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.

Gas Gas Acquires Husqvarna Engine Designs

03/01/2014 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Gas Gas Acquires Husqvarna Engine Designs husqvarna two stroke engine 635x396

It was nearly a month ago that we heard that Spanish firms Gas Gas and Ossa had merged their operations in order to take on the difficult economic climate in Spain. The firms’ business position should be even stronger now, as Gas Gas has acquired the IP from Moto Italia, the holding company of Husqvarna’s remains.

When KTM’s Stefan Pierer acquired Husqvarna through his Pierer Industrie AG company, he did not buy all of the once Swedish motorcycle brand from BMW Motorrad. What wasn’t transferred into the Austrian company’s control was left behind as a new company, Moto Italia, which now will find a new home in Spain with Gas Gas.

First Look at the “Husqvarna” Moto3 Race Bike

01/28/2014 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

First Look at the Husqvarna Moto3 Race Bike Husqvarna Moto3 race bike 05 635x387

In case you didn’t hear the news, Husqvarna will enter the Moto3 Championship this year; and like the 2014 Husqvarna dirt bike line, the Swedish brand’s name will basically be painted onto the Austrian company’s machinery.

The move is an interesting one for the Husqvarna brand, as the company is about to start a new chapter in its already interesting story. The acquisition of Husky by KTM’s Stefan Pierer essentially consolidated the premium dirt bike segment into one company, and his efforts also brought about the reunification of Husaberg and Husqvarna.

Husqvarna Enters Moto3 with Rebadged KTM Bike

11/21/2013 @ 3:04 pm, by David Emmett16 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Enters Moto3 with Rebadged KTM Bike husqvarna moto3 race bike 635x368

A day after the provisional entry lists for the Grand Prix classes were released by the FIM, and there’s one change already. Today, Husqvarna announced that they would be joining the Moto3 world championship, and fielding a factory team.

The Red Bull Husqvarna Factory Racing team will be run by Aki Ajo, and have Danny Kent as rider. Furthermore, Husqvarna will also be providing support for Niklas Ajo in the Avant Tecno team.

Photos: Husqvarna 701 Concept – A Future Supermoto?

11/05/2013 @ 12:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Photos: Husqvarna 701 Concept   A Future Supermoto? husqvarna 701 concept 635x423

One of the more eye-catching things we saw today at the EICMA show (besides the Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE), the Husqvarna 701 Concept is an homage to the Swedish brand’s past, and a signal to its future. Truly Scandinavian in its aesthetic, the modern, yet simple, lines of the Husqvarna 701 provide a unique approach to the very cookie-cutter supermoto segment.

Featuring a 650cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine, Husqvarna says that the concept is good for 75hp and “outstanding” torque. Built with a chromoly steel trellis frame, WP Suspension, and Brembo brakes, the real eye-catcher is the custom Akrapovic exhaust and its integrated bodywork shroud.

The seat is made of multiple materials, and is designed to have grippy spots for where the rider sits under braking and acceleration, and slippery spots for where a rider needs to move along the seat unimpeded. We aren’t huge fans of the LED headlight, but otherwise it is a nice concept by Husqvarna.

Will the folks at Husqvarna create an on-road machine in the future? Certainly not. A supermoto perhaps though? Time will tell. Photos of the machine, taken in-person by yours truly, are after the jump.

Husqvarna to Unveil New Prototype Motorcycle at EICMA

11/01/2013 @ 4:55 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Husqvarna to Unveil New Prototype Motorcycle at EICMA husqvarna prototype teaser

The future of Husqvarna is an interesting one to mull over right now as we gear-up for the EICMA show in Milan, Italy next week. Recently acquired by KTM’s Stefan Pierer, through is Pierer Industrie AG company, Husqvarna finds itself now merged into Husaberg, as KTM has consolidated its splintered dirt bike brands back into one cohesive effort.

That move alone in an interesting one, as Husqvarna had begun tackling the on-road world while still under the stewardship of BMW Motorrad — releasing models like the Husqvarna Nuda 900 and concepts like the Husqvarna Moab. The brand now seems destined to stay in the dirt though, but that isn’t keeping Husqvarna away from releasing prototypes and concepts at EICMA, as it seems to do every year.

