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.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today. Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin. Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup. Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

New Ducati 1299 Gets +100cc, While 1299R Gets None

10/13/2014 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

New Ducati 1299 Gets +100cc, While 1299R Gets None motocorsa 1299 leak 635x476

For 2014, Ducati is giving the Panigale a bit of a model update, and thanks to an ill-framed photo from the Ducati North America dealers’ meeting, we know that the new superbike will be called by the 1299 designation.

The upgrade in number caused some confusion though, as Ducati has a mixed history of matching designation numbers to actual displacement sizes. Hoping to clear up the confusion and speculation, we received some details from our Bothan spy network.

Volkswagen XL Sport – A Ducati Superleggera Powered Car

10/01/2014 @ 6:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Volkswagen XL Sport   A Ducati Superleggera Powered Car Volkswagen XL Sport Ducati 1199 Superleggera powered car 09 635x423

Whoa, hold on…don’t worry, you’re still at the right site. Yes this is a car, and yes this is a site dedicated to motorcycles, but it will all make sense in a minute…or however long it takes you to read the headline of this story. Don’t worry…scroll up…we’ll wait.

Anyways, one of the perks for Audi AG’s acquisition of Ducati is that parent company Volkswagen can play around with interesting concepts that involve the compact, yet powerful, engines that come out of Borgo Panigale. One of those flights of fancy has manifested itself into a real-life concept, the Volkswagen XL Sport.

Video: An Intimate Look at the Ducati 1199 Superleggera

05/23/2014 @ 1:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Video: An Intimate Look at the Ducati 1199 Superleggera Ducati 1199 Superleggera EICMA detail 13 635x421

The Ducati 1199 Superleggera is finally here, Ducati’s exclusive 500 customers are starting to receive their bikes, and Ducatista around the world are acting like its Christmas in May. We can’t blame them; after all, the Superleggera is a rolling showcase of what the engineers at Borgo Panigale can do with a street-legal machine.

Our friends at Moto Corsa were lucky enough to get three fine specimens in the first wave of deliveries — the Portland, Oregon shop will receive nine Superleggeras in total — a pretty sizable sum when you consider that less than 200 will make their way across the pond to US soil.

Naturally Arun and his cohorts took the opportunity to examine up-close what $200,000 worth of carbon fiber, titanium, and aluminum looks like. Even better, they documented the experience, for our viewing pleasure of course.

Here’s a Dyno Graph of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera

05/14/2014 @ 11:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Heres a Dyno Graph of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera ducati 1199 superleggera dyno graph 635x357

If you were one of the early birds to put a deposit down on the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, chances are that your $60,000 worth of titanium and magnesium, dripping in carbon fiber we might add, is sitting at your local Ducati dealer right this very second. We don’t know how you’re maintaining your composure under these circumstances…just breathe.

And soon, we all will be reading all about the Superleggera’s stellar attributes, as the chosen few of motorcycling’s journalistic ranks are headed to Mugello to put Claudio Domenicali’s homage to engineering through its paces. That’s not in our cards just yet, so we will have to keep ourselves warm at night with some cold hard numbers. Dyno graph numbers.

The good folks at RSRacecraft have stuck a Ducati 1199 Superleggera on the shop’s Dynojet 250i chassis dyno, breaking in a Moto Corsa customer’s machine at their request, and the impressive results are above.

Ducati Recalls 2,000 Panigale Models for Handlebar Switch

05/06/2014 @ 1:33 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

Ducati Recalls 2,000 Panigale Models for Handlebar Switch ducati 1199 panigale s 635x423

On April 2nd, Ducati North America announced they would be recalling 2,083 of their 1199 Panigale and Panigale S models due to a malfunctioning handlebar switch. The recall affects 1,515 motorcycles manufactured in 2012 and an additional 568 manufactured in 2013.

According to Ducati, “the left handlebar switch may not get power from its connection at the dashboard, preventing the horn, headlight high beam, instrument panel display and right turn signals from functioning.”

