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.

Valentino Rossi to Use Aluminum Chassis at Aragon GP

09/15/2011 @ 12:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi to Use Aluminum Chassis at Aragon GP Valentino Rossi MotoGP Aragon GP 3 635x952

Valentino Rossi finally put an end to the speculation today at the MotoGP pre-race press conference, and announced that Ducati Corse will use an aluminum chassis during the Aragon GP this weekend. First tested last week on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12, the FTR-built aluminum frame has improved the front end feeling for the Desmosedici, an issue that has plagued the Ducati all this season. Rossi will first use the new aluminum parts during Free Practice tomorrow, though the team hasn’t confirmed their use in the race just yet.

“We tested last week after the race, and it was not so bad,” said Rossi when talking about Ducati Corse’s post-Mugello test. “We tried something different on the bike to improve the front feeling and turning, and the lap times were not so bad. I was a bit faster than the last time, and basically the feeling was quite good, so we’re moving forward.”

When pressed about what changes Ducati made, and whether or not Rossi test the rumored aluminum frame, the nine-time World Champion was quick to correct. “It is not a frame,” explained Rossi. “The philosophy of the Ducati is the same, but the front part of the bike is a bit different, and is in aluminum, and not in carbon like before. But about the material, it is a question of time. We have to work to try and understand how the bike and with aluminum you need a lot less time compared to the carbon. The bike improved a bit, but this is just the first step. We need to keep working to come back and fight for the front.”

An Analysis of the Troubles with the Ducati Desmosedici

08/09/2011 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

An Analysis of the Troubles with the Ducati Desmosedici Ducati Corse Pitbox Scott Jones

The obvious point to make in the 2011 MotoGP Championship is that Ducati Corse is struggling to compete with Yamaha and Honda, despite having the G.O.A.T. himself, Valentino Rossi, riding for the Italian squad. The recent history of the Desmosedici is fraught with bullet points of issues, most of which coming back to the bike’s notoriously vague front-end. Though showing moments of promise, even brilliance, including a World Championship with Casey Stoner at the helm, the Ducati Desmosedici has earned the reputation as a career-ender and a confidence destroyer among its less fortunate pilots.

When the dream team of development came to Ducati, in the guise of Valentino Rossi and Jeremy Burgess et al, the talk before the 2011 season was that the nine-time World Champion and his perhaps even more impressive garage crew could have the Desmosedici figured out in no-time at all. With the now infamous quote from Burgess that the GP10 could be sorted out in about 20 seconds still resonating in the MotoGP paddock, we stand now well over half of the way through the current MotoGP season, and the Championship standings hide what’s been apparent from day one: the Desmoproblema requires more than a quick-fix.

The solution to fixing the Ducati Desmosedici can be broken down into three camps, and depending whose opinion you solicit, you’ll get one of the following causes for Ducati’s uncompetitive season: the motor, the chassis, or the rider. Walking us through that analysis is our good friend David Emmett (bookmark his site MotoMatters.com right now), who may not be the most astute automatic transmission driver we’ve ever seen, but when it comes to comprehensive MotoGP analysis, the man is second to none.

Putting together an exhaustive digest on the issues that are surrounding Valentino Rossi, Ducati Corse, and the Desmosedici, Emmett weighs and measures the different dynamics of the problem at hand. Head on over to MotoMatters with your beverage of choice in-hand, and hear what MotoGP’s most-enlightened journalist has to say on the biggest subject in MotoGP.

Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

F1 Tracker by Marcus Moto Design

02/21/2011 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

F1 Tracker by Marcus Moto Design F1 Tracker concept Marcus Moto Design 1 635x441

We really want to hate this F1 Tracker concept by Marcus Moto Design, we really do. While the BMX-style handlebars might be palatable, the huge 1970’s F1-inspired air scoop is not only awkwardly eye-catching, but could potentially make things interesting from a practicality point-of-view. So we won’t hold it against of our dear readers if the comments section is full of snarky anonymous posts blasting the F1 Tracker into motorcycling hell…honest.

But before you set phasers to kill, take a second look at this design, because there is some sheer brilliance in it. Air scoops aside (we must admit, it does grow on you after a while), the F1 Tracker’s lines have a great flat-tracker meets sport bike quality to them that makes you with the Italian company would pick-up on some of the ideas Marcus is putting down here…and then there’s the carbon fiber…everything. We like that.

Dymag Wheels are Back

02/04/2011 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Dymag Wheels are Back Dymag Ferrari wheel 635x423

Once thought for dead, Dymag wheels are again be available for motorcycle enthusiasts, as the brand has been bought by CSA International Ltd. Resuming production in the United Kingdom, Dymag finds life again after going into administration in 2009. A maker of racing wheels since the 1970’s, Dymag made the first 3-spoke magnesium racing wheel, which helped propel Eddie Lawson to claim the AMA Superbike Championships in 1981 and 1982 & MotoGP World Championship in 1984.

