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.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

2014 Yamaha FZ 09   Three Cylinders of Naked 2014 Yamaha FZ9 01 635x395

With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.

2013 Yamaha FZ8 Getting Minor Update for Next Year

09/13/2012 @ 3:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

2013 Yamaha FZ8 Getting Minor Update for Next Year Yamaha FZ8 635x423

Yamaha is keeping tight-lipped on exactly what changes will be coming to the 2013 Yamaha FZ8, but the 800cc sport-naked is said to be getting a minor update for the 2013 model year. Introduced to the American market in 2011, the Yamaha FZ8 has had a short two-year model life, and apparently Yamaha thinks the bike needs some refreshing.

Yamaha FZ8/Fazer 8 Coming to Canada – USA Next?

06/11/2010 @ 7:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Yamaha FZ8/Fazer 8 Coming to Canada   USA Next? 2010 yamaha fz8 official 4 560x420

Yamaha Canada has just announced that the 2011 Yamaha FZ8 and 2011 Yamaha Fazer 8 street bikes will be available in the Canadian market. Perhaps as a disappointment for some, both models of the new street-naked will come without the option for ABS.

Presumably the Canadian market has now cleared out its back-stock of Yamaha FZ6’s, which the 8-series has been replacing in European markets, and can now begin to offer the new middleweight.

With Canada getting the 8’s in its line-up, all eyes are now on the Yamaha USA to see if/when they’ll bring the bike to the US market. When they do, we can probably look forward to some great commercials, like these gems from the European campaign (that’s sarcasm for those keeping score). Check them out after the jump…did we mention they’re really bad?

2010 Yamaha FZ8 – Officially Official

03/12/2010 @ 2:31 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2010 Yamaha FZ8   Officially Official 2010 yamaha fz8 official 7 560x420

After teasing us time and time and time again, Yamaha Europe has taken the wraps off its 2010 Yamaha FZ8 (and it’s cousin the 2010 Yamaha Fazer8). As was expected, the FZ8  is a 779cc naked street bike that borrows its heritage from the FZ1, and replaces the FZ6 in the European line-up.

While the FZ8 looks well and good, Yamaha has proven that a copy of a copy never carries over well. The FZ8 motor is in essence a smaller bored FZ1 motor, which is itself a de-tuned R1 powerplant. As such the Yamaha FZ8 puts out a solid 104hp, which may disappoint many riders. Torque lovers rejoice though, the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 makes an impressive 62lbs•ft of wheel turning power from its 779cc’s.

Italian Sales Figures Show Insight into FZ8

02/03/2010 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Italian Sales Figures Show Insight into FZ8 2010 Yamaha FZ8 1 560x420

The announcement of the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 left many Americans confused as to why the Japanese company would release a 800cc version of it FZ1 naked streetbike. While Yamaha hasn’t confirmed the FZ8 will be coming to the US in 2010 (all the information to-date has come from Yamaha EU), abroad the battle in the 800cc middleweight slot has become increasingly contentious, and more importantly Yamaha’s presence there surprisingly non-existent.

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Officially Revealed

01/27/2010 @ 1:56 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Officially Revealed 2010 Yamaha FZ8 official 560x420

After photos of the new Yamaha FZ8 were leaked out on the internet, Yamaha seems to think it’s best to release an official picture of the entire FZ8 in it’s full colorful form. As seen from the earlier black and white photos, the Yamaha FZ8 is based heavily off of the FZ1, which may suggest where its performance features will lie when the final release to the public is made this spring.

Rumors has it that the FZ8 will feature the same stroke as the FZ1, which should provide for impressive torque figures, while power is expected to be closer to the FZ6. No word yet if the FZ8 is making it stateside.

Source: Yamaha

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Caught Naked in Photos

01/25/2010 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Caught Naked in Photos 2010 Yamaha FZ8 leaked photos 1 560x465

UPDATE: The 2010 Yamaha FZ8 has now been officially released.

In addition to getting leaked photos of what the 2010 Yamaha FZ8R or Fazzer 8 will look like, Motociclismo.it has also gotten shots of what they believe to be the FZ8 in its final form, i.e. in the nude. The fairing-less motorcycle will be built of the same chassis as the 2010 Yamaha FZ8R, but will sport a different headlight to accentuate the exposed frame and motor more adequately. Photos after the jump.

Yamaha FZ8R “Fazer” Revealed with Leaked Photos

01/25/2010 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Yamaha FZ8R Fazer Revealed with Leaked Photos Yamaha FZ8 Fazzer official 560x374

Two months ago we revealed what the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 looked like from the headlight up. Yamaha is again teasing us with only a headshot, but this time it is the 2010 Yamaha FZ8R or “Fazer 8″ as Yamaha seems to want to call it, the fully-faired FZ8, that is getting unwrapped. While the photo above is an official photo from Yamaha, Motociclisimo.it has what they believe are leaked photos of both the naked an faired bikes in their final form. Check those photos after the jump.

FZ8 Forensics Ponder What the FZ6 Killer Looks Like

12/23/2009 @ 1:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

FZ8 Forensics Ponder What the FZ6 Killer Looks Like FZ8 renders 560x191

After Yamaha released only a limited view of the FZ8, there has been much speculation about what the new fazzer will have in store for would-be riders. As such in the past week, there have been a couple attempts to decipher what the Yamaha FZ8 could look like by using the all-glorious tool that is Adobe Photoshop.

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Confirmed – FZ6 Out?

11/23/2009 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Confirmed   FZ6 Out? 2010 Yamaha FZ8 1 560x420

UPDATE 2: The 2010 Yamaha FZ8 has now been officially released.

UPDATE: Click these links to get the latest news on the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 & 2010 Yamaha FZ8R (Fazer 8)

Rumors of the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 appear to be true, as the Japanese company has just released this teaser shot of the new middle-weight naked bike. Details are non-existent scarce on the FZ8, but it is rumored the bike will be replacing the FZ6 in Yamaha’s 2010 line-up.