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.

Norton is Coming to the America – Former Ducati CEO Heading Operations in USA

12/01/2010 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Norton is Coming to the America   Former Ducati CEO Heading Operations in USA norton logo 635x317

The historic British motorcycle brand Norton is set to return to the United States with its Commando 961’s next year. Heading up Norton’s push into the US market is former Ducati North America CEO Dan Van Epps, who also served time with Ducati in Bologna, acting as the company’s Director of Overseas Markets and Head of Product Marketing. Starting in May 2011, Van Epps and his crew will begin importing Norton Commando 961 Sport, Café Racer, and SE models. Built off the classic Norton lines, the Commando 916 series features a 916cc fuel-injected parallel twin motor, along with Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes.

Norton MotoGP Racer Imagined by Oberdan Bezzi

08/27/2010 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Norton MotoGP Racer Imagined by Oberdan Bezzi Norton MotoGP race bike Oberdan Bezzi 635x423

Oberdan Bezzi has seized on the news that Norton intends to field a MotoGP bike in 2012, and came up with a drawing of what that British-born race bike could look like. The Italian designer sees Norton using a carbon-framed chassis to house its four-cylinder motor with pneumatic valves, and of course with a British rider at the helm. Obiboi sees Norton rocking the white paint-job, but we’re hoping that Norton will choose a color that stands out from the pack a bit more…British Racing Green perhaps?

Source: Oberdan Bezzi

Norton Returning to MotoGP Racing

08/19/2010 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Norton Returning to MotoGP Racing Manx Norton Featherbed 40M 635x425

German magazine Speedweek is reporting that Norton will be back in GP racing for the 2012 season with a two-man team. Speedweek‘s highly respected Austrian journalist Gunther Wiesinger has received word that Norton has requested two spots on the 2012 MotoGP grid, and has signed a request to join the series when it returns to the 1000cc format. It’s unclear at this time if Norton will be entering as a claiming rule team (CRT), or be listed as a factory prototype, which could have a dramatic affect on the team’s success in the series.

Norton NRV700 in the Works – 210HP Rotary by 2011

03/25/2010 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Norton NRV700 in the Works   210HP Rotary by 2011 norton logo 635x317

We were disappointed last summer when the Norton NRV588 didn’t take a lap at speed around the Isle of Man circuit during the TT, but that didn’t stop the British racing team from clocking 178mph on the salt flats. It looks like Norton Racing has taken the data they’ve learned from the NRV588 and plan to refine the machine into a 700cc race-spec motorcycle that’s an evolution of the current 588cc pocket rocket. Altough Norton plays it coy on their website, rumor has it that they’re reportedly eying the British Superbike series and maybe even a World Superbike comeback within the next three years.

BUB: Norton Racing NRV588 Hits 173 MPH at the Bonneville Salt Flats During Bub Week

09/08/2009 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

BUB: Norton Racing NRV588 Hits 173 MPH at the Bonneville Salt Flats During Bub Week Norton NRV588 Bonneville 635x424

Norton Racing let it all hang out that last few days of Bub Week’s motorcycle speed trials at Bonneville this past week, and we know this for two reasons: One, check out the lad on the far left of the above photo, he’s not sucking in that gut, that’s just pure British sexiness at its finest. Secondly, the Norton Racing team is coming back from the salt flats with a recorded speed of 173 mph.

BUB: Norton Prepares for Bonneville Land Speed Record in 2010 with Rotary Powered NRV588

09/01/2009 @ 7:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

BUB: Norton Prepares for Bonneville Land Speed Record in 2010 with Rotary Powered NRV588 Norton NRV588 salt flats Bonneville 635x476

In contrast to Confederate Motorcycles’s forth year on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Norton Racing is also present at Bub Week with their rotary-powered NRV588, trying their luck for the first time out on the salt. With no FIM sanctioned class to race in, Norton isn’t going for a land speed record per se, but instead hopes that their efforts this year will provide the adequate momentum to have a sanctioned LSR class for rotary motorcycles in 2010.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1957 Manx Norton Featherbed 40M

08/18/2009 @ 12:46 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1957 Manx Norton Featherbed 40M Pebble Beach 1957 Manx Norton Featherbed 40M 1 560x374

One of the most successful TT racers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Manx Norton dominated the 50cc and 350cc classes. This 350cc Model 40M features a “Featherbed” frame, and was raced in the 1957 Isle of Man TT by Norton Team rider, Bob Keeler. Keeler owned and raced this motorcycle as a privateer racer with factory support from Norton. The bike is now owned by Allan Grimm of Piedmont, California. Pictures after the jump.

Norton Rotary a No Show at IoM TT – Parades Instead

06/13/2009 @ 10:08 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Norton Rotary a No Show at IoM TT   Parades Instead norton nrv588  3 635x476

The 2009 Isle of Man TT was to be the return of Norton motorcycles to the island and its Mountain Course. It has been 16 years since the British manufacturer raced the city streets of the Isle, and we eagerly awaited their return to the TT, and the showing of their rotary motor powered NRV 588 race bike. We, like many others, were disappointed then to see the Norton only shuffle around on a parade lap, and not tearing down the asphalt in the quest for absolute speed.

Norton NRV588 Rotary Testing at Donington Park

04/10/2009 @ 12:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Norton NRV588 Rotary Testing at Donington Park norton nrv588  4 635x476

You may remember the news that Norton was preparing an entry into this years Isle of Man TT. Visordown has caught up with the British team at Donington Park recently, and has posted a video of the Norton team testing the rotary motor powered NRV588, and running it on their dyno. The bike sounds vicious, and the glowing exhaust pipes, menacing. It won’t be long now until we can see the fruits of Norton’s labor. Watch the video after the jump.

Norton to Return to the Isle of Man TT for 2009

11/28/2008 @ 7:54 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Norton to Return to the Isle of Man TT for 2009 NortonNRV588 635x424

It was only a few months ago that Norton Motorcycles had the spark of life breathed back into it. A UK businesman named Stuart Garner bought the rights to the Norton brand, and set up a factory and officespace for the company near the famous Donington race track.

Rumors place Norton as currently developing a streetbike called the Commando for the 2009 model year. Likely as a part of that product launch, Norton has announced that they will be entering into the Isle of Man TT in 2009 as well with 20-year-old Michael Dunlop taking the helm. More on this and the NRV588 with pictures after the jump.

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