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.

Yamaha MT-125 – Europe Gets Another MT

05/07/2014 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Yamaha MT 125   Europe Gets Another MT  Yamaha MT 125 03 635x476

Need a small-displacement naked bike for your urban commute? Yamaha has something for you then, as the tuning fork brand has announced the Yamaha MT-125 for the European market today. Based off the Yamaha YZF-R125 platform, the MT-125 is essentially the R125 stripped of its fairings.

Featuring the same steel delta box frame, and 124.7cc single-cylinder thumper as the Yamaha R125, the big changes to make the MT-125 are the obvious ones, namely the “MT” styling that we have seen on the Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 to us Americans) and the Yamaha MT-07.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja RR – A 250cc Single-Cylinder for Asia

02/16/2014 @ 6:29 pm, by Aakash Desai16 COMMENTS

2014 Kawasaki Ninja RR   A 250cc Single Cylinder for Asia 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250SL RR 03 635x400

Let’s see, what would be an ideal motorcycle for tackling the treacherous roads, unending traffic and inclement weather conditions of a typical Asian city?

You want a bike that is lightweight, easy to maneuver and doesn’t put too much of a traction burden on mounds of slippery cow manure. You also want a bike that is torquey to get you out of the way of juggernaut garbage trucks that won’t stop no matter what gets in their way.

With these characteristics in mind, the newly revealed Kawasaki Ninja RR (or Kawasaki Ninja 250SL in some markets) seems tailored made for these environments.

The Japanese company took their popular twin-cylinder Kawasaki Ninja 250R, changed it to a single-cylinder thumper, and built the bike around a new steel trellis frame.

Kawasaki to Release a Single-Cylinder 250cc Sport Bike?

01/06/2014 @ 11:33 am, by Bryan Delohery4 COMMENTS

Kawasaki to Release a Single Cylinder 250cc Sport Bike? kawasaki 250cc single cylinder

According to TMCBlog (more photos on their site), Kawasaki may be planning to release a new entry level sport bike as a cost effective option for the Southeast Asian market. Rumor has it that this 250cc, single-cylinder bike is under construction and would be the more economical cousin to the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and its parallel-twin engine, while providing more competition for the Honda CBR250R.

While none of this can be confirmed, for time being it is a safe bet that if Kawasaki wants to remain competitive in its Asian markets, and it would be a good business strategy for Kawasaki to produce a bike that is comparable to many of the other single-cylinder bikes in the region, which are being produced by Honda, Suzuki, and KTM.

2014 KTM RC200 & KTM RC125 — The More the Merrier

11/07/2013 @ 7:36 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2014 KTM RC200 & KTM RC125    The More the Merrier KTM RC125 KTM RC200 635x423

For the American market, its all about the 2014 KTM RC390 and its single-cylinder sport bike format. But for the rest of the world, especially emerging markets, the talk of the 2013 EICMA show is focusing on the KTM RC200 and KTM RC125 — the smaller siblings in KTM’s “Race Competition” line.

Like the RC390, the RC200 and RC125 share engine designs with their Duke model counterparts. Both bikes feature the same aggressive styling as the KTM RC390, courtesy of Kiska Design, and are ideally situated for markets with tiered licensing programs and heavily segmented small-displacement categories. For us, we just think these motorcycles look hot.

2014 Honda CBR300R – Small-Displacement Warfare

11/07/2013 @ 5:11 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

2014 Honda CBR300R   Small Displacement Warfare 2014 Honda CBR300R 20 635x423

The battlefront in the small-displacement motorcycle war is heating up, as Honda has responded to last year’s debut of the Kawasaki Ninja 300 with its own 300cc sport bike, the 2014 Honda CBR300R. Departing from the looks of the Honda CBR250R, the Honda CBR300R instead gets its styling from the Honda CBR500R that debuted last year at this time.

Finally giving us some details since its preview last month, we now know what Honda has added another 37cc to its entry-level spot, as the Honda CBR300R has a 286cc single-cylinder engine, which makes 30hp and 20 lbs•ft of torque.

Honda says the CBR300R has an improved throttle response, and will come with ABS as standard. From the way the Japanese are talking, the Honda CBR300R is set to replace the Honda CBR250R worldwide, which means we will see this bike in the United States.

