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.

Husqvarna MOAB Concept – A Modern-Day Scrambler

11/08/2011 @ 1:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Husqvarna MOAB Concept   A Modern Day Scrambler Husqvarna Moab concept 30 635x952

We already know that the Husqvarna as a brand needs to start pulling its weight around the BMW Group, which has lead the once off-road brand to expand into on-road segments. We also know that the last time the Swedish brand debuted a concept bike at EICMA, it ended up giving birth to a production model. Debuting the Husqvarna MOAB concept at EICMA today, Husqvarna has done a modern-take on the classic 1960’s & 1970’s scrambler aesthetic, and is undoubtedly testing the waters on the brand increasing its range of street motorcycles.

“The red tank, the spacious seat, the yellow side panel number holders, the simple stripped-down frame…these all form the essence of the new incarnation of the Husqvarna spirit,” said the company in its press release. While it is always interesting to see how a group perceives itself, it is perhaps even more telling to hear a company describe what it is trying to change itself into. While many Husqvarna hard-part liners were put-off by the debut of the Husqvarna Nuda 900, we have a feeling the Husqvarna MOAB concept will strike a chord that is clearly novel, but also true to Husky’s old values.

Indy Mile Flat Track Grand National Cancelled

08/19/2011 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Roland Sands Desmo Tracker Begins to Take Form

07/08/2011 @ 8:13 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

Roland Sands Desmo Tracker Begins to Take Form RSD Desmo Tracker 1 635x423

We’ve had our fair share of controversial articles here on Asphalt & Rubber, with some posts dealing with hot-button topics, while others were designed to stir the pot a bit. Usually though we know what sort of trouble we’re getting ourselves into, even before the first comment is left by a reader, but no article caught us by surprise more than our initial coverage of Roland Sands’s latest custom project: the RSD Desmo Tracker. A flat track bike with a Desmosedici RR heart, there’s something about taking the MotoGP replica and turning it into a steel-shoe racer that elicits a very visceral response from Ducatisti and flat trackers alike.

Maybe it’s because those two parts of the motorcycle world are just that far apart — one is reserved for dentists having a mid-life crisis, and the other for back-woods hillbillies that can only turn left. Maybe it’s because people think that if you own a $40,000 Desmosedici RR, the last thing you should be doing with the machine is making it something else. There’s no doubt that Desmo is the sort of thing little boys put posters of on their bedroom wall, so does tampering with Bologna’s GP opus change that childhood fantasy?

We could delve into this topic further, but I doubt we’d get very far in the conversation. I will say this though, just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a bike by its build progress. That being said, this post is one of those articles that we see trouble brewing a mile away. A friendly reminder: the comments section is below, near the bottom of the page.

Bottpower BOTT XR-1 – If Buell Made a Harley

03/07/2011 @ 8:23 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Bottpower BOTT XR 1   If Buell Made a Harley Bottpower BOTT XR 1 concept 4 635x423

Bottpower may have not had the most success in the Moto2 racing category, but they sure know how to make some drool-worthy motorcycles. Taking its hands to a different style of motorcycle, the Spanish firm envisions a flat track racer that’s not too disimilar from the Harley-Davidson XR1200. Cool, but not crazy, right?

Well the best part about this one-off motorcycle, which Bottpower is making the frame for a special customer (a kit for other customers may be possible if the demand is there), is that the BOTT XR-1 will be built from spare Buell parts, which is a sorta of perverse and ironic twist of fate if you ask us.

Nicky Hayden Riding the Indy Mile

09/01/2010 @ 9:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden Riding the Indy Mile Nicky Hayden Indy Mile flat track 2 560x373

If you weren’t in Indianapolis for the Indy GP, you certainly missed one of the better side events of the weekend: The Lucas Oil Indy Mile AMA Flat Track Grand National. It’s hard to make riding on packed dirt at breakneak speeds with no brakes more exciting, but throw in former flat track Champion Nicky Hayden, the entire Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and a contract announcement and you have the makings for a very special event.

With Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio on-stage to announce Hayden’s new two-year contract, motorcycle racing fans got to see their homeboy do good. Helping celebrate the event, Hayden took to the track with his steel boot, and held nothing back for his loyal followers.

Nicky Hayden Renews Contract with Ducati

08/28/2010 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden Renews Contract with Ducati Nicky Hayden renews Ducati Contract 560x453

Under the lights of the Indy Mile, where motorcycle racing began for the Kentucky-born MotoGP racer, Nicky Hayden has signed a two-year contract with Ducati Corse for the 2011 & 2012 seasons. Not the biggest surprise in the paddock, Hayden’s contract renewal has never really been questioned this season as the American started the season off with series of strong finishes and continues to be a strong brand ambassador for Ducati in the United States.

Hayden will be joined the next two years by former teammate Valentino Rossi, the pair rode for Repsol Honda in 2003, with Hayden finishing the season 5th in his rookie GP season.

Oberdan Bezzi Inks Benelli Due Flat-Tracker

03/08/2010 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Oberdan Bezzi Inks Benelli Due Flat Tracker Oberdan Bezzi Benelli 2 concept TechnoTracker 635x429

Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi is at it again with hit imagination and design tools in hand. Taking the iconic Italian brand of Benelli, Bezzi has put together an imagined flat-track ready version of the fabled Benelli 2ue (Due?) motorcycle that he calls the Benelli 2 TechnoTracker.

VIDEO: Kenny Roberts & the TZ750 at Indy Mile

12/18/2009 @ 6:28 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

VIDEO: Kenny Roberts & the TZ750 at Indy Mile Kenny Roberts Yamaha TZ750 Indy GP flat track 560x398

It’s been a good year for Yamaha Motors in racing, with riders James Stewart, Valentino Rossi, and Ben Spies all taking championship titles home for the tuning-fork brand. As a holiday gift to race enthusisats, Yamaha has put together a quick documentary on another rider that took the checkered flag home for Yamaha…in 1975. At the Indy GP this year, Kenny Roberts re-lived his 1975 flat track victory on the 125bhp, 750cc two-stroke Yamaha TZ750 flat-tracker of death. Video after the jump.

Kurt Marmor’s Ducati 749 Flat-Track Race Bike

08/14/2009 @ 5:48 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Kurt Marmors Ducati 749 Flat Track Race Bike Ducati 749 dirt flat tracker 1 560x373

How do you race in a flat-tracking event at the Springfield Mile in style? With a modified Ducati 749, that’s how. And that’s exactly what Kurt Marmor did at this year’s event. Unfortunately, Marmor wasn’t able to qualify for the main event, but we have a feeling that the Duc-track will show up at other events this year, and regardless, the bike sounds sooo good on the dyno video below. We just might have to get into this flat-tracking thing.

Aprilia Mana X

12/01/2008 @ 8:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Aprilia Mana X aprilia mana x 6 560x439

Aprilia’s Mana X was released to the public during the EICMA bike show in Milan a little over a month ago. Since then, Aprilia has finally seen it fit to get the street-meets-flat-tracking motorcycle into a studio for a proper photo shoot.

The Mana X concept is based off of Aprilia’s Mana 850, and shares the basic parts like the motor, and trellis frame. However, the resemblance ends there with a new two lens projector headlight setup, a full MX seat, low slung muffles, and a swingarm with exposed bracing taking the bike into a completely new direction of styling.

From the looks of the photo’s it looks like Aprilia has done away with the foot shifter in lieu of a hands-only choice of automatic shifting, or sequential touch shifting (via finger controls). This has allowed Aprilia to move the rear-brake lever t to the handlebar where a traditional clutch lever would be, leaving the dirt bike inspired foot pegs to dangle all by themselves.

While the bike is still a concept, it would only take a few minor changes and a little raiding of the common parts bin to make this dream become a reality.