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 KTM Super Duke 1290 R Finally Revealed

10/01/2013 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R Finally Revealed 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R 15

The countdown clock is at zero, and that means the wait is over for the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R. At EICMA last year, they called it “The Beast” and with 177hp (132 kW) coming from the 1,301cc v-twin engine, we are inclined to agree.

As svelte as it is powerful, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R tips the scales at 417 lbs dry, and comes with a ride-by-wire throttle control system, along with traction control and ABS that can be disengaged, as A&R also predicted.

2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS – Now with Bosch 9MP ABS, 167 Horsepower, & More Letters in Its Name

07/17/2013 @ 6:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS – Now with Bosch 9MP ABS, 167 Horsepower, & More Letters in Its Name 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS 19 635x536

Now 167 hp strong, those crazy Italians in Noale are upgrading there already stout Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC for the 2014 model year, and for bonus points are adding an ABS package along with those extra ponies on the streetfighter’s peak horsepower figure.

Integrating the Bosch 9MP dual-channel ABS package, which is mated to Brembo M432 brake calipers up-front, Aprilia has made the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R  a bit more stable while braking on questionable road conditions — keeping the bike inline with its competitors.

With a bevy of changes coming to the Tuono’s 999.6cc V4 power plant to boost power, we also see that Aprilia has included its second-generation APRC electronics package to the motorcycle, making it easily the most tech-savvy machine in its category.

Other changes include also a larger fuel tank (4.9 gallons), and a new seat for better street performance and ergonomics. It’s not clear if Aprilia USA will price the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R at its previous $14,999 MSRP, or will continue its aggressive pricing at $13,999, like the company has done with the 2013 models.

Spy Photos: The BMW S1000RR Naked Bike Winks at Us

07/16/2013 @ 1:36 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Spy Photos: The BMW S1000RR Naked Bike Winks at Us BMW S1000RR streetfighter naked spy photo 01 635x423

That BMW is making a streetfighter version of its venerable S1000RR superbike is no secret, as we have seen the “BMW S1000R” naked bike already before from the lenses of Europe’s plethora of spy photographers. Today we get another glimpse of what zie Germans have been up to in their workshops, and what we expect them to debut at the EICMA show in Milan later this fall.

Caught head-on and from the side (see after the jump), we get a good look at what appears to be a final, or near final, headlight assembly, and true to BMW form, it is winking at us. From the side, we can see that the naked bike retains many of the S1000RR’s components, including its exhaust design. Of course, the real question will be what’s inside the cylinder casings.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

2014 Yamaha FZ 09   Three Cylinders of Naked 2014 Yamaha FZ9 01 635x395

With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.

What Evil Cometh from Yamaha?

05/30/2013 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

What Evil Cometh from Yamaha? darkside japan yamaha 635x423

Yamaha is gearing up to debut some models, this much we know. Both the US and European arms of the tuning fork brand have been in full marketing/PR swing lately, and today’s quick video teaser just confirms as much.

What exactly Yamaha is gearing up to promote though is a different story, however we do know that the Japanese brand sees three-cylinder engines as the way forward with its motorcycle designs.

Teasing today what appears to be an upright-sitting street bike, we can only assume that Yamaha has some sort of new naked or streetfighter machine it is readying for mass consumption.

With the video coming from Yamaha Europe though, one can guess as to whether this particular motorcycle will be a small-displacement machine, Europe-only model, or what exactly. Could it be the first three-cylinder machine from Yamaha? Time will tell, and we won’t have long to wait.

Video: Streetfighter Version of the BMW S1000RR Spotted

05/29/2013 @ 11:52 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Video: Streetfighter Version of the BMW S1000RR Spotted bmw s1000rr naked bike 635x355

The eagle eyes over at the Italian magazine Motociclismo have caught BMW testing the naked-bike version of the BMW S1000RR out in Italy. A machine that has long been rumored, and expected to be the encore production of the Germany company’s very successful superbike project, the streetfightered RR is expected to have the same four-cylinder superbike motor, though likely in a lower state of tune.

Dressed in BMW’s typical black and white swirl camouflage, it is hard to see all the details of the new motorcycle, though the front fairing looks ahem interesting. Building off an already existing model, a naked RR is the logical next machine to come from zie Germans, and if it debuts as a 2014 machine, then we can expect to see it at the EICMA show in Milan later this year in November (there is no INTERMOT show this year).

The KTM 1290 Super Duke Caught in the Wild

04/20/2013 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The KTM 1290 Super Duke Caught in the Wild ktm 1290 super duke prototype spy photo 635x423

Spy photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke are nothing new, and the Austrian company has even gone as far as to tease us with a heavily massaged KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype at the 2012 EICMA show. With the final version of the superbike-powered streetfighter expected to be decidedly less edgy, the photo brought to us today (one can only guess when it was taken), if anything else, is a reminder to be reluctant our expectations.

The ever elusive “spy” photo, what we have here looks to be a near production prototype of the KTM 1290 Super Duke that has been caught in the wild. Easily the clearest photo we have seen of the road-going bike, it clearly holds KTM’s LC8 motor as well as the same trellis frame found on the “beast” prototype.

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.

Ducati Streetfighter Panigale Concept

07/09/2012 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Ducati Streetfighter Panigale Concept ducati streetfighter panigale crop 635x517

It remains to be seen how the high-reving Superquadro motor will fit into Ducati’s “one-motor-fits-all” strategy, but the speculation is already becoming rife about a supersport version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale, and of course a streetfighter version as well.

With the Panigale’s engine being an integral part of the superbike’s design, there is a definite challenge for Ducati’s design team in making the Emperor of the Sport Bike Kingdom look good naked. Until we see what Borgo Panigale can conjure up, we are lucky to have weekend couch jockey’s on the Ducati.ms forum who happen to have incredible photoshoping skills.

Spy Photo: BMW S1000RR Naked Bike Caught Testing

06/08/2012 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Spy Photo: BMW S1000RR Naked Bike Caught Testing BMW S1000RR streetfighter spy photo

Pictures of a supposedly naked version of the BMW S1000RR have surfaced on MotoRevue, as the motorcycle was caught testing at BMW’s proving grounds by spy photographers. Showing an S1000RR-esque motorcycle with a half-fairing, the motorcycle would be just the second addition to BMW’s true sports bike line, after the S1000RR itself of course.

Expected to be a detuned version of the superbike variant, we can expect horsepower north 160hp, flat bars, and improved ergos from such a design experiment (in order to compete with the Aprilia Tuono V4 R and Ducati Streetfighter 848), though there is some reason to give pause about what these photos actually mean.