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.

Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Concept

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna 701 supermoto, the Swedish brand had two street concepts to unveil at the EICMA show. First up is the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen concept, which is a café racer inspired model. With a 373cc single-cylidner thumper at its core, the Vitpilen (Swedish for White Arrow) sports an attractive and clean design. A modern riff on the 1953 Husqvarna Silverpilen, the idea behind the Husqvarna Vitpilen is that less is more. Making a modest 43hp, the Vitpilen weights a paltry 297 lbs (135kg). Clever details abound on the Vitpilen, and we particularly enjoy the high-tech LED meets retro-scrambler headlight design that sits prominently at the front of the bike.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today. Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin. Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup. Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Prototype

11/05/2014 @ 6:35 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Moto Guzzi MGX 21 Prototype Moto Guzzi MGX 21 prototype studio 01 635x423

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.

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M — An Exclusive Track Weapon

11/03/2014 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2015 Yamaha YZF R1M    An Exclusive Track Weapon 2015 Yamaha YZF R1M 21 635x423

While the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 is pretty impressive in its own right, the folks at Iwata weren’t content to let things be, and thus have produced the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M. An exclusive extension of the R1, Yamaha calls the R1M the closest thing there is to the company’s GP machine, the Yamaha YZR-M1.

Featuring the same 200hp “CP4″ crossplane 998cc inline-four engine as the base model, Yamaha has added Öhlins’ ERS semi-active suspension pieces to the superbike, along with carbon fiber fairings, and a robust GPS-powered data acquisition system.

The Yamaha YZF-R1M utilizes the powerful electronics package that Yamaha has developed, with traction control, launch control, wheelie control, slide control, and anti-locking brakes all acting in unison through the inertial measurement unit (IMU).

Able to know how the motorcycle is moving through six-axis, the Yamaha YZF-R1M can then tailor how it responds to rider and road inputs, via the engine, the suspension, and the brakes.

Transform Your Honda CBR600RR into a Vyrus 986 M2

04/30/2014 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Transform Your Honda CBR600RR into a Vyrus 986 M2 Vyrus 986 M2 kit 01 635x423

Maybe one of the most lurid motorcycles ever to grace the pages of Asphalt & Rubber, the Vyrus 986 M2 Moto2 race bike is just as much art as it is engineering innovation. A hub-center steering front-end, self-supporting carbon fiber body pieces, and a bevy of GP-level electronics adorn this futuristic looking motorcycle from Italy.

The goal from Vyrus was to have a Moto2-class legal racing machine that was ready for competition, though we doubt many owners see it that way. What few bikes that actually leave their owner’s garage, we imagine only a handful will see any track time, but that’s sometimes just the way it goes.

Originally priced at €55,000 for the race bike (a pretty cheap price for a Moto2 machine), a street version was supposed to debut at €25,000, while a Vyrus 986 M2 kit was to be made available at €16,900 (one must supply their own Honda CB600RR motor to use the kit option).

After currency exchange rates, the Vyrus 986 M2 kit sounded like a fairly affordable and hands-on way to own such a unique machine. Well, now that Vyrus is actually able to make good on its do-it-yourself option, things have changed a little…by say €10,000 or so.

Video: Ducati 1199 Superleggera – The Power of Lightness

02/04/2014 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Video: Ducati 1199 Superleggera   The Power of Lightness 2014 Ducati 1199 Superleggera crop 635x424

I don’t have a good excuse as to why I want to post this video up on the site, other than the Ducati 1199 Superleggera is probably the most awesome motorcycle to come out in the past decade (apologies to any Honda DN-01 owners in the crowd).

An exercise in engineering prowess, which saw Borgo Panigale drop shed some serious weight from its venerable superbike, it should come as no surprise then that the 155kg (dry) Superleggera was a model put forth by Claudio Domenicali, a man who rose from engineer to CEO at Ducati Motor Holding.

That being said, I’m not sure we need a good excuse to fawn over the Superleggera. A magnesium monocoque frame, forged magnesium Marchesini wheels, carbon fiber rear sub-frame and bodywork (with integrated R-spec aero-kit), lithium-ion battery, titanium exhaust system with stainless steel headers, titanium bolts and fasteners…I’m sorry, what was I saying?

Officially Official: Ducati 1199 Superleggera

10/22/2013 @ 2:18 am, by Jensen Beeler56 COMMENTS

Officially Official: Ducati 1199 Superleggera 2014 Ducati 1199 Superleggera studio 11 635x423

Well it looks like all the leaks and speculation are now over, as Ducati has finally released photos and information about the 2014 Ducati 1199 Superleggera — the company’s “super light” limited edition superbike. A halo bike for Borgo Panigale, the new Superleggera slots into Ducati’s lineup above the homologation-purposed Ducati 1199 Panigale R.

