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.

Suzuki EXTRIGGER: An Electric Monkey Bike?

10/29/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Suzuki EXTRIGGER: An Electric Monkey Bike? suzuki extrigger concept

In addition to the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept, Suzuki has also teased its electric-powered EXTRIGGER concept ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show.

The pint-sized Suzuki EXTRIGGER draws some obvious cues from the Honda Grom and it seems impossible not to compare the two machines to each other — they even share a similar mission statement: “to give more people the chance to find out the fun of motorcycle.”

Suzuki has gone a step further than Honda though, with the EXTRIGGER sporting an electric drivetrain — borrowed from the Suzuki e-Let electric scooter . The choice is a well-thought-out one, as the limited range and power that is surely to be expected from a bike like the Grom fits in line with what a machine like the EXTRIGGER can offer a rider as well.

Suzuki Recursion Concept: Bring on the Turbo!

10/29/2013 @ 12:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Suzuki Recursion Concept: Bring on the Turbo! suzuki recursion concept

We are still a few weeks away from the Tokyo Motor Show, which begins on November 22nd, but that hasn’t stopped Suzuki from teasing a couple of its concept models ahead of time. First up, we have the Suzuki Recursion concept, a striking half-faired street bike.

Featuring a new 588cc water-cooled two-cylinder engine, the Recursion at first glance doesn’t seem like much, but what we really think is going to get your motor purring is the machine’s intercooled turbocharging system.

Are You the 2014 BMW S1000R Streetfighter? Nope.

10/24/2013 @ 4:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Are You the 2014 BMW S1000R Streetfighter? Nope. bmw s1000r streetfighter render

Is this an image of the much anticipated BMW S1000R – the streetfightered version of BMW’s popular S1000RR superbike? Nope, it’s not…but, it is a spot-on approximation of what we expect to see from BMW Motorrad early next month at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. Italian site DueRuote commissioned this render from the folks at MotoRendering.com, and we have to say it is some damn fine work.

Nine Questions with Tomohisa Ichimaru – The Man Behind the Upcoming Suzuki V-Strom 1000

07/05/2013 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Nine Questions with Tomohisa Ichimaru   The Man Behind the Upcoming Suzuki V Strom 1000 Suzuki V Strom Concept09 635x423

I am not going to lie to you, after the jump is a set of very “marketing-heavy” videos from Suzuki about the upcoming Suzuki V-Strom 1000 adventure-touring bike. But since A&R readers are a clever bunch, and well-versed in smelling out the industry bullshit, I thought we would post these videos up anyways, since there are some interesting things going on with the new V-Strom concept.

Featuring nine questions with Tomohisa Ichimaru, the Product Planner in charge of the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, we get a sense of where the Japanese factory is coming from with its first proper modern ADV bike, and the lengths Suzuki has gone to ensure it meets the expectation of the existing devout Strom fan base.

Involved with the V-Strom 650 project, as well as wee-Strom owner, Ichimaru-san seems like the perfect choice for the person to guide the V-Strom 1000 project. We have heard plenty of stories coming out of Suzuki about the new V-Strom, so it will be interesting how closely the concept machine that debuted at EICMA is to the production model (expected to debut at this year’s EICMA show).

Price will be key for Suzuki, who will already have to compete for the non-BMW mindshare with the very stout Yamaha Super Ténéré.

BMW K1600GT Hybrid 3-Wheeler Concept by Nicolas Petit

07/05/2013 @ 2:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BMW K1600GT Hybrid 3 Wheeler Concept by Nicolas Petit BMW K1600GT 3 Wheeler Nicolas Petit 01 635x346

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we love the work of French designer Nicolas Petit — his Honda VTR1200 concept remains one of out all-time favorite concepts, and spurred me to think long and hard about the potential that the Japanese manufacturers could have in the two-wheel industry. Today’s post though, isn’t about a two-wheeler…it’s about a three-wheeler.

Pretty much the coolest trike we have ever seen imagined, Petit has once again inked a design for consumption, which features Bavaria’s favorite brand: BMW. Taking the 1.6L six-cylinder engine from the BMW K1600GT/GTL, Petit has mated a very recognizable front-end to his creation. The ultimate driving machine? We wouldn’t mind taking one for a spin around our local track.

Yamaha MT-DM 850 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/18/2013 @ 5:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Yamaha MT DM 850 Concept by Luca Bar Design Yamaha MTDM Concept Luca Bar Design 01 635x425

By now you have surely seen the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 naked/standard/street bike from our favorite tuning fork brand. Featuring a 847cc three-cylinder engine that makes 113hp and 65 lbs•ft of torque, all within a 414 lbs curbside hulk, the FZ-09 has a lot of things going for it, not the least of which is the bike’s $7,999 price tag.

Like we said in our first assessment of the Yamaha FZ-09, Yamaha has really hit the nail on the head with a solid middleweight street bike, save for a few design elements that look a bit off to our eyes. We aren’t too worried about it though — an aftermarket exhaust here, a couple cosmetic tweaks there, and just about any motorcyclists can stamp the FZ-09 with their own unique look.

The first of many triples to come from Yamaha, it is easy (perhaps too easy, reading some of the comments left here on A&R) to put the Yamaha FZ-09 into other market segments.

With some longer suspension and armor, an adventure bike could be born from the FZ-09. Just as easily, put some saddlebags, a taller windscreen, and change the ergonomics a tad, and a sport-tourer you have…and that’s exactly what Luca Bar has done here with his Yamaha MT-DM 850 concept.

Triumph Daytona 1100 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/13/2013 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Triumph Daytona 1100 Concept by Luca Bar Design Triumph Daytona 1100 superbike concept Luca Bar Design 02 635x434

It seems like a no-brainer, right? Take the existing Triumph Daytona 675 supersport package, drop in the 1,050cc three-cylinder motor found in the Triumph Speed Triple (with a higher state of tune, of course), and call the beast the Triumph Daytona 1100 superbike. Boom. Done. It’s so easy Triumph, so why haven’t you done it already?!

The answer of course is that the superbike segment is extremely competitive and expensive to enter — just ask BMW Motorrad. A small manufacturer with a rich brand history, Triumph also has a propensity to zig when others zag, which is how the Speed Triple came about in the first place. However, the timing might be right for Hinckley to put some effort into a superbike project.

BMW Concept Ninety – Retro Meets Modern

05/24/2013 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

BMW Concept Ninety   Retro Meets Modern BMW Concept Ninety 24 635x952

Late last year, we said that BMW Motorrad was working on a special air-cooled motorcycle to help commemorate the German company’s 90th anniversary of making motorbikes. Well, today we get to see what zie Germans have been up to, and it is called the BMW Concept Ninety.

Taking its cues from the BMW R90S, which itself turns 40-years-old today, the BMW Concept Ninety is debuting at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and was designed by America’s own Roland Sands Design and the BMW Motorrad design team.

“The BMW R 90 S hails from an era in which bikers were regarded as outlaws,” said Edgar Heinrich, Head of BMW Motorrad Design, in the company’s press release. “There was something rebellious about it – it was fast, loud and wild. Pure emotion. And it has retained its fascination to this day.”

With that in mind, we turn our attention to the BMW Concept Ninety. Photos and video are after the jump of course, and leave your thoughts about the machine in the comments.

KTM RC4 Concept by Luca Bar Design

05/06/2013 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

KTM RC4 Concept by Luca Bar Design KTM RC4 690 concept Luca Bar Design 635x427

KTM is shaping up to be the brand of 2013. Surpassing BMW Motorrad in outright unit sales, and becoming the largest motorcycle brand in Europe, zie Austrians have been on a tear with their small-displacement machine strategy. Most of that move has been buoyed by KTM’s partnership with Bajaj, which in-turn owns a very sizable minority stake in the Austrian company, but KTM also has been making other moves as well, like the acquisition of Husqvarna by CEO Stefan Pierer and his company Pierer Industrie AG.

Surprisingly, what has been occurring in KTM’s boardroom is almost overshadowing what is occurring in the company’s model line-up, with the KTM 1190 Adventure set to finally come to the USA later this year, almost a year after its European debut, as well the upcoming release of the KTM 390 Duke and its sport bike and adventure variants. Perhaps lost in the wash is the 2013 KTM 690 Duke, which is a new machine for the US market this year.

A single-cylinder hooligan-maker, the KTM 690 Duke is 330 lbs (curbside without fuel) and 67hp of two-wheeled fun, and we hope that the Austrians bring the KTM 690 Duke R our way as well. While we are on the topic of things missing from KTM’s American line-up, a decent supersport is painfully obvious, yet we can’t see the folks at KTM following the paths of other brands. That’s where our friend Luca Bar comes to mind with his latest concept: the KTM RC4.

Alstare Superbike Concept by Team Alstare

05/03/2013 @ 1:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Alstare Superbike Concept by Team Alstare Alstare Superbike Concept Rusak Tryptik 11

We love us some concept bikes here at Asphalt & Rubber, and we have featured more than a few pieces of stunning design and imagination on our pages. Though, we can’t remember the last time one of these works of art were brought to us by a legitimate racing team, but that is what we have here with the Team Alstare Superbike Concept.

A nod to the former Suzuki team’s return to the World Superbike Championship as the Ducati factory squad with Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini, Alstare has enlisted the help of designer Serge Rusak of Rusak Kreaktive Designworks to ink the shape of its futuristic Superbike concept, while Tryptik Studios handled “bringing the form to life” with its 3D modeling prowess (video after the jump).