EPA Slaps Harley-Davidson with $12 Million Fine

The EPA DOJ have just come to a settlement agreement with Harley-Davidson, which sees the American motorcycle manufacturer agreeing to pay a $12 million fine for its Screamin Eagle “super tuner” devices. Also in the agreement, Harley-Davidson agrees to spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution (through a project to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning stoves in local communities), as well as to stop selling, buy back, or destroy any illegal devices that increase air pollution from the company’s motorcycles. While not quite the Dieselgate scandal that caught Volkswagen circumventing EPA emission standards, Harley-Davidson’s “super tuners” do provide an aftermarket solution for motorcyclists to circumvent the emission devices on their motorcycles.

Moto3: Sky VR46 Fires Romano Fenati

As expected, Romano Fenati has been formally released from his contract with the Sky VR46 team. The Italian was suspended from the team after an incident at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. That was a temporary measure, but it has now been made permanent. Fenati was released for behavioral issues. The Italian had been abusive towards members of the team, and had not behaved in a professional manner. The incident in Austria was just the latest in a long line of breaches of behavioral conduct, which included confirmed reports of verbal abuse and unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports of physical conflict. The Sky VR46 team have announced that they will be bringing Lorenzo Dalla Porta in to join Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega in the Moto3 team.

Two New BMW R nineT Models Coming

Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) suggest that BMW Motorrad has two more variations of its retro-styled motorcycle line coming to the USA: the BMW R nineT Pure and the BMW R nineT Racer. These two bikes would join the other two air-cooled models we have already seen from the Germans, the base model BMW R nineT and the recently released BMW R nineT Scrambler, which debuted at EICMA last year. Our friends at Motorcycle.com spotted the CARB filings, and believe one of the machines will be based off the BMW Lac Rose concept – an ADV throw-back to when the Dakar Rally actually raced to Dakar. The other model though, could be anyone’s guess, as BMW hasn’t dropped any other concepts or hints in the past months.

Q&A: KTM On-Road Technical Director Sebastian Risse – The Development of the KTM RC16 MotoGP Bike

Sebastian Risse is the man behind the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike which was presented on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring. An automotive engineer by training, Risse has been with KTM since 2008. He started out as a crew chief and chassis analyst on KTM’s now defunct RC8 Superbike project, but when KTM returned to Grand Prix racing in 2012, Risse took charge of the Moto3 project, which has gone on to be the benchmark in the class. Risse is currently head of all of KTM’s roadracing activities, and has overseen and led development of the RC16 MotoGP bike. After the KTM RC16 was presented, we spoke to Sebastian Risse about the differences and design choices which went into the bike.

Here’s a Custom Ducati XDiavel by Roland Sands Design

In the event’s 76-year history, this year marks the first time that Ducati has ever participated at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – the Italian company hoping to showcase its Harley-Davidson alternative, the Ducati XDiavel. Helping fuel that fire was a collaboration between Roland Sands Design and Ducati, which has given way to the creation of a one-off XDiavel with the usual RSD touches. This means a flowing single-piece body, the addition of a 19″ front wheel, and shotgun-style exhaust are added to the already stylish XDiavel. The RSD Ducati XDiavel is then finished off with metallic flake paint job, along with the usual bits and bobs from the RSD catalog. There is a lot of “Southern California” transmitted through RSD’s design into the Italian-born XDiavel.

2017 KTM RC16 Officially Debuts

The Austrian GP might be tomorrow, but today the news is all about MotoGP’s newest entrant, KTM Racing. The Austrian team used its home to debut officially its MotoGP program, showing the KTM RC16 MotoGP race bike in its officially Red Bull livery for next year. The livery itself is what you would expect between at KTM/Red Bull collaboration, with the same blue and orange paint scheme as can be found on the Red Bull KTM Moto3 squad. The big difference of course is the rumored fire-breathing, 270hp, V4, engine, which Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will attempt to tame. The bike’s next outing will be at Valencia, where Thomas Lüthi and Mika Kallio will ride with the MotoGP-regulars once again, competing as wild card entries.

MotoGP Considering Team Communication via Dashboards

Dorna is considering allowing communication between teams and riders via the dashboard. At a meeting today between Dorna and the teams, initial discussions took place over a system to allow teams to pass very brief messages to the dashboard of the bikes. The ability to pass messages between team and bike has been made possible thanks to the transponders currently being used in MotoGP. Those allow for a very limited and very short burst of communication as the bikes pass the timing loops at the track. Race Direction is currently using the system to pass signals to the dash in the case of a red flag, black flag or ride through penalty, but the system would also allow teams a limited ability to pass messages to the riders.

