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.

Editor’s Blog: Just Say Yes

11/16/2014 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

Editors Blog: Just Say Yes motorcycle awesome 635x474

It seems like we hardly talk anymore, you and I. Sure, every day I and the rest of the Asphalt & Rubber crew bring you stories to help fuel your motolust, but aside from the snarky messages I leave in the comments section, we haven’t really been getting enough “us time”, so to speak.

I want to change that, at least intermittently, on these doldrum Sundays, with a column that really has nothing to do with motorcycles…at least not directly.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now this year, but I just didn’t get around to starting because either I thought I was too busy, or I didn’t have a subject at-hand to explore, or I dunno…derringers.

Now as I begin planning what’s ahead for A&R in 2015, I see the same problem occurring: projects have long languished on my to-do list, and I keep saying “yeah, we should do that…” with no results in sight.

The issue is one of impulse, that moment of force that pulls you from the warm spot on the couch and back to the Bat Cave again. The issue is one of “saying yes”, ideally with reckless abandon.

Help Design Asphalt & Rubber’s New Logo

10/20/2013 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Help Design Asphalt & Rubbers New Logo asphalt and rubber logo 635x425

It’s that time of year: the almost-end of a (thankfully) exciting and penalty-ridden MotoGP season, and soon we will be into motorcycling’s long winter hibernation: no weekend racing, little street riding, and hours spent in the garage, counting down the days until the start of the season in 2014.

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we have found ourselves finally getting a chance to dust out the shelves, clean the office, and oh yeah…redesign our beloved logo. Inspired and humbled by the arrival of our five-year blogiversary, we decided to give the logo a nip and tuck, but we need your help.

Asphalt & Rubber Turns Five Years Old Today

10/18/2013 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber Turns Five Years Old Today ducati hypermotard sp jump scott jones 635x422

Another year has gone by at our tiny motorcycle blog here, as Asphalt & Rubber turns five years old today. The thing is though, the site isn’t that tiny anymore — one million visitors will come to A&R in October alone.

In the past four years, when I have written these birthday posts, I write the same thing about how I look back on the past 365 days with a bit of astonishment, and then list all the great things that we have done in that time.

At the five-year mark though, I find myself looking all the way back to the beginning of A&R, a time when this site wasn’t really anything at all. With that retrospect, I see how Asphalt & Rubber has come into what it is now — if I had to go back, and try to decipher today from the fog of time, it would all feel like an impossible reality, if I am honest.

Why Asphalt & Rubber Supports Riders for Health

10/03/2013 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Why Asphalt & Rubber Supports Riders for Health riders banner white 635x400

You would have to be living in a hole not to have heard about the video footage of a Range Rover plowing through a group of motorcyclists, and the chase through New York that ensued afterwards.

I say this not because the video has been the highest trafficked article on Asphalt & Rubber this week so far, though it is; nor do I say this because the video has been posted to virtually every motorcycle forum and blog on the internet, though it has; but instead because the video has elevated itself out of our obscure sport and into the national, if not international, public consciousness.

It is rare that motorcycling finds its way into mass media, and unfortunately it is rarely a good thing when it does so. Motorcycling by and large has an image problem in the United States. Few motorists commute via motorcycle, which means our industry is filled with people who come to motorcycles from either a hobby, sport, or lifestyle perspective, and because of this motorcycles remain on the fringe of mainstream society.

For some, that is the allure. Motorcycling is “something different’ which in turns allows a motorcyclist to express their individuality in an obvious manner. To illustrate this point, I am fairly certain that the vast majority of flame threads that start on forums and blogs can be boiled down to the premise that because your enjoyment of motorcycles is different from my enjoyment of motorcycles, it therefore must be wrong.

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012

12/31/2012 @ 7:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

A Year in Review with Asphalt & Rubber: 2012 asphalt and rubber year in review 2012 635x400

It will be a new year soon, and for some of Asphalt & Rubber‘s more international readers, New Year’s Eve may have already given way to New Year’s Day (Happy New Year, if that’s already the case). Going through my RSS feed, it seems obligatory that we make some sort of Happy New Year proclamation, summarize the stories the site has covered, and share some insight on the inner-workings of our operation here at A&R. The Dude abides.

Unsurprisingly, the starting point to our story begins roughly 12 months ago, as with the start of each year I like to look back on the 365 or so days we just completed, and outline my plans for the coming year. Some of that planning is just basic business stuff like benchmarks I hope to achieve with the site traffic, readership, and financials, while the rest of that planning is comprised of stories or events I would like the site to attend and cover.

Four continents, a dozen or so timezones, and more countries than I can remember, the 1,000+ articles written this year on Asphalt & Rubber are truly international in their origin, as are the 4.5+ million of you who came here and read those stores 10 million times. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the site continues to grow in the double digits, with the A&R readership growing another 30% in 2012 over last year.

Pushing over 20 TB (the TB stands for terabytes, or 1,024 gigabytes) of data, those numbers make Asphalt & Rubber not only just the largest motorcycle blog in the United States, but one of the largest in the world — something I find mildly amusing, since yours truly is more than mildly dyslexic.

