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.

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 — Game On

11/03/2014 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler58 COMMENTS

2015 Yamaha YZF R1    Game On 2015 yamaha r1 635x423

As expected, and leaked earlier today, the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 has broken cover at the EICMA show in Milan.

An all new machine from Yamaha, the new YZF-R1 is a giant leap forward from Yamaha, with its eyes squarely on dominating the race track, throughout all racing leagues.

At the core of the new R1 is a new crossplane motor, now dubbed the CP4 engine, which is producing 200hp without ram-air.

The engine features titanium fracture-split con-rods, 10.5 liter airbox, titanium exhaust, and a slipper clutch to boot. For the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 though, the story is really all about the electronics.

2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 – A New Face in ADV

11/03/2014 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200   A New Face in ADV 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 06 635x475

Confirming the news we broke last month, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 has been reworked for the 2015 model year, getting a major facelift, along with Ducati’s Testastretta DVT engine with variable valve timing.

The new Ducati Multistrada is also fitted with the Bosch MSC “cornering ABS” package, and thanks to its Intertial Measurement Unit (IMU), the Multistrada can brake more effectively and use cornering LED light (DCL) technology.

The IMU also help reduce wheelies, with the Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) system. Like with the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) there are eight-levels of adjustability to the DWC parameters, helping riders dial-in how high they want the front wheel to loft.

Lastly, the IMU helps improve the function of the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS). Our last acronym is ECC, for the electronic cruise control system, which has also been added to the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200.

Ducati 1299 Panigale – 205hp, Across the Board

11/03/2014 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Ducati 1299 Panigale   205hp, Across the Board Ducati 1299 Panigale 635x423

As was rumored, Ducati’s flagship machine, the Panigale superbike, gets an update for the 2015 model year. Now called the Ducati 1299 Panigale, the number designation means different things for the base, S, and R models.

All three models will sport a class-leading 205 peak horsepower, have the “cornering ABS” thanks to the inertial measurement unit (IMU) that is installed, and have the new Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) system, with its up and down clutchless shifting.

All three models also have a revised chassis geometry, with the steering head angle set at 24° now, while the fork pivot is 4 mm lower — all in the name of more precise steering (a critique of the 1199 model).

For the Ducati 1299 Panigale and Ducati 1299 Panigale S trim models, the high-revving Superquadro motor gets a displacement increase to 1,285cc, via a larger bore size (116mm). The Ducati 1299 Panigale R will remain at the original 1,198cc displacement, in order to comply with World Superbike regulations.

Ducati Diavel Titanium – A “Bold” Limited Edition

11/03/2014 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ducati Diavel Titanium   A Bold Limited Edition 2015 Ducati Diavel Titanium 01 635x475

Ducati describes the Diavel Titanium as making “a bold statement” and “wanted to take the bold and unique Diavel to a whole new level of prestige and desirability.”

We’re pretty sure that many uses of the word “bold” really just means bold new graphics for the Diavel, as the Titanium paint job and titanium panels (fuel tank and headlight covers) on the Ducati Diavel Titanium are really what set Bologna’s newest power cruiser apart from its predecessors.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Diavel Titanium is certainly an attractive looking version of the Diavel, though the machine lacks the Desmodromic Variable Timing that is debuting on the 2015 Ducati Multistrada — something we would have liked to see on the stout power cruiser.

Ducati Monster 821 & 1200 S Stripe

11/03/2014 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati Monster 821 & 1200 S Stripe Ducati Monster 821 1200S Stripe 635x475

Another “bold new graphics” model from Ducati, the Ducati Monster 821 Stripe and Ducati Monster 1200 S Stripe add exactly what the name implies, a racing stripe to the naked bike’s sweeping lines.

The double-white side-stripe is painted on the mudguard, fuel tank, passenger seat cover, and fairing/windscreen. Completing the look are carbon fiber belt covers, and a Ducati Performance license plate holder. Huzzah.

Yamaha WR450F Rally by Rebel X Sports

11/03/2014 @ 3:36 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Yamaha WR450F Rally by Rebel X Sports  Yamaha WR450F Rally 635x423

If you’ve ever looked at your Yamaha WR450F enduro, and wished it was better suited for Dakar-styled adventure riding, well here is your chance. The folks at Rebel X Sports have built a kit that takes the mild-manner WR450F and turns it into their “Rally ‘Pronto’ Dakar” machine, suitable for amateur racers.

