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.

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.

Made in Thailand: Kawasaki

08/24/2009 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Made in Thailand: Kawasaki Kawasaki logo 560x369

In an effort to reduce production costs, Kawasaki is about to become the first Japanese motorcycle manufacturer to have its motorcycles built in a developing country. Starting in 2010, Kawasaki will transfer the production of its medium and large-sized motorcycles from Japan to Thailand.

According to financial experts at Bloomberg, Kawasaki’s motives are based on reducing costs by taking advantage of the cheap labor found in Thailand. Rumor has it that Honda is also considering moving its production to Thailand, presumably for similar reasons.

Source: Bloomberg

Hayden to Decide on Ducati by September

08/10/2009 @ 12:06 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hayden to Decide on Ducati by September Nicky Hayden Ducati contract renew1 560x371

With the MotoGP paddock still up in the air as to where riders will land for the 2010, some riders are in better positions than others. Nicky Hayden finds himself in the unique position of deciding whether or not he will stay with a factory ride, or move elsewhere. Hayden currently has a one-year contract with Ducati, which has an option to renew the contract for another with the American rider.

KTM Offers Factory Race Tuning to Regular Joes

06/29/2009 @ 5:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

KTM Offers Factory Race Tuning to Regular Joes KTM XC woods race 560x420

While not exactly “street bike” news, we thought the A&R readership would find this latest press release from KTM interesting nonetheless.

KTM owners of current  SX, XC, XC-W, and EXC model dirt bikes can now have their motorcycles tuned by KTM factory technicians to the exact same specifications as the KTM factory supported race bikes.

Benelli to Go Under?

06/04/2009 @ 12:33 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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While Ducati is recording all-time high sales figures, times are significantly tighter at Benelli, that other Italian motorcycle manufacturer. With many of its workers on part-time status (and with the Government paying part of their paycheck), production at the Benelli factory has been scaled back to around 1,000 motorcycles for 2009, down from the 20,000 the company had anticipated to make when it set it goals back in 2007.

This year, Chinese owner, Qiang Jiang, is taking a closer look at the Italian acquistion, with the possibility of folding the company not ruled out. This just a few months after Qiang Jiang pumped $26 million into the Italian brand.

Kawasaki Offers to Buyout Workers in Nebraska

05/15/2009 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Kawasaki Offers to Buyout Workers in Nebraska kawasaki rider butt

Kawasaki, not be left out of the metric manufacturer meltdown, is offering a buyout package to 320 workers at its plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, which produces ATVs and personal water craft for Team Green. While, the buyout applies to only about 16% of the plants total 2,000 or so workers, if further costs reductions are not met then deeper cuts will likely be made.

According to Kawasaki, “rapidly declining sales” of recreational and utility products prompted the buyout, and if not enough of the employees excericse the option to have their contracts bought, then Kawasaki will “be forced to terminate some employees.” Workers at the Nebraska plant already have been working short weeks and will continue to do so for the next several months. No further comment from Kawasaki is expected until Friday, May 22. 

Source: PowerSports Business

Ducati to Get New Modern Factory

04/27/2009 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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It looks like Ducati will be moving out of their current headquarters at Borgo Panigale (just outside the old city walls of Bologna), and into a new facility down the road at Perscietana. The new facility will boast nearly 1.8 million square feet, with space included for events and exhibits for customers and visitors, along with a new restaurant and test track. 

 

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Husqvarna to Move to New Manufacturing/R&D Facility in Italy

03/13/2009 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Husqvarna to Move to New Manufacturing/R&D Facility in Italy husqvarna sm 610 ie 260 560x406

Husqvarna (which BMW bought in 2007) will be moving to its new headquarters in Italy by the end of May this year. The move is part of BMW’s plan to have all the Husqvarna business units in one facility. This means that all the engine, testing, development, styling, and racing divisions of Husqvarna will exist under one roof at the Cassinetta di Biandronno facility, in the Varese district of Italy.

Part of BMW’s motivation behind the move is to reduce costs and to sort out Husqvarna’s problems with quality control and supplies of spare parts. While Husqvarna only sold 12,000 bikes in 2007, BMW hopes to increase sales by over three times the current levels over the next 2 to 3 years. In fact, the new manufacturing facility will have the capacity to produce up to 40,000 Husqvarna motorcycles every year.

BMW intends to keep Husqvarna as an off-road specialist brand and use R&D inputs from the company to improve/develop its own dual-purpose and off-road machines.

Source: Faster & Faster

Yamaha to Shutdown Factories for Two Weeks

01/20/2009 @ 12:30 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Yamaha to Shutdown Factories for Two Weeks yamaha logo 560x149

Yamaha Motors is announcing that it will be closing down 11 facilities, thus halting production, for two-weeks in order to cut on costs. The shutdown is expected to occur sometime in February or March, and will include lines for Yamaha’s motorcycles, recreational vehicles, atvs, watercraft, and spare parts.

In similar news, Honda has announced that it will be cutting production worldwide and across the board: cars, bikes, generators, you name it.

Source: visordown

Honda Pulls Out of AMA

12/14/2008 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Honda Pulls Out of AMA honda logo grey bye 560x280

Last week we speculated whether or not Honda would pull out of MotoGP after it announced that it was ending its Formula1 campaign, Honda has now announced that it will be withdrawing from all of the AMA’s road racing series.

This news really only affects Neil Hodgson, who is currently the only factory signed onto the 2009 season. HRC’s move will not affect Jake Zemke, who won last year’s AMA Formula Xtreme Championship, because all signs point to him riding for the Erion Honda team, which Honda will still be offering support to, as well as the Corona Honda team.

Honda again cites the current economic situation as the reason behind their announcement. We’ll let you discuss if you think factors like Suzuki’s dominance in AMA Superbike, or the new ownership by the Daytona Motorsports Group could be aggravating circumstances.

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