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.

MotoGP: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over at Sachsenring

07/08/2012 @ 3:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Its Not Over Until Its Over at Sachsenring Casey Stoner Dani Pedrosa MotoGP Sachsenring 635x421

With the rainy weekend turning to cloudy but dry skies, racing for the German GP proved to be a challenge as teams had only one practice session plus the warm-up to get their dry-setups right for the afternoon’s race. With Casey Stoner sitting on the pole-position, all eyes were on the Australian to see if he could convert the front-row start into a points advantage in the MotoGP Championship, after Lorenzo’s crash in Assen leveled the points between the two rivals.

The level playing field was courtesy of one over-zealous Alvaro Bautista, whose first-turn crash at Assen took the factory Yamaha rider down with him, thus negating his 25 point lead in the 2012 MotoGP Championship. With much of silly season still undecided, the focus wasn’t just on the riders at the front, as Ben Spies, Andrea Dovizioso, and Cal Crutchlow all are vying for the last factory seat in the Yamaha garage. As the German GP would prove, even with half of the season nearly over, it could all come down to the last minute. Click on for a full race report with spoilers.

Saturday Summary at Sachsenring: Why the Ducatis Aren’t Fast in the Wet & Why Germany Could Be Happy on Sunday

07/08/2012 @ 11:33 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Sachsenring: Why the Ducatis Arent Fast in the Wet & Why Germany Could Be Happy on Sunday Nicky Hayden Sachsenring MotoGP 635x422

It poured at the Sachsenring on Saturday afternoon. It absolutely hosed down, rivulets of water running across the track to make the conditions treacherous. Ideal conditions for Ducati, you would say, given their form so far this year in the wet, with Valentino Rossi on the podium in the downpour at Le Mans, and a 1-2 during the first session of free practice at a drenched Silverstone. But Nicky Hayden is 7th and Valentino Rossi 9th, a second or more off the pace of pole-sitter Casey Stoner. What went wrong?

MotoGP: Rain Provides Exciting Qualifying at Sachsenring

07/07/2012 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Rain Provides Exciting Qualifying at Sachsenring Stefan Bradl LCR Honda Sachsenring 635x423

With a mixture of wet and dry conditions occurring during the race-week for MotoGP at Sachsenring, qualifying for the German GP was a strictly rainy affair. The great equalizer, the rain proved to throw a wrench in the usual procession of riders, as MotoGP gets ready for its second round of three back-to-back race-weekends.

Adding drama to the event was the deadlock in the 2012 MotoGP Championship between Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner, as Alvaro Bautista took out the Spaniard in the first corner of the Dutch TT. For his crimes against Spanish supremacy, Bautista will start from the back of the grid, regardless of his qualifying effort today.

Thursday Summary at Sachsenring: Of Rider Changes, Rossi, Pedrosa, & Crutchlow

07/05/2012 @ 8:53 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Sachsenring: Of Rider Changes, Rossi, Pedrosa, & Crutchlow Cal Crutchlow Yamaha Sachsenring MotoGP

Silly Season has hit full swing in Germany, not just for the MotoGP class but for the support classes as well. And while movements in MotoGP are mainly about what is happening next year, in Moto2 and Moto3 – and even among the CRT machines – there is some serious rider swapping going on for the rest of this season.

In MotoGP, the next two key movements just got a lot closer. Dani Pedrosa is now very close to staying with the Repsol Honda team, telling Spanish journalists that he would sign a new two-year contract with HRC either here in the Sachsenring or at Mugello at the latest. His priority had been to stay on a bike he felt he could win with, telling the Spanish newspaper ABC earlier this week that Honda and Yamaha had been his only realistic options. The Ducati, he said rather pointedly, was more something a rider might consider before their retirement.

