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.

Husqvarna Nuda 900 Base Model Breaks Cover

08/12/2011 @ 6:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Nuda 900 Base Model Breaks Cover 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900 base model 12 635x423

Husqvarna’s foray into true-blue street bikes has unsurprisingly taken a two-pronged approach (for an “R” version to exist, a base model must exist as well, right?), as the Swedish brand has unceremoniously dropped photos of the base model Husqvarna Nuda 900. Sporting lower-spec components, and having a noticeably absent “R” missing from its nomenclature (that’s called product differentiation), the Husqvarna Nuda 900 is no doubt going to be Husqvarna’s more affordable version of the Nuda 900R.

Though we can only discern the differences that are skin deep at this point in time, it would look like the base model sees the R’s Öhlins rear-suspension, Brembo monoblocs, and carbon-accented exhaust exchanged for lesser models. The base model’s rear shock is now a Sachs unit (matching the fully-adjustable Sachs forks Husqvarna says it will be using on the Nudas), while the exhaust can is aluminum stem-to-stern. Noticeably still present though is the Nuda’s anti-lock brake pick-up discs (in fact, the entire wheel/fork package looks to be the same), which could also suggest that a traction control system is available on the base model.

It will be interesting to see how Husqvarna prices the Nuda 900 against the higher-spec Husqvarna Nuda 900R. Unless there is significant differences between the two bikes’ motors, the R-variant will have a hard time commanding more price tag for a shock and carbon fiber-tipped exhaust, especially considering the latter will be one of the first things owners will be replacing. 21 photos of the Nuda 900 base model after the jump, including the mysteriously really bad ones where you can see the photographer’s turntable in every photo…go fig.

Video of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R Makes Us Feel…Bleeh!

07/06/2011 @ 12:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Video of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R Makes Us Feel...Bleeh! husqvarna nuda 900r 635x422

The straw vote in the A&R office is that the jury is still out on the recently unveiled Husqvarna Nusa 900R. We like that BMW is setting up Husqvarna to be the more edgy on-street brand in its two-wheeled house, and the maxi-motard is a safe street entry for the otherwise dirt-based company. A narrow, fairly light, and peppy twin should be fun to blast from stoplight to stoplight, lane-split between traffic-packed cars, and generally just hoon about town. Price of course will be an issue for the Nuda 900R, as its components don’t suggest a cheap price tag, of course we don’t think Husqvarna (read BMW) is too concerned with that issue, as they’re likely focusing on the more exclusive side of the market continuum.

Speaking of select target markets, the looks are not the most generally palatable, with our office’s spectrum of reception ranging from drool-worthy praise to motions of people hanging themselves with their belt (and not in that good auto-erotica asphyxiation sort of way). One thing we can agree on, as far as promo videos go…this one doesn’t really achieve any of the goals we’d think Husqvarna would set out for its first street bike.

Husqvarna Nuda 900R Revealed

07/01/2011 @ 6:46 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Nuda 900R Revealed Husqvarna Nuda 900R unveil 7 635x476

UPDATE: Find 23 Official Photos of the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R here.

These are the first images of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R motorcycle (taken by our good friends at OmniMoto), the Swedish brand’s first foray into the street bike scene. Making over 100hp and weighing less than 385 lbs, the new Husqvarna will hit dealer floors by the end of the 2011 (hopefully by then they’ll have the spec-sheet ironed out a bit more). What technical specifications we do is this: 320mm Brembo disc brakes, fully adjustable 48mm Sachs forks, and a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock. Check out the photos and video from the unveil after the jump.

Video: Husqvarna 900 Spied on the Street

06/24/2011 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Video: Husqvarna 900 Spied on the Street Husqvarna 900 spy video

The ever infamous motorcycle industry spy footage continues, as a video of the Husqvarna 900 naked street bike has surfaced on the internets. Compared to the “spy shots” Husqvarna sent out to the press last week, there isn’t too much new information to glean from this short video clip of the Husqvarna 900 cruising down a city street, as even the exhaust note is muffled by the camera’s wind blast. Still, seeing the bike in motion adds another dimension to the machine, and likely whets the appetites of anyone in the market for a new large-displacement maxi-motard. Check the video out after the jump.

