Three Rider Opinions on MotoGP vs. WorldSBK

As the sun set on the third day of the Jerez Test, Jonathan Rea hogged the limelight with the second fastest time of the day. With MotoGP bikes sharing the track with World Superbike runners, the story of the day was that Rea spent most of the day leading the “faster” GP boys. The question in the aftermath however was how does this reflect on both championships? Rea was a tenth of a second off the fastest time of the day, set by Hector Barbera. The speed and performance of the Kawasaki rider was hugely impressive, but is this a sign that the production bikes can hold their own, or is it a fortuitous confluence of circumstances?

How Kawasaki Plans to Defend Its WSBK Title in 2017

It took Kawasaki until last year to finally win a World Superbike manufacturer’s title. Having retained the crown in 2016, the Japanese factory will have to dig deep in 2017 in order to keep it. Winter testing is a time to take stock of what worked well on your bike in the past, and what now needs now to improve. Kawasaki won over half of the races in the last three years, but despite these successes the team is working hard to find improvements. The final four rounds of the season saw Chaz Davies and Ducati dominate proceedings, making them the early favorite for title success in 2017. New regulations will see split throttle bodies now outlawed, and there are also changes to the battery regulations. While Jonathan Rea has been running his bike in this specification for most of 2016 his teammate, Tom Sykes, has not.

Motorcyclist Magazine Moving to Six-Issue per Year Format, As Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook Leaves the Publication

Changes are afoot at Motorcyclist magazine, as the monthly publication is set to move to a six-issue per year format starting in Spring 2017. That transition will come from the direction of a new leader too, as Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook will be leaving Motorcyclist as well. Cook outlined his departure, and announced the new format for Motorcyclist, citing the many contributions his team of writers have made over the course of his tenure at the magazine. As the opening paragraph to Cook’s goodbye letter coyly suggests, the media landscape in the motorcycle industry is shifting, pushing Motorcyclist magazine in a new direction.

BMW G310R Street Tracker by Wedge Motorcycles

A few months ago, this pocket-sized street tracker caught my attention on Facebook. It was based off the BMW G310R street bike platform, that much I could tell, but I couldn’t find anymore information on the machine. A few more weeks of this lonesome photo sitting in my ‘to do” box, and it finally moved on to the place where all good stories go to die. So, imagine my surprise when our friends at BMW Motorrad Japan sent me the following photos, which depict a new custom bike they commissioned from Takashi Nihira, at Tokyo’s Wedge Motorcycles. It is the same bike I saw months earlier, but now we know who to thank for its creation, as well as a little bit more about its build. Its is quite impressive, for an unassuming “little” street tracker, don’t you think?

From Russia with Love, MV Agusta Finds New Money

Last week, I was ready to start polishing the obituary for MV Agusta – the Italian company seemingly in an impossibly terminal state. Now it seems MV Agusta’s fortunes are changing, with the Italian motorcycle maker signing an agreement with the Black Ocean investment group to recapitalize MV Agusta. Details of the pending transaction haven’t been released, but we can assume that the increase in capital will help ease MV Agusta’s relationship with suppliers, get workers back on the assembly line, and continue the development of new models. The €20 million question though is whether Black Ocean’s investment will mean the departure of AMG, the German auto brand acting now like an albatross around MV Agusta’s neck.

Ducati MHLeggera Concept by Speed Junkies

The Ducati 1299 Superleggera might be the most technically astounding machine ever to come from the Italian brand, but all those exotic materials and fancy electronics are lost on some riders – motorcyclists who prefer more simpler times. So the good folk at Speed Junkies have heard this call, and mashed-up the 1299 Superleggera with Ducati’s perhaps most coveted nod to the past, the Mike Hailwood inspired Ducati MH900e. Both the Superleggera and MH900e are beauties in their own right, though there is something interesting to the design that Speed Junkies proposes with the two bikes together. We thought you would find the concept interesting, and there is a second “race” version waiting for you after the jump as well. We are of the belief that either would look good in our garage.

Introducing A&R Pro Premium Memberships

We are launching something very special today, which is geared towards our most diehard readers. We call it A&R Pro. It is a premium membership that offers more features to the Asphalt & Rubber website, and more of the A&R content that you have grown to love. For the A&R readers who can’t get enough of the site – often coming here multiple times per day to get the latest stories – we wanted to offer you more of the content and community that you thrive on; and in the same breath, give you a way to help support Asphalt & Rubber. That’s where A&R Pro comes in. Asphalt & Rubber has always strived to be an independent voice in the motorcycle industry. By signing up for A&R Pro, you help us to continue that goal, and in fact make us more independent.

Ariel Ace R – More Sexy for the Sexiest VFR1200F

For some, it is a challenge to get excited about a motorcycle like the Honda VFR1200F. The porker of a street bike as strayed far away from its sport bike roots, and yet confusingly isn’t a terribly effective tourer either. The market response reflects this confusion, but I digress. It is however easy to get excited about the Ariel Ace, a motorcycle that features a repackaged VFR1200F motor wedged into a bespoke aluminum trellis frame, with the usual top-shelf drippings offered, along with a very unique streetfighter design. Taking things to the next level now is the beautifully done Ariel Ace R, which comes with carbon fiber fairings, carbon fiber wheels, and a tuned V4 engine that produces 201hp and 105 lbs•ft of peak torque. Only 10 Ariel Ace R will be made.

