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.

ASMC Dissolved — Long Live Suzuki Motor of America

04/02/2013 @ 12:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

ASMC Dissolved    Long Live Suzuki Motor of America Suzuki GSX R1000 Anniversary 635x407

Following its decision to leave the car-selling business and finishing its bankruptcy metamorphosis, American Suzuki Motor Corporation is now a defunct company, with Suzuki Motor of America officially taking over as Suzuki Motor Corporations’s wholly owned sole-distributor of Suzuki motorcycles, ATVs, marine engines, and automotive parts in the continental United States.

Kevin Schwantz Escorted Out of the Circuit of the Americas

03/20/2013 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler47 COMMENTS

Kevin Schwantz Escorted Out of the Circuit of the Americas kevin schwantz scott jones 635x952

Oh no, not another Circuit of the Americas article! It’s not our fault, really. You may remember the dust up between Kevin Schwantz and the Circuit of the Americas racing facility, which saw the Texan MotoGP star left out in the cold when issues regarding COTA’s contract with Dorna and 3FourTexasMGP came into question six months ago.

We hadn’t heard much about Schwantz and COTA since that time, and thought things had moved on from the “he said, she said” blame game that went on between the parties involved. That apparently is not the case, as Kevin Schwantz has released a statement regarding how he was escorted off the COTA premises during the private MotoGP test there last week.

Getting credentials through the Attack Racing CRT team to help coach its rider Blake Young, and an invited guest of the LCR Honda team, Schwantz says he found himself on the wrong-end of the COTA security team, which asked him to leave the facility or face criminal trespass charges.

California Scraps Anti-Lane Splitting Law

02/27/2013 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

California Scraps Anti Lane Splitting Law California State Flag 635x423

No sooner did the California Highway Patrol attempt to demistify its rulebook for lane-splitting in the Golden State, then did California State Senate Bill 350 get drafted and put on the state’s voting docket. A piece of legislation put forth by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), S.B. 350 would have put greater restrictions on motorcyclists’ ability to lane-split on Californian highways.

Introduced on February 20th, Senator Beall’s proposed law would have made lane-splitting legal in only certain circumstances: on divided highways with three or more lanes of travel in the same direction, only when traffic is congested, and only at “a safe” speed.

California Highway Patrol Posts Guidelines for Lane-Splitting

02/15/2013 @ 2:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

California Highway Patrol Posts Guidelines for Lane Splitting Bay Bridge Lane split motorcycle 635x423

Live outside the Golden State, and you realize that California is a special place, in virtually every sense of the word. As a sixth-generation inhabitant of the world’s ninth largest economy, regular readers of A&R will already have made note that I am somewhat militant about California, and one of the many reasons for this is the state’s pro-motorcycle culture.

Land of perpetual sunshine, abundant coastal and mountain roads, and the epicenter of the American motorcycle industry, California has another thing going for motorcyclists as well: you can lane-split here. You motorcyclists in the other 49 states of the Union don’t understand what you are missing with this simple act, and if there was one single law that the AMA/MIC should be pushing to pass in every state in order to help swell the ranks of motorcyclists on the road, it would be laws allowing lane-splitting (also known as lane-sharing, or lane-filtering).

What is driving in a safe and prudent manner though? A highly subjective and poorly defined bit of phrasing, the CHP and state legislature have done themselves a disservice in waiting so long to define exactly how they interpret this provision. After all, there is no provision in the CVC that outlaws steering a car with one’s feet, though one would think the California Highway Patrol (CHP) would certainly, and rightfully, ticket you back to the stone age for such an action.

Lane-splitting in California is no different, with no working definition on what was “safe and prudent” on a motorcycle, common practice and adoption have taken hold of the two-wheeled art of getting through traffic congestion. Thought originally to be a concession to the air-cooled machines of the time, lane-splitting catered well to motorcycle riders whose machines would quickly overheat while sitting in traffic.

Also a relic of a time when highway congestion of was considerably less of an issue than its current metropolitan pandemic, for lack of a better reason, California’s pro lane-splitting stance persists because the state has waited too long to act otherwise, and we are that much better for it.

However, what constitutes “safe and prudent” lane-splitting has always been a mystery box definition for motorcyclists, and when left to the subjective opinion of a CHP officer, the application of “the rules” can be varied, at best.

Say Goodbye to Orange County Choppers Merchandising

02/06/2013 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Say Goodbye to Orange County Choppers Merchandising  american chopper orange county choppers 635x389

Fresh off the moto-press newswires, we get word that Hudson Valley Merchandising LLC, the merchandising arm of Orange County Choppers, has sought protection in bankruptcy court under Chapter 7 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

Listed as having $1.12 million in assets and $1.44 million in debts, Hudson Valley Merchandising LLC will be given a trustee by the court, who will then likely dismantle the company and its assets in order to make the company’s creditors as whole as possible.

Have You Signed the Petition to Stop the Funding of Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints Yet?

01/28/2013 @ 4:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Have You Signed the Petition to Stop the Funding of Motorcycle Only Checkpoints Yet? dont tread on me motorcycle1 635x423

We are getting to the home-stretch in our campaign to petition the federal government to stop the funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints, so the question is: have YOU signed it yet (and shared it with your moto-loving friends)?

