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.

MSF Reaches Out to Hispanic Riders — Basic RiderCourse Handbook & Other Materials Available in Spanish

08/07/2014 @ 2:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MSF Reaches Out to Hispanic Riders    Basic RiderCourse Handbook & Other Materials Available in Spanish motorcycle safety foundation logo 635x423

The Spanish-speaking community is increasingly becoming a part of the American motorcycling landscape; and according to the MSF, Hispanic riders already account for 7% of American motorcyclists…that’s almost as big of a piece of the pie as female riders (12% at last count).

To keep up with that trend, and to increase the adoption of safe motorcycle riding in America, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has released its recently updated Basic RiderCourse handbook, as well as three “Quick-Tip” sheets, in Spanish.

These new materials compliments the already existing all-Spanish 15-hour hands-on Basic RiderCourse that the MSF teaches hundreds of times each year across the United States, with fluent Spanish-speaking MSF RiderCoaches.

MSF Gives Yamaha Champions Riding School Recognition

08/07/2014 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MSF Gives Yamaha Champions Riding School Recognition yamaha champions riding school 635x476

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation announced today announced that it has officially recognized the Yamaha Champions Riding School, making it only the second third-party curriculum to receive this distinction by the MSF.

A hat-tip to the curriculum at YCRS, the recognition by the MSF doesn’t seem to mean that you will be able to substitute a YCRS class for a motorcycle practical exam; though it does mean that the YCRS curriculum meets the high standards set forth by the MSF, which reviewed the school’s coaching methodology and key principles.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

04/09/2014 @ 11:00 am, by Bryan Delohery5 COMMENTS

 MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum motorcycle safety foundation logo 635x423

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000.

While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation Launches iTunes U Courses

03/06/2014 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Motorcycle Safety Foundation Launches iTunes U Courses motorcycle safety foundation logo 635x423

Want to improve your riding skills from the comfort of your computer or tablet? The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has the digital solution for you. Releasing four courses onto the iTunes U store for free, the MSF has made available a wide variety of tips and strategies to help motorcyclists to sharpen and hone their two-wheeled craft.

The four courses are “An Adventure in Motorcycle Physics,” “Dr. Ray’s Street Strategies,” “Dr. Ray’s Guide to Group Riding,” and “Dr. Ray’s Seasoned Rider,” with each class consisting of 20 or so chapters.

A&R Goes Riding with the Army National Guard at Jason Pridmore’s STAR School at Thunderhill

09/11/2012 @ 7:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

A&R Goes Riding with the Army National Guard at Jason Pridmores STAR School at Thunderhill Army National Guard Jason Pridmore STAR Motorcycle School 01 635x357

Back in October 2008, one of the first stories I ever covered on Asphalt & Rubber dealt with an interesting statistic: in the prior 12 months, more Marines had died from riding their motorcycles here in the USA, than did from enemy gunfire in Iraq — worst of all, all of those 25 of those deaths were on sport bikes. The statistic wasn’t a fluke either, as in 2009, the Army National Guard announced a similar trend, where it lost 36 Guardsman to motorcycle crashes that year, compared to the 25 lost fighting in Iraq.

Evaluating the causes for these motorcycle fatalities, the Army National Guard discovered an alarming trend in the paperwork. Almost without exception, the ultimate reason given for why a Guardsman died while riding his or her motorcycle was “a loss of control due to inexperience.” These crashes were typically in the 70-100mph range, and more often than not, the crashes featured soldiers who had recently bought a new sport bike.

Part of a larger program by the US military to better train and protect our soldiers with mandatory MSF courses and minimal riding gear requirements when on-base, the Army National Guard took things a step further, and setup a free program where Guardsmen could get their hands-on advanced motorcycle training in a track environment. The man for the job was none other Jason Pridmore, whose STAR Motorcycle School now features military-only school days around the country.

It was our supreme privilege here at A&R to recently attend one of Pridmore’s STAR classes for the Army National Guardsmen, and witness first-hand what the US military is doing to protect its soldiers — not only when on the field of combat, but also when they have returned home from duty.

