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.

Here’s One for the MV Agusta Fans

01/20/2011 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you’re a lover of all things Italian (MV Agusta‘s in particular), and near the Midland, Michigan area, then you should stop by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art before April 10, 2011. A part of the Midland Center of the Arts, the museum is showing an exhibit on Italian art that includes a gallery full of classic and modern MV Agusta motorcycles, along with photographs of Italian cars, and 17th century Italian sketches.

Showing the merger of form and function, MV Agusta motorcycles easily top our list as some of the finest-looking two-wheeled machines ever made. As much as we slog the Italian company for going to the well on its most recent creation, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, its predecessor the MV Agusta F4, whose lines were penned by the master Massimo Tamburini, has to be the most gorgeous modern motorcycle ever produced by mortal man.

A video of the exhibit is embedded after the jump, along with a gallery of the MV Agusta F3. If any A&R readers go to the exhibit, we’d love to post your photos of the MV’s on display.

The Mission R with Its Clothes Off

01/18/2011 @ 12:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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The Mission R, the latest creation to come from San Francisco-based Mission Motors, looks like any typical gasoline-powered sportbike (well, any really good looking gasoline-powered sportbike), and that’s sort of the point behind the machine: an electric motorcycle that can excite petrol-heads and electron nerds alike. Although the Mission R was made to draw mainstream appeal, today we see further proof that any resemblance to modern ICE motorcycles was made to be only skin deep.

Beneath the carbon-laid fairings of the Mission R, we see a hint of the bike’s unique chrome-moly trellis frame that mates to a previously hidden headstock/front sub-frame unit that was made by Speedymoto and designed by James Parker (of GSX-RADD fame). With the Mission R’s mass centralized around the 141hp 3-phace AC induction motor, Parker also had to contend with Mission’s carbon enclosed two-tiered battery pack that comprises the bulk of the race bike’s weight.

Read after the jump as Parker walks us through his process and thoughts on designing the Mission R, and be sure to check out the photo galleries for an up-close look.

Pierre Terblanche Leaves Piaggio for Norton

01/13/2011 @ 9:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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While Norton Motorcycles finds itself currently in the middle of a relaunch period, having recently resurrected the brand at its Donington Park headquarters, being widely rumored to contend in MotoGP for the 2012 season, and just a month ago announcing that it would return to the North American motorcycle market, more changes seem in store for the historic British company. Announced today was the surprise move that sees famed South African motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche moving from Piaggio, where he was working on revamping the Moto Guzzi line, to Norton Motorcycles.

Daniel Simon Talks on the Tron: Legacy Lightcycle Design

12/04/2010 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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We’re eagerly awaiting December 17th here at the Asphalt & Rubber office, as that is the official movie premiere of Tron: Legacy. A mix of computer geekiness, state-of-the-art special effects, The Dude, Olivia Wilde, and of course lightcycles, Tron: Legacy is about as close to an A&R wet dream as you can get.

While we try and contain ourselves from giggling like little schoolgirls, technology news blog TechCrunch got a chance to sit down with Daniel Simon, the designer of the new Tron lightcycle (you might remember Simon from his renowned Cosmic Motors work), and ask him about revisiting the lightcycle design (air flaps!) in Tron: Legacy. That interview and a boatload of Tron: Legacy concept sketches are after the jump.

Snake Road Motorcycle Concept by Bruno Delussu

11/11/2010 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Drawing inspiration from Daniel Simon’s Cosmic Motors series (Simon designed the Tron lightcycle in the up-coming Tron Legacy movie by the way), designer Bruno Delussu has dreamt up the Snake Road motorcycle concept. Set in a nondescript time in the future, the Snake Road uses a fiberglass body to house its internal combustion engine (apparently EV’s still haven’t taken off in Delussu’s future).

Made for fun, Delussu admits there are some deficiencies in the design (the front wheel can’t turn for example), and explains the choice of an internal combustion engine as follows: “Being a motorcyclist myself, I love the sound of a motorcycle engine (reminiscent of a raging lion), so the engine is a traditional internal combustion engine rather then electric, as the new trend would have it (a matter of ecology).”

