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.

Marco Melandri Returns to MotoGP, with Aprilia

11/10/2014 @ 10:10 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Marco Melandri Returns to MotoGP, with Aprilia marco melandri motogp aprilia art 635x423

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. But with the Italian brand pulling resources from its WSBK project for its one in Grand Prix racing, the writing has been on the wall regarding which series would take priority.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory – More of a Good Thing

11/04/2014 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory   More of a Good Thing 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory 03 635x444

True to Aprilia’s typical form, where there is a base model, there must be a “Factory” model to go with it. 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory builds off the Tuono V4 1100 RR, and adds Öhlins suspension, upgraded brakes, and forged aluminum wheels to the package offering.

Like the Aprilia RSV4 RF superbike, the Tuono V4 1100 Factory comes with a special livery, so everyone knows you dropped the extra coin on the go-fast parts, which we think is rather fetching. This is how you make what is already the best streetfigther even better. More photos after the jump.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR – Refining Perfection

11/04/2014 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR   Refining Perfection 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 02 635x566

We already showed you the first photo of the new Aprilia Tuono V4 1100, which as the name implies gets a modest displacement increase for the 2015 model year. Tacking on an extra 5hp, for a total of 175hp at the crank, the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 also gets the second-generation APRC electronics package, as well as other chassis refinements.

Coming in two trim levels, the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR is now the base model, and shown here. The top fairing has been changed for both models, and now replicates the three headlight design found on the RSV4 RR. These changes also allowed 3 lbs to be trimmed from the Tuono, which should please the performance-minded.

Aprilia RSV4 RF — Premium Wheels, Paint, & Suspension

11/04/2014 @ 6:12 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Aprilia RSV4 RF    Premium Wheels, Paint, & Suspension 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF 02 635x423

The 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR represents a solid update to Noale’s already impressive superbike. Making 201hp, and dropping three pounds, the RSV4 RR features a bevy of other finer detail refinements, include a second-generation APRC electronics package. So how do you make a motorcycle like that better? Enter the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Taking the Aprilia Race Package, which adds Öhlins suspension pieces and forged aluminum wheels, and adding a special livery that honors Aprilia’s racing success, you get the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Aprilia hasn’t mentioned how much the RF will be over the RR, but we don’t think they will have any trouble selling them. More photos after the jump.

2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR — 201hp of Italian Superbike

11/04/2014 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR    201hp of Italian Superbike 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR 02 635x538

Details of the Aprilia RSV4 RR have finally surfaced, and it seems the folks at Noale have not been resting on their laurels, having just won the 2014 World Superbike Championship. As such, the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR makes a cool 201hp from its 999cc V4 engine, with peak torque coming in at 84.81 lbs•ft at 10,500 rpm.

Not only does the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR make 16hp more than its predecessor, but it’s also three pounds lighter (1.5kg). Aprilia says the power gains come from reducing internal frictions, improving combustion efficiency, and fluid dynamic efficiencies. These changes allow the RSV4 RR to rev higher than before, and thus make more power.

2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF Spied at EICMA

11/03/2014 @ 7:27 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF Spied at EICMA aprilia rsv4 rf 635x481

In addition to the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR that was spied by our friends at Oliepeil, the Dutch sleuths have caught a glimpse of the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF. What does the “RF” mean, and how is it different from the “RR” model? We really have no idea, to be honest. Leave your best guess in the comments section, and we will give five A&R bonus points to whomever is closest.

First Photo of the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR

11/03/2014 @ 6:57 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

First Photo of the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR aprilia rsv4 rr 635x357

Our friends at Oliepeil are at it again this year, sneaking into the EICMA showroom ahead of tomorrow’s official opening. As usual, bikes left out in the open are being spied, and first up is the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR — a model we should have perhaps expected, since Noale already teased us with the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR model this weekend.

No word on specifications yet, though if the Tuono is any indication, we can expect a modest power boost, and additional refinements to the RSV4’s already class-leading APRC electronics package. We should know more tomorrow with Aprilia drops all the news on its 2015 models, officially.

First Photo of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR

11/01/2014 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

First Photo of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR aprilia tuono v4 1100 635x423

The alphabet soup that is the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS is about to get an update for the 2015 model year, as the Noale brand is set to debut the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 at next week’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

As the name implies, the new Tuono V4 1100 will get a displacement increase, to 1,110cc via a larger bore size (81mm, up from 78 mm). This puts peak power at 175hp (up from 170hp), with peak torque hitting 88.5 lbs•ft (up from 84.8 lbs•ft).

Team Orders: Is Motorcycle Racing a Team Sport?

11/01/2014 @ 4:26 am, by David Emmett16 COMMENTS

Team Orders: Is Motorcycle Racing a Team Sport? maroc melandri sylvain guintoli aprilia racing wsbk 635x635

In a few hours time, we will know who will be the 2014 World Superbike champion. Tom Sykes leads Sylvain Guintoli by 12 points going into the final two races at Qatar. With 50 points up for grabs, the title race is still completely open, and in a series as close as World Superbikes has been this year, anything could happen.

What both Sykes and Guintoli need are help from their teammates. Guintoli most of all: if the Frenchman is to be champion, he will need someone, such as his Aprilia teammate Marco Melandri, to get in between him and the Kawasaki of Sykes.

Sykes, on the other hand, can wrap up the title by winning both races, or at least finishing ahead of Guintoli. If he can’t finish ahead of the Frenchman, then he will hope that his teammate Loris Baz can assist.

As loyal teammates, surely Melandri and Baz will be happy to help? That was only partially the case at the last round in Magny-Cours. In race one, Melandri theatrically waved Guintoli past and into the lead, making it patently obvious that victory was Melandri’s to dispense as he saw fit, and he was prepared to allow his teammate to win this time.

Further back, Baz did the same same for Sykes, though without making quite as much of a song and dance about it as Melandri did.

Race two was a different affair. Once again, Melandri led, and could grant victory to Guintoli if he wanted to. He chose not to, taking the win – despite his pit board making the feelings of his team very clear indeed, for the second race in a row – and taking 5 precious points from Guintoli.

If Melandri had obeyed team orders and moved over, then Guintoli would have trailed Sykes by 7 points instead of 12. That would put Guintoli’s destiny in his own hands: win both races, and it would not matter what Sykes did.

Now, Guintoli needs help, he needs someone between him and the Englishman. Will his teammate come to his rescue this time? Will the Aprilia WSBK team issue team orders again, commanding Melandri to serve the cause of Guintoli’s championship challenge? At the core of this is a much bigger question: Is motorcycle racing a team sport?

2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally Breaks Cover

09/25/2014 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally Breaks Cover 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally 1 635x476

Set to debut at INTERMOT next week, the Italians have taken the wraps off the 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally — a more adventure-focused variant of the Aprilia Caponord 1200.

The changes are subtle, but to the point, as the Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally comes with a 19″ wheel up front (a 17″ wheel remains in the rear), as well as side boxes, auxiliary lighting, skid plate, and crash bars.