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.

Aprilia RSV4 RF — Premium Wheels, Paint, & Suspension

11/04/2014 @ 6:12 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Aprilia RSV4 RF    Premium Wheels, Paint, & Suspension 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF 02 635x423

The 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR represents a solid update to Noale’s already impressive superbike. Making 201hp, and dropping three pounds, the RSV4 RR features a bevy of other finer detail refinements, include a second-generation APRC electronics package. So how do you make a motorcycle like that better? Enter the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Taking the Aprilia Race Package, which adds Öhlins suspension pieces and forged aluminum wheels, and adding a special livery that honors Aprilia’s racing success, you get the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Aprilia hasn’t mentioned how much the RF will be over the RR, but we don’t think they will have any trouble selling them. More photos after the jump.

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M — An Exclusive Track Weapon

11/03/2014 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2015 Yamaha YZF R1M    An Exclusive Track Weapon 2015 Yamaha YZF R1M 21 635x423

While the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 is pretty impressive in its own right, the folks at Iwata weren’t content to let things be, and thus have produced the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M. An exclusive extension of the R1, Yamaha calls the R1M the closest thing there is to the company’s GP machine, the Yamaha YZR-M1.

Featuring the same 200hp “CP4″ crossplane 998cc inline-four engine as the base model, Yamaha has added Öhlins’ ERS semi-active suspension pieces to the superbike, along with carbon fiber fairings, and a robust GPS-powered data acquisition system.

The Yamaha YZF-R1M utilizes the powerful electronics package that Yamaha has developed, with traction control, launch control, wheelie control, slide control, and anti-locking brakes all acting in unison through the inertial measurement unit (IMU).

Able to know how the motorcycle is moving through six-axis, the Yamaha YZF-R1M can then tailor how it responds to rider and road inputs, via the engine, the suspension, and the brakes.

Marc VDS Racing Moves up to MotoGP with Scott Redding

09/14/2014 @ 1:35 pm, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

Marc VDS Racing Moves up to MotoGP with Scott Redding Saturday Sachsenring MotoGP German GP Tony Goldsmith 07 635x422

Marc VDS Racing are to move up to MotoGP, fielding a factory Honda RC213V for Scott Redding. The deal was announced late on Sunday night via the Marc VDS Racing Twitter feed, after meetings between the team, Honda, and team owner Marc van der Straten.

The agreement means that the Marc VDS team will field a factory Honda RC213V for the next three seasons, through 2017. The duration of the contract had been a critical point in the negotiations, allowing the team to spread the costs out over a longer period, and showing HRC’s support for both the team and Redding.

DR Moto – The Ultimate Yamaha R1 Track Bike

08/25/2014 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

DR Moto   The Ultimate Yamaha R1 Track Bike DR Moto track bike 06 635x423

The Yamaha YZF-R1 is a fantastic machine, in just about any iteration you can find. A potent weapon on the track, the R1 might not have all the bells and whistles that are found on European superbikes, but the Japanese liter-bike makes up for it with precision handling, great reliability, and gobs of tractable power.

This is great for two-wheeled enthusiasts, who ride the twisties or at local track days, but Yamaha’s crown jewel poses as a tough mark to beat when someone goes looking for something “more” from the design. DR Moto might have that answer though, for track enthusiasts who want something closer to what they see on Sunday’s race day, without the compromises that come with production/street machines.

2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R – Celebrating 30 Years of Ninja

05/06/2014 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 10R   Celebrating 30 Years of Ninja 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 10R 30th Anniversary 05 635x425

There aren’t too many product lines in the motorcycle industry that can claim a thirty-year heritage, and with the whimper of marketing coming from Kawasaki, you would hardly know that the Ninja has been on the scene for three decades now.

To fix that problem, the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has been released early to help Team Green celebrate the Ninja’s birthday. However, don’t get your hopes too high, the changes for 2015 are only skin-deep, and are comprised of the following:

  • A special 30th Anniversary Ninja ZX-10R model features Lime Green/Pearl Stardust White paint and 30th Anniversary badges on each side of the fairing
  • The standard Ninja ZX-10R model is now painted in Metallic Matte Carbon Gray/Flat Ebony

2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP – A Better Fireblade

11/04/2013 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP   A Better Fireblade 2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP 18 635x423

The Honda CBR1000RR is a great street bike, albeit a little long-in-the-tooth in the fast-paced liter-bike category. The big hope and rumor for the 2013 EICMA show was that Honda would have its V4-powered superbike finally ready for debut, though plans for that machine seem to have been delayed…again.

