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.

Watch: The Unrideables 2

11/21/2014 @ 3:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Watch: The Unrideables 2 unrideables 2 635x423

It’s almost the weekend, which means the end of another grueling work-week for many of our readers. With winter upon us, the release of riding a motorcycle after a long week has been diminished, if not extinguished entirely, which only adds to the no-motorcycle doldrums.

We have a little something for that though: 45 minutes of good ol’fashioned two-stroke awesomeness. The sequel to the much loved The Unrideables documentary, we bring to you The Unrideables Part 2, which picks up from its predecessor and covers the Rainey/Schwantz era of racing. Enjoy!

At the Sixth Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

05/20/2014 @ 7:11 pm, by Bryan Delohery8 COMMENTS

At the Sixth Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering quail lodge gathering 7 635x423

As summer is upon us, avid motorcycle fans all across the country are gearing up for some of the hottest events of the season, the Isle of Man TT, World Superbikes, and Speed Week are some of the first that come to mind.

With so many high profile events taking place during the summer season it is often easy to overlook great opportunities that may be going on right in your own backyard, such as the Quail Lodge Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, California.

After pulling into the Quail Lodge Golf Club, there was a distinct tone of class in the air, although that may have been due to the machinery that littered the parking greens, a Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 355 Spyder, and Porsche 911 GT2 just to name a few.

Upon entrance to the show, it was apparent that this was not just another motorcycle show, and that I was in for a treat as one of the first motorcycles to greet me was an early Simplex Servi-Cycle.

Presented by Tudor, the show is in its sixth consecutive year, and truly does not disappoint with something for everyone, ranging from some of the rarest, most elusive bikes ever made like the 1950 Rumi Turismo to entries that were on the forefront of cutting edge technology such as the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218.

With so many amazing motorcycles and such a rich two-wheeled history all in one place, it was a bit overwhelming trying to figure which gems deserved more photographic attention than others, but there were a handful that really stood out.

Watch: The Unrideables

05/13/2013 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Watch: The Unrideables the unrideables 635x423

If you missed the glory days of when Americans dominated Grand Prix motorcycle racing, or simply want to relive the moments from yesteryear, then we have the perfect treat for you this Monday afternoon. A television production by Britain’s ITV4, The Unrideables is a 45-minute trip down memory lane with Randy Mamola, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Gardner, Kevin Schwantz, and many others.

Focusing on the racing from the late-1980’s, we get to hear the riders and journalists of the time recount their victories and defeats on the 500cc two-strone monsters of that era. It is a really well done piece by ITV4, and it is really a shame we can’t get similar programming here in the United States. A big thanks to whomever put it up on YouTube, and thanks to all our tipsters who pointed it out to us.

Is That Fabio? Yamaha Produces More MotoGP Video Gold

07/22/2011 @ 9:18 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Is That Fabio? Yamaha Produces More MotoGP Video Gold Jorge Lorenzo 70s 635x356

Yamaha had several generations of of GP legends on-hand yesterday to celebrate the company’s 50th Anniversary of Grand Prix racing. Current Yamaha team riders Jorge Lorenzo, Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Cal Crutchlow rubbed shoulders with Kenny Roberts Sr., Eddie Lawson, and Wayne Rainey.

Listening to the group trade stories, comparing past with present, along with giving insights on where the sport was headed was quite an experience. Yamaha had more up its sleeve though, and true to its Laguna Seca tradition, released another bit of video gold in time for the Red Bull US GP at the Californian track. Double bonus points for a Fabio cameo, watch the bar on GP comedy get raised after the jump.

Ben Spies and Eddie Lawson Talk About Training, Teamwork, 500cc Bikes, & Pissing Off the Japanese

03/15/2010 @ 8:53 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ben Spies and Eddie Lawson Talk About Training, Teamwork, 500cc Bikes, & Pissing Off the Japanese yamaha connection one on one spies lawson video 635x356

For the third and final installment of its One on One series with Ben Spies and Eddie Lawson, Yamaha asks the riders about their competitive nature both in training and on the track, the teams that supported them in their endeavors, what its like to ride the 500GP bikes, and Eddie leaves us with a closing story about some of his old antics. Like the second part of this series, this video is a nine minute insight into a top-level racer’s mindset, and speaks to the hard work that goes into being a champion. Watch it after the jump.

Ben Spies and Eddie Lawson Talk Competitiveness, Fame, & Being A World Champion

03/09/2010 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ben Spies and Eddie Lawson Talk Competitiveness, Fame, & Being A World Champion Eddie Lawson Yamaha One on One 635x357

After what felt like a thinly veiled R1 commercial in part one, Yamaha has released the second installment of its One on One series with Ben Spies and Eddie Lawson. The two famed Yamaha riders talk about what makes a professional motorcycle racer tick, including their competitive nature, reaction to fans, and being called a Champion. We’d say the first clip is a pass, but this second video is pretty insightful, and worth the 7 minutes of your time. Video after the jump.