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.

Photo: The Aprilia Moto2 Racer that Never Was

01/11/2012 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Photo: The Aprilia Moto2 Racer that Never Was Aprilia Moto2 race bike 635x476

Aprilia’s bid to race in the Moto2 Championship was apparently very short-lived, as Italian moto site Infomoto2 has uncovered a photo of the project, that is of course before Piaggio executives killed the racing effort. Hoping to continue the brand’s domination in the middle-class of GP racing, Aprilia’s Moto2 effort surely suffered from the fact that a Honda CBR motor would reside inside the Italian company’s prototype machine. The conflict of interest is surely understandable, although admittedly Aprilia had no 600cc motor of its own to use for the Moto2 class. Still, a piece of “what could have been” racing history, if you squint hard enough you can see some of Aprilia’s other GP racing efforts in the bike’s design.

Official: Randy de Puniet & Aleix Espargaró to Aspar MotoGP Team on a Aprilia-Powered CRTs

11/28/2011 @ 5:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Official: Randy de Puniet & Aleix Espargaró to Aspar MotoGP Team on a Aprilia Powered CRTs Randy de Puniet Jerez test Aprilia RSV4 635x343

To say Randy de Puniet had a tough season this year might be an understatement. Seemingly finding his groove at LCR Honda during the 2010 season, RdP found himself going into the 2011 known more for his well-raced finishes than gravel trap disappointments. The Frenchman showed a new maturity with his riding, and many thought his riding style would suit the troublesome Ducati Desmosedici GP11 well.

While the beginning of the season often saw de Puniet the fastest of the Italian bikes, it was clear that the move to Pramac Ducati was a misstep in the rider’s career. Jumping ship for 2012, and clear that he did not want to race in World Superbike or on a CRT machine, de Puniet seemingly had a number of options in front of him despite the 2011 season winding to a close: a return to LCR Honda, a factory ride with Rizla Suzuki, and ties to the well-run Aspar MotoGP team.

Those options would be limited though, as 2011 Moto2 Champion Stefan Bradl was shoe-horned into the LCR Honda squad to keep the pretense alive that Moto2 prepared riders to race in MotoGP. Similarly the rug was pulled out from underneath the Frenchman, as Rizla Suzuki got its plugged pulled almost immediately after RdP tested the Suzuki GSV-R, with promising results we might add. Left with few other choices, and certainly none of them better, it comes with little surprise then that Jorge “Aspar” Martinez’s MotoGP team has announced that Randy de Puniet will be one of its two riders for the 2012 MotoGP season.

De Puniet will be joined by former-MotoGP/Moto2 racer Aleix Espargaró on the two bike team. Dropping Ducati and announcing that Team Aspar will run an all CRT effort, the Spanish team will use Aprilia-powered bikes (De Puniet tested one of these bikes at Jerez last week). While a chassis manufacturer has not been announced, paddock gossip has been suggesting that Aprilia could be supplying a custom chassis for the racing effort. If you’ve been following MotoGP and the CRT movement closely, your eyebrows should be raised right now.

Caption This Photo: Find the Extra Two Seconds

05/28/2011 @ 2:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Caption This Photo: Find the Extra Two Seconds Aprilia pow wow 635x445

Photo: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Photo of the Week: It’s Not Easy Being Max Biaggi

05/23/2011 @ 10:16 am, by Scott Jones1 COMMENT

Photo of the Week: Its Not Easy Being Max Biaggi photo of the week maxi biaggi crash mmp scott jones

With World Superbike coming to Miller Motorsports Park next weekend, many eyes are on reigning champ Max Biaggi. Will Max be able to recover from a rocky season’s start to keep the title in Aprilia’s trophy case? Or will a charging Carlos Checa and upstart Marco Melandri continue to show no respect for Max’s greatness? Since his early days as a fantastic 250cc two-stroke rider, Max has had his share of disrespectful rivals.

Last year he, and the dominant Aprilia, added another star to his dorsal display of world titles. But in 2009 he ran into some trouble with Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga. You can never fault Max for not trying hard enough–in qualifying Max held onto the throttle as he dumped the RSV4 in the Attitudes, though Spies would win both races that weekend. Whether you love him or hate him, Max gives it all he’s got.

Biaggi Breaks WSBK Top Speed Record at Monza

05/06/2011 @ 12:10 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off

Biaggi Breaks WSBK Top Speed Record at Monza Max Biaggi record top speed Monza 635x423

Though provisional pole went to Leon Haslam in Friday afternoon’s World Superbike qualifying practice at Monza, reigning World Champion Max Biaggi made headlines of his own by breaking the WSBK top speed record. Despite this feat, Haslam outqualified the Italian at home by just 0.019s in a final lap dash, with Eugene Laverty and Ayrton Badovini completing the provisional front row for Yamaha and BMW Motorrad Italia.

