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.

Pierobon Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Krax Moto

02/17/2014 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Pierobon Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Krax Moto pieroban ducati 1199 panigale krax moto

Do you remember the Pierobon frame kit for the Ducati 1199 Panigale that we showed you back in November? If you’re a loyal reader, you should — it was one of our most popular articles that month.

An answer for those who think that the Panigale’s “frameless” chassis is affected by the same woes as the MotoGP project, Pierobon’s steel-trellis frame replaces the load-bearing headtube/airbox design from Ducati.

While we wait to hear back from the folks at Pieroban about how their creation goes around the race track, the clever Photoshoppers at Krax-Moto have takien the Italian fabricator’s photos, and used them to ink a very impressive streetfighter / café racer concept.

A little headlight here, and little leather seat there — it’s really surprising how little need to be tweaked to make the design work. If the Pierobon folks are sharp, they’ll include Krax Moto’s changes in a kit for customers. Would you take this over a Ducati Monster 1200 S? We would.

BMW R90 Interceptor – The Last RAD Bike

01/20/2014 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

BMW R90 Interceptor   The Last RAD Bike Radical Ducati MaxBOXER BMW R90 Interceptor 05 635x423

For the past week or so I have been stooped over in a depression, because after hearing the news that Radical Ducati would be shutting its doors after 15 years of incredible custom motorcycle building, I am just not sure if life is worth living. That’s a bit of hyperbole of course, but we are, like many, selfishly saddened to see that Pepo and Reyes will be moving onto bigger and better things.

So, it is with some irony that we bring you the last motorcycle to come from Radical Ducati — ironic because the machine is not one of RAD’s mix-matched Ducati’s, which has given the small Spanish firm such notoriety, but instead the motorcycle is a BMW, with the same unique style and flare. Dubbed the BMW R90 Interceptor, the machine is a joint project between Radical Ducati and MaxBOXER.

Wunderlich BMW R nineT Cafe Racer by Nicolas Petit

01/09/2014 @ 4:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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If you ask us, the BMW R nineT is a pretty big deal for the business of motorcycling, as its modular design allows for the air-cooled standard to be modified extensively and easily. BMW Motorrad designed the R nineT that way so tuners and customers alike could put their own stamp on the machine that celebrates the German motorcycle maker’s 90th year of business.

Whether your taste is along the lines of the heavily modified BMW Concept Ninety, which Roland Sands had a hand in making, or something more stock from the BMW parts catalog, the BMW R nineT can abide. So, it probably shouldn’t surprise us to see that Nicolas Petit has inked another build for German parts maker Wunderlich.

Drawing both a fully-faired and a more bare-boned version of Wunderlich BMW R nineT cafe racer, Petit has once again made a lurid proposition. We think those who love the classic lines of BMW’s past will enjoy these concepts, and if anything Petit’s work shows the versatility in the R nineT’s modular design.

Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer Takes Shape

01/07/2014 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer Takes Shape Bottpower XC1 buell cafe racer 05 635x360

We here at Asphalt & Rubber are big fans of the work that Bottpower is churning out, and whether your particular poison is the Bottpower M211 Moto2 race bike, the Bottpower BOTT 1000 Morlaco street bike, or Bottpower XR1 street tracker, the small Spanish company has a little something for everyone.

Next up for Bottpower is a cafe racer, which is based off the company’s latest creation, the XR1 (track day porn: here). Though the first iteration is almost ready for a customer, so far Bottpower has only given us some renders of the rolling chassis for public consumption.

Like the XR1, a donor Buell XB is used for its engine, brakes, and suspension (the first XC1 will use only a Buell motor however), which makes this machine more of a do-it-yourself kit for the mechanically inclined.

If Bottpower’s other work is any indication, we can’t wait to see how this project comes out. Also, note the custom swingarm, in orange, that Bottpower is building as well. Tasty.

BMW R nineT – 90 Years in the Making

10/16/2013 @ 5:04 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

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Officially official now, BMW Motorrad has taken the wraps off its new BMW R nineT cafe racer motorcycle. Helping the German brand celebrate 90 years of building motorcycles, the nineT is an air-cooled homage to BMW’s rich motorcycling past.

Based around the iconic 1,170cc air-cooled boxer engine that BMW has employed in a number of its best selling machines, the BMW R nineT is good for 108hp and 88 lbs•ft of torque.

With styling said to be based off the legandary BMW R32 from 1923, the nineT has more traditional cafe racer lines, mated to some of BMW’s best technology.

