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 Triumph Tiger Explorer Breaks Cover

10/24/2011 @ 8:52 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer Breaks Cover 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer 635x476

Officially breaking cover now, the 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer continues the British company’s revamping of its adventure-tourer line. Featuring a 1200cc three-cylinder motor, the Tiger Explorer is the bigger brother of the popular mid-sized Tiger 800, which debuted last year after much build-up. Sans a few spy photos and some rumormill, Triumph has taken a decidedly different and more low-key approach in getting buyers excited about the new Tiger, though we think Triumph fans will like what they see.

55 Photos of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160

06/20/2011 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

55 Photos of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 2011 Benelli TnT R160 static 29 635x423

We brought you some of the first pictures of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 all the way back from the 2009 EICMA show. Originally slated as 2010 model-year bike, the R160 has taken a while to make its way into dealer showrooms. The pinnacle of the TnT line, the R160 is presumably worth the wait with its 157.8hp, 88.5 lbs•ft of torque, and 474 lbs ready-to-ride curb weight. As with anything though, the devil is in the details, and the Benelli TnT R160 is no different.

There’s something about Adrian Morton’s design with the TnT that we’re drawn to like a moth to flame, nearly bringing one into this author’s stable of motorcycles (I wouldn’t mind a Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 too). Plagued with electrical issues though, the TnT line perpetuates the Italian stereotype of finicky and unreliable motorcycles trapped in otherwise gorgeous veneers. Seeing the Benelli TnT R160 in 2009, we were disappointed on the fit-and-finish of the bike, as the pitted and cloudy carbon exterior seemingly matched the interior: unrefined.

With the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 now ready for dealer showrooms, Benelli’s top streetfighter seems to have benefited from a better build process, and we hear that some of the electrical issues have even been resolved. While we’ll reserve judgment as to whether the bike can maintain a positive net charge at a stand-still, it sure is stunning in its final form. There are 55 high-resolution photos of the new Benelli TnT R160 waiting for you after the jump.

First Sounds of the 2012 MV Agusta F3

06/13/2011 @ 4:56 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

First Sounds of the 2012 MV Agusta F3 MV Agusta F3 635x423

MV Agusta brought out its new three-cylinder sportbike, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, to its annual international gathering of owners and enthusiasts, and as you would expect in this digital age, the cameraphones and video cameras were in full-swing as it rolled out of the truck. The F3’s design was clearly not complete in-time for the 18th annual gathering, as parts of the bike noticeably looked un-finished or were inoperable (there are no turn signals in the mirrors for instance, and we hear the LED tail light didn’t work).

But that all matters for not, as what we really want is to hear that triple purr, and these videos don’t disappoint in that regard. If anything actually, the MV Agusta F3 sounds subdued, likely because of noise and emissions standards in the EU becoming more and more strict. We imagine some aftermarket kit will help put some life into that exhaust note, but we’re sure MV fans will enjoy the silky smooth sound of the MV Agusta’s new three-cylinder lump. Two videos await you after the jump.

Concept: Bimota TB-2 675 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/06/2011 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Concept: Bimota TB 2 675 by Oberdan Bezzi Bimota TB 2 675 concept Oberdan Bezzi 635x440

Last week Oberdan Bezzi inked his concept for a Triumph-powered Bimota, dubbed the Bimota TB-1. That fully-faired alternative to the MV Agusta F3 naturally needs a naked streetfighter variant, and accordingly Bezzi has penned today’s latest concept sketch, which he calls the Bimota TB-2 675. Featuring the Triumph 675cc three-cylinder motor, the Bimota TB-2 675 competes against its donor the Triumph Street Triple, and goes head-to-head with the heavily anticipated MV Agusta Brutale 675 B3.

Concept: Bimota TB-1 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/02/2011 @ 8:42 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Concept: Bimota TB 1 by Oberdan Bezzi Bimota TB 1 Oberdan Bezzi 635x440

For his latest work, Oberdan Bezzi imagines a three-cylinder Bimota that uses Triumph’s 675cc three-cylinder motor. Dubbed the Bimota TB-1 by the Italian designer, Bezzi brings up an interesting point with his sketch, namely that when the MV Agusta F3 comes it will, for all intents and purposes, be in a class of its own. You can’t really argue the point that there is yet-to-exist a premium well-designed supersport triple on the market right now (sorry Daytona owners), and Bezzi says that Bimota could easily come into this space with such a bike as seen here.

