Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

Max Biaggi Continues to Have a Hard Time Making Friends

04/18/2011 @ 10:20 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Max Biaggi Continues to Have a Hard Time Making Friends Max Biaggi Assen Superpole 2011 635x469

It’s been a tough season so far for Max Biaggi. The reigning World Superbike Champion has had a decent start to the 2011 season, and currently sits second in the point standings after three race weekends, but his progress has been nothing like the blitzkrieg campaign he accomplished last year. Facing a non-factory Ducati that seemingly rides like a factory bike, Biaggi is 43 points behind Carlos Checa, while the devilishly quick WSBK rookie and former MotoGP contender Marco Melandri is only four points behind his fellow Italian.

Likely feeling the pressure to bring honor to the #1 plate, we’ve already seen Biaggi revert back to some of his old antics of the past. With the “slap” incident from Donington Park still fresh in peoples’ minds, more accusations come from riders that the Roman Emperor has been blocking and in the way during the Superpole qualifying event, and this time those accusations come from inside the Aprilia garage.

WSBK: Fresh Tires Aid Checa to Superpole at Assen

04/16/2011 @ 10:26 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

WSBK: Fresh Tires Aid Checa to Superpole at Assen Jonathan Rea Assen WSBK Superpole 2011 635x742

Having dominated the final qualifying session under a cloudy sky and in cool temperatures, Carlos Checa won pole (1:35.292) for the World Superbike round at Assen. The Spaniard won pole for the third race weekend in a row, added by the fact that he was the only rider to have a fresh qualifying tire for the third Superpole session. He will be joined on the front row for Sunday’s races by Jakub Smrz, Eugene Laverty, and Noriyuki Haga. Though none could touch Checa at the end, the Superpole sessions were marked by very close lap times, with the twelve riders in Superpole 2 covered by a half second. Only Marco Melandri crashed during the Superpole sessions, on his last lap while attempting to fight for pole. He was unhurt and qualified eighth.

Biaggi to Melandri: “What Did the Hand Say to the Face?”

03/26/2011 @ 11:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Biaggi to Melandri: What Did the Hand Say to the Face? Max Biaggi slaps Marco Melandri

Slap! And that’s what happened when Max Biaggi stopped by Marco Melandri’s pit box after qualifying, after the two riders traded moments stuffing each other during the Superpole sessions. While out on his fastest lap in Superpole 2, Marco Melandri came onto the slower lapping Max Biaggi, and according to Melandri, Biaggi blocked his fellow Italians fast lap.

Subsequently, Melandri returned the favor on Biaggi’s fast lap attempt, while Biaggi would go on to do the same to Noriyuki Haga (and others reportedly) as well. After Superpole concluded however, it was Melandri that got The Emperor’s wroth in the paddock, as the reigning World Superbike Champion stopped by the Yamaha pit, and gave Melandri a couple of light slaps on the face during a worded exchange. Video after the jump.

WSBK: Checa Breaks Lap Record at Donington Superpole

03/26/2011 @ 10:01 am, by Victoria Reid6 COMMENTS

WSBK: Checa Breaks Lap Record at Donington Superpole Carlos Checa WSBK Superpole Donington Park

Carlos Checa won his second straight pole of the World Superbike season Saturday at Donington Park, setting a new circuit record in the process (1:28.099), and he will be joined by Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes, and Jakub Smrz on the front row. The testing last week at Aragon must have done wonders for the factory Kawasaki team as Sykes posted his fastest lap on a race tire, not a qualifier. Dropping back during qualifying, early weekend frontrunners Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri qualified only sixth and ninth, respectively. Melandri’s teammate Eugene Laverty crashed in Superpole 1, destroying his Yamaha, but continued on a backup bike to qualify thirteenth.

