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.

Claudio Consonni Leaves from Yamaha Motor Italy to Become Technical Director at Benelli

07/19/2010 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Claudio Consonni Leaves from Yamaha Motor Italy to Become Technical Director at Benelli Claudio Consonni Benelli 560x420

Benelli has announced that Claudio Consonni has taken-on the role of Technical Director at Benelli QJ. As a former manager of Yamaha Motor Italy, Consonni was repsonsible for the tuning fork brand’s production, research & development, quality after sales divisions over his 20 years at Yamaha…all things Benelli needs in spades right now as its Chinese owners look to turn-around the company.

Oberdan Bezzi Inks Benelli Due Flat-Tracker

03/08/2010 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Oberdan Bezzi Inks Benelli Due Flat Tracker Oberdan Bezzi Benelli 2 concept TechnoTracker 635x429

Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi is at it again with hit imagination and design tools in hand. Taking the iconic Italian brand of Benelli, Bezzi has put together an imagined flat-track ready version of the fabled Benelli 2ue (Due?) motorcycle that he calls the Benelli 2 TechnoTracker.

2010 Benelli TnT R160 Up-Close at EICMA

12/01/2009 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

2010 Benelli TnT R160 Up Close at EICMA 2010 Benelli TnT R160 EICMA 4 635x425

As promised, here are our impressions and up-close photos of the new Benelli TnT R160, which was launched at EICMA this year. As we noted earlier, the 2010 Benelli TnT R160 gets more power and more carbon fiber bodywork. And as expected, the bike from afar is stunning.

We make no secret about how much we lust over the TnT’s lines, and the R160 accentuates those not-so-secret desires even more so. However, up-close the bike has some peculiar, to put it kindly, or shoddy, to put it bluntly, finishes to its carbon pieces. Photos and more after the jump.

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer at EICMA

11/30/2009 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer at EICMA 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer EICMA 1 635x425

At the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Benelli finally gave the public a glimpse at its new TnT 899 Cafe Racer, after teasing us with spy photos of the bike out testing. While this was our first opportunity to see the bike in person, it was also the first time that Benelli released the 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer’s technical specifications. With 120hp at the crank, the baby TnT packs some power, and it will need it if it wants to haul around the 454lbs (wet) motorcycle it’s attached to. Pictures and more after the jump.

Benelli 2ue 756 Shown Off at EICMA…Again

11/21/2009 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Benelli 2ue 756 Shown Off at EICMA...Again Benelli 2ue EICMA 4 635x425

Stopping by the Benelli display at EICMA, we got our first chance to check out the rarely talked about Benelli 2ue. We first spotted the finalized version of the 2ue earlier this year without its fairings on, but for Milan the bike was fully dressed. While seemingly similar to last-year’s concept, Benelli left 2ue completely out of its press information. What few details we have on the 2ue 756 are after the jump, along with more photos of the 2ue up-close.

2010 Benelli TnT R160: More Power, More Carbon

11/12/2009 @ 5:52 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2010 Benelli TnT R160: More Power, More Carbon 2010 Benelli TnT R160 1 635x442

In addition to the 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer, Benelli also launched the 2010 Benellli TnT R160, it’s latest iteration of the 1130cc TnT platform. The new R160 is the pinnacle of Benelli’s naked motorcycle line, boasting not only the most power in the TnT class, but it’s also laden with tons of tasty carbon bits. More details and photos after the jump.

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer

11/12/2009 @ 5:51 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer 1 635x421

Like a young kid that sneaks down to the family room on the night of Christmas Eve, spying on Santa Clause as he delivers his bounty of presents, we’ve gone and spoiled maybe the biggest announcement to come out of Benelli for 2010. After catching the 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer out in the wild testing, it comes as no surprise that the bike has now been officially made public at EICMA.

Spy Shot: Benelli 899 Cafe Racer Caught Testing?

10/26/2009 @ 9:13 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Spy Shot: Benelli 899 Cafe Racer Caught Testing? Benelli 899 Cafe Racer spy shot 560x373

The French Magazine MotoRevue has a certain << je ne sais pas>> when it comes to finding the Benelli brood out and about before they hit the official press launches. This time around it appears they’ve caught a TnT 899 Cafe Racer going through its paces. While the new Benelli fills a whole in the 899/1130 parity, we’re still not sure about the rumors of this “little” bike. More after the jump.

Benelli to Go Under?

06/04/2009 @ 12:33 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Benelli to Go Under? 2008 benelli tornadotre1130e 560x373

While Ducati is recording all-time high sales figures, times are significantly tighter at Benelli, that other Italian motorcycle manufacturer. With many of its workers on part-time status (and with the Government paying part of their paycheck), production at the Benelli factory has been scaled back to around 1,000 motorcycles for 2009, down from the 20,000 the company had anticipated to make when it set it goals back in 2007.

This year, Chinese owner, Qiang Jiang, is taking a closer look at the Italian acquistion, with the possibility of folding the company not ruled out. This just a few months after Qiang Jiang pumped $26 million into the Italian brand.

Chinese Motorcycle Manufacturer Qianjiang Invests $26 Million into Benelli

03/18/2009 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Chinese Motorcycle Manufacturer Qianjiang Invests $26 Million into Benelli 2010 benelli tnt r160 eicma 2 635x425

Chinese motorcycle manufacturer Qianjiang Motor, which in 2005 acquired the Pesaro Benelli, is now investing an additional $26 million into Benelli to help revitalize the Italian brand.  Talking at a press conference two days ago, Qianjang General Manager Haimei Yan stated that “[although] we have not yet turned a profit in the budget, we are here to stay, and believe in the company.”