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.

Videos: The Ducati Diavel Explained

07/14/2011 @ 10:44 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Videos: The Ducati Diavel Explained Ducati Diavel 635x429

We’ve already talked at length at how much we liked riding the Ducati Diavel, as the Italian company’s take on the American power cruiser is a peppy and fun machine to ride on the streets and in the canyons. While there’s been plenty of reservations prior to the Diavel’s launch, Ducati seemingly has a winner on its hands as many dealerships in the US are sold-out on the machine, and the Bologna factory just reported that 5,000 units have been sold worldwide already this year (about 1,000 or so of those ending up in the United States).

There’s also a strong business case as to why Ducati had to build the Diavel, and by most journalists’ accounts, the company has successfully walked the line between staying true to the Ducati brand and extending the Italian company’s reach onto riders in other demographics. Shedding some insight onto the development and features of the Ducati Diavel, the Italian company put together a series of videos that expound further on perhaps one of the hottest bikes for 2011.

They’re obviously marketing materials and an overview of some of the Diavel’s core features, but for someone on the fence about buying a new Ducati Diavel, there’s a bit of edutainment to be had here. Find all five videos after the jump.

Recall: Ducati Diavel

07/07/2011 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Recall: Ducati Diavel Ducati Diavel Carbon license plate holder 635x423

Ducati is recalling 964 units of its Ducati Diavel motorcycle for a faulty license plate holder mount. Affecting Diavels manufactured between September 23, 2010 and May 12, 2011, this recall concerns the brass inserts that are installed in the chain guard, which may deform over time, and result in the possible loosening of the license plate holder retaining screws on the swingarm. Because of this defect, the license plate holder could come loose and interfere with the rear wheel rotation, which could cause a crash.

Behind the Scenes at a Ducati Diavel Commercial

05/19/2011 @ 6:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Behind the Scenes at a Ducati Diavel Commercial Ducati Diavel commercial 635x446

We hear the Ducati Diavel is doing quite well in sales, with many dealers reportedly out of stock with the units. Though some dealers still have bikes in stock, namely the ones that jumped on the Diavel bandwagon early-on, it’s clear now that more people than just us here at Asphalt & Rubber were impressed with Ducati’s take on the performance cruiser category. While Ducati’s deal with the Devil got our overall seal of approval, some of this success surely has to be owed to the heavy media blitz from the Italian brand.

Like with the Multistrada 1200 release, Ducati has put the Diavel front-and-center in its marketing machine. Helping win the hearts and minds of the skeptics, Ducati has put together a short video advertisement of the Diavel, and for extra measure, a behind the scenes making of the clip. If you ever wanted to see how much effort goes into a one minute video spot, here’s your chance. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Mercedes-Benz cameo as well. Original advertisement and the behind the scenes footage after the jump.

Recall: Ducati Multistrada 1200 & Ducati Diavel

04/29/2011 @ 2:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Recall: Ducati Multistrada 1200 & Ducati Diavel 2011 Ducati Multistrada 1200 635x422

Here’s a type of recall that we’ll begin to see more of in the coming years, Ducati North America is recalling 1,051 Diavel and Multistrada 1200 motorcycles because of a faulty software issue. A certain version of the hands free software package may cause the electronic steering lock to fail to disable during the “key on” process.

The result is that a rider would be unable to move their motorcycle, at least not beyond a small radial path. In the eyes of the NHTSA though, this could mean that a rider could start the motorcycle and attempt to ride off, and then realize they lack the ability to steer (read: not good). While the safety issue here seems fairly benign, the idea that one couldn’t get their bike moving because a 0 should be a 1 would be fairly frustrating to us if we were owners of either machine, hence the recall.

How to Steal a Ducati Diavel in 60 Seconds?

04/26/2011 @ 12:20 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

How to Steal a Ducati Diavel in 60 Seconds? Ducati Diavel dash 635x492

Ducati News Today must have gotten the same news tip as us, as a IT security blog is purporting to have information on how one can steal a Ducati Diavel (and presumably a Ducati Multistrada 1200) via the bike’s keyless ignition system. It should be stated up-front that the pos referenced is dated April 5th, with the writer of the blog supposedly discovering this information on April 1st…and well all know what sort of Tomfoolery goes on during that time of the year.

