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.

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Redefines the Word ‘Superbike’

11/07/2011 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler61 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Redefines the Word Superbike 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale 20 635x475

I often get lambasted in the comments section for being pro-Ducati here on Asphalt & Rubber, and that’s fine by me, because I am. It’s hard not to like a company that has basically defined the modern aesthetic for motorcycles, or a company that continues to grow despite being in the worst recession since The Great Depression. It’s also not hard to love a company that continues to release, year-after-year, new compelling motorcycles, as is the case today with the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Teased ad nauseam, the Ducati 1199 Panigale shouldn’t disappoint the discerning sport bike rider with a strong appetite for Italian food, as the latest v-twin from Bologna sets many firsts for the superbike market segment. As we predicted last year, the Ducati 1199 Panigale drops 20lbs off the Superbike 1198’s design (22 lbs actually), while making an extra 20hp over its predecessor. Not only is the 1199 Panigale the lightest production superbike on the market, with its 361 lbs dry weight (414 lbs wet), it’s also one of the most powerful with its 195hp peak power figure, courtesy of the Superquadro motor.

Other firsts include a revolutionary monocoque frame, the first full-LED headlight on a motorcycle (another story we broke), the first electronically adjusted suspension on a sport bike, the first engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle (the DDA+ package is an optional equipment item for the Panigale). While traction control comes standard, ABS brakes will also be an optional item for the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Available in April 2012, as we expected the new Ducati 1199 Panigale has gotten a price increase over the Superbike 1198. Accordingly the base model will cost $17,995, the “S” will cost $22,995, and “S” Tricolore will hit the wallet at $27,995 MSRP.

2012 MV Agusta Brutale 675 Breaks Cover

11/04/2011 @ 7:29 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2012 MV Agusta Brutale 675 Breaks Cover 2012 MV Agusta Brutale 675 29 635x393

After showing us the 2012 MV Agusta F3 675, the iconic Italian motorcycle company has also spilled the beans on the MV Agusta Brutale 675. The three-cylinder 675cc naked bike, is unsurprisingly and basically an F3 supersport without its fairings. With a peak power figure of 113hp @ 12,000 rpm and 52 lbs•ft of peak torque @ 10,600 rpm, the Brutale 675 tips the scales at 163kg dry (359 lbs), and like its fully-faired counterpart, the new Brutale should be a peaky, yet potent, stead for willing owners.

Featuring the same MVICS electronics package that was debuted on MV Agusta F3 675, the MV Agusta Brutale 675 will continue the “electronics are the new horspower” trend of the new decade, and with a €8,990 price tag should be equally alluring. The cheapest MV Agusta now on the market, we imagine Varese is hoping to sell a metric boat-load of the new baby Brutale. However, as we saw with the US pricing of the MV Agusta F3, how that sub-€9,000 price tag will translate to greenbacks remains to be seen.

MV Agusta F3 675 Details MVICS Electronics Package

11/02/2011 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

MV Agusta F3 675 Details MVICS Electronics Package mv agusta f3 675 635x423

MV Agusta must be feeling antsy about the upcoming EICMA show in Milan, as the Italian company first teased its MV Agusta Brutale 675 in a video last week, and today it has released the final specifications of its upcoming 2012 MV Agusta F3 motorcycle. While we’re sure the 126hp 675cc three-cylinder motor, with its 52lbs•ft of torque, will please the discerning supersport purchaser, MV Agusta is betting that its MVICS (Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System) electronics package is what is really going to get you excited about the Italian machine (did we mention it looks gorgeous too?). Clearly reading our thoughts that electronics are the new horsepower, the MV Agusta F3 675 is now the only supersport to boast ride-by-wire & traction control, and also comes along with optional wheelie and launch control vehicle dynamics.

Video: Ben Spies & The 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/26/2011 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Video: Ben Spies & The 2012 Yamaha YZF R1 2012 Yamaha YZF R1 Ben Spies 7 635x423

We’re not sure if Ben Spies drives a shaggin’ wagon when he goes to track days, or if he spaces out during the rider briefing with a lollipop firmly planted in his mouth, but trouncing the other riders with his “advanced” status sounds about par for the course for the GP racer. Helping Yamaha sell the 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 and its “born from MotoGP” traction control system, Spies plays the star in another video from the Japanese manufacturer.

Riding his 50th WGP Anniversary R1 out to some unidentified track for a bit two-wheeled schooling for some other Yamaha riders, we’re not really so sure about the story involved with this video, but as far as motorcycle industry videos go, it is not the worst we’ve seen. The photography, on the other hand, is stunning. Photos and video after the jump.

2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 – Traction Control Cometh

09/14/2011 @ 10:20 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2012 Yamaha YZF R1   Traction Control Cometh 2012 Yamaha YZF R1 NA 10 635x423

The 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 has broken cover, and the biggest feature the lightly tweaked liter-class bike boasts is a new seven-level traction control system (for our brothers in arms across the pond, a six-level traction system is being used…consider that punishment for your European ways). Other material changes include a revised engine map for smoother power delivery in the lower and middle rpms, while the footrests, triple clamps, headlight marker lamps, front cowl, and exhaust guards & end caps have also been revamped for 2012. More after the jump.

