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.

MV Agusta Motorcycles Get More Expensive for 2013, Again

12/31/2012 @ 11:15 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MV Agusta Motorcycles Get More Expensive for 2013, Again MV Agusta Brutale 800 04 635x425

It hasn’t even been two months since MV Agusta debuted it line-up of motorcycles for the 2013 model year, but the Italian company is already revising its European pricing ahead of the 2013 bikes’ debut in the coming spring. With most models getting a €200 to €300 boost in MSRP, the only MV’s unaffected by this strange price increase are the base model MV Agusta Brutale 1090 and base model MV Agusta F4.

The three-cylinder MV Agusta F3 and MV Agusta Brutale 675 machines get a €200 kick across the board, while the four-cylinder machines get the €300 price increase. No word as to why MV Agusta is increasing the price (though we can guess that the Varese brand is looking for some more euros on its bottom line).

The price change is an especially strange move after releasing its 2013 line so recently, and shows MV Agusta second-guessing itself on one of the company’s more important decisions. It is not clear at this time how this news will affect pricing in North America, if at all (we suggest contacting your dealer). A full breakdown of the price changes is after the jump.

KTM 1190 Adventure Pricing Starts at €13,990

10/03/2012 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

KTM 1190 Adventure Pricing Starts at €13,990 KTM 1190 Adventure R 635x422

Feeling the age of the KTM 990 Adventure & KTM 990 Adventure R, the Austrians debuted at Intermot this week their new adventure-touring machines, the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure & 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure R. Using a revised version of the KTM 1190 RC8 R’s v-twin motor, both bikes feature 148 hp, and clocks in around 230 kg (507 lbs) fully tanked and ready to go ride.

Debuting along side the new water-cooled 2013 BMW R1200GS, KTM has its work cutout for it in the adventure-touring segment, though with Suzuki debuting the concept for its 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, now is certainly a good time to be in the market for an ADV bike. Feeling that notion, KTM has released the pricing on its Adventure bikes, and we like what we see from the Austrians.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 – For Europe…& America Too?

09/04/2012 @ 7:16 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300   For Europe...& America Too? 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 635x476

Confirming what we already knew, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 broke cover today, and is Team Green’s newest small-displacement sport bike in its motorcycle lineup. 296cc’s of twin-cylinder fury, Kawasaki the Ninja 300 boasts 40hp, twin-butterfly valves, fuel injection, a slipper clutch, a 140mm rear tire, and has optional ABS. A part of a larger movement within Kawasaki, the Ninja 300 exemplifies the “no replacement for displacement” school of thought, and will sell along-side the recently updated (and virtually visually identical) Kawasaki Ninja 250R in more than a few markets.

While we know that the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 is set to debut for our European readers, the big question mark will be whether the small sport bike will come to the North American markets. A spreadsheet from the EPA seems to suggest that will be the case, though it points to a carbureted Kawasaki Ninja 205R and fuel-injected Kawasaki Ninja 400R coming to the US as well, making for one impacted learner-bike market. Meanwhile, reports from Canada confirm that their 250R will also be of the carbureted variety.

The news confirms out suspicion that the Ninja 250R will remain the under-powered, and standard-styled, carbureted learner-bike it has always been in North America, while the Ninja 300 becomes the peppy small-displacement sport bike that we haven’t realized that we will lust over later this fall. Presumably then, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 will go head-to-head with the CBR250R and upcoming KTM Moto3-inspired street bike, among other models.

KTM Sells 50,000+ Motorcycles in the First-Half of 2012

07/23/2012 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

KTM Sells 50,000+ Motorcycles in the First Half of 2012 KTM glowing headers 635x476

KTM has crunched the numbers on it sales for the first half of 2012, and the Austrian company has some very impressive news to share. Selling 50,233 units in the first six months of the year, KTM’s increase in sales is 36% over last year’s figures for the same time period, a gain due mainly to the company’s efforts in emerging markets like India.

Though this is the first time that Bajaj’s selling of the KTM Duke 200 has been included in KTM’s half-year report, the Austrian brand wasn’t fueled solely by its Indian sales, as KTM’s European sales were up 41% as well, giving KTM a total marketshare in the EU of 7%.

KTM Sales up 22.4% in 2011 Thanks to India

02/17/2012 @ 1:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

KTM Sales up 22.4% in 2011 Thanks to India KTM 125 Duke illustraion 635x536

If you want a quick synopsis of how the European motorcycle brands performed in 2011, they killed it. BMW, Ducati, Triumph, and now KTM have all reported double-digit sales growth figures for 2011, a stark contrast to the still struggling sales of Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha.  Reporting a 22.4% sales increase last year, KTM made a cool €20.7 million in the process of selling its 81,200 units in 2011 (KTM sold 66,327 units in 2010).

