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.

Silly Season: Italian Press Says Stoner Signed with Honda – Rossi Offered Deal by Ducati

05/11/2010 @ 9:39 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Silly Season: Italian Press Says Stoner Signed with Honda   Rossi Offered Deal by Ducati Casey Stoner Ducati confirmed Estoril MotoGP

UPDATE: GPOne.com (probably the most reliable source in the Italian Media) has gotten word from Livio Suppo that “no one has signed anything yet”, which probably confirms that Stoner is talking to HRC, but obviously hasn’t made his mind up about anything.

Silly season is officially underway starting today as the Italian press is full of accounts (all penning their source as being from Sportmediaset) that Casey Stoner has signed with the Repsol Honda MotoGP team, with a sub-headline that Valentino Rossi has been offered a two-year contract with Ducati. Sportmediaset cites the deciding reason for Stoner jumping ship as being the Australian rider’s disappointment in how Ducati backed him during his mysterious illness last year.

Despite headlining Stoner’s move, the bulk of their article concerns Rossi’s switch to Ducati, which may be a tip-off on the validity of the news, as the Italian press loves to pair the two marquee names together. We wade through the silly season possibilities further after the jump.

Spotted: What Do a Zero S, Suzuki GSX-R, and Shawn Higbee Have in Common?

05/07/2010 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Spotted: What Do a Zero S, Suzuki GSX R, and Shawn Higbee Have in Common? Zero S Agni Motor 560x373

UPDATE: It looks like Zero is using Team Agni’s GSX-R based electric motorcycle, which won the inaugural TTXGP last year at the Isle of Man. Picture in the comments posted by our very own John Adamo (skadamo).

They were all at Thunderhill Park Raceway yesterday testing for Team ZeroAgni, that’s what. With a Suzuki GSX-R (600 we’re assuming, but impossible to tell) and a modified Zero S that was sporting the K² logo, the team from Santa Cruz was out getting their lean on with some special help from Shawn Higbee, of AMA privateer fame. The assumption from these findings is that Zero Motorcycles was out pacing the K² Zero S, against the sportbike to see how the two compare. We can only assume that the added presence of Buell-tour-de-force Higbee means the AMA rider has been tapped to pilot ZeroAgni’s race bike at Infineon on May 16th.

Ex-Ducati CEO & Current MV Agusta President Linked to MV Agusta as Possible Buyers

04/30/2010 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ex Ducati CEO & Current MV Agusta President Linked to MV Agusta as Possible Buyers MV Agusta Repent Sinners 560x375

Italian newspaper Il Sol 24 Ore is reporting more rumors about MV Agusta divesture and the company’s possible suitors. As we’ve reported already, there’s been some speculation that Paolo Berlusconi might be interested in the Italian brand, but he’s also been linked to another Italian company looking for a home. Now coming out of the woodwork are some new names, with links to Ducati & MV Agusta.

2011 Ducati Monster 796 Confirmed

04/19/2010 @ 4:26 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2011 Ducati Monster 796 Confirmed 2010 Ducati Monster 796 7 560x372

UPDATE 2: Ducati has just informed us that the Monster 796 is being considered an early 2011 model year motorcycle, we’ve update our post to reflect this.

UPDATE: Pricing for the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 will be $9,995 in the USA.

The rumor floodgates were wide-open this weekend about a possible late model entry by Ducati that would see the Italian company add a Monster 796 to its 2010 model lineup. We can now confirm that the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 has been added to the Monster product line, and will fit in-between the 696cc and 1100cc versions of the Monster.

The impetus for this late addition is reportedly because of poor sales in the 1100cc range of Monsters, which has prompted Ducati to further segment the line-up with a middle offering. The Monster is actually Ducati’s best selling line of motorcycle, and the brand is keen to maximize its return on the newly updated design, and is seemingly pinning its hopes on this late entry. Video, photos, and more of the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 below.

Volkswagen Chairman Confirms VW Motorcycles?

03/23/2010 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Volkswagen Chairman Confirms VW Motorcycles? volkswagen martin winterkorn 560x350

It’s been our long standing view that Volkswagen entering into the motorcycle realm after it’s 20% stake in Suzuki is purely a work of fiction fabricated by bored journalists. The majority opinion is that Volkswagen acquired an interest in Suzuki (who also makes cars) to gain a better foothold in developing countries where smaller vehicles with smaller displacements are king.

This sentiment hasn’t stopped others from believing that there could be more collaboration between the two marks in making a two-wheeled vehicle, and the latest rumor pegs Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Director of Management of Volkswagen AG, as saying explicitly saying just that…of course, no one actually has him on the record with that statement.

AMA Tips from The Sparrow: Duhamel & Hopper

03/13/2010 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

AMA Tips from The Sparrow: Duhamel & Hopper The Sparrow 560x417

Known only to us as “The Sparrow“, we just got some tips from our insider in the AMA. The Sparrow goes on to tell us that rumors of Miguel Duhamel making a return to AMA racing at Fontana are untrue, and the actual rider listed as “TBA” is instead Tyler Odom. The Sparrow also goes on to say that John Hopkins has been incredibly unhappy with the performance of his GSX-R1000, faulting the motor as having less power than the rest of the field. While indications seem to suggest that’s not the case, Yoshimura has put together a new lump for Hopper that looks to have plenty of juice, but will it pass scrutineering after the races? Continue reading for the full report from The Sparrow.

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List – FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone?

01/28/2010 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List   FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone? Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike 1 560x372

This article takes a doubly interesting turn of events. You may remember that a week ago we brought to you the unveiling of the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike. The HB4, the first time a Honda motor has been in a Bimota in 25 years, was to be campaigned by FB Corse in the first running of the 250GP replacement series, Moto2, but has mysteriously been left out of the Moto2 Provisional race list.

Equally unnerving was the postponement of the FB Corse MotoGP & Moto2 press launch, which was allegedly due to FB Corse boss, Andrea Ferrari, undergoing hand surgery. The timing of that postponement drew some skeptical attention since it was right in the middle of the Hoppergate saga, which saw American rider John Hopkins teetering back and forth between riding the FB Corse MotoGP machine or taking a seat in the AMA Pro Superbike series.

Now with Hopkins making his intent to ride in the AMA clear, the FB Corse MotoGP bike yet to be unveiled, and the Bimota HB4 absentee from the Provisional Moto2 racing list, there are rumors circulating in the American and Italian racing camps that this entire thing is a charade and done for publicity.

More Rumors: Ducati Stradaperta 1200

12/15/2008 @ 5:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

More Rumors: Ducati Stradaperta 1200 stradaperta 560x387

More rumors abound about Ducati’s replacement bike for the Multistrada. We can stop calling is the”R1200GS killer”, as it seems the first iteration will not include a 19″ front wheel. That’s not to say higher-ups in the Ducati management aren’t considering the possibility of a line extension or optional dirt-ready package.

Additionally, the Stradaperta 1200 (no definite news if that is to be the production name) will showcase a 1200cc air-cooled motor that is the latest revision on Ducati’s air-cooled and currently Monster based power plant. Output is said to exceed the 100HP mark, while maintaining strong low and midrange torque.

We’re still sometime away from any sort of official launch or reliable leaked specs and pictures, so take what is here as perhaps “educated” day dreaming.

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