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.

Spy Photos: Ducati 1199 Panigale Load Testing

09/24/2011 @ 2:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

Spy Photos: Ducati 1199 Panigale Load Testing 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale load test 2 635x444

No sooner did Ducati officially announce the existence of the the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale, than the Italian company’s new flagship uber-Superbike was caught blasting down an Italian highway. The purpose of the highway test should be apparent to even the most casual of motorcycle enthusiasts, as Ducati is clearly load testing the 1199 Panigale, marking sure the new motorcycle is ready to meet the strict requirements necessary for the American market.

Honestly, we didn’t think Ducati Performance had a “ponch” option for its Ducati-branded race leathers, though we hope the company has some variations in a more slimming black. Insert a couple more fat jokes, and I think we’re good to go here — and surely there’s a test rider in Bologna who will get a good ribbing come Monday at work. More photos after the jump, leave your “constructive remarks” in the comments.

BMW is Developing a Laser Headlight

09/01/2011 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BMW is Developing a Laser Headlight shark laser beam

Yes, you read that right — frickin’ laser beams. Prompting too many mainstream sci-fi culture references for our overly-geekish selves, our heads here at A&R are literally exploding like Alderaan right now over the idea of sharks ill-tempered sea bass motorcycles using lasers as a headlight replacement. Setting its BMW phasers to stun today, our favorite Bavarian company is already exploring ways to replace the brand-spanking-new LED headlight technology that is just now making its way onto premium automobiles.

BMW hopes that laser technology will not only make for a more advanced headlight in terms of features, but also one that is more energy efficient. Admittedly the company is only exploring the technology initially for its automobiles, but we can only imagine the laser headlights will trickle down to motorcycles before we have to travel 88 mph and go back to the future.

Moto-Grip: Because Not Everyone Has Love Handles

08/10/2011 @ 3:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Moto Grip: Because Not Everyone Has Love Handles Moto Grip harness

I’m on the fence with this product. There’s an element with the Moto-Grip “passenger safety harness” that strikes you with one of those “now why didn’t I think of that” moments. The idea is a simple harness that a rider wears, which provides hand grips on the rider’s chest and back that a passenger can hold onto as they are performing their various pillion duties. Looking like one of those baby backpacks that helicopter parents employ to lug their child around in, the Moto-Grip is fairly straight-forward with its $179 design.

Kwikasfaki by Cabbie

07/29/2011 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Kwikasfaki by Cabbie kwikasfaki cabbie 6 635x476

Take one Kawasaki H2 750 motor, recently decommisioned from drag strip duty we might add, throw in a plenty of bling parts, for measure include one deliciously white powdercoated frame, and you’ve got one seriously trick bike that is sure to go “kwikasfaki” (295lbs, 135rwhp, 9.3 down the ¼ mile if you’re a numbers person). Oddly enough, that’s exactly what one member on the Custom Fighters forum, named cabbie, did (full build thread here), and the result is Pamela-Anderson-in-a-wet-leotard-on-a-windy-day stunning.

While everyone is busy trying to murder out every piece of their motorcycles with the darkest shades of dark (quick diversion: has anyone noticed how the OEMs are all finally catching onto the styling trend?), cabbie is going the other way with his design: all white everything. The result is a bright and eye-catching bike, and oh…check out those three gorgeous two-stroke exhaust pipes. We’d write more, but we’ve soiled ourselves. More photos after the jump.

Video of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R Makes Us Feel…Bleeh!

07/06/2011 @ 12:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Video of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R Makes Us Feel...Bleeh! husqvarna nuda 900r 635x422

The straw vote in the A&R office is that the jury is still out on the recently unveiled Husqvarna Nusa 900R. We like that BMW is setting up Husqvarna to be the more edgy on-street brand in its two-wheeled house, and the maxi-motard is a safe street entry for the otherwise dirt-based company. A narrow, fairly light, and peppy twin should be fun to blast from stoplight to stoplight, lane-split between traffic-packed cars, and generally just hoon about town. Price of course will be an issue for the Nuda 900R, as its components don’t suggest a cheap price tag, of course we don’t think Husqvarna (read BMW) is too concerned with that issue, as they’re likely focusing on the more exclusive side of the market continuum.

