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.

XXX: 2014 Honda RCV1000R

11/08/2013 @ 1:41 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

XXX: 2014 Honda RCV1000R 2014 Honda RCV1000R MotoGP 05 635x423

While the talk of the Valencian GP will be the on-track action between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, the off-track chatter is about HRC’s open class race bike for private teams, the Honda RCV1000R. This is the machine that Nicky Hayden, Scott Redding, and Karel Abraham, with other riders expected to be added, hope will close the gap between factory and private teams.

Like its predecessor, the 2014 Honda RCV1000R uses a 999.5cc 90° V4 engine, and while there are many similarities between the two bikes, there are major differences as well. Specifically, the Honda RCV1000R uses conventional steel valve springs, instead of the Honda RC213V’s pneumatic valve springs; and a conventional gearbox, instead of the factory bike’s seamless gearbox design.

Still the RCV1000R is an impressive machine, and in the hands of Casey Stoner the bike lapped within 0.3 seconds as the RCV213V on the same tires. When shod with the CRT-spec Bridgestone rubber, Stoner was within 0.17 seconds of his factory bike lap time. What the will translate to on race day remains to be seen though.

Costing around €1,200,000 for the first season, and €500,000 for the upgrade package in the second season, teams are still paying quite a bit of coin for a GP bike, especially since HRC is barring them from making their own modifications to the engine. Still, the Honda RCV1000R is a much cheaper option to the satellite-spec RC213V. We just think it looks great — a bevy of high-resolution photos are after the jump.

XXX: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia

11/13/2012 @ 6:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Do you like carbon fiber? Do you like steel trellis frames? Do you like 160hp motorcycles that weigh 390 lbs dry? Well then, we have just the thing for you: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia.

Pretty much the Bimota DB8 with some “Italian” themed paint, we won’t go into too much detail since the DB8, DB9, & DB11 share pretty much everything except the bodywork…which is probably the only criticism you can lobby at any of those machines.

Bimota sent us these up-close high-resolution photos of the Bimota DB8 Italia from EICMA, and we thought we’d share them with our loyal readers. Enjoy.

XXX: Ducati Desmosedici RR

11/04/2012 @ 3:03 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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Before Honda started working on its road-going version of its V4 MotoGP race bike, there was the Ducati Desmosedici RR. A fairly close approximation to its namesake, 1,500 units of the Desmosedici RR were built by the Bologna Brand, with the coup de grâce being the hyperbike’s $72,000 price tag.

Despite its racing pedigree, with a MotoGP World Championship at the hands of Casey Stoner too boot, sales for the Ducati Desmosedici RR were surprisingly sluggish. You can even find a few remaining models still on the showroom floors of some select Ducati dealerships.

Maybe it was the price tag, maybe it was the public’s less-than-adoring relationship with the new MotoGP Champion, or maybe it was the fact that the production-based Ducati Superbike 1098R was said to be faster than the RR around certain tracks (Motorcyclist & MCN). Maybe it was a function of all the above.

However, in our eyes, the Ducati Desmosedici RR remains one of the most drool-worthy sport bikes produced in the past decade — after all, it really is as close as you’re going to get to a road-going GP machine…besides the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC.

After Ducati completed its production run of the Ducati Desmosedici RR, many began to speculate as to the company’s encore uber-exclusive model. Despite Ducati’s internal belief that the Desmosedici RR was a relative failure as a model (it would be safe to say that Ducati didn’t expect sales of the RR to take nearly as long as they did), as far as halo products go, the Desmosedici RR ticks all the right boxes, and begs for a next-generation.

In many ways, the Ducati 1199 Panigale is the company’s follow-up to the Desmo, and interestingly enough, the Panigale is now also beginning to struggle with sales, admittedly not to the same extent as the RR.

Looking at the photos after the jump, you can see a lot of the Panigale in the Desmosedici, which is of course due to the Ducati 1199 Panigale’s MotoGP-inspired “frameless” chassis design that uses the motor as the basis for the motorcycle’s structure.

Building the headstock/airbox off the forward-facing cylinder head, and the tail/rear-subframe off the rearward cylinder head on the Panigale, we see the same design elements in the Ducati Desmosedici RR, except maybe one or two generations behind the current superbike (Ducati went from a steel trellis design, to a carbon design, to an aluminum design, and now rests on a aluminum perimeter-frame design).

Allowing Ducati to make a ridiculously light motorcycle, the design philosophy holds some serious strong potential. We don’t imagine the thought process on this chassis is over just quite yet, regardless of what is occurring in MotoGP right now, though Ducati Corse certainly has its work cutout for itself in that arena.

Is there a point to all this? Maybe not, beyond something to mull over on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Daydreaming fodder is after the jump.

Video: Making the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola

01/07/2012 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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One of the great A&R travesties of 2011 was my inability to swing by the Radical Ducati shop in Madrid, Spain as I was traveling to the Valencian GP. Truly a fan of their pieced-together two-wheeled works of art, my fragile heart surely would not withstood having to leave Radical Ducati’s workshop, had I been able to get out of the Madrid-Barajas Airport and down to the city center before my connecting flight departed. Ni modo, así es la vida.

Who knows what 2012 has in store for my travel itinerary, so until I can make good on that visit, we all will have to tide ourselves over with the photos and videos that these creative Spaniards produce, and at the top of the drool-worthy list is the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola café racer. A tribute to the bike that carried Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari to victory in the 200-mile race at Imola in 1972, the RAD02 Imola is one of best examples of the quality work that this small Spanish outfit produces on a regular basis.

Releasing an artsy build/assembly video of the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we already feel the custom motorcycle tugging again at our heartstrings, and I can’t help but wonder what other projects Pepo, Reyes, and the rest of the Radical Ducati crew have for 2012. Enjoy the video after the jump, and be sure to bring a towel to mop up the mess.

Motorcycle Porn: Mission R Swingarm by Speedymoto

01/27/2011 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Motorcycle Porn: Mission R Swingarm by Speedymoto Mission R swingarm Speedymoto 635x423

UPDATE: According to Mission Motors’ Edward West, the single-sided swingarm weighs 13.6 lbs alone, and 18.8 lbs with the slider for the chain tensioner/wheelbase adjuster installed.

The Mission R electric superbike by Mission Motors is one of those motorcycles that looks great by itself in a photo, and then looks even better once you see it in person. Up-close it is easier to appreciate the finer details that went into making the Mission R, like the all-carbon “fuel tank” and battery enclosure, the chrome-moly trellis frame, and of course the single-piece billet aluminum swingarm that was produced by Speedymoto.

Like most things built by Speedymoto, the Mission R swingarm could be a piece of art in its own right (I’ve got a few Speedymoto parts on my Streetfighter for this very reason), and the Oregon-based company has posted some behind the scenes shots and details of its work. Photos and more after the jump.