New Honda Rebel 500 & Rebel 300 Models Debut

It would be hard to count the number of motorcyclists who got their start in the two-wheeled world on a Honda Rebel motorcycle, with the line going back through decades of time. The number is certainly a large one. Now, a new generation of rider can begin their two-wheeled journey on a new generation of Rebel, with Honda debuting the all-new 2017 Honda Rebel 300 (above) and 2017 Honda Rebel 500 (after the jump) ahead of the IMS Long Beach show. The Honda Rebel 500 and Honda Rebel 300 use the same power plants found on the CBR500R (471cc parallel-twin) and CBR300R (286cc single-cylidner), respectively, repackaging those engines into a cruiser platform that is friendly to new and shorter riders, with a 27″ seat height.

Electric Done Right, Enjoy the Aero E-Racer Street Tracker

It has been a while since we have seen an electric motorcycle that caught out fancy – you know, one that looked like it was made by someone who actually understands motorcycles, and isn’t just gunning for a spot at Art Center. There is this notion in the electric world that just because powertrains are evolving, that we need to throw the baby out with the bath water as wellwhen it comes to design. But, when I think about the electric motorcycle builds that have caught my attention the most, it is the ones that understand this concept at their core – good examples being bikes like the Mission R, Alta Motors Redshift SM, or Vespa Elettrica. Add another name to that list now, as the E-Racer from Aero Motorcycles is a truly beautiful two-wheeled machine, and it runs on electrons, not hydrocarbons.

2016 Benelli Leoncino Brings Back the Lion Cub

11/18/2015 @ 2:25 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

2016-Benelli-Leoncino

Benelli is not a brand we usually talk about with great reverence, as the Italian company has steadily lost its luster since its acquisition by China’s Qianjiang Group.

Benelli’s motorcycles were never known for being terribly reliable, and unfortunately the artful designs that they exuded have slowly eroded away over time.

The big announcement for Benelli at the 2015 EICMA show is the new Benelli Leoncino, the “lion cub” model that’s rooted in Benelli’s post-WWII history.

This modern take on the classic Benelli Leoncino is an attractive scrambler model, which makes 47hp from its 500cc parallel-twin engine.

This also means that the Benelli Leoncino a well-suited A2 license machine in Europe, and its wire-spoked wheels are 19″ in the front and 17″ in the rear, and should make the Leoncino surprisingly adapt at light off-road use.

Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 – 400cc of Hipster

11/16/2015 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

2016-Ducati-Scrambler-Sixty2

The eagerly awaited 2016 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is the small-displacement machine we have been waiting for from Ducati, and it has finally dropped at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. The Scrambler Sixty2 joins the Scrambler Flat Track Pro as one of the two new Scrambler Ducati models for 2016.

Accordingly, the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 takes the basic Scrambler chassis and re-sleeves the machine’s air-cooled v-twin for 400cc of displacement, with a 72mm x 49mm bore and stroke (compared to the 88mm x 66mm bore and stroke on the 803cc models).

The result is a bike that Ducati says is better suited for new riders with its 41hp and 368 lbs dry weight. That’s only a 7 lbs reduction from the the 803cc models, so the Scrambler Sixty2 is still a bit heavy, but the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 does fit into Europe’s A2 license format, so there’s that.

Here are the First Photos of the 2016 Honda CB500F

11/09/2015 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Media Advisory: 2016 Honda CB500F Preview Images

Here is your first look at the 2016 Honda CB500F, which like its other Honda brethren, will get a bit of makeover for next year. American Honda is teasing the new model now, but says it won’t release more information until the EICMA show in Milan, on November 17th.

We don’t think Honda will stray too far from the current Honda CB500F, with most of the modifications being cosmetic refinements that enhance the street-standard’s appeal to riders.

Finally, Here is the Husqvarna 701 Enduro

10/27/2015 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

2016-Husqvarna-701-Enduro-38

We already blew the cover on the Husqvarna 701 Enduro last month, but now the Swedish brand is officially showing the big enduro to the general public. As expected, the 701 Enduro will be the off-road compliment to the 701 Supermoto, with the two machines sharing the same 690cc single-cylinder platform.

This means that the Husqvarna 701 Enduro will make 67hp, have dual-spark ignition, and use a SOHC setup. The 701 machines also have ride-by-wire with selectable engine maps, ABS as standard, as is the ATSC slipper clutch.

For bonus points though, it is possible to get the Husqvarna 701 Enduro compliant for A2 licensed riders, which should help some less experienced riders get onto this big bike when it debuts in Europe (yes, it’s coming to the USA and Canada too).