Speaking of select target markets, the looks are not the most generally palatable, with our office’s spectrum of reception ranging from drool-worthy praise to motions of people hanging themselves with their belt (and not in that good auto-erotica asphyxiation sort of way). One thing we can agree on, as far as promo videos go…this one doesn’t really achieve any of the goals we’d think Husqvarna would set out for its first street bike.

KTM 690 SMC R by Isaac Chavira

03/29/2011 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

KTM 690 SMC R by Isaac Chavira KTM 690 SMC R Isaac Chavira 635x447

More work from our man Isaac Chavira, maker of the Ducati Monster 848R everyone was drooling over last week. This week Chavira turns his attention to Austria and its resident motorcycle maker KTM. Focusing on Team Orange’s supermoto offering, Chavira has dreamed up a KTM 690 SMC R concept bike, saying “I’d really love to see this bike come to reality and frankly speaking I don’t see why it cant become a reality. Heck any gear head worth his salt can build 95% of this bike from a KTM parts catalog.” That sounds to us like a challenge.

Cigarette Racing 42X Ducati Edition Racing Boat

02/17/2011 @ 9:52 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Cigarette Racing 42X Ducati Edition Racing Boat Cigarette Racing 42X Ducati Edition Racing Boat 4 635x357

It seems Ducati is willing to put its label on just about anything these days, boats being no exception. And when this press release hit our inbox this morning phrases like “you’ve gotta be f*ing kidding me!” echoed off the walls of our still unfurnished office. But in all honesty when we opened the email and saw pictures of the red & white Cigarette Racing boat, we perhaps regretted our initial impression.

Straight out of a Miami Vice episode, the 42′ hull of the Cigarette Racing 42X Ducati Edition Racing Boat is pure white with red accents and Ducati logos. We’re not that into the ocean boat racing thing, but boy have they come a long way from what little of the 1980’s we remember. While we’d probably never own such an impractical machine (motorboats are cheating anyways), we certainly wouldn’t turn down a chance to romp around for a day in this 42X Ducati Edition speed machine, what with its dual 1,100hp Mercury Racing engines (that’s 2,200hp for the mathematically challenged).

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law

02/15/2011 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law Captain America Helmet 635x422

I love our neighbors to the north, endless outdoor fun, progressive thinking, and an affinity for things of a more “crunchy” nature. But as a 5th-generation Californian, it is ingrained in my head to fear and mistrust the oppressive dictatorship and hate machine the Oregonians run (the California public school system starts this process in the second grade), as they steal children in the middle of the night and brainwash them into Birkenstock-wearing slave labor and questionable physical hygiene boot camps.

So it comes as some surprise that the Oregon State House of Representatives is introducing a bill to allow motorcycle riders, ages 21 and over, the choice of whether they want to ride with helmets or not (an act that misguided tea party wannabes equate with freedom on the open road).

Suzuki Sells More Bikes in 2010, But Made Less Money

02/07/2011 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Suzuki Sells More Bikes in 2010, But Made Less Money Suzuki 2010 sales 635x452

Here’s one to wrap your mind around: Suzuki sold more motorcycles in the last 9 months of 2010 than it did in same time period in 2009, but somehow managed to make less money on those sales. Selling 975,000 units in Q2-Q4 of 2010, Suzuki scored an encouraging 6.1% sales increase, but the Japanese company made only ¥186.3 billion in revenue ($2.26 billion USD), which was down 4.6% from the ¥195.2 billion ($2.37 billion USD) made in the same timeframe in 2009. Puzzling, no?

Jorge Lorenzo Goes Rockstar

01/10/2011 @ 1:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Jorge Lorenzo Goes Rockstar Jorge Lorenzo Rockstar

Two interesting things to note today: 1) the internet is an endless source of entertainment, especially when MotoGP Champions take to social media like Facebook & Twitter, and 2) when Jorge Lorenzo starts dressing up like Kid Rock, we can finally see how ridiculous us Americans must look to other people of the world. Observations on life aside, Lorenzo appears to have quietly picked up sponsorship with Rockstar Energy Drink, which resulted in this photo being sent out to his Twitter followers.