MotoGP: Battaini Will Replace Karel Abraham at German GP

07/05/2012 @ 2:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MotoGP: Battaini Will Replace Karel Abraham at German GP Karel Abraham Estoril Scott Jones

Ducati test rider Franco Battaini has been tapped to take the place of Cardion AB Ducati’s Karel Abraham, who injured his hand during at crash at the Catalunya test. Sitting out the British GP and Dutch TT, Abraham will also be unfit to ride at Sachsenring, thus causing his team to have to find a replacement rider.

This last news is just one of many blows to Abraham’s season, as the 2012 MotoGP Championship has been a rough one for the young Czech rider, who with a bevy of crashes, has only finished in the points once.

MotoGP Renews Sachsenring Through 2016

06/29/2012 @ 3:16 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

MotoGP Renews Sachsenring Through 2016 sachsenring motogp scott jones

The German round of MotoGP is to stay at the Sachsenring circuit until 2016. Dorna announced today that they had signed a five-year deal with the ADAC, who own the Sachsenring, to keep the race at the circuit. The race had been under threat earlier, after projected losses for the German GP meant that circuit feared not being able to afford the event.

MotoGP Riders to Boycott Motegi Round

07/18/2011 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

MotoGP Riders to Boycott Motegi Round Red Flag Mugello MotoGP

News out of Germany this weekend is that 15 of the 17 riders racing in the MotoGP Championship have threatened to boycott the Japanese GP at Motegi later this year because of safety concerns. Lead by Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, who publicly announced Saturday at the post-qualifying debriefing that they would not race in Japan, the riders are worried about radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, despite Motegi officials (essentially HRC) declaring the Twin Rings circuit safe. The planned boycott also comes ahead of an independent study being conducted on behalf of MotoGP, which is supposed to be an objective assessment of the track’s safety for host MotoGP (the results of the study are due to go public on July 31st).

2010 German GP Infographic

07/20/2010 @ 2:28 pm, by Peter Lombardi7 COMMENTS

There’s Never a Bunny Around When You Need One

07/20/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Theres Never a Bunny Around When You Need One Randy De Puniet Clinica Mobile Sachsenring 3 560x314

God bless Randy de Puniet. For whatever reason, the French LCR Honda rider has wormed his way into our hearts here at Asphalt & Rubber. At first it was because de Puniet had a penchant for crashing, perpetually misplacing his shirt, and well…being French. As the leading satellite bike rider in the 2010 season though, Randy de Puniet has found a new consistency with the LCR Honda, and has even given the factory Repsol Honda boys a run for their money on more than one occasion. We have to admit, we’ve been impressed with de Randy 2.0 this season.

de Puniet has also stayed mostly out of the gravel traps for 2010, showing a new maturity. He’s still French, pompous, and generally comes across as a playboy, but we sort of like that in our French men. Afterall, if Parisians were courteous to American tourists, the city would feel a lot like Atlanta: hot, dirty, and full of people who talk funny.

So when Randy de Puniet broke his leg during the German GP, we were crushed to hear that our favorite rider in the paddock would be out until Brno, and miss the Laguna Seca round. Our concerns of course then immediately turned to Randy’s well-being as he was being carted off for examination at Clinica Mobile.

Was he ok? Did his broad shoulders fit through the clinic’s meager doorways? Who would hold his brave hand while Dr. Costa poked and proded him with his medical “science”? We now know those answers. Video after the jump.

MotoGP TV Ratings Bounce Back with Valentino Rossi’s Return at Sachsenring

07/19/2010 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP TV Ratings Bounce Back with Valentino Rossis Return at Sachsenring Valentino Rossi television ratings 560x373

Auditel (the Italian version of Nielson), is reporting that MotoGP TV ratings were up during the German GP, which coincidently was also the venue for Valentino Rossi’s return to motorcycle racing. The loveable Italian rider is more popular than pasta in his home country, and with Rossi back in the premiere class, MotoGP’s ratings got a big shot in the arm. Reporting 5.5 million viewers during the German GP, Auditel estimates that nearly 43.5% of Italian TV viewers were watching the GP. Warning, spoilers after the jump.