2016 Honda CB500X…With You Guessed It, Modest Changes

10/22/2015 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2016-Honda-CB500X-03

For 2016, we know that Honda will bring its big “adventure-tourer” the US market, known to Europeans as the Honda Crosstourer, and introduced to Americans as the Honda VFR1200X. For the 2016 model year, the Crosstourer gets some minor updates, as does its 700cc sibling the Honda NC700X.

So if you’re keeping score, that leaves one more machine to get a modest update for 2016…yup, Honda CB500X, we are talking about you!

A Goldilocks-busting lineup of street-focused ADV machines, the 2016 Honda CB500X rounds out Honda’s lineup with a lightweight and nimble machine that is also good for the A2 licensing countries.

2016 Honda CBR500R Debuts with Modest Changes

10/15/2015 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2016 Honda CBR500R

Not quite “bold new graphics” territory, but the Honda CBR500R will get mostly cosmetic changes for the 2016 model year, as the machine made its world debut at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida today, as expected.

The most noticeable change comes to the fairings, which get a more aggressive design that Honda says improves airflow over the rider. LEDs will replace the incandescent bulbs on the headlights and taillights, which is an interesting upgrade to make, though a welcomed one.

Other changes include a new exhaust can design, an adjustable front brake lever, improved feel through the gearbox, and a larger fuel tank. We saved the best new feature for last though: a wave ignition key, for smoother function. Welcome to Flavor Country, people.

2014 Honda CB650F — A2 License Optional

11/08/2013 @ 4:44 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2014-Honda-CB650F-10

Of course where there is a new Honda CBR650F at the 2013 EICMA show, there is a new Honda CB650F as well. Based on its fully-faired sibling, the 2014 Honda CB650F features the same brand new chassis and motor that is found on the 2014 Honda CBR650F sport bike.

Accordingly, peak horsepower is 86hp with the CB650F tipping the scales at 454 lbs at the curb (458 lbs for the ABS-equipped model).

Like the CBR650F, the CB650F is geared for younger riders, and accordingly Honda will have an A2 license machine available that will make 47hp and have ABS as a standard option.

Other features and characteristics are in-line with the 650cc CBR model, making the CB650F a practical street naked, that has some design chops as well. Would you rock it?

2013 KTM 390 Duke – AYBABTU

11/13/2012 @ 4:48 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Officially official now, there isn’t much about the 2013 KTM 390 Duke that we don’t already know ahead of the opening of the EICMA show. Built in India by KTM minority shareholder Bajaj, the KTM 390 Duke is a 373cc single-cylinder bike that shares the same chassis as the KTM 125 Duke & KTM 200 Duke.

Suitable for Europe’s A2 licensing system, the largest baby Duke competes well against bikes like the Honda CBR500R and Kawasaki Ninja 300, and thus finishes out the Austrian’s bid to control the small-displacement market.

Leaked: 2013 KTM 390 Duke – 373cc, 43hp, EFI, A2 Ready

11/12/2012 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The Dutch folk at Nieuwsmotor have snuck their way onto the EICMA showroom floor, snapped photos of the KTM 390 Duke kiosk, and posted the images to their blog — giving us the first proper viewing of the Austrian brand’s 373cc street-thumper. Like the 2013 Honda CBR500R, the  2013 KTM 390 Duke is setup for the A2 licensing tier in Europe, and accordingly makes 43hp @ 9.500 rpm and 26 lbs•ft of torque @ 7,250 rpm.

Complete with ABS and built in India by minority shareholder Bajaj, the 2013 KTM 390 Duke is slotted to enter the US market next year, and should be aggressively priced against the competition. For already-motorcyclists and would-be motorcyclists in the market for a cheap, but potent, small-displacement machine, next year is going to be a very good year.

53 Photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & Z800e

10/02/2012 @ 6:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

We already knew well ahead of the INTERMOT show that Team Green would debut the Kawasaki Ninja Z800, a bike that replaces the best-selling sport-naked in the Europe: the Kawasaki Ninja Z750. Featuring an 806cc inline-four motor, the new Z800 comes in two flavors: the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e. The Kawasaki Ninja Z800 makes 111hp and 61 lbs•ft of torque, while the Kawasaki Ninja Z800e gets a bit more watered down with 94hp and 56 lbs•ft of torque, though it saves 6 lbs over its more burly counterpart.

The two-pronged model approach by Kawasaki is surely being done to better capture a wider audience with the Ninja Z800 line, which also explains why the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e comes with a 47hp A2 license compliant option as well. Designed to be at home on the set of the next Transformers movie, you will either love or hate the lines of the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 — we happen to think it looks rather edgy and mean, which is how we like our street-nakeds to carry themselves.

For its added price and power, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 comes 41mm KYB forks that feature preload and rebound damping only — the same goes for the Z800’s rear shock. The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e, however comes with forks and a rear shock that have only preload adjustment capability, and no damping controls. Both models come with an optional ABS package. We do not expect the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 to come to North America at this point in time. Waiting for you after the jump are 53 photos of the new Kawasaki Ninja Z800.