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.

A Shameless Opportunity to Talk About Mad Max: Fury Road

07/28/2014 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

A Shameless Opportunity to Talk About Mad Max: Fury Road Tom Hardy Mad Max Fury Road motorcycle photo 635x292

Apparently there’s a new Mad Max reboot coming out, and it looks awesome. I have nothing really to say beyond that, and will argue a tenuous link to our usual content on Asphalt & Rubber because motorcycles are one of the best ways to survive the onslaught Imperator Furisoa (Charlize Theron) in George Miller’s post-apocolyptic imagination.

It’s interesting to think about Hollywood’s inclusion of motorcycles in collapse-of-civilization scenarios though. Is it because two-wheeled transportation is the best way to get around when roads no longer exist, much in the same way that Riders for Health uses motorcycles to effectively get medical aid to remote locations?

Or, is it some subliminal message that Hollywood feeds off of (and thus also helps create) that tells us society has truly fallen apart if we are riding motorcycles…much like how a movie character’s act of smoking a cigarette was used to heighten his/hers cool or mysterious persona?

I don’t know the answer to those question, but it keeps me up at night. I am the Nightrider. I’m a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!

Get Excited for “On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter”

05/13/2014 @ 12:56 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Get Excited for On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter on any sunday the next chapter 635x423

I have had to zip my lips for far too long about this project, but A&R can finally tell you about On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter – the sequel to the famous documentary of a similar name.

A project by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown, the man who filmed the original On Any Sunday, this next installment follows a variety of amateur and professional racers and enthusiasts, from a broad-spectrum of two-wheeled disciplines.

Fund This Documentary: “It’s Something Inside”

02/24/2014 @ 3:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Last month, our friend John Shofner (you may have seen some of his work on A&R already) sent us a link to a project he was working on, and we couldn’t wait for it to become a reality.

So finally, we can talk about the full-length documentary, It’s Something Inside, that Shofner Films hopes to produce, which will tell the story behind America’s two-wheeled petrol racing culture.

To help raise the $400,000 that the It’s Something Inside project will need to produce the film, John has turned to the crowd-sourcing platform of Kickstarter.

If funded (your contributions only get collected if John meets his fundraising goal), and once completed, Shofner Films will then pitch the film to various film festivals, with the hope of ultimately getting a theater or TV deal for the film.

As you can tell from the trailer above, and the stills after the jump, John has a great photographic eye; and his previous work, including a documentary of the karting scene, shows his immense talent in storytelling as well.

We are pretty pumped to see this project go forward, and if you are too, we hope you will contribute some money towards his Kickstarter fund. Count us in for a couple bucks John!

Yamaha Riding Academy and the Story of Hidenobu Toh

11/17/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Yamaha Riding Academy and the Story of Hidenobu Toh Hidenobu Toh yamaha riding academy 635x397

You may remember the well-done short film that Yamaha Racing put together recently about Kazutoshi Seki, the man behind the electronics of Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP race bike, and how great of a job Yamaha did in portraying someone in the MotoGP paddock that you likely have never heard of, but whose contributions are so vital to what happens on the race track every weekend.

Well today we bring you an earlier installment of Yamaha’s “Moving You” series, from which that video came from, and which instead focuses on the Yamaha Riding Academy (YRA) and its Chief Instructor Hidenobu “Concorde” Toh.

A film about the work that Yamaha does beyond just selling motorcycles, it highlights the fact that YRA primarily deals with police forces around the world, and that Toh-san is responsible for teaching the motorcycle officers both basic and advanced riding techniques, which will serve them in the line of duty, and could make the difference between life and death.

As the video explains, this is a high-stakes training effort, as many of the countries involved use officers on motorcycles for their most dangerous assignments. In that regard, Toh-san and his instructors are tasked with giving these officers the tools they need to not only perform their jobs, but to also come home safe from assignment.

Like its MotoGP counterpart, it is well-told story that focuses on the work of one individual, and how that person contributes to a larger effort. It also happens to be a great eleven-minute distraction from your weekend, which we think you will enjoy.

Trailer: Why We Ride

10/23/2013 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Trailer: Why We Ride why we ride 635x423

Though the trailer to Why We Ride has been around for some time now, we have been getting emails about the two-wheeled documentary ever since its limited screening at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida. Encompassing every form of the motorcycling lifestyle, all accounts we have heard about the film say its a feel-good movie with a positive message about motorcycles. Think of it as a recruitment film for future motorcyclists.

Screenings of Why We Ride are limited though, with the movie set to debut in New York and Los Angeles, and with future screenings being held in the Southern California area. Hopefully the Why We Ride team can add other locales to the list. If they want to have a screening in San Francisco, Asphalt & Rubber is down to help with that. The trailer is after the jump. Enjoy!

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Video: Road Warriors 2012

02/13/2013 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Video: Road Warriors 2012 road warriors ama documentary 635x357

Self-described as an “all access behind the scenes with the fastest riders in America,” Road Warriors is a documentary that follows five riders in the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship over the 2012 season: Josh Hayes, Danny Eslick, Melissa Paris, Elena Myers, and Austin Dehaven.

