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.

I’m Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata, Bitch.

08/05/2011 @ 5:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Im Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata, Bitch. 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 Mugello spy photo

The tale that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s business card at one point read “I’m CEO, Bitch” is in fact true. Perhaps tired of dealing with investors and businessmen that didn’t take him seriously, or perhaps the young entrepreneur faced a tough time telling industry specialists twice or three times his age how the world was about to change, ol’Zuck was surely responding to the titles others had placed on him. Enervated at hearing phrases like “that kid” or “the Harvard dropout”, Zuckerberg’s “I’m CEO, Bitch” business card was not only about the young CEO having an equal seat at the table, but also about his personal brand, and reminded whomever held the card that were talking to the creator of one of most popular websites ever on the internet.

If we can stretch that metaphor a bit further, the new Ducati Superbike has its own identity crisis in the eyes of the public. Like the Ducati Vyper and Ducati Cayenne that came before it, we were first introduced to Ducati’s new flagship with its internal name: Xtreme. Whether out of the desire to drive webpage hits by creating controversy, or just actually being that gullible/naive about the story, mainstream outlets began using the nomenclature as if the Bologna brand had adopted product names that tugged on a common heart strings from the Twilight faithful.

Cleverly deciphering Ducati’s secret model numbering scheme, more educated publications latched onto the more likely Superbike 1199 verbiage. There was over course precedent for this +1 trend, after watching the Superbike 998 become the 999. Knowing that Ducati would be releasing a ridiculously over-square v-twin motor with the new Superbike, we also learned early on that the new power plant would be known as the Superquadrata, which sounds far more clever in Italian than its translated English. With all these different names being banded about for the same machine, we wanted to definitely put the business card wars to bed, and say conclusively that the new flagship from Bologna will be called the Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata.

Spy Shots: Ducati Diavel Gets A Little Bit More Refined – No Pillion Available?

09/20/2010 @ 5:13 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Spy Shots: Ducati Diavel Gets A Little Bit More Refined   No Pillion Available? 2011 Ducati Diavel spy shot side 623x467

UPDATE: Photos of the rear do seem to confirm that passenger pegs exist and fold underneath the tail section.

British magazine website Visordown has snagged the latest Ducati Diavel spy shots, showing the Italian power cruiser with a bit more fit & finish than has previously been seen in other photos. While the tank and headlight still have some camouflage covering them, we get an especially clearer look at the Diavel’s left-hand side, which looks to be production ready.

Showing a unique trellis frame by Ducati standards, the Diavel also has a very pronounced “chin” fairing that likely helps draw air onto a lower radiator. Covering the top radiator appears to be another fairing the features gill slits, again likely for drawing air-flow through the whole of the bike.

Perhaps the biggest revelation to come from looking at these new photos, is the noticeable absence of a pillion and passenger footpegs, which brings up the question as to whether the Ducati Diavel will be a single-rider ride. You make the call in the photos after the jump.

How the Ducati Diavel Will Look Tipped Over

09/03/2010 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

How the Ducati Diavel Will Look Tipped Over ducati diavel crash spy shot 1

The latest leak from Bologna shows how the upcoming Ducati power cruiser will look tipped over on its side, after an owner gets hit by car, or fails to get the kick stand down in time. Snarkiness aside, reports from the Italian news site Romagna NOI say the Diavel test rider was struck by a car while testing the bike.

The rider seems to be ok, and the bike looks to have held up quite well all things considered. One thing we can glean from the photo is the two-tone paint on the headlight cowling, which might help break up what were expecting to be a very ugly line.

Ducati Trademarks “Diavel” Name in the UK

08/25/2010 @ 8:48 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ducati Trademarks Diavel Name in the UK documents 635x471

Ducati has recieved a trademark with the UK Intellectual Property Office for the Bolognese word for devil, or “Diavel”, which according to MCN is to be the name of the company’s new performance cruiser.

Interestingly enough, Ducati has not trademarked the Diavel name with the United States Patent & Trademarks Office (USPTO). However with the British government, Ducati has reserved the Diavel mark for virtually every use possible, including lifestyle items like shirts, perfume, watches, and our personal favorite: skin cleansing lotions and creams.

