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.

Why Asphalt & Rubber Supports Riders for Health

10/03/2013 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Why Asphalt & Rubber Supports Riders for Health riders banner white 635x400

You would have to be living in a hole not to have heard about the video footage of a Range Rover plowing through a group of motorcyclists, and the chase through New York that ensued afterwards.

I say this not because the video has been the highest trafficked article on Asphalt & Rubber this week so far, though it is; nor do I say this because the video has been posted to virtually every motorcycle forum and blog on the internet, though it has; but instead because the video has elevated itself out of our obscure sport and into the national, if not international, public consciousness.

It is rare that motorcycling finds its way into mass media, and unfortunately it is rarely a good thing when it does so. Motorcycling by and large has an image problem in the United States. Few motorists commute via motorcycle, which means our industry is filled with people who come to motorcycles from either a hobby, sport, or lifestyle perspective, and because of this motorcycles remain on the fringe of mainstream society.

For some, that is the allure. Motorcycling is “something different’ which in turns allows a motorcyclist to express their individuality in an obvious manner. To illustrate this point, I am fairly certain that the vast majority of flame threads that start on forums and blogs can be boiled down to the premise that because your enjoyment of motorcycles is different from my enjoyment of motorcycles, it therefore must be wrong.

Bonnier Corp. & Source Interlink Swap Publications – Cycle World, Motorcyclist, & Sport Rider Now Under One Roof

05/20/2013 @ 4:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

Bonnier Corp. & Source Interlink Swap Publications   <em>Cycle World</em>, <em>Motorcyclist</em>, & <em>Sport Rider</em> Now Under One Roof monopoly money 635x400

Interesting news for American motorcycle enthusiasts, as nearly all your printed two-wheeled information is set to come from a singular company in the coming future. Already the recent purchaser of Cycle World, Bonnier Corporation seems poised to control a significant portion of the two-wheeled industry’s printed and online press.

Inking a two-way deal with Source Interlink, Bonnier Corp. receives in the transaction Motorcyclist, Sport Rider, Dirt RiderMotorcycle Cruiser, Hot Bike, Baggers, Super Streetbike, Street Chopper, and ATV Rider. In exchange, Source Interlink receives the TransWorld extreme and urban sports properties (except TransWorld Snowboarding), as well as Sound + Vision magazine.

Video: Ask Me Something, with Dani Pedrosa

04/01/2013 @ 1:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Video: Ask Me Something, with Dani Pedrosa dani pedrosa leathers cota 635x422

For just a simple three-day test at the Circuit of the Americas, it is astounding how much marketing material that has poured out from the camps that surround the Honda and Yamaha factory MotoGP race teams. A true testament to the notion that if Dorna loosened its tight grip on recording video at MotoGP events, it could greatly benefit the sponsors, and thus the teams, and thus the riders of the sport.

Take our latest example with an Alpinestars’s “Ask Me Something” video installment that features HRC rider Dani Pedrosa. A simple four-minute promotional clip shot atop the observation tower at the Circuit of the Americas, Pedrosa gets some much needed fan interaction (and humanization), and Alpinestars has a cool promotional video to help justify the millions of dollars its spends in MotoGP each season.

If this had been an “official” test, where Dorna’s media bosses could impose its draconian rules about video, this short segment for one of the paddock’s greatest sponsors would never have occurred (or worse, Alpinestars would have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars to get permission to film its sponsored rider).

But instead since the COTA test was a “private” test, we get a glimpse into how the MotoGP paddock would function if it was a well-oiled media machine. We have never seen so much marketing material made for the US market come from MotoGP before now. It makes you wonder about something, doesn’t it?

Motorcycle Racing vs. Social Media: How Dorna Could Turn Losing the Battle into Winning the War

03/11/2013 @ 10:23 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

Motorcycle Racing vs. Social Media: How Dorna Could Turn Losing the Battle into Winning the War Mugello Italian GP MotoGP Sunday Jules Cisek 13 635x423

When the news that Dorna would be taking over World Superbikes broke, there was a wave of outrage among fans, expressing the fear that the Spanish company would set about destroying the series they had grown to love.

