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.

Recall: 2011 Victory Cross Country

06/07/2011 @ 6:13 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Recall: 2011 Victory Cross Country 2011 Victory Cross Country 635x476

Polaris is recalling 840 Victory Cross Country motorcycles made from January 1, 2011 through April 11, 2011 for faulty handlebar clamps/risers that may have been improperly machined. Because of the defect, the handlebars may slip in the clamps, resulting in a lack of control over the motorcycle.

Accordingly, Polaris will be notifying affected owners, and Victory dealers will test and replace the defective parts free of charge. The recall is expected to start in June of this year, and concerned Victory Cross Country owners can contact Victory customer service at 1-888-704-5290. The NHTSA, as always, is also available at 1-888-327-4236 or safercar.gov.

Source: NHTSA

Recall: 2010 MV Agusta F4

04/15/2011 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Recall: 2010 MV Agusta F4 2010 MV Agusta F4 recall 635x508

MV Agusta is recalling 211 of its 2010 MV Agusta F4 superbikes again, this time for a faulty subframe design. According to the statement issued by the NHTSA, the MV Agusta F4’s rear subframe could crack or break because of the upper fixture points not being “robust” enough. This problem creates a safety issue for a rider and passenger, who could find their stability on the motorcycle compromised under such a situation.

Recall: Harley-Davidson Softails with Security System

02/02/2011 @ 12:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Recall: Harley Davidson Softails with Security System 2010 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe FLSTNb 635x506

Harley-Davidson has registered a recall with the NHTSA for 6,964 Softail models that have the factory security system option installed. Affecting only 2011 model year Softails that were built between June 7, 2010 and October 8, 2010, the recall is the result of an improper seal on a component in the security system, which could leak and let water in, thus causing an electrical short that could stall the bike.

Recall: Ducati Multistrada 1100/1000/620 for Fuel Leak

01/26/2011 @ 3:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Recall: Ducati Multistrada 1100/1000/620 for Fuel Leak 2005 Ducati Multistrada 1100S 635x476

Ducati North America has issued a recall for various Multistrada models ranging from 2003 to 2009, including the 1100cc, 1000cc, and 620cc variants, because of an issue with the fuel tank pump flange seal leaking fuel. Affecting 3,911 models, owners of the following motorcycles could be affected by the recall, and should check to see if their VIN is affected: 2003-2004 & 2006 Ducati MTS 1000, 2005 Ducati MTS 1000S, 2006 Ducati MTS 620, and 2007-2009 Ducati MTS 1100.

Recall: 2010 Triumph Sprint ST/GT

12/28/2010 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Recall: 2010 Triumph Sprint ST/GT 2010 Triumph Sprint ST 635x476

Triumph is recalling a number of 2010 Triumph Sprint ST and Spring GT motorcycles for a faulty dipstick. Apparently on just over 200 units of the sport-tourers, a dipstick with an incorrect length was installed, which would result in an inaccurate reading being taken from the oil level that could result in the motor running out of oil.

Since only bad things happen with an oil deprived motor, a recall is expected to start before the New Year. For affected owners, Triumph dealers will replace the oil plug/dipstick at the clutch cover free of charge. Concerned 2010 Triumph Sprint owners can contact Triumph at (678) 539-8782, and of course the NHTSA can always be reached at 1-888-327-4236 or safecar.gov.

Source: NHTSA

NHTSA Responds to AMA’s Criticism Over Motorcycle-Only Checkpoint Sponsorship Program

11/22/2010 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

NHTSA Responds to AMAs Criticism Over Motorcycle Only Checkpoint Sponsorship Program NHTSA logo large 635x396

After the AMA’s urging of the NHTSA to abandon plans to fund a national incentives program for motorcycle-only traffic stops, modeled off those used recently by the State of New York, NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland has responded to the Edward Moreland’s (Vice President of Government Relations at the American Motorcyclist Association) letter regarding how motorcycle-only traffic stops increase motorcycle safety. In his response, Strickland cites the State of New York’s findings of motorcyclists at one particular checkpoint (226 motorcycles inspected) were using unsafe tires (11%), illegal handlebars (1%), and illegal helmets (36%).

AMA Urges NHTSA to Abandon Funding Motorcycle-Only Checkpoint Program

08/18/2010 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

AMA Urges NHTSA to Abandon Funding Motorcycle Only Checkpoint Program AMA logo large 635x358

According to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering law enforcement agencies funding incentives to setup checkpoints that target only motorcyclists. Based off a controversial program used by the New York State Police, the NHTSA is offering $350,000 in grants to five law enforcement agencies to run the program, which if successful could be further funded and expanded across the entire United States.

The checkpoints, which derive their legality from DUI checkpoint court rulings, primarily look for motorcyclists riding without a license or DOT approved helmet, and cite riders for aftermarket exhaust and lighting modifications. However the checkpoints fundamentally differ from DUI checkpoints in that they specifically are targeting a minority group of citizens (DUI checkpoints involve all motorists), and are doing so with no presumption that there is an increased risk to motorcyclists and the community as a whole when the checkpoints are being conducted.

Ducati Recalls Multistrada for Three Defects

08/06/2010 @ 11:10 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ducati Recalls Multistrada for Three Defects 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200S black 635x475

Before anyone cracks the joke, no Ducati is not recalling the 2010 Multistrada 1200 for it’s bird-beaked appearance. Instead, the Italian manufacturer is recalling the sport-touring motorcycle for some faulty screws in the bike’s center stand and steering head, and also for faulty throttle cable routing that causes the cable to rub against the bike’s radiator. Issuing three separate recalls for these problems, the screw recalls affect all MTS 1200 models, while the center stand issue is related only to the Multistrada 1200 S Touring model.

Recall: 2009 Yamaha VMAX

07/29/2010 @ 1:29 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Recall: 2009 Yamaha VMAX  Yamaha VMAX VMX17 recall 560x420

Yamaha is recalling certain 2009 Yamaha VMAX motorcycles for excessive electrical resistance in the ground wire from the accelerator position sensor (APS) and throttle position sensor (TPS). The issue, which affects 700 motorcycles, could cause the wrong signal to be sent to the bike’s ECU, resulting in an unstable idling speed, and in-turn an unsafe idling speed could precipitate a crash. The issue only affects VMAX’s built between June 2008 and March 2009.

Recall: 2010 Kawasaki Z1000

07/13/2010 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Recall: 2010 Kawasaki Z1000 2010 kawasaki z1000 22 560x420

Kawasaki is recalling 1,161 2010 Kawasaki Z1000 street bikes for a left-front brake hose that may contact the front brake rotor during extreme braking. The resulting contact could cause the hose to be worn through, which would lead to a loss of brake fluid and braking ability. Kawasaki dealers will inspect the front brake hose for damage, and move it to avoid possible contact. If necessary, dealers will replace the hose free of charge.

Considering the demographic being targeted with the Z1000, its optional snake skin seat, and aggressive street looks we can’t imagine any Kawi owners who would use the front brake under such extreme settings, like for instance popping massive stoppies.