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.

Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Concept

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna 701 supermoto, the Swedish brand had two street concepts to unveil at the EICMA show. First up is the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen concept, which is a café racer inspired model. With a 373cc single-cylidner thumper at its core, the Vitpilen (Swedish for White Arrow) sports an attractive and clean design. A modern riff on the 1953 Husqvarna Silverpilen, the idea behind the Husqvarna Vitpilen is that less is more. Making a modest 43hp, the Vitpilen weights a paltry 297 lbs (135kg). Clever details abound on the Vitpilen, and we particularly enjoy the high-tech LED meets retro-scrambler headlight design that sits prominently at the front of the bike.

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.

Today’s Headline Winner is…

09/22/2010 @ 12:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Who Says Lorenzo Doesn’t Have a Sense of Humor?

09/22/2010 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Who Says Lorenzo Doesnt Have a Sense of Humor? Jorge Lorenzo twitter message 560x395

Be careful the next time you heckle a MotoGP rider on Twitter, because they might just respond. Such was the case when a fan chastised Lorenzo, who was upset about his performance during the Aragon GP. Catching the attention of Lorenzo, the fan promptly found himself on the wrong end of a retweet from the Spanish rider. Zinger! Thanks for the tip David!

Source: Jorge Lorenzo (Twitter)

Pope Benedict XVI Gets Two Ducati Multistrada’s

09/15/2010 @ 6:37 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Pope Benedict XVI Gets Two Ducati Multistradas Pope Benedict XVI Ducati Multistrada 1200

Pope Benedict XVI received a nice surprise today as Ducati Motor Holdings dropped off two purpose-built Ducati Multistrada 1200S Touring bikes for His Holiness. We don’t expect Il Papa to be riding the bikes anytime soon though, as the two Ducatis will be used by the Pope’s motorcade and Vatican gendarmerie (the Vatican police force), hence the special papal yellow paint scheme.

Yamaha VMAX Concept by Vacuita

09/14/2010 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Yamaha VMAX Concept by Vacuita Yamaha VMAX render vacuita 560x446

We came across this render while trolling the internet for Ukrainian wives, and thought to ourselves that it sure did look like the bastard child of the Yamaha FZ1 and the upcoming Ducati Diavel. Made back in 2009, this artist’s render pre-dates any of the leaked viewings we saw of the Diavel, but could be an interesting evolution of the VMAX design to answer the Ducati power cruiser.

We like to think of the render as a VMAX on steroids, although we can’t seem to wrap our heads around how the Öhlins shock above the motor mounting works out…but then again we had trouble finding Ukrainian wives on the internet (now that’s saying something).

Valentino Rossi Gets the Shepard Fairey Treatment

09/10/2010 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi Gets the Shepard Fairey Treatment Valentino Rossi Shepard Fairey poster

As a nine-time Grand Prix Champion, Valentino Rossi might be the most iconic rider in the MotoGP paddock, if not the greatest motorcycle racer of all-time. Now that Rossi has signed-on with Ducati for the next two MotoGP seasons, there is a wave of enthusiasm in Italy about the duo, and what it could mean for the sport.

Along with Rossi’s move to Ducati, MotoGP is set to go back to 1000cc capacities, Dorna has allowed claiming rule teams to run production-based engines, all in the hopes of turning the sport around into the spectacle it once was.

Of course the greatest excitement will be seeing Rossi on a Ducati GP bike that he helped develop, so we thought it fit to give Valentino the Shepard Fairey treatment for his “Barack moment”, and thus we whipped-up some posters of the Italian. Check them out after the jump.

Caption this Photo: Sweet Nothings

08/26/2010 @ 8:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Caption this Photo: Sweet Nothings Jorge Lorenzo scooter sweet nothings indy gp

Scooters are the preferred mode of transport in the MotoGP paddock, and if you stand still in the MotoGP paddock, it won’t be long before you see one of your GP heroes whisk by on their way to the next press event. With his personal manager riding shotgun, we can only imagine the conversation that’s ensuing in this photo as Lorenzo rolls around The Brickyard. Leave your best caption in the comments section.

Get Ready for Sturgis Asia

08/20/2010 @ 12:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Get Ready for Sturgis Asia sturgis asia

No, this is not an April Fool’s joke…but it has all the makings of one though. Long-time Sturgis rally veteran Tom Bandy must have woken up one day and thought to himself, “man how cool would it be if Sturgis wasn’t held in South Dakota, but instead it was in South Korea!” and boom, Sturgis Asia was born.

In actuality, Bandy told the Rapid City Journal that “[he] had a a dream to bring Sturgis to the rest of the world,” which is starting with a tour of South Korea. While the festival is catering heavily to locals (much of SturgisAsia’s website is in Korean), the group will also fly riders and their bikes to South Korea presumably from China and Japan.

Caption This Photo: Teammates

08/17/2010 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Reading Between the Lines of Valentino

08/16/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

Reading Between the Lines of Valentino Valentino Rossi focus 560x372

Handwritten and then reproduced by Fiat-Yamaha, Valentino Rossi included an open letter with the announcement of his departure from Fiat-Yamaha to Marlboro Ducati. In his own words Rossi documents his “relationship” with the Yamaha YZR-M1, and is quick to point-out that it was Rossi’s direction and input that turned the bike into the weapon of choice in MotoGP. Reading the letter, it might be a bit strange as to why the message was included with the official press release from Yamaha, but peering between the lines some parting words can be inferred from Rossi, and perhaps greater insight into what makes a nine-time World Champion.