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.

For Sale: One Italian Motorcycle Company – Slightly Used

02/18/2011 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

For Sale: One Italian Motorcycle Company   Slightly Used Moto Morini Scrambler 1200 635x423

Moto Morini’s bankruptcy has been going painfully slow, but it’s all about to come to a head, as the Italian company will be put up on the auction block April 13th. The Super-Saver Moto Morini package includes all the appropriate intellectual property, assets, and equipment (sans motorcycles, which are being sold separately) for the cool sum of €5.5 million. Should no one want the whole kit ‘n kaboodle, a cheaper price of €2.6 million will be set for the production complex with two years use included. These prices are of course the auction’s guide prices.

Moto Morini Opening Again…Sorta Not Really

01/19/2011 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Moto Morini Opening Again...Sorta Not Really Moto Morini Scrambler 635x440

Don’t get too excited Moto Morini fans, the Italian brand isn’t making a comeback from the dead as of yet. However Piero Aicardi, Moto Morini’s receiver (the person in charge of handling the company’s affairs during the liquidation/bankruptcy process), wants to re-open the Bologna factory to assemble 45 bikes that are apparently sitting in parts at the factory.

With 16 Scamblers and 29 Granpasso’s capable of being built, Aicardi foresees that Moto Morini could open temporarily to build the 45 bikes, which would sell for €6,300 – €7,100 ($8,500 – $9,600), and use the proceeds to pay off some of Moto Morini’s debts.

Get a Moto Morini on the Cheap [UPDATED]

07/12/2010 @ 6:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Get a Moto Morini on the Cheap [UPDATED] Avio Left front1 635x519

UPDATE: Moto Morini’s liquidator has now announced that all the available units have been sold.

As the dust continues to settle around Moto Morini, the Italian marque sees an expiration date looming in its future. Pushing its final days into September of this year, as the company looks for a new potential buyer, assets of this motorcycling misadventure continue to be sold. While many were upset at Moto Morini closing its doors, the good news is that the company has an ample stock of bikes, which it is now selling for severely discounted prices.

Voxan Bought by Venturi – Electrics in Three Years

06/02/2010 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Voxan Bought by Venturi   Electrics in Three Years voxan logo 635x423

Beleaguered French motorcycle company Voxan has found life after death, and today was acquired by Venturi Automobiles. Backed by an investment group in Monaco, Venturi itself was resurrected back in 2001, but with new cash in-hand the company sees motorcycles as a way to bolster its portfolio.

The French conglomerate has released some interesting plans for its newly acquired motorcycle company, namely that it hopes to have Voxan release a production electric motorcycle in the next three years.

Moto Morini Saved From Bankruptcy? – Paolo Berlusconi Makes €2.9 Million Offer

04/13/2010 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Moto Morini Saved From Bankruptcy?   Paolo Berlusconi Makes €2.9 Million Offer moto morini scrambler 1 635x444

Quirky Italian motorcycle manufacturer Moto Morini has reportedly been saved from the chopping block by Paolo Berlusconi. If that names rings a bell, it should because Berlusconi is the brother to Italy’s Prime Minister, and owns Garelli scooters. The Italian businessman has also been recently linked to acquiring MV Agusta, which if both transactions go through could see Berlusconi owning the parts of a formidable Italian motorcycle company. Berlusconi has reportedly made a €2.9 million offer for Moto Morini which includes the company name, infrastructure, and rights to past and future product lines.

Reports of Moto Morini’s Death Appear to Be Un-True

12/09/2009 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Reports of Moto Morinis Death Appear to Be Un True 53eba983c09b2ad2c10bfc8ddb9a07aa XL 635x425

After we posted yesterday that Moto Morini had shut down its production line, amid the Italian company’s financial problems, other publications began covering the company’s complete closure. This caught the folks at Moto Morini off-guard, who while on an extended day-off, insist they are still keeping the production line functioning, if admittedly at a significantly reduced capacity.

Moto Morini Production Shuts Down

12/07/2009 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Moto Morini Production Shuts Down moto morini tank 1 635x437

UPDATE: Moto Morini has responded to other reports that the Italian company has shut its doors, and instead says its production line is at a greatly diminished capacity.

After going into receivership a few months ago, Moto Morini has found its financial stability withering away as time marches-on. With no end in sight for the company’s blight, Moto Morini has shutdown its production line, and will remain in that state until a new buyer or group of investors emerge and breath life back into the small Italian brand.

Wheel Manufacturer Dymag Racing Enters into Bankruptcy

12/01/2009 @ 6:03 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Wheel Manufacturer Dymag Racing Enters into Bankruptcy Dymag carbon fiber wheel 635x406

Despite signs that the economy seems to be bottoming out, UK-based wheel manufacturer Dymag Racing UK, Ltd has entered into bankruptcy. What appears to be beyond just a mere restructuring, the company’s assets are being auctioned-off, placing doubts as to whether the manufacturer will continue making wheel products after the bankruptcy process concludes.

Vectrix Motorcycles Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

09/29/2009 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Vectrix Motorcycles Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Vectrix bankruptcy chapter 11 560x298

Well, we saw it coming. Electric scooter manufacturer Vectrix Motorcycles has finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. For those that didn’t learn the intricacies of Chapter 11 filings from the recent reorganization of General Motors, Vectrix as we know it will be transfered to a new corporation (New Corp.), while the bad assets and debt of the company remain in old company (Old Corp.). In this case, New Corp. will take the form of “New Vectrix LLC” and the move will leave the brand with minimal debt obligations (at the detriment of its current creditors).

While a pretty standard announcement for a Chapter 11 filing, Vectrix isn’t out of the woods yet. This filing will give Vectrix the second chance it needs, but it does nothing to address the fundamental problems that caused the company to go bankrupt in the first place (much like GM you say??!).

Hopefully with proper management, this move will give Vectrix the second chance it needs to be successful. The Chapter 11 filing is at least a good sign for the company and creditors as a Chapter 7 filing would have meant both parties would have been S.O.L. Such is the miracle of the United States Bankruptcy Court. Press release after the jump.

Moto Morini Enters Voluntary Liquidation

09/28/2009 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Moto Morini Enters Voluntary Liquidation moto morini 1200cc motard 1 560x357

Italian manufacturer Moto Morini has entered into voluntary liquidation in an effort to get its business back on track. Voluntary liquidation is an Italian concocted form of quasi-bankruptcy, although we’re sure Italian businesses would be quick to point out the differences; however, the affect is essentially the same though, and the act will shield Moto Morini from the debts it owes its suppliers.

Moto Morini has been denying earlier reports that it hasn’t paid its 65 employees, although it admits it hasn’t paid its suppliers since last June. Despite this, Moto Morini has stated categorically that its own intention is to go straight ahead with all the company activities, and all actions to date have been made with this goal in mind.