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.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS Gets More Power

09/04/2014 @ 1:25 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS Gets More Power 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS 01 635x422

It’s hard to fault the current Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, except perhaps the sport bike’s alphabet soup name, which the Italian company seems to grow longer with each passing year and added feature.

That being said, the Tuono V4 R is easily our pick for the best streetfighter on the market — it packs a punch with its V4 engine, has the industry’s best electronics package, and is just downright fun to ride.

Noale, Italy isn’t resting on those laurels though, so accordingly the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS is getting some minor updates: namely a bump in peak power (170hp) and torque (83.3 ft•lbs), thanks to a new exhaust system.

Erik Buell Racing 1190SX Details – 185hp & $16,995

07/01/2014 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing 1190SX Details   185hp & $16,995 2015 Erik Buell Racing 1190SX 06 635x425

When the Erik Buell Racing 1190SX first debuted, EBR was tight-lipped on any specifics about its streetfighter model. Thankfully East Troy has given us a few more details, and we now know that the 2015 Erik Buell Racing 1190SX will not have a detuned v-twin motor from its EBR 1190RX superbike counterpart, so 185hp and 101 lbs•ft of torque will be on tap for street bike fans…as it should be

Additionally, the EBR 1190SX will come with a $16,995 price tag, which prices it just above the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS ($14,999) and BMW S1000R ($13,150 – $14,950), while being on par in price with the KTM 1290 Super Duke R ($16,999).

Leaked: Tech Details on the Harley-Davidson Livewire

06/18/2014 @ 10:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler56 COMMENTS

Leaked: Tech Details on the Harley Davidson Livewire Harley Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle 08 635x453

Thanks to our network of Bothan spy tipsters, we posted today the still-unreleased photos of the Harley-Davidson Project Livewire. Details were light from our sources though, but Bothans are a tireless breed (note: for new readers, we sort of have this whole Star Wars motif on leaked stories…just roll with it, we already know we’re nerds).

While the consensus on Project Livewire seems to be that it’s a looker, the devil is in the details…and now we have those as well. Featuring a three-phase induction motor with 55 kW of power (just under 74hp) and 52 lbs•ft of torque, the Harley-Davidson Livewire is packing more power than both the Brammo Empulse R (54 hp) and Zero SR (67 hp). That’s the good.

The bad is that despite its hefty casing size, the Harley-Davidson Livewire motorcycle is a little light in the loafers when it comes to battery capacity. Our guesstimate on battery pack size, judging from Harley’s quoted charge time and parameters, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 kWh nominal, a bit less than the 9.3 kWh and 10.0 kWh of the Brammo and Zero.

That means the Harley-Davidson Livewire is good for just over 50 miles of mixed city and highway riding that is limited to 92 mph (we’re not really sure how Harley-Davidson came up with that figure). Expect to go 0-60 in around 4 seconds.

2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS – Now with Bosch 9MP ABS, 167 Horsepower, & More Letters in Its Name

07/17/2013 @ 6:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS – Now with Bosch 9MP ABS, 167 Horsepower, & More Letters in Its Name 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS 19 635x536

Now 167 hp strong, those crazy Italians in Noale are upgrading there already stout Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC for the 2014 model year, and for bonus points are adding an ABS package along with those extra ponies on the streetfighter’s peak horsepower figure.

Integrating the Bosch 9MP dual-channel ABS package, which is mated to Brembo M432 brake calipers up-front, Aprilia has made the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R  a bit more stable while braking on questionable road conditions — keeping the bike inline with its competitors.

With a bevy of changes coming to the Tuono’s 999.6cc V4 power plant to boost power, we also see that Aprilia has included its second-generation APRC electronics package to the motorcycle, making it easily the most tech-savvy machine in its category.

Other changes include also a larger fuel tank (4.9 gallons), and a new seat for better street performance and ergonomics. It’s not clear if Aprilia USA will price the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R at its previous $14,999 MSRP, or will continue its aggressive pricing at $13,999, like the company has done with the 2013 models.

Honda vs. Yamaha: Cal Crutchlow Helps Explain Why the First Corner Decides a MotoGP Race

06/21/2013 @ 1:13 pm, by David Emmett14 COMMENTS

Honda vs. Yamaha: Cal Crutchlow Helps Explain Why the First Corner Decides a MotoGP Race Sunday Mugello Italian GP MotoGP Scott Jones 051 635x423

Jorge Lorenzo has won the last two MotoGP rounds in utterly dominating style. Though his win at Mugello was by a greater margin, the victory at Barcelona was one of the most impressive of his career. Afterwards, both Lorenzo’s team manager Wilco Zeelenberg and Monster Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow said of the Barcelona win that it was probably one of the best races he had ever ridden. Lorenzo had made only one mistake, the Spaniard said afterwards, and it was so small it did not even show up on the data.

As he had done at Mugello, Lorenzo ensured that he won the drag race to the first corner, aggressively outbraking Dani Pedrosa to take the lead. From that point, he held the Honda’s at bay until Dani Pedrosa finally broke, the Yamaha man going on to win by nearly two seconds. It was the second race in a row which Lorenzo had led from the start and gone on to win the race.

In fact, all three of Lorenzo’s wins, at Qatar, Mugello and Barcelona, have come in the same manner: Get into the first corner in the lead, push hard in the early laps, and ride as perfectly, and as fast, as possible throughout the entire race. There is simply no one else in the world capable of riding a motorcycle for 25 laps at full speed as well as Jorge Lorenzo at the moment.

As impressive as Lorenzo’s wins have been, the one thing they have lacked is spectacle. There has been no drama, no battles, no need to defend, and the only place Lorenzo has needed to attack has been off the line, an area perhaps aided by the new clutch Yamaha have been using for this year.

