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.

Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Concept

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna 701 supermoto, the Swedish brand had two street concepts to unveil at the EICMA show. First up is the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen concept, which is a café racer inspired model. With a 373cc single-cylidner thumper at its core, the Vitpilen (Swedish for White Arrow) sports an attractive and clean design. A modern riff on the 1953 Husqvarna Silverpilen, the idea behind the Husqvarna Vitpilen is that less is more. Making a modest 43hp, the Vitpilen weights a paltry 297 lbs (135kg). Clever details abound on the Vitpilen, and we particularly enjoy the high-tech LED meets retro-scrambler headlight design that sits prominently at the front of the bike.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today. Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin. Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup. Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

2015 Zero Motorcycles Get ABS, Showa, & More Battery

09/29/2014 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

2015 Zero Motorcycles Get ABS, Showa, & More Battery 2015 zero motorcycles 635x455

We have long been critical of Zero Motorcycles and the motorcycles they produce, but you have to give the electric motorcycle manufacturer credit where it’s due: each year they improve their product, which is more than you can say about a lot of motorcycle OEMs.

Take the 2015 Zero Motorcycle lineup for example: for the upcoming model year, Zero’s bikes get proper motorcycle suspension from Showa, anti-locking brakes (ABS) from Bosch, tires from Pirelli, and a 10% battery increase from Moore’s Law.

For the 2015 Zero SR, this means a 185 mile range, when the optional Power Tank battery pack is installed. Similar gains can be seen with Zero’s other 2015 models, the Zero S & Zero DS.

While the added battery pack helps with the range anxiety, anyone who has ever ridden a Zero will welcome the addition of Showa suspension, as the company’s previous bikes have suffered from th forks and shocks that were used, which woefully were not up to the task of hard motorcycle riding.

Ride Review: TerraCorsa – A 195hp “Dirt Bike”

08/05/2014 @ 12:09 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Ride Review: TerraCorsa   A 195hp Dirt Bike MotoCorsa TerraCorsa Jensen Beeler 29 635x423

I have made a number of bad decisions in my life, some of which have come hand-in-hand with my duties here at Asphalt & Rubber. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I can certainly think of a couple machines that I have naively swung a leg over with enthusiasm. Unsurprisingly, the word “prototype”, used in only the loosest of definitions, has been involved in these endeavors.

With rare occasion though, I have been able to see trouble coming ahead of time, and have either had the prudence to step out of its way, or the foolishness to forge ahead with a “what could go wrong” attitude. I would add MotoCorsa’s TerraCorsa project to that latter category.

A proper 195hp superbike, designed by Italians to win road races, the Ducati 1199 Panigale is an alphabet soup of features designed to make a rider go as fast as possible on asphalt.

So when MotoCorsa’s Arun Sharma gave me an opportunity to ride his “track bike” Panigale S, which he painted in Desert Storm beige and shod with Continental TKC 80 tires, well…I of course uttered “what could go wrong?” and graciously accepted.

On its face, the whole idea of taking a superbike off-roading is preposterous. No doubt, you are already making a list of all the things wrong with this idea, while pouring a cold glass of Hatorade in the process. And you’d be right in doing so.

The suspension travel is too short, the Panigale’s 1,199cc Superquadro v-twin engine has too much power, the riding position is all wrong, and let’s just skip over mentioning that the machine is a rolling bone fide crime against motorcycling. Ducatisti, pour out an espresso for this fallen Bolognese, but be forewarned that Arun and the TerraCorsa feed off the hate that this concept brings.

Before you sharpen your pitchforks and storm the castle gates at Borgo Panigale though, let me explain briefly how putting knobby tires on a purebred superbike isn’t as bad of an idea as you think. If anything, the gods must be crazy, because it is surprising how well the whole thing works. These crazy Oregonians are onto something…

Yamaha To Offer Electric Street Bikes by 2016

04/22/2014 @ 12:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Yamaha To Offer Electric Street Bikes by 2016 Yamaha PES1 electric concept 01 635x475

You may remember the Yamaha PED1 and Yamaha PES1 electric motorcycle concepts, which the tuning fork brand debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. Modest, yet slightly futuristic looking, the overall impression we got from readers was that Yamaha was onto something with its PED1 and PES1 bikes, and it seems the Japanese OEM has heard your excitement.

Announcing plans in its 2013 Annual Report to bring the PED1 and PES1 to market by 2016, Yamaha is yet another major OEM to jump on the electric bandwagon and add legitimacy to this budding powertrain segment.

Gas Gas and Ossa Merge

01/24/2014 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Gas Gas and Ossa Merge gas gas ossa 635x425

If you thought the times are tough here in the United States, be thankful that you don’t live in Spain right now, as the Iberian country hovers around 20% unemployment for the general population, with 50% unemployment for the country’s 20-something crowd. Indeed, all the Mediterranean states, save for France, are on the verge of economic collapse. It’s a scary time.

Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to hear last year that the rebirth of the Ossa brand saw the Spanish dirt bike company using the available production capacity in the struggling Gas Gas factory. It seems that manufacturing partnership has now gone a step further, with Gas Gas and Ossa formerly merging, so as to better take on the rough economic landscape.