Honda Crosstourer Concept Also Explained

11/08/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Although Honda likely needed to explain its thought process more fully regarding the 2011 Honda Crossrunner, the Japanese company has also put together a quick video clip with designer Yosuke Hasegawa, and his vision behind the Honda Crosstourer Concept. The more purposeful occasional off-roader, Honda’s Crosstourer Concept takes the V4 motor from the VFR1200F, and mates it to an adventure-based platform.

We imagine the idea is that the Crosstourer picks up where the Crossrunner leaves off, and it is interesting to note how Honda’s naming scheme for both bikes encourages that idea. Cross for crossover concept, the Crossrunner is sportier with its “runner” designation, while the Crosstourer seems destined for more of a “it’s the journey, not the destination” thing with its “tourer” badge. Again don’t take our word for it, watch Hasegawa-san explain his creation after the jump.

Honda Explains the Crossrunner

11/08/2010 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The 2011 Honda Crossrunner 800 was finally debuted at EICMA this year, after teasing us with several sketches of the concept. Designed to be a crossover motorcycle, the Crossrunner 800 sits somewhere between a sport-tourer and an adventure-tourer in our eyes. Sitting high up with its elongated suspension and upright sitting position, the Crossrunner has some component protection, but clearly invisions a sporty priority with its single-sided swingarm and aggressive minimalist fairing.

Of course that’s just our take on the motorcycle, so check out the video above for Honda’s opinion on its own creation (did you know one of the design inspirations was the personal water craft?), and extrapolate your own conclusions. For bonus fun, there is a very well done promotional video awaiting you after the jump.

Students Explore News Ducati Designs

09/03/2010 @ 10:12 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Students at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) of Turin had the opportunity to finish their studies by undertaking a thesis in transportation design that was done in collaboration with Ducati Motor Holdings. 10 students submitted 10 designs to Ducati, for a motorcycle that would enter new market segments and reach a younger demographic.

Five concept were then chosen, and made into 1:4 concepts, with the top concept then being picked and made into a full-size concept. Anchored in production reality, students had to keep an eye on the Ducati parts bin, and stay within the realms of practicability for the company (done with varying degrees of success).

With some very strong concepts coming from the collaboration, it seems almost a shame that Ducati could only pick one winner, but TWINS by Simone Buonpensiere and Daniele Mazzon (shown as the title graphic) was ultimately chosen. Mouthwatering delicious, we sincerely hope Ducati puts this dream into reality.

Anthony Colard’s C12-R Ducati Superbike Concept

06/11/2010 @ 4:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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A couple weeks ago we showed you the Ducati Car concept by Anthony Colard, which was of course a four-wheeled vehicle, and not a motorcycle. But for the past 6 months we’ve been quietly following the work of French transportation designer, and his Ducati Superbike project. Based off the Ducati 1098/1198 chassis, Colard has taken his own perception of the Italian motorcycle’s style, and improved upon some of its deficiencies. Now finished with the design phase of his project, we can finally share with you some of what this talented designer has been focusing on all this time.

Igor Chack’s 2012 Izh-1 Hybrid Motorcycle Concept

05/26/2010 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Igor Chack may only be 26 years old, but this designer’s eyes have a taste for something old with a modern twist. Taking his inspiration from the 1929 Soviet Izh–1, Chack sees this iconic motorcycle coming to life nearly 80 years later with a hybrid powertrain and a bevy of features not only unthinkable in 1929, but not seen on today’s motorcycles as well.

Chack’s design centers around a 850cc hybrid motor that makes 140hp when running off of fossil fuel. 50% of the motor is made from heat resistant reinforced plastic, which helps reduce weight and enclose the integrated electric circuits. On the electric side of the powertrain there is a 60kW brush-less motor that’s built into the rear rim, along with its own two-speed gearbox. Chack estimates the combo could achieve 80mpg with the bike’s on-board fuel management system deciding which drive to use.