Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider

10/24/2009 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider Ben Spies Qualifying Portimao WSBK 560x369

It’s the qualifying session we’ve all been waiting for: the last Superpole of the 2009 season at Portimao, Portugal. A vetting process for tomorrow’s races, today’s Superpole gives us a glimpse into how this amazing season might end. How close would Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga be on the starting line come Sunday? Who would be faster? By what margin? And lastly, would Ben Spies be able to take the outright pole record for World Superbike racing? Those answers after the jump.

Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

10/23/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship   Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga portimao friday rea 560x375

We typically don’t cover the Free Practice/Qualifying sessions in World Superbike, but considering that the entire season will come down to Sunday’s race, we’re making an exception. With QP1 in the bag already at Portimao, we get some insight into how the grid could come together for the last race of the WSBK season, and the results might surprise some people. More after the jump.

WSBK: Race 2 at Magny-Cours is Brought to You by the French Word “Merde!”

10/05/2009 @ 8:55 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Magny Cours is Brought to You by the French Word Merde! WSBK Race 3 Magny Cours Max Biaggi 560x372

You have to appreciate the two race program in World Superbike. Not only does it give fans a chance to see their favorites battle it out twice in one day, but it also gives riders a second chance to make a grab for the podium. With only a handful of points separating Spies and Haga, the points that Race 2 provides will definitely determine the WSBK Championship outcome. Spoilers and results after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Magny-Cours Shows a Points Teeter-Totter for the Championship

10/05/2009 @ 8:26 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 1 at Magny Cours Shows a Points Teeter Totter for the Championship WSBK Race 1 Magny Cours Ben Spies 560x428

Eclipsing the excitement in MotoGP this week, World Superbike has heated up to be a great series to watch in these final two outings. Recently signed to Tech3 Yamaha, Ben Spies looked for W in Race 1 to try and take back the Championship lead from Noriyuki Haga.

Always a bridesmaid, and never a bride, Haga entered Race 1 also looking for a win, to help further his points lead in what could be his first WSBK Championship trophy. Johnny Rea on the other hand, entered Race 1 to try and crash into one of the top riders, and spoil the whole series for everyone else. Continue after the jump to find who was successful in their endeavors.

Haga & Fabrizio Re-Sign With Ducati Corse for 2010

09/29/2009 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Haga & Fabrizio Re Sign With Ducati Corse for 2010 xerox ducati wsbk kyalmai 2009 560x371

Ducati Corse has re-signed both of its World Superbike riders, Noriyuki Haga & Michel Fabrizio, for the 2010 season. No word on the details of the rider’s contracts, but the move won’t cause any surprises in the WSBK paddock. Xerox Ducati has been dominating the World Superbike series, save for one man, Ben Spies.

WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

09/27/2009 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair Michel Fabrizio Superpole WSBK Imola1 560x370

Race 2 promised to have more close racing, as many riders in Race 1 proved they could race near the top (not to mention, many riders in WSBK have contracts up for renewal). With Imola being the home track for the Ducati loyal, a lot of fans we’re waiting to see the red bikes up front.

Many Xerox Ducati fans were also keen to see if Haga could retake the lead in the World Superbike Championship standings with a strong showing at Imola. They would not be disappointed, a full race report after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level

09/27/2009 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level Imola WSBK Race 1 Haga 560x372

Racing went off without a hitch this Sunday, as the Imola circuit seemed devoid of earlier traction problems that almost sidelined the racing earlier this week. With Imola sitting literally in Ducati’s backyard, all eyes were on the Xerox Ducati squad, and Noriyuki Haga.

Haga, who trails Ben Spies for the first time this season coming into Imola, was especially keen on grabbing back some points from the American. Lastly, a new addition to the WSBK paddock took the form of Marco Simoncelli, who was filling in on the factory Aprilia team for the injured Shinya Nakano. A full race report with spoilers after the jump.

WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track

09/26/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track Michel Fabrizio Superpole WSBK Imola 560x370

With track conditions at the Imola causing a near mutiny during the practice sessions, there was a panic in the WSBK paddock as to whether racing would occur at the Bologna circuit this weekend. After track officials cleaned the Imola tarmac, it became too slippery to ride upon. Whether due to the mixture of oil and water on the track, or the absence of the usual layers of rubber forming on the race line, the conditions caused riders to refuse to take to the track over safety concerns.

Commenting about the conditions, Ben Spies stated the course was slipperier than full wet conditions. Max Biaggi was also heard saying that the course was too slippery for racing, and that Sunday’s races could not take place on the course under these circumstances. Despite this, WSBK Superpole action still occurred, read on for more.

WSBK: Race 2 at Nürburgring Continues to Show Championship Plagued by Crashes

09/06/2009 @ 8:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Nürburgring Continues to Show Championship Plagued by Crashes WSBK Race 2 Nurburgring 560x409

Race 2 continues World Superbike’s tour of Germany and the Nürburgring. With the balance of the Championship standings still tipping precariously after Race 1, Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga were both looking for a victory that would give them a sure lead in the Championship points.

WSBK: Race 1 at Nürburgring a Fight for the Championship Rekindled

09/06/2009 @ 8:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Race 1 at Nürburgring a Fight for the Championship Rekindled WSBK Race 1 Nurburgring 560x372

With the long summer break, everyone in World Superbike was waiting to see what would happen to the Championship Standings while at Germany. With two races on each race day, Ben Spies would have two chances to chip away at Noriyuki Haga’s 7 point lead, and finally take control of the series. With Haga still on the mend, the Nürburgring seemed like it would be hostile ground for the Xerox Ducati rider, but any thoughts of Haga being a push-over were quickly dispelled by his lightning Superpole performance.