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.

Friday Summary at Le Mans: Of Four Fast Men, Improved Ducatis, Redding’s Reign, and a Quota on Spaniards

05/17/2013 @ 4:43 pm, by David Emmett24 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Le Mans: Of Four Fast Men, Improved Ducatis, Reddings Reign, and a Quota on Spaniards valentino rossi yamaha racing le mans wheelie 635x423

So far, so good. That seems to be the story from the first day of practice at Le Mans. A full day of dry weather – except for the last few minutes of FP2 for the Moto3 class, where the rain turned briefly to hail, only to blow out again as quickly as it came – means that everyone had a chance to work on their race set up.

With the top four separated by just 0.166 seconds, the top five are within a quarter of a second, and Alvaro Bautista, the man in ninth, is just over seven tenths from the fastest man Dani Pedrosa.

A good day too for the Hondas. Dani Pedrosa was immediately up to speed, as expected. Marc Marquez was also quick in the afternoon, which was less expected. Unlike Jerez and Austin, this was the first time he rode a MotoGP machine at Le Mans, and getting used to hauling a 260 hp, 160kg bike around the tight layout of the French track is a different proposition to riding a Moto2 bike with half the horsepower here.

He took a morning to get used to the track, asked for a few changes to the base set up inherited from Casey Stoner, and then went and blitzed to second in the afternoon, 0.134 seconds off his teammate.

More important than Marquez’s speed is his consistency, however. In the afternoon, he posted seven laps of 1’34, which looks to be the pace to expect for a dry race. Only two men did more, Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo having posted nine laps at that pace, with both men also consistently a tenth or two quicker than the Spanish rookie.

Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO

05/25/2011 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO 1 635x423

Our affection for the work by Radical Ducati is getting to the point where we need seek professional help. Not only are we becoming a broken record for our praise of the Spanish firm’s work, but our love affair for their motorcycles is completely one-sided. They don’t return our calls, nor our late night texts. We suspect they’re talking to other weblogs, and we can’t stand the thought of them going around town with a print magazine. Like all schoolyard crushes, this is sure to end in tears, but until then we’ll continue our hardcore crush on their take of Italian motorcycle design.

For our latest infatuation, we show you the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO (2011). We’ve been pretty pumped over this build since we heard about it a couple weeks ago, and now that it’s blown it’s cover, well…we’re revamping our Christmas list. While we appreciate all forms of motorcycles, we’re sportbike folk at heart here at Asphalt & Rubber, so a Radicalized sportbike tickles the pink out of us in ways that café racers cannot. We think you’ll agree when you check out all the photos after the jump.

Video: Toni Bou Rides Trials in the FC Barcelona Stadium

05/25/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Video: Toni Bou Rides Trials in the FC Barcelona Stadium Toni Bou Camp Nou trial FC Barcelona 635x423

Camp Nou is the the Futbol Club Barcelona’s stadium of residence, and has been the destination for more than one rowdy Spanish soccer fan in its lifetime. An iconic figure in the Catalan community, FC Barcelona is also probably one of the most well-known soccer teams worldwide (though anglophones are more familiar with Manchester United), but that doesn’t mean the club can’t do a little marketing now and then.

Showing his support for the Catalan team, Trials World Champion Toni Bou does what does best in this video, and rides his trial bike through, on, and over the Camp Nou grounds. Popping a wheelie while going up the stadium steps, and doing a stoppie all the way back down are just some of the Spaniard’s claims of fame, and probably would go on the list of things our healthcare provider wouldn’t cover. It’s pretty impressive stuff, and  merges two of the biggest sports in Spain into one video. Check it out after the jump.

Radical Ducati Il Mostro Kit

04/21/2011 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati Il Mostro Kit Radical Ducati Il Mostro kit 1 635x423

It should be apparent by now that we loves us some Radical Ducati here at Asphalt & Rubber. And why shouldn’t we be? Those Spanish desmoholics have put out some really impressive motorcycles the past few years, not only putting their small shop on the map, but Spain as a whole as a budding venue of custom motorcycles (check out the work fro Sbay for more Spanish goodness for instance). The process at Radical Ducati is pretty simple, take parts collected from various Bologna motorcycles, mash them up with some creative flare, add-in some custom fabrication, and presto: you have some unique motorcycles that embody the best of Ducati’s designs.

Now typically if you wanted your own Radical Ducati you’d have to fork over a hefty amount of money, and the figure out how to get your masterpiece back to respective your country of origin. While this technically remains true, you can now at least give your Ducati Monster the Radical treatment, as those crazy Spaniards have come out with the Il Mostro customization kit for the Ducati Monster 696, 796, & 1100.

