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.

Triumph Trophy SE Priced at $18,999 for the USA

09/04/2012 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Triumph Trophy SE Priced at $18,999 for the USA 2013 triumph trophy se 635x512

When the Triumph Trophy SE broke cover earlier this June, the comparisons were quickly made between Britain’s most advanced motorcycle ever, and the German competition it was so clearly trying to emulate. While Triumph Trophy’s engineers and designers clearly took a long-look at the BMW R1200RT, and tried to improve upon the staple of a touring bike, Triumph’s marketers may have been asleep as the switch, as the Triumph Trophy SE has one thing the BMW does not: a bigger price tag.

Triumph Tiger Explorer XC Breaks Cover

09/01/2012 @ 3:02 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Triumph Tiger Explorer XC Breaks Cover 2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 635x476

If last year’s debut of the Triumph Tiger Explorer left you wanting a more off-road capable machine, then the British brand hopes that its now unveiled Triumph Tiger Explorer XC will suit your tastes. Featuring the same 135 hp / 89 lbs•ft 1215cc three cylinder motor as the Tiger Explorer, the Tiger Explorer XC primarily differentiates itself with its tubeless steel spoked wheels (19″ front, 17″ rear), and off-road accessories (hand guards, fog lights, engine crash bars, and an aluminum belly pan).

Like its on-road counterpart, the 2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer XC also features a ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, cruise control, switchable anti-locking brakes (ABS) , and shaft-driven final drive. Expected to be in dealers by April 2013, Triumph has also tacked on a two-year unlimited mileage warranty, while service intervals are said to be every 10,000 miles. You can get the Triumph Explorer XC in any color you want, as long as it’s Khaki Green.

Triumph’s Proposed Plant in India Could Increase Production 10x – New Small-Displacement Bike Coming

07/17/2012 @ 8:44 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Triumphs Proposed Plant in India Could Increase Production 10x   New Small Displacement Bike Coming 2012 triumph street triple 635x422

Like many other brands ahead of it, Triumph is getting ready to enter the Indian market in a serious way. Eyeing a piece of property in Narasapur in the Karnataka region of India, Triumph’s initial plan is to build a facility capable of producing 250,000 units per year, with an expansion plan that could double that number. Currently producing 50,000 units a year in its British and Thai facilities, Triumph’s move into India could increase the company’s production ten-fold per annum.

Said to be bringing mostly its full-size premium offerings to the Indian market, Triumph is also rumored to be working on a small-displacement single-cylinder motorcycle that could be developed with the Indian and Southeast Asian markets specifically in mind. With India’s premium motorcycle market still quite small, though growing, the initial quarter-million unit estimates from the British brand are sure to be heavily relying on this new small-displacement model, rumored to be called the Triumph Cub.

2013 Triumph Trophy – The Most Advanced Triumph Ever

06/22/2012 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

2013 Triumph Trophy   The Most Advanced Triumph Ever 2013 Triumph Trophy SE 635x496

The rumors and spy photos were true, as for the past few years Triumph has been working on a proper touring motorcycle named the Triumph Trophy. A direct assault on the BMW R1200RT and its progeny, the Triumph Trophy SE boasts the title of being the most technologically advanced Triumph motorcycle, ever. As you can tell then, the Trophy comes in two trim flavors, with the Triumph Trophy SE boasting some impressive tech to earn its title. Accordingly, the British tourer comes with electronically adjustable suspension, ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, electronic cruise control, linked anti-locking brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system, as well as some other features.

While both models are shaft-driven and sport the same 132 bhp, 1215cc, three-cylinder motor that is found on the Triumph Explorer adventure-tourer, only the SE comes with the electronic suspension, audio package, and tire pressure monitoring system. Realizing that Americans and Canadians enjoy their gizmos, the Triumph Trophy SE will be the only variant coming to the North American market, while the SE and base model will be available in all the other Trophy markets.

Spy Photos: 2013 Triumph Street Triple

02/23/2012 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Spy Photos: 2013 Triumph Street Triple 2013 Triumph Street Triple spy photos 031 635x419

British motorcycle manufacturer Triumph has really latched onto this whole spy photo concept, and its latest bike to be caught by the lenses of “spy photographers” is the 2013 Triumph Street Triple. Already getting a makeover like its larger sibling, the 2012 Triumph Speed Triple, the new Street Triple will keep its revised headlight shape (love it or hate it?), as well as other changes that include a low-slung exhaust, modified swingarm, and revised bodywork design.

