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.

Bimota Now Swiss Owned?

09/12/2013 @ 9:40 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Bimota Now Swiss Owned? 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia 03 635x421

Known just as much for its exotic motorcycles, as its tumultuous relationship with financial solvency, Bimota as a company is a bit of a quagmire. The Italian motorcycle house showed its racing chops with the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike, debuted a bevy of Ducati-powered models last year, and the Italians have branched out with the BMW S1000RR-powered Bimota BB2.

Now announcing a change in its ownership, Bimota has seemingly been bought by a still-unnamed Swiss financier. With production expected to stay in Rimini, Italy and with Italians said still to be managing the company, it seems that Bimota has just found a deeper wallet to extract cash from. At least, that what appears to be the case from Bimota’s bizarrely worded press release.

Bimota BB2 – Where Retro Meets the BMW S1000RR

11/14/2012 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Bimota BB2   Where Retro Meets the BMW S1000RR  Bimota BB2 EICMA sak art design 04 635x454

Our favorite news from the 2012 EICMA motorcycle show has to be the one where Bimota announced that it has entered an agreement with BMW Motorrad to use the BMW S1000RR motor in its rolling pieces of moto-art.

Using an almost exclusive diet of Ducati motors for its most recent creations, it only takes a quick look at the Bimota DB7, DB8, DB9, & DB11 to see that the boutique Italian bike builder has hit a bit of rut with its design inspiration. Our hope was that the partnership with BMW would change that.

Getting our first glimpse of the Bimota BB2, courtesy of sak_art design, the folks behind the machine, we can see our prayers haven’t gone unanswered. A clear homage to the Bimota BB1, the BB2 has some of the now-retro lines that distinguished Bimota so well in the early 1990’s.

Perhaps it is not the obscene hyperbike some were expecting when the S1000RR was tapped for duty, but there is an interesting blend of new and old in the Bimota BB2. Photos after the jump.

2013 Bimota DBx – An Enduro You Want to Get Dirty With

11/13/2012 @ 8:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2013 Bimota DBx   An Enduro You Want to Get Dirty With 2013 Bimota DBx 03 635x421

We promise, this is our last Bimota posting for the day (unless something juicy breaks regarding the recently announced Bimota BB2) — we did save the best for last though. Simply called the Bimota DBx, what we see here is Bimota floating another non-superbike concept out to the public to gauge its reaction. Bimota, we’ll make this real easy for you: BUILD THIS BIKE.

A Bimota DB10 with a severe affliction for getting its feet dirty, the Bimota DBx is probably the most expensive dual-sport we have ever seen. Öhlins TTX forks and four-way adjustable shock for suspension, Brembo monoblocs for brakes (2 x 300mm discs up front, 200mm in the back), carbon fiber everywhere, and machined pieces of billet aluminum that are ruining our Christmas wish list…every criticism you could level at Bimota this model year might easily be redeemed with this motorcycle.

Though we doubt any DBx machines will see off-road duty, there is a 19″ front wheel, with a 17″ rear wheel or optional 18″ unit for the rear, which are all laced up and ready to ride on their mixed-terrain Pirellis. Weighing 385 lbs dry, and making 95hp, the Bimota DBx isn’t the lightest or most powerful motorcycle in this class, but it definitely is the sexiest. Pardon us, we are late for the pants party.

Bimota DB10R – The Last Air-Cooled Hypermotard Standing

11/13/2012 @ 8:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Bimota DB10R   The Last Air Cooled Hypermotard Standing 2013 Bimota DB10R 08 635x421

The big news from Ducati at EICMA has to be the debut of the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard and its more touring focus sibling the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada. Trading in their two-valve air-cooled lumps for a 110hp 821cc liquid-cooled v-twin engine, we are sure there are some Ducatisti who had there cooling fins ruffled by that move. Never fear, Bimota is here.

Using Ducati 95hp 1,078cc air-cooled engine that was in the original Ducati Hypermotard 1100, the Bimota DB10 debuted last year as a tasteful alternative to the maxi-motard from Bologna. Back again this year, Bimota has up-spec’d the DB10, with the 2013 Bimota DB10R coming with a bevy of more carbon fiber goodness.

2013 Bimota DB9 Brivido Italia – Now with an Italian Flag

11/13/2012 @ 6:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

2013 Bimota DB9 Brivido Italia   Now with an Italian Flag 2013 Bimota DB9 Brivido Italia 15 635x421

The middle child to the Bimota DB8 and Bimota DB11, we showed you the Bimota DB9 Brivido last year with the superlative that it was the best looking Ducati Diavel we had ever seen. Of course, that statement was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the Bimota DB9 does share the Testastretta 11° motor with the Ducati, and Bimota hopes the DB9 Brivido will be a sportster variant to this very crowded area of the company’s model line-up.

Honestly, we don’t know why Bimota didn’t stop with the DB8 and move on, instead of building two more motorcycles off the same motor and chassis (god only knows how many variations stem from the DB8, DB9 DB11, and DB12 combined).

