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.

Bimota BB4 Concepts by Oberdan Bezzi

07/15/2014 @ 2:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Bimota BB4 Concepts by Oberdan Bezzi Oberdan Bezzi Design Bimota BB4RR Streetfighter Concept 635x445

I had to check the last time we showed you some of Oberdan Bezzi’s work, and it was over three months ago. The Italian designer has certainly been busy since that time though, as he has produced a number of BMW/Bimota concepts for us to ponder about.

Imagining the Italian company’s current trend of using BMW power plants — as has been seen with the Bimota BB3 — Bezzi’s drawings instead use BMW Motorrad’s popular boxer engine as their base.

The effect is an interesting one, as the BMW’s boxer engine has proven to be the base of the German brands Top 3 selling bikes, and has found interesting applications in the BMW R nineT modular machine, and the BMW Roadster Concept motorcycle.

Here dubbed the “Bimota BB4″, these concepts come in a variety of sporty standard, cafe racer, and streetfighter varieties that Bezzi’s simply calls a “Café Fighter” concept.

It’s hard to pick our favorite from the bunch, but we are enthusiastic about the idea of a boxer-powered Bimota. We doubt we’ll see such a move from the now Swiss-owned brand, but like a good concept sketch, it’s good to dream.

Ducati Café Fighter Concept by Gannet Design

07/09/2014 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Ducati Café Fighter Concept by Gannet Design Gannet Cafe Fighter Concept 635x429

Last year we brought you the interesting Fluid Ducati Superleggera Concept by Gannet Design, and unsurprisingly our die hard Ducatisti readers had a thing or two to say about the render. Well, Gannet Design is back with another sketch that is sure to pique the ire of some.

Using the Ducati 1199 Panigale once again as a starting point, Gannet incorporates some roadster and café racer elements into the high-revving sport bike. The effect is interesting, and serves as a stark contrast to the lines of the original Panigale, and Gannet’s “Fluid” design.

Leaked: Tech Details on the Harley-Davidson Livewire

06/18/2014 @ 10:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler56 COMMENTS

Leaked: Tech Details on the Harley Davidson Livewire Harley Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle 08 635x453

Thanks to our network of Bothan spy tipsters, we posted today the still-unreleased photos of the Harley-Davidson Project Livewire. Details were light from our sources though, but Bothans are a tireless breed (note: for new readers, we sort of have this whole Star Wars motif on leaked stories…just roll with it, we already know we’re nerds).

While the consensus on Project Livewire seems to be that it’s a looker, the devil is in the details…and now we have those as well. Featuring a three-phase induction motor with 55 kW of power (just under 74hp) and 52 lbs•ft of torque, the Harley-Davidson Livewire is packing more power than both the Brammo Empulse R (54 hp) and Zero SR (67 hp). That’s the good.

The bad is that despite its hefty casing size, the Harley-Davidson Livewire motorcycle is a little light in the loafers when it comes to battery capacity. Our guesstimate on battery pack size, judging from Harley’s quoted charge time and parameters, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 kWh nominal, a bit less than the 9.3 kWh and 10.0 kWh of the Brammo and Zero.

That means the Harley-Davidson Livewire is good for just over 50 miles of mixed city and highway riding that is limited to 92 mph (we’re not really sure how Harley-Davidson came up with that figure). Expect to go 0-60 in around 4 seconds.

BMW Concept Roadster – Nom de Dieu!

05/23/2014 @ 12:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

BMW Concept Roadster   Nom de Dieu! bmw concept roadster 635x423

For a foreign language in school, I took French — nine years of French, to be precise. Knowing the “Language of Diplomacy” doesn’t help one too much in the motorcycle industry, which is dominated by Spanish and Italian speakers, and it certainly doesn’t help one when dealing with the newest release from BMW Motorrad.

Like the Alsace-Lorraine in 1940, we were surprised today by a secret that the Germans had been keeping from us, the BMW Concept Roadster. A boxer-twin powered streetfighter (125hp / 92 lbs•ft), BMW says that the Concept Roadster is an expression that “motorcycling is much more than just perfect function.”

Equipped with a single-sided swingarm, driveshaft, LED headlight, and tubular steel frame, the BMW Concept Roadster sounds on paper a lot like the BMW’s we are used to, but one look at the styling of the concept betrays that thought, and we like that.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

04/03/2014 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like 2015 Ducati Monster 800 Luca Bar Design red 635x475

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common.

The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale.

