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.

Ride Review: Honda Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT)

07/22/2010 @ 6:05 am, by Tim Hoefer10 COMMENTS

Ride Review: Honda Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Honda VFR1200F dual clutch transmission dct 8 560x373

Perhaps bigger news than the bike itself is the Honda VFR1200F’s much-anticipated dual-clutch transmission (DCT) model. What Honda has developed for the sport bike world is an automatic shifting technology to enhance the rider’s experience. Automatic transmissions are a rare breed in motorcycling, and we have no doubt that some of you out there may be asking: Isn’t part of being on the road and on the bike, about feeling personal freedom? Or mastering your machine with skill and control? As kids in high school didn’t we make fun of our friend that couldn’t drive a stick? Is DCT an upgrade or a substitution? Well folks, that was the other reason Asphalt & Rubber got to test ride the new VFR1200F, and we put the DCT through its paces.

Ride Review: 2010 Honda VFR1200F

07/20/2010 @ 6:07 am, by Tim Hoefer8 COMMENTS

Ride Review: 2010 Honda VFR1200F 2010 Honda VFR1200F ride report Santa Barbara 11 682x1024

Asphalt & Rubber was recently invited by Honda America to test ride the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F in both configurations of the standard manual-shifting model, and the all new and highly anticipated ‘automatic’ model with the dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Santa Barbara, California served as our amazing backdrop as we took to the road on the new VFR. On our first circling of the bike it did not take much time to figure out why the VFR community has nicknamed this model the ‘Buffalo’. Given it’s dominant headlight and fuel tank that carries a similar curve of a buffalo profile, the bike is however anything but ugly or slow.

What Does a Cylon Centurion and the Honda VFR1200F Have In Common? Too Much

12/17/2009 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

What Does a Cylon Centurion and the Honda VFR1200F Have In Common? Too Much Cylon VFR1200 560x387

Because of our good friends at SoCal Buell Riders, we have to spend the rest of the day replacing the A&R office keyboards, which are now soaked with this morning’s coffee. You have to admit though, the headlight on the new VFR does borrow heavily from the Centurion’s jaw-line…enough to make one wonder if it’s from the 13th colony of Kobol. If you have no idea what we’re talking, you need to watch more Battlestar Galactica.

2010 Honda VFR1200F US MSRP Set at $15,999

12/07/2009 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2010 Honda VFR1200F US MSRP Set at $15,999 2010 honda vfr1200f action shots 7 560x373

A few weeks ago we announced that the Honda VFR1200F would cost nearly €15,000 in the European market, and speculated that the price here in the US would be $15,000 +/- about a grand. Well it looks like we were right, as American Honda Motors has announced that the base model 2010 Honda VFR1200F will come with an MSRP of $15,999.

2010 Honda VFR1200F European Pricing at €14,990

11/19/2009 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

2010 Honda VFR1200F European Pricing at €14,990 2010 honda vfr1200f action shots 8 560x373

Honda Europe has announced the base model pricing for the 2010 Honda VFR1200F. In its manual transmission form, the new sport-tourer will set you back €14,990, while the pricing for the DCG equipped VFR1200F has yet to be determined. Honda has gone through other measures to make the new VFR more affordable, more on that after the jump.

Video: The Press Meets the VFR1200F in Japan

10/27/2009 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Video: The Press Meets the VFR1200F in Japan 2010 honda vfr1200f action shots 5 560x373

Those motorcycle journalists who braved the 12+ hour flight to Japan for the Tokyo Auto Show did not do so in vain as a select group got a chance to take the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F out for a spin on the track. In what is not only a rare glimpse of fine motorcycle journalism, we get to see footage of the look and feel of the new sport-tourer. Check out the video after the jump.

Photos: What Does the Most Advanced Motorcycle Engine Look Like?

10/14/2009 @ 9:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Photos: What Does the Most Advanced Motorcycle Engine Look Like? 2010 honda vfr1200f engine motor 1 560x373

The 2010 Honda VFR1200F is the most advanced motorcycle ever to come out of Honda’s factory, and is probably one of the most innovative motorcycles ever. A large portion of the technology that separates the VFR from the rest of the pack is the all new V4 power-plant that Honda engineers say is a trickle down product from their MotoGP racing efforts. Features and photos after the jump.

2010 Honda VFR1200F Breaks Cover

10/08/2009 @ 12:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2010 Honda VFR1200F Breaks Cover 2010 Honda VFR1200F 560x373

After 10 years of waiting, VFR owners can rejoice in the announcement of the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F. Actually comprising of two models, the VFR will come in a standard model, and a model equipped with the dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Available in the Spring of 2010, the VFR1200F will make 172hp, and 95lb•ft of torque from its 1,237cc V4 motor. The new VFR is a big girl though, tipping the scales in Europe at 588lbs, and here in the US at 591lbs. If you want the dual-clutch model,  expect a bike that weighs a staggering 613lbs. Pictures, videos, and specs after the jump.

Honda VFR1200 to Launch on Thursday

10/05/2009 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Honda VFR1200 to Launch on Thursday Honda VFR1200F website launch1

Honda is set to officially release the new VFR1200 this week, with a website launch scheduled for 3AM (PST) this Thursday. The site is devoid of any substantial information at this point in time, but the not so secret Honda VFR12000 has already graced our pages on a couple of occasions, which gives us an idea on what to expect Thursday.

Spy Shots of the Honda VFR1200 in the Wild

09/19/2009 @ 7:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Spy Shots of the Honda VFR1200 in the Wild 2010 Honda VFR1200 panniers saddlebags

Those Italians over at MotoBlog have found the new 2010 Honda VFR1200 out in the wild doing some road testing. The sport-tourer, which will feature variable cylinder management, and a dual-clutch gear box, is found this time with matching red saddle bags, completing the overall tourer look of the motorcycle. If you parlo italiano, head over to MotoBlog, and check out the rest of their shots.