In a series that desperately needs to promote the sport and the riders within it, Road Warriors looks to be a much needed shot in the arm for AMA Pro Racing. We hope the full-length documentary is just as good as the trailer, and that it helps generate some buzz for the 2013 season. Check it out after the jump, and be sure to follow the film’s Facebook page.

Grand Prix Racer – A Documentary on the Manx GP

01/29/2013 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

<em>Grand Prix Racer</em> A Documentary on the Manx GP manx grand prix logo 635x400

If you haven’t seen TT3D: Closer to the Edge, the documentary about the Isle of Man TT, then you owe it to yourself to beg, borrow, or steal a copy for your viewing pleasure (we enjoyed it greatly at our viewing at the Isle of Man). A follow-up to that venerable film (no, not this), from the Isle of Man comes Grand Prix Racer, a documentary that covers that other race over the Snaefell Mountain Course: the Manx Grand Prix.

Originally a race for amateurs that was designed to help introduce them to the TT, the Manx GP runs on the same 37 mile course as the TT and uses the same time trial format. Building its regulations to cater to older machinery, the Manx Grand Prix has just recently gone through a brand and format restructuring to make it more of a “Classic TT” event, helping differentiate the autumn race from its summer counterpart.

The restructuring is surely due to the hope by the Isle of Man government to make the Manx Grand Prix as much of a headline and destination event for motorcycle enthusiasts as the TT, and to aid in that effort the island nation has, followed-up the progress made by TT3D by producing Grand Prix Racer.

With a one-hour version of the film set to air on Britain’s ITV4 network on Tuesday, February 5th at 8pm, the film will also be made available to international broadcasters (cross your fingers America). A DVD of the film will be available March 4th. Check the trailer out after the jump.

This Isn’t a Motorcycle Commercial, But It Should Be

02/08/2012 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

This Isnt a Motorcycle Commercial, But It Should Be joy ride nikon film 635x449

For the uninitiated readers of Asphalt & Rubber, I have an axe to grind with the way OEMs market our sport, lifestyle, and culture. For an industry that centers so heavily around the idea of personal freedoms and individuality, the way motorcycle brands engage motorcyclists is appalling.

Often creating cheap one-dimensional campaigns that feed into the most base stereotypes available, it is rare to find any sort of marketing campaign that touches on the nerves of why we ride motorcycles. We’ve seen the car. We know it exists. And yet, we choose to ride motorcycles. Think about it.

If what is after the jump costs 10x what a normal cheap YouTube flick from (insert OEM here), then I’ll take 10x less marketing material from any motorcycle manufacturer if what I do end up seeing looks this good, and actually has this much substance. Like the Escapism short we debuted by friend Barry Munsterteiger, this film Joy Ride by Sandro has the same level of quality and storytelling we need to publish in the industry.

For bonus points, it shows that motorcyclists are real people with depth and character; and for ultra-bonus points, the star of the film is some guy named Mark Miller.The only thing that I hate about this video? It was made to promote a new digital SLR camera, not a motorcycle. Wake up people.

Trailer: Quick – Now We Get It…Sorta

01/27/2012 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Trailer: Quick   Now We Get It...Sorta Quick movie poster 635x910

Back in May of last year, we brought you the trailer for the Korean movie Quick (allegedly set to be released under the name Fast in the United States). Other than featuring a BMW S1000RR, we had no idea what was going on in the original trailer, though we certainly were intrigued. Thankfully, an updated trailer has been released that actually unfurls the plot line a little bit more for us, and we can get an idea about what the Quick, Fast, but not Fastest, movie thing is about.

Already out in South Korea and Japan, Quick will debut in Singapore next week on February 2nd, however there is no date for the US market premiere at this time (sad trombone). Could a foreign film supplant such masterpieces as Biker Boyz and Torque as the definitive motorcycle action movie of our time? We don’t know, and only time will tell. Can someone send us a copy of this though? Thanks for the tip Rick!

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Video: “Solus” by Lossa Engineering

08/08/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Video: Solus by Lossa Engineering Lossa Engineering Yamaha SR500 warehouse 635x362

After we brought you Barry Munsterteiger’s “Escapism” short, we got an email from Jay LoRossa at Lossa Engineering, sharing with us his company’s “Solus” film, which also takes us back to the original question as to why we ride motorcycles, and begs an answer to our postulation as to why OEM promotional videos are not this well done. Featuring Lossa Engineering’s Yamaha SR500 Café Racer, “Solus” is a movie about a man who finds the only moments of solitude in the busy city occur at night.

Riding alone on the streets of Los Angeles, which would normally be pack and busy during the day, there is that same message here that when you are on a motorcycle, you are alone with yourself, the bike, and the moment. The video is well shot, and tells a story that we think any motorcyclist can relate to about riding. It probably helps as well that Jay’s work is drool-worthy, and his custom SR500 sounds great over Beethoven’s 7th symphony. Watch it after the jump.