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.

Video: Bostrom vs. Hayden – The Duel Continues at NJMP

12/13/2012 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Video: Bostrom vs. Hayden   The Duel Continues at NJMP ben bostrom roger lee hayden michael jordan motorsports NJMP 635x356

Another side-by-side comparison video from our friends at the Michael Jordan Motorsports (click here for their video from Homestead-Miami Speedway), we take a lap with Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden around New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt course (home of the world’s longest decreasing radius turn).

Riding his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the first qualifying session, Bostrom sets an impressive 1’22.803 lap time (the third fastest of the session), while Hayden on the National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 does a 1’22.812 here in the second qualifying session.

Impressively enough, both MJM riders were within a tenth of a second of each other at the end of both qualifying sessions. Enjoy some synchronized apexing after the jump.

Video: Ben Bostrom vs. Roger Lee Hayden at Homestead

11/15/2012 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Video: Ben Bostrom vs. Roger Lee Hayden at Homestead Ben Bostrom Roger Lee Hayden National Guard Jordan Suzuki 635x357

One of our favorite parts about MotoGP’s recent coverage are the slow-motion shots of riders going through corners, especially when the Dorna folk in the switchroom line-up a few riders through the same turn, giving us a sampling of the different riding styles that exist in the premier class. It is through this sort of coverage that you begin to see the real art behind riding a motorcycle at speed, not the brute force brawl that it looks like in real-time.

Here we have another side-by-side comparison, quite literally actually. Dropping a 1-2 qualifying session at Homestead this year, Roger Lee Hayden was fastest on his National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.746), while Ben Bostrom qualified 2nd on his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.857). What is interesting in this video is the subtle differences between the two riders, which results in over a one-tenth of a second difference at the finish line.

Redux: AMA Superbike vs. World Superbike at MMP

05/28/2012 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Redux: AMA Superbike vs. World Superbike at MMP Jake Holden WSBK Miller Motorsports Park 635x423

Last year we combined the QP2 times from World Superbike with the Qualifying times from AMA Superbike, to see how America’s finest motorcycle racers stack up on against the international championship of a similar name. Of course there are different regulations in each series (not to mention a variety of other factors), which vary a bit on how teams are allowed to modify their race bikes, so there isn’t an exact comparison between the two series, but it makes for something interesting to mull over with your morning coffee, and the results this year may surprise you.

HRC Makes the Comparison: Stoner vs. Rossi

02/07/2012 @ 4:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

HRC Makes the Comparison: Stoner vs. Rossi stoner rossi inforgraphic HRC twitterIt may still be the pre-season, but the banter regarding MotoGP on Twitter is certainly getting us ready for the start of the 2012 MotoGP Championship. Sending out a simple infographic this morning with the message, “this picture says it all,” HRC’s official Twitter account posted some interesting statistics that compared Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner to Ducati Corse’s Valentino Rossi.

Breaking down Stoner’s win percentage over the past five years, the results of course paint an interesting picture. Of course the image “didn’t say it all” as the reaction on Twitter is about what you’d expect from a world widely divided by international boundaries. This of course lead to the image’s immediate removal, but alas nothing truly dies in the digital age.

In case you aren’t already aware, Valentino Rossi is a nine-time World Champion, and also happens to be the favorite son the of MotoGP Championship. Casey Stoner on the other hand…well, the Australian has at best a tumultuous relationship with the public. Naturally, backlash ensued, and HRC finally removed the graphic from its Twitter account.

Asserting that it was all in good fun and simply pointing out some statistics about the last five years, HRC surely was trying to bolster Stoner’s record, and remove the Repsol Honda rider from the “Most Underrated” list in MotoGP — a hard thing to do, even on the heels of a World Championship.

Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

07/11/2011 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS? Chris Fillmore KTM 1190 RC8 R Mid Ohio AMA Superbike 5 635x423

Mid-Ohio is a great destination if you’re looking to do a track day (we’d recommend riding with these guys), and Mid-Ohio is an even better place to leave if you don’t have a motorcycle with you. However, once a year, the Buckeye State redeems itself by playing host to an AMA Pro Racing weekend. The AMA Superbike races at Mid-Ohio were extra special this year, as KTM debuted Chris Fillmore on its factory-backed KTM 1190 RC8 R Superbike, bringing the Austrian company into a more active relationship with the American Motorcyclist Association.

Also making its first racing debut was the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Superbike, the race version of Erik Buell’s latest street machine (or is it the 1190RS the street bike version of Buell’s latest race bike?). However which way you read that development process, this weekend was the first time Geoff May got to flog the EBR 1190RS in anger on a track with other racers present.

The much anticipated bigger horsepower Superbike was supposed to put Erik Buell Racing on an even playing field with the other manufacturers, as the team had previously been cobbled with its 1125cc homologated Buell 1125R, and accordingly the EBR team tent saw it’s fair share of visitors..

With KTM making its first AMA race outing on its otherwise tried and tested RC8 R platform, and Buell banking on several AMA season’s worth of racing experience to launch its previously un-raced 1190RS Superbike, and interesting contrast comes out from AMA Pro Racing’s latest stop at Lexington, Ohio.

John Hopkins Talks about the Differences between the Bikes in World Superbike and MotoGP

08/03/2010 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Talks about the Differences between the Bikes in World Superbike and MotoGP John Hopkins Infineon

OTT caught up with John Hopkins at the AMA Pro Racing round in Mid-Ohio, and was able to ask the injured AMA racer about the differences between the bikes found in World Superbike and MotoGP, and how those differences affect how a rider approaches riding each particular type of racing motorcycle. Hopper of course has the unique perspective of riding not only in MotoGP, and WSBK, but also in AMA Superbike as well, and thus might be the most qualified person in talking about their relative pluses and minuses. Check the video after the jump.

MIC Launches Electric Vehicle Task Force

06/29/2010 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

MIC Launches Electric Vehicle Task Force light bulb 560x420

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) has formed a task force to study the issues surrounding electric motorcycles and other vehicle segments in the powersports industry. While the task force’s participants aren’t being named, almost all the major OEM manufacturers are involved, as well as most of the electric motorcycle producers. While the groups hasn’t finalized its priority list of issues, performance standards and consumer education seem to be top-billed action items for the task force, as group looks to create fair comparisons between the budding industry and entreached ICE market.

Video: Nissan GT-R vs. Ducati 1098S

01/04/2010 @ 5:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Video: Nissan GT R vs. Ducati 1098S Nissan Skyline GT R 560x336

Which is faster, bike or car? The debate has gone on for ages and the folks at Autocar have revisited the issue with this comparison video. Taking one of our favorite sports cars, the Nissan Skyline GT-R, and pitting it against the Bologna Bullet better known as the Ducati 1098S, we get to see some impressive results from both vehicles. Make your pick now, and see who won the track battle after the jump.