Instead, Big Red has for us the 2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP, which is basically your standard Fireblade with premium kit bolted onto it, along with a very gentle engine massaging.

This sort of dual-pronged approach is fairly standard fare for the European brands (did you see what Ducati just did with the Monster 1200 and Monster 1200 S?), but for a Japanese OEM like Honda, it is a pretty revolutionary approach to model segmentation, but we digress.

Öhlins Releases a Semi-Active Suspension Upgrade for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S – But, What’s Next?

04/30/2013 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Öhlins Releases a Semi Active Suspension Upgrade for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S   But, Whats Next? ducati 1199 panigale s front wheel 635x397

An interesting development on the aftermarket side of things has graced our desks, as Öhlins has released a “suspension control unit” (SCU) that upgrades the electronically adjustable suspension on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S so that it becomes a semi-active suspension system. Whhhaaaat??!

So, if you’re the proud owner of a pre-2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, and you think that your electronically controlled Öhlins suspension is no longer boss, now that Ducati has released its Sachs-powered “Skyhook” semi-active suspension pieces on its new batch of Multistrada sport-tourers, there is a remedy for your motolust.

Is Norton Using Semi-Active Suspension for the IOMTT?

04/09/2013 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Is Norton Using Semi Active Suspension for the IOMTT? norton tt racer semi active suspension

Norton Motorcycles is gearing up for another entry into the Isle of Man TT, and while the British company’s project has been sequestered in Donington Park during the off-season, the team has released one very interesting photo of the now named Norton TT Racer.

Giving us a glimpse of the bike’s front wheel area, we can see that Norton is using BST carbon fiber wheels, six-pot ISR calipers, Dunlop tires, and Öhlins suspension.

However, the interesting thing with the Öhlins FGR forks is that they are clearly beyond WSBK-spec, and there appears to be electrical connections going to the forks’ rebound and compression damping adjusters.

The electrical leads can only mean one thing, a racing setup with semi-active suspension.

Why Implementing Price Caps Is the Best Way of Cutting Costs for Teams in MotoGP and WSBK

01/04/2013 @ 2:04 pm, by David Emmett9 COMMENTS

Why Implementing Price Caps Is the Best Way of Cutting Costs for Teams in MotoGP and WSBK Brembo brakes wash Indianapolis GP Jules Cisek 635x423

With the announcement of the introduction of price caps for brakes and suspension in MotoGP from 2015, the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP’s rule-making body, appears to have finally found an effective way of controlling costs in the series. Instead of trying to control costs indirectly and seeing their efforts kicked into touch by the law of unintended consequences, the rule-makers have decided to attempt to go straight to the heart of the problem.

Will capping prices unleash a whole set of unintended consequences of its own? Will, as some fear, the move to cap prices lead to a drop in quality and therefore a reduction in R&D in the areas which are price-capped? And will the price cap act as a barrier to new entrants, or stimulate them? These are hard questions with no easy answers, yet there are reasons to believe that price caps are the most effective way of controlling costs, while the risks normally associated with a price cap, such as a reduction in quality, are lower in a racing paddock than they are in other environments.

Öhlins Brings Semi-Active Suspension to the Masses

12/12/2012 @ 3:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Öhlins Brings Semi Active Suspension to the Masses ohlins semi active suspension shock 635x532

Enticed by the idea of having semi-active suspension on your motorcycle? Then the latest tech from Öhlins Suspension might be the thing for you, as the Swedish company has developed an electronically controlled mechatronic shock for existing motorcycles, starting with the 2011-2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

Developing the system first in the  World Superbike Championship, Öhlins is the first suspension manufacturers to bring the technology to the masses, though companies like Bitubo, Marzocchi, and WP Suspension have similar units that will be available next year as well.