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.

Three Flavors of MV Agusta Brutale 1090

10/22/2012 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Three Flavors of MV Agusta Brutale 1090 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 635x397

We have already showed you MV Agusta’s teaser video of its four-cylinder Brutale line-up for 2013, which featured only 1078cc machines, and seemingly dropped the MV Agusta Brutale 920  from the company’s repertoire (its entry-level position taken by the 2013 MV Agusta Brutale 675). Teasing three versions of its MV Agusta Brutale 1090 street-naked, MV Agusta has confirmed the three models today: the MV Agusta Brutale 1090, MV Agusta Brutale 1090 R, & MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR.

Spreading three models over this narrow niche, the 203 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 & 2013 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 R feature a 142 hp / 82 lbs•ft 1078cc package, while the peppier MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR get a power boost to 156 hp, though is down to 73.74 lbs•ft of torque according to MV Agusta’s typotastic website. All three machines appear to be very peaky with their power, and come with MV Agusta’s traction control system that first debuted on the MV Agusta F3.

53 Photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & Z800e

10/02/2012 @ 6:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

53 Photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & Z800e 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 41 635x476

We already knew well ahead of the INTERMOT show that Team Green would debut the Kawasaki Ninja Z800, a bike that replaces the best-selling sport-naked in the Europe: the Kawasaki Ninja Z750. Featuring an 806cc inline-four motor, the new Z800 comes in two flavors: the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e. The Kawasaki Ninja Z800 makes 111hp and 61 lbs•ft of torque, while the Kawasaki Ninja Z800e gets a bit more watered down with 94hp and 56 lbs•ft of torque, though it saves 6 lbs over its more burly counterpart.

The two-pronged model approach by Kawasaki is surely being done to better capture a wider audience with the Ninja Z800 line, which also explains why the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e comes with a 47hp A2 license compliant option as well. Designed to be at home on the set of the next Transformers movie, you will either love or hate the lines of the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 — we happen to think it looks rather edgy and mean, which is how we like our street-nakeds to carry themselves.

For its added price and power, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 comes 41mm KYB forks that feature preload and rebound damping only — the same goes for the Z800’s rear shock. The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e, however comes with forks and a rear shock that have only preload adjustment capability, and no damping controls. Both models come with an optional ABS package. We do not expect the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 to come to North America at this point in time. Waiting for you after the jump are 53 photos of the new Kawasaki Ninja Z800.

2013 Triumph Street Triple R – Loses Weight, Looks Hotter

10/02/2012 @ 5:07 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

2013 Triumph Street Triple R   Loses Weight, Looks Hotter 2013 Triumph Stree Triple R 635x486

Speaking of triples at INTERMOT, Triumph is debuting the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R at the international bike show in Cologne. Using the same 105hp 675cc three-cylinder motor that we know and love, Triumph has revised the Street Triple’s chassis for better handling, and in the process dropped up to 13 lbs off the machine (403 lbs, fueled up and ready to ride).

While the motor remains untouched, Triumph did re-work the exhaust system, reportedly to help meet noise and emissions standard, but the design also helps the Triumph Speed Triple with its mass-centralization. Besides looking the business, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R comes with switchable ABS as a standard item, as well as an engine immobilizer (also standard). Rounding out the package is a two-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Officially Official: 2013 Kawasaki Z800

09/05/2012 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Officially Official: 2013 Kawasaki Z800 2013 Kawasaki Z800 02 635x422

If we had to summarize Kawasaki’s new model philosophy, it would have to be with the old tuner’s phrase that “there is no replacement for displacement.” Bumping the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R from 599cc back to its odd 636cc figure from 2003-2006, Team Green has also trumped the quarter-liter market with the debut of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300, a peppier clone of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R world-model that debuted last month (it looks like North American will have to make do with the mundane and carb’d version of the Ninja 250R, sad trombone).

While we expect to see a bevy of new Kawasaki’s later next week, one bike we don’t expect to see is the 2013 Kawasaki Z800, which just officially debuted in Europe. We were on vacation when some Thai readers leaked the first images of the Kawasaki Z800 in our comments section, luckily other publications read our site and picked up the story. You have probably already seen the photos, but just in case they are in a gallery after the jump.

Husqvarna Strada – Do We Need A Single-Cylinder Nuda?

11/29/2011 @ 10:06 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Strada   Do We Need A Single Cylinder Nuda? Husqvarna Strada Concept 03 635x423

Husqvarna apparently didn’t show all it had to offer at the 2011 EICMA show in Milan, Italy several weeks ago. Debuting the Husqvarna Strada concept at the Paris Motor Show today, the Swedish brand continues its expansion into the on-road market. While the business case is strong for why Husky is currently on a street-bike tear, excitement over the Strada might pale in comparison to the hype that surrounded the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900.