With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and Audi’s ownership of Ducati seeing new models debuting outside of EICMA and INTERMOT, a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question — in fact it’s been the norm with 2015 model year bikes for a variety of brands.

Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster. Seriously, if there wasn’t Luca’s logo on these photos, we could probably pass them off as five-fingered studio shots. Nice work Luca!

Aprilia SS V2 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/26/2014 @ 5:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Aprilia SS V2 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi Aprilia 750 SS V2 concept Oberdan Bezzi 635x425

Yesterday we brought you a concept by Luca Bar Design for the Suzuki SV1000S, so it only seemed fitting today to show you another half-fairing sport bike from our other favorite Italian designer, Oberdan Bezzi.

Inking a concept for an Aprilia Shiver-based motorcycle with a half-fairing, Bezzi calls his creation the “Aprilia SS V2 Project” and it looks like something we would like to ride.

Suzuki SV1000S Concept by Luca Bar Design

03/25/2014 @ 3:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Suzuki SV1000S Concept by Luca Bar Design Suzuki SV1000S Concept Luca Bar Design 635x423

The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 is perhaps the most intriguing motorcycle to come from Hamamatsu in a long while, as the Japanese brand has been dormant ever since the economic dustup of 2009 and onward. A revival of new motorcycles from Suzuki, the V-Strom 1000 also represents the OEM finally building a proper offering for the ADV segment.

Building upon the V-Strom 1000, our friend Luca Bar imagines new life coming into Suzuki because of the adventure-tourer, and it isn’t hard to imagine other new machines from the V-Strom’s platform.

For a product line that is full of holes, one such plug could be the revival of the Suzuki SV1000 series, and Bar has put together both a naked and half-fairing editions of this well-loved model.

2014 Honda NM4 Vultus Debuts in Japan

03/20/2014 @ 10:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler56 COMMENTS

2014 Honda NM4 Vultus Debuts in Japan honda nm4 1 concept 635x425

According to Honda, the NM4 was “developed under the keywords of ‘the Neo-futuristic’ and ‘COOL,’ pursuing new, unique styling.” We have no idea what that means, but the two designs, the Honda Honda NM4-1 (black) and Honda NM4-2 (white) are sort of a mashup between the company’s DN-01, Valkyrie, and the bike from the anime movie Akira.

To that end, Honda says that the design concept focuses on two elements: “front massive” styling and a cockpit position. More tangible technical items include an LED headlights, tail lights, and turn signals, as well as panniers for storage (featured on the NM4-2). Underneath the hood is a 745cc, two-cylinder, 54hp engine that has Honda’s dual-clutch transmission.

Ducati VR|46 Concept by Steven Galpin

03/14/2014 @ 5:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Ducati VR|46 Concept by Steven Galpin Ducati VR46 concept Steven Galpin 05 635x423

One of the more compelling designs we have seen grace our pixels lately, today’s concept sketch is by young automotive designer Steven Galpin, and harkens back to when MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi was still a part of Ducati Corse’s GP program.

Imagining a special edition version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale, a bike whose “frameless” monocoque chassis is based off the Ducati Desmosedici race bike, Galpin has smoothed out the lines of the Italian superbike, creating something entirely different, though clearly related to the Panigale.

A quick glance at Galpin’s drawings, and you may be wondering where the Ducati’s underslung exhaust has gone (it’s a noticeable hole on the bike’s clean lines). We suggest you train your eye onto the concept’s swingarm, as an integrated exhaust has been added to the single-sided swingarm.

Galpin’s work is intriguing, and should satiate some of the issues that people have had with the Panigale’s busy bodywork; however, the Ducati VR|46 brings its own criticisms as well (we’re not so sure about its 2018 delivery date either). Overall though, we like what Galpin has done here — sometimes less is more. Thanks for the tip Nik!

Bottpower’s BOTT XC1 Cafe Racer Rendered

03/06/2014 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Bottpowers BOTT XC1 Cafe Racer Rendered Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer 09 635x381

Earlier this year, we announced to you that Bottpower was working on a café racer version of its XR1 street-tracker motorcycle. Using a Buell XB as a donor bike, the Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer kit transforms the big-displacement American twin into something a little bit more hipster.

Though we are not big on the café racer scene (you wouldn’t know it, looking at our posts lately though) we have been enchanted with the work done by Bottpower on this project so far. We imagine the finished result will be coming forth shortly; until then though, we’ll just have to drool over these nearly finalized renders.