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.

Rumor: New Kawasaki ZX-14 Facelift Coming This Month? Supercharged Hypersport Later?

08/11/2011 @ 11:59 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Rumor: New Kawasaki ZX 14 Facelift Coming This Month? Supercharged Hypersport Later? Kawasaki Ninja ZX 14 635x484

Rumors are swelling around the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 (the Kawasaki ZZR1400 for friends on the other side of the pond). First up is that a new updated Kawasaki ZX-14 is set to debut by the end of the month. Expected to be only a cosmetic makeover, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 will mechanically be the same as the current model.

Looking farther down the pipe though, it would seem from reports and patents that Kawasaki has been eyeing putting a supercharger on the hypersport machine, presumably to better position the ZX-14 against the increasingly more powerful 1,000 superbikes, like the company’s on 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R.

Did Castrol Honda Just Out the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR?

08/08/2011 @ 8:27 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Did Castrol Honda Just Out the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR? castrol honda ten kate team race livery 635x423

UPDATE: The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR has been leaked ahead of schedule by Honda Honk Kong.

Castrol Honda boss, Ronald ten Kate, may have just outed Honda’s latest iteration of its street-going superbikes, as the Dutch manager was quoted on his aniticipation of the new model, and what it would mean for his relatively uncompetitive World Superbike team. First talking about the team’s status and position in the World Superbike Championship, ten Kate talked about the morale boost of having Jonathan Rea back from his injuries. Ten Kate also stated that his team has put the 2011 season behind them, and is instead focusing on the 2012 season.

Also helping boost morale is what Honda has in store for next season. Stating that the Ten Kate Honda squad was looking forward to the arrival of the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR, it would appear that ten Kate himself has let slip that Honda would be bringing out a a whole new machine for next year, and in conjunction with that statement, a new Honda CBR1000RR would also have to be in the pipe.

Ducati Considering SuperSport Model

07/18/2011 @ 2:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ducati Considering SuperSport Model Ducati Supersport Luca Bar Design girl 635x476

One of the cooler parts that comes from running Asphalt & Rubber is the feedback we get from our Bothan spy network that read the site. No sooner did we publish Luca Bar’s renders of his Ducati SuperSport concept, did we get tips that Ducati was actually currently considering such a model for its future model road map. There’s no doubt that the SS line had a cult following in its day, and the fact still remains that Ducati does not have a “tamer sport bike” in its line that would appeal to the veteran Ducatisti.

World Superbike Going to Single-Bike per Rider Format?

07/15/2011 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

World Superbike Going to Single Bike per Rider Format? Max Biaggi World Superbike Aprilia MMP 635x443

Reliable sources are perpetuating the rumor that World Superbike is considering moving to a single-bike rule for its riders, presumably meaning that a WSBK rider would only have a single racing motorcycle at each race and session at a World Superbike round. The rule would be an extension of the already existing provision in World Supersport racing, which has seen a surge of participants this past year, compared to World Superbike’s shrinking numbers (though WSBK still has more riders competing than MotoGP at this point).

The idea is that the new provision, presumably to come out for the 2012 season, would allow teams to cut costs by up to €300,000, or run the option of having larger or multiple teams, which in-turn would increase grid sizes and jobs for ride-less racers.

Rumor: The Clock is Ticking on Toni Elias

07/06/2011 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Rumor: The Clock is Ticking on Toni Elias Toni Elias MotoGP Mugello Scott Jones

After his abysmal finish in the Italian GP at Mugello, rumors are swirling in the MotoGP paddock that Toni Elias has been given two to three races (it depends on which Spanish journalist you want to believe) to turn around his flailing MotoGP season. Affixed to the back of the pack, speculation that Dorna will charge Elias rent on the back-row grid position is exaggerated, but not far from the truth. A true backmarker, the Spanish rider has essentially been left high & dry by his team, as a struggle has emerged in the LCR Honda garage over where to take Elias’s RC212V in its setup.

