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.

2014 Suzuki GSV-R Spotted Again

05/02/2013 @ 2:55 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

2014 Suzuki GSV R Spotted Again 2014 suzuki gsv r motogp prototype cycle world 635x397

News that Suzuki plans on returning to the MotoGP Championship in 2014 should be old information for dedicated Asphalt & Rubber readers, and the Japanese company’s inline-four race bike was already spotted doing test laps last year by the eager eyes at Cycle World.

Well the American print-mag has another set of eyebrow-raising high-quality photos of the 2014 Suzuki GSV-R to mull over from the Motegi race track, along with some technical insights provided by the venerable Kevin Cameron.

Head over to Cycleworld.com to read Cameron’s analysis (and see the bevy of great photos the magazine has published), but understand that while the secrets revealed may be fewer than last time’s inline-four revelation, one thing is for certain: Suzuki’s MotoGP package looks to be very well polished in its design.

It is clear that the Japanese manufacturer has clearly taken some notes from the work produced by its fellow countrymen. Expect to see the new Suzuki GSV-R (or whatever the boys at Hamamatsu end up calling it) in a few formal GP tests later this summer, with Randy de Puniet heavily tipped to be Suzuki’s test rider.

Spy Video: BMW R1200GT

04/17/2013 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Spy Video: BMW R1200GT 2014 BMW R1200GT spy photo 05 635x356

News that BMW will be coming out with a water-cooled replacement of its current R1200RT is really nothing new. Since the debut of the new BMW R1200GS, and its precision water-cooled motor, it has seemed like only a matter of time before the BMW’s next-generation boxer engine made its way into the German company’s other models.

We have already seen the 2014 BMW R1200RT strutting its stuff in camouflage before, but those photos were small and blurry — really just enough to give us an idea of what we were looking at, and nothing more. This is not the case today however, as a German blogger has been fortunate enough to catch what he calls the BMW R1200GTt out in the wild, and has included a 1080p walk-around to prove it.

Water-Cooled 2014 BMW R1200RT Spotted

03/27/2013 @ 11:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Water Cooled 2014 BMW R1200RT Spotted 2014 BMW R1200RT water cooled spy shot 01 635x454

With the water-cooled BMW R1200GS official debuted and soon to be released for the 2013 model year, it was only a matter of time before we saw the same “precision liquid-cooled” version of the BMW R1200RT make its spy shot debut.

Coming to us in a very blurry form, a blogger at the french publication MotoMag caught the 2014 BMW R1200RT out for a spring time jaunt in the South of France.

Heavily disguised in camouflage, it is hard to understand how far zie Germans have strayed from the old model’s lines, though we hope that the touring machine gets as much of an overhaul as the Gelände Straße.

To our eyes, the fairings look physically much larger, and it looks like the headlights could be borrowed from the KT1600GT platform. More photos after the jump, call out any other changes you might see.

Spotted: Honda CBR500, Honda CB500R & Honda CB500X

10/25/2012 @ 4:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Spotted: Honda CBR500, Honda CB500R & Honda CB500X Honda CB500 spy photo 10 635x374

Honda is set to debut a number of 500cc machines at EICMA next month, two of which we have already glimpsed: the Honda CBR500 & Honda CB500R. Joining the smaller sport bike and street-naked is is the Honda CB500X, a 500cc version of the Honda NC700X.

Spotted all together at an Italian commercial shoot, all three models are said to share a 500cc parallel-twin motor that makes 45hp, as well as the same basic chassis.

Fitted with “traditional” telescopic forks, single brake discs up front, and all three models sharing a bevy of major parts, Honda should be able to be very aggressive with its pricing structure on the new 500cc model line.

Looking at the components as well, it is clear that Honda intends its new CBR500, CB500R, and CB500X motorcycles to be priced at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, making them attractive to newer and price-sensitive motorcyclists — especially our friends across the pond who are riding with an A2 license.

More Photos of the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 848

06/15/2012 @ 8:44 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

More Photos of the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 848 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 848 02 635x440

Last month, we brought you a photo of what we believed to the new Ducati Hypermotard 848. There was a bit of chatter after the photo hit the internets, as some believed the bike to be akin to the Multistrada line. While the telemetry rack on the bike of the machine, and its side-mounted GP-style exhaust followed the design ethos of the Multistrada 1200, the bike’s seat, mud gaurd, and overall aesthetic were reminiscent of the current Hypermotard.

