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.

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.

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).

What Goes into a Motorcycle Concept Sketch?

05/02/2013 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

What Goes into a Motorcycle Concept Sketch? bmw wunderlisch concept nicolas petit 635x397

We have already covered designer Nicolas Petit’s time-lapse video, which shows the 20-minute process of drawing out a motorcycle concept sketch. But what goes into envisioning a concept like the Wunderlich BMW R1200S in the first place? Well, Petit has a video for that as well.

Any interesting perspective on how the French designer takes a BMW R1200GS Adventure, turns it into a boxer-twin sport bike, and then a streetfighter, it is always facinating to see the process behind a person’s art. And if you’re thinking, “man, I wish they’d build that bike!” You’re not alone in that thought.

Pierre Terblanche Joins Confederate Motorcycles

03/12/2013 @ 1:28 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Pierre Terblanche Joins Confederate Motorcycles Pierre Terblanche Confederate Motorcycles 635x635

When we last caught up with Pierre Terblanche, the he had left a frustrating position with the Piaggio Group, that saw the South-African creating several intriguing concepts for the Moto Guzzi brand that never saw the light of day, and he was thus headed to work for Norton.

With work there being a non-starter, rumors pegged Terblanche coming stateside to work for Confederate Motorcycless, but with those rumors over a year old now, we assumed the thought to collaborate with the Southern marques had passed. However, our inbox today tells us that seems not to be the case, as Confederate Motorcycles has announced that Pierre Terblanche is the company’s new head of product development.

How the Honda RC213V 90° V4 Engine Makes Us Rethink the Problems with the Ducati Desmosedici

02/19/2013 @ 3:59 pm, by David Emmett44 COMMENTS

How the Honda RC213V 90° V4 Engine Makes Us Rethink the Problems with the Ducati Desmosedici ducati desmosedici rr naked 635x423

Just over 18 months ago, I wrote a long analysis of what I believed at the time was the main problem with Ducati’s Desmosedici MotoGP machine. In that analysis, I attributed most of the problems with the Desmosedici to the chosen angle of the V, the angle between the front and rear cylinder banks.

By sticking with the 90° V, I argued, Ducati were creating problems with packaging and mass centralization, which made it almost impossible to get the balance of the Desmosedici right. The engine was taking up too much space, and limiting their ability to adjust the weight balance by moving the engine around.

Though there was a certain logic to my analysis, it appears that the engine angle was not the problem. Yesterday, in their biweekly print edition, the Spanish magazine Solo Moto published an article by Neil Spalding, who had finally obtained photographic evidence that the Honda RC213V uses a 90° V, the same engine angle employed by the Ducati Desmosedici. Given the clear success of the Honda RC213V, there can no longer be any doubt that using a 90° V is no impediment to building a competitive MotoGP machine.

The photographic proof comes as confirmation of rumors which had been doing the rounds in the MotoGP paddock throughout the second half of the 2012 season. Several people suggested that the Honda may use a 90° angle, including Ducati team manager Vitto Guareschi, speaking to GPOne.com back in November.

I had personally been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a naked RC213V engine at one rain-soaked race track in September, but while the glimpse through the window may have been good enough to form the impression of an engine that looked like it may have been a 90°V, it was a very long way from being anything resembling conclusive, and nowhere near enough to base a news story on.

Spalding’s persistence has paid off, however. The British photographer and journalist is a common sight wandering among the garages, either first thing in the morning, as the bikes are being warmed up, or late at night, while the mechanics prepare the machines for the following day.

At some point, the Honda mechanics and engineers – protective to the point of prudishness of displaying any part of their machine to the outside world – would let their guard slip. When they did, Spalding pounced.

So why did Honda elect to use an engine layout which is blamed for causing Ducati so much trouble? And how does Honda make the layout work where Ducati have continued to fail? The first question is relatively simple to answer; the second is a good deal more tricky.

This is Not Rossi’s New Yamaha MotoGP Livery

01/14/2013 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

This is Not Rossis New Yamaha MotoGP Livery Valentino Rossi Yamaha Monster livery photoshop 01 635x423

The great winter depression is nearly over for MotoGP fans, as tomorrow Ducati Corse will debut its 2013 team(s) for the premier class, and soon enough we will see similar events from Honda and Yamaha as well. In February, the boys with their bikes will be back on the track, as the pre-season tests at Sepang again give us our first glimpse at the teams’ progress over the off-season.

Of course, the anticipation doesn’t stop some. Take graphic designer and DeviantArtist Samuel from Italy, he spent the long-winter months photoshopping together what many Rossi fans have been speculating about: the nine-time World Champion’s new livery now that Monster is sponsoring the Yamaha Racing MotoGP team.

Up-Close with the 2012 Zero S ZF9

03/27/2012 @ 11:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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While still maintaining the product line’s general aesthetic from its previous generations, Zero Motorcycles has refined and polished its electric motorcycles for 2012. This is primarily due to the Zero’s limited amount of time to further develop its 2011 models for the 2012 model year (roughly nine months says the Californian company), but still Zero has been able to revise most of the Zero S’s components to warrant this year’s models to be visually and functionally set apart from its predecessors.

This bodes well for Zero Motorcycles, because bluntly, the startup has had extremely unrefined and unpolished motorcycles from its inception to the 2011 model year (if you heard otherwise from somewhere else, they were trying to sell you something). Walking up to the 2012 Zero S, it is immediately clear that the electric motorcycle has been touched by people who understand motorcycles. Gone are the on/off switches marked in Sharpie (I wish I was making this up), though you’d be hard-pressed to find top-shelf components on the Zero line. This makes for a mixed response regarding the bike, from a visual perspective.

The Frog FZ750 Rana Heads to SFMOMA

03/20/2012 @ 11:22 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The Frog FZ750 Rana Heads to SFMOMA Frog Design FZ7501 635x420

Frog Design is better known for its work designing computer cases for Apple, but  in 1985 Frog Design’s Founder Hartmut Esslinger designed the Frog FZ750. A two-wheeled concept vehicle that was a Yamaha FZ750 underneath the skin, the Frog FZ750 actually helped give birth to the venerable Honda Hurricane.

Conceived just a few years after Frog Design opened its California office, the now iconic Frog FZ750 was a reaction to increasing pressure for safer motorcycles (the Yamaha FZ750 was outlawed in the Golden State at the time), and set the standard for a generation of motorcycle design to come.