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.

Chip Yates to Defend Electric Motorcycle Record at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Lightning Motorcycles

04/15/2013 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Chip Yates to Defend Electric Motorcycle Record at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Lightning Motorcycles Chip Yates Pikes Peak electric superbike 635x400

As the kids in the arcade used to say, it’s on like Donkey Kong. Upon hearing the news that Greg Tracy and Amarok Racing would be making an appearance at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Chip Yates has set aside his tinkering with electric airplanes for the time being, and come out of two-wheeled retirement to defend his title.

Trading in the world’s fastest pizza delivery bike for the Richard Hatfield’s Flying Banana (there really is no good way to write that, sorry Richard), Yates will compete on one of Lightning Motorcycle’s electric superbikes at the 91st running of the Race to the Clouds.

Greg Tracy to Race the Electric Amarok P1A at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

04/10/2013 @ 5:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Greg Tracy to Race the Electric Amarok P1A at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Amarok Racing P1A electric motorcycle

When Greg Tracy isn’t flipping cars for Hot Wheels, or busy on a Hollywood set doing stunts for filmmakers, you can find him racing to the clouds on two wheels and dominating the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. A six-time winner at Pikes Peak, Tracy can attribute more than a few of those wins to his time on the mountain with the Spider Grips Ducati team. But for 2013, Tracy will take on a new venture and race an electric bike with Canada’s Amarok Racing.

The announcement is a surprising one, considering that the last we heard from Greg, he was leaning towards a four-wheeled excursion up the mountain, if even competing at all. With high-altitude courses like Pikes Peak playing to the advantages of an electric motorcycle though, and Tracy’s formidable knowledge of the course’s now-paved 156 turns, the Amarok entry has the potential to top Chip Yates’s mark as the fastest electric motorcycle up Pikes Peak.

69 Photos of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200

10/03/2012 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

69 Photos of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak 635x445

The new Ducati Multistrada 1200 is a lot like the old Ducati Multistrada 1200, but we figured there are enough Ducatisti trolling the pages of A&R that a little moto porn wouldn’t hurt things too much. Gone is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Sport, which has essentially be replaced by the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak bike (which looks a-mazing).

The whole line benefits from the Testastretta 11° DS engine, which features a dual-spark ignition system that gives the MTS1200 a slight mid-range power boost, as well as the LED low-beam headlights. However, the real changes occur at the “S” trim level, which are the first bikes from Bologna to get the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) semi-active suspension package.

The last big change to the Multistrada line is the addition of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Grantourismo, which has some more kit for you if the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring isn’t touring enough for you. One-hundred-twenty-one liters of panniers and top case, the Grantourismo also has crash bars, LED fog lights, and a larger windscreen for its extra $2,000 over the Touring model.

We were thoroughly impressed with the original Multistrada 1200 when it came out in 2010, and the updates to the 2013 line seem compelling enough to keep Ducati in the mix for adventure riders who are looking for something a little bit more sporty than the 2013 BMW R1200GS and 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure.

While both the BMW and KTM are attractive machines in their own right, it is hard to beat that Italian sense of style. As such, sixty-nine high-res photos of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 model line are waiting for you after the jump.

Are You the New 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak?

09/17/2012 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Are You the New 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak? Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak 635x450

When Ducati USA unveiled a new (stunning) livery for the team’s two Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak race bikes, there was some good gossip that the red and white paint scheme could find its way into production. The rumor is now gaining some more steam, as the folks at Moto.it have gotten their hands on a photo of a road-going version of the Multistrada 1200 S with the Pikes Peak livery adorning its Italian lines.

Video: Greg Tracy’s Sub-10 Minute Run up Pikes Peak

08/23/2012 @ 11:51 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Video: Greg Tracys Sub 10 Minute Run up Pikes Peak 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 121 635x425

Carlin Dunne and I might go back nearly a decade, but when it comes to Pikes Peak racers, Greg Tracy is sorta my hero. A six-time winner in the Race to the Clouds, when Greg isn’t racing in America’s second-oldest motorsporting event, he spends his off-hours as a major-production stuntman. You’ve probably seen him before, but just didn’t know it. Despite his blockbuster resume and besides being a boss on two-wheels, Greg also happens to be one of the nicest and down-to-earth people you will ever meet in motorcycle racing, let alone Hollywood.