Seemingly confirming our suspicions, these photos of the likely 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 848 add further credence to our Hypermotard line of reasoning — especially with the front of the motorcycle being seen more clearly. Expected to have a detuned lump from the Ducati Superbike 848 EVO, photos of the liquid-cooled middleweight create more questions about the machine than they do answers.

Spy Photo: Are You The New Moto Guzzi Stelvio?

05/31/2012 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Spy Photo: Are You The New Moto Guzzi Stelvio?  moto guzzi adventure prototype

Is Moto Guzzi working on a new adventure model? These spy photos would seem to suggest that is the case, as this bike was caught outside of Piaggio HQ, with the longintudinal v-twin heads popping out of the sides of the spoked-wheel machine. Caught by Moto.it, the Italian publication seems to think this is more of a super/hypermotard type of machine, though the proportions to us look to be more well-suited for adventure touring.

2014 Suzuki GSV-R Spotted – The Inline-Four Cometh?

05/23/2012 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2014 Suzuki GSV R Spotted   The Inline Four Cometh? 2014 Suzuki GSV R MotoGP Cycle World

The eagle-eyed camera’s over at Cycle World have caught Suzuki conducting tests for its MotoGP project, and the early indications are that the Japanese brand has dropped its V4 motor configuration in favor of a more traditional transverse inline-four cylinder arrangement — at least for this present stage of testing.

Cycle World‘s sources say that while the cylinder configuration may be fairly standard, the 2014 Suzuki GSV-R is anything but your typical four-pot. Showing the makings of a crossplane crankshaft via the bike’s exhaust routing, it would seem Suzuki has taken a page out of Yamaha YZR-M1‘s playbook, with rideablility being the name of the game. If you are keen for a good read, checkout Kevin Cameron’s article on Cycle World for more pictures and his analysis of what they mean for Suzuki’s MotoGP prototype.

Spy Photos: Brammo Empulse R Caught in the Wild

05/01/2012 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Spy Photos: Brammo Empulse R Caught in the Wild Brammo Empulse R spy photo

Next week we will get to see the Brammo Empulse R officially and publicly unveiled in Los Angeles, but the eagle-eyed lens of Brenda Priddy & Co. and the pages of AutoMoto have caught the electric motorcycle during a movie shoot for its upcoming launch. With an “R” emblazoned on the side, you can be sure this Empulse R and not the base model Empulse we have looked at for the past 22 months, though the two bikes seem to share a bit of similarity.

KTM Adventure 1290 Spotted in the Wild

04/23/2012 @ 12:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

KTM Adventure 1290 Spotted in the Wild 2014 KTM Adventure 1290 spy photo 05 blur 635x459

Caught testing in the wild by the folks at Infomotori, these “spy photos” of the KTM Adventure 1290 are the first good glimpse we have gotten of the Austrian brand’s upcoming revamped adventure bike. Expected to hit the North American market in the 2014 model year, the 2014 KTM Adventure 1290 features a water-cooled v-twin motor, which will likely be shared with the 2013 KTM Super Duke R 1290.

Mission R Spotted in Street-Legal Trim

03/01/2012 @ 10:31 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Mission R Spotted in Street Legal Trim Mission Motors Mission R headlight street legal 04 635x474

To be filed under the heading: “right place, right time,” I had the good fortune of catching Mission Motors’ Mission R out on the streets yesterday, as one of the San Franciscan company’s engineers took the bike out while doing errands at the SF Dainese Store. Stopping by the store myself to show off the Zero S that’s been camping in my living room for the last two weeks, I quickly found my thunder stolen by Mission’s two-wheeled masterpiece.

Of course, any opportunity to see the Mission R is a treat, as the electric superbike is not only a delicious dish in person, but it also happens to have no problem doing supersport lap times at Laguna Seca when Steve Rapp is on-board. However, what made this sighting of the Mission R extra special was the fact that Mission Motors has outfitted the Mission R with a headlight, mirror, and most importantly, a California license plate.

Other choice pieces include an Android-powered Samsung tablet that fills in as the Mission R’s digital dash, which is sure to tickle the fancy of our geekier readers. If you are an SF native, keep an eye out for the Mission R on the city streets, the rider you see might be a Mission Motors engineer, a Hollywood celebrity (we hear Ryan Reynolds has been jonesing for a Mission R like something fierce), or a Fortune 500 executive.