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.

Here It Is, The Norton V4 RR Superbike

It has been a long time coming for the Norton V4 RR, but the British firm has finally debuted its 1,200cc, 72° V4-powered, 200hp superbike. The actual machine looks pretty close to its concept sketches, which in turn are based closely to Norton’s TT race bike. Norton has made a pretty stout machine, with the V4 RR coming with a robust electronics package that was developed in-house, which includes traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and cruise control, augmented by a six-axis IMU; a 7″ high-definition display that includes a rear-facing camera; and a up-and-down quickshifter and datalogger. Key chassis components include the twin-tube “shotgun” frame, and a single-sided swingarm with a fully adjustable pivot point (the steering head angle is also adjustable).

Do You Have 20/20 Vision?

01/11/2012 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Because motorcycles can move from lane to lane with ease, and even vary their position in a single lane with regularity, motorcyclists are sadly hard to spot when automobile drivers are accustomed only to looking out for larger slow-to-move cars that take up an entire lane’s width. Yes, as motorcyclists we impose a special duty on automobile drivers, a duty which more often than not gets pushed back onto us. This then requires motorcyclists to ride defensively. It requires us to assume a cage doesn’t see us, and is gong to move into our lane.

Nissan Responds Over Juke Commercial Controversy

09/09/2011 @ 11:32 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

After an outpouring of criticism of its Nissan Juke commercial, it looks like someone at the Japanese company has yanked its videos of the motorcycle-eating CUV from the internet. With the videos on YouTube and Vimeo now set to “private” and requiring a password to watch, it would seem that Nissan wisely doesn’t want you to see one of its latest promotions of the Juke, where a computer animated version of the Nissan Juke turns the tables on the “predatory” motorcycles, and hunts them down by running-over the motorcyclists. The pièce de résistance to this motorcyclist massacre is that the Juke’s motorcycle-inspired center console is in fact a trophy from one of the CUV’s many kills from the video. We seriously couldn’t make this up if we tried, and yet that very storyboard somehow made its way through an ad agency pitch.

Getting a proper roasting here at Asphalt & Rubber, we can only imagine that the frustration vented by motorcyclists in our comments showed a glimpse into the emails that Nissan recieved from the advertisement. Luckily one of our readers here at A&R shared with us the response they got from Nissan Canada, the branch responsible for the online Nissan Juke campaign in question. The reply confirms that the videos are in the process of being removed, though we’re not sure the duration of the campaign, nor its “super-natural” fell has much relevancy to the situation, and it certainly does not ease the fact that Nissan is showing an automobile maliciously run-over motorcyclists.

Considering that many of the members of the motorcycle community can share a common story about how a negligent or road-raged driver has nearly run them of the road (or worse, succeeded in that endeavor), we stand behind our position that Nissan probably could have picked a better way to make references to motorcycling-inspired design elements than what the company produced in this “trophy” storyline. A copy Nissan Canada’s response, with redacted names, is after the jump.

Video: Stay a Hero, Stay Safe

06/13/2011 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It seems more often than not, the video advertisements we feature here on Asphalt & Rubber are examples of what is wrong with marketing in the motorcycle industry. However every once and a while, we get a gem like this safety campaign for The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, which was done by director Daniel Cox , the maker of a similar car campaign that was quite the rage in the advertising world.

The best part about this ad is that it centers around a little boy who seeS the motorcycle of his father, and wants to share in that experience. In a way, a lot of us are like little boys when we get on our bikes, and there certainly is a captivating element with motorcycles and small children. It just makes the imagery seem more fitting, and then there is of course the whole rolemodel message. It’s good heartfelt stuff, and it’s waiting for you right after the jump.

Video: Casey Stoner Helps Hock Some Hondas

05/09/2011 @ 8:54 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It’s been a while since we had a motorcycle advert to critique, but with the thawing of winter’s ice, we should have a plethora of videos to show in the coming motorcycle friendly months. First up for the new riding season is Honda with this CBR1000RR ad that features MotoGP star Casey Stoner, and what appropriately looks to be Oz’s Repsol Honda Casey Stoner race replica that he is riding.

As far as motorcycle marketing goes, this clip is a pretty good effort by Honda Australia. Star GP rider, good production quality, and a demand generation focus all make for a compelling advert. Honda will need all the help it can get though, as it’s hard to sell the same bike that’s been out for four years, albeit with some fresh paint and some minor tweaks here and there.

In a market segment where dyno graphs and high-tech gizmos rule the sales sheet, here’s to hoping that quality in adverts can make up for quantity on the dynamometer in the Land of Kangaroos. Check it out after the jump and let us know what you think.

I Think They’re Selling Gasoline…

04/01/2011 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on I Think They’re Selling Gasoline…

Repsol Honda has debuted a new advertisement to go in-line with the MotoGP Championship stopping in Jerez, Spain this weekend. Drawing on the petroleum company’s sponsored riders in GP racing, we see Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, and Marc Márquez making an appearance for their benefactor. We can only imagine the acting direction that must have been given to the riders for this video: “Marc, you’re the youngest so no talking and only use your hands. Dani, divide a really big number by another really big number while staring off into space. Andrea, you’re hot, so very, very, very hot…do something about it. Casey, you’re a sweaty boy, and everyone knows it.”