Triumph Daytona 1050 Imagined

01/06/2011 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Triumph Daytona 1050 Imagined 2011 Triumph Daytona 1050 imagined 635x377

Triumph for some time now has had these glaring holes in its model line-up, which it has only begun to address with the launching of bikes like the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 and 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC.

One hole that still remains in this Swiss cheese product offering is a liter class sportbike. Up until the recent release of the 2011 Triumph Daytona 675R, the Daytona 675 has been single-handedly holding down Triumph’s sportbike offering; while the British company’s naked plus-sized Speed Triple has nearly become the Branch Davidian of the street biking cult status, giving Triumph fans plenty of ammo to speculate upon when Triumph would release a fully-faired 1050cc three-cylinder machine that came from the best of these two bikes.

Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept

11/02/2010 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept 5 635x422

Unveiled at EICMA today, Husqvarna has brought to the Italian motorcycle show a special three-cylinder concept motorcycle dubbed the Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept. Using three Husqvarna dirt bike cylinders with a common crankcase, the 993cc v-triple (one in two cylinders, one vertical cylinder) is strikingly unique beyond its peculiar power plant. Slammed to the ground, the Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept takes obvious design cues from Husky’s dirt and motard line. Coupled to that low-slung chassis are spoked rims matted to fat street tires, making the Mille 3 looks like it would be more at home on drag strip than anywhere else.

Although there might be a hidden market segment somewhere between dragsters and motards (we know we like this 3-1-2 exhaust system), Husqvarna doesn’t intend for the Mille 3 Concept to be any sort of production machine. Instead the German-owned Swedish firm that is based out of Italy merely wishes to express flex its designing ink, and we imagine the good press doesn’t hurt things either (how many times do you here us talking about Huskies on A&R?). Photos after the jump.

MV Agusta F3 Unwrapped

10/31/2010 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

MV Agusta F3 Unwrapped MV Agusta F3 635x417

UPDATE: Photos of the MV Agusta F3 have been posted to Asphalt & Rubber.

After teasing us relentlessly with spy photos of the MV Agusta F3, the Italian company’s three-cylinder supersport finally bares all in this photo. The recently repurchased MV Agusta is pinning high-hopes on the middleweight machine, hoping to attract wouldbe buyers with a low price-point that Claudio Castiglioni said could start as low as €9,000.

While it remains to be seen if Castiglioni can achieve that goal, a higher-spec F3 is also expected to hit the market in the €10,000-€11,000 range, which should have a direct 1:1 price conversion to US dollars if MV Agusta keeps its pricing scheme in place.

MV Agusta is also expected to come out with a smalled Brutale-esque machine that also uses the F3’s three-cylinder power plant. While The MV Agusta F3 is expected to official debut this Tuesday in Milan during the EICMA show, it’s not clear if the “Brutalina” will also debut at the event, or will make an appearance later next year. Click on the photo above and after the jump for 4,000 pixels of F3 goodness, and check out the gallery after the jump.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple Outed by Triumph

09/27/2010 @ 6:45 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2011 Triumph Speed Triple Outed by Triumph 2011 Triumph Speed Triple headlight

Triumph is either really trying hard at leaking information about the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple and its other motorcycles ahead of their unveiling, or there is an intern in the UK right now whose job is about to go under the axe. Either way, the keen eyes at Visordown have spotted the fact that Triumph has outed the new Speed Triple in its online accessories catalog. While not showing the whole bike yet, we do see that the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple gets a much needed face lift, along with a substantially lighter frame. Could this be the street naked of 2011? We’re starting to think so.

2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple – Official Teaser Photos Released

09/17/2010 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple   Official Teaser Photos Released mv agusta f3 3 635x437

UPDATE: Get your first glimpse of the MV Agusta F3 here.

In what can only be described as a terse press release, MV Agusta has released two teaser photos of its upcoming MV Agusta F3, the three-cylinder supersport bike that Claudio Castiglioni hopes will save his company. Known to be using a three-cylinder motor, it has been previously reported that the MV Agusta F3 would be a 675cc machine, just like the Triumph Daytona 675. However the Italian brand has confirmed that it will be using a 600cc displacement for its street machine, while giving us a glimpse of the bike without its F4 camouflage.