Based on BMW’s 650cc single-cylinder motor found in the G650GS, the Husqvarna Strada has allegedly been “breathed” on by the Italian engineers at Husqvarna. Details are still under lock and key, though Husqvarna says the Strada will tip the scales at less than 170kg dry (375 lbs). While the bike being unveiled in Paris is a concept, Husqvarna plans to go into production with the Husqvarna Strada in 2012, meaning what we’ll see on dealer showroom floors will look very similar to what we see here now.

2012 Honda NC700S – The Return of the Standard

11/09/2011 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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Honda says it wanted to create a fun and user-friendly motorcycle when it set out to build the 2012 Honda NC700S — a simple, practical, two-cylinder get around town motorcycle. At 47hp and 44 lbs•ft of torque, the Honda NC700S isn’t exactly blowing the doors off with its performance figures, but of course that is not really the purpose of Honda’s new motor, which the NC700S features. Designed to be a compact, rideable, and efficient power supply for Honda’s new commuter entries, the Japanese company hopes that the 670cc motor, with its broad torque curve, will power a new generation and category of machinery.

Fairly unassuming in its outward design, the Honda NC700S shows its lifestyle practicality with features like a helmet-sized storage compartment under the faux-fuel tank, a low-slung seat, and low-cost maintenance structure. Available with Honda’s second-generation dual-clutch transmission (DCT), as well as Honda’s combined anti-locking brakes (C-ABS), the NC700S should be a fairly easy motorcycle for new riders to learn, especially with the DTC’s automatic-shifting feature.

Ariel Motorcycles Returning in 2012

08/02/2011 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Before the name Ariel was synonymous with the Honda-powered Ariel Atom trackday car, the brand was affixed to vehicles of the two-wheeled variety. After producing great bikes like the Ariel Square Four, the now defunct Ariel Motorcycle company was folded into BSA, which in a roundabout fashion gave birth to the current Triumph brand. Building on that vein, we get word that the makers of the Ariel Atom want to get into the two-wheeled biz, and are planning to launch a new Ariel motorcycle by the end of this year.

Though there may not be any exact ties between the current past Ariel marques beyond their names, the idea of another motorcycle maker entering the treacherous and rarely lucrative motorcycle industry fray is nonetheless exciting to us here at A&R; and since we’re big fans of the Ariel Atom car project, we can only just barely contain our excitment on the idea of a similar movement done on two wheels as the one we’ve seen already on four.

Husqvarna Nuda 900R Revealed

07/01/2011 @ 6:46 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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UPDATE: Find 23 Official Photos of the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R here.

These are the first images of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R motorcycle (taken by our good friends at OmniMoto), the Swedish brand’s first foray into the street bike scene. Making over 100hp and weighing less than 385 lbs, the new Husqvarna will hit dealer floors by the end of the 2011 (hopefully by then they’ll have the spec-sheet ironed out a bit more). What technical specifications we do is this: 320mm Brembo disc brakes, fully adjustable 48mm Sachs forks, and a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock. Check out the photos and video from the unveil after the jump.

Rumor: BMW K1600R Six-Cylinder Naked Bike in the Works

06/29/2011 @ 8:04 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Rumor: BMW K1600R Six Cylinder Naked Bike in the Works BMW Concept 6 635x476

We haven’t seen a good solid stirring of the motorcycle rumormill in a while, but today whispers of a BMW six-cylinder naked bike, a K1600R if you will, have be filtering through the web forums and into our ears. With the rumors centering mostly around the fact that BMW introduced its 1,600cc inline-six motor at EICMA in 2009 by sticking it in a very attractive street-naked motorcycle, speculation has begun as to whether the Bavarian firm would follow that concept up with an actual production model (we always did find it strange that the concept for a touring motorcycle was a street-naked).

55 Photos of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160

06/20/2011 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

55 Photos of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 2011 Benelli TnT R160 static 29 635x423

We brought you some of the first pictures of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 all the way back from the 2009 EICMA show. Originally slated as 2010 model-year bike, the R160 has taken a while to make its way into dealer showrooms. The pinnacle of the TnT line, the R160 is presumably worth the wait with its 157.8hp, 88.5 lbs•ft of torque, and 474 lbs ready-to-ride curb weight. As with anything though, the devil is in the details, and the Benelli TnT R160 is no different.

There’s something about Adrian Morton’s design with the TnT that we’re drawn to like a moth to flame, nearly bringing one into this author’s stable of motorcycles (I wouldn’t mind a Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 too). Plagued with electrical issues though, the TnT line perpetuates the Italian stereotype of finicky and unreliable motorcycles trapped in otherwise gorgeous veneers. Seeing the Benelli TnT R160 in 2009, we were disappointed on the fit-and-finish of the bike, as the pitted and cloudy carbon exterior seemingly matched the interior: unrefined.

With the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 now ready for dealer showrooms, Benelli’s top streetfighter seems to have benefited from a better build process, and we hear that some of the electrical issues have even been resolved. While we’ll reserve judgment as to whether the bike can maintain a positive net charge at a stand-still, it sure is stunning in its final form. There are 55 high-resolution photos of the new Benelli TnT R160 waiting for you after the jump.