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.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Teaser Site Setup

06/18/2014 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Three Harley-Davidson posts on Asphalt & Rubber in a single day? Surely the gods must be crazy. But like a Coke bottle to the head, things are about to get pretty out of control in the American motorcycle landscape in a big way. Setting up a dedicated launch site for its first electric motorcycle, Harley-Davidson isn’t tipping its hands too much officially, though in 11 hours we should know a lot more.

Usually with marketing lingo, you can see the hyperbole for what it is, but in the case of the Harley-Davidson Livewire, the Bar & Shield brand’s statement seems more like an honest assessment, rather than typical industry grandstanding:

“There are milestones that change history – those pivotal moments where the future is defined. This is one of them. Just like this country, Harley-Davidson has reinvented itself many times in our 111 years. This is the next chapter of our journey. Whether you’re a rider or not, we’re inviting you to take part in the experience, and be there for this historic ride forward.”

2015 Erik Buell Racing 1190SX Debuts

06/11/2014 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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While hosting a press rider for the Erik Buell Racing 1190RX at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, EBR unveiled its next street bike, the 2015 Erik Buell Racing 1190SX. Since Asphalt & Rubber, the premier sport bike motorcycle blog, was apparently not invited to the event, we’re a little light on details for our million monthly readers.

However, we do know that the 1190SX is the naked version of the 1190RX, sharing many of the same chassis components. What we don’t know is what Erik Buell Racing has done inside the motor, as motorcycle manufacturers are often prone to detune their streetfighters, to help differentiate them from their superbike counterparts.

Erik Buell strikes us as the kind of man that would be resistant to that trend, if for no other reason than to try something else in the market, cue ZTL brakes, fuel-in-frame chassis designs, and underslung exhaust worshiping. More details as we get them on the 1190SX, but until then, here’s the first photo of the 2015 Erik Buell Racing 1190SX streetfighter.

Ronax 500 – Your Modern 500cc Two-Stroke Track Bike

06/08/2014 @ 4:05 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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After teasing us what looked like a direct knock-off of Valentino Rossi’s NSR500 two-stroke GP bike, complete with vague #46 references, the German project has finally taken the wraps off its Ronax 500 GP street bike.

Making 160hp (@ 11,500 rpm) from its nearly square (54.5 x 54 bore and stroke) 500cc V4 engine, the Ronax 500 also boasts two counter-rotating crankshafts inside its all-aluminum engine block.

Fuel-injected for more rideability, Ronax has programmed the Ronax 500 with a sport and rain ignition map. Upgrading the class GP bike design with modern components, an electric starter and four carbon/kevlar mufflers are part of the Ronax 500’s highlights, while carbon fiber fairings, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo brakes complete the package.

Ducati Monster 821 – A Midsummer Dream from Bologna

05/28/2014 @ 2:14 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Ducati Monster 821   A Midsummer Dream from Bologna Ducati Monster 821 03 635x475

Once we saw the unveiling of the Ducati Monster 1200 at EICMA last year, we knew it was only a matter of time before Bologna wedged its new 821cc liquid-cooled motor into a mid-size Monster machine.

That feeling was fueled further by spy photos the 821cc Monster making their way onto the internet, and now we have confirmation of the mid-sized Monster, as Borgo Panigale has officially launched its Ducati Monster 821.

Borrowing the 821cc Testastretta 11° engine (112hp and 65.9 lbs•ft) found on the newly revised Ducati Hypermotard, and its cousin the Ducati Hyperstrada, the Monster 821 continues Ducati’s trend to repurpose powerplants for multiple product families.

The Ducati Monster 821 also continues Bologna’s new trend of building its lower-spec midrange motorcycles with double-sided swingarms, to help further stratify and differentiate its models.

Yamaha YZF-R25 Launched Confirmed for May 20th

05/09/2014 @ 8:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Yamaha YZF R25 Launched Confirmed for May 20th yamaha yzf r25 teaser 635x362

Yamaha Indonesia has spilled the beans on when the Yamaha YZF-R25 will be available, and that date is just a few days away: May 20th.

Yamaha is pitching the Indonesian-built, 250cc, parallel-twin sport bike as a miniature Yamaha YZR-M1, thus making a link between the R25 to Yamaha’s MotoGP racing program — a smart move considering how wildly popular MotoGP is in Indonesia currently.

BMW Motorrad is Ready for the WSBK Season

02/06/2013 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

If I had to forecast the results of the 2013 World Superbike Championship this very day, without seeing the teams grid up for their first race at Phillip Island, my money would be on the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team. The consolidation of the factory BMW Motorrad team and BMW Motorrad Italia team into one unit, the German brand has compiled all its racing resources into one stout package.

Retaining the formidable services of Marco Melandri, who was in the hunt for the 2012 WSBK title to the very end of the season despite injuries, BMW Motorrad’s number-two rider, Chaz Davies, is no slouch either. With both BMW-men showing the prowess of the WSBK-spec S1000RR earlier this year at Jerez, it was Melandri who topped the time sheets on the test’s dry second day. Sending a clear message of things to come this season.