Leading the Austrian company’s growth was the KTM 125 Duke, which has been a huge hit in India, its country of origin, but has also helped grow KTM’s market share in Europe. KTM is also reporting that its latest EXC models have helped spur sales, but we suspect it is the new small-displacement Duke, which was made with developing markets in mind, that is really responsible for the surge in sales growth. KTM says that it expects sales in Europe and North America to remain flat, while the company expects to see growth in emerging markets continue (no surprise there).

MotoGP: Portuguese GP is a Go for 2012

02/15/2012 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

MotoGP: Portuguese GP is a Go for 2012 valentino rossi estoril bw 635x444

After much speculation that MotoGP would forego stopping in Portugal this year, the premier motorcycle racing series will keep five stops on the Iberian peninsula on its 2012 MotoGP Championship calendar after all. With the Portuguese GP struggling to make ends meet, it was thought that Estoril would be dropped for 2012, as it seemed increasingly clear that the local government was not going to step in and help subsidize the cost of hosting MotoGP in Portugal. Coming to some sort of accord with Dorna & the FIM, MotoGP has confirmed that Estoril will remain on the schedule for this year, though its future is certainly still tenuous.

Yamaha Power Beam – A Damper for Your Chassis

03/17/2011 @ 6:30 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Yamaha Power Beam   A Damper for Your Chassis Yamaha Power BeamYou can just tell there’s an engineer in Yamaha’s R&D department that dresses up like Wesley Crusher on the weekends just a little too often. Despite how tragically named this product is, Yamaha’s Power Beam is an interesting solution to a problem that few riders have the delicacies of detecting, yet will likely purchase anyway.

Originally developed for the Yamaha YZR-M1 during the 2003 season, the Yamaha Power Beam will initially be made available to 600 lucky T-Max scooter owners in Europe, which on its face makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

However given the hot-rodding culture in Europe that surrounds the T-Max (and the two-wheelers Jell-O like chassis), the “more horsepower than sense” crowd will likely gobble up this latest go-fast trick part from Yamaha.

Looking down the pipe, there is the likelihood that the Yamaha Power Beam will make its way onto future sport bikes from the tuning fork brand. What the Power Beam does is dampen the rate of flex in the chassis, presumably allowing the steel/aluminum frame of the motorcycle to move to its prescribed tolerances, but in a manner that’s more predictable and favorable to a rider’s needs.

2011 KTM 125 Duke – The Bike Bajaj Built

10/09/2010 @ 1:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2011 KTM 125 Duke   The Bike Bajaj Built 2011 KTM 125 Duke 5 635x345

Finally officially debuted at Intermot, KTM took the wraps off its 2011 KTM 125 Duke, a single-cylinder street bike geared towards young riders. While KTM has always included off-road machines in its line-up that are aimed at getting younger riders to ride orange, the company until now has left a gapping hole in its on-road offering for the same demographic. With Bajaj taking a 35% stake in KTM, the Indian company has not only given the Austrian company the capital it needed to expand its line, but is also rumored to be the major driving force behind the 2011 KTM 125 Duke.

Piaggio Group Sales Up 11% in Q1 2010

04/30/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Piaggio Group Sales Up 11% in Q1 2010 piaggio group q1 2010 sales 560x373

The Piaggio Group is reporting an 11.2% increase in its first quarter 2010 sales across its motorcycle and scooter subsidiaries compared to last year’s numbers. The group netted  €2.9 million for Q1, which is noticable increase from its €4.7 million loss in Q1 of 2009. For motorcycle sales alone, the company saw a 12.4% increase unit sales, with the European market leading the charge.

Yamaha Gets Particular About ‘Fazer8′ Nomenclature

03/02/2010 @ 10:40 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Yamaha Gets Particular About Fazer8 Nomenclature Yamaha Fazer8 fazereight 560x239

UPDATE: The 2010 Yamaha Fazer8 ABS has officially been released.

It would seem that Yamaha Motor Europe is getting a little particular about what people call their new 800cc naked street bike. Dubbed the “Fazer8” by the tuning fork brand, Europeans seem to be more comfortable calling the new Fazer by the previously agreed upon naming method: the FZ8 Fazer. “Whoa, wait, slow down there padre!” says Yamaha.