Lorenzo Cleared to Race after Free Practice Crash

07/23/2011 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Lorenzo Cleared to Race after Free Practice Crash Jorge Lorenzo crash Laguna Seca

Jorge Lorenzo had a spectacle of a highside during the cooldown lap after MotoGP’s Free Practice 3, sending the Spanish rider into the air and his Yamaha YZR-M1 motorcycle tumbling after him. Stopping to do a practice start, the traction control on Lorenzo’s M1 was disabled, which is normal during such an event. Failing to re-engage the TC system after his start by downshifting (as would happen going into Turn 1 after a start), Lorenzo entered the next turn without his rider aids.

Cracking the throttle wide-open on the corner exit (as is the custom now with GP bikes), the Yamaha recieved full-power to the rear wheel, resulting in the accident. Hitting the ground hard, Lorenzo recieved further injury from his M1 also colliding with him, resulting in the Spaniard grabbing his knee and being slow to get up from the gravel trap. Helped off the track by corner workers, Lorenzo was already recovering from the incident by the time he got to the Clinca Mobile.

Are Electronics the New Horsepower?

03/01/2011 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Are Electronics the New Horsepower? 2011 aprilia rsv4 r aprc black 635x423

The news of the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC got me thinking today about where the sport bike market is headed from a big picture perspective. The sport bike market has been dominated the constant need to develop motorcycles with more power, less weight, and new performance enhancing technologies, and you’d be hard pressed to find a year where the bike with the most horsepower wasn’t the top-seller in this category (case in point: the complete sales domination of the BMW S1000RR during 2010).

For years the motorcycle manufacturers, especially the Japanese, have been painting themselves into a corner by constantly having to one-up each other with horsepower figures in order to sell motorcycles in this segment. With bikes like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R approaching the 200hp barrier, the question about “how much power is enough?” has been cropping up, and it certainly could be that we’re approaching the point in time where the relevancy of this metric is losing it’s power (pun moderately intended). So what will be the new kingmaker for sport bikes? The electronics package.

2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC – WSBK Tech for the Masses

02/25/2011 @ 11:50 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC   WSBK Tech for the Masses 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC white 635x502

Fresh off its victory in the 2010 FIM World Superbike Championship, Aprilia is bringing its WSBK tech to the masses. Designated as Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC), The Italian company first debuted its 8-stage adjustable traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and a quick shifter package on the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC, which debuted at the 2010 EICMA show. Now the company from Noale is bringing that same electronics package to its more affordable Aprilia RSV4 R street machine as a standard feature on the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC.

Along with the added APRC system, the Aprilia RSV4 R APRC features an improved motor lubrication system, and the first three gears are spaced for better acceleration. The exhaust system has also been lightened by 2kg (just under 5 lbs).

The 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC also comes with the same 200/55 x 17 dual-compound rear tire that’s found on the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC. Other changes include lighter wheels, a fully-adjustable Sachs rear shock, better fuel consumption, and some new graphics. Pricing will be $16,999 in the United States, and £13,999 (exc. OTR) for our brothers in apex across the pond.

Rumor: New KTM Super Duke & Adventure Bikes in 2013

01/19/2011 @ 7:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Rumor: New KTM Super Duke & Adventure Bikes in 2013 KTM 690 Super Duke 635x422

The news coming out of Holland this morning is that KTM is working on a new set of Super Duke and Adventure series motorcycles, slated to appear in 2012 as 2013 model year bikes. The news comes from Dutch site Nieuwsmotor, who talked to Robert Prielinger, Head of Development / R & D of Street Bikes at KTM, while visiting the KTM factory, and according to Prielinger KTM is working on a new v-twin motor and electronics package that will see introduction into the Super Duke and Adventure lines by 2013. Also new for the 2013 Super Duke line is a new single-cylinder engine model, which will pick up where the KTM 690 Super Duke left off.

Officially Official: 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200

11/01/2010 @ 9:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Officially Official: 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 side 635x459

After first making the 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200’s owner’s manual available to Aprilia owners, then showing a photo of the Dorsoduro 1200 during Piaggio’s HQ launch in Milan, along with a subsequent video, Aprilia is now ready to officially tell us about its 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200. Available with Aprilia Traction Control (ATC) and anti-lock brakes (ABS) as an option, the Dorsoduro 1200 makes 130hp and 83 lbs•ft of torque with its 492lbs curb weight (a figure Aprilia conveniently leaves out of its press release). The maximoto to the Shiver’s street-naked, the Aprilia’s 1197cc liquid-cooled platform is under-powered and over-weight when compared to the other bikes in the 1200cc category.

While Aprilia positions the Dorsoduro as a maximotard, we’re not sure how the lack of umpf and extra heft will go over with the sporty crowd. With rumors of a Shiver 1200 still circling about, and an early glimpse of the Tuono V4R already showing a 162hp machine, we’re still not sure how this 1200cc street-only motard fits into Aprilia’s model line-up, and how it will differentiate itself to potential buyers.