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.

Triumph Tiger 800 Gets Four More Variants

10/10/2014 @ 11:51 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Triumph Tiger 800 Gets Four More Variants triumph tiger 800 model comparison 635x296

Triumph seems set to debut four more variants of its Tiger 800, as CARB filings filings show a Tiger 800 XCA, Tiger 800 XCX, Tiger 800 XRT, and Tiger 800 XRX models for the 2015 model year. The news seems to show Triumph spreading out its middleweight ADV offering, giving on-road and off-road riders a bit more to choose from the British brand.

Helping us understand how Triumph sees the four added variants, Motorcycle.com has publish a chart (above), which Triumph sent to Tiger 800 owners as a part of its market research. That chart breaks down the various models’ spec, and which features that would come with as standard.

Noticeable across the board is that the three-cylinder gets a 15% MPG boost (the CARB document also show fewer hydrocarbon emissions), as well as ABS and traction control as standard features.

This Isn’t the 2015 KTM 390 Adventure, But It Is Coming

08/18/2014 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

This Isnt the 2015 KTM 390 Adventure, But It Is Coming 2015 ktm 390 advenutre render 635x424

The autumn trade shows, INTERMOT and EICMA, are nearly upon us, and that means a plethora of new bikes are just weeks away from being unveiled to the public.

Some of the bikes we have seen coming for some time now, like the Ducati Scrambler and BMW S1000F (or whatever BMW plans on calling it); other bikes we have only just learned about, like the Yamaha TDM-09 (as the press is calling it) and the Suzuki GSX-S1000; and then there are the motorcycles we can only speculate about.

However, no machine has been more leaked, rumored, and anticipated than the KTM 390 Adventure. Like its sport bike counterpart, the KTM RC390, the smaller adventure bike is built around the KTM 390 Duke platform.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure — A New Beast from Austria?

08/08/2014 @ 2:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

KTM 1290 Super Adventure    A New Beast from Austria? KTM 1290 Super Adventure 635x476

It wasn’t too long ago that we showed you what appeared to be an updated KTM 1190 Adventure for the 2015 model year. The bike had all the bits that we’ve seen on the KTM 1190 Adventure R, though the Austrian brand had noticeably reworked the fairing to allow for more air to flow through the machine.

Getting a spy shot today though, we can understand the reason why, as the model is seen wearing a “KTM 1290 Super Adventure” livery, giving a nod to the likelihood that KTM has upgraded the Adventure with the Super Duke’s “beast” of a 1,301cc v-twin engine.

Ride Review: TerraCorsa – A 195hp “Dirt Bike”

08/05/2014 @ 12:09 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Ride Review: TerraCorsa   A 195hp Dirt Bike MotoCorsa TerraCorsa Jensen Beeler 29 635x423

I have made a number of bad decisions in my life, some of which have come hand-in-hand with my duties here at Asphalt & Rubber. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I can certainly think of a couple machines that I have naively swung a leg over with enthusiasm. Unsurprisingly, the word “prototype”, used in only the loosest of definitions, has been involved in these endeavors.

With rare occasion though, I have been able to see trouble coming ahead of time, and have either had the prudence to step out of its way, or the foolishness to forge ahead with a “what could go wrong” attitude. I would add MotoCorsa’s TerraCorsa project to that latter category.

A proper 195hp superbike, designed by Italians to win road races, the Ducati 1199 Panigale is an alphabet soup of features designed to make a rider go as fast as possible on asphalt.

So when MotoCorsa’s Arun Sharma gave me an opportunity to ride his “track bike” Panigale S, which he painted in Desert Storm beige and shod with Continental TKC 80 tires, well…I of course uttered “what could go wrong?” and graciously accepted.

On its face, the whole idea of taking a superbike off-roading is preposterous. No doubt, you are already making a list of all the things wrong with this idea, while pouring a cold glass of Hatorade in the process. And you’d be right in doing so.

The suspension travel is too short, the Panigale’s 1,199cc Superquadro v-twin engine has too much power, the riding position is all wrong, and let’s just skip over mentioning that the machine is a rolling bone fide crime against motorcycling. Ducatisti, pour out an espresso for this fallen Bolognese, but be forewarned that Arun and the TerraCorsa feed off the hate that this concept brings.

Before you sharpen your pitchforks and storm the castle gates at Borgo Panigale though, let me explain briefly how putting knobby tires on a purebred superbike isn’t as bad of an idea as you think. If anything, the gods must be crazy, because it is surprising how well the whole thing works. These crazy Oregonians are onto something…

2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE — That’s Hot

11/05/2013 @ 11:23 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE    Thats Hot 2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE 04 635x578

Unless you are into the cruiser thing, Triumph’s press event at the 2013 EICMA show was a fairly timid affair, with talk about the company’s future growth, its plans for emerging markets, and the high-fives over 2013’s business dealings being the soup de jour.

