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.

Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Concept

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna 701 supermoto, the Swedish brand had two street concepts to unveil at the EICMA show. First up is the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen concept, which is a café racer inspired model. With a 373cc single-cylidner thumper at its core, the Vitpilen (Swedish for White Arrow) sports an attractive and clean design. A modern riff on the 1953 Husqvarna Silverpilen, the idea behind the Husqvarna Vitpilen is that less is more. Making a modest 43hp, the Vitpilen weights a paltry 297 lbs (135kg). Clever details abound on the Vitpilen, and we particularly enjoy the high-tech LED meets retro-scrambler headlight design that sits prominently at the front of the bike.

Rumor: The Clock is Ticking on Toni Elias

07/06/2011 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Rumor: The Clock is Ticking on Toni Elias Toni Elias MotoGP Mugello Scott Jones

After his abysmal finish in the Italian GP at Mugello, rumors are swirling in the MotoGP paddock that Toni Elias has been given two to three races (it depends on which Spanish journalist you want to believe) to turn around his flailing MotoGP season. Affixed to the back of the pack, speculation that Dorna will charge Elias rent on the back-row grid position is exaggerated, but not far from the truth. A true backmarker, the Spanish rider has essentially been left high & dry by his team, as a struggle has emerged in the LCR Honda garage over where to take Elias’s RC212V in its setup.

With Elias and his crew butting heads over how to make the satellite Honda go faster, the reigning Moto2 Champion has been left to sort out his own chassis and suspension settings on race day, which means a lot of rider one-on-one time with the Öhlins truck. While the LCR Honda crew has been making the changes that Elias ultimately wants, the team hasn’t been offering any input on arriving at those settings, essentially letting the Spaniard sink or swim on his own accord. This game of cat and mouse is apparently over however, and the death clock on Toni Elias’s MotoGP career appears to be ticking.

Photo of the Week: Hands of Perseverance

04/18/2011 @ 7:04 am, by Scott Jones4 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: Hands of Perseverance  Toni Elias gloves

Sometimes I make an image which, at the time, seems fairly ordinary, but later emerges as something of an unexpected interest. When I saw Toni Elias about to mount up to begin his Moto 2 title chase, I thought it interesting that someone who had been in the premier class for five seasons couldn’t manage to take to the track with matching gloves. When Elias went on to become the first Moto2 champ, I included this image in the MotoMatters.com calendar, thinking it even more ironic that the future class champion had begun the season with this odd equipment choice.

During a speaking appearance at the San Francisco Dainese D-Store, I spoke to assistant manager Mike J. who shed some more insight on the photo. While holding a copy of the calendar open to the October page, Mike pointed out that while Elias had an Alpinestars glove on his right hand, the glove on his left was by Dainese. Due to Elias’ contract with A-stars, Elias had the logo and brand references covered up. I had not recognized the brand, only that the design was different from his Alpinestars glove.

Chapter 1: Your Cheat Sheet to the Qatar GP

03/20/2011 @ 6:34 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Chapter 1: Your Cheat Sheet to the Qatar GP Dani Pedrosa close up1 635x425

Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock this week, the 2011 MotoGP Championship is about to kick off today. Asphalt & Rubber has made the trek out to the Middle East, coming to you straight from the Losail International Circuit located just outside of Doha, Qatar. The weather has been favorable here in Qatar, with the heat down during the day, the skies clear but at times hazy, and the humidity staying down during the evening sessions. Hosting a two-day testing session before the Qatar GP, the riders have been here in Doha for almost 10 days now.

While you enjoy the return of MotoGP racing action to your online feeds and television screens, we’ve put together a cheat sheet to the Qatar GP to fill you in with the off-season happenings, as well as what’s been going on in the paddock while we’ve been here at Losail. Hold on race fans, prototype motorcycle racing is coming at you very, very, very soon.

Honda Wraps-Up Domination at Third Day of Sepang

02/24/2011 @ 6:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Honda Wraps Up Domination at Third Day of Sepang Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Sepang test MotoGP 635x421

“Veni, Vidi, Vici” might as well be stenciled on the four factory Honda RC212V race bikes of Stoner, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, and Simoncelli, as the foursome has dominated the Malaysian track over the past three days of MotoGP testing. Casey Stoner takes the top prize though, climbing once again to the top of the time sheets, with Dani Pedrosa right behind him as the only other man to crack under the two minute barrier at Sepang. While these results aren’t too surprising to those following the off-season closely, the time sheets speak an interesting story for the rest of the field.

