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.

For Hire.

02/02/2011 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Video: Rossi Riding the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP

01/31/2011 @ 6:47 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Video: Rossi Riding the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP valentino rossi ducati 1198sp misano test 5 635x423

More eye candy for Ducatisti and Valentino Rossi fans, as Ducati has released a video of Rossi’s test at Misano on board the 1198 SP. Testing his shoulder’s fitness level, Rossi admitted to being in considerable pain during the test, which doesn’t bode well for the Italian as the 2011 season rapidly approaches. Before Rossi will take to the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 under the lights of Qatar, MotoGP is slated to run at Sepang this week. With such little time passing since this test on the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP, we imagine the outing at Malaysia will still be painful for the Italian, as he tries to further hone in the GP11 for racing duty.

WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao

01/28/2011 @ 9:13 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao Jonathan Rea Castrol Honda WSBK test Portimao 635x599

Posting the fastest time of the official World Superbike test in Portugal, Jakub Smrz was the fastest man at Portimao. A feat in its own right, Smrz’s accomplishment is compounded by the fact that the Portuguese track saw three days of continuously changing weather. In a climate that kept the bikes off the track, and the riders bored in the garages, Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty rounded out the fastest three riders at Portimao, with times set also on Wednesday afternoon. The first day was fair, though conditions worsened greatly overnight, making Thursday morning entirely unappealing for test laps. Luckily, Friday dried out through the afternoon, but no one was able to best Smrz’s early mark of 1:43.503 during the testing sessions.

All too often winter testing provides plenty of data for the teams and riders, but not nearly enough for journalists and fans who wish to prognosticate. While teams might focus on a certain sector during one lap and another the next, they hide their own flaws and keep their best performances to themselves. Combined with poor weather conditions, a rider sitting out to recover from surgery (Chris Vermeulen), and an entire team testing at another location, the WSBK winter test leaves very little actual story to tell before the start of the racing season.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill

01/28/2011 @ 4:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill Brammo Empulse Thunderhill Jan 2011 test 10 635x423

Yesterday was a sunny day in the San Francisco/Bay Area, with weather in the mid-60′s. Just recently getting my bike back from a tune-up, I was itching for a ride and decided to pack things up early for the day, and go for a quick jaunt up to Thunderhill Raceway to gatecrash Brammo’s latest testing session with the Empulse RR electric race bike (close-up shots from Laguna Seca last year here).

Using my best ear-to-ear smile at the front gate, I rode into the paddock to see Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann shaking his head upon my arrival, and muttering something about someone posting the session’s schedule online. Always a good-sport, Wismann graciously allowed me to stick around for the remaining day’s sessions, while Brammo’s CEO Craig Bramscher definitively removed me from his Christmas card list (you’ll still get a card from me though Craig).

Rossi Tests Shoulder Riding on a Ducati 1198 at Misano

01/26/2011 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Rossi Tests Shoulder Riding on a Ducati 1198 at Misano valentino rossi ducati 1198sp misano test 2 635x423

Valentino Rossi was back in the saddle today, testing his shoulder at the Italian Misano track ahead of the official MotoGP test scheduled at Sepang next month. Barred from turning a wheel on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 because of the MotoGP winter testing ban, Rossi had to make do with a WSBK-spec 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP to test his fitness levels.

Rossi’s fitness for the upcoming season is a large variable for Ducati, as the race team will need Rossi’s input at Sepang to not only further setup the GP11 for the nine-time World Champion, but his input is likely to find its way into all the Desmosedici’s on the MotoGP grid (Hector Barbera was just recently quoted as saying as much).

If his shoulder is still not up to racing levels, Rossi may not be able to fully diagnose what he needs from the GP11, setting Ducati Corse back a few steps from the rest of the competition. A statement from Rossi and a slew of hi-res photos await you after the jump.

FIM Releases 2011 WSBK Entry List, Begins Official Testing

01/26/2011 @ 9:19 am, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

FIM Releases 2011 WSBK Entry List, Begins Official Testing WSBK provisional entry list1 635x331

The FIM released the provisional 2011 World Superbike entry list just days before the first official test of the season kicked off in Portugal this morning. Twenty riders are entered for the entire season, with Team Pedercini yet to finalize their second rider. Five Britons, five Italians, three Spaniards, two Australians, two Frenchmen, one Japanese, one Irish, and one Czech rider are currently entered for the thirteen rounds in the WSBK championship.

Chris Vermeulen Leaves Testing In Sepang Early – Will Also Miss Portimao Test

01/13/2011 @ 1:21 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

Chris Vermeulen Leaves Testing In Sepang Early   Will Also Miss Portimao Test Kawasaki WSBK Sepang Garage 635x424

Chris Vermeulen is back home in Australia after participating in only one shortened day of riding during the Kawasaki WSBK test at Sepang this week. While the rest of the WSBK riders for both Paul Bird Racing and Team Pedercini will complete the scheduled test, Vermeulen was forced home to continue with his physical therapy.

He tweeted, “My knee reacted a bit after riding just a few laps, was fun back on a bike though!!” According to the team, Vermeulen will remain in Australia until the final Infront test at Phillip Island just before the season opener. He will miss the late January test in Portimao to concentrate on his recovery.

WSBK Testing Gets Started Next Week

01/07/2011 @ 5:22 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

WSBK Testing Gets Started Next Week carlos checa world superbike 635x423

For kids too old for Santa, the beginning of racing season often brings about more excitement than a jolly man delivering presents. Winter testing often fills the gap for race fans. A long season of private and series-sponsored tests for World Superbikes get underway beginning next week, stretching until just days before the season opener at Phillip Island on February 27th.

The Kawasaki factory team and and satellite Team Pedercini get the season started off with their test, this coming Monday, January 10th through 14th, at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, while Liberty Racing Ducati will be riding around at Guadix, Spain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ten Kate will be at Motorland Aragon, which was highly praised at its MotoGP inaugural round last season, two weeks from now on January 20th and 21st.

Video: Brammo Empulse RR Testing

11/29/2010 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Video: Brammo Empulse RR Testing Brammo Empulse RR laguna seca 1 635x425

The guys up in Ashland have been busy testing their Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike. Taking some laps around Thunderhill Raceway, and hitting the curves around the Ashland area, Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann was at the helm of the Empulse RR in these videos. Surely gearing up for the 2011 racing season, Brammo was testing the Empulse RR’s systems, and from the looks of it, the Empulse RR has some moves. Videos after the jump.

2011 World Superbike Official Test Dates Announced

10/21/2010 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

2011 World Superbike Official Test Dates Announced WSBK Haslam 635x422

The World Superbike season may be over, but testing for 2011 is about to get underway, and Infront Motorsports has released its official testing schedules. Leading into the 13-round 2011 Superbike World Championship, the first official testing session will be at Portimao. For WSBK and WSS, tesing will start on Wednesday January 26th, while the the 1000 & 600 Supertock series will start Tuesday January 27th. Testing will conclude for everyone on Friday the 28th.

The second testing session will be held at Phillip Island, which will also be the first venue of the 2011 season. Testing at Phillip Island for all the series will start Monday February 21st, and end Tuesday the 22nd. These dates are in addition to the unofficial testing sessions, which have been scheduled by the teams themselves.