While we don’t speak a lot of Spanish here in the A&R office, we imagine the real message here is about teamwork, winning, and using Spanish gasoline…at least that’s what we’re hoping for, and that this is not the making of a motorcycle-themed boy band music video. Honestly though, it’s a pretty cool video with the slow-motion shots, and luckily for Repsol it looks like they have a good chance of being on the podium this weekend to go along with this campagin. Check out the making of this video after the jump, as it looks like there’s some A-quality footage still to be used. Do we smell a sequel coming on?

“Crash Proof” Motorcycle Hoax Video Revealed

03/15/2011 @ 9:50 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

You’ve likely seen the video where a “crash proof” motorcycle, which has rider detection aids on-board, gets plowed by a truck as it enters the highway. If you haven’t seen this video, well…we just sorta ruined it for you, and we’re going to ruin it some more for the rest of you who thought it was real, as the group behind the video’s making has finally stepped forward, and revealed it was all a hoax to get you thinking about rider safety.

Produced by the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership (TVSRP), as part of the Safer Rider campaign, the locale has been trying to make riders in their 30’s and 40’s aware of the area’s high casualty rate on the roadway. “Our aim was to produce a video that encouraged people to discuss the attitudes and ability involved when riding a motorcycle and for it to spread virally within the motorcycle community,” said Craig McAlpine of TVSRP.

Caution: Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health

12/29/2010 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Pirelli (makers of the 2011 Pirelli Calendar) and the Italian arm of ad firm Y&R (the NY arm of Y&R did the Xerox/Ducati ad set) want you to know that smoking can be hazardous to your health. Playing off the Surgeon General warning labels found on cigarette packages, Pirelli’s new ads show a motorcycling protagonist full of gusto putting one of his Italian doughnuts to good use with a puff of smoke and a mighty burnout (we’re working on our ad copy hyperbole).

There’s some good play on words going on here, which Y&R has put to good use with motorcycling imagery. We especially like the line “smoking can cause circulation problems” as the photo focuses on the time-warped spinning tire, while the “protect chicks: don’t make them breathe your smoke” seems a bit more pedestrian and blunt. Good photography, a hot custom bike, clever ad work. Chalk up a win for Pirelli (more photos after the jump).

Video: Ducati Helps Xerox Sell Some Copiers

09/09/2010 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Xerox essentially foots the bill for Ducati’s World Superbike racing adventures, so it’s not surprising that the company, whose name is synonymous with photocopying, would like to capitalize on that relationship. It’s hard to imagine how one can make an intriguing commercial about xeroxing some documents (see what we did there?), which may be why Rochester-based brand is involved with WSBK in the first place, as the company has tapped its relationship with Ducati to help sell some copy machines. The result is an actually semi-engaging ad, but we’re just not sure what Xerox is going to do next year. Video after the jump.

Splitsville: Ad Agency Carmichael Lynch & Harley-Davidson to Part Ways

08/31/2010 @ 7:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Carmichael Lynch, the ad agency behind Harley-Davidson’s “Screw it, Let’s Ride” campaign, has just announced that it will be parting ways with the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer. In a pair of “it’s not you, it’s me” press releases, the two companies, which have partnered together for the past 31 years, cite different reasons for their mutual departures.

Harley-Davidson CMO Mark-Hans Richer said in the company’s statement that, “our strategies have been moving away from a singular consumer target and a one-size-fits-all agency solution. Rather than accept this new reality, Carmichael Lynch chose a different path and we respect that.” Meanwhile according to Advertising Age,  President of Carmichael Lynch Doug Spong said that, “Our agency leadership came to the consensus that we’ve taken the Harley-Davidson brand as far as we can. It’s in our best interest to part ways.”

We just think that Harley-Davidson is on Step 1 of our three part strategy on How to Save Harley-Davidson.

Harley Continues to Chase a Younger Audience

08/24/2010 @ 8:05 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

We’ve gotten more than a few emails from readers between the ages of 18-30 saying they’ve been approached at motorcycling events by market research company representatives working for Harley-Davidson. In conjunction with beefing up its Sportster line-up (the goto motorcycle at Harley-Davidson for catering to Gen-Y/X riders) with more youth-oriented motorcycles, Harley-Davidson is clearly trying to latch onto a new generation of rider.

Looking for the next generation of rebels, Harley’s focus lately has been on the skateboarding inclined, hoping perhaps that the demographic’s lifestyle of “skateboarding is not a crime” is a value that transfers over easily to two-wheeled transportation. Of course this marketing effort wouldn’t be complete without a new ad campaign, and Harley is clearly making ads for the customer it wants, not the customer it has.

Giving credit where credit is due, this is one of the better ads to come out of the Milwaukee brand. Check the video out after the jump, and note how many times you see a woman behind the handlebars.