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.

US Motorcycle Sales up 7% in Q1 2011

04/25/2011 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

US Motorcycle Sales up 7% in Q1 2011 ktm 690 duke wheelie 635x422

The Motorcycle Industry Council is reporting that US motorcycle sales are up 7% in Q1 of 2011, with 102,547 units being sold in the year’s first three months. Leading the charge were scooter sales, which were up nearly 50% to 6,246 units, while on-road units were up as well, pushing 70,879 units in Q1 (a 6.9% gain).

Despite the strong numbers from on-road and dual-sport models, off-road vehicles did not fare as well, with ATV sales down 16% and off-road motorcycle sales down 5.5% (47,702 & 18,725 units respectively), making 2011 still a mixed bag depending on what side of the industry you are on.

Yamaha Power Beam – A Damper for Your Chassis

03/17/2011 @ 6:30 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Yamaha Power Beam   A Damper for Your Chassis Yamaha Power BeamYou can just tell there’s an engineer in Yamaha’s R&D department that dresses up like Wesley Crusher on the weekends just a little too often. Despite how tragically named this product is, Yamaha’s Power Beam is an interesting solution to a problem that few riders have the delicacies of detecting, yet will likely purchase anyway.

Originally developed for the Yamaha YZR-M1 during the 2003 season, the Yamaha Power Beam will initially be made available to 600 lucky T-Max scooter owners in Europe, which on its face makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

However given the hot-rodding culture in Europe that surrounds the T-Max (and the two-wheelers Jell-O like chassis), the “more horsepower than sense” crowd will likely gobble up this latest go-fast trick part from Yamaha.

Looking down the pipe, there is the likelihood that the Yamaha Power Beam will make its way onto future sport bikes from the tuning fork brand. What the Power Beam does is dampen the rate of flex in the chassis, presumably allowing the steel/aluminum frame of the motorcycle to move to its prescribed tolerances, but in a manner that’s more predictable and favorable to a rider’s needs.

Former Vice Chairman of GM Bob Lutz Drops $1.5 Million Investment into Electric Scooters

01/14/2011 @ 9:55 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Former Vice Chairman of GM Bob Lutz Drops $1.5 Million Investment into Electric Scooters bob lutz chevy volt 635x423

Current Motors (clever name) of Ann Arbor, Michigan just got a healthy cash infusion, as General Motors’s former Vice Chairman (and avid motorcycle collector), Bob Lutz, just dropped a check off for $1.5 million to the electric scooter manufacturer. While money is well and good, and we imagine the folks at Current are more than amped (oh yes, we just did that) about getting money during these tough capital-raising markets, the real electrifying news here is that the charismatic executive will be taking a seat on the company’s advisory board.

With a resumé that includes names like GM, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW, Lutz’s insights on bringing vehicles to market and overall business acumen will be a huge boon for this relatively unknown startup, and could easily galvanize other investors into investing in the company.

Honda Sales up 28% for Q1 2010

08/05/2010 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Honda Sales up 28% for Q1 2010 Honda sales Q1 2010 560x373

Honda has closed its books for the first quarter of 2010, and the company’s motorcycle, scooter, and ATV sales are up 28.2% over Q1 of 2009. Selling over 2.8 million units (compare that to Q1 2009’s 2.25 million units), Honda’s sales created $3.7 billion in net sales. Honda reported $3 billion in net sales during the same time period last year. While the Asian markets powered most of Honda’s sales, North American sales were up 11% to 60,000 units sold.

Industry Report: Have We Found the Bottom?

10/21/2009 @ 9:32 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Industry Report: Have We Found the Bottom? bottom of the well 560x420

The latest data from the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), suggests that the end of cascading motorcycle sales may be near. According to the MIC, the combined new unit sales for motorcycles, scooters, and ATVS during the past 9 months were down 40% from last year’s numbers. While still frighteningly low, these results show a 2% rebound in sales when compared to the first 6 months of 2009.

Pimped Out and Stretched Japanese Scooters

04/13/2009 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Pimped Out and Stretched Japanese Scooters stretched japanese scooters 17

The United States hasn’t really embraced the scooter culture as much as Europe and Japan have. The gallery after the jump either explains why we’re the better, or the lesser for that trend. You make the call.

 

Brembo Opens New Plant in India

01/23/2009 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Brembo Opens New Plant in India Brembo India 635x475

After aquiring Indian firm JV KBX from Bosch last October, Brembo has opened the doors of its brand new plant in India this week. The plant will be dedicated to the production of disc brake systems for scooters and motorcycles between the displacement of 125cc and 250cc’s in the Indian market.

The move positions Brembo to challenge the Lombard Group, which currently holds over 50% of the market share for disk brakes of motor vehicles in India. In case you didn’t know, the Indian market is mainly composed motorcycles between 50cc’s and 350cc’s. This makes the acquisition and new factory a huge strategic move for Brembo in a rapidly developing nation.

Brembo is selling the brake products under the name Breco, which is their mark specifically dedicated for motorcycles and scooters with small and medium displacements in developing countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China and in the other nations of Southeast Asia.

Brembo’s activities in India began in 1998 through a license of its technology for the production of brake discs for motorcycles to the Indian Kalayani Brakes, later acquired by Bosch Chassis Systems India Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of the German multinational of a similar name. In 2006 it was turned into KBX, the Joint Venture Joint between Brembo and Bosch.