A Better Look at the Ducati Mega Monster

07/21/2010 @ 1:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

A Better Look at the Ducati Mega Monster Ducati Mega Monster power cruiser side shot 560x329

Italian news site MotoSprint has stumbled upon perhaps the best photo yet of the new Ducati power cruiser, which has been dubbed the “Mega Monster”. From the side we can get a better glimpse on the bike’s overall lines and stature, which at leasts makes us more comfortable with how the bike’s final aesthetic will come to be. Love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments.

Source: MotoSprint via Ducati News Today

Ducati Mega Monster Spotted Again – Some Things Can’t be Unseen

07/15/2010 @ 8:26 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Ducati Mega Monster Spotted Again   Some Things Cant be Unseen Ducati Mega Monster spy shot Motociclismo

Spotted just outside Ducati’s Bologna factory by an amateur photographer, we now get a proper glimpse of Ducati’s “Mega Monster” performance cruiser. Based around a 1200cc v-twin motor, Ducati is hoping to tap into the American dominated cruiser market, and steal a few customers away from Harley-Davidson.

While, we’re not calling the Mega Monster a “butter face”…well…actually we are, hopefully the Rhinoplasty Fairy will come visit the bike before its debut at EICMA later this year. Ducati, for the love of God, please re-think this motorcycle. Check Motociclismo.it for more photos.

Source: Motociclismo.it

Ducati Mega-Monster Spy Shots

06/29/2010 @ 6:16 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Ducati Mega Monster Spy Shots Ducati Mega Monster spy shots 1 560x373

MotoBlog.it has snagged some spy shots of the rumored Ducati power cruiser, or Mega-Monster as it’s now being called in the press (the Ducati Vyper nomenclature has seemingly been dropped). Aimed to take on Yamaha V-Max and it’s crew, the Mega-Monster is a big step for Ducati in tackling new market segments.

Taking a page from the Multistrada 1200 campaign, which saw a plethora of “leaked” images, we don’t really know if you can call these photos true “spy shots”. As with that release, these photos are clearly being staged by Ducati PR people, and then being leaked to motorcycle magazines.

With each rider clearly wearing Ducati apparel, the dots are being connected for us as we can see that the Bologna brand has indeed been working on a cruiser-styled bike, despite saying the project was canned last year. Photos and more after the jump.

Ducati Abandons Vyper Cruiser Concept

07/27/2009 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Ducati Abandons Vyper Cruiser Concept ducati vyper concept luca bar black 635x476

For many, this will come with a sigh of relief. Ducati VP of Marketing, Diego Sgorbati, has confirmed that Ducati has no intentions of making a cruiser motorcycle…for the time being. Long rumored to appear at the upcoming EICMA expo, the Ducati Vyper concept has stirred a few imaginations, as well as a few stomachs. Reported in various forms, we still like to visualize it with the renders that Luca from Bar-Design provided us with last year.

Ducati Vyper Spy Shots

06/23/2009 @ 1:44 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Ducati Vyper Spy Shots Ducati Vyper cruiser concept clay 560x394

The folks at MCN have either been playing with Play-doh again, or have managed to sneak a camera into Ducati HQ. Irregardless, the result is this image of what can only be the rumored Ducati Vyper cruiser.

Ducati Vyper Cruiser in 2010?

03/27/2009 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Ducati Vyper Cruiser in 2010? Ducati Vyper concept Luca bar red 635x476

Could Ducati be building a street cruiser to compete against the likes of Harley-Davidson? That’s the rumor behind the so-called Ducati Vyper, which was started by a statement made by Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali, who revealed that Ducati is looking to branch out into a wider market. The 1400cc 170hp prototype is said to be already in running form, and has started preliminary tests at the Bologna factory.

The Vyper will feature a stroked version of the company’s Testastretta engine, and house it in Ducati’s signature steel-trellis frame. A 240 rear tire mounted onto a beefy hollow-section swing-arm is also believed to be on the new machine. Luca from Bar-Design has made some exclusive renders of the Ducati Vyper for Asphalt & Rubber, and if the original looks anything like this, we might just be believers in the Italian chopper concept.