Talking about the rekindled brand, Chairman of CSA International Limited Chris Shelley said, “Dymag is a legendary brand respected by racing and bike enthusiasts across the globe for design and performance excellence. We are currently investing heavily in new production processes and equipment to modernise the manufacturing process and shorten delivery lead times.”

2012 Ducati Superbike: +20 HP/-20 lbs

11/24/2010 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati Superbike: +20 HP/ 20 lbs Ducati 1198 Superbike frame

2011 marks the end of the current Ducati Superbike 1198 as we know it, and Ducati has been hard at work on the successor to the crown jewel in its model line-up. Undertaking the most expensive model design in the history of the company, Ducati has poured a ton of resources into its 2012 Superbike in order to make it a market leader. Recently stretching the faith of the Ducati loyal by introducing bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, and now the new Ducati Diavel that extend Ducati into non-racing segments, 2012 is the Bologna brand’s answer that it is heavily committed to its Superbike roots.

Starting from scratch with its design, the 2012 Ducati Superbike features two impressive performance figures: an additional 20hp (taking the Superbike up to 190hp), and a weight reduction of 20 lbs across the model line. Host to a bevy of street bike firsts, our Bothan Spies also tell us that the new Superbike is going to be a stunner.

BST Carbon Fiber Swingarm – Asphalt & Rubber Starts Its Xmas List Early

08/20/2010 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BST Carbon Fiber Swingarm   Asphalt & Rubber Starts Its Xmas List Early BST carbon fiber composite swingarm 3 560x420

Attention Ducati Superbike 848, 1098, & 1198 owners with an extra $5,000 laying around, we’ve found the essential Christmas gift for your holiday wish list: the BST carbon fiber swingarm. Made from that magical composite material that makes motorcyclists spasm with delight, the BST carbon fiber swingarm weighs half of what the aluminum stocker tips the scales at, while increasing stiffness.

The BST swinger is also 16mm longer than the stock unit, which is the same length the WSBK guys use for better stability and handling. If you have the means, we highly suggest picking one up, and BST if you’re reading this, we’ll happily take one into the A&R office “for reviewing purposes”. More photos after the jump.

2010 Bimota DB6 Superlight – The Carbon Fiber Trellis Frame Dream Bike

03/11/2010 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2010 Bimota DB6 Superlight   The Carbon Fiber Trellis Frame Dream Bike 2010 Bimota DB6 Delirio Superlight

Debuting at the Rome Motodays event this week, Bimota unveiled a very special bike: the 2010 Bimota DB6 Superlight. Unfortunately we weren’t there to witness this wonderful piece of carbon fiber mastery, but the good folks at OmniMoto were, and have a gallery full of delicious photographs that are sure to become your next desktop wallpaper. Why is the Bimota DB6 Superlight so special? It could be it’s carbon trellis frame, or it’s carbon trellis swingarm, or its feather light weight, or it could just be a combination of all of the above. Find out more about the DB6 Superlight after the jump.

MV Agusta Corse Shows Off Carbon F4 at EICMA

11/20/2009 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MV Agusta Corse Shows Off Carbon F4 at EICMA MV Agusta F4 Corse carbon fiber 1 560x375

For a company with only a handful of models in its 2010 line of motorcycles, MV Agusta sure did take up a large plot of land at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy this last week. To help promote and show-off the MV Agusta Corse line of aftermarket and racing parts, MV put together this sinister looking carbon fiber F4. Photos and more after the jump.

Carbon Fiber Vespa Scooter at the Milan Design Week

05/08/2009 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Carbon Fiber Vespa Scooter at the Milan Design Week carbon fiber vespa gs scooter milan design week 2

When one talks about Milan, Italy, it envokes the idea of high fashion, models, runway exhibtions, and the yearly EICMA motorcycle expo. OK, that last one may only occur for the die-hard motorcyclists, but the rest hold fairly true for just about everyone else. The Milan Design Week is a celebration of both artistic and technical design, and this year, Bimota made some waves with its carbon clade DB7 Nerocaronio. But, carbon fiber Bimota’s are a dime a dozen these days.

2009 Ducati Desmosedici GP9 Switches to Carbon Frame for MotoGP

01/14/2009 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

2009 Ducati Desmosedici GP9 Switches to Carbon Frame for MotoGP ducati desmosedici gp9 1 560x350

Ducati has officially unveiled its 2009 GP9 MotoGP race bike, with the most noticeable change being the switch to a carbon fiber frame, which is Ducati’s first departure from its iconic stell-trellis frame. Pictures and Claudio Domenicali’s response after the jump.