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.

How History Is Repeating with Energy Drinks, And Creating Another Tobacco Disaster in Motorcycle Racing

06/11/2014 @ 6:50 pm, by David Emmett20 COMMENTS

How History Is Repeating with Energy Drinks, And Creating Another Tobacco Disaster in Motorcycle Racing monster energy barcode 635x423

At the Barcelona round of MotoGP – or to give it its full title, the ‘Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya’ – title sponsors Monster Energy are to unveil a new flavor of their product, called ‘The Doctor’, marketed around Valentino Rossi. This is not a particularly unusual event at a MotoGP weekend. Almost every race there is a presentation for one product or another, linking in with a team, or a race, or a factory.

If anything, the presentation of the Monster Energy drink is even more typical than most, featuring motorcycle racing’s marketing dynamite Valentino Rossi promoting an energy drink, the financial backbone of the sport. It is also a sign of the deep trouble in which motorcycle racing finds itself. Energy drinks are slowly taking over the role that tobacco once played, funding teams, riders, and races, and acting as the foundation on which much of the sport is built.

Red Bull funds three MotoGP rounds, a Moto3 team and backs a handful of riders in MotoGP and World Superbikes. Monster Energy sponsors two MotoGP rounds, is the title sponsor of the Tech 3 MotoGP squad, a major backer of the factory Yamaha squad, and has a squadron of other riders which it supports in both MotoGP and World Superbike paddocks.

Then there’s the armada of other brands: Gresini’s Go & Fun (a peculiar name if ever there was one), Drive M7 backing Aspar, Rockstar backing Spanish riders, Relentless, Burn, and far too many more to mention.

Why is the massive interest in backing motorcycle racing a bad thing? Because energy drinks, like the tobacco sponsors they replace, are facing a relentless onslaught to reduce the sale and marketing of the products. A long-standing ban of the sale of Red Bull – though strangely, only Red Bull – was struck down in France in 2008.

Troy Corser Announces Retirement from Motorcycle Racing

10/16/2011 @ 2:16 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Troy Corser Announces Retirement from Motorcycle Racing Troy Corser Miller Motorsports Park WSBK Scott Jones

Troy Corser announced today on Twitter his retirement from motorcycle racing, formerly ending the 40-year-old’s illustrious career in motorcycles. Coy with his words though, Corser’s brief statement hinted at a continued career in racing, likely of the four-wheeled variety. “Retirement is not a word I would normally use. Finishing my bike racing career and starting a new career at 40 sounds better. Racer forever,” the message said.

Video: I Hate It When This Happens

06/22/2011 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Video: I Hate It When This Happens Bizzar Magny Cours motorcycle race crash

Imagine yourself racing at Magny-Cours, minding your own business, hitting your lines, setting up your next pass, etc. And then all of a sudden, one of your competitors wipes-out, and takes you down with him. Tough break, but it happens right?

Nine times out of ten in slow speed crashes, you can pick up your bike and recoup some points…that is of course assuming that your bike doesn’t lock handlebars with the other fallen bike, have its throttle stuck open, and the proceed to spin around like a whirling-dervish. What follows is probably humorous to everyone, except the rider on the green bike. No, that looks like one upset Frenchman. Merci beaucoup pour le tip Mullet!

Biaggi Has No Plans for a MotoGP Comeback

07/14/2010 @ 7:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Biaggi Has No Plans for a MotoGP Comeback Max Biaggi Apilia WSBK winner circle 681x1024

With his dominant season in World Superbike, rumors have begun to swirl about Max Biaggi’s possible return to the MotoGP racing. With MotoGP’s rules set to change in 2012, there’s an opening to see manufacturers like Aprilia and BMW enter in the premiere series with its 100ccc/81mm specifications.

With many pundits believing those entries are a certainty, there’s a considerable amount of talk as to whom would ride an Aprilia prototype, and the name at the top of the list is The Emperor himself. Talking to GPone however, the 39-year-old Italian is emphatic that he has “absolutely no desire to return to MotoGP.”

Video: Freddie Spencer Explains Motorcycle Racing

05/24/2010 @ 6:49 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Video: Freddie Spencer Explains Motorcycle Racing Freddie Spencer 560x373

Mondays can be a little rough, especially if you were up at 5AM PST like we were to catch the MotoGP race on SPEED. If that’s the case for you as well, or if you’re just not a morning person, we’ve got just the thing to help you transition into a functioning human being this Monday morning. Grab a coffee from the office kitchenette, and get ready for 28 minutes of old-school motorcycle racing pontification from none other than Freddie Spencer.

New Media Meets the Old Guard in MotoGP

04/11/2010 @ 11:58 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

New Media Meets the Old Guard in MotoGP typewriter 635x422

Editor’s Note: This guest post by David Emmett was originally posted on his site MotoMatters under the title of “Editor’s Blog: Old And New – How Media Is Changing”. We thought Emmett was so on-point with his assessment of the use of the internet and social media in motorcycle racing, and the industry as a whole, that we asked him to reproduce his post here on Asphalt & Rubber. To put his post in complete context, Emmett just finished working this weekend as Fiat-Yamaha’s live blogger during the Qatar GP, where he wrote, tweeted, and hustled his way around the MotoGP paddock as the only online journalist with a permanent Dorna press pass. For more of an account of his time in Qatar, and for all your other racing news needs, you should visit his site at MotoMatters.com (after first reading Asphalt & Rubber first of course).

The comment that I have probably received most since I started this blog was “I want your job!” And frankly, I have to pinch myself to see if this is still all really happening, so it is a sentiment I can completely understand. Being allowed to work in the MotoGP paddock and up in the press room feels like a genuine privilege, and being surrounded with people who share the same passion is truly remarkable.

I often wonder at how this all came about. Just over four years ago, I posted a season preview on the Adventure Rider motorcycle forum, and now, I learned today, I am the first journalist from an online publication ever to receive a permanent pass from Dorna. In the intervening years I have worked hard both to keep learning as much as I can about racing, and communicate my passion for the sport to a wider audience. It has cost me blood, sweat, tears, and more money than I like to think about, but all these would have been to no avail if it wasn’t for one factor: The Internet.

MotoCzysz Weighs in about Electric Racing

12/11/2009 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz Weighs in about Electric Racing motoczysz e1pc tail section ttxgp race

It’s been nearly six months since the inaugural TTXGP race at the Isle of Man, but electric motorcycle racing seems to be a growing subject as of late. As discussion surrounds both the FIM and TTXGP, and their respective series, we’re beginning to see teams make their 2010 racing commitments. We reached out to Michael Czysz of MotoCzysz to see why his company has been suspiciously silent on the issue to date.

Shinyo Nakano to Announce Retirement? [UPDATED]

10/28/2009 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Shinyo Nakano to Announce Retirement? [UPDATED] shinya nakano aprilia 1 560x350

UPDATE: Nakano has officially announced his retirement from motorcycle racing, saying “I think it’s time to stop and I have decided to retire. Thanks to everyone who has supported me during 13 years as a professional racer and eleven years in the world championships. Now, if my experience is a little help, I want to contribute to the motorcycle industry. I look forward to seeing everyone at the track in the near future, this time in a different capacity.”

Multiple sites are hinting that Shinya Nakano, teammate to Maxi Biaggi on the factory Aprilia WSBK team, could be announcing his retirement from World Superbike racing as early as today. Expected to make the announcement in a press conference in Japan, the Japanese rider would be retiring after 13 years of racing, and on the eve of his 32nd birthday.