Norton Announces V4 Superbike, Again

A year ago, to the day, Norton announced that it was working on a street-going superbike that featured a 200hp, 1,200cc, V4 engine. Now, Norton confirms that news, saying that we will see the limited-production (200 units) machine later this fall. Yay. On the bright side, Norton posted a concept drawing of the new bike to its Facebook page, giving us at least something new to whet our appetites on the new motorcycle. The concept looks very similar to the sketch we saw last year, making today’s new a little bit about nothing. But, our friends at MotoFire report that Norton is still working on a 650cc project, which will debut later this year as well.

Is This the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6?…Nope

Someone is trying to pass off the above photo as the eagerly awaited 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 – unfortunately, it’s a fake. I’m actually surprised this piece of photoshop has some legs, and is making its way around the internet, considering how obvious the forgery. To verify its authenticity, all one would have to do is to compare the above photo with photos of the current generation Yamaha YZF-R1. Contrasting the two, it’s clear that the chassis and exposed parts of the engine are right off the Yamaha YZF-R1 (it’s easiest to see on the swingarm). The real smoking gun though is that the forger used a Yamaha press photo as their base. I was able to find the base photo, which clearly shows that the five-spoke wheels on the alleged R6 are in the exact same ones from a R1 press photo.

Former Skully Employee Alleges in Lawsuit that Executives Used Corporate Funds as “Personal Piggy Banks”

A former Skully employee, Isabelle Faithhauer, is bringing suit against Skully and its founders Marcus Weller and Mitchell Weller. Faithhauer is the former-assistant to Skully CEO Marcus Weller, and for a time, served as the company’s bookkeeper. In her complaint she alleges that Skully wrongfully terminated her, and brings several other causes of action that are related to that wrongful termination. However in her filing with the court, Faithhauer also lists a number of incidents where Marcus Weller and Mitchell Weller allegedly used company funds to buy exotic cars, rent expensive apartments in San Francisco, and travel around the world.

2012 Honda Goldwing Gets Minor Tweaks

02/21/2011 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

There must be a new rule in the tourer market segment where “all new bikes” consist of minor revisions to existing machines, as Honda has apparently taken a page out of Harley-Davidson’s playbook, and done an exciting upgrade to the 2012 Honda Goldwing. While rumors were overly-hyped that an all-new Goldwing would be making an American appearance, it appears instead that the Honda engineers have gone on to further improve upon their design of the legendary touring motorcycle.

No longer built in America at Honda’s now defunct Marysville, Ohio plant, the Japanese produced 2012 Honda Goldwing comes with a slightly larger price tag, but boasts some improvements to justify the cost. Revamped bodywork, larger capacity luggage pieces, improved built-in GPS with iPod/MP3 player support, and revised suspension complete the changes for the new Goldwing. It’s hard to impress sport bike guys with a big bike like the Honda Goldwing, but if you’re interested in buying the gold standard (no pun intended) of motorcycle touring, things just got a bit more appealing we imagine.

Rumor: Husqvarna Planning Road Bikes for 2012

01/07/2011 @ 2:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Husqvarna turned more than a few heads at the 2010 EICMA show when it unveiled its Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept. Of course the 993cc asymmetrical v-triple motor was primarily responsible for raising the eyebrows of passers-by, but the idea that Husqvarna would come out with a street-based concept was also more than curious (compounded by the fact that we still can’t quite define what street segment the Mille 3 would fit into). Well the Mille 3 Concept is starting to make a bit more sense now if news from Visordown proves to be correct, as the British publication is reporting that Husqvarna is poised to begin offering true street bikes in 2012.

Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré

11/21/2010 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber was recently one of a few blogs, along with the usual suspects from the American media, to be invited out to Arizona for Yamaha’s press launch of the Super Ténéré adventure-tourer motorcycle (because we know Americans have no idea what to do with an accented “e”, think “tay-nay-ray” for pronunciation…or just cheat like us and say “ten-air-ray”). The earth is orange here in Arizona, and between the mesas and evergreen forests, Sedona makes for a picturesque setting, that’s away from the bustling metropolitans and city life. This serves our purpose well as its an ideal environment to show-off the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré against the desert’s beautiful backdrop and star-filled skies, but it also serves as the type of destination Super Ténéré owners would likely visit on Yamaha’s new motorcycle, putting us right in the shoes of the target customer.

A market segment based around compromises, adventure-tourers sit somewhere between the juxtaposition of dirt and touring bikes. Based on the idea that the journey doesn’t end where the road does, the adventure-tourer market has taken over from the Harley-Davidson crowd as the next expression of freedom on the open road. Essentially created by the BMW GS series, it is impossible to talk about adventure bikes without mentioning the GS, but other manufacturers as well have entered into this growing market, coming up with different ideas on what riders are looking for when they want to escape from the daily grind.

Built to ride both on and off the street, adventure bikes pose the unique problem of having to decide where to make the trade-offs between these two different purposes, and in this regard we find the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré, leaning more heavily to the street side of this equation than say the BMW R1200GS. As a publication that centers around street bikes generally (hence the name Asphalt & Rubber), we too lean towards the street side of that equation, making the Yamaha Super Ténéré a strong congruency to what we look for in this motorcycle segment, and a bike we wouldn’t mind adding to our stable of daily riders and long-distance tourers.

