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.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1956 Ariel Square 4 with Garrard Sidecar

08/25/2009 @ 8:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Pebble Beach Concours dElegance: 1956 Ariel Square 4 with Garrard Sidecar 1956 Ariel Square 4 with Garrard Side Car 1 560x374

This 1956 Ariel Square 4 features a matching Garrard sidecar (stocked with Champagne!). If you take a quick glance at this Ariel, you might notice something doesn’t quite look right. This is because tt the heart of the Ariel is a 997cc square-four engine, or “Squariel”, which was designed in 1936 by the unemployed engine designer Edward Turner.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1932 BSA W32-6 with Matching Sidecar

08/25/2009 @ 11:00 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Pebble Beach Concours dElegance: 1932 BSA W32 6 with Matching Sidecar 1932 BSA W32 6 Sidecar 2 560x374

The BSA w32-6 was built mainly for use with a side car, and has a 499cc side-valve motor. BSA’s were so popular in Britain during the 1930’s that one in four motorcycles was built by “Beeza”. This 1932 BSA W32-6 Sidecar was sold as a complete unit, during the height of sidecar popularity in the UK.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1913 Premier 3 1/2hp 3 Speed

08/25/2009 @ 9:21 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Pebble Beach Concours dElegance: 1913 Premier 3 1/2hp 3 Speed 1913 Premier 3.5hp 3 Speed 3 560x374

This 1913 Premier 3 1/2hp 3 speed motorcycle was the oldest example of British two-wheeled freedom at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1922 Triumph Model R “Ricardo”

08/25/2009 @ 2:30 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Pebble Beach Concours dElegance: 1922 Triumph Model R Ricardo 1922 Triumph Model R Ricardo Pebble Beach 6 560x374

In 1922, Triumph needed an update to its motors in order to be competitve in the developing sportbike market. As such, it hired gas flow special Harry Ricardo to improve the performance of the Triumph machinery, and this 1922 Triumph Model R “Ricardo” was one such lucky recipient.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1953 Matchless G45

08/25/2009 @ 1:52 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1953 Matchless G45 1953 Matchless G45 Pebble Beach 6 560x374

Based on the streetbike version, this 1953 Matchless G45 was an “over-the-counter” race bike that was made available to select British racers. It has a 500cc parallel twin motor from a G9, and in the right hands, was quite successful at winning national races.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1949 Velocette Mk. VIII

08/20/2009 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1949 Velocette Mk. VIII 1949 Velocette Mk VIII Pebble Beach 1 560x374

The preferred ride in 350cc racing after World War II, the 1949 Velocette Mk. VIII wasn’t the fastest bike on the grid, making only “average” power, but made up this deficincy by utilizing its superior steering and suspension.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1938 Triumph Speed Twin

08/20/2009 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off
Giving birth to the engine’s design, this 1938 Triumph Speed Twin showcases Edward Turners vertical twin motor. With a 498cc, twin overhead valve construction, the Speed Twin made a solid 27hp and was the first truly successful British twin.
Early models were only available in ‘Amaranth red’, and were hand painted with gold pinstripes. The hard-tail and initial girder forks meant that the only real suspension for the rider was the sprung seat. Passengers would have to survive with only a doubly thick pad over the rear fender.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1938 Triumph Speed Twin 1938 Triumph Speed Twin Pebble Beach 9 560x374
Giving birth to the engine’s design, this 1938 Triumph Speed Twin showcases Edward Turner’s vertical twin motor. With a 498cc, twin overhead valve construction, the Speed Twin made a solid 27hp and was the first truly successful British twin to come to market.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1929 Sunbeam Model-90 Road Racer

08/20/2009 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1929 Sunbeam Model 90 Road Racer 1929 Sunbeam Model 90 Road Racer 6 560x374

This 1929 Sunbeam Model-90 Road Racer, like many of the motorcycles at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, has an interesting story of its discovery and restoration.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1954 A.J.S. E-95 “Porcupine”

08/19/2009 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1954 A.J.S. E 95 Porcupine 1954 AJS E 95 Porcupine Pebble Beach 3 560x374

One of only four E-95’s created, the A.J.S. E-95 is a modified version of the A.J.S. E-90 horizontal twin motor, and was called the porcupine because of the spiky cooling fins protruding from the cylinder heads.

Originally designed to be supercharged, those plans had to be scrapped when the FIM banned supercharging in 1946. Despite its reputation for not living up to its hype, a finished Porcupine is valued somewhere north of a $250,000. Pictures and more after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1947 Sunbeam S-7

08/19/2009 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1947 Sunbeam S 7 1947 Sunbeam S 7 Pebble Beach 7 560x374

If you ever wondered what a Honda Goldwing would look like in the 1940’s, here is probably the best example: The 1947 Sunbeam S-7. With its over-sized tires, overhead camshaft motor mounted in rubber, and shaft-driven rear-wheel, the Sunbeam was very sophisticated, but proved to be perhaps too ahead of its time.

The bike is powered by a 500cc in-line twin motor; and like the Model-T, you could get it in any color you wished, as long as it was black.

Considered a touring motorcycle, the S-7 was quiet, smooth, and had modest performance. However, the S-7 was one of those motorcycles that contribute to Britain’s fame of producing unreliable vehicles. Pictures after the jump.