MV Agusta Looking to Part Ways with Mercedes-AMG

The story of MV Agusta continues with even more interesting developments, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer seems intent on buying back its shares from Mercedes-AMG, and recapitalizing with new investors. Talking this week to Italy’s Il Giorno, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni said that he is “negotiating a buy-back of shares,” though that might be a task easier said than done for the Italian CEO. This is because MV Agusta’s current financial predicament is due primarily from the company’s massive debt accumulation, which now totals over €40 million. To complicate matters further, some of that debt was secured by the involvement of AMG, and its investment contract stipulates that if AMG doesn’t own 20% or more of MV Agusta then the loaned sum is due immediately.

The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles: Haptic Feedback

We are at an interesting point in time for motorcycles, namely because the technological landscape for the transportation sector is shifting radically. Long-time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will note some of the issues at play here, namely autonomous vehicles, rider aids, and vehicle interconnectivity. Over the next few weeks I want to revisit those items in more depth and detail, with a series that focuses on emerging technologies that are either already permeating into our two-wheeled lifestyle, or will be hitting the motorcycle industry over the next decade or so. But before I tackle the more obvious items on this list, I want to invest some words on a lesser-known technological innovation, which has the potential to be the next, “next big thing” in the motorcycle industry.

You Already Want This Honda Grom Race Bike from HRC

Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well. Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs. To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.

Honda CBR250RR Headlight Spotted in Patents

We are literally marking time until Big Red debuts the Honda CBR250RR, the sportier sibling to the Honda CBR250R, which should rev to the moon and make more power with its two-cylinder engine. We have seen the prototype of the Honda CBR250RR already at trade shows, and the new CBR250RR is definitely on the edgier side of things, which is surprising coming the ever-conservative minds at Honda. How much of the edgy design will remain in the production version has yet to be seen, but we do have our first glimpse of some of the machine. The headlight shape has been filed with European patent offices, which is sort of a weird thing to be reporting on, but it does show insight into where Honda is headed.

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own. This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic. Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction. Time will tell on how this rumor plays out, though there are number of interesting things to consider with a BMW power cruiser.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles. As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride. With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Is BMW Working on 300cc GS Model?

When the BMW G310R arrived, the German brand indicated that the small-displacement street bike would be the first of many model based on the 313cc platform. Now it seems that the first iteration is ready to drop, with news that BMW Motorrad is working on a G310R-based adventure-touer model. According to Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, BMW Motorrad UK’s Director Phil Horton has confirmed that a BMW G310GS model will debut, perhaps in time for the 2017 model year, saying “new models aside, the line-up isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. But there are plenty more bikes to come, including, hopefully in 2017, a G310R GS-style derivative.” The idea of small-displacement ADV machine does mimic what we have been seeing from other brands.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events. The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts. Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Honda Halts Operations at Its Kumamoto Factory After Earthquakes Strike Japan

If you have been following mainstream news, you will know that the Pacific Rim has been active with earthquake activity these past few days. In addition to the devastating movements in Ecuador, Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes as well, two of which have centered on the Kumamoto prefecture of the country. If that names sounds familiar to motorcycle enthusiasts, it is because Kumamoto is Honda’s mothership for motorcycle production. As such, Honda is halting the operations of its Kumamoto factory, thru the rest of this week (ending April 22, 2016). Honda says that its subsequent production plans will be determined according to facility restorations and component supply.

Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened & What Happens Next

In case you missed it, Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati Corse for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP World Championship seasons. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed. We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

KTM Freeride Coming 2012 – Cheaper than €10,000

07/08/2011 @ 2:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

As we reported back in March, KTM’s electric dirt bike is coming closer and closer to being ready for consumers, and now information has come out that it will be a 2012 model from the Austrian company. This information is in-line with a November EICMA debut that we’ve been hearing, but perhaps the most tantalizing news we’ve heard is the bike’s sub-€10,000 price tag in the EU. This would put the KTM Freeride (oh man, we hope that name gets changed) directly in competition with Swiss electric dirt bike manufacturer Quantya and American electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles, both of whom are in the sub-€10,000 category with their dirt bike offerings.

Rendered: 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000

07/05/2011 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

While the Suzuki GSX-R600 & GSX-R750 were updated for the 2011 model year, it seems like Suzuki’s crowned king of the liter-bike class hasn’t see a touch-up since the Reagan administration. This is due in part because of Suzuki’s staggered development life-cycle, but primarily rests on the motorcycle industry apocalypse that many just refer to as the past recession. Because of the economic downturn, Suzuki had an overabundance of motorcycles sitting in its domestic warehouses, causing the Japanese company not to bring over any more fresh units for the North American market.

LEAKED: 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

06/21/2011 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

The wait is finally over on what Suzuki has been brewing for its middleweight adventure bike offering. Through some HTML trickery, we were able to glean this unreleased information off the Suzuki website, and as such are bringing you the first photos, technical specifications, and design features on the 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS. An evolution of the current V-Strom 650, the new middleweight V-Strom is longer, taller, and lighter than its predecessor, while boasting an updated look to the aging V-Strom exterior.

