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 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.

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA – Adios FB Corse?

01/14/2010 @ 6:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA   Adios FB Corse? john hopkins rizla 560x394

Something is up in the John Hopkins camp. First the American GP/WSBK racer was linked with MotoGP upstart FB Corse. A few days after the team announced a deal with Hopper, his manager said nothing was signed, and rumors about his involvement in the AMA began to ramp up.

While FB Corse continues to insist that Hopper will be riding with the Italian team next season, the American seems to be making every indication that he will be returning home with RoadRacing World is reporting that Hopkins will testing a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 with Team Hammer (aka Team M4 Suzuki) at Fontana on Februrary 2nd & 3rd.

John Hopkins Confirmed with FB Corse?

01/05/2010 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Confirmed with FB Corse? FB Corse MotoGP bike 560x420

There seems to be a back and forth going on as to whether John Hopkins will be riding with FB Corse at a limited number of MotoGP events this year. First there was the announcement that was picked up by major reporters and even some racing sponsors which slotted the American with the Italian team.

However when the news reached Bob Moore, Hoppers manager, he flat out denied that Hopkins had signed anything, and that they were still considering offers including a ride in the AMA. Now Italian site MotoBlog.it, which has been well connected to the FB Corse team from day one, is again saying the American will be in the riders seat at the team’s unveiling later this month.

UPDATE: Hopper Has NOT Signed with FB Corse

12/29/2009 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Hopper Has NOT Signed with FB Corse John Hopking Hopper Kawasaki Pits 560x373

It would seem reports that John Hopkins will be back in MotoGP with FB Corse were premature. While confirming that Hopper has been talking to the Italian GP team, his manager Bob Moore has denied any news that the American rider has signed with the team. Moore goes on to say that Hopkins is still considering all options at this point in time, including a ride in the AMA Pro Racing series.

Ben Bostrom Signs with Pat Clark Motorsports – Jake Zemke & John Hopkins in Talks with PCM

12/16/2009 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ben Bostrom Signs with Pat Clark Motorsports   Jake Zemke & John Hopkins in Talks with PCM Ben Bostrom Graves Yamaha 560x357

A reliable source in the AMA has just tipped us off to the fact that Ben Bostrom has signed with Pat Clark Motorsports (PCM) for the 2010 season. PCM, which has been linked to Bostrom since the beginning of the month, is keeping the deal under wraps though as they try to sign both Jake Zemeke and John “Hopper” Hopkins to the team as well. If successful, this would mean PCM is building the Deathstar of AMA Superbike teams for the 2010 AMA season.

Hopper Out the Rest of World Superbike Season

09/11/2009 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Although initial reports suggested that John Hopkins went relatively unscathed after his crash at the Nürburgring (video above),  Dr. Ting here in the United States has concluded upon further examination that Hopper had a small hemorrhage on his brain that has since stopped bleeding. The discovery of this injury is a show-stopper for Hopkins, who has been plagued with adversity this past year.

Hopkins Dislocates Hip in Crash at Assen, Racing Sunday Looks Doubtful

04/24/2009 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hopkins Dislocates Hip in Crash at Assen, Racing Sunday Looks Doubtful john hopkins crash assen motogp 2008

If you were to ask John Hopkins what his least favorite track is right now, we’d bet good money the American would say the Dutch track Assen. The last time Hopper was in Assen, he smash his leg in a huge crash, which left him sitting out of two races, and struggling in pain for the rest of the season. Now, after only four laps around the course this year, Assen has shown its teeth again for Hopper. During the free practice today Hopkins dislocated his hip in another big crash, and there is doubt surrounding his return to riding by Sunday.

 

John Hopkins Officially Racing in WSBK with Stiggy Honda

03/19/2009 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Officially Racing in WSBK with Stiggy Honda john hopkins

UPDATE: Roberto Rolfo announced on his website that he would be leaving Stiggy Racing, due to “reasons beyond his control.” Those reasons beyond his control would seem to be: John Hopkins joining Stiggy Honda, having sponsorship coming with him, and generally not performing that well last season.

It seems the rumors were true. According to Roadracing World, John Hopkins is officially racing with Stiggy Honda’s World Superbike team. John Hopkins’ agent Bob Moore confirmed the news that that Hopper will be riding a Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR in the World Superbike Championship series, starting with the next round at Valencia, which starts April 3rd. 

 

John Hopkins to World Superbike?

02/03/2009 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

John Hopkins to World Superbike? john hopkins 560x373

Hopper and Melandri still seem to be in MotoGP pergatory, which only gives people more time to speculate on what might become of the two riders. The prevailing rumor right now is that Hopper could end up with a World Superbike ride with Stiggy Honda Motorsports, along-side rider Leon Haslam. This move would mean that Hopkins would replace Roberto Rolfo, who has had problems with a dislocated shoulder.

This appears to be news to Rolfo who recently posted to his site about his recovery and plans for the season without any apparent concern about being replaced by the American.

Hello boys!
In these days I am receiving a lot of mail regard to my injury, I want in the first place say you “thanks” for your support! During the tests of Portimao I completed only a few laps, the lesion was still too much fresh; I knew that it would not have been immediately easy, but it has been however important for me to enter in track, to better know the bike and the new team! I’m happy because the upgrades them is very high!
The days before the next tests in Australia are enough for being able to recover the form with a lot of motivation and training! I am not losing not even a minute of time, therapy, race, bicycle, swim, always with much music: thanks special also to Diabo for the songs of the “El Canto del Loco”! I will take advantage of every day at best, in order to arrive to the top in Australia for the next tests!
By by… and always… Gasss!
Roby44

With the pace that the news has been going about these two, it is really only a matter of time before the Hopkins/Melandri Moto2 rumors start surging; but until then, WSBK might seem like a nice fit for Hopper.

Phillip Island: John Hopkins Goes to Surgery Immediately After Testing Finishes

11/28/2008 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Phillip Island: John Hopkins Goes to Surgery Immediately After Testing Finishes john hopkins rizla 560x394

Kawasaki concluded their testing at Phillip Island before the winter break today, after which John Hopkins headed almost immediately to the hospital to have surgery performed on his leg.

Hopper had been experiencing pain ever since the surgery performed after his crash in Assen early in the 2008 season. Toughing it out, Hopkins showed determination to get this last week’s worth of testing in:

“Today was more positive for me. The injuries weren’t such a big problem, although I had to adapt because I still can’t put any pressure on the left footpeg…we found a pretty good setup on the bike, and my lap times were pretty consistent over the long runs we did for Bridgestone, and it’s this consistency that’s important to our development program right now.”

Hopper clocked in 1’32.1 lap today, about a second off his qualifying time at Phillip Island earlier this year.

Even though MotoGP is such a high profile sport, it is understated how often MotoGP riders become injured during the racing season (Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo also had notable injuries during 2008), and how often  they ride on Sunday’s races with aliments and pains that would leave most of us weekend racers sitting on the couch with a cold one in hand, watching the races instead.

Hopkins plans to take it easy after the surgery, make a full-recovery, and then “train [his] butt off ready for the new season”.

Source: MotoGP; Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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