BMW hopes that the production model R nineT will be the basis for more custom builds though, citing the company’s collaboration with Roland Sands for the BMW Concept Ninety project as one such project to use the nineT’s roots for inspiration.

Leaked: Photos of BMW’s 90th Anniversary Café Racer

10/16/2013 @ 1:45 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Leaked: Photos of BMWs 90th Anniversary Café Racer BMW NineT R Nine air cooled cafe racer leak 02

It looks like BMW’s new air-cooled café racer has made an early, albeit brief, appearance on the internet. Photos of what we have been calling the BMW NineT appeared today on Italian news site La Repubblica, though the writers there called the machine the BMW R Nine. Unfortunately (for us) however, the article has since been taken down by the Italian publication.

With the NineT set to debut later today in Munich, these photos seem to be of the soon-to-be-released production model, and appear to be still shots for the machine’s upcoming press kit.

Spy Shots: BMW NineT Spotted in the Wild

09/25/2013 @ 12:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Spy Shots: BMW NineT Spotted in the Wild BMW NineT roadster spy photo 03 635x448

At the EICMA show last year, BMW Motorrad announced that it would make another air-cooled model, in order to commemorate the 90 years that the German OEM has been producing two-wheelers.

Expected to be the production version of the company’s LoRider concept, we got our first taste of what BMW had in store for us with the BMW Concept Ninety — which had its retro goodness co-developed with America’s own Roland Sands.

Now seemingly ready for a true production model, BMW Motorrad has been caught testing the BMW NineT street bike inside the Lake Garda region in Italy.

Obviously fitted with the venerable 1,200cc air-cooled boxer twin that has made the GS and RT such steady steeds, the NineT uses classic motorcycle aesthetics, mated to classic BMW design pieces.

Stories of Bike

08/06/2013 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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“Stories of Bike is simply about the sharing stories of riders and their custom bikes. Motorbikes aren’t only a machine from which we derive a basic pleasure in riding, but rather something which connects us to many things: friends, family and our environment both urban and natural…It is these connections, these stories, I wish to share with your fellow riders,” writes Cam Elkin on the Stories of Bike website.

Based down under in Sydney, Australia and feeding of the area’s café racer scene, Elkin has put together a budding web series that focuses on individual motorcyclists and the unique machines they ride. It won’t take you long to realize that there is a clear moto-hipster vibe that’s going on with the Stories of Bike series, which to be honest gets old pretty quick if it’s not your thing (it’s not ours).

But, at the end of the day the video series is all about motorcyclists talking about their bikes, and the stories thus experienced from the saddle — so, what’s not to like about that? Five episodes deep so far, we have to say that the production and storytelling here is some of the best we’ve seen. Enjoy the episodes after the jump — we did, despite the skinny jeans.

Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva

03/11/2013 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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It has been a while since we posted about those crazy Spaniards at Radical Ducati, but long-time readers will remember fondly the exquisite custom motorcycles that Pepo and Reyes have created from the various pieces of Ducati’s finest.

It is hard to pick a favorite from machines like the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer, Radical Ducati Café Veloce, Radical Ducati Mikaracer, Radical Ducati Raceric, and Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO, but our moto-lust keeps bringing us back to the Radical Ducati 9½ – a café racer styled motorcycle that uses an ST2 motor, a Monster 900 frame, and a 916 fuel tank and swingarm.

Getting its name from the ST2’s 944cc engine displacement, the 9½’s designation should tip-off where the Spanish firm has gone in its creation with the Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva. Another water-cooled machine, the 7½ Sportiva ups the ante with the Ducati Superbike 749R taking the honor as its donor bike, while still remaining true to its predecessor’s café racer look and feel.

Ducati Monster S4R Concept by Paolo Tesio

04/25/2012 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Ducati Monster S4R Concept by Paolo Tesio Ducati Monster S4R concept Paolo Tesio 11 635x308

While the Ducati Monster S4R is a special machine in its own right, using a water-cooled four-valve superbike-derived motor, this custom by Paolo Tesio caught our eye as something singularly different from the Italian brand’s fine work. First creating a custom subframe, tail section, and fork guards in CAD, Tesio’s finished motorcycle compliments the original design of the Monster S4R quite well, in a balanced “evolution, not revolution” sort of way.

Complete with an underslung box-style exhaust, the look is clean, different, but still very true to the Monster’s café roots. Our favorite part is perhaps the least functional, as the fork guards give a girder front-end feel, and are tastefully emblazoned with the retro Ducati logo. If there is enough interest, Tesio says he will make a kit available to S4R owners. More tragically small and horribly cropped photos after the jump.