Husqvarna to Unveil New Prototype Motorcycle at EICMA

11/01/2013 @ 4:55 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Husqvarna to Unveil New Prototype Motorcycle at EICMA husqvarna prototype teaser

The future of Husqvarna is an interesting one to mull over right now as we gear-up for the EICMA show in Milan, Italy next week. Recently acquired by KTM’s Stefan Pierer, through is Pierer Industrie AG company, Husqvarna finds itself now merged into Husaberg, as KTM has consolidated its splintered dirt bike brands back into one cohesive effort.

That move alone in an interesting one, as Husqvarna had begun tackling the on-road world while still under the stewardship of BMW Motorrad — releasing models like the Husqvarna Nuda 900 and concepts like the Husqvarna Moab. The brand now seems destined to stay in the dirt though, but that isn’t keeping Husqvarna away from releasing prototypes and concepts at EICMA, as it seems to do every year.

You Shall Not Pass!

08/09/2013 @ 5:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Congratulations on making it to Friday. For some, the journey to the end of the work week was tougher than it was for others. Thanks for the tip Crisit!

Video: 2,600 Miles Around the Himalayan Mountains

08/01/2013 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Video: 2,600 Miles Around the Himalayan Mountains himalayan mountain dirt bike trek 635x356

It’s Thursday afternoon, and you are probably sitting in a cube filing TPS reports when you should be out riding. Might we suggest a stroll around the Himalayas?

If the bossman overlords won’t let you out, then here is the next best thing, as Adam Riemann and his father documented their 4,500 km (2,600 mile), 21-day, multi-national trek across some of the world’s most treacherous, and beautiful, mountain roads.

The narration and story are a bit tough, but the sights are worth the price of admission alone. From the crowded streets of India to the empty solitude of the mountain passes, the Riemann boys seem to have hit every extreme.

We imagine there many more stories that the film doesn’t capture in its roughly six-minute format. To hear those though, you probably will have to undertake the trip yourself. Bring your Pops along too, if you go.

Brutus, This Is What Half an ATV Looks Like

11/15/2012 @ 3:43 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Brutus, This Is What Half an ATV Looks Like Brutus 06 635x507

You know that scene in Crocodile Dundee where Mick says, “that’s not a knife, this is a knife!” and whips out a big-ass bowie blade? That’s the inner-dialogue Alessandro Tartarini (of modern Lambretta fame) must have had as he designed the simply named “Brutus” motorcycle concept. Likened to being half an ATV, the main calling in life for the Brutus is to go where no other motorcycle dare dream.

Helping it achieve that lofty goal, the Brutus has a massive 750cc water-cooled single-cylinder motor, which is rated at around 50hp, and is paired with a CVT transmission. 14″ wheels are mated to Maxxis Big Horn tires, which give the two-wheeler that Bigfoot look, though we were surprised to learn that the Brutus is only one-wheel drive.

Expected to debut a production model later this year, with public availability in Spring 2013, the Brutus will come with a bevy of options, including sidecar, ski, and fire-fighting configurations. Massively over built, the Brutus is completely ridiculous in almost every way, yet the idea of monster-trucking our way through the most rugged terrain seems oddly appealing. Hrmmm…

Video: KTM Freeride E in Action

06/18/2012 @ 9:17 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Video: KTM Freeride E in Action ktm freeride e ride video

The KTM Freeride E is quite the buzz in the electric world, as it is the first proper electric motorcycle to be announced by an OEM. As it did with its street-bike debut with the RC8, KTM is set to test the market’s waters first with a limited production run of 100 units in 2012, likely to pre-select KTM owners/dealers. Assuming a favorable review, the Austrian brand would then presumably ramp-up production of its €10,000 electric dirt bike.

With 30hp peak & 10hp continuous, the KTM Freeride E boasts four-stroke 125cc specs, albeit on the heavy side with a 204 lbs curb weight. Running time is said to have a 20 minute ride time in the hands of a professional, the KTM Freeride E is rated to last 45 minutes in the hands of an amateur…whatever that means. While the world at large will likely have to wait another year before it can truly asses the KTM Freeride E, we do have at least our first glimpse in the bike’s performance.

BRD RedShift MX – Your Electric Lites-Class Race Bike

03/15/2012 @ 1:44 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

BRD RedShift MX   Your Electric Lites Class Race Bike BRD RedShift MX 03 635x408

First breaking cover at the Indy Dealer Expo, BRD Motorcycles has finally gotten the BRD RedShift MX into the studio for some glamor shots, and it is showing off its “goooollllddddd” paint scheme very nicely indeed. The off-road variant to the BRD RedShift SM prototype that we tested several months ago, the RedShift MX is the San Francisco company’s electric equivalent to a 250cc lites-class off-roader. Promising a super-linear 40+ hp on tap, the model currently has 5.2 kWh of battery on-board, which should be good for two hours of mixed use.

Tipping the scales at 270 lbs in street trim, the BRD RedShift MX is a paltry 250 lbs in racing form, which makes for a very competitive power-to-weight ratio in this category of dirt bike. Priced at $14,995, this electric dirt bike is still an expensive proposition (even with its WP suspension), though its competitive race performance, low-cost of use, and super-smooth electric drive train helps make it a more attractive package for more serious riders. Enjoy the high-resolution photos after the jump.