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 BMW R1200R Mega Gallery

10/02/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Though the addition of BMW’s water-cooled engine to the 2015 BMW R1200R was a move everyone saw coming down the pipe, the German company’s extensive style shift on the BMW R1200R was perhaps a move unexpected.

The classic looking roadster of before is now replaced with a more aggressive design — though perhaps not as aggressive as the BMW Roadster Concept that we saw earlier this year.

Still, the new BMW R1200R is a handsome machine that incorporates both mild-touring capability with a fun sporty ride. Since we had a tough time pulling images off BMW’s press site earlier this week, because of all the traffic from INTERMOT, here’s a “mega gallery” of 181 high-resolution images. Enjoy!

2015 BMW S1000RR Mega Gallery

10/01/2014 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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We had 12 kinds of trouble with BMW’s press site during INTERMOT, as such our stories on their new bikes were woefully under-stocked with images. To make that up to you, we’re going to bring you some “mega galleries” of high-resolution photos of the Bavarian machines. First up, the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

A bike we spotted out testing ahead of the trade show season, we knew that BMW Motorrad had some changes in store for the S1000RR.

New for 2015 is a revised the frame geometry for better handling, an engine that has been massaged for an additional 6hp (peak power is now 199hp, while torque is at 83 lbs•ft), and a bulk weight that has been reduced by 9 lbs (449.7 lbs with a full tank of fuel and ABS).

BMW says it gained the extra power by revising the cylinder head on the 998cc inline-four engine. A larger airbox, along with shorter intake lengths also help boost the peak horsepower on the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

To get the S1000RR on a diet, BMW has dropped the front silencer on the exhaust, for a healthy weight reduction of 6.6 lbs. The frame on the 2015 BMW S1000RR is lighter as well, and boasts refined positions for the steering head angle, wheel castor, wheelbase, and swingarm pivot. There is even a new battery, which shaves another 2 lbs off the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

Cruise control (yup) and semi-active suspension (BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control), has also been added to the updated superbike. Blah, blah, blah…you’re here for the photos, huh? We have 169 hi-res beauties for you after the jump. Enjoy!

Yamaha “01GEN” Three-Wheeler Dual-Sport Concept

09/30/2014 @ 9:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Yamaha 01GEN Three Wheeler Dual Sport Concept Yamaha 01GEN Concept 03 635x475

To wrap-up our INTERMOT coverage today, we bring you the Yamaha 01GEN three-wheeler concept. The Yamaha 01GEN is similar to the Yamaha Tesseract Concept, except that the Japanese brand envisions this motorcycle living both on and off-road.

With one wheel in the rear, and two in the front, the Yamaha 01Gen Concept is perhaps the most interesting trike we have ever seen. The front wheels certainly look like they have enough suspension travel to soak up some big hits, while the belt-driven single-tire in the rear sounds easy enough to maintain in off-road conditions.

The Yamaha 01Gen should be fun on-road as well, as the concept should be able to lean through turns, thus adding the sensation of a motorcycle, with a little bit more stability on the front-end.

Yamaha’s press release on the 01GEN is filled with hyperbole and pipe dreams, but we think there could be something here with the design. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but clearly the Japanese OEM is thinking outside the box on what to delivery powersport enthusiasts.

2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Gets ABS & Bold New Graphics

09/30/2014 @ 8:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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When it comes to the four Japanese manufacturers at INTERMOT, Suzuki is looking more and more like it slept in late on test day. Both Honda and Yamaha have been pushing the ball forward, releasing some interesting, albeit not inspiring, motorcycles to the market. Those bikes were fresh at least, and showed some life going on in the motorcycle departments of those companies.

Then there is Kawasaki, which brought out an all-new Ninja ZX-10R superbike in the middle of the recession, and today at INTERMOT they debuted the game-changing Kawasaki Ninja H2R hyperbike. That is a tough act to follow.

To its credit, the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is a welcomed addition to Suzuki’s lineup, however other models like the Suzuki GSX-S1000 and Suzuki GSX-S1000F, makes us think that Suzuki is afraid to build anything truly new and inspiring again. Need further proof? Take the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 — Coming to the USA Too

09/30/2014 @ 7:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000    Coming to the USA Too 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 04 635x476

The good times don’t stop rolling with the new Kawasaki Versys 650, as the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 is confirmed to be coming to the United States as well. We already got a glimpse of the new Kawasaki Versys 1000 from yesterday’s leaked photos, which showed the revised bodywork from Kawasaki.