Only 500 Ducatisti worldwide will have the chance to own a Ducati 1199 Superleggera, and that ownership will mean having a superbike with a dry weight of only 155kg (341.7lbs) — 177kg (390.2lb) at the curb with at least a tank that is 90% full. Ducati officially rates the power at “over 200hp” as the Superleggera revs an extra 500 rpm’s off its modified motor.

Coming Soon: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera

10/04/2013 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen Beeler64 COMMENTS

Coming Soon: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera Ducati 1199 Panigale cover 635x423

Ducati has gone to great lengths so that you won’t know this, but our sources have confirmed to us that in about a month’s time, the Bologna Brand will debut perhaps the most ostentatious machine ever to come from the Borgo Panigale factory, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera. An ultra-exclusive version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, the Superleggera edition is exactly what its Italian name suggests, a super-light version of the Panigale R.

With the Panigale R already the lightest sport bike to ever come from Ducati, the Panigale R Superleggera goes even further, employing titanium, carbon fiber, and magnesium throughout the machine to drop its curb weight by an additional 40 lbs. Ducati isn’t stopping there though.

Heavily reworking the 1,199cc Superquadro engine, the engineers at Bologna have bumped the bike’s peak horsepower figure, somehow finding a way to shoehorn 220hp into the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera.

It’s ok if you need to take a minute to readjust yourself in your chair before reading further — we’ll wait.

Taylormade Carbon2 – Life Outside the Moto2 Box

07/10/2013 @ 7:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Taylormade Carbon2   Life Outside the Moto2 Box Taylormade Carbon2 moto2 race bike 01 635x423

David spent some lines of text yesterday talking about the lack of chassis innovation in the Moto2 Championship — a series whose spec-engine rules were supposed to be a playground for chassis engineers. As we know now, Moto2 has become a race of common denominators, with twin-spar aluminum frames ruling the day.

Company’s like Vyrus have threatened to enter Moto2 with their very stylish Vyrus 986 M2 race bike, with its hub-center steering design; but as David pointed out, the work involved to train racers for the new inputs these machines provide is perhaps the bigger boulder to carry when compared to developing the motorcycles themselves.

That doesn’t mean that innovation is lacking though, as we bring you another intriguing design, this time one built right here in sunny California: the Taylormade Carbon2.

Arete Americana’s Ducati 999 CF

07/03/2013 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Arete Americanas Ducati 999 CF arete americana ducati 999 cf 31 635x424

It might not have been the sales disaster that many make it out to have been, but Pierre Terblanche’s Ducati 999  remains one of the most controversial machines ever to come out of Borgo Panigale. However, the more we look at the 999’s staked-headlight and double-sided swingarm design, two of the biggest design elements that Ducatisti took umbrage with at the bike’s launch, the more we think that the Ducati 999 Superbike will become a collector’s classic, and stand as a unique time in the Italian brand’s history.

So, it warms out hearts to see that there are people out there still building off of Terblanche’s work, and one of them is Bryan Petersen at Arete Americana and his Ducati 999 CF. Sporting a tail and tank from Radical Ducati (Arete Americana is the North American distributor for the Spanish firm), along with a singe-sided swingarm conversion from an 848, the Ducati 999 CF is our kind of custom: subtle, yet to the point, and Arete Americana has ensured that all the right go-fast bits were included in the build.

2013 Triumph Daytona 675R: A Bargain Racer for $13,499

11/13/2012 @ 3:59 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2013 Triumph Daytona 675R: A Bargain Racer for $13,499 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R 08 635x423

Like the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675, the “R” model of Britain’s three-cylinder supersport has gotten a number of refinements and changes for the new model year. Virtually every aspect of the Triumph Daytona 675 has been seen to, and we won’t rehash those changes here (head over to our article on the base model for the full-monty).

Commanding a $1,900 premium over the base model, the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R adds a TTX rear shock and NIX30 inverted forks to the mix, along with a new quick shifter, higher-spec Brembo monobloc brakes, and some carbon fiber bits.

Would we spend the extra green for the Daytona 675R over the base model? Yup, but the better question is whether you would buy the Triumph Daytona 675R over the MV Agusta F3. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Look for the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R in dealerships come February 2013.

Up-Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電)

05/31/2012 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 01 635x423

It is hard to believe that it was only last November that Mugen started its electric motorcycle racing program, and drafted the first designs of the Mugen Shinden (神電) motorcycle. In four months, the Japanese tuning brand, known better for its four-wheeled efforts than its two-wheeled ones, was proving its concept at Motegi with John McGuinness on-board, and had subsequent rounds at Suzuka and Caldwell Park. Mugen had of course been on the Isle of Man for the 2011 SES TT Zero race, and took close notes of its competitors, namely MotoCzysz and Kingston University.

Admitting that both aerodynamics and stored energy were key factors in its design, Mugen has clearly put more emphasis on the prior. While the team is tight-lipped about how much energy will be available to its 122 hp motor, they have said the battery pack weighs over 100 kg (220 lbs), which means it accounts for nearly half of the bike’s weight (and likely much more than that).