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.

Video: Grant Wagstaff’s Pit Lane Fire from the Supersport TT

06/05/2014 @ 6:05 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Video: Grant Wagstaffs Pit Lane Fire from the Supersport TT grant wagstaff fire supersport tt 635x423

Aside from the motorbikes lapping at 120+ mph around the Snaefell Mountain Course during Race 2 of the Supersport TT, there was a fair bit of drama at the Isle of Man TT pit lane, especially when a race bike caught on fire.

Coming in for his one pit stop, in between the second and third laps, Grant Wagstaff found himself subject to an unsuspected fireball, after a gas spill was ignited by his Yamaha R6’s hot exhaust pipes.

A terrifying sight, thankfully the incident was taken care of quickly by the fire brigade and everyone else involved.

The result was the pit lane being closed for about a minute, leaving the affected riders to have a time credit given to their official times. Last we heard, all involved will live to race another day, though Wagstaff was sent to Noble’s Hospital and treated for burns.

Battery Fire at Brammo HQ Causes $200,000 in Damage

07/09/2013 @ 2:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Battery Fire at Brammo HQ Causes $200,000 in Damage brammo empulse flux capacitor 635x425

July isn’t getting off to a great start for electric motorcycle manufacturer Brammo Inc, as the Ashland, Oregon company suffered a fire in the company’s R&D lab during the start of the month. The fire broke-out over the weekend of June 30th, as the EV company was doing extended testing to a lithium-ion battery pack.

Fortunately, Brammo’s automated sprinkler system was able to put out the blaze caused by the malfunctioning battery pack, but in the process caused roughly $200,000 in water-damage to equipment located in the facility.

MotoGP: Disaster Avoided after Garage Fire Strikes Monster Yamaha Tech 3 at COTA

04/18/2013 @ 1:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Disaster Avoided after Garage Fire Strikes Monster Yamaha Tech 3  at COTA monster yamaha tech 3 fire 635x476

Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you from the Grand Prix of the Americas this week, and things are already off to an interesting start. With a fire breaking out in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage during the night, the gear for the satellite Yamaha squad was flooded by the Circuit of the America’s fire suppression system, which also affected the garages for Yamaha Racing, LCR Honda, and Cardion AB.

Yamaha Racing Boss Lin Jarvis explained that while the small fire was quickly put out by COTA’s sprinklers, the team lost one of two servers and several computers to the blaze before it was extinguished. It is not anticipated that the fire will have any affect on Sunday’s race, though it could pose a problem for the teams, since they have a quick turnaround for the Jerez round.

Currently, the cause of the fire is presumed to be the lithium battery to Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s electric starter for the GP motorcycles, making this incident another eyebrow raising episode in the handling of high-tech battery packs, which have different tolerances and operating procedures than conventional battery pack types.

While certainly a setback to the start of the race weekend, the teams involved dodged a serious bullet by having the fire occur while MotoGP is at COTA, since the Texan track has a sophisticated fire prevention system in place.

Unlocking the BMW K1600GT’s Secret Missile Feature

01/13/2012 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Unlocking the BMW K1600GTs Secret Missile Feature BMW K1600GT missle 635x476

Well it is Friday the 13th today, so we better kick things off right. Now before the sky darkens, it rains everlasting fire and brimstone, and the creatures of the underworld rise out of the cracks of the earth to enslave mankind for an eternity of toil and torture, we wanted to be sure to share with you this clever piece of motorcycling humor that involves the BMW K1600GT.

Maybe it will provide you with a ray of hope in our soon-to-be-realized dystopian future. Maybe it will arm you with the knowledge on how to take on the zombie hordes that will roam our streets. Or maybe…just maybe, you’ll chuckle and pass it on to Gil in the accounting department, because all he has to live for each day, as he moves numbers from one column on a spreadsheet to another, is that 37 minute commute home on his BMW K1600GT, which somehow continues to sustain his will to go living just for one more day in this upside-down mortgage world we live in.

Photo of the Week: Blue Fire for the Land of the Rising Sun

04/04/2011 @ 9:31 am, by Scott Jones6 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: Blue Fire for the Land of the Rising Sun Hector Barbera flame Qatar GP MotoGP Scott Jones

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen a similar image a few weeks ago, and read the story about how many tries it took to get an instance of the blue fire. Here it is again for those who missed it.

On Saturday night of the 2011 season opener, I was working in the pit lane when I noticed something visually striking. When some bikes were revved up by the mechanics in front of the pit boxes, every now and then some blue flame would appear deep within the exhaust pipe. This blue fire was visible for a tiny fraction of a second, but I thought if I could capture one appearance it would be an interesting image. We often see unburned fuel escape from engines and flame out from exhaust pipes, but during the day this fire is orange. But there is something about the night lighting in Qatar that makes it this distinctive blue.

What Does a Bike Catching on Fire at 120 MPH and Crashing into a Wall Look Like? Just Ask Jonathan Rea

02/24/2011 @ 1:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Despite the concern that he might not race this weekend, Jonathan Rea appears to gotten of easy with his latest get-off during testing at Phillip Island. Having to make the difficult choice between being a human fireball and hitting the tarmac at 120 MPH, Rea opted for the latter, ditched his firing stead, fractured his wrist, and injured his hand & arm in the process.

Now with video of the frightening event, we get a glimpse into the crash that nearly sidelined the British rider, who will still ride in Sunday’s World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island. We generally don’t like our motorcycles on fire, and there’s something very creepy about watching Rea’s Castrol Honda CBR1000RR do a ghostride into a barricade. While unconfirmed reports say Colin Edwards has welcomed Rea to the club, check after the jump for Rea’s personal message to Arai Helmets.

A Close Call at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

04/21/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

A Close Call at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 Le Mans fire ball 560x384

Racing for third place, Honda National Motos wass rushing to fill their CBR1000RR when all of a sudden gallons of race fuel come out of the refueling hose, and slathered the bike in flammable liquid. What happens next is completely predictable to even the most casual race enthusiast.

Likely hitting the super-heated header pipes, the fuel ignites while crew members with minimal fire protection are crowded around the motorcycle trying to dry it with mechanic’s rags. Luckily it would appear no one was injured, but check the video out after the jump to see how close this could have been to a real disaster.

Harley-Davidson Recalls 111,569 Motorcycles

12/10/2009 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Harley Davidson Recalls 111,569 Motorcycles 2009 Harley Davidson Touring FLHX Street Glide 560x415

Harley-Davidson is issuing a recall on its 2009 & 2010 touring line made between June 6, 2008, and Nov. 19, 2009, which consists of 111,569 motorcycles in total. The recall is due to concerns over the fuel tank mounts on these motorcycles, which might distort in a collision, possibly leaking fuel, and thus causing a fire.

SoCal: Angeles Crest Highway Closed Indefinitely

09/07/2009 @ 11:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

SoCal: Angeles Crest Highway Closed Indefinitely AngelesCrestHighway 001 560x420

Los Angeles County riders may be sad to hear that the famed Angeles Crest Highway will be closed for an unforeseeable duration because of recent fire damage to the roadway.

Because of the Station Fire, more than 40 miles of twisty asphalt heaven have been closed indefinitely because of  burned off road stripping, destroyed guard rails, and charred signs, making the road too hazardous to drivers according to Caltrans officials.