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.

Dorna 90% Sure Japanese GP is a Go – Riders Disagree

05/23/2011 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Dorna 90% Sure Japanese GP is a Go   Riders Disagree Valentino Rossi stern face 635x422

Depending on whom you talk to in the MotoGP paddock, you might get a different impression on the state of the Japanese GP, set to be held at the Motegi Twin Rings circuit this coming October. As we are all aware, the tragic events sustained by the Japanese people after their country was hit by earthquake, tsunami, and then nuclear disaster have been on the minds of citizens around the world.

While Japan begins the process of rebuilding, the country still has to contend with the Fukushima plant, which continues to leak radiation. While MotoGP won’t make an official announcement about its plans to race in Japan until later this summer, the camps are clearly divided on whether the series should abstain (for a second year in a row) on visiting the island nation, or make the flyaway race to Motegi.

“Crash Proof” Motorcycle Hoax Video Revealed

03/15/2011 @ 9:50 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Crash Proof Motorcycle Hoax Video Revealed Crashproof pic

You’ve likely seen the video where a “crash proof” motorcycle, which has rider detection aids on-board, gets plowed by a truck as it enters the highway. If you haven’t seen this video, well…we just sorta ruined it for you, and we’re going to ruin it some more for the rest of you who thought it was real, as the group behind the video’s making has finally stepped forward, and revealed it was all a hoax to get you thinking about rider safety.

Produced by the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership (TVSRP), as part of the Safer Rider campaign, the locale has been trying to make riders in their 30’s and 40’s aware of the area’s high casualty rate on the roadway. “Our aim was to produce a video that encouraged people to discuss the attitudes and ability involved when riding a motorcycle and for it to spread virally within the motorcycle community,” said Craig McAlpine of TVSRP.

World Superbike Riders Forming Safety Commission

02/25/2011 @ 10:13 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

World Superbike Riders Forming Safety Commission Max Neukirchner Miller Motorsports Park Dan Lo 635x423

World Superbike riders have begun establishing a safety commission to have a stronger voice in providing safer conditions for racers in the series. Though other top-tier racing series have long had a body specifically to promote the safety of riders and drivers, it seems that the timing of the race at Donington Park this season has moved the riders to join forces. They met first during the official test in Portimao a month ago and met again this week during the testing at Phillip Island.

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law

02/15/2011 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law Captain America Helmet 635x422

I love our neighbors to the north, endless outdoor fun, progressive thinking, and an affinity for things of a more “crunchy” nature. But as a 5th-generation Californian, it is ingrained in my head to fear and mistrust the oppressive dictatorship and hate machine the Oregonians run (the California public school system starts this process in the second grade), as they steal children in the middle of the night and brainwash them into Birkenstock-wearing slave labor and questionable physical hygiene boot camps.

So it comes as some surprise that the Oregon State House of Representatives is introducing a bill to allow motorcycle riders, ages 21 and over, the choice of whether they want to ride with helmets or not (an act that misguided tea party wannabes equate with freedom on the open road).

UK Testing ‘Saferider’ Motorcycle Safety Driving Aids

01/27/2011 @ 9:14 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UK Testing Saferider Motorcycle Safety Driving Aids Country Road Sunset 635x476

Our former-overlords from across the pond have begun a new study on installing driving aids to motorcycles that would increase the safety of riding on two-wheels. In the research that is being carried out at Mira (formerly the Motor Industry Research Association), the UK is studying whether having devices that alert the rider to speed limits, road conditions, tightness on road bends, and possibly even collisions with other vehicles (not unlike the system currently being developed by BMW & Volkswagen) would benefit motorcyclists like it has car drivers. Currently outfitting a Yamaha Super Ténéré and a Triumph Sprint with the electrical packages, researchers at Mira say the safety system could be available in as early as 18 to 24 months if the studies are successful.

Oregon Enters the Debate – Considers Lane Splitting

11/19/2010 @ 10:37 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Oregon Enters the Debate – Considers Lane Splitting Oregon capitol inside 635x476

As a motorcyclists in California, we honestly don’t understand how the other 49 states get along without having lane splitting laws on the books, yet that is the case (for now at least). Although recently Texas and Arizona declined to adopt such provisions for their own motorcyclists, our cousins to the north in Oregon are contemplating allowing lane splitting.

Holding an open forum at 6:30 PM tonight in Portland, the Oregon Governor’s Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety is considering a recommendation for a lane splitting provision be included in the Oregonian Traffic Code, if public sentiment at the open forum favors such a move.

Mick Doohan Tells You to Gear Up

11/19/2010 @ 8:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Famed five-time 500GP Champion Mick Doohan wants to make sure you’re wearing all your gear all the time in this latest motorcycle safety commercial that was put together in South Australia. A part of the Motorcycle Accident Commission’s “Gear Up” campaign, we start off seeing a rider wearing just a shirt, jeans, and sneakers flying through the air after his motorcycle has crashed.

As Doohan points out though, this sort of attire is just about as good as riding naked, which in fact our protagonist is, as he is actually only covered in body paint, not clothing. This sort of shock safety video is a continuation of MAC’s first commercial “No Place to Race”, which can be found after the jump.

AMA Urges NHTSA to Abandon Funding Motorcycle-Only Checkpoint Program

08/18/2010 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

AMA Urges NHTSA to Abandon Funding Motorcycle Only Checkpoint Program AMA logo large 635x358

According to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering law enforcement agencies funding incentives to setup checkpoints that target only motorcyclists. Based off a controversial program used by the New York State Police, the NHTSA is offering $350,000 in grants to five law enforcement agencies to run the program, which if successful could be further funded and expanded across the entire United States.

The checkpoints, which derive their legality from DUI checkpoint court rulings, primarily look for motorcyclists riding without a license or DOT approved helmet, and cite riders for aftermarket exhaust and lighting modifications. However the checkpoints fundamentally differ from DUI checkpoints in that they specifically are targeting a minority group of citizens (DUI checkpoints involve all motorists), and are doing so with no presumption that there is an increased risk to motorcyclists and the community as a whole when the checkpoints are being conducted.

BMW & Volkswagen Bring Smart Traffic Systems and Vehicle Interconnection to Motorcycles

07/01/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

BMW & Volkswagen Bring Smart Traffic Systems and Vehicle Interconnection to Motorcycles BMW Volkswagen ACTIV 3 635x423

Car makers BMW and Volkwagen have been teaming up for the past four years on a study funded by the German government that explores vehicle automation and interlinking. Exploring technologies that share traffic conditions not only with drivers, but also with other cars and city infrastructures, the two auto manufacturers have created systems that would help time lights at intersections, and adjust vehicle velocities in order to improve the flow of traffic and safety. While the study focused primarily on car-based systems, there stemmed a couple interesting pieces of technology that could see their way onto motorcycles in the future.

BMW Recalls 122,000 Motorcycles

05/22/2010 @ 6:53 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BMW Recalls 122,000 Motorcycles 2009 BMW R1200RTc 560x420

BMW Motorrad has announced that it is recalling over 122,000 motorcycles worldwide for a potentially leaking front brake. The recall seems to only affect K1200GT, R1200R, R1200RT, R1200ST, R1200GS, and R1200GS Adventure motorcycles that were manufactured between August 2006 and May 2009.

Of these bikes, only ~100 units have been found to have the reported brake leak, but BMW isn’t taking chances with the other roughly 121,900 motorcycles that are out on the raod, and is ordering a worldwide recall on the potentially afftected models.