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.

For Sale: One Italian Motorcycle Company – Slightly Used

02/18/2011 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

For Sale: One Italian Motorcycle Company   Slightly Used Moto Morini Scrambler 1200 635x423

Moto Morini’s bankruptcy has been going painfully slow, but it’s all about to come to a head, as the Italian company will be put up on the auction block April 13th. The Super-Saver Moto Morini package includes all the appropriate intellectual property, assets, and equipment (sans motorcycles, which are being sold separately) for the cool sum of €5.5 million. Should no one want the whole kit ‘n kaboodle, a cheaper price of €2.6 million will be set for the production complex with two years use included. These prices are of course the auction’s guide prices.

Moto Morini Opening Again…Sorta Not Really

01/19/2011 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Moto Morini Opening Again...Sorta Not Really Moto Morini Scrambler 635x440

Don’t get too excited Moto Morini fans, the Italian brand isn’t making a comeback from the dead as of yet. However Piero Aicardi, Moto Morini’s receiver (the person in charge of handling the company’s affairs during the liquidation/bankruptcy process), wants to re-open the Bologna factory to assemble 45 bikes that are apparently sitting in parts at the factory.

With 16 Scamblers and 29 Granpasso’s capable of being built, Aicardi foresees that Moto Morini could open temporarily to build the 45 bikes, which would sell for €6,300 – €7,100 ($8,500 – $9,600), and use the proceeds to pay off some of Moto Morini’s debts.

Get a Moto Morini on the Cheap [UPDATED]

07/12/2010 @ 6:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Get a Moto Morini on the Cheap [UPDATED] Avio Left front1 635x519

UPDATE: Moto Morini’s liquidator has now announced that all the available units have been sold.

As the dust continues to settle around Moto Morini, the Italian marque sees an expiration date looming in its future. Pushing its final days into September of this year, as the company looks for a new potential buyer, assets of this motorcycling misadventure continue to be sold. While many were upset at Moto Morini closing its doors, the good news is that the company has an ample stock of bikes, which it is now selling for severely discounted prices.

The Death of Moto Morini – Acquisition Deal Falls Through as Garelli/Berlusconi Walk Away

06/14/2010 @ 12:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The Death of Moto Morini   Acquisition Deal Falls Through as Garelli/Berlusconi Walk Away Gran Passo 635x499

We were hoping to hear something definitive about the Moto Morini acquisition early this week, and the news arrived right on schedule…but just not what we thought we’d hear. Unable to reach an agreement with the trade unions, Paolo Berlusconi’s company, New Garelli, which was created specifically for the takeover of Moto Morini, has backed out of the acquisition of the historic Italian brand.

In their statement, New Garelli cites the company’s inability to reach a mutual agreement with the labor unions as it’s main reason for backing out of the deal. With no other buyers in the mix, and the trade unions seemingly an immovable object, Moto Morini seems destined for the dead pool. Find the company’s statement after the jump.

Moto Morini Purchase Almost Complete

06/09/2010 @ 8:28 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Moto Morini Purchase Almost Complete corsaro1200 635x476

After getting his first offer to purchase Moto Morini rejected by the local unions, Paolo Berlusconi looks to have overcome the setback, and could finalize the purchase of the other Bologna brand by as early as next week. This news comes after provincial administrators called an emergency meeting, which resulted in some concession by Berlusconi.

At the center of the controversy is the number of workers Berlusconi will keep on at the Bologna-based plant. According to reports, this number has been increased from 20 to 26, out of total of 57 workers who worked at the plant before it entered into receivership. This concession does not come without consequences though.

Unions Put the Kibosh on Moto Morini Acquisition

05/18/2010 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Unions Put the Kibosh on Moto Morini Acquisition Moto Morini 9.5 635x508

You have to love labor unions sometimes. Faced with the prospect of being completely out of work, the labor union negotiators have rejected a proposal from Paolo Berlusconi that would save Moto Morini from going completely out of business. Of course us Americans can relate to this plight, as we just recently watched the UAW try to pull the same tactic while the US automotive industry crumbled around them. The blocked agreement is obviously bad news for Moto Morini, but Berlesconi is likely not done pursuing the troubled Italian manufacturer.

Oberdan Bezzi’s Second-Take on a Bimota/Moto Morini – MMB2 FighterMotard

04/21/2010 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Oberdan Bezzis Second Take on a Bimota/Moto Morini   MMB2 FighterMotard Oberdan Bezzi Bimota MMB 2 Moto Morini FighterMotard 635x435

Just a couple days after Oberdan Bezzi inked this incarnation of a Bimota MMB1 (Bimota Moto Morini), he brings us this drawing of a streetfighter/hypermotard version of his imaginative cross-pollination of the two Italian brands. The drawing of course looks great, but we have our same criticism from his previous render…it looks more of the same.

We were pretty tough on Bezzi for his prior design, and the problem is we take these drawings as compared to each other, whereas in the real world there would be only one iteration of these designs, which no doubt would look fantastic on its own. We especially appreciate how Obiboi has channeled Bimota’s genius in the frame design. So with that, we still hope for a change of inspiration from the Italian designer, but we’d gladly welcome any of these bikes in the A&R garage.

Obiboi Does a Bimota Moto Morini MMB-1

04/19/2010 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Obiboi Does a Bimota Moto Morini MMB 1 Bimota Moto Morini MMB1 Oberdan Bezzi 635x435

Topically Moto Morini has been in the news lately with its rumored saving from the dustbin by Paolo Berlusconi, and as such Oberdan Bezzi has inked another sketch that sees the Italian manufacturer linking up with Bimota to create the MMB1, the first Moto Morini powered Bimota motorcycle. The pairing seems a bit odd, as Moto Morini isn’t exactly known for its amazing motor design, although we are a sucker for a good v-twin here at A&R. Additionally, Bezzi’s design reminds of sketches of his that we’ve seen before, surely in his imaginary world Bimota would find a new vein of motorcycle design to explore Moto Morini with?

Moto Morini Saved From Bankruptcy? – Paolo Berlusconi Makes €2.9 Million Offer

04/13/2010 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Moto Morini Saved From Bankruptcy?   Paolo Berlusconi Makes €2.9 Million Offer moto morini scrambler 1 635x444

Quirky Italian motorcycle manufacturer Moto Morini has reportedly been saved from the chopping block by Paolo Berlusconi. If that names rings a bell, it should because Berlusconi is the brother to Italy’s Prime Minister, and owns Garelli scooters. The Italian businessman has also been recently linked to acquiring MV Agusta, which if both transactions go through could see Berlusconi owning the parts of a formidable Italian motorcycle company. Berlusconi has reportedly made a €2.9 million offer for Moto Morini which includes the company name, infrastructure, and rights to past and future product lines.

Reports of Moto Morini’s Death Appear to Be Un-True

12/09/2009 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Reports of Moto Morinis Death Appear to Be Un True 53eba983c09b2ad2c10bfc8ddb9a07aa XL 635x425

After we posted yesterday that Moto Morini had shut down its production line, amid the Italian company’s financial problems, other publications began covering the company’s complete closure. This caught the folks at Moto Morini off-guard, who while on an extended day-off, insist they are still keeping the production line functioning, if admittedly at a significantly reduced capacity.