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.

More Photos of How Yamaha Blu Itself

09/17/2012 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

More Photos of How Yamaha Blu Itself 2013 Yamaha YZF R1 Race Blu 04 635x423

Debuted at the San Marino GP, Yamaha’s new Race-Blu livery is set to black & blue the European market when it hits dealers this October (December for the R125). While we still get the tasty Graves Yamaha inspired Team Yamaha Blue/White, you might be longing for the matte grey and vivid primary blue color scheme that Jorge Lorenzo rode to victory at Misano this past weekend.

Coming to the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1, 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6, & 2013 Yamaha YZF-R125, the Race-Blu livery is very fetching, so it is a bit of a shame that we won’t be seeing it here in the USA. Maybe if we Americans hold our breath until we go blue in the face, Yamaha USA may consider it as a mid-model year option (not likely).

Don’t feel blue though, we can still live vicariously through our European brethren. More photos of how Yamaha Blu itself after the jump. There’s gotta be a better way to say that.

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.

Yamaha’s 180hp Adventure Bike is Our Kind of Crazy

03/25/2012 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Yamahas 180hp Adventure Bike is Our Kind of Crazy Yamaha YZF R1 sand dunes 07 635x362

When you think of the ultimate adventure bike, your first thoughts probably lean more towards bikes like the class-leading BMW R1200GS. If we continue that thought, and said that the ultimate ADV machine was in fact a Yamaha, you would of course then expect to see the subsequent words to center around the Yamaha Super Ténéré (read our review of the Yamaha Super Ténéré here).

Well, someone in Yamaha’s French office is our flavor of crazy, as they let six-time Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel loose in the sand dunes of Merzouga, Morocco on a Yamaha YZF-R1. Shod with exquisitely hand-cut Michelin tires, Peterhansel flexes the 180bhp machine over the dunes with proper rallying style.

Truly gorgeous shots, if it is available in your area, you’ll want to pick up the latest copy of L’Intégral magazine to see them in the gloss and read Peterhansel’s thoughts on riding the R1 in its non-native habitat.

Video: Ben Spies & The 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/26/2011 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Video: Ben Spies & The 2012 Yamaha YZF R1 2012 Yamaha YZF R1 Ben Spies 7 635x423

We’re not sure if Ben Spies drives a shaggin’ wagon when he goes to track days, or if he spaces out during the rider briefing with a lollipop firmly planted in his mouth, but trouncing the other riders with his “advanced” status sounds about par for the course for the GP racer. Helping Yamaha sell the 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 and its “born from MotoGP” traction control system, Spies plays the star in another video from the Japanese manufacturer.

Riding his 50th WGP Anniversary R1 out to some unidentified track for a bit two-wheeled schooling for some other Yamaha riders, we’re not really so sure about the story involved with this video, but as far as motorcycle industry videos go, it is not the worst we’ve seen. The photography, on the other hand, is stunning. Photos and video after the jump.

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.

The Yamaha MotoGP Replicas You Can’t Buy

05/12/2011 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The Yamaha MotoGP Replicas You Cant Buy Yamaha France YZF R1 MotoGP replicas 635x454

If you’re reading this post, then you are already too late to own a Yamaha YZF-R1 with MotoGP replica bodywork. For starters, the bikes were offered by Yamaha France, making local delivery here in the US a little challenging, even if you could pony up the €15,999 ($22,750) asking price. Second, race replica R1’s were gone almost immediately after being offered on the French website. If the price seems a bit steep, consider the fact that the machine would be delivered in person at the French GP by its appropriate MotoGP rider (there’s also a bit of Yamaha and team swag involved in the purchase price).

If you’re a die hard Lorenzo, Spies, Edwards, or Crutchlow fan, this opportunity by Yamaha France would probably be a once in a lifetime moment, but what we think is really special is that Yamaha left the Japanese support stickers on the bikes’ livery, not only drawing further ties to the MotoGP machines, but also noting a point in time that changed Japan, the world, and the motorcycle community…good stuff. More photos after the jump, but be forewarned that the yellow and black Tech3 paint scheme is extra drool-worthy on the R1.

Yamaha Releases 2011 World Superbike Livery – Forgets to Add Sponsors’ Logos

02/16/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

Yamaha Releases 2011 World Superbike Livery   Forgets to Add Sponsors Logos Yamaha World Superbike team livery Marco Melandri 2011 635x423

Releasing its 2011 World Superbike livery today, Yamaha had to unveil its YZF-R1 with a profusion of the color blue, and total lack of a title sponsorship. Not renewing its contract after the 2010 season, Italian milk producer Sterilgarda is notably absent from the team livery. It might have been assumed that Sterilgarda would stay on to sponsor Italian rider Marco Melandri, but the once promising MotoGP rider obviously did not have the drawing power for the Italian brand.

This lack of corporate sponsorship is a worrying trend for the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer, as Yamaha has yet to announce a sponsor for its MotoGP team, after Fiat exited with its bags of money when Valentino Rossi left Yamaha for Ducati Corse (there’s considerable talk that when Yamaha debuts its MotoGP livery in Sepang later this month, it’ll be with corporate colors as well).

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.

Fiat-Yamaha: Rossi Announcement Wednesday

07/12/2010 @ 9:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

After first sending a press release that Rossi would make an announcement after his testing session today, Fiat-Yamaha has issued another statement saying that Rossi won’t make a decision on this weekend’s race until he arrives at Sachsenring on Wednesday. Heightening the anticipation of his return, Rossi has seemingly delayed making a decision to race, and wants to wait another two days before making it public what his intentions are for the weekend.

We assume this also means that we won’t hear an announcement from Rossi or Ducati about the 2011 season until the German GP as well. As such, Sachsenring will be an interesting round as both Rossi and Wataru Yoshikawa will have to prepare to race on Sunday, but also there will be the added fervor of the impending Rossi/Ducati announcement.