Adding a fuel cell under the rear of the seat, the Yamaha WR450F Rally has 29 liters (7.6 gallons) of fuel, giving it a range of roughly 300 km (186 miles). Other enhancements include special protection for the water pump, a larger toolbox, specially tuned exhaust, rolling roadbook holder, handlebar buttons for the navigation system, and 50w LED headlights.

Destination Malaysia – Day Eight: Thanks for the Fish

11/03/2014 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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It’s our last full day on the island of Langkawi, as tomorrow all of us will disperse back to our corners of the globe…making close to 24hrs of travel in the process. Today is perhaps the first day where we didn’t have much to do, a welcomed sight on our itinerary, and finally the adoption of the slower pace that comes with island living.

We took to the mangroves via a powerboat, where we explored the stalagmites and stalactites that have taken a millennium to grow. Ducking low, so as to avoid an unintended souvenir, we also had to contend with a side of bats hanging from the ceiling. Langkawi is teaming with wildlife at this natural preserve, and we can spot mudskippers below, as well as small crabs scurrying through the mud.

The nature tour continues with the monkeys that greet us along our path (looking for a handout, those cheap bastards), and later we would watch eagles feeding off the fish skins we left them in the estuary. Our trip is cut short though, as we’re having lunch at another resort on the island, The Datai (totally staying here, if I ever come back).

Our official schedule ends there, and the unofficial schedule finds us at the pool the rest of the day. The ample time under the sun gives us plenty of duration to chew on the trip as a whole, and take in everything we have experienced in the past seven days.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story : Aragon

10/31/2014 @ 8:41 pm, by Tony Goldsmith1 COMMENT

Living the Dream   A Photographers Story : Aragon Living the Dream Aragon MotoGP Tony Goldsmith 11 635x422

Before I begin I would like to apologise to the readers of Asphalt & Rubber for my tardiness in bringing you the Aragon story. When I arrived home from Aragon I went straight on holiday to Australia.

I’m finally sitting down to write this from a bar in Gatwick Airport, as I wait for my flight back to the Isle of Man following the Malaysian race.

Apologies over, back to Aragon.

I’d been looking forward to the Aragon race for most of the year. The track looked great and I’d been able to get a room in a house rented by ace MotoGP photographer Andrew Wheeler. There were several other photographers and journalists staying there, so it had the makings of an excellent weekend.

The circuit at Aragon is out in the middle of nowhere. The closest and most convenient airport for me was Barcelona which was around two and half hour drive away.

Destination Malaysia — Day Seven: Langkawi

10/31/2014 @ 6:58 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Destination Malaysia    Day Seven: Langkawi Destination Malaysia Day Seven 20 635x423

Today is perhaps the day I have been looking forward to the most. Not that I don’t like a good MotoGP race, especially at a venue I’ve never been to before, but come on…a couple days on a tropical island? That’s tough to beat.

Our itinerary before we left the USA originally had us flying to Borneo these few days, but the aftermath of tropical storms there meant we would visit island of Langkawi instead.

While I had heard much talk of Borneo, Langkawi was an unknown to me. My worry was for naught though, as the once “cursed” tropical locale was just as decadent as we had been told — of course, staying at the five-star Danna Langkai resort helped in that regard as well.

MotoGP: Casey Stoner Finishes Two Days of Testing for HRC

10/30/2014 @ 5:32 am, by David Emmett14 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Casey Stoner Finishes Two Days of Testing for HRC Casey Stoner 2015 Honda RC213V Motegi Test 05 635x423

Casey Stoner has made a temporary return to MotoGP, completing two days of testing for Honda at Motegi. Over the two days of testing, Stoner focused on the 2015 version of Honda’s RC213V, the Australian comparing the settings used by Repsol Honda’s current riders, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, to see how they work with the new bike.

Stoner also worked on preparing the 2015 further ahead of its debut at the Valencia test after the final race of the season. Finally, he also spent some time on the development versions of Michelin’s MotoGP tires, as the French manufacturer prepares to take over as spec-tire supplier from 2016 onwards. As is their custom with all testing, Honda did not release any lap times.