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.

French Lazareth’s Supercharged FZ1

06/27/2009 @ 9:43 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

French Lazareths Supercharged FZ1 Lazareth 1000 Compressor FZ1 560x373

In Annecy-le-Vieux, France, near the Swiss border resides builder Ludovic Lazareth. This French mechanical artisan has built a number of one off motorcycles, trikes, and cars, and his latest take on the Yamaha FZ1 just recently caught our eye.

The bike design, as you can see for yourself, is all hand done, angular, aggressive, and edgy. But, we especially like the Mini Cooper S supercharger that has been fitted to the FZ1 motor. No word on how much power its putting down, suffice it to say though, it’s enough. The FZR Compressor can be yours, like many of Lazareth’s creations, for only €40,000 ($56,000).

Source: Lazareth via BikeEXIF

R1 Wheelie Caught on Google Street View

06/24/2009 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

R1 Wheelie Caught on Google Street View R1 wheelie Google Street View

Leave it to the French to wheelie past the infamous Google Street View car as it drove around the city streets of Marseille. This R1 rider certainly seized the moment when he saw the Google clad car with cameras on top, old school race livery and all. See for yourself here.

Source: Moto.Caradisiac

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French Tuner Dub Performance and the Proto Slug

06/01/2009 @ 5:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

French Tuner Dub Performance and the Proto Slug proto slug v rod 17 560x373

Dub Performance, a French tuner located just outside of the alps, have added their je ne sais quois to a Harley-Davidson V-Rod. With a 2200cc motor putting out 180hp, the Proto Slug (you have to enjoy the French sense of humor here) boasts a very radical departure from its cruiser lines. Pictures after the jump.

MotoGP: Weather Changes Leaves Riders Out to Dry in Le Mans

05/17/2009 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Weather Changes Leaves Riders Out to Dry in Le Mans jorge lorenzo fiat yamaha le mans 560x401

As we mentioned yesterday, Le Mans is known for its rapidly changing weather patterns, and a mixture of both rain and sunshine is not uncommon for the French track. The weather gods being unappeased, they decided to bring both the rain and the sun for MotoGP fans in France today. From the very beginning of the French GP things were interesting: with the GP run on a dry track, but riders leaving the grid on rain tires. With teams having to make the call on whether to stay out on rains, or sacrifice time and pit in, there were some interesting results from the choices being made. Continue reading for the spoilers.

The Kawasaki French Connection

01/23/2009 @ 2:19 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

The Kawasaki French Connection fcuk kawasaki 560x213

We sat around all of Thursday waiting for news from Japan about a possible French supplier for a privateer Kawasaki team, and we got zip, zero, nada, nothing in our inbox confirm all the speculation. However, we have seen further evidence that news should come today about such a partnership. Early indications point to a team that is Kawasaki only in name, with parts and support coming from France, and with riders from the US and Italy.

That’s right Marco and Hopper seem to be the riders, but of course at this point we’re not counting our chickens until they’ve hatched…for all we know a pair of Muppets like Burt and Earnie could be riding Kawasakis as a cost cutting measure. We’ll bring you more news when we get it.

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French Voxan’s New 2009 Roadster

12/29/2008 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

French Voxans New 2009 Roadster 2009 vaxon roadster 560x374

10 years ago French builder Voxan added the Roadster to their growing line-up. After positive traction in France, and slippery black ice traction just about everywhere else, a new Roadster is joining the line-up.

Voxan is hoping to level out their rocky past with this brand new take on their popular Roadster model. Slotted to be released in the 1st quarter of 2009, the Roadster will continue to make use of Voxan’s unique 72°, 996cc, 100hp, v-twin motor. The Roadster features 4 valves per cylinder head, and the model shown above is rumored to be close to what the final project will look like, meaning a new more aggressive look for Voxan.

French Made Tucson BT550 Superleggera Weighs Just 97kg

12/21/2008 @ 2:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

French Made Tucson BT550 Superleggera Weighs Just 97kg tucson bt550 superleggera 1 560x350

The French company Tucson set out with a simple goal. Build a sportbike under 100kg (220lbs), by using the inspiring Aprilia 550cc v-twin motor, found in the SXV and RXV motorcycles. See how they did it, with pictures, after the jump.

French Motorcycle Cop Training Video

12/09/2008 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

This video really speaks for itself. The blooper reel starts around the 0:44 time mark. The big take-away here is if you’re running from the French Police, get onto a dirt road as soon as possible…baguettes optional.

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