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.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today. Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin. Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup. Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List – FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone?

01/28/2010 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List   FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone? Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike 1 560x372

This article takes a doubly interesting turn of events. You may remember that a week ago we brought to you the unveiling of the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike. The HB4, the first time a Honda motor has been in a Bimota in 25 years, was to be campaigned by FB Corse in the first running of the 250GP replacement series, Moto2, but has mysteriously been left out of the Moto2 Provisional race list.

Equally unnerving was the postponement of the FB Corse MotoGP & Moto2 press launch, which was allegedly due to FB Corse boss, Andrea Ferrari, undergoing hand surgery. The timing of that postponement drew some skeptical attention since it was right in the middle of the Hoppergate saga, which saw American rider John Hopkins teetering back and forth between riding the FB Corse MotoGP machine or taking a seat in the AMA Pro Superbike series.

Now with Hopkins making his intent to ride in the AMA clear, the FB Corse MotoGP bike yet to be unveiled, and the Bimota HB4 absentee from the Provisional Moto2 racing list, there are rumors circulating in the American and Italian racing camps that this entire thing is a charade and done for publicity.

Hoppergate: FB Corse Angry at Foreign Press

01/18/2010 @ 4:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hoppergate: FB Corse Angry at Foreign Press John Hopkins hear no evil1 560x373

Hoppergate continues on as it would seem MotoGP upstart, FB Corse, has their kneepucks in a bunch about the press they’ve been recieving lately from “websites on the other side of the ocean.” This would seem to be a poke in the eye to publications like RoadRacing World (and others), who have cast some doubt on John Hopkins’ commitment to FB Corse, as the former MotoGP rider has yet to sign a contract with the Italian team.

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA – Adios FB Corse?

01/14/2010 @ 6:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA   Adios FB Corse? john hopkins rizla 560x394

Something is up in the John Hopkins camp. First the American GP/WSBK racer was linked with MotoGP upstart FB Corse. A few days after the team announced a deal with Hopper, his manager said nothing was signed, and rumors about his involvement in the AMA began to ramp up.

While FB Corse continues to insist that Hopper will be riding with the Italian team next season, the American seems to be making every indication that he will be returning home with RoadRacing World is reporting that Hopkins will testing a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 with Team Hammer (aka Team M4 Suzuki) at Fontana on Februrary 2nd & 3rd.

FB Corse Official MotoGP Unveiling Postponed

01/13/2010 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

FB Corse Official MotoGP Unveiling Postponed fb corse motogp race bike 2 560x420

FB Corse has pushed back its official unveiling of its MotoGP race bike from January 21st to February 11th and it citing the change in dates because Andrea Ferrari, one of the owners of FB Corse, is reportedly unavailable for health reasons.

FB Corse Will Participate in Qatar Test

01/09/2010 @ 8:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

FB Corse Will Participate in Qatar Test FB Corse MotoGP race bike 1 560x420

Continuing to develop their MotoGP entry, FB Corse has announced their intent to participate in the Qatar testing session, which is schedule to start on March 17th. In confirming their attendance in Qatar, FB Corses Principal Andrea Ferrari also confirmed that the team would not be attending MotoGP’s testing session at Sepang, Malaysia in February. More on this and sneak photos of the FB Corse MotoGP race bike after the jump.

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John Hopkins Confirmed with FB Corse?

01/05/2010 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Confirmed with FB Corse? FB Corse MotoGP bike 560x420

There seems to be a back and forth going on as to whether John Hopkins will be riding with FB Corse at a limited number of MotoGP events this year. First there was the announcement that was picked up by major reporters and even some racing sponsors which slotted the American with the Italian team.

However when the news reached Bob Moore, Hoppers manager, he flat out denied that Hopkins had signed anything, and that they were still considering offers including a ride in the AMA. Now Italian site MotoBlog.it, which has been well connected to the FB Corse team from day one, is again saying the American will be in the riders seat at the team’s unveiling later this month.

UPDATE: Hopper Has NOT Signed with FB Corse

12/29/2009 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Hopper Has NOT Signed with FB Corse John Hopking Hopper Kawasaki Pits 560x373

It would seem reports that John Hopkins will be back in MotoGP with FB Corse were premature. While confirming that Hopper has been talking to the Italian GP team, his manager Bob Moore has denied any news that the American rider has signed with the team. Moore goes on to say that Hopkins is still considering all options at this point in time, including a ride in the AMA Pro Racing series.

John Hopkins Signs with FB Corse MotoGP Team

12/21/2009 @ 5:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Signs with FB Corse MotoGP Team FB Corse Logo 560x274

MotoGP new comer FB Corse has announced that they’ve signed John Hopkins to their 2010 season debut. When FB Corse first hit our radar back in September, the new MotoGP team stated that they had not secured a rider, but were keen on signing American John Hopkins to their racing efforts.

After things fell silent on the Italian front, we broke the news that John Hopkins has since been in talks about a possible ride in the AMA Pro Racing series with Pat Clark Motorsports. It would seem that PCM’s AMA Deathstar will have to go on hold for now, as FB Corse has officially announced that Hopper will be riding with them next year. Hopper will join the FB Corse team in Milan on January 21st for the team’s official presentation.

John Hopkins to FB Corse and MotoGP?

10/08/2009 @ 9:17 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

John Hopkins to FB Corse and MotoGP? John Hopkins Stiggy Honda Monster Energy 560x373

John Hopkins, in a recent video posted on his personal website (not for the weak-stomached), has declared that he is uncertain where he will land for the 2010 racing season. With things at Stiggy Honda beginning to look bleak, it seems clear that the team will be unable to afford both Leon Haslam and John Hopkins next year. Haslam is rumored to be headed fro Alstate Suzuki, while Hopper has been keen on getting back into MotoGP.

De Angelis to Announce 2010 Ride as Early as Estoril

09/17/2009 @ 5:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

De Angelis to Announce 2010 Ride as Early as Estoril Alex de Angelis crash MotoGP San Marino GP 560x401

Overshadowing his podium finish from the Indianapolis GP, Alex de Angelis didn’t make too many friends in San Marino, and certainly didn’t impress any teams in paddock with his turn 2 performance. So it isn’t with great surprise that we find de Angelis still looking for a ride in MotoGP this September.

With seats in the MotoGP paddock quickly filling up, the Sammarinese rider has even entertained the prospect of going to World Superbike for 2010, but has stated that he would not consider Moto2 as an option.