Though we won’t be certain until the 2013 Triumph Street Triple’s official release, filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) indicate that the new Street Triple puts out the same emissions as the 2012 model. This could mean that the motor of the 2013 Street Triple has been untouched, or that Triumph has been able to squeak some more juice from the three-cylinder engine, while keeping emissions the same. We’ll have to wait and see how that pans out, until then enjoy the photos after the jump.

Joe Kopp & The Fastest Triumph at Pikes Peak

12/19/2011 @ 12:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Joe Kopp & The Fastest Triumph at Pikes Peak Joe Kopp Pikes Peak 2011 PPIHC Triumph action 2 635x457

As 2011 winds down, I’ve been going through some of my folders of old material that I wanted to publish earlier this year, but for some reason or another the article didn’t grace the front page of Asphalt & Rubber. One such story was the fastest Triumph ever to run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), which in 2011 was a Triumph Speed Triple raced by professional flat track star Joe Kopp.

If I were to say politics were at play with Kopp campaigning the Team Latus Triumph Speed Triple in the exhibition class of the PPIHC (along with Chip Yate’s electric superbike), then surely the metaphor would extend to the redrawing of the district lines at Pikes Peak, and may or may not have had something to do with the Ducati-dominated 1200cc class, where surely the Triumph properly belonged.

Read in between the lines as you will with that explanation of events, but at the end of the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Kopp, on his Triumph, was the overall second-fastest rider up The Mountain, winning the exhibition class in the process. Meanwhile Ducati, the official motorcycle of PPIHC, maintained its 1-3 double podium in the 1200cc class, which was lead by rookie rider, and A&R hetero-life partner Carlin Dunne.

Enigma 1050 – Britain’s Kit Motorcycle

12/12/2011 @ 6:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Enigma 1050   Britains Kit Motorcycle Enigma 1050 sketch 01 635x463

Former British moto-journalist Jim Lindsay is behind one of the more intriguing motorcycle projects in the UK right now. Working from the list of contacts he’s made covering the motorcycle industry, Lindsay and his crew are building the Enigma 1050, a Triumph Speed Triple-powered custom sport bike.

Collaborating with the minds that bring us Tigcraft, K-Tech Suspension, Promach , and Dymag, the pedigree behind the Engima 1050 is already a promising one, but what intrigues us the most is that the Enigma crew is considering offering the bike as a kit build, in addition to a finished ready-to-ride motorcycle.

Triumph Posts 7% Sales Increase for First Half of 2011 – Announces Production in India

12/08/2011 @ 12:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Triumph Posts 7% Sales Increase for First Half of 2011   Announces Production in India Triumph Tiger Explorer 635x444

It may be nearly the end of the year, but the Triumph Motorcycles Group has released its financials for the first half of 2011 (Q1 2011 & Q2 2011). Selling 48,684 units worldwide, Triumph saw a 7% increase in unit sales when compared to the first half of 2010. This sales increase brought an 11% boost in revenue, which totaled £312.4 million. Triumph attributes the sales and revenue boost to the incremental models that have been added to the range, like the Triumph Tiger 800/800XC and Triumph Daytona 675R.

The company’s operating profit also grew over the same time period, with earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) growing from £15.1 million to £22.3 million. This 47% gain in income is quite the coup for the small British brand, which is showing strong performance in an otherwise horrible market. With the 500cc motorcycle market down nearly 50% from where it was before the recession, 2011 has similarly been doom and gloom, down nearly 7% worldwide, though the turbulent sales numbers do appear to be bottoming out.

2012 Triumph Speed Triple R Adds Öhlins, Brembo, & PVM

10/24/2011 @ 10:04 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2012 Triumph Speed Triple R Adds Öhlins, Brembo, & PVM 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R 1 635x476

I’m going to come out and say that I loved the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple when it came out. A divisive model with the Triumph’s loyal fan base, the revised Speed Triple’s aesthetics are a marked improvement over the earlier generations in my book, which was the only thing that kept the peppy three-cylinder machine out of my personal garage. Now to thoroughly ruining my Christmas wish list, the British brand has added the 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R to its EICMA debut list, with the “R” designation denoting the bike’s upgraded Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, and PVM wheels.

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.