Getting official details now, we know that the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 makes relatively minor improvements technically over the previous model. Longer travel suspension has been added, and the 17″ wheels have been beefed up, both in order to aid going on off-road excursions.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 Is Coming to America

09/30/2014 @ 6:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 Is Coming to America 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 04 635x476

If you liked what you saw yesterday, when we posted leaked photos of the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650, then you will like even more what we have to say now, as Kawasaki USA has confirmed that the all-new Kawasaki Versys 650 is coming to the United States as a 2015 model year bike. The official announcement is set for the AIMExpo in October, so there is no pricing yet for the US market.

As we saw in the leaked photos, the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 has a revised headlight design, and new fairings that improve wind deflection around the rider. The 649cc parallel-twin engine has also been reworked, producing more horsepower and getting better fuel economy in the process.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F — A Sporty Sport-Tourer

09/30/2014 @ 5:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2015 Suzuki GSX S1000F    A Sporty Sport Tourer 2015 Suzuki GSX S1000F 01 635x423

We caught a glimpse of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F yesterday, as it sat on the expo floor at INTERMOT, and we were curious about the machine. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for the details.

Essentially a fully-faired version of the Suzuki GSX-S1000, the Suzuki GSX-S1000F fills the void in Suzuki’s lineup for a 1,000cc sport-tourer that is actually sporty — think of it as a response to the Honda VFR800.

The GSX-S1000F uses the same purpose-built chassis and retuned 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine that the GSX-S1000 uses, though Suzuki obviously wrapped that package in a full-fairing design.

Also carried over is the three-way adjustable traction control system as standard, KYB suspension, and Brembo monoblock brakes. Anti-locking brakes are available as an optional item.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – How To Sell Leftover GSX-R’s

09/30/2014 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2015 Suzuki GSX S1000   How To Sell Leftover GSX Rs 2015 Suzuki GSX S1000 04 635x423

A bike we spotted in Southern California shooting a commercial, we already knew to expect the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 at the INTERMOT show this week. Built around the same inline-four engine that was found in the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000, the GSX-S1000 has been tuned for street use, though Suzuki isn’t exactly talking key figures.

Proving that it’s not selling just a rebadged GSX-R, Suzuki has built an all-new aluminum frame chassis for GSX-S1000, with an eye on making the machine more of a roadster than a streetfighter.

Also of note is the addition of a three-way selectable traction control system, something even the GSX-R1000 doesn’t have. ABS is available, but only on the aptly named Suzuki GSX-S1000.

Up-Close with the Ducati Scrambler Icon

09/30/2014 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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The 2015 Ducati Scrambler has officially debuted at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany today, in case you missed the news. Before today though, Ducati North America invited us out to get a sneak peak of the new Scrambler Icon, along with a little time in a photo studio.

As a result, we have a bevy of our “up-close” photos for you, as well as some first impressions of the machine.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Ducati Scrambler is how bare bones the motorcycle is. Ducati did a good job of not over-thinking the Scrambler, leaving the model true to its name.

The dash is a tastefully small round unit, which sits nestled between the high and wide handlebars. This gives the rider a good open feeling from the seat, though the exposed wires and cables are a bit distracting, with nothing else to hide them.

Artfully exposed is the air-cooled v-twin DesmoDue engine, which is borrowed from the Monster 796, and thus is a confusing 803cc. The header shape should look familiar as well, as it mimics those found on the Ducati Diavel.

The seat seems practical for two-up riding, and the Scrambler Icon is fitted with passenger pegs. The cheapest ($8,595 for the yellow one) of Ducati’s four Scrambler variants, the Icon is perhaps the most vanilla model. That’s not a bad thing, but the other three models are clearly present to appeal to certain niche riders.

2015 KTM Freeride E-SM — A Proper Electric Supermoto

09/30/2014 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2015 KTM Freeride E SM    A Proper Electric Supermoto 2015 KTM Freeride E SM 05 635x434

KTM is the first major motorcycle manufacturer to release an electric motorcycle, and it’s been a long road coming for the Austrian company.

KTM first debuted the Freeride E at the EICMA show three years ago, and since then has been perfecting its design. Now ready for primetime, KTM’s electric dirt bikes broke cover a few weeks ago.

Today, the KTM Freeride E-SM debuted at INTERMOT, giving the Austrian brand three distinct electric offerings within its core competency.