Honda VFR Adventure Concept – A Naked VFR1200F?

10/14/2010 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Released in Italy today, Honda has taken the wraps off a concept drawing that shows a new crossover motorcycle, based off the VFR1200F. Super-imposed over the shape of the new VFR, this new concept rendering shows a largely reduced fairing, in anticipation of its more “adventurous” segment orientation. If rumors are to believed on the internet, the bike may not share the same 1237cc displacement as its sport-touring cousin, and instead will sport a middleweight displacement (800cc’s seems to be a popular number).

This new VFR is one (or two?) of eight new models Honda has said it will debut in Milan. One of the other rumored models is a 1200cc concept bike, which will reportedly be a 2012 model year motorcycle with Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out the rest of what Honda has in store for us.

Suzuki Cutting a Deal To Run a Single-Bike Team in 2011

10/08/2010 @ 8:26 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Suzuki seems to be edging closer and closer to a single-man team for the next season, despite Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta making the rounds in Japan last week reminding the Japanese manufacturers of their legal obligations. With news that a good portion of the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP crew were told they should start looking for new employment, including long-time Crew Chief Stuart Shenton, Suzuki seems to be culling its ranks for a pull-back in 2011 despite the consequences.

With Dorna already showing that it may be more bark than bite, after letting Kawasaki get away with its 2009 pull-out, the folks at MCN suggest Suzuki may have brokered a deal with Dorna for a larger involvement in 2012, when MotoGP goes back to the 1000cc format, in exchange for an allowance to run a single-bike next year in an effort to cut the company’s racing costs.

Jorge Lorenzo Signs Two-Year Deal with Yamaha

10/01/2010 @ 11:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Yamaha Racing announced this morning in Motegi, Japan that they have finally come to an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo, which sees the Spanish rider signing a two-year contract with the factory team. The announcement isn’t a surprise, as Lorenzo has made it clear over the course of the season that his goal was to remain at Yamaha, with the Japanese company making similar overtures.

Lorenzo is however the last MotoGP alien to sign-up for next year, with the delay likely being due to salary negotiations and other perks within the team, like developing the YZF-M1 to suit his riding style. Lorenzo is currently 56 points ahead of Dani Pedrosa for the MotoGP Championship title, and is heavily favored to win the accolade this year for Yamaha, after finishing second last year to teammate Valentino Rossi.

Suter Unveils S1000RR Powered MotoGP Bike

09/07/2010 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

When the guidelines for the 2012 MotoGP season were released, a new class of motorcycle was allowed entry into the top series of motorcycle racing. Allowing the use of production-based motors in prototype chassis, claiming rule teams will be able to enter into the series theoretically for much less money than non-factory teams could in the past, which is a move by Dorna to bolster the GP grid size.

One of the first firms to jump on the opportunity is Suter Racing Technology, the maker of one of the more popular chassis being used in Moto2 this season. Using a BMW S1000RR motor as the power plant, the prototype race bike is based heavily off Suter’s MMX Moto2 bike.

Official: Cal Crutchlow to Monster Yamaha Tech3

09/06/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Filling the void left behind by Ben Spies, who will be riding with the factory Yamaha squad in MotoGP next season, Cal Crutchlow has officially re-signed to a two-year contract with Yamaha, and will begin his MotoGP tenure with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team. None of this news should be shocking to the MotoGP and WSBK loyal, as Crutchlow has been linked with a MotoGP/Tech3 seat for some time now.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager Hervé Poncharal revealed to Asphalt & Rubber back at Laguna Seca that Crutchlow was one of a few names on a very short list that could replace Ben Spies next season.With the Englishman seen repeatedly around the MotoGP paddock and meeting with Tech3 and Yamaha representatives, it was clear where Crutchlow would land, but the announcement is still a big one for Yamaha all the same.

Norton Returning to MotoGP Racing

08/19/2010 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

German magazine Speedweek is reporting that Norton will be back in GP racing for the 2012 season with a two-man team. Speedweek‘s highly respected Austrian journalist Gunther Wiesinger has received word that Norton has requested two spots on the 2012 MotoGP grid, and has signed a request to join the series when it returns to the 1000cc format. It’s unclear at this time if Norton will be entering as a claiming rule team (CRT), or be listed as a factory prototype, which could have a dramatic affect on the team’s success in the series.

Moto3 Rumors Continue – The Death of 125GP & Two-Strokes Seems Nigh

06/28/2010 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

After the GP Commission convened at Assen to meet regarding rules for the 2011 season, and other GP affairs, talk quickly began to spread that rumors of a Moto3 class were true. Seeing the success of Moto2 in replacing 250GP, the GP Commission seems to think that a similar race series could successfully replace the 125GP class, making all of GP racing a four-stroke affair as early as 2012 or 2013.