First implemented by the State of New York, inspection checkpoints that apply only to motorcycles have become a more common practice across the United States, and are an act of discrimination that is primarily due to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) funding of the practice through special grants.

Implemented under the guise of operating for the public’s safety, states like New York have been able to target motorcyclists at checkpoints for vehicle and passenger inspection, even when the motorcyclists have broken no apparent laws, with no similar checkpoints being setup for automobile drivers.

An alarming trend in the unfair application of the law, some states, like California, have been able to preemptively ban the practice through their legislative branches; however, other states like New York have continue using motorcycle-only checkpoints, with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently affirming motorcycle-only checkpoints as lawful in New York.

Over two years ago, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) urged NHTSA Administrator David Strickland to cease the NHTSA’s funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints. After denying the request, the NHTSA has continued to provide federal funds to state and local police programs for the specific use of these checkpoints (the NHTSA’s response is here).

While the issue will be delayed for years in the courts, there is something that we as motorcyclists can do now in order to enact change. You may have already heard of The White House’s “We the People” website, a site where citizens can petition the federal government for specific actions, and if enough people sign a petition, President Obama and his staff have to take the matter under consideration. Click here to sign the petition.

An FAQ on the Petition Against the NHTSA’s Funding of Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints

01/09/2013 @ 8:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

An FAQ on the Petition Against the NHTSAs Funding of Motorcycle Only Checkpoints dont tread on me motorcycle 635x423

Twenty-four hours after starting a petition to the White House about ending the federal government’s funding of discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints, I am pleased to announce that the first hurdle of signatures has been reached, and the petition now sits on the front-page of the “We the People” website for the Obama Administration.

If in 30 days the petition can reach 25,000 signatures, it will be put before The President of the United States of America for a formal response. There is a long road ahead, but there is a chance here for us as motorcyclists to have some influence on the laws that affect us. To help explain the situation with motorcycle-only checkpoints, the process of petitioning the federal government, and some responses to nay-sayers, I’ve put the following FAQ together. And in case you haven’t already, click here to sign the petition.

Help Petition the Federal Government To Stop Funding Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints

01/08/2013 @ 5:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Help Petition the Federal Government To Stop Funding Motorcycle Only Checkpoints we the people constitution 635x422

Want to take a stand for the rights of motorcyclists? Here is your chance to stop the practice of motorcycle-only checkpoints. First implemented by the State of New York, inspection checkpoints that apply only to motorcycles have become a more common practice across the United States, and are an act of discrimination that is primarily due to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) funding of the practice through special grants.

Implemented under the guise of operating for the public’s safety, states like New York have been able to target motorcyclists at checkpoints for vehicle and passenger inspection, even when the motorcyclists have broken no apparent laws, with no similar checkpoints being setup for automobile drivers.

An alarming trend in the unfair application of the law, some states, like California, have been able to preemptively ban the practice through their legislative branches; however, other states like New York have continue using motorcycle-only checkpoints, with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently affirming motorcycle-only checkpoints as lawful in New York.

Over two years ago, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) urged NHTSA Administrator David Strickland to cease the NHTSA’s funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints. After denying the request, the NHTSA has continued to provide federal funds to state and local police programs for the specific use of these checkpoints (the NHTSA’s response is here).

While the issue will be delayed for years in the courts, there is something that we as motorcyclists can do now in order to enact change. You may have already heard of The White House’s “We the People” website, a site where citizens can petition the federal government for specific actions, and if enough people sign a petition, President Obama and his staff have to take the matter under consideration. Click here to sign the petition.

Video: Missouri Cops Hit Motorcyclists During Rally Ride

09/20/2012 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler67 COMMENTS

Video: Missouri Cops Hit Motorcyclists During Rally Ride Ride of the Century

Believe me when I say, no one hates a squid on a sport bike more than a law-abidding motorcyclist, and after watching the videos after jump of the 10th Annual “Streetfighterz Ride of the Century,” we can’t help but roll our eyes as we yet again see a bunch of morons with a motorcycle endorsements popping wheelies and riding on the highway’s shoulder, all while clad in next-to-nothing gear. These are the type of motorcyclists we have a supreme hatred for, since nine times out of ten, they are doing far too good of a job at giving the rest of us a bad name.

That being said, the actions seen here by some Missouri Highway Patrol and the St. Louis County police officers is downright reproachable, if not criminal in our eyes. Did these BikerBoyz wannabes deserve some righteous ticketing? Yeah probably. Do they need a schooling in proper roadside etiquette and a re-education on the basic principals of ATGATT? Absolutely. But did 5-0 cross the line when they started intentionally ramming motorcyclists who weren’t with their squad cars, including bikes that were being ridden two-up with a blameless passenger on-board? You’re god damn right they did.

Schwantz Releases Another Statement about COTA & Dorna

09/14/2012 @ 12:34 pm, by David Emmett14 COMMENTS

Schwantz Releases Another Statement about COTA & Dorna Circuit of the Americas construction site 635x442

Kevin Schwantz has issued another statement in response to the press releases put out by both the Circuit of the Americas and Dorna, concerning his legal proceedings over the case. In the press release, Schwantz lays the blame for the situation at the feet of the Circuit of the Americas, and claims they attempted to obtain the contract to organize the MotoGP race in Texas by forcing him out of the deal with Dorna. The full statement issued by Kevin Schwantz is after the jump.