Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

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

Up Close with the 2012 Zero S ZF9 Zero S up close 04 635x425

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.

Call Your Mother Because Here is the Ultimate Ducati 1199 Panigale Photo Gallery

02/17/2012 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Call Your Mother Because Here is the Ultimate Ducati 1199 Panigale Photo Gallery Ducati 1199 Panigale Yas Marina Circuit 26 635x422

Ducati has been hogging the news the past few weeks, thanks in large part to the debut of the most important motorcycle the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has ever released. With Ducati up for sale and being valued at €1 billion, the Ducati 1199 Panigale sets the record straight that Bologna has not strayed from its sport bike and racing heritage with the release of bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, and Diavel. With Ducati hosting the Panigale’s international press launch in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit (click here to let Ducati know that you wish A&R had been invited to this launch), the initial reports from the assembled press is that all the concerns about Ducati, its frameless chassis design, and its future can be laid to rest.

With a hybrid chain/gear-driven camshaft, titanium valves, a wet slipper clutch, a ride-by-wire throttle, rider-selectable “riding mode” system, and 15,000 mile major service intervals, the Superquadro v-twin motor alone is a major step for Ducati with its Superbike engine design. And, if you add in the first full-LED headlight on a produciton motorcycle, the first electronically-adjustable suspension on a sport bike, the first motorcycle engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle, the total package of the 1199 redefines the word “superbike” and takes the next logical technological step forward in this market segment…and we’ve got over 160 images of the Ducati 1199 Panigale waiting for you after the jump.