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.

New Colors Only for the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/12/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

New Colors Only for the 2013 Yamaha YZF R1 2013 Yamaha YZF R1 02 635x423

Unless Yamaha has some Steve Jobs-esque “one more thing” trick up its sleeve for its 2013 sport bike line, fans of the tuning fork brand should prepare themselves for a color and graphics package-only update to the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 & 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6.

Simply stating that the “2013 YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 come back in a variety of new and exciting colors,” Yamaha’s press release is void of any mentioning of an update to the R1 or R6’s electronics package or other technical add-ons, let alone any revision to the major components of the machines.

With Honda already showing us its re-styled Honda CBR1000RR for 2012, and Kawasaki and Suzuki expected to stay the course with their liter-bike models, it would seem the only guaranteed change in sport bike offerings from the Big 4 for 2013 is the revamped Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, which sees the same chassis outfitted with a 636cc motor and new bodywork. Humpf.

What is perhaps more interesting is that there appears to be no movement from Yamaha or Suzuki in bringing a 250cc class sport bike to the American market — thus leaving all the quarter-liter fun to Honda and Kawasaki. Photos of the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 are after the jump.

Cardboard Yamaha R1 Model is so Awesome It Hurts

06/05/2012 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Cardboard Yamaha R1 Model is so Awesome It Hurts Cardboard Yamaha R1 05

For some time now, Yamaha Japan has had some fun downloadable paper craft sheets that make a variety of paper art motorcycles (if you haven’t made a paper YZR-M1 yet, you are really not living life). Taking that thought a step further, Jack Chen from Australia has made a scale 2007 Yamaha YZF-R1 out of cardboard.

Roughly 60% the size of the genuine road-going version, Chen used Yamaha’s sheets as the basis for his masterpiece, and then super-sized the proportions. Skill, patience, and scissor control…you sir are a cardboard motorcycle Jedi, and we salute you. Photos after the jump.

Photos: Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART)

04/18/2012 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Photos: Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART) 2012 Yamaha Austria Racing Team YART 20 635x952

Campaigned by Yamaha’s Austrian subsidiary, the Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART) has an impressive history in the FIM World Endurance Championship. Finishing third at the 76th Annual Bol d’Or 24 hour race, YART was the top Yamaha squad on the rostrum, and even upset the Yamaha France’s factory team: Team Yamaha GMT94 Michelin Yamalube.

YART was the 2009 WEC Champion, and over the last 10 years, the Stryia-based squad has finished in the Top 5 eight times. Not quite the pedigree that comes with the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), but YART is a serious contender for the 2012 World Endurance Championship and is already giving the factory Suzuki squad a run for its money. It also so happens, that their 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 is one trick looking race bike — photos after the jump, naturally.

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.

Official: Colin Edwards to Forward Racing’s CRT Team – Hopes for an R1 Motor in a Tech3 Chassis

09/02/2011 @ 10:33 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Official: Colin Edwards to Forward Racings CRT Team   Hopes for an R1 Motor in a Tech3 Chassis  Colin Edwards MotoGP Scott Jones

As we published at the Indianapolis GP this past weekend, Colin Edwards’ time in the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage seemed to be coming to an end, as the veteran MotoGP racer and former-World Superbike Champion was linked to several other possibilities in WSBK and MotoGP for the 2012 season. Making his thoughts clear, Edwards believes there’s some value to the claiming rule team (CRT) formula, saying ”I think there’ll be tracks where it’s going to surprise some people.”

Finally releasing his plans for the 2012 season, Edwards announced today at the San Marino GP that he will race for the Italian NGM Forward Racing team, on a CRT bike, next season. While the team has been linked to a BMW/Suter motor and chassis, Edwards will use instead an R1 motor with a custom chassis. The preference right now is for Tech3’s Guy Coulon to make a chassis for the R1 motor, as the team did for its own Moto2 effort, but nothing has been finalized with the French MotoGP team.

Edwards Says an R1 Motor in Custom Frame Would Be the “Weapon of Choice” If He Races CRT

08/27/2011 @ 4:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Edwards Says an R1 Motor in Custom Frame Would Be the Weapon of Choice If He Races CRT Colin Edwards Indianapolis GP Scott Jones

With rumors swirling around where Colin Edwards will land next year, we grabbed a moment with the Texas Tornado to ask him about one rumor that keeps cropping up: him on a claiming rule team for the 2012 season. Of course, you don’t just ask Colin Edwards direct questions, and expect direct answers, as the Texan enjoys a good laugh.

Getting some MotoGP-rookie hazing, Edwards had some fun with A&R while talking about CRTs, but what the Texan did say (or in some cases, didn’t say) is pretty interesting. One thing is for certain, the two-time World Superbike champion was very keen on having a pepped-up production motor inside a prototype chassis for his bike next year.

With an official announcement likely to come at Misano, the question now is where Colin will end up for 2012. Welcome to Silly Season 2011 ladies and gentleman.

Dragon TT Atila 1000 R Concept

01/05/2011 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Dragon TT Atila 1000 R Concept Dragon TT Atila 1000 R 2 635x666

Sometimes after the day is done, we lay in bed thinking about the world around us. Will Sarah Palin run for President in 2012? Will the North Korea continue to escalate matters with South Korea and the de-militarized zone? What would the love child from the alien in Predator and an Yamaha R1 look like after the pair had a lurid one night affair fully of empty promises and awkward moments at breakfast the next day?

These are all important questions for the new year, and we’ve set about to find some answers to them. While we’re not quite sure on how things will pan out with Palin (The GOP directors seem to think she can win) and North Korea (multi-lateral negotiations with China and US seem to be par for the course), we do have a pretty good idea on the Predator/Yamaha progeny: behold the Dragon TT Atila 1000 R.

Rossi’s Yamaha R1 from the Isle of Man TT on eBay

09/29/2010 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

We’ve just learned that the 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 that Valentino Rossi’s rode around the Mountain Course during the 2009 Isle of Man TT is up for sale on eBay. With a list price of £25,000 ($39,482 according to today’s market rates), this might be the most expensive stock R1 we’ve ever come across, of course not many bikes can lay claim to riding over the historic race course at the hands of one of the greatest motorcycle racers of our time. With some special VR46 livery parts, and a certificate of authenticity from Yamaha UK, the R1 has only 181 miles on it, and is signed by The Doctor himself.

2011 Yamaha YZF-R1 – Now With Skulls

09/24/2010 @ 5:43 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

2011 Yamaha YZF R1   Now With Skulls 2011 Yamaha YZF R1 skulls red

Yamaha has quietly released information on the 2011 Yamaha YZF-R1 on its website, and as expected there are few changes for the new year. With plenty of R1’s sitting in the factory, Yamaha took a slugging during the recession, and is still unloading leftover inventory onto dealers. To help sell those 2011 Yamaha R1’s though, the tuning fork brand has thrown some new paint on the faster red ones…and by new paint we mean skulls with wisps of fire and brimstone.

Neil Hodgson Retires From Racing

04/22/2010 @ 12:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Neil Hodgson Retires From Racing Neil Hodgson Motorpoint Yamaha R1 560x419

After a crashin during a practice session at Brands Hatch re-injured Neil Hodgson’s shoulder, the former WSBK (2003) and BSB (2000) Champion announced his retirement from racing today in a press release. In his crash, Hodgson injured his shoulder, which had been previously injured during a motocross training accident (road racers after cross-train in the dirt) here in the US. After undergoing testing on the shoulder for the past three weeks, it’s become clear that the injury will require Hodgson to retire from racing after a 20 year career.