Maybe it’s because when your job involves risking it all on a daily basis, you don’t take for granted the little things in life. Also at the same time, you probably don’t sweat the small issues that cloud what is really important at the end of the day. You would only have to spend a few minutes around Greg to find an anecdote to support that hypothesis. For as nice of a guy as Greg is in person, I would hate to be one his motorcycles in competition.

Racing up Pikes Peak with fractured vertebrae (Greg had a big crash the weekend before, filming a promo video for Audi & Ducati at Pikes Peak), Tracy was the fourth-fastest competitor ever, in any class, at the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Putting down a jaw-dropping 9’58.262 time up the 12+ mile course, with its 156 turns, Greg was just six seconds shy of Carlin’s class-winning time of 9’52.819. We would be hard pressed to imagine what that race would have looked like had Greg been 100% fit. Respect.

A video of that sub-10 minute run is after the jump.

Photos from the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

08/16/2012 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Photos from the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 37 635x425

Asphalt & Rubber is already off the mountain, and onto Indianapolis, but I am still wrapping up my coverage of the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The second-oldest motorsport race in the United States, Pikes Peak gets a bit less fanfare than America’s oldest race, the Indianapolis 500 (apropos to my current locale). In general, the hill climb is a campy affair that is full of privateers, with that statement being even more relevant in the motorcycle class. More of a car event, than a bike one, it is the two-wheeled riders who are the real heroes in my mind, as stakes for any crash on the mountain is met with higher stakes, as well as trees, jagged rocks, and long drops.

Ducati is ever-present at the mountain, and brings with it another level of media attention for the motorcycles. The hope this year was that the Italian brand would not continue to race itself to the clouds, as Triumph was expected to arrive in force as well, with rider Joe Kopp giving Carlin Dunne and Greg Tracy a run for their money. This hope failed to materialize, with the 1205cc class hosting four Ducatis in total: the two backed Multistradas, as well as two Streetfighter entries. Now with the fully-paved course to the top, there was a lot of speculation regarding what sort of entries we would see this year in the motorcycle classes, though PPIHC put the kibosh on that fairly quickly, slotting the proper road bikes in the “Exhibition Powersports” class.

Watching the bikes file through, one after another, during the practice sessions, it is clear Pikes Peak is a still a dirt bike race masquerading itself as a road course event. Supermotos and flat trackers rule the entry list; but more so, it is the style of the riders that gives it all away. Foot out with the bike pushed down and under was the status quo, with the occasional rider coming through with a knee out and the bike leaned over. I will probably explore this idea further later, but you can’t help but feel that Pikes Peak is in a transitional state. Stymied in its history, it will be curious to see if the event can evolve into something else. The road certainly has.

2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Race Bike

08/09/2012 @ 7:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Race Bike 2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak race bike 16 635x425

Ducati is in Colorado this weekend, taking part in the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The second oldest motorsport race in the United States (the first being the Indy 500), 2012 is the first year that the Race to the Clouds will take place on a fully-paved road course, which is sure to bring a new chapter in this historic race.

Asphalt & Rubber made the great trek out to Colorado (braving the far-too-early mornings), and we are here mostly to heckle our boy Carlin Dunne, who won the race last year in his rookie debut (setting a course record no less). Riding with the Ducati Spider Grips Team this year, Dunne will be joining Greg Tracy, as the pair will again ride the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S up to the 14,000+ foot finish line.

Ducati hopes to continue its dominance on the mountain this year, and the Ducati has rolled out another iteration of its Multistrada 1200 S race bike, which we gushed over last year. It is hard to believe that the previous bike feels a bit dated now (though, we still wouldn’t mind a Pikes Peak edition MTS 1200 in our garage), but this year’s machine brings added refinery to the race bike, as well as an understated and classy, yet beautiful paint job.

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.