According to the post’s author, the Ducati Diavel can be started not only without having the key in the ignition, but without the key at all. While anyone who has ridden the Diavel knows that you only have to have the key in the proximity of the Diavel while you’re riding, the idea that one can start the bike without the key comes from a default code that comes up when such an act is attempted. Where things get sticky though is that the author claims that this four-digit PIN is set from the factory to be the last four digits of the Diavel’s VIN, and that few owners know of security feature.

Ride Review: 2011 Ducati Diavel

03/17/2011 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Ride Review: 2011 Ducati Diavel Ducati Diavel Asphalt and Rubber 635x422

Even before its launch in Milan last year, the 2011 Ducati Diavel has been the talk of the motorcycle industry since its first spy photo was released. It amuses me that Ducati chose to name the Diavel (say: dee-ahh-vole) after the Bolognese word for the devil. The linguistic foreplay from Ducati is just asking for a response from motorcyclists who feel that Bologna company has over-stepped its prescribed branding boundaries, and sold its soul to the Devil of bottom-line thinking.

While rife with metaphor, there is an important financial reason for the genesis of the Ducati Diavel. As I’ve already explained the business reasons behind Ducati’s choice (or non-choice) to make the Diavel in a previous article. My analysis continues from there, and brings us to the question of: How does the Ducati power cruiser ride, 240mm-wide tire and all?

Setting out to the City of Angels (I seriously couldn’t ask for better fodder from Ducati here), I swung a leg over the Ducati Diavel for a day of riding on some of Los Angeles’s finest and most well know routes. The short answer to how the Diavel fared: damningly well.

Ducati’s Deal with the Devil: A Business Case for the Diavel

03/07/2011 @ 4:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

Ducatis Deal with the Devil: A Business Case for the Diavel Ducati Diavel key 635x424

If you had told me a few years ago that Ducati would build a cruiser-segment motorcycle, I probably would have called you a couple cylinders short of a v-twin. Up until recently, mentioning the thought of the Bologna brand chasing after Harley-Davidson riders would have invited fisticuffs in most Italian motorcycle cafés. And even despite the launch of the Ducati Diavel, you can start a heated debate among loyal Ducatisti by bringing up Italy’s latest power cruiser.

Make no mistake, the 2011 Ducati Diavel is a controversial motorcycle…and that’s putting things lightly (at worst it’s a complete dilution of the Ducati brand). If the Diavel is Ducati’s deal with the Devil, then let me play the Devil’s advocate for a moment, and put forth the business case about why this motorcycle had to be built, and what it means to the Ducati brand — minus the pandering to the Ducati faithful.

Gone Riding: Ducati Diavel

03/04/2011 @ 9:19 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Gone Riding: Ducati Diavel 2011 ducati diavel 53 635x423

Things will be a little slow on Asphalt & Rubber today, as we’re in Los Angeles testing the new Ducati Diavel. We’ll be spending most of the day figuring out how to turn with a 240mm rear tire, and getting rocketed by the Diavel’s 162hp reported power figure. You can follow our thoughts on the bike via Twitter, and our last five tweets will automatically post here on this post. While we ride The Devil, the press photos of the Diavel after the jump should tide you over until we finish our ride report.

Primer: The Ducati Diavel

03/03/2011 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Primer: The Ducati Diavel 2011 ducati diavel carbon 635x475

Tomorrow Asphalt & Rubber must make the trek down from perfect Northern California, to SoCal and the pits of Los Angeles, where dreams go to die. As we descend down through the lower rings of Dante’s ladder and into hell that is the perpetually sunny and warm Los Angeles, our final destination will in fact bring us face-to-face with The Devil himself. Riding the latest creation from Bologna, the American motorcycle press will get its first chance at the highly anticipated Ducati Diavel.

Since we’ll be bringing you live coverage from the event, and writing a few pieces on Ducati’s stab at the performance cruiser segment throughout the rest of the week, we thought it best to start with a primer on the motorcycle. Find after the jump the 2011 Ducati Diavel‘s technical specs, photographs, and design synthesis, and features.

Watch the Ducati Diavel Get Built in 1 Minute

02/23/2011 @ 10:28 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Watch the Ducati Diavel Get Built in 1 Minute 2011 ducati diavel carbon 635x457

Here’s a cool time-lapse video put together by MCN that follows the 2011 Ducati Diavel power cruiser getting built at Ducati’s Bologna factory. Ducati is currently building 40 Diavel’s per day on its rolling assembly line, but that number is set to increase by 50% in the coming weeks as the Italian company predicts strong sales in the summer months. As was seen last year with the Multistrada 1200, Ducati expects the Diavel to lead the company’s sales in 2011.