As for trends, being an online publication means that we are on the front line of watching the motorcycle industry’s adoption of social media, with 10% of our readers finding us on social networks. The real interesting part? This figure is up 40% over last year.

Instead of just listing our top ten or so stories this year, something which most of you could probably guess the list of quite easily, I have tried to cultivate some basic topics from within the industry and the stories that drove those topics this year, as well as some stories that stood out to our editorial eyes. Enjoy them after the jump.

Asphalt & Rubber Turns Four Years Old Today

10/28/2012 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler54 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber Turns Four Years Old Today Jensen MotoCzysz E1pc 635x423

Today is a surreal landmark, as it marks our fourth year of publishing Asphalt & Rubber. If you cannot already tell, I am having a hard time believing that four years have gone by since I started this humble motorcycle blog (in the middle of corporate finance class, no less), but A&R continues to thrive despite my best dyslexic efforts.

It astonishes me that our “little” site is visited throughout the world on a daily basis, and that each month more people read A&R than all three of the major US motorcycle print magazines…combined.

Things keep on growing here, and I am deeply grateful now to be publishing the work of David Emmett on A&R, as he continues to be one of the most insightful writers in motorcycle racing, in both the print and online mediums.

This year, I am also very honored to have had regular written and photo contributions from Scott Jones, Daniel Lo, and Jules Cisek this year — their work has helped Asphalt & Rubber earn a reputation for stunning photography, and I hear compliments about their photography virtually every time I meet a loyal A&R reader in person.

Site News: Asphalt & Rubber Is Now on Google+

01/11/2012 @ 9:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Site News: Asphalt & Rubber Is Now on Google+ google plus asphaltandrubber

You may have already noticed the Google+ “+1″ buttons on the site, as lately we’ve been playing around with the social networking service here at Asphalt & Rubber. It took the internet search behemoth a while to roll out pages for sites like A&R, but we’ve finally gotten our Google+ page up, and had some time to populate it with articles and such.

An alternative to website’s like Facebook, Google+ most notably lets you share and connect with other users based on your social circles, e.g. you can select to share articles from A&R only with your motorcycling friends (sparring your non-motorcycle friends from your two-wheeled addiction). So, if Google+ is your social network of choice, be sure to follow us on there to get your daily motorcycle fix, and “+1″ any articles you wish to share.

Fastest in San Francisco is a Sellout

12/01/2011 @ 12:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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We hope you bought your tickets to the San Francisco premiere of Fastest, Mark Neale’s latest MotoGP documentary, because our screening, co-sponsered by the San Francisco Dainese Store, has sold out. If you happen to fall into the group of GP junkies who haven’t purchased tickets to the SF Fastest screening, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve left 20 or so tickets waiting for you at the box office, but you’ll have to pick them up in person, and by pick them up, we mean walk/ride/swim to the Embarcadero Center Cinema right now.

For those of you who already purchased your tickets, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve got a fun evening planned for you. Director Mark Neale will be on-hand to do a Q&A about making Fastest, and we’ve got some nice items to raffle off to attendees, with all proceeds going to Asphalt & Rubber‘s favorite charity: Riders for Health. The official charity of MotoGP, Riders for Health is an international non-profit organization that provides motorcycles (and rider safety and maintenance) to healthcare workers in Africa.

Asphalt & Rubber Turns Three Years Old Today

10/28/2011 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler41 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber Turns Three Years Old Today Jensen Phillip Island track day 635x422

It’s the end of October, and there is a picture of me from a birthday track day, so that could mean only one thing: Asphalt & Rubber has aged another year. Now into our third year of this crazy online motorcycle blog experiment, I pleasantly get to reiterate some of the text from last year’s anniversary announcement, as A&R continues to grow beyond anything that this dyslexic kid, who routinely failed writing classes, could have imagined.

This year has been one marked with notable events, as Asphalt & Rubber has come to you live from a bevy of remote locations for our race and event coverage, such as Qatar, Australia, and the Isle of Man. Storming perhaps the last refuge for motorcycle print journalism, we’ve also become one of only two pure-online publications regularly seen in the MotoGP paddock.

But most impressively this year, Asphalt & Rubber passed the 500,000 reader mark, and fittingly this October is shaping up to be our best month ever in terms of traffic & readership…as was the month before that, and the month before that — with all of that math culminating into the fact that A&R has almost doubled in size since last year’s birthday announcement.

Asphalt & Rubber Goes Down Under to Oz and NZ

09/23/2011 @ 7:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber Goes Down Under to Oz and NZ Aspahlt and Rubber down under

For the three weeks, Asphalt & Rubber will be coming to you from New Zealand and Australia, as I’ll be taking my first true vacation in nearly six years (booyah!). The high-profile blogging lifestyle is a tough mistress, and so far this year I’ve been on the road nearly 40% of the time (that figure is pure exaggeration, though A&R‘s entire June article coverage came to you from airports, hotels, and the back of my car).

The plan for the coming weeks is for my time down under to be less of a working holiday than my trips have been in the past (like Qatar and the Isle of Man, for example), so A&R’s mix of daily news coverage will come at you in spurts, while longer op-ed pieces will try and fill-in the gaps on days where I’m riding around in Kangaroo pouches, or whatever the hell it is they do for fun around here.