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.

First Official Photos of the 2011 Ducati Diavel – Traction Control, ABS, Multiple Driving Modes, & 456lbs

10/12/2010 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

First Official Photos of the 2011 Ducati Diavel   Traction Control, ABS, Multiple Driving Modes, & 456lbs 2011 Ducat Diavel large enhanced 1197x1600

UPDATE: Ducati USA just sent us a larger version of the photo posted on Facebook (enhanced version above). Check out the key entry for the trunk under the tail, and how the tail lights extend past the tail section to function as turn signals as well.

Ducati has just released the first official images of the 2011 Ducati Diavel on its website and Facebook page, thus beginning the teasing process as we lead up to the EICMA show in Milan in three weeks (and confirming the name Diavel in the process). Showing the ass end of the power cruiser, we get our first good glimpse of the carbon tank on the Diavel (rumors are the Ducati Diavel will come in two trim levels). Ducati has also announced that the Diavel will sport ABS, Ducati Traction Contorl, multiple riding modes, and weigh 456lbs.

Ducati has also confirmed that the 2011 Ducati Diavel will use the Testastretta 11° engine found on the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200, but has coyly made no mention of power figures, leading us to take an educated guess that the “Devil” makes a bit more power than its sport-touring cousin.

Smaller details are starting to come out as well, as we see the frame will get some red paint (as inked-in earlier), along with a central racing stripe down the tank and tail. We’ve brightened up the close-up photo after the jump, but don’t expect to see anything more than some pieces from the Ducati parts bin.

2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track

10/06/2010 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track 2011 KTM RC8 R Track 6 623x415

We told KTM when we rode the 1198 RC8 R that it was the perfect bike for the track. Agile steering, gobs of v-twin power, sure-footed suspension…there really wasn’t anything more we could ask from the Austrian manufacturer (except maybe a price reduction and a free puppy with every purchase). Someone at KTM must have agreed with our sentiments, because the Ready to Race firm has taken that mantra to the next level with the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track, it’s ready to race incarnation of the KTM 1198 RC8 R.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Becomes Officially Official

10/06/2010 @ 1:50 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2011 Kawasaki ZX 10R Becomes Officially Official 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 10R 15 623x415

Finally breaking cover officially, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R made its official debut at Intermot this week. For 2011, Kawasaki has taken a ground-up approach to building its liter-bike offering, and the Japanese company has its eye squarely on racing in World Superbike for 2011. Developing the race bike ahead of the street model, the new ZX-10R should prove to be a monster of a machine with its 197hp at the crank power figure (207hp with ram air) and 436.6lbs curb weight (+12lbs for ABS). However, for the US market the bike will get watered down by 10hp or so for emissions, which Kawasaki is quietly trying to downplay.

As we reported earlier when the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R leaked, Kawasaki like many other brands is bringing an optional ABS system to the sportbike genre, but Japanese firm has also brought a very sophisticated traction control system to the party, which will be a standard option. Taking measurements every 5 milliseconds from the front and rear tire pickups, throttle position sensor, engine speed, and other inputs, Kawasaki’s S-KTRC, according to the company, is the most advanced traction control system to-date in the consumer market. With pricing starting at $13,799 MSRP (+$1000 for ABS), we’d certainly hope it’s the most advanced sport bike on the market.

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 – The Fully Faired Z1000 Tourer

10/05/2010 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000   The Fully Faired Z1000 Tourer 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 4 623x415

Rumors have been swelling about Kawasaki introducing a full-faired version of its popular Z1000 street naked, and at Intermot today those rumors became true. Dubbed the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (the bike is going by the Kawasaki Z1000S or Z1000SX name in other markets, which has lead other sites to misreport the model name for here in the US), the new heavyweight 1000 street bike uses the same 1043cc motor as the current Z1000, and remains largely unchanged from the Z1000 except for some modifications to make the bike fit a more touring-oriented segment.

Fitted with an adjustable windscreen and hard-mounts for panniers, Kawasaki hopes that the new Ninja 1000 will fill a sportier-touring role in the company’s line-up. Likely realizing that Z1000 owners like to log some miles on their bikes, the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 seems to be Kawasaki’s response to these adventurers’ wants, needs, and criticisms.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 Get Face Lifts and 20lbs of Liposuction for 2011

10/05/2010 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

2011 Suzuki GSX R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX R750 Get Face Lifts and 20lbs of Liposuction for 2011 2011 Suzuki GSX R750 official 5 623x415

Suzuki made a design departure in 2009 when it revamped its GSX-R1000, while leaving the GSX-R600 & GSX-R750 unchanged aesthetically. Finally bringing the two smaller middleweight gixxers in-line with the larger superbike, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 get not only a face lift for the new model year, but also a revised engine package that has ample weight trimmings. While the new Suzuki GSX-R600 & GSX-R750’s won’t make more power than the 2010 models, the revised motor and other components shed roughly 20lbs off both the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 (413lbs wet) & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 (416lbs wet).