It’s not that we don’t like the Bimota DB9 Brivido (though, the headlights do offend us in an elbows-on-the-table sort of way), it is just that we hate to see the boutique Italian brand run this design for everything it is worth..even if they throw a supercharger on it.

Trotting the Bimota DB9 Brivido back out to EICMA for a second year in a row, the Italian brand calls this 2013 Bimota DB9 Brivido Italia. You know, because they put the Tricolore on it. Beautiful and boring at the same time, there is a reason we have buried this article today in the middle of the brand’s other more intriguing offerings from EICMA.

XXX: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia

11/13/2012 @ 6:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

XXX: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia 08 635x421

Do you like carbon fiber? Do you like steel trellis frames? Do you like 160hp motorcycles that weigh 390 lbs dry? Well then, we have just the thing for you: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia.

Pretty much the Bimota DB8 with some “Italian” themed paint, we won’t go into too much detail since the DB8, DB9, & DB11 share pretty much everything except the bodywork…which is probably the only criticism you can lobby at any of those machines.

Bimota sent us these up-close high-resolution photos of the Bimota DB8 Italia from EICMA, and we thought we’d share them with our loyal readers. Enjoy.

2013 Bimota DB11 – The Bitter to Know the Sweet

11/13/2012 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2013 Bimota DB11   The Bitter to Know the Sweet 2013 Bimota DB11 03 635x422

If you were as blown away over the supercharged 2013 Bimota DB11 VLX as we were, you might have not realized that we forgot even to introduce the Bimota DB11 to you in the first place. A fully faired sport bike with a 1198cc Ducati Testastretta 11° engine held in its beautiful steel trellis and aluminum-plate frame, the DB11 puts out a reasonable 160hp and less reasonable 97 lbs•ft of torque.

At 385 lbs dry, the 2013 Bimota DB11 makes a good argument for being a robust sport bike, even if most of them will sit in the garages of collectors. Using the same frame design as the Bimota DB9 Brivido, we must admit that the design aesthetic here is also getting some mileage, which sort of detracts from the “my pants are fitting oddly” problem that Bimotas generally generate.

2013 Bimota Tesi 3D Naked – Hub-Center Steering for Two

11/13/2012 @ 1:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2013 Bimota Tesi 3D Naked   Hub Center Steering for Two 2013 Bimota Tesi 3D Naked two seater 06 635x423

In my list of the Top 10 motorcycles ever, I think the Bimota Tesi 3D would make a strong showing. A truly unique machine, the lack of fairings only serves to showcase the hub-center steering mechanism, making the Tesi 3D an intriguing work of both art and science.

Separating the braking forces from the suspension travel, on paper motorcycle’s with hub-center steering have a significant mechanical advantage over their traditional counterparts, in reality though they have failed to live up to the hype on the track.

A product of either riders who are groomed to expect the workings of traditional linear fork suspension systems, or simply a answer to question that wasn’t asked, hub-center steering hasn’t exactly taken off…yet.

The Bimota Tesi 3D perseveres though, and for the new model year, Bimota has made my Tesi 3D obsession more conducive to my social agenda with motorcycles. This is all the excuse I need to share the photos after the jump with you. Enjoy.

2013 Bimota DB12 – The Most Expensive Multistrada Ever?

11/13/2012 @ 1:31 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2013 Bimota DB12   The Most Expensive Multistrada Ever? 2013 Bimota DB12 B Tourist01 635x444

While we wait to here the specs on the upcoming Bimota BB2, the boutique Italian firm’s rekindled collaboration with the German motorcycle manufacturer, Bimota continues to work with Ducati lumps, both of the air and liquid-cooled variety. One of the more intriguing concepts put forth at EICMA, the 2013 Bimota DB12 is an expression of an uber-exotic Ducati Multistrada 1200.

Unlike the supercharged Bimota DB11 VLX, the Bimota DB12 will remain naturally aspirated in its 160hp state, but like how the Multistrada 1200 was part of the Bologna Brand’s movement away from being solely a sport bike company, the DB12 represents the same movement for Bimota. Already showing a dirt bike at last year’s EICMA show, the 2013 Bimota DB12 is clearly the Italian brand taking a step back, and testing the waters with this design direction.

2013 Bimota DB11 VLX – Supercharged Italian Hotness

11/13/2012 @ 12:56 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

2013 Bimota DB11 VLX   Supercharged Italian Hotness 2013 Bimota DB11 VLX EICMA 635x420

Bimota is known for making some exquisite machines by taking production motors from other OEMs, and wrapping those engines in frames of Italian company’s own design. Art on two wheels, Bimota rarely strays from this formula, though when it does, something interesting usually happens. One such example is the 2013 Bimota DB11 VLX , which looks strikingly similar to the Bimota DB9 Brivido we saw at EICMA last year.