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.

SPEED Still without TV Contracts for WSBK & MotoGP??!

02/13/2013 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler54 COMMENTS

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With the World Superbike season-opener now less than two weeks away, bad news looms for motorcycle race fans in the United States, as the SPEED Channel (now a part of FOX Sports), does not have a television contract to air WSBK and MotoGP for their 2013 seasons.

An issue that has been hanging in limbo since the start of the year, Superbike Planet yesterday suggested that American motorcycle racing fans could be without the World Superbike Championship on their televisions sets this year (we have heard similar murmurings regarding AMA Pro Racing as well).

Now today, Roadracing World confirmed with SPEED that the network still does not have any contracts with Dorna for the TV rights to WSBK and MotoGP. What’s worse, SPEED’s Vice President of Media Relations Erik Arneson gave no indication that the TV channel was any closer to finishing a deal with Dorna than it was earlier this year.

American Chopper Cancelled: Thank You Jesus?

11/16/2012 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

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After 10 years and 233 episodes on the air, American Chopper is finally getting dragged out behind the shed, and put out of its misery on December 11th, 2012. It has been a long road with the Teutul family, as for the past decade we have watched the Oedipal struggle between Paul Jr. and Paul Sr., with man-child Mikey trapped in the middle, serving as the only adult in the group.

Things started out well enough, with the folks at Orange County Choppers making some interesting customs, and exposing a mainstream TV audience to the world of motorcycles…albeit in the same lowest-common denominator way that is typically found on WWF’s Monday Night RAW.

Like all good Hollywood dreams, the money started to trickle in for “theme” bikes on the show. Turning what should have been an exposé of mechanical craftsmanship into a marketing/PR circle-jerk with the Teutul family’s severe anger-management issues as the sideshow distraction.

Somewhere within the plot lines of Paul Sr.’s bicep size, and his battle with son on who can more perfectly fit the description of narcissism in the DSM-IV, bikes were made…but really we just showed up to see how many chairs could be thrown across the room in a single episode, or how often Paul Jr. could act like a spoiled brat.

Paul Teutul Sr. Joins the Cast of Celebrity Apprentice

01/04/2012 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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NBC has announced its cast for the next installment of Celebrity Apprentice, the game show where b-list celebrities supplicate themselves to the marrow-sucking Donald Trump (it’s actually great television if you’ve never caught an episode). Joining a cast comprised of Adam Carolla, Arsenio Hall, Clay Aiken, Tia Carrere, and others, Celebrity Apprentice will also see Orange County Choppers’ Paul Teutul Sr. take on the challenges of Mr. Trump.

Sprint Features Mission Motors in TV Commercials

08/30/2011 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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On my way to the Indianapolis GP this weekend, I was sitting in coach (because that’s how we roll here at A&R) on Delta flight 147 to Atlanta (direct flights are for wusses), passing the time on the 5 hour flight by watching the airline’s 15 or so TV channels ($6 for an in-flight movie??! Who are you kidding Delta?). Suffering through mostly daytime soap operas, I opted to to watch the news stations instead. While the day’s headlines were mostly about the impending apocalypses that were hurricane Irene and the retirement of Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO, the segment I found the most interesting were the commercials (this should say something about CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News).

Somehow managing to stay conscious long enough through the advertisements, I hear a Sprint spokesman quickly say “what if we design an electric motorcycle?” Surprised to hear such a non sequitur on TV, I looked up in-time to briefly see a CAD drawing of a motorcycle, whose frame quickly reminded me of the Mission R (with and without its clothes). With the rest of the commercial talking about some Samsung tablets, I remembered that Mission Motors uses a Samsung Tab for the prototype Mission R dash (photo after the jump). Could it be the Sprint was hocking Mission Motors in a TV ad?

Larry Pegram’s “Superbike Family” Debuts on Discovery HD Theater Next Week

02/17/2011 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Forget American Chopper, it looks like The Discovery Channel has finally gotten hip to the what sort of reality show motorcycle enthusiasts really want to see on their television. Following AMA American Superbike privateer Larry Pegram, Discovery HD Theater’s new show Superbike Family follows the close-nit crew of Pegram Racing as they battle against teams who are factory-backed, well-funded, and have more resources and manpower at their disposal in the premier AMA Pro Racing class.

With Pegram’s interesting backstory, and ample amounts of “personality”, it should be an interesting show to watch, not to mention being a great promotion for our sport and the AMA Pro Road Racing series. Showtimes are below, but be sure to double check your local listings, as schedules may be different in your locale.

WSBK Increases TV Viewers by 33% in 2010

01/14/2011 @ 5:50 am, by Victoria Reid8 COMMENTS

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WSBK’s worldwide television audience grew by 33% from the 2009 to 2010 season. According to Infront, the “championship reached a cumulative audience of 498 million” for the 2010 season, meaning each WSBK race garnered around 40 million viewers. While still a considerably smaller number than MotoGP, which claims around 300 million viewers for each race, this is the sort of jump in audience that makes sponsorship dollars appear more easily. The official WSBK website had “a 30% increase of unique visitors compared to 2009,”with a total of four million individual visitors in 2010.

MotoGP TV Ratings Bounce Back with Valentino Rossi’s Return at Sachsenring

07/19/2010 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Auditel (the Italian version of Nielson), is reporting that MotoGP TV ratings were up during the German GP, which coincidently was also the venue for Valentino Rossi’s return to motorcycle racing. The loveable Italian rider is more popular than pasta in his home country, and with Rossi back in the premiere class, MotoGP’s ratings got a big shot in the arm. Reporting 5.5 million viewers during the German GP, Auditel estimates that nearly 43.5% of Italian TV viewers were watching the GP. Warning, spoilers after the jump.

MotoGP TV Ratings Continue to Drop Without Rossi

06/28/2010 @ 5:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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TV ratings for the Dutch TT at Assen are in for the Italian TV market (one of the largest markets for MotoGP), and once again they show a decline in MotoGP’s allure without Valentino Rossi. With 2,579,000 viewers, making up 16.79% of the total television audience, MotoGP in Holland attracted only half the audience from last year’s event (5,249,000 viewers, 31.69% of the total television audience). With a similar trend in 125GP and Moto2, some in the Italian press are calling for Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta’s resignation, as these ratings are surely a sign of the sport’s demise.

MotoGP Television Viewership Drops with Rossi Gone

06/22/2010 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The British GP was the first full GP weekend without The Doctor present to charm the television with his media moxie (did we mention his crash was “worth” $8 million?), and as such we get our first glimpse into what the repercussions are for MotoGP with Rossi out of commission. Checking TV viewership, MotoGP’s stop at Silverstone saw a 20% decline in total viewership when compared to the last two GP’s at Jerez and Le Mans. The result is that advertisers in some markets are asking the local stations that cover MotoGP to readjust there viewership claims and media rates to account for the loss of audience.

The Definitive Guide on How to Pronounce ‘Lorenzo’

05/03/2010 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

The Definitive Guide on How to Pronounce Lorenzo 2010 fiat yamaha jorge lorenzo 3 560x373

It doesn’t seem like a topic that really needs that much explaining, but after suffering through this weekend’s MotoGP race coverage here in the United States, it would seem there is some confusion on how to properly pronounce “Lorenzo”, as in Jorge Lorenzo’s last name. Continue reading if you want to see a leviathan description of Spanish language and how it relates to motorcycle racing in an admittedly over-the-top and pretentious sort of way.