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 Suzuki DL650X V-Strom Adventure Outed with Beak

09/24/2014 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2015 Suzuki DL650X V Strom Adventure Outed with Beak 2015 suzuki dl650x v strom adventure 635x403

The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 was a big step for Suzuki and the V-Strom name, as the Japanese company put forward a very convincing offer on the ADV table. Now Suzuki seems set to deliver an encore to that production, in the guise of the company’s smaller V-Strom 650 machine.

Spotted by our Dutch friends at Oliepeil, Suzuki’s parts catalog shows a new model tagged as the DL650X, which features a new beak-like headlight/mudguard, dual-sport treaded tires, and wire-laced wheels. For those who don’t know “DL” has been Suzuki’s letter-based model name for the V-Strom series, since its inception.

Leaked: Tech Details on the Harley-Davidson Livewire

06/18/2014 @ 10:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler56 COMMENTS

Leaked: Tech Details on the Harley Davidson Livewire Harley Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle 08 635x453

Thanks to our network of Bothan spy tipsters, we posted today the still-unreleased photos of the Harley-Davidson Project Livewire. Details were light from our sources though, but Bothans are a tireless breed (note: for new readers, we sort of have this whole Star Wars motif on leaked stories…just roll with it, we already know we’re nerds).

While the consensus on Project Livewire seems to be that it’s a looker, the devil is in the details…and now we have those as well. Featuring a three-phase induction motor with 55 kW of power (just under 74hp) and 52 lbs•ft of torque, the Harley-Davidson Livewire is packing more power than both the Brammo Empulse R (54 hp) and Zero SR (67 hp). That’s the good.

The bad is that despite its hefty casing size, the Harley-Davidson Livewire motorcycle is a little light in the loafers when it comes to battery capacity. Our guesstimate on battery pack size, judging from Harley’s quoted charge time and parameters, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 kWh nominal, a bit less than the 9.3 kWh and 10.0 kWh of the Brammo and Zero.

That means the Harley-Davidson Livewire is good for just over 50 miles of mixed city and highway riding that is limited to 92 mph (we’re not really sure how Harley-Davidson came up with that figure). Expect to go 0-60 in around 4 seconds.

Leaked: First Photos of the Harley-Davidson Livewire

06/18/2014 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

Leaked: First Photos of the Harley Davidson Livewire Harley Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle 02 635x555

The folks in Milwaukee didn’t invite Asphalt & Rubber to the Harley-Davidson Project Livewire launch and subsequent press embargo, so I’m not going to lose too much sleep over publishing the latest find from our Bothan spy network (for the record, A&R has never broken a press embargo that we were invited to).

That all being said, here are the first official photos of the Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle — the Bar & Shield brand’s foray into electric motorcycle scene — for your viewing pleasure.

Details are still spotty of course (update: you can read the tech specs here), so we will leave that bit of journalism to the publications that Harley-Davidson deemed worthy (maybe it was something we said?). For our part though, we can see a full-glass dash though, which is another first for Harley-Davidson, as well as an LED headlight.

The big kickers will be the price and range, of course. South of $20,000 and north of 100 miles would really make Project Livewire a strong contender on the market. It will remain to be seen if Harley-Davidson can get under/above those two metrics, respectively, though.

Yet Another Look at the Yamaha YZF-R25

05/14/2014 @ 11:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Yet Another Look at the Yamaha YZF R25 yamaha yzf r25 low res 635x463

There is only a week until Yamaha reveals its 250cc sport bike, the Yamaha YZF-R25, but glimpses of the machine continue to make their way onto the internet. We skipped the completely unidentifiable tail light photos, but have already brought you some good looks at the YZF-R25’s front-end.

Today, we bring you an unfortunately low-resolution look at the R25’s profile, in its entirety. How will this Indonesian-made parallel-twin compare to bikes like of the Honda CBR250R and Kawasaki Ninja 250R? Only time will tell.

Coming Soon: Honda Gold Wing F6C

11/08/2013 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Coming Soon: Honda Gold Wing F6C honda evo 6 concept 635x444

The force is strong with the Bothan Spy network today, as we have received news that Honda is set to debut a naked-style power cruiser, named the Honda Gold Wing F6C — a noticeable nod to a similar Honda motorcycle, the Honda F6C Valkyrie.