WSBK Reduces Number of Riders for Superpole in 2011

12/18/2010 @ 2:34 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

WSBK Reduces Number of Riders for Superpole in 2011 Haga Miller Motorsports Park 2010 635x637

Tucked away in the Friday press release from the World Superbike Commission, along with other changes to the technical and sporting regulations, was the news that only sixteen bikes would be eligible to compete in Superpole qualifying.  In the 2010 season, the fastest 20 riders during the qualifying practices competed to move on to Superpole 2 and 3 to vie for the pole position for the Sunday races.

With the lower numbers of entries this past season, many if not sometimes all of the riders gained entry into the first Superpole session.  This coming, 2011, season, only the sixteen fastest riders will be in the first session of Superpole, with the slowest four getting knocked out of the running for Superpole 2 (allowing the fastest twelve to move onto Superpole 2).

WSBK: Crutchlow Takes Dominant Superpole at Brno

07/10/2010 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Crutchlow Takes Dominant Superpole at Brno Michel Fabrizio Xerox Ducati Brno WSBK 560x392

World Superbike racing is in the Czech Republic this weekend, and Cal Crutchlow has shown himself to be the man to beat at Brno. Leading through all three Superpole sessions, the British rider easily sailed into the #1 grid spot for Sunday’s races. WSBK continues to show diversity on the grid, with every manufacturer having a bike up front…except Kawasaki (only one Team Green bike made it into the second Superpole round). With Crutchlow looking for his first win, Haslam looking to make up ground on Biaggi, and BMW looking for a top-step on the podium, racing action at Brno should be good come Sunday.

Pirelli Personalizes WSBK Superpole Tires

06/27/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Pirelli Personalizes WSBK Superpole Tires Pirelli WSBK Superpole labels tires 560x371

Starting this weekend at Misano’s Superpole, World Superbike riders will see something new on their tire sidewalls. Pirelli Diablo Superbike tires used during Superpole qualifying events now feature the track’s host nation’s flag on the sidewall as a promotion for the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa personalization program that we told you about back in April.

WSBK: Surprise Superpole Qualifying Excites Misano

06/27/2010 @ 3:36 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

WSBK: Surprise Superpole Qualifying Excites Misano Misano World Circuit 560x401

World Superbike hits Italy again this season, with WSBK stopping at Misano for its racing action. Sunday’s race should be a good one as there was a surprise result in Saturday’s Superpole qualifying event. Mixing it up on the front row is a glimpse of faces of old, some newcomers, and the usual suspects, which could sort itself out very interestingly in Sunday’s races. Find the full results after the jump.

WSBK: New Record Set During Superpole at Monza

05/09/2010 @ 1:00 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

WSBK: New Record Set During Superpole at Monza Max Biaggi Superpole Monza WSBK 560x382

Max Biaggi took his first career Superpole today (as well as Aprilia’s first Superpole), at his home track of Monza no less. As if that wasn’t enough for the Italian rider and his Italian team, Biaggi also set the fastest top speed for the track on a superbike (205 mph), as well as a lap record (1’42.121).

Superpole however wasn’t as kind to the other Italian manufacturer, with only Michel Fabrizio making it into the third Superpole round. Fabrizio finished 3rd for the day, but his teammate, Norikuki Haga, finished at the bottom of Superpole 2 in 16th position.

With Ruben Xaus finishing 6th in the Superpole, six different manufacturers will make up the top six riders on the starting grid come Sunday, which should make the races exciting for any fan. Check the full Superpole results after the jump.

WSBK: Assen Superpole Sees Surprise Front Row

04/26/2010 @ 8:45 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Assen Superpole Sees Surprise Front Row Troy Corser WSBK Superpole 560x373

World Superbike action came to Assen this weekend, and it didn’t take long for the Dutch track to claim it’s first victim. Seeing a rider crash in the first round, and a number of big names lost in the second round shuffle, the Superpole format clearly is still a quagmire for many teams. This didn’t stop a couple familiar names from making it onto the front row, but going into the WSBK round in Holland, you never would have guessed who these riders would have been.