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.

KTM RC4 Concept by Luca Bar Design

05/06/2013 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

KTM RC4 Concept by Luca Bar Design KTM RC4 690 concept Luca Bar Design 635x427

KTM is shaping up to be the brand of 2013. Surpassing BMW Motorrad in outright unit sales, and becoming the largest motorcycle brand in Europe, zie Austrians have been on a tear with their small-displacement machine strategy. Most of that move has been buoyed by KTM’s partnership with Bajaj, which in-turn owns a very sizable minority stake in the Austrian company, but KTM also has been making other moves as well, like the acquisition of Husqvarna by CEO Stefan Pierer and his company Pierer Industrie AG.

Surprisingly, what has been occurring in KTM’s boardroom is almost overshadowing what is occurring in the company’s model line-up, with the KTM 1190 Adventure set to finally come to the USA later this year, almost a year after its European debut, as well the upcoming release of the KTM 390 Duke and its sport bike and adventure variants. Perhaps lost in the wash is the 2013 KTM 690 Duke, which is a new machine for the US market this year.

A single-cylinder hooligan-maker, the KTM 690 Duke is 330 lbs (curbside without fuel) and 67hp of two-wheeled fun, and we hope that the Austrians bring the KTM 690 Duke R our way as well. While we are on the topic of things missing from KTM’s American line-up, a decent supersport is painfully obvious, yet we can’t see the folks at KTM following the paths of other brands. That’s where our friend Luca Bar comes to mind with his latest concept: the KTM RC4.

Hell Freezes Over as the KTM 690 Duke Comes to the USA

12/07/2012 @ 2:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

Hell Freezes Over as the KTM 690 Duke Comes to the USA 2013 KTM 690 Duke USA Canada 635x481

The following news from KTM USA today might shock you, but the KTM 690 Duke is headed to America’s favorite democracy in 2013. That’s right, the previously available everywhere but here model is coming to North America (both the US and Canada), much to the surprise of A&R…and just about everyone else. KTM isn’t talking dollars yet, though it says that the KTM 690 Duke will be competitively priced in its North American markets.

Assuming the US model is the same as the European version, we can expect that 90% of the bike is completely brand new from the previous iteration of the 690. Accordingly, at the heart of the 2013 KTM 690 Duke is a 690cc LC4 single-cylinder thumper that puts out a crushing 67hp and 51 lbs•ft of torque, while the whole motorcycle package weighs only 330 lbs (without fuel) at the curb.

2013 KTM 690 Duke R – Please Come to America

11/13/2012 @ 5:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2013 KTM 690 Duke R   Please Come to America 2013 KTM 690 Duke studio 02 635x394

Considering that the base model KTM 690 Duke didn’t come to the USA, we don’t have high hopes for the higher-spec KTM 690 Duke R making it out our way…but that doesn’t keep us from dreaming. Breaking cover today at the EICMA show, the KTM 690 Duke R defines its with fully adjustable WP suspension pieces, which includes a four-way adjustable rear shock.

Brembo M50 monoblocs also make their way onto the KTM 690 Duke R, as the new more rigid calipers are 6% lighter than the previous top-spec Brembos. KTM has added a dual-channel Bosch ABS system, which has an anti-roll over mode (read: a Max Biaggi setting) for those who let their wheelies get away from them. The ABS system also has a “supermoto” mode, which lets a rider lock-up the rear wheel. Yeah, we thought you’d like that.

Other changes include an Akrapovic exhaust, new footpegs, handlebars, crash bars, and various orange colored pieces. At 69hp and 330lbs at the curb (without fuel), the 2013 KTM 690 Duke R is on our short-list for reasons why we should move to Europe…just behind Scandinavian women (and maybe the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype). Photos after the jump.

KTM Sells 50,000+ Motorcycles in the First-Half of 2012

07/23/2012 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

KTM Sells 50,000+ Motorcycles in the First Half of 2012 KTM glowing headers 635x476

KTM has crunched the numbers on it sales for the first half of 2012, and the Austrian company has some very impressive news to share. Selling 50,233 units in the first six months of the year, KTM’s increase in sales is 36% over last year’s figures for the same time period, a gain due mainly to the company’s efforts in emerging markets like India.

Though this is the first time that Bajaj’s selling of the KTM Duke 200 has been included in KTM’s half-year report, the Austrian brand wasn’t fueled solely by its Indian sales, as KTM’s European sales were up 41% as well, giving KTM a total marketshare in the EU of 7%.

Rok Bagoroš’s New KTM 690 Duke Stunt Bike

04/24/2012 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Rok Bagorošs New KTM 690 Duke Stunt Bike Rok Bagoros KTM 690 Duke stunt bike 12 635x423

You may remember Rok Bagoroš from his two-wheeled escapades on the KTM 125 Duke, but the 23-year-old Slovenian stunt rider has just graduated to KTM’s big-boy hooligan machine: the KTM 690 Duke. With the Austrian manufacturer making a special KTM 690 Duke to suit the needs of Bagoroš, the folks at Kiska have also given the new Duke a nice personalized and edgy look to the bike to fit Rok’s style.

“There’s a BIG difference between the two bikes,” says Rok. “The bike has five times more power then the Duke 125 and any mistake can result in a crash, as I’ve already discovered. The bike has amazing power but I’m slowly getting it under control. I have to remember that this is my first big stunt bike and so I have to learn how to handle the extra power and convert it into spectacular tricks that will be fun to do and thrilling for the fans.”