If you were expecting more, and feel let down…welcome to the club. Though this represents a large portion of the information Suzuki plans on unveiling in the coming days, we still have some unanswered questions: like what’s been changed in the motor (we have yet to see any power figures quoted), though the general specifications on the 645cc v-twin lump appear to be the same. More as we get it. Find the massively underwhelming leaked photos, details, and specifications after the jump. Thanks for the tip Yellow Ranger!

MotoGP: Ducati Racing with 2012 Chassis Starting at Assen

06/20/2011 @ 6:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Ducati Corse continues to battle a war on two-fronts: both by trying to market itself out of an otherwise disastorous MotoGP season, and also to rapidly develop and search for answers to the lackluster Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The latest news out of Bologna now leans more towards this latter effort (or is it the prior?), as Ducati Corse has announced that it will bring a version of its 2012 chassis to Assen for Valentino Rossi to use in the Dutch TT.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, as they’re calling it, features a modified motor, and will debut Ducati’s next-generation gearbox: the Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST). Ducati hopes bringing out the new chassis, which has already been given the nod by both Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden, will not only help turn around the season’s results, but also expedite development for the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Along with a new carbon chassis, the GP11.1 features an inverted swingarm design, which sees the rear shock mounted higher-up with a special rear-subframe assembly.

Six New Teams Added to MotoGP for 2012 Season

06/15/2011 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoGP has just announced that six new teams will be inducted into the premier motorcycle racing series come the 2012 season. Recieving more bids than there was room for, Dorna’s list of new entries is entirely comprised of teams who currently campaign in the Moto2 or 125 GP Championships, which is less surprising than it seems since these teams already have the resources and logistics to do the globetrotting that MotoGP requires, not to mention the economies of scale.

Also, the participation of these teams in the lower classes serves as a vetting process to ensure that only quality race efforts enter MotoGP. Conversely, it’s in the best interest of Dorna to create a ladder program within the three Championships, so participating teams can groom young talent all the way from Moto3, through Moto2, and into the premier class. Find the list of the six new Moto1 MotoGP teams after the jump.

2012 Ducati Superquadrata Superbike Testing at Mugello

05/26/2011 @ 6:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

According to the venerable GPone, Ducati will be doing a double dose of testing today at the Italian circuit of Mugello. Perhaps the only thing that can excite Ducatista more than Valentino Rossi on-board the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 (something that will be taking place today as well) is news that the 2012 Ducati “Superquadrata” Superbike will be making its track debut at the Italian circuit.

Reportedly Italian Danilo Petrucci, who currently campaigns a Ducati 1098R in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup for the Barni Racing team, will be at the helm of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike, testing the machine in both Superbike and Superstock trim, and in the bike’s first trials outside of the Borgo Panigale dyno room.

In Mother Russia, World Superbikes Ride You! (in 2012)

05/21/2011 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In the developing markets land grab that is occurring in motorcycle racing, it looks like World Superbike has beat out MotoGP, and is the first to strike in the Russian market, as Paolo Flammini, CEO of Infront Motor Sports (media rights holder for World Superbike) and Alexander Yakhnich, CEO of Yakhnich Motorsport announced that a partnership agreement between the two companies had been reached.

As a part of this contract, Yakhnich Motorsport will become the organizer of an FIM Superbike World Championship round in Russia, and unsurprisingly will have the TV rights to the event. Infront and Yakhnich hope to host a round in Russia by 2012, though further details of the event have not been outlined. Russia has several circuits that could host the World Superbike round, though none are FIM homologated.

Brammo Empulse Delivery Delayed to 2012 – IET Coming?

05/06/2011 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Our good friend Ted Dillard from The Electric Chronicles got an interesting email from Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher this past week, in which the Oregonian company stated that it will be pushing deliveries of the Brammo Empulse back yet another year to 2012, and then fairly bluntly hinted that the revamped Empulse would be fitted with the company’s newly licensed Integrated Electric Transmission (IET).

In his email to Dillard, Bramscher states that “Brammo teams and suppliers across the globe are working hard to deliver you a motorcycle of the level of quality Brammo riders have come to expect. We had a tough decision to make recently: Deliver the Empulse this riding season, or integrate our latest technology and deliver a superior bike in 2012. After much deliberation, we decided to be true to our values and build the best bike we can.”

First Look at the 2012 Honda MotoGP Race Bike

04/25/2011 @ 9:42 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

While we were busy filing our taxes last week, HRC was busy at the Suzuka circuit shaking out its yet-to-be-named 2012 MotoGP race bike. Details are a bit sparse, but motogp.com is reporting that HRC test riders Kousuke Akiyoshi and Tady Okada were at the helm of the new bike, and the website shows a solitary photo that craftily doesn’t give away too much about the machine. The private test is a prelude to Honda’s factory riders hopping on the machine to likely greater media fanfare, which will most likely happen at the MotoGP test scheduled after the Mugello round.

New KTM Superbike Coming in 2012?

02/21/2011 @ 8:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

With the announcements of KTM lopping $3,500 of the KTM 1198 RC8 R’s price tag, thus replacing the RC8 as the base superbike model in its line-up, and the new 2011 KTM RC8 R Race Spec track bike, something appears to be afoot with the Austrian brand. It’s no secret that with the down economy, RC8s (along with just about every other sport bike) haven’t exactly been flying off the dealer floors, which has lead to some speculation that the reduced price on the higher spec model could be purely to help spur sales of the “Ready to Race” awesomebike. We disagree in part.