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.

Yamaha MT-09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/27/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Yamaha MT 09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi Yamaha MT 09 Tenere Worldcrosser Oberdan Bezzi 635x425

We already showed you the concept by Oberdan Bezzi for a Yamaha MT-09 based Ténéré adventure-tourer, but we thought we would up the ante now that the Italian designer has inked a “Worldcrosser” version of the three-cylinder machine as well.

Complete with knobbies, and over 150 lbs lighter than the 1,200cc Super Ténéré, the Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Worldcrosser could also boast a sticker price that is nearly half that of the venerable ADV bike from Yamaha.

It might just be a drawing, but there is something about this concept that really has us excited. To keep the creative juices rolling, there is a café racer version of the Yamaha MT-09 after the jump as well. Could this become the new “go-to” platform for customizers? At $7,990 MSRP, it just might be.

Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/19/2014 @ 5:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Yamaha MT 09 Ténéré Concept by Oberdan Bezzi yamaha mt 09 tenere concept oberdan bezzi 635x425

The Yamaha FZ-09, or the Yamaha MT-09 as it’s known outside of the USA, has become a big win for the tuning fork brand. A fun three-cylinder machine that has enough pep to carve up the canyons, yet also has a relaxed enough riding position to handle commuting duties, the Yamaha FZ-09 really wins our hearts and minds with its dirt-cheap price tag of $7,990 MSRP.

We’re not alone in our opinion, as the MT-09 has done so well in the global market, that Yamaha built off the buzz and released its two-cylinder cousin: the Yamaha MT-07.

If the Japanese OEM truly is eyeing more three-cylinder machines, we are excited for the prospect. Oberdan Bezzi is excited too, as the Italian designer has imagined his own interpretation of what Yamaha could do with the MT-09 line.

Pierobon Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Krax Moto

02/17/2014 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Pierobon Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Krax Moto pieroban ducati 1199 panigale krax moto

Do you remember the Pierobon frame kit for the Ducati 1199 Panigale that we showed you back in November? If you’re a loyal reader, you should — it was one of our most popular articles that month.

An answer for those who think that the Panigale’s “frameless” chassis is affected by the same woes as the MotoGP project, Pierobon’s steel-trellis frame replaces the load-bearing headtube/airbox design from Ducati.

While we wait to hear back from the folks at Pieroban about how their creation goes around the race track, the clever Photoshoppers at Krax-Moto have takien the Italian fabricator’s photos, and used them to ink a very impressive streetfighter / café racer concept.

A little headlight here, and little leather seat there — it’s really surprising how little need to be tweaked to make the design work. If the Pierobon folks are sharp, they’ll include Krax Moto’s changes in a kit for customers. Would you take this over a Ducati Monster 1200 S? We would.

Is BMW Working on an S1000RR Based Sport-Tourer?

02/13/2014 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Is BMW Working on an S1000RR Based Sport Tourer? bmw s1000f artist sketch motorrad magazine blur 635x423

Rumors out of Germany say that BMW Motorrad is working on a new variations of its “S” platform, which would see the S1000RR used as a base for a Multistrada-esque four-bikes-in-one type of machine.

According to the well-informed folks at Motorrad magazine, the new BMW model could be seen at this year’s trade shows (we would expect an INTERMOT debut, over an EICMA premiere), and would feature dynamic damping control, ride-by-wire throttle maps, ABS, and traction control.

Honda CX-01 Concept Revealed in India

02/07/2014 @ 3:29 pm, by Aakash Desai100 COMMENTS

Honda CX 01 Concept Revealed in India Honda CX 01 Concept 635x423

They say that in the future, most of the human race will be brown-skinned as racial-mixing will have run its course. That is, assuming climate change doesn’t induce a worldwide weather catastrophe or Russia doesn’t decide to sell some of its nuclear weapons cache to Christian extremists.

Similarly so, as time moves on, motorcycle manufacturers are picking their new conceptual product ideas out of the metaphorical melting pot. Dual-sports and crossovers like the Honda NC700X point to a design paradigm that favors a jack-of-all trades mentality towards practicality over specialization.

The Honda CX-01, a conceptual prototype revealed at 2014 Indian Auto Expo, represents Honda’s vision for a youth-targeted crossover motorcycle.

Hero Hastur 620 Concept – A Streetfighter with EBR Inside

02/05/2014 @ 12:01 pm, by Aakash Desai16 COMMENTS

Hero Hastur 620 Concept   A Streetfighter with EBR Inside Hero Hastur 620 concept streetfighter 04 635x423

The Hero MotoCorp news keeps coming. Last week we reported on the Hero HXR 250R 250cc lightweight sport bike and the impressively practical Hero RNT diesel scooter.