While I still expect to see strong competition from Tom Sykes and the factory Kawasaki team, and I also don’t think you can count out the Aprilia riders or even Ducati’s Carlos Checa, there is however a tremendous amount of expectation, preparation, and money behind BMW’s World Superbike entry. This year I think we will finally see the team’s hard work payoff in the championship points.

2013 Fixi Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 Debuts with Less Engine-Building Support from Yoshimura

02/04/2013 @ 3:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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We must be getting close to the 2013 World Superbike season-opener at Phillip Island, because a bevy of teams are debuting their 2013 bikes and riders for the media this week. Returning for the 2013 season, Paul Denning’s Fixi Crescent Suzuki team is ready to race its venerable stead against the other factory teams. For Fixi Crescent though, the battle will be tough-fought, with little support coming in from Suzuki Motor Co., and also with the news that Yoshimura will not be building the team’s GSX-R1000 race engines.

Instead, riders Leon Camier and Jules Cluzel will ride machines whose engines have been built in-house by the Crescent Racing crew, while Yoshimura continues its R&D with the GSX-R1000 and does long-term development for the team. Taking a private test at Phillip Island February 14-15th, and then having the official WSBK test at the same venue later that week on February 18th and 19th, Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s mettle will finally be tested with World Superbike’s first race on Sunday, February 24th.

Motus to Reveal Production Plans at Daytona Bike Week

03/09/2012 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

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The last time Motus Motorcycles graced the pages of A&R it was August 10th of last year — yes, I actually went back thru the pages to check that date. Since that time, the American motorcycle startup has been busy getting its sport-tourer finalized and ready for production. Launching the Motus MST prototype at the 2011 Daytona Bike Week, Motus Motorcycles will be returning to the Floridian biking event this year to announce its production plans, pricing, and availability of its American made motorcycle.

While we’ll have to wait to hear from Motus for its official plans, we expect to hear something along the line of a production run of under 300 units, with pricing in the $30,000+ range. Certainly exclusive, it remains to be seen if Motus can sell such an expensive sport-tourer without the gadgets and gizmos that normally accompany that market segment. Featuring the gasoline direct injection (GDI) 1,645cc KMV4 engine, the Motus MST will make over 160 hp from the power plant, which is also being sold as a crate motor.

Ride Review: Ducati 1199 Panigale

02/15/2012 @ 1:28 am, by Lorenzo Gargiulo29 COMMENTS

Ride Review: Ducati 1199 Panigale Ducati 1199 Panigale press launch Abu Dhabi Yas Marina 21 635x422

Fresh from the Ducati 1199 Panigale international press launch at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, our friends from OmniMoto.it have been kind enough to share their experience on Ducati’s newest flagship model, since Asphalt & Rubber wasn’t one of the American publications invited to test Borgo Panigale’s latest creation ( to let Ducati know that you want to see A&R at future events!).

Our Italian brother in arms, OmniMoto’s Lorenzo Gargiulo shares his initiation to the 1199, while riding around one the world’s most expensive race circuits…the lucky bastard. With much thanks to him, enjoy Lorenzo’s review and continue to countdown the months until A&R will get its own chance to flog the Ducati 1199 Panigale in a similar manner. -Jensen

It is a known fact that journalists like to complain to motorcycle manufacturers, because some OEMs give you too little notice before a press event, while others fill up your calendar with possible dates way before they have something set on their own schedule. In the present case, Ducati told us about this event almost two months ago, which for this writer has led to an incredible amount of performance anxiety that has lasted until today.

Consider this: we are testing a new bike, which is set to take the scepter as the Queen of all the Superbikes, and it is to be tested on a new track, the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, where no journalist in the world had ever done a lap aboard a motorcycle. Accordingly, there was enough anticipation and excitement surrounding the event to make it difficult for anyone to fully process the true performance potential of the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale. Fortunately, the Panigale did not disappoint our expectations, and instead went way beyond them, unleashing breathtaking performances.

Yas Marina Circuit + Troy Bayliss + Ducati 1199 Panigale S

02/13/2012 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Yas Marina Circuit + Troy Bayliss + Ducati 1199 Panigale S 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S Yas Marina Circuit 021 635x444

The International press launch of the Ducati 1199 Panigale is underway in Abu Dhabi this week, with initial reports on Ducati’s flagship superbike being very positive. A track usually reserved for cars, not bikes, the Yas Marina Circuit is really something to behold. Situated on a man-made island off the Abu Dhabi coast, the Middle-Eastern track cost a cool $1.32 billion to construct back in 2009, and holds the distinction for being one of Formula One’s night races.

Such a setting is of course appropriate for Ducati to introduce its latest creation, and the Italian company will be showcasing the first production motorcycle with an LED headlight, the first sport bike with electronically-adjustable suspension, and of course putting journalists on the company’s much-talked-about “frameless” monocoque chassis design. Expected on dealer floors in April, the base model Ducati 1199 Panigale will cost $17,995, while the “S” will cost $22,995, and “S Tricolore” will hit the wallet for $27,995 MSRP.

While we wait for the Panigale to come across the Atlantic Ocean, Ducati has put together this video of Troy Bayliss taking a lap around the 21 turns of the Yas Marina Circuit. It’s an oddly edited video, but should bring grins to the Ducatisti in your life. Be sure to turn your speakers up to hear the Superquadro v-twin motor in all its glory.