The Top 13 riders are clumped by manufacturer, and who leads each group is a bit surprising. Ben Spies bested teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who also found himself behind Colin Edwards from the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech3 squad. In the Ducati camp, it was Hector Barbera who had the fastest time, ahead of Hayden and Rossi who both shared a best lap of 2:01.469 in Day Three. Even Alvaro Bautista’s Suzuki made a surprisingly quick journey around the track at Sepang, as the Spanish rider was 8th fastest overall for the day.

Toni Elias Signs With LCR Honda – Returns to MotoGP

10/31/2010 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Toni Elias Signs With LCR Honda   Returns to MotoGP Toni Elias Indianapolis GP Moto2jpg 635x425

Reigning Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias will return to the big show for the 2011 season, as the Spanish rider has secured a contract with the LCR Honda satellite team. Elias has been on fire this season in Moto2, easily establishing himself as the dominate rider in the class. Looking to secure Moto2 as the feeder series for MotoGP, Dorna is rumored to have helped secure Elias’s return to premiere racing, after he lost his ride in the San Carlo Gresini Honda squad in 2009.

The Suzuki Silly Season Roundup: The Rookie, The Veteran, & The Frenchman

09/18/2010 @ 6:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Suzuki Silly Season Roundup: The Rookie, The Veteran, & The Frenchman Rizla Suzuki single bike team 635x422

Noticeably absent from the silly season slogging has been the factory Suzuki MotoGP team. Although we know that Suzuki intends to stay in MotoGP for at least one more season, despite a continued tradition of mediocrity, very little other information has come forward. Perhaps at the top of the rumor heap is the speculation that Rizla Suzuki will potentially field only one bike in the 2011 MotoGP season, electing not to replace Loris Capirossi who has been linked to the Pramac Ducati team.

Moto2: Toni Elias Banned from Friday Practice

08/13/2010 @ 1:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Moto2: Toni Elias Banned from Friday Practice Toni Elias Gresini Racing test 560x401

Toni Elias was banned from Free Practice 1 today at the Czech GP because he and his team, Gresini Racing, violated rules concerning when teams can test during the summer break. Holding a quick testing session at the Misano Circuit, Gresini and Elias were found to have broken the rules concerning testing, and were levied a €3,000 fine and banned from participating in today’s one-hour practice session. Gresini Racing opted not to appeal the ruling, saying they had not read the rules carefully enough regarding testing sessions. Whoops!

Moto2: 41 Riders Set Out on Historic First Qualifying

04/11/2010 @ 1:21 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Moto2: 41 Riders Set Out on Historic First Qualifying Toni Elias Moto2 qualifying Qatar 560x285

Along with the MotoGP and 125GP qualifying events, Qatar is playing host this weekend to the first running of the Moto2 race class, which is replacing the 250GP race action from this day forward. 41 riders were on hand for qualifying on Saturday, and despite the large field of entry, only 4.4 seconds separates all these racers (3.5 seconds if you drop Bernat Martinez and his last position Bimota). While the names may be unfamiliar, the racing is sure to be extremely close (we can’t even fathom what Turn 1 is going to look like).

Toni Elias to Moto2, Alex de Angelis to Scot Honda?

10/22/2009 @ 10:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Toni Elias to Moto2, Alex de Angelis to Scot Honda? Scot Honda Racing bike close up1 560x287

Reports are coming in that Alex de Angelis will be headed to Scot Honda (thus ending any rumor that Toni Elias would be joining the satellite Honda team), and that Elias will be headed to Moto2 with the Sito Pons team. Kalex Engineering is expected to be providing Sito Pons with one of their Moto2 chassis solutions. You may remember Kalex from their gorgeous liter-bike track weapon we ran a couple months ago. While many are reporting these moves as fact, their appears to be some margin of uncertainty in the plan.

Marco Melandri to Gresini Honda for 2010

08/18/2009 @ 8:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Marco Melandri to Gresini Honda for 2010 Marco Melandri to Honda Gresini 560x401

Well it’s official, Marco Melandri will join Marco Simoncelli at Team Marco Gresini Honda for the 2010 season. With Kawasaki out of MotoGP for 2010, the fact that Melandri would find roots elsewhere was assured. Melandri is no stranger to the Gresini team, during the 2005 season Marco joined Gresini on the Honda Telefonico Moviestar team, riding alongside Spaniard Sete Gibernau.