Officially Official: 2014 KTM RC390

11/05/2013 @ 6:37 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Officially Official: 2014 KTM RC390 2014 KTM RC390 15 635x422

Even though the 2014 KTM RC390 leaked ahead of its EICMA debut, the KTM stand at the Fieramilano was packed full of attendees who were eager to get a glimpse of the single-cylinder sport bike from Austria.

The logical progression from the KTM 390 Duke, the RC390 shares many of its brethren’s features and specifications, though has a uniqueness all of its own.

Triumph Confirms 250cc Motorcycle is Coming for 2015

11/05/2013 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Triumph Confirms 250cc Motorcycle is Coming for 2015 triumph 250cc 2015 india 635x448

At Triumph’s EICMA press presentation today, the British brand confirmed that it would have a small-displacement world market bike for the 2015 model year.

Showing a very sporty concept sketch of the machine, Triumph also confirmed that the model would have a single-cylinder engine, be 250cc in displacement, and be manufactured at the company’s new India facility.

2014 KTM RC390 Cup – A Glimpse of What’s to Come

07/14/2013 @ 1:21 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

2014 KTM RC390 Cup   A Glimpse of Whats to Come 2014 KTM RC390 race bike unveil 15 635x345

Helping cultivate road racing’s future talent, KTM has teamed up with ADAS to bring you the “ADAC Junior Cup powered by KTM” series. Along the same vein as the Red Bull Rookies Cup for MotoGP, and the European Junior Cup for World Superbike, the ADAC Junior Cup is a spec-bike series aimed at developing young riders — good stuff, but not exactly a new concept.

What is exciting though is the “powered by KTM” part because zie Austrians have basically just unwrapped their new small-displacment street bike that is based off the KTM 390 Duke, you know it as the KTM RC390, and for the ADAC series, we know it as the 2014 KTM RC390 Cup Racer. Missing only a headlight, signals, and a license plate, the cup race bike is essentially what KTM will debut at EICMA in a few months’ time. We like.

Rumor: Ducati Scrambler Cometh

07/08/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Rumor: Ducati Scrambler Cometh ducati scrambler 635x405

While I was lounging at the pool this holiday weekend, getting my bronze on, the A&R Bothan Spy network was hard at work dumpster diving, hacking emails, and subscribing to the NSA’s live PRISM feed.

The fruits of that labor was the alarming realization of how many kitten videos the motorcycle industry collectively watches in a single day, and the fact that Ducati is working on scrambler-style motorcycle.

The project itself dates way back when Pierre Terblanche was still toiling away in Bologna, dodging equal portions of labor strikes and carbonara, and at the time was based around the now defunct Ducati Sport Classic.

Shelved, and thought never to see the light of day, we can only imagine this whole Hipstacyclist™ movement has helped Ducati rethink its position regarding a scrambler.

KTM RC4 Concept by Luca Bar Design

05/06/2013 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

KTM RC4 Concept by Luca Bar Design KTM RC4 690 concept Luca Bar Design 635x427

KTM is shaping up to be the brand of 2013. Surpassing BMW Motorrad in outright unit sales, and becoming the largest motorcycle brand in Europe, zie Austrians have been on a tear with their small-displacement machine strategy. Most of that move has been buoyed by KTM’s partnership with Bajaj, which in-turn owns a very sizable minority stake in the Austrian company, but KTM also has been making other moves as well, like the acquisition of Husqvarna by CEO Stefan Pierer and his company Pierer Industrie AG.

Surprisingly, what has been occurring in KTM’s boardroom is almost overshadowing what is occurring in the company’s model line-up, with the KTM 1190 Adventure set to finally come to the USA later this year, almost a year after its European debut, as well the upcoming release of the KTM 390 Duke and its sport bike and adventure variants. Perhaps lost in the wash is the 2013 KTM 690 Duke, which is a new machine for the US market this year.

A single-cylinder hooligan-maker, the KTM 690 Duke is 330 lbs (curbside without fuel) and 67hp of two-wheeled fun, and we hope that the Austrians bring the KTM 690 Duke R our way as well. While we are on the topic of things missing from KTM’s American line-up, a decent supersport is painfully obvious, yet we can’t see the folks at KTM following the paths of other brands. That’s where our friend Luca Bar comes to mind with his latest concept: the KTM RC4.