Video: The Design of the Husqvarna 900

06/15/2011 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Video: The Design of the Husqvarna 900 Husqvarna 900 635x452

Along with the “don’t call them spy shost” photos that Husqvarna released yesterday, the Swedish brand owned by a German company that’s based in Italy has also released a video that elaborates on the design of the new Husqvarna 900 street bike. As we’ve seen already from the concept sketches, and affirmed in the photos, the new street-going Husky is a super-sized supermotard that features BMW’s F800 series parallel twin motor, albeit slightly revised to 900cc. Find the design philosophy of the new Husqvarna 900 according to Head of Husqvarna Design Raffaele Zaccagnini after the jump.

First Shots: Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike

06/15/2011 @ 7:34 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

First Shots: Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike Husqvarna 900 spy photo

Here’s an interesting twist: instead of going through the trouble of setting up some sort of “spy shot” moment, and leaking it to the press, Husqvarna has cutout the middleman, taken its own photos, and sent them to web and print publications. Because of this, the use of the “spy shot” label is probably not appropriate, though we’d make arguments that it hasn’t been an appropriate label in many other situations as well. Leaving that subject for another time, what you really wanted to see is the new 900cc Husqvarna street bike in almost all of its glory.

Even More Teasers of the New Suzuki V-Strom

06/15/2011 @ 6:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Even More Teasers of the New Suzuki V Strom Suzuki V Strom teaser large 635x421

Suzuki continues to string us along with dates and teasers of its expected V-Strom replacement/update. Showing three more blurred, yet revealing, photos of the new middleweight adventure bike, Suzuki is now saying to come back to its website on June 22nd for more details on the machine.

From what we hear from our European colleagues, Suzuki has sent out invites for the new V-Strom’s unveiling, which is schedule for June 27th in Croatia — a great venue, but also a week and a half away. Whether or not we’ll get a glimpse of the machine before then remains to be seen (or more teasers for that matter), but there is at least now a definitive timeline on when this madness will conclude. More photos after the jump.

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike in Sketches

05/26/2011 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike in Sketches Husqvarna street bike sketch 635x425

The folks at MCN have had their finger on the Husqvarna street bike pulse lately, and today published sketches of the soon-to-be released BMW-derived 900cc Husqvarna street bike. Part street-naked, part supermotard, these sketches seem to suggest that the new Husky will stick somewhat to its dirt roosting roots. Despite the large displacement size, the street-going Husqvarna looks to be very minimalistic and svelte, though how much of that will translate over into the final design remains to be seen.

We’re still apprehensive as to what BMW’s plans for Husqvarna are in the coming years, as the German company clearly wants to use Husky for its evil road-going purposes, but so far there’s nothing in these sketches that send us running for a long rope and a short drop. The designs appear to stay true to what we’d expect from Husqvarna, though you can leave your conclusions in the comments. Additional sketches after the jump.

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike Will Be Naked – Two Versions

05/20/2011 @ 10:18 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike Will Be Naked   Two Versions husqvarna mille 3 concept 635x422

Details on the impending Husqvarna street bike have been scarce, though we have seen the Swedish brand’s Mille 3 Concept, but the folks at Visordown managed to get a Husqvarna represented to spill some of the beans on the machine. Knowing that the 900cc parallel-twin motor comes from the BMW F800 series, it’s expected that the extra displacement will come from the motor being bored out.

Now adding to our knowledge, Husqvarna UK has outlined that the new 900cc street bike will be a naked machine that comes in either a standard and “factory” specification. The new 900cc parallel twin motor will also be the basis for further street machines from Husqvarna, which will be released farther down the line.

Video: Husqvarna 900cc Parallel Twin Motor

05/18/2011 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Video: Husqvarna 900cc Parallel Twin Motor husqvarna 900cc street bike motor 635x466

Husqvarna is getting into the street bike scene, and the first order of business for the Swedish brand was to create a motor suitable for such a purpose. Husqvarna doesn’t have to undertake this endveour alone though, as parent company BMW Motorrad has been helping the previously dirt-based brand with the new powerplant. Based off the BMW F800’s lump, Husqvarna has increased the 800cc motor’s displacement to somewhere in the 900cc range, likely by stroking-out the combustion chamber.

Husqvarna isn’t talking much about specifics, just simply stating that the new motor will have a “reasonable increase in power and torque.” With news that the bike is road testing, it’s only a matter of time before the obligatory spy photos start popping up, as the company targets a November release of the new street bike at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan. Brand extension, or brand dilution? You make the call in the comments. Video after the jump.