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.

Ducati Reaches New Workforce Agreement with Factory Unions – Reduced Hours, Higher Wages

10/14/2014 @ 11:59 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati Reaches New Workforce Agreement with Factory Unions   Reduced Hours, Higher Wages ducati production line 635x423

Ducati Motor Holding has reached a new agreement with its workforce, particularly those workers who are responsible for building the Italian company’s iconic two-wheeled machines.

The agreement with the unions sees 13 new jobs created in the Italian factory, which will now stay open on seven days a week — a big move for a country that is usually resistant to working on Sunday.

The factory workers will also go from 15 to 21 shifts per week, with a format of three days on, and two days off. In exchange, factory employees will work fewer hours per week on average, though will make higher average wages for their time.

Yet Another Ducati Scrambler Photo (Not Claymation)

08/05/2014 @ 3:09 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Yet Another Ducati Scrambler Photo (Not Claymation) ducati scrambler spy photo

Photos of the upcoming Ducati Scrambler seem to be a dime a dozen these days, especially after the still unreleased model was snapped by an attendee at the World Ducati Week 2014 gathering.

We have also seen the Scrambler testing at Ducati’s Borgo Panigale factory, in various states of build. And now today we get perhaps our best glimpse yet…and no, we’re not talking about the claymation video from Ducati’s marketing, which has been making the rounds this week already (an eyeroll for even having to say that).

Caught again at Borgo Panigale, this picture seems to be a ready-for-production version of the Ducati Scrambler, which we can expect to officially debut in a few months’ time.

It’s perhaps not worth rehashing everything we’ve said and speculated about this new model from Ducati, so we’ll leave you with this simple question: do you like?

Bologna Confirms 2015 Ducati Scrambler

06/09/2014 @ 8:42 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Bologna Confirms 2015 Ducati Scrambler 2015 Ducati Scrambler teaser 02 635x423

Ducati has officially acknowledged its well-known Scrambler model today, after giving its employees an sneak peak over the machine at Borgo Panigale. A 2015 model year machine, the Ducati Scrambler is being pitched as a fun motorcycle that hearkens back to the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Debuting in autumn of this year, the 2015 Ducati Scrambler is tipped to use one of the company’s smaller air-cooled v-twin motors. Said to have wide handlebars and off-road inklings, Ducati describes the machine as “simple” – perhaps signaling the company’s intention for an affordable two-wheeler that will appeal to both motorcycle enthusiasts, and those outside the industry, alike.

Ducati 1199 Superleggera Enters Production

03/29/2014 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Ducati 1199 Superleggera Enters Production Ducati 1199 Superleggera EICMA detail 35 635x421

Word from Italy is that Ducati has begun production on the Ducati 1199 Superleggera superbike, the Italian firm’s “Super Light” version of the Panigale. Crafted from copious amounts of magnesium, titanium, and carbon fiber, the Superleggera might be one of the few motorcycles that looks better naked without its fairings, rather than all buttoned up and ready for the race track.

Make no mistake, the Superleggera is an exercise of engineering prowess (it sports the highest power-to-weight ratio of any production motorcycle in history), so it makes sense then that the Superleggera is said to be the pet project of former Ducati engineer, and current Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicali.

Creating a video to celebrate the commencement of Ducati’s production run on the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, it is no mistake then that Domenicali features heavily in it — this is one proud papa. Only 500 lucky Ducatisti will be able to share in that pride of ownership, as the Superleggera production will be extremely limited. What follows might be the closest you will ever get to one.

Ducati Museum Goes Virtual with Google Maps

02/19/2014 @ 1:59 pm, by Bryan Delohery2 COMMENTS

Ducati Museum Goes Virtual with Google Maps ducati museum google streetview 635x407

For those Ducati owners who have been pining to visit the world famous Ducati museum in Bologna, but cannot cover the cost or justify the trip, you are in luck. The doors at Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati have opened to Google Maps to allow you to take the tour without getting up from your computer.

The 9,150 sq ft museum in Borgo Panigale already hosts 40,000 visitors a year and with the virtual tour, Ducati hopes to attract hundreds of thousands more.

Ducati Production Delayed Due to Earthquake Devastation

06/12/2012 @ 9:02 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati Production Delayed Due to Earthquake Devastation Ducati 1199 Panigale production 635x425

With the Emilia region continuing to feel aftershocks from the earthquakes that devastated the region, Ducati Motor Holdings has published a letter from CEO Gabriele Del Torchio explaining that while Ducati’s facility was unaffected by the tremors, its suppliers have seen their factories shutdown or slowed because of the natural disasters.

As such, deliveries from the Borgo Panigale factory have been delayed, meaning if you put money down on a 2012 Ducati motorcycle, you might have to wait a bit longer than originally expected. Ducati has not at this point in time released details on how long that delay could be for Ducatisti purchasers. Full letter after the jump.

Ducati Factory Closes After Second Earthquake Hits Bologna

05/29/2012 @ 7:28 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ducati Factory Closes After Second Earthquake Hits Bologna Borgo Panigale Ducati factory 635x422

Withstanding two earthquakes in just over a week’s time, Ducati has announced the closure of its Borgo Panigale factory, after today’s 5.8 magnitude shaker, whose epicenter was just 25 miles away from Bologna.

Remaining open after Northern Italy’s 6.0 earthquake on May 20th, this latest quake has caused enough damage in the area to warrant the Italian motorcycle manufacturer giving its workforce time to address the damage caused, and to see to loved ones who were more extensively affected by the quake that has so far accounted for 15 deaths.

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale – 195hp / 395 lbs (Base)

09/23/2011 @ 11:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale   195hp / 395 lbs (Base) 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale 635x428

Confirming what we reported back in November of last year regarding the performance figures for Ducati’s new Superbike, Ducati dealership Pro-Italia posted on its Facebook wall (now redacted) a less-than-cryptic “395/195″ message while in attendance at the Ducati Dealership meeting in Miami, Floria. Noting the wet weight and brake horsepower, the new 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale makes good on its promise to trump its predecessor by over 20hp and 20 lbs. To thank for the these benchmark miracles is the 1199 Panigale’s very over-square Superquadrata motor (also known as the SuperQuadro in some rumor reports), which will rev higher than any other previous Ducati Superbike motor to-date, and the company’s new “frameless” chassis design, which has been floundering in MotoGP.

While we can’t speak for the efficacy of Ducati’s new chassis philosophy, and how it will work on the company’s new v-twin production bike, the spec-sheet racers should be impressed with this latest piece of information. And as if those figures weren’t impressive enough already, Asphalt & Rubber has learned that the Ducati 1199 Panigale homologation special, the made-for-racing “production” model which has been making its appearance in the bulk of the 1199’s spy shots, has been producing over 205hp at the crank during its recent testing at Borgo Panigale facility (the namesake for the 1199 Superbike), while in its “stock” form. While we don’t know what naming convention Ducati will use on the race-bike-with-lights-on-it 1199, A&R does know that it will not receive “R” nomenclature that we’ve seen in the past.