Dragon TT Atila 1000 R Concept

01/05/2011 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Dragon TT Atila 1000 R Concept Dragon TT Atila 1000 R 2 635x666

Sometimes after the day is done, we lay in bed thinking about the world around us. Will Sarah Palin run for President in 2012? Will the North Korea continue to escalate matters with South Korea and the de-militarized zone? What would the love child from the alien in Predator and an Yamaha R1 look like after the pair had a lurid one night affair fully of empty promises and awkward moments at breakfast the next day?

These are all important questions for the new year, and we’ve set about to find some answers to them. While we’re not quite sure on how things will pan out with Palin (The GOP directors seem to think she can win) and North Korea (multi-lateral negotiations with China and US seem to be par for the course), we do have a pretty good idea on the Predator/Yamaha progeny: behold the Dragon TT Atila 1000 R.

Paris Hilton Joins 125GP – Hell Officially Freezes Over

12/11/2010 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Paris Hilton Joins 125GP   Hell Officially Freezes Over paris hilton motorcycle team 125 gp 635x476

According to the folks at Motocuatro, socialite Paris Hilton will be picking up where Antonio Banderas left off, and is set to unveil her 125GP team next Saturday. Officially Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton, the unveiling of the team is to be held at the Hotel ME in Madrid, Spain. It’s not clear at this time where Hilton’s interest in motorcycle racing stems from (perhaps she is taking a page from, and one-upping, Kim Kardashian’s sponsorship of a NASCAR Sprint Cup team), but the Hilton fortune heiress has put together a very strong team, making her entry into the 125 GP very compelling.

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer

11/29/2010 @ 6:17 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer  Sbay Flying 1800 cafe racer 2 635x422

Here’s to starting Monday morning off right as we bring you the Spanish-made Sbay Flying 1800 custom café racer from Sbay Motor Company. If cruisers from a certain American manufacturer could look like this, we imagine that talks of an aging demographic would cease to exist as the Flying 1800 has ample doses of eye-candy, sportiness, and innovation.

Between the 3.7 gallon carbon fiber tank that is hangs below the oil-holding frame and above the motor, the rear taillight that integrates into the tail section like a Ducati GP9/GP10, and the tasteful use of copper pipes that we liked so much on the Confederate Fighter, there’s plenty to get you drooling on this bike as it borrows from some of the best ideas in motorcycle design.

Radical Ducati Café Veloce

11/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati Café Veloce Radical Ducati Cafe Veloce 635x441

Seeing how popular the work of Radical Ducati has been on our site, both with the Radical Ducati 9½ and Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we thought we’d bring you another one of the Spanish group’s fabulous creations: The Radical Ducati Café Veloce. Based off a Ducati Sport Classic, the Café Veloce features the same DS 1000 air-cooled two-valve motor, and steel tube frame as the now discontinued Ducati, but grows upon the Sport Classic’s cafe inspired lines.

Tastefully refining the Café Veloce into a sleeker and more dynamic package, Radical Ducati has created the Café Veloce to be devoid of Ducati’s more bland touches to the GT1000. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re smitten with the Café Veloce, even if it’s not usually the kind of thing we’d go for in our own garage. Photos after the jump.

The Definitive Guide on How to Pronounce ‘Lorenzo’

05/03/2010 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

The Definitive Guide on How to Pronounce Lorenzo 2010 fiat yamaha jorge lorenzo 3 560x373

It doesn’t seem like a topic that really needs that much explaining, but after suffering through this weekend’s MotoGP race coverage here in the United States, it would seem there is some confusion on how to properly pronounce “Lorenzo”, as in Jorge Lorenzo’s last name. Continue reading if you want to see a leviathan description of Spanish language and how it relates to motorcycle racing in an admittedly over-the-top and pretentious sort of way.

Antonio Banderas Unveils Moto2 Race Bike

04/06/2010 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Antonio Banderas Unveils Moto2 Race Bike n508354 antonio.banderas.jack .jones02.original 560x420

Late in 2008 Antonio Banderas bought the 125cc/250cc GP teams of Motomondiale to the tune of €6 million. With Moto2 starting for the first time in history this week, Banderas has unveiled his new team: Jack & Jones by Antonio Banderas. At a press launch Monday, Banderas personally unveiled the Moto2 race bikes the team will be using. Unfortunately, he left his mask, cape, and sword at home.