Making the weight-loss program possible, Suzuki went in with its surgical knife and dropped weight in a variety of places, primarily focusing on the bikes’ four-cylinder motor. Losing 4lbs in the motor alone, Suzuki lightened the pistons by 14% and the connecting rods by 12%, while increasing the ventilation holes between the cylinders, helping reduce pumping losses and improve combustion efficiency. Relocating the ECU has saved .6lbs in weight from wiring, which is sort of crazy and impressive at the same time. The new exhaust system sheds 3lbs from the prior models’, while revised injectors increase fuel efficiency by 10% and meet the strict Euro III emission standards. More info and photos after the jump.

2011 Suzuki GSR750 Unwrapped

10/05/2010 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2011 Suzuki GSR750 Unwrapped 2011 Suzuki GSR 750 official 1 623x417

The street-naked segment, what used to be known as the “standard” motorcycle segment, is heating up this year as another Japanese OEM enters the fray with the official announcement of the 2011 Suzuki GSR750. Suzuki’s answer to the growing middleweight street bike segment, the GSR750 is like the Yamaha FZ8 in that it uses a de-tuned sportbike motor (sourced from the GSX-R 750), and employs a relatively cheap and basic frame and component set to make an affordable, yet punchy, bike for the street warrior.

With power in the 120hp range, and weight expected to be under 420lbs dry, the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 stacks up decently well on the spec sheet (compared to its competition at least), and knowing that swap-over aftermarket parts from the GSX-R line should bolt up nicely, the new Suzuki GSR750 should be popular with the modder crowd. No word yet if Suzuki plans on selling the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 in the United States, but we expect the Japanese company will take a page out of Yamaha’s book, and make a late entry into the model year.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple – Johnny 5 Lives!

10/05/2010 @ 3:20 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2011 Triumph Speed Triple   Johnny 5 Lives! 2011 Triumph Speed Triple official 5 623x415

As children of the 1980’s, we grew up with movies that promised us a future where tracked military robots would learn what it means to love and be human in a humorous yet adventurous manner. While we doubt we’ll see Johnny 5 unveiled at the Intermot show in Germany this week, Triumph is trying fulfill this need of ours as best they can. Officially showing its 2011 Triumph Speed Triple (photos of the bike leaked ahead of Intermot when it was shown on the Triumph’s accessories page), the British company has completely re-worked its larger streetfighter offering, and is slowly winning our hearts.

The biggest improvement for the new Speed Triple is the bike’s all-new aluminum frame. Initially reported to drop the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple’s weight by 40lbs, the bike tips the scales at 471lbs with a full-tank of gas, which is only several pounds lighter than the 2010 model’s curb weight, but that doesn’t mean Triumph has been lax in its revisions. More details and photos after the jump.

2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 Breaks Cover

10/05/2010 @ 1:12 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 Breaks Cover 2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 663x537

The wrappings have been taken off the 2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 ahead of the Intermot show in Germany this week, with the middleweight street naked getting an adjusted rider position that should prove to be sportier than previous models. With a narrower seat, and revised foot and hand positions, new Shiver 750 owners will find themselves hunched over more as they slam through city streets and canyon roads (we’re not too sure about Aprilia’s claim that a “sportier” riding position will be “perfect for longer hauls”). This concludes everything new about the 2011 model compared to the 2010, thank you for reading.

2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple – Official Teaser Photos Released

09/17/2010 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple   Official Teaser Photos Released mv agusta f3 3 635x437

UPDATE: Get your first glimpse of the MV Agusta F3 here.

In what can only be described as a terse press release, MV Agusta has released two teaser photos of its upcoming MV Agusta F3, the three-cylinder supersport bike that Claudio Castiglioni hopes will save his company. Known to be using a three-cylinder motor, it has been previously reported that the MV Agusta F3 would be a 675cc machine, just like the Triumph Daytona 675. However the Italian brand has confirmed that it will be using a 600cc displacement for its street machine, while giving us a glimpse of the bike without its F4 camouflage.

Valentino Rossi Goes to Ducati – Officially Official

08/15/2010 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi Goes to Ducati   Officially Official Valentino Rossi Brno Ducati Announcement 560x373

The worst kept secret in the paddock is finally official, thus completing what MotoGP fans (especially Italians) have been waiting for: Valentino Rossi signing with Ducati Corse. The nine-time World Champion and Italian celebrity is finally paired up with Italy’s most iconic motorcycling brand for the 2011 season, an action that has been the subject of intrigue not only for the better part of this season, but for years inside MotoGP.

Announcing their partnership today, Rossi and Ducati have their work cut out for them in taking-on impressive up-start Jorge Lorenzo and the formidable Yamaha YZR-M1. Press releases from Ducati & Fiat-Yamaha after the jump, along with a quote from Valentino himself.