a brand new machine from the wheels up.

IOMTT: Lightweight TT Race Results

06/07/2013 @ 5:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Lightweight TT Race Results james hillier lightweight tt 2013 isle of man tt richard mushet 635x423

A stark contrast to the Senior TT that it precedes, the Isle of Man TT’s Lightweight TT race is comprised of 650cc twins, and the field is dominated by a sea of Kawasaki race bikes. A few competitors try different machinery, Suzuki’s mainly, though a couple Chinese models can be spotted in the paddock.

To be truly competitive in the Lightweight TT though, you need to be on one of Ryan Farquhar’s race-prepped bikes, which draws a small circle on the number of true contender’s for the class’s podium spots.

This prospect left Michael Dunlop to withdraw from the Lightweight TT, prefering to concentrate his energy in securing a clean sweep of the five main solo races in the 2013 Isle of Man TT.

Should he win the Senior TT, he would accomplish a feat only ever achieved by Ian Hutchinson — so we can’t fault him for his absence. This still left a strong grid in the Lightweight TT class. Race spoilers after the jump.

Husqvarna Baja Concept Gets Closer to Reality

11/13/2012 @ 3:27 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Baja Concept Gets Closer to Reality 2013 Husqvarna Baja 650 concept 12 635x423

When Husqvarna debuted the at the start of this year, it was tipped that the Husqvarna Baja Concept, which was modern take on the Husqvarna Cross 400, could make it into production. We rejoiced. Eleven months later, Husqvarna has returned with the Husqvarna Baja 650 Concept at the EICMA show, and the design has gone a great deal forward from its avant garde angles, to something that is a bit more rounded.

Looking like a bike that is ready for production, it wouldn’t surprise us to hear that the German-owned brand will bring the Baja to market in 2013. Based around the same 652cc BMW engine that is found in the Husqvarna Strada, the Husqvarna Baja 650 Concept uses a steel tube frame for the chassis.

Four Images Reveal More About the New Suzuki Middleweight Adventure Bike

06/07/2011 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Four Images Reveal More About the New Suzuki Middleweight Adventure Bike Suzuki V Strom teaser 4 635x240

Rumors are still fuzzy on the upcoming release of a new middleweight Suzuki adventure bike, with there being some debate as to whether the V-Strom replacement will be a 650cc, 1000cc, or perhaps even an 800cc machine. Suzuki is pushing the adventure statement hard, which to us means that this new bike will be more off-road capable than the current V-Strom, which to us has always seemed like a sport-tourer duped into doing something it wasn’t intended to do.

With Suzuki’s US website even sporting the teaser images now, this looks to be a worldwide release; and we won’t have to wait long to find out all the details, as this Saturday should bring us more information on how the Japanese brand is finally getting on this mid-life crisis bandwagon. So far the best guess we’ve heard are new look, new chassis, and new motor. More teaser photos after the jump.