Why It’s a Big Deal that Zero Motorcycles Is Coming to an MSF Course Near You

06/21/2012 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Why Its a Big Deal that Zero Motorcycles Is Coming to an MSF Course Near You 2012 zero xu 635x453

For as much harping as I do about Zero Motorcycles, here comes some news from the Scotts Valley company that even my cold heart can appreciate. For those who don’t know, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has very strict criteria for the motorcycles that its classes can use during the hands-on portion of their curriculum. The various restrictions include things like seat height, displacement, weight, power, and so forth. Additionally, the classes concern themselves with the cost of the bikes themselves, the cost of maintaining the machines, and the cost of the replacement parts, which invariably will be needed as new riders cut their teeth on two-wheeled transportation.

Getting the nod from the MSF that the Zero XU can be used for its rider courses, Zero Motorcycles’ urban commuter is the first electric motorcycle to be certified for use in the popular rider training program. Not only a boon to the California-based company, the news is a step-forward for the MSF, as the clutchless, gear-less, noiseless, and effortless motorcycle is the ideal platform for a new rider to learn how to safely ride a motorcycle. Best of all though, the news bodes well in training soon-to-be motorcyclists more effectively, as well as increasing the likelihood of attracting otherwise disinterested riders into the world of motorcycles.

Erik Buell Racing Considering 250cc Learner Bike

10/03/2011 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing Considering 250cc Learner Bike 2007 buell blast white 635x423

Several sources have now confirmed that Erik Buell Racing is considering making a 250cc learner-style motorcycle to compliment its EBR 1190RS race/sport bike. Presumably filling the niche left behind by the crushed Buell Blast, the 250cc bike would be geared towards new and first-time riders, and would likely be MSF RiderCourse friendly. With bikes like the Kawaaski Ninja 250R / EX250 topping the sales charts as the best selling sport bike in the US, the folks at Erik Buell Racing are surely eyeing the market potential of a smaller, lightweight sport bike for the company’s growing product line.

MSF Graduates 6,000,000th Student

09/19/2011 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MSF Graduates 6,000,000th Student motorcycle safety foundation logo 635x476

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) recently graduated its six millionth RiderCourse student (can we get a collective A&R booyah!). WIth over 10,000 coaches and 2,000 locations, MSF has been helping make new riders into competent motorcyclists since 1973, and partners with Federal, state, and military groups in providing basic motorcycle skills to new riders.

Though known best for its introductory course, MSF offers 23 different RiderCourses designed to meet the requirements and needs of riders of any skill level.

Training more than a handful of Asphalt & Rubber writers in the art of two-wheel transportation, we’d like to give the Motorcycle Safety Foundation a special congratulations and thank you for all its hard work. Post up in the comments if you too have been through an MSF course.

Source: Motorcycle Safety Foundation

Wisconsin Offers Harley-Davidson Branded License Plates

04/15/2011 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Wisconsin Offers Harley Davidson Branded License Plates Wisconsin Harley Davidson license plateThe great State of Wisconsin has begun to offer Harley-Davidson branded vanity license plates to its four-wheeled constituency. With the words “Share the Road” wedged underneath a double-dose of Harley-Davidson branding, the proceeds of the new plates will go to help fund State-sponsored motorcycle safety programs (a worthy cause).

Admittedly, we’re having a hard time with this story. On the one-hand, we love to see that motorcycle safety courses and programs are getting funded. There is a need to educate new riders, and to generally be good stewards for our sport and industry. On the other hand though, we generally frown on the commercialization of public programs, and while Wisconsin is the home of America’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, the whole thing just feels dirty.

Posh Spice Learning to Ride Motorcycles

11/07/2008 @ 4:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Posh Spice Learning to Ride Motorcycles victoria beckham

Posh Spice, I mean Victoria Beckham, is about to become the newest member in the motorcycling family. Her now stateside football start husband David “Bend it Like” Beckham bought her lessons to learn how to ride a motorcycle. 

According to showbizspy.com a source said, “Victoria has always had a thing about motorbikes. They’re iconic and you can’t help but look cool on one. She always dreamed of riding one but obviously it’s a dangerous and time-consuming hobby. With her career and the kids she never thought to learn until David surprised her with the lessons. She is nervous but looking forward to speeding down the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu and around the Hollywood Hills in big old boots.”

Source: visordown.com

At least we know she’ll look good in leather.