With Elias and his crew butting heads over how to make the satellite Honda go faster, the reigning Moto2 Champion has been left to sort out his own chassis and suspension settings on race day, which means a lot of rider one-on-one time with the Öhlins truck. While the LCR Honda crew has been making the changes that Elias ultimately wants, the team hasn’t been offering any input on arriving at those settings, essentially letting the Spaniard sink or swim on his own accord. This game of cat and mouse is apparently over however, and the death clock on Toni Elias’s MotoGP career appears to be ticking.

Rumor: BMW K1600R Six-Cylinder Naked Bike in the Works

06/29/2011 @ 8:04 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Rumor: BMW K1600R Six Cylinder Naked Bike in the Works BMW Concept 6 635x476

We haven’t seen a good solid stirring of the motorcycle rumormill in a while, but today whispers of a BMW six-cylinder naked bike, a K1600R if you will, have be filtering through the web forums and into our ears. With the rumors centering mostly around the fact that BMW introduced its 1,600cc inline-six motor at EICMA in 2009 by sticking it in a very attractive street-naked motorcycle, speculation has begun as to whether the Bavarian firm would follow that concept up with an actual production model (we always did find it strange that the concept for a touring motorcycle was a street-naked).

New Suzuki V-Strom Delayed Until Tomorrow

06/14/2011 @ 5:52 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

New Suzuki V Strom Delayed Until Tomorrow Suzuki V Strom teaser

While Suzuki has been hyping some sort of middleweight adventure-tourer, suspected to be an 800cc V-Strom, the company has missed its original unveil date of Saturday June 11th. Now Suzuki sites are touting a new date: tomorrow (Wednesday June 15th), which we suppose we’ll forgive Suzuki for this blunder, provided the new model blows our socks off. So far no one has said why the date has been pushed back, though we’d like to start a good rumor of a headlight fluid shortage at Suzuki HQ.

Dani Pedrosa Out for Silverstone – And Then Some?

06/06/2011 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Dani Pedrosa Out for Silverstone   And Then Some? 2011 MotoGP Catalunya Scott Jones

Dani Pedrosa on his blog today announced that he would not compete in the British GP at Silverstone next weekend, instead opting to heal his collarbone further, which he broke a the French GP several weeks ago. Though Pedrosa was on the fence about competing in the Catalan GP, it comes as no surprise that the Spanish rider will sit out Silverstone, now having missed his home race in Barcelona.

What does come as surprising though is the very credible rumors that Pedrosa has re-injured his shoulder while doing some Supermoto training, and because of this incident, may sit out the rest of the season (which may have prompted the blog post itself). Boom goes the dynamite.

Rumor: Suzuki V-Strom Update Imminent

06/01/2011 @ 9:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Rumor: Suzuki V Strom Update Imminent Suzuki DL650 V Strom invitation 635x380

Suzuki has sent out to the European press a teaser invitation to an unnamed launch event, which many are speculating to be Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. Simply stating that is was going to release a new middleweight model by the end of June, best guesses suggest that the new motorcycle will be an updated version of the V-Strom line, that sees a new look, chassis, brakes, and motor.

Rumor: Honda Working on a 1,000cc V4 Sportbike

05/26/2011 @ 9:09 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Rumor: Honda Working on a 1,000cc V4 Sportbike Honda RC 45 sport bike 635x476

Fanned by a recent article in Motorcyclist (and an earlier article in MCN from the same author), rumors abound that Honda is working on a 1,000cc V4 sportbike, likely to be called the RVF1000R. A supplement to Honda’s superbike offering, and not a replacement to the CBR line, the new RVF would be a more premium superbike offering, differentiating itself from its inline-four cousin in a similar manner as the Rc-45 and RC-51 motorcycles did in previous decades.

If rumors are to be believed, we could see the new Honda V4 as early as the end of this year, with the major differentiation over the CBR1000RR being both the RVF1000R’s price, performance, and exclusivity. If done properly, the new Honda superbike could be an opportunity for the Japanese company to build some brand value beyond making cheap & reliable motorcycles. While the Japanese manufacturers have a reputation for making quality bikes, their work has never been translated into lifestyle status brand value, which is something a premium superbike could help foster.