Husqvarna & Husaberg Will “Reunite” After 25 Years Apart

05/16/2013 @ 3:47 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Husqvarna & Husaberg Will Reunite After 25 Years Apart husaberg husqvarna 635x423

Ever since Pierer Industrie AG bought Husqvarna from the BMW Group, there has been a great deal of speculation as to how the Italian-based Swedish-born brand would fit within the KTM empire. With zie Austrians needing another dirt bike marque like a hole in the head, it was curious to see KTM add a third off-road brand name to its stable of two-wheeled machines.

Adding even more intrigue to the situation, Stefan Pierer announced that he would discontinue Husqvarna’s pursuit of on-road machines with his acquisition, starting with the Husqvarna Nuda 900, and that he would also be closing down the bulk of the brand’s very beleaguered Italian operations, much to the chagrin of local officials and worker unions.

Now, the next chapter of Husqvarna is set to unfold, with the announcement of a new company, Husqvarna Sportmotorcycle GmbH, which unsurprisingly will be based in Mattighofen, Austria and will build off the technology that Husaberg has developed, while using the more recognizable Husqvarna name.

Goodbye Husqvarna Nuda, We Hardly Knew Thee

05/07/2013 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Goodbye Husqvarna Nuda, We Hardly Knew Thee husqvarna nuda 900r black 635x423

Stefan Pierer’s acquisition of Husqvarna continues to baffle me. You will note I say Pierer, and not KTM, bought Husqvarna, since the Austrian CEO used Pierer Industrie AG in the transaction as a means to help side-step European antitrust issues. After all, we can’t have Europe’s largest dirt bike manufacturer, nay largest total motorcycle manufacturer, gobbling up even more brands in the two-wheeled world. But, I digress.

For as big of an issue as it might be that KTM, by proxy, has swallowed another dirt bike brand, I still do not understand the thinking behind this madness. Dropping to four-digit yearly sales, it wasn’t until BMW started taking the off-road brand into the on-road market did signs of growth appear again at Husky.

Developing three road bikes (Husqvarna Nuda 900, Husqvarna Strada 650, & Husqvarna Terra 650), with three more concepts waiting in the wings (Husqvarna Moab, Husqvarna Baja, & Husqvarna E-G0), it is with even more confusion that we learn that Pierer & Co. intend to kill the Husqvarna Nuda project and its other street siblings.

Trouble Broods for Husqvarna as Austrians Come to Varese

04/29/2013 @ 11:08 am, by Michael Uhlarik8 COMMENTS

Trouble Broods for Husqvarna as Austrians Come to Varese husqvarna chainsaw 635x423

Only a couple of months after Husqvarnaʼs sale by BMW to Austriaʼs Pierer Industries, the storied motocross brand is once again making headlines, unfortunately of the wrong sort.

Reports from the La Provincia di Varese website, Varese News, as well as motorcycling’s GPOne are saying that the acquisition of Husqvarna has revealed significant problems with massive unsold inventory, labor, and the existing business plan.

As of Monday the 22nd of April, Pierer Industries announced that the factory will be closed until further notice, and let go all of the 211 factory workers employed by Husqvarna. The only staff remaining are in the sales and marketing departments, about 30 people.

Husqvarna Rally Team by Speedbrain – 2013 Dakar Rally

03/13/2013 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Rally Team by Speedbrain   2013 Dakar Rally 2013 husqvarna te449 rr by spedbrain dakar 06 635x423

With the sale of Husqvarna to Pierer Industrie AG, the 2013 Dakar Rally marks the last time that the BMW Group will collaborate with Speedbrain GmbH for its rally and off-road racing duties — a partnership that has lasted since 2006.

Helping commemorate their last outing together, the Speedbrain’s factory-backed Husqvarna team has put together a little tribute video of its final Dakar campaign. Will the team live on with another brand? Only time will tell, but it would seem BMW’s off-road racing days are over.

BMW Motorrad Sells Husqvarna to Pierer Industrie AG

01/31/2013 @ 10:26 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

BMW Motorrad Sells Husqvarna to Pierer Industrie AG Stefan Pierer 635x907

Calling it a “strategic realignment” for BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group has confirmed the rumors and sold Husqvarna Motorcycles to Pierer Industrie AG, the holding company of KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. Saying the parties would not disclose the terms or purchase price of the transaction, the press release from BMW Motorrad was surprisingly light on any actual information.

Touting BMW’s commitment to urban mobility and electric vehicles, the German company will now focus solely on the BMW Motorrad brand. With reports saying that BMW Motorrad will not venture back into the dirt bike market, the company will maintain its on-road focus for the foreseeable future.