This time, it’s a 620cc streetfighter concept called the Hero Hastur 620. With a parallel twin putting out around 80hp, and claimed weight of only 352.7 pounds wet, the Hastur definitely has a few of key ingredients needed for success.

Wunderlich BMW R nineT Cafe Racer by Nicolas Petit

01/09/2014 @ 4:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Wunderlich BMW R nineT Cafe Racer by Nicolas Petit Wunderlich BMW R nineT cafe racer nicolas petit 01 635x424

If you ask us, the BMW R nineT is a pretty big deal for the business of motorcycling, as its modular design allows for the air-cooled standard to be modified extensively and easily. BMW Motorrad designed the R nineT that way so tuners and customers alike could put their own stamp on the machine that celebrates the German motorcycle maker’s 90th year of business.

Whether your taste is along the lines of the heavily modified BMW Concept Ninety, which Roland Sands had a hand in making, or something more stock from the BMW parts catalog, the BMW R nineT can abide. So, it probably shouldn’t surprise us to see that Nicolas Petit has inked another build for German parts maker Wunderlich.

Drawing both a fully-faired and a more bare-boned version of Wunderlich BMW R nineT cafe racer, Petit has once again made a lurid proposition. We think those who love the classic lines of BMW’s past will enjoy these concepts, and if anything Petit’s work shows the versatility in the R nineT’s modular design.

Buell Firebolt XB12R Concept by Holographic Hammer

12/30/2013 @ 4:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Buell Firebolt XB12R Concept by Holographic Hammer buell firebolt xr12 holographic hammer

It’s funny that we should come across Holographic Hammer’s concept renderings of a reworked Buell Firebolt XB12R at the end of the year, because the work is perhaps the most intriguing we have seen in 2013.

More of cult classic than big hit, the Buell Firebolt XB12R was never honestly considered an appealing machine in terms of design and function, though the two-wheeler has found a special place in the hearts of Buellisti around the world.

Featuring the typical gimmicks innovations of Erik Buell’s tenure at Harley-Davidson, things like the Firebolt’s in-frame fuel tank and underslung exhaust create some interesting freedoms for designers to work with visually.

While many Buell customs have come across our desk, we think the work done by Holographic Hammer, the work of love by BMW Motorrad designer Sylvain Berneron, is the only one to really embrace the opportunity that Buell’s create.

Watch the Kawasaki J Concept Transform Itself

12/17/2013 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Watch the Kawasaki J Concept Transform Itself Kawasaki J Concept 04

The Kawasaki J Concept isn’t the first example of a leaning mutli-wheel vehicles that you ride upon, as I’m sure you have all seen the similarly themed Yamaha Tesseract by now. Neither a motorcycle, nor a quad…we would even be reluctant to call the Kawasaki J Concept a trike, as the riding experience is complete different from other three-wheelers (technically it has four wheels, though the two rear tires act as one).

As such the J Concept and Tesseract exist in a class all to themselves, and that is probably the point of these concept machines: to explore new forms of vehicle recreation and transportation.

The design as it looks now, doesn’t seem too practical, but the idea of a completely adjustable riding position sounds like a concept with some merit — a sport machine for when you want to go fast, an upright sitting position for when you want to cruise. Hmm…

Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Hertrampf

12/16/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Hertrampf Ducati 1199 Panigale S Streetfighter Motorrad Hertrampf 1 635x423

As soon as Bologna debuted the Ducati 1199 Panigale, the speculation was rife on if/when the Italian brand would bring streetfighter and supersport-class machines to market. We have already seen the Ducati 899 Panigale, which isn’t quite race-legal, though packs the superbike’s design philosophies into a more affordable package with a smaller engine displacement.

As for the Streetfighter, the debut of the Ducati Monster 1200 seems to confirm suspicions that Ducati has no plans to continue with a performance-based street naked. With the demise of the Streetfighter 1098, one can only wonder how much longer the Streetfighter 848 will remain in Ducati’s lineup. Surely when the smaller displacements of the Monster line move to water-cooled engine, the we will see the removal of the 848, much to our chagrin.

This still leaves us with some “what if’s” though, as some believe the monocoque “frameless” chassis design of the Panigale makes a streetfighter variant all but impossible. We would have to say that when the fairingless photos of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera that came out this year, our eyes searched for ways to tailor the Panigale’s naked body into some sort of Streetfighter, though it looks like some Germans have gone a step further.