Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

Gabriele del Torchio Leaving Ducati for Alitalia?

04/15/2013 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Gabriele del Torchio Leaving Ducati for Alitalia? Gabriele Del Torchio Ducati 635x954

I thought I could hold onto this one over the weekend, but I guess I was wrong. Asphalt & Rubber, along with several other publications it would seem, have gotten news that Gabriele del Torchio, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, could be leaving the company for a position with Italian airline Alitalia.

Still an unconfirmed rumor at this point, Del Torchio’s move would mark the end to a major chapter in Ducati’s history, as the Bologna company has flurished under the Italian’s command. Though this transition that has been hinted at since Audi AG bought Ducati Motor Holding from Investindustrial, the news perhaps isn’t surprising, but it does raise some interesting question marks for the future.

Say Hello to the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200…Again

11/08/2012 @ 7:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Say Hello to the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200...Again Aprilia Caponord 1200 635x508

Leaked well ahead of the 2012 EICMA show, the Aprilia Caponord 1200 again finds its way to the interwebs, albeit in a clearer and more official way. Taking heavy styling cues from the Aprilia RSV4 sport bike, which has become something of the paterfamilias of design at the Italian brand, the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 shares a chassis and motor with the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, and will be the Noale brand’s big offering against the sportier side of the adventure-touring market.

Featuring 17″ wheels, selectable fuel mapping, traction control, and ABS brakes, the new Aprilia Caponord 1200 has all the basic amenities you would expect in increasingly competitive adventure bike market — and if rumors are to be believed, Aprilia will offer a Caponord 1200 with semi-active suspension as well (Aprilia Dynamic Damping, or ADD…no seriously).

2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R Coming Soon

09/28/2012 @ 6:36 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R Coming Soon Ducati 1199 Panigale S Superstock 04 635x423

In about six weeks, Ducati will be unveiling its 2013 model line-up. The star of the show will be the new liquid-cooled Hypermotard, but the Italian brand has several other new models it plans on debuting as well. We have already seen the updated 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200, with its implementation of the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS), as semi-active suspension package developed by Sachs.

The updated Ducati Multistrada 1200 also features the second-generation Testastretta 11° DS engine, which uses a dual-spark configuration to boost mid-range power, as well as clean up some of the v-twin motor’s emissions. At Milan, we will also more than likely see a middleweight displacement Ducati Multistrada, and our Bothan spies confirm to us that a Ducati 1199 Panigale R will also be making its debut at Milan.

Rumor: Vectrix to Debut an Electric Superbike at EICMA?

09/11/2012 @ 1:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Rumor: Vectrix to Debut an Electric Superbike at EICMA? Vectrix Superbike ROBRADY design 635x454

With all the hype that surrounds the electric motorcycle industry, it is easy to forget the company that basically paved the way for the current batch electric motorcycle OEMs. Depending on how closely you follow the space, Vectrix may or may not be a name that is familiar to you, but it should be. By our last count, the American-based, now Chinese-owned (it went bankrupt in 2009), EV company had put more electric two-wheelers on the road in the USA than Brammo and Zero Motorcycles…combined.

Sticker Shock: Brammo Empulse R Priced at $20,000?

05/03/2012 @ 5:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Sticker Shock: Brammo Empulse R Priced at $20,000? Brammo Empulse RR 635x425

A Bothan spy just dropped off a note in the A&R inbox saying that the soon-to-be-released and recently-spotted Brammo Empulse R is to come with quite the price tag. Said to be priced just shy of $20,000, the R-spec Empulse would be commanding a $6,000 premium over the $14,000 MSRP that was quoted when the Brammo Empulse first hit the newswires 22 months ago. Considering the $13,995 price tag offered by the Zero S ZF9, the $20,000 figure being bantered about sounds very high to our ears, at least initially.

Zero Is Working on a Brammo-Killer for 2013

04/20/2012 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Zero Is Working on a Brammo Killer for 2013 Zero Brammo Killer photo crop

The nearly two-year wait for the Brammo Empulse is nearly over, as the Ashland-based company is set to debut the Brammo Empulse and Brammo Empulse R in Los Angeles (and online) May 8th. It should come as no surprise then that the A&R Bothan spy network is picking up on murmurings from Zero Motorcycles, and that the Californian company is working on an Empulse-killer for the 2013 model year.

Said to be building a proper electric sport bike, as well as suitable electric dirt bike package, Zero is seemingly finally on the verge of sunsetting its current motorcycle designs for more mature motorcycle offerings, and is putting companies like Brammo and BRD squarely in its sights.

Rumor: Ducati 799 Supersport for 2013?

01/09/2012 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Rumor: Ducati 799 Supersport for 2013? Ducati 1199 Panigale aerial 635x449

Now that the 2012 model year motorcycles have debuted (though we still expect a few mid-year releases), the speculation can now begin for the 2013 model year machines. Wasting no time in this process, the Italian press is afire with rumors of a Ducati 799 superbike model to compliment the recently released Ducati 1199 Panigale.

A rumor of this nature, this early in the year, is certainly an interesting one. There should be little debate over the fact that Borgo Panigale has a supersport variant of the 1199 superbike already figured out, tested, & ready for prime time, and our Bothan spies confirm just as much to us. The details of such a bike though, now that’s where the devil resides.

Leaked: 2012 Zero Motorcycles Model Range Is Set to Debut Brammo Empulse Killer

11/06/2011 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Leaked: 2012 Zero Motorcycles Model Range Is Set to Debut Brammo Empulse Killer Zero Motorcycles 635x453

Our first proper leak ahead of the upcoming EICMA show in Milan is now officially in the bag, as Asphalt & Rubber has gotten word on Zero Motorcycles’ 2012 electric motorcycles. Completely revamping its model range, our sources tell us that the 2012 Zero Motorcycles will have all-new motors, battery packs, and bodywork. Talking in numbers, the battery pack options will be 6kWh & 9kWh, with prices expected to be $11,000 and $13,000 respectively. Perhaps the most compelling news (and there’s plenty to be compelled about with this news) is that Zero Motorcycles plans to have the new models under production in December, and on dealer floors by January.

Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse for 2012

09/28/2011 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse for 2012 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse Johnny Death 635x474

Asphalt & Rubber has learned that Ducati will debut a Corse version of the Ducati Superbike 848 EVO for the 2012 model year. Similar to the Ducati Superbike 1198 S Corse SE & Ducati Superbike 1198 R Corse SE, the Superbike 848 EVO Corse will feature Ducati’s tricolor corse paint scheme, and a bevy of go-fast performance parts. Expected to have at least a slipper clutch and Termignoni racing exhaust, it is also presumable that Ducati will add-on its Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and Ducati Data Acquisition (DDA), and round out the package with carbon fiber bits and premium suspension pieces.

Rumors of TT Zero’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

08/31/2011 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Rumors of TT Zeros Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated Michael Rutter MotoCzysz TT Zero Isle of Man TT 635x948

Getting word from our sources close to the Isle of Man TT, the TT Zero race will make its third consecutive appearance on the TT schedule despite the fact that the event is still mysteriously absent from the 2012 IOMTT preliminary schedule (as noted by the astute Mark Gardiner). With a £10,000 check still up for grabs to the first electric-powered sportbike to crack a 100 mph average lap speed, plans for the 2012 TT Zero are apparently still being put together by TT officials, and will be announced once they have been finalized.