So far, Dorna has been careful not to get involved in debates about the technical regulations which seem to be so close to fans’ hearts, its only criteria so far appearing to be a demand that bikes should cost 250,000 euros for an entire season.

Yet it has already make one move which has a serious negative impact on the series: it is clamping down on video footage from inside the paddock.

There was some consternation – and there is still some confusion – about the situation at the first round of WSBK at Phillip Island at the end of February. Where previously, teams and journalists had been free to shoot various videos inside the paddock, there were mixed signals coming from Dorna management, with some people told there was an outright and immediate ban, with threats of serious consequences should it be ignored, while others were saying that they had heard nothing on the subject.

That Dorna is determined to reduce the amount of free material on YouTube became immediately clear after the race weekend was over: in previous years, brief, two-minute race summaries would appear on the official World Superbike Youtube channel after every weekend. After the first race of 2013, only the post-race interviews were posted on the site. It is a long-standing Dorna policy to try to strictly control what ends up on YouTube and what doesn’t. It is its most serious mistake, and one which could end up badly damaging the sport unless it is changed very soon.

World Superbike Will Be on Televised in the USA Afterall…But on the beIN Sport Network?

02/19/2013 @ 5:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler51 COMMENTS

World Superbike Will Be on Televised in the USA Afterall...But on the beIN Sport Network? bein sport logo 635x529

So here’s the good news, after all the uncertainty regarding its media contracts, the 2013 World Superbike Championship will be broadcasted in the United States afterall. The bad news however is that WSBK racing will be on the beIN Sport network. Yeah, we haven’t heard of them either.

SPEED Still without TV Contracts for WSBK & MotoGP??!

02/13/2013 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler54 COMMENTS

SPEED Still without TV Contracts for WSBK & MotoGP??! broke television 635x476

With the World Superbike season-opener now less than two weeks away, bad news looms for motorcycle race fans in the United States, as the SPEED Channel (now a part of FOX Sports), does not have a television contract to air WSBK and MotoGP for their 2013 seasons.

An issue that has been hanging in limbo since the start of the year, Superbike Planet yesterday suggested that American motorcycle racing fans could be without the World Superbike Championship on their televisions sets this year (we have heard similar murmurings regarding AMA Pro Racing as well).

Now today, Roadracing World confirmed with SPEED that the network still does not have any contracts with Dorna for the TV rights to WSBK and MotoGP. What’s worse, SPEED’s Vice President of Media Relations Erik Arneson gave no indication that the TV channel was any closer to finishing a deal with Dorna than it was earlier this year.

American Chopper Cancelled: Thank You Jesus?

11/16/2012 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

American Chopper Cancelled: Thank You Jesus? American Chopper 635x474

After 10 years and 233 episodes on the air, American Chopper is finally getting dragged out behind the shed, and put out of its misery on December 11th, 2012. It has been a long road with the Teutul family, as for the past decade we have watched the Oedipal struggle between Paul Jr. and Paul Sr., with man-child Mikey trapped in the middle, serving as the only adult in the group.

Things started out well enough, with the folks at Orange County Choppers making some interesting customs, and exposing a mainstream TV audience to the world of motorcycles…albeit in the same lowest-common denominator way that is typically found on WWF’s Monday Night RAW.

Like all good Hollywood dreams, the money started to trickle in for “theme” bikes on the show. Turning what should have been an exposé of mechanical craftsmanship into a marketing/PR circle-jerk with the Teutul family’s severe anger-management issues as the sideshow distraction.

Somewhere within the plot lines of Paul Sr.’s bicep size, and his battle with son on who can more perfectly fit the description of narcissism in the DSM-IV, bikes were made…but really we just showed up to see how many chairs could be thrown across the room in a single episode, or how often Paul Jr. could act like a spoiled brat.

