California Formalizes Lane-Splitting Law

It finally happened, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 51 into law, making California the first state to put lane-splitting on its books. Lane-splitting has always been legal of course (despite what other headlines might suggest), though was legal only by a technical loophole in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). The passage of AB 51 now formally adds lane-splitting as a condoned practice by the CVC; and more importantly, it expressly allows government agencies, like the California Highway Patrol, to create and teach best-practice guidelines. AB 51 still creates some basic jurisprudence issues, like granting legislative powers to the executive branch, but many in the pro-lane-splitting movement seem to look past that issue, instead focusing on what it brings to motorcyclists.

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.

Triumph Tiger Explorer Gets $15,699 MSRP Price Tag

01/13/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

When the Triumph Tiger 800 came out, speculation immediately set forth on when the British brand would build a “full-size” adventure bike. Then the 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer broke cover ahead of the 2011 EICMA show, and officially added a 1,200cc three-cylinder adventure-tourer to Triumph’s motorcycle line-up. Along with a plethora of other motorcycles, the Triumph Tiger Explorer hopes to take on the BMW R1200GS, the undisputed king of ADV riding.

Since the Tiger 800 gained favorable reviews and traction in the marketplace, the Tiger Explorer was expected to also be a market favorite for 2012…that is of course if Triumph could price the big-displacement Tiger competitively against the Ducatis, BMWs, and KTMs in the US market. Getting a $15,699 MSRP price tag, that element of our question has been answered, and sets the Triumph Tiger Explorer as the cheaper alternative in the premium-adventure market.

Spy Photos: 2013 BMW R1250GS Caught Testing

12/29/2011 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The bike that made the brand, the BMW R1200GS is about to get updated for the 2013 model year, and the Bavarians have been busy testing their new adventure bike. As such the ever questionable “spy photos” have made their way onto the interwebs, and we diligently give in to the new trend in motorcycle marketing to bring you some very clear photos of the 2013 BMW R1250GS. While the new BMW R1250GS looks ready for prime time, and is expected to be a liquid-cooled version of the now iconic GS, we imagine BMW is still surely stepping carefully with the R1250GS’s final design.

One of the best-selling motorcycles worldwide, the BMW GS has defined the now lucrative adventure-touring market segment. Accordingly, BMW must be keen on making sure the new 2013 BMW R1250GS doesn’t alienate its core constituency of GS riders. However, the German brand is surely also feeling the pressure to update its air-cooled line with water-cooled motors, as well as bringing other modern features to its motorcycles.

Even More Teasers of the New Suzuki V-Strom

06/15/2011 @ 6:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Suzuki continues to string us along with dates and teasers of its expected V-Strom replacement/update. Showing three more blurred, yet revealing, photos of the new middleweight adventure bike, Suzuki is now saying to come back to its website on June 22nd for more details on the machine.

From what we hear from our European colleagues, Suzuki has sent out invites for the new V-Strom’s unveiling, which is schedule for June 27th in Croatia — a great venue, but also a week and a half away. Whether or not we’ll get a glimpse of the machine before then remains to be seen (or more teasers for that matter), but there is at least now a definitive timeline on when this madness will conclude. More photos after the jump.

Four Images Reveal More About the New Suzuki Middleweight Adventure Bike

06/07/2011 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Rumors are still fuzzy on the upcoming release of a new middleweight Suzuki adventure bike, with there being some debate as to whether the V-Strom replacement will be a 650cc, 1000cc, or perhaps even an 800cc machine. Suzuki is pushing the adventure statement hard, which to us means that this new bike will be more off-road capable than the current V-Strom, which to us has always seemed like a sport-tourer duped into doing something it wasn’t intended to do.

With Suzuki’s US website even sporting the teaser images now, this looks to be a worldwide release; and we won’t have to wait long to find out all the details, as this Saturday should bring us more information on how the Japanese brand is finally getting on this mid-life crisis bandwagon. So far the best guess we’ve heard are new look, new chassis, and new motor. More teaser photos after the jump.

Spy Shots: Honda Crosstourer Caught Testing

05/24/2011 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The Honda Crosstourer is getting closer to production, as the Japanese adventure bike was caught testing by the eagle-eyed lens of Brenda Priddy & Company. Sans some panniers, and with a cover over the bike’s crash bars/fairings, it looks like the Honda Crosstourer has remained largely unchanged from its 2010 EICMA debut.

Based around the same V4 motor that can be found in the Honda VFR1200F, the Crosstourer looks to be fairly off-road capable, and will compete against bikes like the BMW R1200GS and Yamaha Super Ténéré. It’ll be interesting to see how the dual-clutch transmission on the Crosstourer fares in off-road duty.

You can check out the spy shots of the Honda Crosstourer over on Edmunds Inside Line.

A Better Look at the Aprilia Caponord 1200

03/01/2011 @ 9:42 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on A Better Look at the Aprilia Caponord 1200

If you were disappointed by the low-resolution/low-quality spy photo of the Aprilia Caponord 1200 (Aprilia Tuareg 1200 to some) published yesterday, then have no fear because the folks at Moto-Infos have your back, and have whipped up a photoshop of what the bike should look like when it debuts later this year at EICMA. Since the Aprilia Caponord 1200 basically is a Dorsoduro 1200 in sheep’s clothing anyways, the work here is pretty damn faithful to the image we saw just 24hrs ago.

Confirmed: 2012 Husqvarna Street Bike to Debut at EICMA

02/22/2011 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Husky fans are going to have something to talk about for the next 8 months as BMW Motorrad VP Hermann Bohrer has confirmed that the Husqvarna brand would be dipping its toe into the street bike waters with a new bike launching at EICMA later this year. Said to have German technology with Italian design, the new Husky will be a middleweight adventure bike that features a BMW F800GS parallel-twin motor that’s been increased to 900cc in displacement, which makes it not too dissimilar from the Husqvarna Mille 3 concept (shown above) we saw last year at the Italian trade show.

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 Crosstourer Concept Also Explained

11/08/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Honda Crosstourer Concept Also Explained

Although Honda likely needed to explain its thought process more fully regarding the 2011 Honda Crossrunner, the Japanese company has also put together a quick video clip with designer Yosuke Hasegawa, and his vision behind the Honda Crosstourer Concept. The more purposeful occasional off-roader, Honda’s Crosstourer Concept takes the V4 motor from the VFR1200F, and mates it to an adventure-based platform.

We imagine the idea is that the Crosstourer picks up where the Crossrunner leaves off, and it is interesting to note how Honda’s naming scheme for both bikes encourages that idea. Cross for crossover concept, the Crossrunner is sportier with its “runner” designation, while the Crosstourer seems destined for more of a “it’s the journey, not the destination” thing with its “tourer” badge. Again don’t take our word for it, watch Hasegawa-san explain his creation after the jump.

Video: Triumph Tiger 800 & 800 XC Unedited

11/02/2010 @ 6:35 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS