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.

Brammo Empulse Delivery Delayed to 2012 – IET Coming?

05/06/2011 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Brammo Empulse Delivery Delayed to 2012   IET Coming? brammo empulse flux capacitor 635x425

Our good friend Ted Dillard from The Electric Chronicles got an interesting email from Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher this past week, in which the Oregonian company stated that it will be pushing deliveries of the Brammo Empulse back yet another year to 2012, and then fairly bluntly hinted that the revamped Empulse would be fitted with the company’s newly licensed Integrated Electric Transmission (IET).

In his email to Dillard, Bramscher states that “Brammo teams and suppliers across the globe are working hard to deliver you a motorcycle of the level of quality Brammo riders have come to expect. We had a tough decision to make recently: Deliver the Empulse this riding season, or integrate our latest technology and deliver a superior bike in 2012. After much deliberation, we decided to be true to our values and build the best bike we can.”

Brammo Empulse to Race at Infineon with MotorcycleUSA

04/19/2011 @ 7:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Brammo Empulse to Race at Infineon with MotorcycleUSA Brammo Empulse RR Thunderhill test 635x456

MotorcycleUSA has let it slip that it will be competing in the first round of the North American TTXGP series on-board the Brammo Empulse RR. Taking to the electric race motorcycle with be MotoUSA editor Steve Atlas, who will get the honors of piloting the Empulse RR in its first race outing (Brammo had to sit out its attempt to race a the FIM e-Power race at Laguna Seca last year after having a technical issue).

Brammo has been testing its Empulse RR for almost a year now, so the Oregonian company’s race package should be well-polished for the race at Infineon. When we saw the Empulse RR testing at Thunderhill Raceway earlier this year, the electric bike seemed capable of some good lap times, but of course we’ll have to wait and see how it compares to the competition that arrives later this May.

As for Atlas, the last we heard was that he single-handedly changing the well-earned stigma that motorcycle journalists don’t know how to ride motorcycles, which should make for some good racing for the TTXGP/AMA fans. Some photos of the Brammo Empulse RR are after the jump.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill

01/28/2011 @ 4:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill Brammo Empulse Thunderhill Jan 2011 test 10 635x423

Yesterday was a sunny day in the San Francisco/Bay Area, with weather in the mid-60’s. Just recently getting my bike back from a tune-up, I was itching for a ride and decided to pack things up early for the day, and go for a quick jaunt up to Thunderhill Raceway to gatecrash Brammo’s latest testing session with the Empulse RR electric race bike (close-up shots from Laguna Seca last year here).

Using my best ear-to-ear smile at the front gate, I rode into the paddock to see Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann shaking his head upon my arrival, and muttering something about someone posting the session’s schedule online. Always a good-sport, Wismann graciously allowed me to stick around for the remaining day’s sessions, while Brammo’s CEO Craig Bramscher definitively removed me from his Christmas card list (you’ll still get a card from me though Craig).

Video: Brammo Empulse RR Testing

11/29/2010 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Video: Brammo Empulse RR Testing Brammo Empulse RR laguna seca 1 635x425

The guys up in Ashland have been busy testing their Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike. Taking some laps around Thunderhill Raceway, and hitting the curves around the Ashland area, Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann was at the helm of the Empulse RR in these videos. Surely gearing up for the 2011 racing season, Brammo was testing the Empulse RR’s systems, and from the looks of it, the Empulse RR has some moves. Videos after the jump.

Up-Close with the Brammo Empulse RR

07/27/2010 @ 2:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Up Close with the Brammo Empulse RR Brammo Empulse RR laguna seca 14 635x425

Although it didn’t take part in the e-Power electric race at Laguna Seca, the Brammo Empulse RR was on display in the Brammo pit area during the weekend, and we got a chance to lay our hands on the bike for the first time. Based off the Brammo Empulse street bike, the Empulse RR comes packed with 12.5 kWh of battery power (same as the MotoCzysz E1pc), which according to Brammo makes it the best bike in the paddock in terms of power-to-weight ratios.

Coming together in just eight weeks, the Brammo Empulse RR still has some kinks to iron out, as the bike apparently cooked off its liquid-cooled motor during testing. While the Brammo team figures out its foray into liquid-cooled electric motors (the Brammo Enertia uses an air-cooled motor), the rest of the Empulse RR package looks very promising.

First Glimpse: Brammo Empulse RR

07/23/2010 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

First Glimpse: Brammo Empulse RR Empulse RR Testing 635x423

This is what we believe is the first shot of the Brammo Empulse RR race bike that was slated to race in the e-Power Championship round at Laguna Seca this weekend. Unfortunately for fans, and for Brammo, the Empulse RR race bike suffered a critical component failure, and will have to be a scratch on Sunday…but fortunately for Brammo fans (and Brammofan) Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher said on twitter today that the team would race this year.

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