Though we don’t know what the final form of the F6C will be like (the Honda EV 6 Concept is above), it is said to be the bridge between the Honda CTX1300 and Honda Gold Wing F6B, the 2014 Honda Gold Wing F6C is a light and low cruiser in style, similar to the CTX1300.

However Gold Wing F6C will also be like the Honda Gold Wing F6B in that it will be based around the Gold Wing’s 1,832cc six-cylinder engine, which will make and underwhelming 108hp at 5,500 rpm and an overwhelming 116 lbs•ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

More Photos and Video of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000

11/02/2013 @ 8:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

More Photos and Video of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 video leak 05 635x370

We already showed you the first glimpse of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 two weeks ago, but with just a few days until the start of the 2013 EICMA show, Kawasaki’s new naked bike is giving us the full monty, courtesy of Japan’s Mr. Bike. Getting a chance to film the new Kawasaki Z1000 with up-close panning shots, we are even treated to the new Z’s exhaust note.

For the new model year, things seem to be mainly an aesthetic overhaul — the great internet debate is now whether the new Z1000 retains its predecessor’s 136hp motor, or whether the machine gets the 140hp lump from the Kawasaki Z1000SX. One would presume the latter, though both engines are of the same ilk and difficult to distinguish from visually.

First Photos of the KTM RC125 & KTM RC200

10/27/2013 @ 1:40 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

First Photos of the KTM RC125 & KTM RC200 2014 KTM RC125 black 02

If it is connected by a series of tubes, we will find it; and thus here are photos of the still unreleased KTM RC125 & KTM RC200 street bikes — the kid-siblings to the recently leaked KTM RC390. Like the RC390, the RC125 & RC200 are visually similar, and share a common vein in their Made-in-India single-cylinder engines.

No word on specs, but we foresee the 125cc and 200cc iterations sharing similar technical listings as their Duke counterparts. We should know more at EICMA, where all three of these street bikes are expect to debut. More photos after the jump.

2014 KTM RC390 Details Drop with Photos

10/25/2013 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

2014 KTM RC390 Details Drop with Photos ktm rc390 635x457

The 2014 KTM RC390 has been a long-time coming, as news of the bike has been in circulation since a leaked slide at the KTM North American dealer meeting hit the internet over two years ago. Built off of the KTM 390 Duke street bike, KTM said the RC390 would have “Moto3 inspired” bodywork when it debuted.

We got our first glimpse of the machine earlier this year, when KTM took the covers off the KTM RC390 race bike, a cup-series machine based off the still unreleased street machine. Well now the wait is over, as we have our first glimpse of the new KTM RC390, thanks to a leak on the KTM Canada website.

Leaked Photo of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000

10/25/2013 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Leaked Photo of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 kawasaki z1000 leak 635x400

We know that Kawasaki plans to update the Z1000 for the 2014 model year, and it looks like our friends at Oliepeil have gotten their hands on one of the first clear photos of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000.

Even More Leaked Photos of the Ducati 1199 SuperLeggera

10/19/2013 @ 5:35 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Even More Leaked Photos of the Ducati 1199 SuperLeggera Ducati 1199 Superleggera photo leak 03

The upcoming Ducati 1199 Superleggera continues to leak onto the internet in photo form, though this time we’re getting a little help from Ducati Chile, with the distributor listing some key figures along with its images: 205+ hp in racing trim & 166 kg at the curb. Confirming what we saw in a previous photo, the Superleggera will come decked out in a very “Desmosedici” red and white Ducati Corse livery.

In addition to these studio-quality photos, we also dug up what looks to be the SuperLeggera’s weight reductions (after the jump), listed by part and in comparison to the Ducati 1199 Panigale R. In total, the figures show the Supperleggera tipping the scales at 342 lbs dry, roughly 22 lbs less than the Panigale R.

Depending on whether Ducati Chile’s 166 kg curb weight figure is with or without fuel, the Superleggera could be a far cry from the 40 lbs we heard earlier this month (not to mention a lower horsepower figure than we were told). Still, Ducati’s new dream machine lives up its name, and is super light when compared to its homologation-ready cousin. More photos are waiting for you after the jump.