While Rok gets used to his new toy, we will just have to lament the fact that KTM is still not bringing this bike to the United States. Enjoy the photos and video after the jump, it is likely as close as you will get to the KTM 690 Duke on USA soil.

KTM RC4 690R Supermono by Mototech

12/28/2011 @ 12:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

KTM RC4 690R Supermono by Mototech Mototech KTM RC4 690R supermono 01 635x444

A two-wheeled speeding ticket made in Austria, I’m still bitter that the 2012 KTM 690 Duke isn’t coming to American soil. With all the dressings of a bare-knuckled hooligan machine for the street, the new Duke will surely live up to its heritage of angering elderly women, but a German company has thought up a more refined role for the big-displacement thumper. Adopting the bike into a more superbike trim, German suspension tuners Mototech have created what they call the KTM RC4 690R…and I like it.

We’ve seen KTM Supermono’s before, with perhaps one of the best examples coming from some KTM engineers who built a SuperDuke 690 sport bike on their own time. Don’t let those words discourage you from Mototech’s work though, as the team’s RC4 690R looks like it rolled out of the KTM factory floor this morning. You’ll either love or hate the dual-projector headlight setup, while the tail section remains very true to the lines of the original Duke 690. Everyone will be a fan of the 125kg (275 lbs) quoted weight figure

KTM Videos – A Case Study on Promoting a New Motorcycle

11/14/2011 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

KTM Videos   A Case Study on Promoting a New Motorcycle KTM Freeride E 635x422

Loyal readers to Asphalt & Rubber should know by now that on semi-regular basis I like to lambast motorcycle companies, both individually and as a whole, for they’re dismal understanding of what often gets referred to as “new media” (the fact that such a title is applied to a medium that has been in commercial form for over two decades should shed some insight on the situation I’m dealing with here). Now often this tradition of mine revolves around pointing out some of the gems of imagination that emanate from our industry, which in turn leads to me saying things that result in A&R being uninvited to future events held by the company in question. C’est la vie.

Of course if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. So in the interest of trying to make the world a better place, I’ll offer these three videos by KTM as examples to the companies that have received my ire, and suggest that if you need some inspiration on how put together a rich and compelling video media campaign for a motorcycle you’ve recently launched, then compare and contrast the following with your own work-product in order to highlight your deficiencies.

Lastly, a couple points to ponder. If motorcycles are an aspirational purchase, then put some aspiration into your message. If motorcycles are an expression of individuality, then make sure your bike’s identity shines through. If motorcycles are supposed to be a form of recreation, then better damn well be grinning ear-to-ear after you are done. Videos after the jump.

2012 KTM 690 Duke – Cheaper, More Powerful, & ABS

11/08/2011 @ 7:04 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

2012 KTM 690 Duke   Cheaper, More Powerful, & ABS 2012 KTM 690 Duke 081 635x423

After teasing us with some photos and video of its new Duke, KTM finally unveiled the 2012 KTM 690 Duke at EICMA this morning. With 90% of the bike being completely brand new, KTM says the new 690 Duke brings the Austrian company back to its street-naked roots, with an off-road influence of course. Accordingly, at the heart of the KTM 690 Duke is a 690cc LC4 single-cylinder thumper that puts out a crushing 70hp and 51 lbs•ft of torque, while the whole motorcycle package weighs only 330 lbs (without fuel).

Further refining the LC4 single-cylidner motor, KTM has created a new cylinder head, and added a dual-ignition system & ride-by-wire throttle for the 690 Duke. Anti-lock brakes have also been added to the 2012 KTM 690 Duke, as the Austrian company has tapped Bosch to use the Bosch 9M+ ABS package. Lastly, braking power comes from a Brembo radially-mounted caliper with a single 320mm brake disc, while suspension is handle by KTM subsidiary WP, and consists of fully-adjustable 43mm front forks, and a fully-adjustable rear shock.

Video: 2012 KTM 690 Duke Teaser

10/31/2011 @ 5:47 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Video: 2012 KTM 690 Duke Teaser 2012 KTM 690 Duke 6 635x355

We should probably just start copy/pasting this following text, as we suspect more than a few motorcycle companies will be releasing teaser videos of their upcoming models ahead of the 2011 EICMA show. Last week we already caught a glimpse of the MV Agusta Brutale 675, and today KTM has an unlisted YouTube video for the 2012 KTM 690 Duke.

Rumor has it that the new Duke won’t be coming to the US market, which seems to be confirmed by KTM North America’s leaked product road map. Still, our friends across the pond are surely in for a treat, as the “Ready to Race” brand knows how to make a good hooligan machine or two. While we wait for official specs on the new Austrian thumper, check out the Kiska-vibed video after the jump.

Spy Photo: 2012 KTM 690 Duke

04/27/2011 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Spy Photo: 2012 KTM 690 Duke 2012 ktm duke 690 spy photo 635x444

MCN is running a photo today that a Austrian KTM enthusiast supposedly snapped at at gas station just down the street from the Austrian company’s Mattighofen headquarters. Coming across what looks to be an early-prototype of the 2012 KTM 690 Duke, we have at least a rough idea of what KTM will likely unveil at EICMA later this year.

Expected to be a few horsepower up on its predecessor, the ~70hp 2012 KTM 690 Duke has always been an urban wheelie machine that KTM would be hard-pressed to improve upon. The most notable changes so far appear to be a new headlight, a more pronounced pillion, and standard exhaust placement, along with a revised chassis and motor.