Thursday Summary at Le Mans: On Stoner’s Retirement

05/18/2012 @ 10:54 am, by David Emmett25 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Le Mans: On Stoners Retirement Casey Stoner MotoGP Repsol Honda Scott Jones

It is hard to upstage Valentino Rossi. It takes something large, significant, to take the limelight away from the nine-time World Champion, and the man who has been the charismatic heart of MotoGP for the best part of 15 years. To do that, you have to “Go big or go home,” as British road racer Guy Martin likes to put it.

At Le Mans, Casey Stoner upstaged Rossi. The press conference – usually a rather staid affair, with the usual niceties about the track, each rider’s chances at the circuit and a couple of witticisms – started unusually, with Nick Harris, the veteran commentator who leads the official press conferences, saying that Stoner would like to make a statement to the press. Stoner then proceeded to press the big red button that set Twitter, the internet and newswires ablaze. In the process, he did not so much ignite the 2013 MotoGP Silly Season, as douse it in liquid oxygen and set a flame thrower to it.

Mea Culpa: The Media’s Hard-on for a Good Penis Story

05/01/2012 @ 12:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

Mea Culpa: The Medias Hard on for a Good Penis Story Stella Liebeck burn photo

If you haven’t heard of the motorcycle rider who is suing BMW and Corbin seats for causing a lasting erection, then you have likely been living under a rock for the past few days. First reported by Courthouse News, the story has swept the pages of motorcycle blogs around the world, and has even garnered serious mainstream media attention. There is a reason this story is going viral, right? Our inner-child loves a good dick joke, and the setup on how a motorcycle has made a man erect virtually sells its comedic self. There is of course the “damn lawyers” angle as well, which makes for a nice one-two punch.

As you can imagine, the bulk of the commentary, both from readers and from professional journalists, has centered around the absurdity of the claim, with even jokes being offered about how an aged BMW rider should be thanking the German motorcycle brand for saving him money on Viagra, etc. The situation reminds me of the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit. You know the story, right?. A woman buys a cup of coffee at McDonald’s, spills it on herself while in the car, and sues the bastards for her incompetence. True to litigious American form, the unthinkable happened, and a jury awarded this gold-digging woman millions of dollars. It is repudiating, and it stands for everything that is wrong with the legal system, or so we would be lead to believe — especially by the media.

As I sat back this weekend and watched the comments flood in about the story, I realized that we the media (myself included) have done a huge disservice to the public at large — an act I thought I would never do. We offered up this story to mass consumption knowing full well the headline chasing/link-baiting were we about to commit. You see, I know a thing or two about the McDonald’s coffee case, and how that story was pitched by the media. Sitting in my first-year torts class in law school, our professor baited his trap and we walked right into it when he offered up the same premise as I have done above. How dare someone sue over some spilled coffee! How dare this man sue for an erection! Whether or not the seat caused it even!

The photo you see above is of Stella Liebeck, the 79-year-old grandmother who spilled 190°F coffee on herself while in a parked car, and suffered third-degree burns on her thighs, pelvic, groin, and genitalia. If that photo shocks and offends you, then I have made my unapologetic point. But what is truly shocking is the full-story behind Stella’s injuries and “frivolous” lawsuit. I have republished the account of her story after the jump, but hopefully it sheds a different light on the plight of our BMW rider, who claims to have had painful, uncomfortable, year-long lasting erections.

Jesse James Starts New Media Production Company

04/22/2011 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Jesse James Starts New Media Production Company Jesse James West Coast Choppers 635x467

Jesse James, the man we love to hate, is back in the news today with reports that his Payupsucker Productions, Inc. has teamed-up with Circle King Networks to create El Jefe Entertainment, a motor sports enthusiasts focused production company. While James has always been regarded as a true artisan in the craft of motorcycle fabrication, his true spotlight of fame came from his media savvy in leveraging his name and creating shows like Monster Garage and Jesse James is a Dead Man.

El Jefe Entertainment’s goal is to “develop, produce and distribute exciting, authentic motor-sport based and car enthusiast entertainment,” and will be focusing with movies and products that will be available on DVD, Pay Per View, as well as direct and mobile formats.