Though there will be another qualifying practice Saturday morning and the three sessions of Superpole yet to be held to determine the pole sitter for Sunday’s race, Biaggi is looking to gain back momentum lost in the debacle that was Donington Park. “We need to recover points and we have plenty of potential to be able to do so, even the Assen round showed that,” said Biaggi. He added, “Racing in Italy in front of my supporters will obviously give me a little more charge.” That charge led to the new record of 332.5 kph (206.62 mph) set by Biaggi on Friday.

Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 Race Bike Caught with Illegal Fuel Injection Pump at Assen – No Penalty Given

04/19/2011 @ 12:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Max Biaggis Aprilia RSV4 Race Bike Caught with Illegal Fuel Injection Pump at Assen   No Penalty Given 2010 Aprilia RSV4 Factory WSBK race bike Max Biaggi 635x546

UPDATE: Aprilia and the FIM deny any irregularities with Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 at Assen.

Respected source in the World Superbike community, Sport-Bikes.fr is reporting that WSBK technical scrutineers have found an illegal fuel injection system on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 Factory at the Assen round of the Championship series. According to World Superbike rules, the entire fuel injection system must be original to the street homologated motorcycle, including the pump, fuel lines, and injectors.

Scrutineering at Phillip Island found that the injectors of all three Aprilias were in compliance, as was also the case for the outlet pressure injection pump, which was checked at Donington Park. However at Assen, Max Biaggi’s RSV4 was found to be different from the bikes used by Camier and Haga, and was racing with a non-original fuel injection pump.

A fuel injection pump seems hardly a worthy offense to crucify the reigning World Champion over, and many will state that pushing the limits of the rule book is a part of racing (something Aprilia is already known for). Accordingly World Superbike has not docked Biaggi of his results from Sunday’s races, nor has it levied any sort of penalty for the team’s actions. Instead, Aprilia has simply been told it much replace the pump by the next race at Monza.

2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC Special Edition – More Than Just Traction Control Comes to the RSV4

10/07/2010 @ 5:07 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC Special Edition   More Than Just Traction Control Comes to the RSV4 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC Special Edition 11 635x423

APRC, short for: Aprilia Performance Ride Control…that just about sums up the latest special edition motorcycle out of Noale. Taking the World Superbike winning RSV4 Factory, Aprilia joins a bevy of other manufacturers in applying race-bred electronic packages to their sport bike offerings for 2011. More than just a traction control system, Aprilia has added a multitude of electronics to the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC Special Edition.

Already leaked before Intermot, the Special Edition RSV4 Factory gets Aprilia Traction Control (ATC), which features 8 settings that are selectable via the left handlebar. However we also know now that the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC Special Edition comes also with Aprilia Wheelie Control (AWC) and Aprilia Launch Control (ALC), both of which have three settings. Similar to the Ducati 1198 series, the RSV4 is also getting a quick-shifter, dubbed the Aprilia Quick Shift (AQS), which allows the rider to shift gears without using the clutch and without closing the throttle. Photos and more after the jump.

2011 Aprilia RSV4 Gets 186hp & Traction Control

09/18/2010 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2011 Aprilia RSV4 Gets 186hp & Traction Control 2011 Aprilia RSV4 traction control 623x494

The guys at the Aprilia Forum have gotten word that the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 will get an 8hp power increase, bringing the 999cc V4 motor to a total claimed output of 186hp. Also as expected by us back in June, the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 will see the introduction of Aprilia’s traction control system (ATC). The 2011 Aprilia RSV4 will make its extra horsepower by raising the cylinder compression ratio via high compression pistons, and using a different timing chains. Other changes include a different exhaust can (smaller), and gearing changes (taller: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, shorter: 4th, 5th, 6th, with a larger 42 tooth rear sprocket).

Max Biaggi Has NOT Signed with Aprilia…Yet

08/03/2010 @ 7:06 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Max Biaggi Has NOT Signed with Aprilia...Yet Max Biaggi contract renewal false 560x410

Despite what you may be reading on the interwebernetz this morning, Max Biaggi has yet to renew his contract with Aprilia. Early reports are claiming that Biaggi has signed a two-year, €1 million/year contract with Aprilia that includes bonuses (likely performance based); however confirmation from the company says that’s not the case.

Aprilia, who is keen on giving Biaggi a pay cut next year, is close to winning its first WSBK title with the 39-year-old Italian at the helm. Meanwhile Biaggi is likely holding out for a pay increase, which is understandable since he’s been an unstoppable force this season.

WSBK: Geriatrics Battle for Race 1 at Misano

06/27/2010 @ 7:49 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

WSBK: Geriatrics Battle for Race 1 at Misano Max Biaggi WSBK Misano Race 1 560x356

Max Biaggi turned a year older yesterday, making the Italian rider 39 years-old, but he isn’t the only rider on the World Superbike grid that’s whose a bit weathered with age. Battling for Race 1 at Misano this weekend, the old duffs came out of the woodwork, and showed that you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. Get out your walked, and check out all the race spoilers after the jump.