Ducati 1199 Superleggera Enters Production

03/29/2014 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Ducati 1199 Superleggera Enters Production Ducati 1199 Superleggera EICMA detail 35 635x421

Word from Italy is that Ducati has begun production on the Ducati 1199 Superleggera superbike, the Italian firm’s “Super Light” version of the Panigale. Crafted from copious amounts of magnesium, titanium, and carbon fiber, the Superleggera might be one of the few motorcycles that looks better naked without its fairings, rather than all buttoned up and ready for the race track.

Make no mistake, the Superleggera is an exercise of engineering prowess (it sports the highest power-to-weight ratio of any production motorcycle in history), so it makes sense then that the Superleggera is said to be the pet project of former Ducati engineer, and current Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicali.

Creating a video to celebrate the commencement of Ducati’s production run on the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, it is no mistake then that Domenicali features heavily in it — this is one proud papa. Only 500 lucky Ducatisti will be able to share in that pride of ownership, as the Superleggera production will be extremely limited. What follows might be the closest you will ever get to one.

Ducati Elite II Café Racer by Moto Puro

03/05/2014 @ 3:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Ducati Elite II Café Racer by Moto Puro Ducati Elite II Cafe Racer Moto Puro 635x423

The Ducati 1199 Panigale is perhaps the pinnacle of technology for sport bikes from Bologna, Italy. With 195 horses of fury, and a positively anorexic dry weight of 367 lbs, the spec-sheet racing for the Panigale is intriguing, if getting around a race track the absolutely fastest way possible is your primary goal.

But what if you enjoy the finer things in your Ducati life as well? In that case, the brains at Moto Puro might have just the thing for your Desmo addiction: the Ducati Elite II.

To build the Elite II, the Dutch builders of Moto Puro took a Ducati 1199 Panigale S, and stripped the machine down to its Superquadro engine and electrical components. From there, those crazy Dutchmen built a café racer style motorcycle, complete with tubeless wire-laced wheels on single-sided swingarm.

2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Mega Gallery

09/12/2013 @ 10:45 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Mega Gallery 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale static 05 635x423

By now you have heard all about the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale, Bologna’s new “supermid” sport bike. You’ve heard about the Babigale’s 898cc Superquadro motor, which produces 148hp  and 73 lbs•ft of torque.

You’ve heard about the Ducati 899’s monocoque “frameless” chassis design and 372.5 lbs dry weight. And of course, you have heard of the 899’s extensive electronics suite that includes ABS, traction control, engine braking control, and ride-by-wire.

But have you seen Ducati’s sport bike, and its double-sided swingarm? We have 117 high-resolution photos of it after the jump for, just in case you haven’t gotten a glimpse.

Remember, pricing starts at $14,995 for the red model, and  $15,295 for the white model.

Video: Ducati 899 Panigale – Your Road to the Track

09/10/2013 @ 11:37 am, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

Video: Ducati 899 Panigale   Your Road to the Track image61 635x422

In case you missed the news, the folks in Bologna have debuted their new “supermid” sport bike, the eagerly anticipated 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale. Like its larger sibling, the Ducati 1199 Panigale, the 899 features a “frameless” chassis design, a suite of electronic rider aids, as well as the new 148hp Superquadro engine.

Putting together a little video to help launch the machine, we figured Ducati fans and non-Ducatisti alike would enjoy the premise of this short clip, as Ducati’s test rider is portrayed as being unable to end his day with the Babigale — hopping back on the bike for one more romp. What a tough job he must have.

2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Breaks Cover

09/09/2013 @ 9:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Breaks Cover image27 635x475

Confirming rumors that Borgo Panigale has been working on a smaller-displacement version of its namesake superbike, and that the machine would have a double-sided swingarm, Ducati debuted today its new “supermid” superbike, the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale.

Showcased ahead of the IAA International Motor Show, where Ducati will preview its 2014 motorcycle line, the Ducati 899 Panigale features an 898cc Superquadro motor that produces 148hp (73 lbs•ft of torque), a monocoque “frameless” chassis design (372.5 lbs dry), and a bevy of electronics (DQS, DTC, RbW, EBC, & ABS).

Priced at $14,995 (red model) & $15,295 (white model), Ducati hopes that the 899 Panigale will create a more affordable entry for motorcyclists that want to own a Ducati superbike.