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.

Ducati 350 Café Racer – Proof That Less is More

11/24/2010 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati 350 Café Racer   Proof That Less is More Ducati 350 Cafe Racer

Christian Klein’s Ducati 350 Café Racer might be a work of art, and it’s certainly an example that you don’t have to make an elaborate motorcycle to make something visually stunning. Using a Ducati 350 Scrambler motor, Klein has ported and polished the single-cylinder lump, and then fabricated a custom steel frame to make his creation. Klein was meticulous in his construction, taking several years to perfect his machine. The attention to detail has paid off though, and we especially like the custom made exhaust that wraps around the rear shock, and comes to a minimalist conclusion under the rider’s handmade seat. Photos after the jump.

Horex VR6 1200cc Supercharged Concept

06/15/2010 @ 3:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Horex VR6 1200cc Supercharged Concept Horex VR6 635x458

Out of stealth mode today in Munich, Horex Motorcycles is back after getting the axe from Daimler-Benz back in 1960. To help usher the company back into the motorcycle industry, Horex has developed a V6 1200cc supercharged concept bike that uses a VR6 cylinder configuration. A solid looking street-standard, the Horex VR6 concept is expected to begin production late in 2011, and make somewhere between 175hp-200hp, and over 110lbs•ft of torque.

Volkswagen Motorcycle Could be NSU Comeback?

04/15/2010 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Volkswagen Motorcycle Could be NSU Comeback? nsu bison motorcycle 560x357

This rumor just doesn’t want to die (maybe there’s some truth in it then?), but talk continues about a possible Volkswagen motorcycle. This time the speculation centers around NSU an old german brand that VW bought back in the 1960’s. Known for its wankel-style rotary motors, NSU was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer in 1955, but sadly went out of business in 1969 when the failing brand (primarily due to its automobile division) was acquired by Volkswagen, never to be seen again or so it would seem.

For Sale: 2010 Bimota HB4 Race Bike

04/09/2010 @ 5:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

For Sale: 2010 Bimota HB4 Race Bike bimota hb4 moto2 race bike for sale 560x372

Our friends from over at RareSportBikesForSale.com have tipped us off that Motorrad Hertrampf in Northern Germany, a Bimota, MV Agusta, and Cagiva dealer, has just posted a for sale ad on Jameslist (yes, the German rip-off of Craigslist), where they are offering a 2010 Bimota HB4 for sale. That’s right for €169,000 (without VAT), you too can own your very own Moto2 race bike complete with 145hp Honda 600cc power plant, and all the Italian goodness you’d expect from Bimota. You’ll just have to wait 10 weeks for the Italian firm to build it from the time you pay your deposit.

AC Schnitzer BMW S1000RR – Wiener not Winner

03/22/2010 @ 3:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

AC Schnitzer BMW S1000RR   Wiener not Winner AC Schnitzer BMW S1000RR 3 560x374

AC Schnitzer is better known in the automotive world for making fine BMW parts and automobiles, but the little German tuning shop also tries its hand at motorcycles from time to time. Unfortunately the company’s prowess at making four-wheeled BMW’s look good and run fast does not translate over well to its two-wheel endeavors. A great example of this is the disappointment we had with the recently released 2010 AC Schnitzer BWM S1000RR, which leaves us here at A&R wanting more schnitzel and less Schnitzer in our Bavarian bikes.

Volkswagen Motorcycle Concept

02/01/2010 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Volkswagen Motorcycle Concept Volkswagen motorcycle concept Nils Poschwatta 560x373

It’s been almost two months since Volkswagen bought a 20% stake in Suzuki Motor Corporation, but that hasn’t stopped German designer Nils Poschwatta from imagining what the peoples’ motorcycle would look like. Much fervor was made with the announcement of the two companies joining forces, with many motorcycle fans wishing thinking that VW branded motorcycles were on their way. Like this concept, that notion is a work of pure fantacy, as the two companies have made it clear the partial acquisition is to help both brands enter into emerging car markets more effectively. Still, it’s a nice drawing.

Source: Nils Poschwatta via MotorFreaks

Andrew Pitt Linked to Second Satellite BMW [Updated]

12/15/2009 @ 12:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Andrew Pitt Linked to Second Satellite BMW [Updated] Andrew Pitt August 2008 560x373

UPDATE: Andrew Pitt has confirmed that he has signed with Reitwagen Racing for the 2010 WSBK season.

After BMW added a satellite team to World Superbike, the German team, Reitwagen Racing, was expected to have Austrian Roland Resch at the helm of one of the team’s S1000RR bikes, with a second bike rumored to be still open.

A week later, Mat Mladin shook things up in WSBK, after he tweeted that he was contemplating an offer to ride in the World Superbike Championship. After this news, links began to be made between Mladin and Reitwagen Racing program.

Any hopes of the Australian AMA champion riding the Bavarian machine though seem to be dashed now though, as fellow Australian Andrew Pitt is expected to take up the second seat on the satellite squad instead of Mladin.

Concept: Aprilia RSV4 Powered Zoom Rih Racer

06/08/2009 @ 5:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Concept: Aprilia RSV4 Powered Zoom Rih Racer zoom rih 560x353

It is a well established fact that all bad things either come from German or Florida. In an effort to fix this rule of thumb, German design agency Zoom has invisioned a “hobby racer” that the firm hopes to build after securing financing. Called the Rih (arabic for wind), the concept bike will incorporate a few very interesting technologies (like lungs), while at its core, there is an Aprilia RSV4 motor.

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