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.

Yamaha VZ1 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/01/2011 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Yamaha VZ1 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi Yamaha VZ1 concept Oberdan Bezzi Design 635x438

UPDATE: Obiboi has done up a Kenny Roberts paint scheme version as well. Find it after the jump.

Do you dream of Yamaha producing a V4 sport bike? How about naked-variant that supplants the popular FZ1? Does a carbon/aluminum trellis frame work for you, with a titanium exhaust of course? If you answered yes to these questions, and envision such a bike late a night when you’re forming your dream garage in, then Oberdan Bezzi has just the concept sketch for you.

Drawing on the same 1,000cc fairing-less street bike theme as the FZ1, Bezzi imagines a Yamaha with a forward-tilted V4 motor that has an almost perpendicular cylinder arrangement, and is capable of being a platform with worldly appeal.

Concept: Chaparral A1 e-Racer by Oberdan Bezzi

08/03/2010 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Concept: Chaparral A1 e Racer by Oberdan Bezzi Oberdan Bezzi Chaparral A1 e Racer 1 635x449

Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi (view our coverage here) is at it again with his pen and paper, and this time he’s set his mind to imagining a battery-powered electric motorcycle. Based off the now defunked Chaparral brand, Bezzi sees the Texan company reinventing itself and entering the electric motorcycle racing scene. The bike has a full carbon chassis, a liquid cooled motor, and great attention to aerodynamics, according to Obiboi. We can also see five removable battery packs on each side of the motorcycle, and single shock suspension used not only on the rear, but also on the front fork assembly.

Wait…we feel like we’ve seen this before…Yes, it seems Bezzi has ripped-off every detail found on the MotoCzysz E1pc, right down to the motor and controller mounting points. Of course the A1 e-Racer looks like the E1pc 1.0, with its square battery packs. Oberdan must have missed our article on the eDD where we explained that the E1pc’s chevron shaped batteries allowed for more front wheel clearance. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right Michael?

Ducati Desmolight 450 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

06/04/2010 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Ducati Desmolight 450 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi Oberdan Bezzi Ducati Desmolight concept 635x427

We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t publish any more Ducati singles by Oberdan Bezzi, after the Italian designer set out with his pen and paper to imagine the Italian brand with a bevy of off-road inspired motorcycles; however Bezzi’s Ducati Desmolight 450 concept was just too great of a design to ignore, and thus here we are. With styling drawn from the current Monster line, Obiboi’s 450cc single looks delicious, especially with the coloring that’s reminiscent of Ducati’s Corse theme. This is the kind of bike that would go in our fantasy garage, and we’ll need a Prozac knowing it won’t be built.

Oberdan Bezzi Rounds out the Ducati Off-Road Line with the Desmoscrambler 450

05/13/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Oberdan Bezzi Rounds out the Ducati Off Road Line with the Desmoscrambler 450 Oberdan Bezzi Ducati Desmoscrambler 635x427

Oberdan Bezzi has clearly been dreaming about Ducati entering the off-road/mixed terrain market recently. The Italian designer has already come out with a Ducati dirtbike and Ducati supermoto, and now adds to that collection with a Ducati scrambler, dubbed the Desmoscrambler.

Bezzi Imagines Ducati Dirt/Supermotard Bikes

05/05/2010 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Bezzi Imagines Ducati Dirt/Supermotard Bikes Oberdan Bezzi Ducati Desmocross concept 635x427

We don’t expect Ducati to start making dirt-derived motorcycles anytime soon, but that didn’t stop Italian motorcycle sketcher Oberdan Bezzi from inking a pair of drawings that explore this unlikely scenario. Named the Desmotard and Desmocross, Bezzi takes a fairly standard approach to the aesthetics of dirt bikes, and adds a few Ducati inspired touches. If you close your eyes and imagine a Ducati SX bike, is this what you see? It’s hard for us to say yes to that question, but we do love the naming convention being used.

Oberdan Bezzi’s Second-Take on a Bimota/Moto Morini – MMB2 FighterMotard

04/21/2010 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Oberdan Bezzis Second Take on a Bimota/Moto Morini   MMB2 FighterMotard Oberdan Bezzi Bimota MMB 2 Moto Morini FighterMotard 635x435

Just a couple days after Oberdan Bezzi inked this incarnation of a Bimota MMB1 (Bimota Moto Morini), he brings us this drawing of a streetfighter/hypermotard version of his imaginative cross-pollination of the two Italian brands. The drawing of course looks great, but we have our same criticism from his previous render…it looks more of the same.

We were pretty tough on Bezzi for his prior design, and the problem is we take these drawings as compared to each other, whereas in the real world there would be only one iteration of these designs, which no doubt would look fantastic on its own. We especially appreciate how Obiboi has channeled Bimota’s genius in the frame design. So with that, we still hope for a change of inspiration from the Italian designer, but we’d gladly welcome any of these bikes in the A&R garage.

A Fantasy of a Fantasy – Oberdan Dreams of Ducati’s, Martini’s, and Rossi for MotoGP in 2011

03/29/2010 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

A Fantasy of a Fantasy   Oberdan Dreams of Ducatis, Martinis, and Rossi for MotoGP in 2011 Oberdan Bezzi Martini Ducati Rossi MotoGP Valentino Rossi 635x423

Oberdan Bezzi has inked another motorcycle sketch, and this time the Italian designer has a modern take on an old school favorite with an Italian twist. Re-imgaging the Martini Ducati design, Obiboi takes the Martini racing theme and has modernized it on a Ducati Desmosedici. True to his roots, Bezzi sees this as being the ideal pairing of brands for the 2011 MotoGP season, and of course only Valentino Rossi himself could be at the helm. The 2011 MotoGP silly season rumor fest is still a ways out; but make no mistake, Italians have some big hopes for next season…despite the fact we still have the entire 2010 season of MotoGP ahead of us first.