Does Lorenzo not enjoy the battle, is he incapable of holding his own in a battle, or is it down to the bike? It is a question which is debated by fans around the world, with an answer apparently hard to give.

The 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / ZZR1400 Makes Under 200hp

10/11/2011 @ 5:32 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

The 2012 Kawasaki ZX 14R / ZZR1400 Makes Under 200hp 2012 kawasaki zx 14r zzr1400 635x483

After debuting the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400, Team Green has been fairly tight-lipped about quoting specific performance figures on the company’s revamped hyperbike. Carefully gleaning the performance specifications from its US and UK websites, it looks like Kawasaki Motors Europe has spilled the beans on the ZX-14R’s horsepower figures. Perhaps letting down those who expected the ZX-14R/ZZR1400 to break the 200+ horsepower barrier, Kawasaki’s site quotes power figures just shy of 200hp.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 – 132hp – $12,995

09/27/2011 @ 3:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848   132hp   $12,995 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 635x475

Ducati has released pricing and power specs for the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 here in the US, and the fighter’d version of the Superbike 848 is interestingly priced at $12,995 MSRP, the same price as the Superbike 848 EVO “Dark” or $1,000 less than the colored Superbike 848 EVOs, which retail for $13,995. Making 8hp less than the current Superbike 848 EVO, the Ducati Streetfighter 848’s motor makes 132hp and 69 lbs•ft of torque on Ducati’s dynos, just 23hp shy of the current Streetfighter 1098. Additionally, the Ducati Streetfighter 848 will tip the scales at 373 lbs dry (439 lbs wet), the same weight figure quoted for the current Ducati Streetfighter 1098.

As we stated when the Ducati Streetfighter 848 first broke cover, the positioning on the smaller Streetfighter was going to be critical and difficult for Ducati. The Bologna brand not only has to balance the the Streetfighter 848 against the Superbike 848 EVO, but also against the Monster 1100 EVO as well, which retails for $11,995. With the Streetfighter 848 getting lower-spec suspension and brakes compared to the Superbike 848 EVO (along with a presumably smaller airbox resulting in less power), Ducati seems to be hoping that the standard traction control on the SF848 will help distinguish the Streetfighter from its Superbike compatriot, which has no Ducati Traction Control (DTC) option.

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale – 195hp / 395 lbs (Base)

09/23/2011 @ 11:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale   195hp / 395 lbs (Base) 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale 635x428

Confirming what we reported back in November of last year regarding the performance figures for Ducati’s new Superbike, Ducati dealership Pro-Italia posted on its Facebook wall (now redacted) a less-than-cryptic “395/195″ message while in attendance at the Ducati Dealership meeting in Miami, Floria. Noting the wet weight and brake horsepower, the new 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale makes good on its promise to trump its predecessor by over 20hp and 20 lbs. To thank for the these benchmark miracles is the 1199 Panigale’s very over-square Superquadrata motor (also known as the SuperQuadro in some rumor reports), which will rev higher than any other previous Ducati Superbike motor to-date, and the company’s new “frameless” chassis design, which has been floundering in MotoGP.

While we can’t speak for the efficacy of Ducati’s new chassis philosophy, and how it will work on the company’s new v-twin production bike, the spec-sheet racers should be impressed with this latest piece of information. And as if those figures weren’t impressive enough already, Asphalt & Rubber has learned that the Ducati 1199 Panigale homologation special, the made-for-racing “production” model which has been making its appearance in the bulk of the 1199’s spy shots, has been producing over 205hp at the crank during its recent testing at Borgo Panigale facility (the namesake for the 1199 Superbike), while in its “stock” form. While we don’t know what naming convention Ducati will use on the race-bike-with-lights-on-it 1199, A&R does know that it will not receive “R” nomenclature that we’ve seen in the past.

Are Electronics the New Horsepower?

03/01/2011 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Are Electronics the New Horsepower? 2011 aprilia rsv4 r aprc black 635x423

The news of the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC got me thinking today about where the sport bike market is headed from a big picture perspective. The sport bike market has been dominated the constant need to develop motorcycles with more power, less weight, and new performance enhancing technologies, and you’d be hard pressed to find a year where the bike with the most horsepower wasn’t the top-seller in this category (case in point: the complete sales domination of the BMW S1000RR during 2010).

For years the motorcycle manufacturers, especially the Japanese, have been painting themselves into a corner by constantly having to one-up each other with horsepower figures in order to sell motorcycles in this segment. With bikes like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R approaching the 200hp barrier, the question about “how much power is enough?” has been cropping up, and it certainly could be that we’re approaching the point in time where the relevancy of this metric is losing it’s power (pun moderately intended). So what will be the new kingmaker for sport bikes? The electronics package.

Official: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Gets 750 RPM Redline Reduction Because of EPA Noise Laws

10/08/2010 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Official: 2011 Kawasaki ZX 10R Gets 750 RPM Redline Reduction Because of EPA Noise Laws 2011 Kawasaki ZX 10R EPA noise law 635x423

We just got off the phone with Kawasaki HQ, and it’s official: the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will inadvertently get a power decrease when it comes to the United States because of the EPA’s regulation of noise pollution, confirming earlier rumors from this week. The issue surrounds the EPA’s new methodology for measuring exhaust noise levels, which now involves taking the measurement at a percentage of the total rev range, instead of a specific rpm value.

The result is that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R passes the Euro III standards, but fails the EPA standards in its unadulterated form. To come into compliance with the EPA’s Noise Control Act, Kawasaki has lowered the rev-limit on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R by 750 rpm in order to meet the new criteria. The byproduct of lowering the rev-limiter will reduce the new ZX-10R’s maximum power output, but Kawasaki isn’t saying by how much.