However, we were tickled by one of Triumph’s more minor announcements, the 2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE. Really just a cosmetic reworking of the British brand’s middleweight adventure-tourer, the bright red frame and subtle “Volcanic Black” paint scheme were enough to capture our blogger ADD.

The 2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure is Finally Here

10/07/2013 @ 1:31 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

The 2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure is Finally Here 2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure studio 17 635x476

Earlier today, I was thinking of writing a story that would be titled “The Four Obvious Bikes that BMW is about to Debut” or something like that.

While that list would include the spied water-cooled BMW R1200RT, BMW S1000R, and BMW NineT machines, at the top of that list would be the BMW R1200GS Adventure, which is predictable extension of the new GS, which debuted last year. BMW, it would seem, has beaten me to the punch.

Officially official, the 2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure has broken cover now, and is ready for you to ADV on until your heart is content. Not only does the new R1200GSA do away with the oddities in BMW’s 2013 lineup, where the old “air-cooled” GSA sat next to the new “precision-cooled” GS, we really wish this bike had been available for A&R‘s recent Broventure.

C’est la vie, as the French would say. We’ve got all the changes, photos, and so forth for you after the jump.

Rumor: New Honda Africa Twin Coming? To the USA Even?!

08/07/2013 @ 1:30 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Rumor: New Honda Africa Twin Coming? To the USA Even?! honda africa twin xrv650 635x493

Rumors have long been around that Honda was looking to bring back the Africa Twin model to its line-up; and with a quick scrolling through Honda America’s “Adventure” category, one can see that the less-than-inspiring odd-couple that are the Honda NC700X and Honda CB500X, while fine machines they might be (though we’ve heard the word “soulless” used more than once to describe them), proper adventure-bikes they surely are not.

With the tuning-fork brand putting out the stout Yamaha Super Ténéré, and Suzuki teasing the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, Honda and Kawasaki have been late to the Great American Adventure Bike party  — though at least Team Green fanatics can pretend like the Versys is a viable option for this category.

With Europeans having a variety of adventure motorcycles to chose from in the Honda brand, bikes like the Honda Transalp, Honda Crossrunner, Honda Varadero, and Honda Crosstourer, us Americans have been left out in the cold.

Well, that might be set to change, as our stroll yesterday though the USPTO’s online database (check-out our find on upcoming Ducati Scrambler) has revealed that Honda Motor Co. has registered “Africa Twin” for use in the American market. Could a proper adventure-tourer from Honda be headed our way?

2013 BMW F800GS Gets Modest Updates

07/02/2012 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2013 BMW F800GS Gets Modest Updates 2013 BMW F800GS 635x443

The dirt-going counterpart to the road-bound 2013 BMW F700GS, the 2013 BMW F800GS sees a modest update to its adventure/enduo platform for the next model-year. Unlike the F700GS, the new F800GS doesn’t get a power-boost, and sports the same 798cc four-valve parallel-twin liquid-coooled motor that we have all grown to know and love (and was the basis of the Husqvarna Nuda 900’s 900cc motor).

Making 85hp at 7,500 rpm, and 61 lbs•ft of torque at 5,750 rpm, the real changes to the 2013 BMW F800GS come to its updated gauges, controls, and bodywork — oh, and of course the now standard anti-locking brakes system that BMW is pushing across its entire model line-up.

Spy Photo: Are You The New Moto Guzzi Stelvio?

05/31/2012 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Spy Photo: Are You The New Moto Guzzi Stelvio?  moto guzzi adventure prototype

Is Moto Guzzi working on a new adventure model? These spy photos would seem to suggest that is the case, as this bike was caught outside of Piaggio HQ, with the longintudinal v-twin heads popping out of the sides of the spoked-wheel machine. Caught by Moto.it, the Italian publication seems to think this is more of a super/hypermotard type of machine, though the proportions to us look to be more well-suited for adventure touring.

Yamaha’s 180hp Adventure Bike is Our Kind of Crazy

03/25/2012 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Yamahas 180hp Adventure Bike is Our Kind of Crazy Yamaha YZF R1 sand dunes 07 635x362

When you think of the ultimate adventure bike, your first thoughts probably lean more towards bikes like the class-leading BMW R1200GS. If we continue that thought, and said that the ultimate ADV machine was in fact a Yamaha, you would of course then expect to see the subsequent words to center around the Yamaha Super Ténéré (read our review of the Yamaha Super Ténéré here).

Well, someone in Yamaha’s French office is our flavor of crazy, as they let six-time Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel loose in the sand dunes of Merzouga, Morocco on a Yamaha YZF-R1. Shod with exquisitely hand-cut Michelin tires, Peterhansel flexes the 180bhp machine over the dunes with proper rallying style.

Truly gorgeous shots, if it is available in your area, you’ll want to pick up the latest copy of L’Intégral magazine to see them in the gloss and read Peterhansel’s thoughts on riding the R1 in its non-native habitat.