Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

Mission Motorcycles Becomes Mission Electric, Boats & Cars to Come, Mission R/RS Motos Delayed Until Q2/Q3 2015

Interesting things are afoot in the electric realm. Mission Motorcycles is about to expand beyond the two-wheels, as the company becomes officially called Mission Electric. The change comes about as Mission plans to expand into the automotive and marine segments, though the San Francisco company isn’t saying yet who it is partnering with in those spaces. Mission says it will continue to offer consumer-side products, like its current crop of electric motorcycles, the Mission R and Mission RS. However, its business model will expand to offer business-side electric drivetrain components, which was previously the realm of Mission Motors.

Is US Superbike Racing on the Verge of a Revival?

Motorcycle road racing in the US looks set for a revival after its years in the wilderness. Today, the AMA announced that the rights to road racing in the US have been reacquired from the Daytona Motorsports Group, and handed to a consortium led by Wayne Rainey and Chuck Aksland. The KRAVE Group will run a new series of races in North America from 2015, under the joint auspices of the AMA and the FIM. It has been a long and difficult few years for motorcycle road racing in the US. Since the DMG bought the rights to the AMA Superbike series, at the start of the 2008 season, the series has been in a steady decline.

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2011 – The Ducati Story

02/02/2012 @ 11:59 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2011   The Ducati Story Ducati Pike Peak International Hill Climb 2011 warmers 635x424

Grab some popcorn, because this video from Ducati North America is over 14 minutes long. Telling the story of Ducati at the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), DNA has put together a great video that really captures how special the racing is at Pikes Peak, and how gorgeous the scenery is of the Colorado Mountains. With Santa Barbara Ducati’s Carlin Dunne winning the overall motorcycle category on his dealership’s Multistrada 1200 demo model, Alexander Smith from the Spider Grips Ducati Team made it a double podium for Ducati in the 1205cc class.

If you’re new to racing at Pikes Peak, or wanted a quick re-cap of last year’s race, Ducati’s video pretty accurately sums up racing on the mountain and the anxiety around last year’s race. A&R was on-hand at the 2011 PPIHC (cameo at the 12:00 mark), and I can still remember the collective breath that was held while we waited for news about Greg, and the jubilation of our good friend Carlin setting an outright record, on his rookie outing no less. If you haven’t been, you owe it to yourself to see Pikes Peak first-hand.

Ducati Announces Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Team with Carlin Dunne & Greg Tracy

02/02/2012 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ducati Announces Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Team with Carlin Dunne & Greg Tracy Ducati Pikes Peak Greg Tracy 2 635x425

Ducati has announced its factory team for the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), and the Italian company has secured the services of last-year’s winner and Rookie of the Year Carlin Dunne as well as six-time PPIHC winner Greg Tracy. Ducati has also partnered with the Spider Grips team, who will help prepare the teams Ducati Multistrada 1200 for the “Race to the Clouds” on July 8th.

For 2012, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be fully-paved to the top of the mountain, which will surely see the speeds of competitors increase, and lap times drop on the 12.42 mile long course that ends at 14,110 feet. Holding the outright fastest motorcycle lap time on the mountain, Santa Barbara Ducati’s Carlin Dunne is eager to defend his title from last year, as well as his status as the fastest motorcyclist on the mountain.

Joe Kopp & The Fastest Triumph at Pikes Peak

12/19/2011 @ 12:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Joe Kopp & The Fastest Triumph at Pikes Peak Joe Kopp Pikes Peak 2011 PPIHC Triumph action 2 635x457

As 2011 winds down, I’ve been going through some of my folders of old material that I wanted to publish earlier this year, but for some reason or another the article didn’t grace the front page of Asphalt & Rubber. One such story was the fastest Triumph ever to run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), which in 2011 was a Triumph Speed Triple raced by professional flat track star Joe Kopp.

If I were to say politics were at play with Kopp campaigning the Team Latus Triumph Speed Triple in the exhibition class of the PPIHC (along with Chip Yate’s electric superbike), then surely the metaphor would extend to the redrawing of the district lines at Pikes Peak, and may or may not have had something to do with the Ducati-dominated 1200cc class, where surely the Triumph properly belonged.

Read in between the lines as you will with that explanation of events, but at the end of the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Kopp, on his Triumph, was the overall second-fastest rider up The Mountain, winning the exhibition class in the process. Meanwhile Ducati, the official motorcycle of PPIHC, maintained its 1-3 double podium in the 1200cc class, which was lead by rookie rider, and A&R hetero-life partner Carlin Dunne.

Pikes Peak to be Fully Paved by 2012

07/18/2011 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Pikes Peak to be Fully Paved by 2012 PIkes Peak Gravel Pit 635x425

Probably the worst kept secret on the mountain, the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will occur on a fully-paved race course. Responding to legal and safety pressures, Pikes Peak has slowly been paving its dirt sections, which during the hill climb week made for spectacular plumes of dust and breath-taking slides from cars and bikes alike. With under 3 miles of dirt section currently remaining on the course, Pikes Peak has slowly been adding more asphalt sections over the past few years, which in-turn have been a major contributing factor to the hill climb seeing records smashed across virtually all classes each year.

While the remaining dirt section resides in a lower portion of the race course (between mile markers 10 & 13), which is relatively safer than the higher elevation sections (do NOT look over the edge), Pikes Peak has been under pressure to increase the safety of the mountain, adding guardrails and paving dirt sections. Even in its current form, our initial impression of the course was that there were seriously risky corners that we couldn’t imagine taking at speed, let alone with a dirt surface.

Chip Yates’s Track Notes from Pikes Peak

06/30/2011 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Chip Yatess Track Notes from Pikes Peak Chip Yates Pikes Peak notes

The course for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is 12.42 miles long, includes 156 turns, and goes from 9,390 ft at the starting line to 14,110 feet at the finish. Learning the course can take years, mastering it even longer, and considering that many of the higher elevation turns have sheer drop-offs with no guard rails, mistakes are not an option. To keep all of the turns straight, and to come up to speed as quickly as possible for his rookie year on Pikes Peak, Chip Yates constructed a crib sheet of notes on Pikes Peak.

With the actual notes sheet about four feet long and two feet wide, Chip’s track notes are more like conquistador’s map to the summit, and from what he tells us…he can redraw the whole thing from scratch, blind-folded, while jumping out of an airplane with not parachute (well, maybe he can just draw and annotate the whole thing from scratch). Check out Chip’s notes on racing to the clouds after the jump, and click the photo for the life-size version that aided him in his double-record run.

On-Board Chip Yates’s Electric Superbike at Pikes Peak

06/28/2011 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

On Board Chip Yatess Electric Superbike at Pikes Peak chip yates pikes peak international hill climb 2 635x425

Chip Yates claimed two records at the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: the most powerful motorcycle ever to race on the mountain, with 241hp, and the fastest electric motorcycle ever to finish the 12.42 mile climb and its 156 turns. Finishing with a time of 12:50.094, Yates not only smashed the previous electric motorcycle record by over four minutes, but also raced to the top of Pikes Peak with a very respectable time on a motorcycle, even for a rookie.

In the video you can see how much time Chip loses in the dirt section (he was officially the 97th fastest out of 112 racers in that section), though on the paved sections showed true speed (9th fastest overall on the first section of asphalt). With Pikes Peak to be completely paved for its 90th running in 2012, Yates and his crew will have a leg-up on the competition for further dropping the mountain’s fastest pace, and for showing that electrics can compete, and even best, their internal combustion engine counterparts. Click pas the jump to see Chip’s record run on the SWIGZ.com Electric Superbike.

PPIHC: Carlin Dunne Smashes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Motorcycle Record – Declared Rookie of the Year

06/28/2011 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

PPIHC: Carlin Dunne Smashes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Motorcycle Record   Declared Rookie of the Year Carlin Dunne Ducati Santa Barbara PPIHC 28 635x444

Asphalt & Rubber spent the last week waking up at 2am everyday to muster up to the staging grounds for the 89th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and upon arriving at the second oldest running race in the United States (the Indy 500 being the oldest), we were surprised to see our old friend Carlin Dunne, owner of Ducati Santa Barbara, pitting in the motorcycle paddock with a Ducati Multistrada 1200 race bike.

Now, we’ve always known that Carlin was a wicked fast rider, as this humbled author recalls that at his last track day with Dunne just a year ago, the 28-year-old dirt and street racer lapped him about every third lap at Big Willow. Despite this fact, the hard part has always been describing to other people how fast Dunne truly is, that is until now.

Riding Pikes Peak for the very first time, Carlin Dunne not only stood at the pole position on Sunday’s race to the clouds, and not only did the Santa Barbara native also win the checkered flag in the 1205cc motorcycle class, but the Desmo Devil himself dropped some two-wheeled knowledge on Pikes Peak when he set the outright fastest time ever for a motorcycle on the fabled mountain road and its 156 turns.

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak – Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles

06/27/2011 @ 9:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak   Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles Chip Yates Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 4 635x444

Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com crew were on hand at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past week, racing the team’s 240+ hp electric motorcycle. An event that highlights the advantages of electrics over internal combustion engines, Pikes Peak saw not only the most powerful motorcycle ever to race its 156 turns, but also saw its electric motorcycle record time fall under Chip’s throttle hand. Blowing the previous record of 16:55.849 set by John Scollon out of the water, Yates posted a respectable under time of 12:50.094, which would put him well above the median of the super-fast Supermoto 450 class, and fourth in the heavyweight 1205cc class.

Pleased with his result, Yates was hindered by the dirt section and nearly 600 lbs motorcycle. Still, the up-beat competitor views the 89th annual hill climb as paying his dues for when Pikes Peak becomes fully-paved for its 90th running in 2012. “I felt bad for the fans that watched me through the dirt section. They saw an electric superbike going 1 mph around the hairpins in the dirt,” admitted Yates to A&R. “After the dirt section though, it’s called Glen Cove, it goes paved again, and there’s some tight twisties were I can kind of hold my own.”

PPIHC: Rookie Carlin Dunne Surprises with Pole Position

06/25/2011 @ 10:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

PPIHC: Rookie Carlin Dunne Surprises with Pole Position PPIHC Carlin Dunne Santa Barbara Ducati 635x444

The 89th Annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is well underway this weekend, as the three days of practices sessions have now concluded, and teams are preparing for the race on Sunday. With the paddock abuzz that 2011 will be the last year that the hill climb will have a dirt section, things were shook up even further in the 1200cc motorcycle class as PPIHC rookie rider Carlin Dunne from the Santa Barbara Ducati team took the pole position with a qualifying time of 5:35.937 (each classes qualifies on only a single section of the race course, with motorcycles qualifying on the lower section this year). Vying for the top spot on the time sheet, Dunne had stiff competition in the 1200c race class, namely from Spider Grips Ducati riders Gregg Tracy, who crashed during the qualifying session.

Battling with Dunne, Tracy’s off occurred due to the cold tarmac conditions, thus losing valuable time. Tracy’s practice times from earlier in the day were favorable though, posting a 5:48.798 in traffic earlier in the morning. Dunne’s rookie pole debut is a rarity on The Peak, though traditionally it predicts a top-step finish for the rider (no pressure, right?). In order for that to happen, the Santa Barbara native will have to keep Tracy and his teammate Alexander Smith at bay, along with a very fast Mark Cernicky (who writes about motorcycle occasionally). Also in the hunt is Glenn Cox on his KTM SuperDuke R, though Joe Kopp’s Triumph Speed Triple has been relegated to an exhibition class, as it falls outside the 1200cc & 7500cc class rules (the 1200cc class is for v-twins only…draw your conclusions on that as you will).

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak

06/14/2011 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak Chip Yates Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 635x373

In just a week’s time, Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing crew will be headed out to Pikes Peak to compete in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC). At 14,110 feet tall, and boasting over 156 turns, Pikes Peak features some of the scariest turns on the planet, no better exemplified than with the “Bottomless Pit” corner which boasts a 3,000 foot sheer drop down the mountain. Yates will of course be racing his 240hp electric motorcycle up the hill climb course, and will have a distinct advantage over his ICE competitors, as the extreme altitude won’t affect the fastest electric pizza delivery bike in the slightest.

We’re really excited here at Asphalt & Rubber for Chip’s participation in the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, not only because we like Chip’s mantra of taking ICE bikes head on with his SWIGZ.com racing machine, but also because we think the PPIHC is the ideal event to showcase how electric motorcycles have actual advantages over internal combustion engines. Starting at roughly 9,400 feet, ICE bikes will be already down on power at the start of the race, and will only continue to lose power as their engines struggle to breath on the 12.5 mile race to the clouds (electric bikes of course aren’t meaningfully affected by the thinning air at altitude).