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.

Sbay Jerry – Fine Art Meets Motorcycling

03/13/2012 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Sbay Jerry   Fine Art Meets Motorcycling Sbay Jerry 05 635x339

While the United States has always been a center for custom motorcycle fabrication, a biker renaissance is currently underway on Spanish soil. It shouldn’t surprise us that one of the largest and most rabid places for motorcycling is fostering some of the most beautiful motorcycle masterpieces in the world, this is after all the same country that brought us Dalí, Goya, & Picasso.

Of course you have seen Madrid’s Radical Ducati gracing our pages, but some of our most favorite work comes from the folks over at Sbay. Truly two-wheeled artistry, our love affair first started with the Sbay Flying 1800, but we find ourselves in serious motorcycling lust with the firm’s latest creation: the Sbay Jerry.

1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries

01/09/2012 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries Trillion Industries 1979 Honda CB650 01 635x419

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we don’t feature too many bikes that subscribe to the “modern-take on the retro look” hipster theory of motorcycling. Maybe it’s because we prefer to go fast rather than look cool, or maybe it’s because we don’t own any form fitting denim pants — honestly, it could go either way on that one. That being said, we know what we like, and more importantly when know what we like when we see it, and that pretty much sums up our thoughts on the 1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries.

Beginning life in the mundane, the Honda CB is a crowd favorite with the retro-turned-hipster crowd for making modern takes on the café racer design aesthetic. Don’t get us wrong, we have seen plenty of café racers that we like, and the market segment enjoys a small but militant following of motorcycle enthusiasts. However, rarely does a Honda CB, no matter how much beauty school it has attended, floor you in your seat. This work by Derek Pauletto however, would be the exception to that statement.

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Endurance Racer by Luca Bar

02/03/2011 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Endurance Racer by Luca Bar Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Café Racer Luca Bar Design 635x459

When the Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Racer debuted at EICMA in 2009, it looks like we weren’t the only ones smitten by the bike’s retro yet refined presence. Moto Guzzi’s creation also caught the eye of the purveyor of pixels himself, Luca Bar of Luca Bar Designs, as the Italian designer plans on having a V7 in his garage, albeit with a slightly different look and feel from the stock model.

Basing his design off the endurance racers of the 1970’s, Bar is constructing a streamlined forward fairing for his Guzzi. Of course the process is added by his talented eye for design, which brings us the render you see here. Staying true to the classic lines of the Clubman, we think there might be more demand for such a piece than just the one destined for Bar’s garage.

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer

11/29/2010 @ 6:17 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer  Sbay Flying 1800 cafe racer 2 635x422

Here’s to starting Monday morning off right as we bring you the Spanish-made Sbay Flying 1800 custom café racer from Sbay Motor Company. If cruisers from a certain American manufacturer could look like this, we imagine that talks of an aging demographic would cease to exist as the Flying 1800 has ample doses of eye-candy, sportiness, and innovation.

Between the 3.7 gallon carbon fiber tank that is hangs below the oil-holding frame and above the motor, the rear taillight that integrates into the tail section like a Ducati GP9/GP10, and the tasteful use of copper pipes that we liked so much on the Confederate Fighter, there’s plenty to get you drooling on this bike as it borrows from some of the best ideas in motorcycle design.

Ducati 350 Café Racer – Proof That Less is More

11/24/2010 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati 350 Café Racer   Proof That Less is More Ducati 350 Cafe Racer

Christian Klein’s Ducati 350 Café Racer might be a work of art, and it’s certainly an example that you don’t have to make an elaborate motorcycle to make something visually stunning. Using a Ducati 350 Scrambler motor, Klein has ported and polished the single-cylinder lump, and then fabricated a custom steel frame to make his creation. Klein was meticulous in his construction, taking several years to perfect his machine. The attention to detail has paid off though, and we especially like the custom made exhaust that wraps around the rear shock, and comes to a minimalist conclusion under the rider’s handmade seat. Photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati Café Veloce

11/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati Café Veloce Radical Ducati Cafe Veloce 635x441

Seeing how popular the work of Radical Ducati has been on our site, both with the Radical Ducati 9½ and Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we thought we’d bring you another one of the Spanish group’s fabulous creations: The Radical Ducati Café Veloce. Based off a Ducati Sport Classic, the Café Veloce features the same DS 1000 air-cooled two-valve motor, and steel tube frame as the now discontinued Ducati, but grows upon the Sport Classic’s cafe inspired lines.

Tastefully refining the Café Veloce into a sleeker and more dynamic package, Radical Ducati has created the Café Veloce to be devoid of Ducati’s more bland touches to the GT1000. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re smitten with the Café Veloce, even if it’s not usually the kind of thing we’d go for in our own garage. Photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati 9½

10/25/2010 @ 12:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati 9½ Radical Ducati 9 one half Javier Fuentes 5 635x423

From the guys at Spanish firm Radical Ducati comes the 9½, a Ducati ST2 motor wedged into a Monster 900 chassis, making an Italian beauty that’s part cafe racer, part streetfighter. Drawing inspiration form Ducati’s single-cylinder race bikes from the 1970’s, the 9½ is not only a looker, but is comprised of parts from Ducatis long forgotten past (but perhaps more memorable bikes, if you can handle that oxymoron).

If you look closely you’ll see pieces from not only the ST2, Monster 900, but also from the Ducati 916 Superbike (swingarm and rear-wheel), and 999 Superbike (fuel tank). Some other Radical parts enter the mix as well from its RAD series, and the result is a retro-esque bike that looks scintillating, classy, light, and fast. Keep your eyes trained for more bikes from Radical Ducati, we expect we’ll see some more great pieces (like this Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola) from the firm as they continue their Desmo mash-up. Bunch o’photos after the jump.

How to Save Harley-Davidson – Step 2: Shift Your Product Lineup into New Segments

04/07/2010 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler66 COMMENTS

How to Save Harley Davidson – Step 2: Shift Your Product Lineup into New Segments RSD Cafe Sportster 2 560x373

35 motorcycles, 7 model lines, 4 chassis, 3 motor families, & 1 market segment, that’s Harley-Davidson’s product line by the numbers. Where many large production motorcycle companies might have 30 or so motorcycles that span the entire gamut of motorcycling’s different sub-markets, Harley-Davidson has put all of its eggs in the heavy cruiser market. This singular pursuit of one market segment has not only been the cause for Harley’s success, but also a significant contributing factor to the company’s recent downfall, which has led to a recently rumored leveraged buyout.

As the old idiom goes, one should not put all their eggs in one basket, which is exactly the faux pas being committed here by Harley-Davidson in its product offering. Businesses, especially public ones, should always have an eye on sustained long-term growth, and a key element to that goal is a well-diversified position in their appropriate industry. Taking this lens and applying it to Harley-Davidson, one can immediately see a portfolio that has been extensively mismanaged by focusing on only one segment of the total motorcycle industry: the heavy cruiser market.

What this has effectively created is a motorcycle company that looks like Alfred Hitchcock’s take on Baskin Robins: 31 flavors, but they’re all Rocky Road.

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.

Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer

11/26/2009 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer radical ducati rad02 imola 1 635x423

Creating a tribute to the 750 Imola Desmo, Spanish tuner Radical Ducati has made this special cafe racer, the RAD02 Imola. Featuring a 900SSie engine with hot cams, a Monster S4R chassis, 749S forks, a MV Agusta ride-height adjuster, and asymmetric megaphone cans, the RAD02 Imola is a stunning example of the modern cafe racer genre. We drooled over it for a while, and you will too. Photos and more after the jump.