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.

Spy Shot: 2012 Ducati Superbike Superquadrata

05/31/2011 @ 9:18 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Spy Shot: 2012 Ducati Superbike Superquadrata 2012 Ducati Superbike Superquadrata Mugello spy photo

It was only a matter of time until a photo of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike “Superquadrata” appeared online, as we knew the bike was testing last week at Mugello, alongside Valentino Rossi’s further testing of the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Set to debut at the 2011 EICMA show, the new Ducati Superbike is a marked departure from the current Ducati Superbike 1198.

Up until now, we did not know fully what the bike would look like, but this photo featured by MotoSprint.it sheds some light on the new Ducati, and confirms earlier reports we’d been given. Featuring an over-square v-twin motor (hence the name Superquadrata that’s been milling about), the 2012 Ducati Superbike says goodbye to the iconic trellis frame, and features a chassis that takes a page from Ducati’s MotoGP project.

Lightning Motors “Flying Banana” Drops 150lbs, Adds 50hp

05/05/2011 @ 2:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Lightning Motors Flying Banana Drops 150lbs, Adds 50hp Lightning Motors swingarm yellow 635x476

We just got an update from Richard Hatfield at Lightning Motors about his team’s progress on the 2011 “Flying Banana” (there’s no escaping that name Richard), and without having seen all the bikes for this racing season, we would peg Lightning’s as the one to beat.

When we talked to Lightning at the end of last season, the stated goal for the 2011 bike was to remove 150 lbs, and add 150hp to the machine. With the parts coming together, Hatfield informs us that the team is on-track to achieve that goal – translation: this bike is going to be wicked fast and agile…and of course, yellow.

Spy Photo: 2012 KTM 690 Duke

04/27/2011 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Spy Photo: 2012 KTM 690 Duke 2012 ktm duke 690 spy photo 635x444

MCN is running a photo today that a Austrian KTM enthusiast supposedly snapped at at gas station just down the street from the Austrian company’s Mattighofen headquarters. Coming across what looks to be an early-prototype of the 2012 KTM 690 Duke, we have at least a rough idea of what KTM will likely unveil at EICMA later this year.

Expected to be a few horsepower up on its predecessor, the ~70hp 2012 KTM 690 Duke has always been an urban wheelie machine that KTM would be hard-pressed to improve upon. The most notable changes so far appear to be a new headlight, a more pronounced pillion, and standard exhaust placement, along with a revised chassis and motor.

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Adventure Bike Spied

02/28/2011 @ 7:25 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Adventure Bike Spied Aprilia Caponord adventure bike spy shot

According to the folks at Motociclismo.it, this is the first shot of Aprilia’s new adventure-touring motorcycle, the Aprilia Caponord. Based on the 1200cc Dorsoduro chassis and motor, the Caponord (or Tuareg 1200 if you want to believe other rumors) was originally supposed to debut at the 2010 EICMA show, but is now apparently slotted for a later arrival. Details are scarce on the model right now, but it’s clear from the 17″ front wheel and street-derived chassis that Aprilia is gunning for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 with its design.

Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Headed for the Indy Dealer Expo

02/17/2011 @ 10:18 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Headed for the Indy Dealer Expo Erik Buell Racing 1190RS loaded Indy Dealer Expo 635x700

Erik Buell Racing just posted this photo on its Facebook page with the caption “Spy photo of the race 1125 and the 1190RS in the van on it’s way to Indy for the big show! Thank you to everyone for your faith and support! It’s going to be an amazing year!” Strapped next to its AMA Pro Racing counterpart, we see that the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike was thankfully completed in-time for the Dealer Expo, and will debut with the exhaust can we were less than enthralled about during other glimpses of the machine.

But after last night’s glimpse of what’s underneath the fairings, we think we’ll forgive EBR on this one, as the 1190RS appears to be a no-compromises race bike with headlights, mirrors, and turn signals attached to it (which is exactly how the machine evolved).

Yamaha FZ8R Cometh?

02/15/2011 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Yamaha FZ8R Cometh? Yamaha FZ8R

While getting a tour of Yamaha’s French factory (you know, the one they’re keeping open), the folks at MotoBlog.fr spotted something they’d never seen before: an upgraded FZ8 naked bike labeled as the Yamaha FZ8R. After some negotiating with the tuning fork brand, the French publication was allowed to take a photo of the bike’s body panel, as a sort of proof of life in their story.

Expected to be announced soon, the francophones spotted on the FZ8R an upgraded exhaust by Lazer, Öhlins suspension stickers (and perhaps an Öhlins shock), but what looked to be stock forks and stock brakes.

2011 KTM Duke 200 Spotted Again

02/11/2011 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2011 KTM Duke 200 Spotted Again 2011 KTM 200 Duke spy photo test ride 635x471

Our friends at IndianCarsBikes.in have spied the KTM 200 Duke again out testing again near Bajaj’s factory in Pune, India. This time riding down the street, we get to see how the 200cc variant of the KTM 125 Duke will sit with an adult on the frame, and the bike looks fairly comfy for a full-sized person (although we have no idea how tall the rider actually is of course). The second spy shot of the KTM 200 Duke in a just a week, Bajaj is either getting sloppy (unlikely), or the debut of this machine could be edging closer and closer to reality.

BMW’s New Liquid-Cooled Boxer Spotted in the Wild

02/04/2011 @ 11:43 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

BMWs New Liquid Cooled Boxer Spotted in the Wild BMW liquid cooled boxer

The writing has been on the wall for some time for BMW to replace its air-cooled boxer twin with an updated liquid-cooled version, and that hallmark day appears to be coming, as SoloMoto (additional photos on their website) has captured the next-generation German motor out testing in the wild (enhanced photo above) on the Spanish roads near Tarragona. This photo appears to confirm reports that BMW is testing a new R1200GS model, which will feature the liquid-cooled boxer twin, and has obvious differences from its air-cooled predecessor.

First Look: Honda Crosstourer Concept

11/01/2010 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

First Look: Honda Crosstourer Concept Honda Crosstourer concept 635x475

While Honda won’t release more info on its new 800cc V4-based adventure bike and 1,200cc V4 adventure concept until a day or two from now, the folks at Oliepeil snapped this photo of the Honda booth, which shows a bike very similar to Honda’s teaser image. Looking very GS-esque, it will be interesting to see the results on Honda’s foray into the adventure bike segment with a V4 motor.

Source: Oliepeil.nl

Spy Shot: 2011 Triumph Tiger 800

10/19/2010 @ 7:24 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Spy Shot: 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 spy shot

A British couple has seemingly caught the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 out in the wild, flying down the road doing 100 mph or so. Finally catching up to the bike at a gas station, the savvy duo snapped this photo, and put it on the interwebs for all to see (nice of them, huh?). The photo doesn’t really reveal too much about the road-going version of the new Tiger 800 that we don’t already know, but we do get a good look at the bike’s side profile. Clad with a 19″ front wheel, steal frame, and stroked three-cylinder motor, the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 looks to be blast down pot-hole laden roadways. Expect more details in a few weeks when the bike debuts at EICMA alongside the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC.

Source: BMW Sport Touring Forum via MotoBlog.it