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.

“Choose Your Own Adventure” with the Honda Africa Twin

10/20/2015 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

honda-africa-twin-choose-your-own-adventure

If you are a Gen-X male, you probably remember the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books. If you don’t happen to fit this demographic, and don’t have a clue what I am talking about, don’t worry the idea is pretty simple – let me break it down for you.

Each book contained an adventure for the reader, and every dozen pages or so, the story would give a choice on how to continue. Each choice you had to make also had a certain page in the book that you would skip to, in order to continue the story on the path you desired. If you were like me, you almost always failed or died in your task. There is probably a life lesson in there…somewhere.

What does this have to do with motorcycles you may ask? Ah well, Honda has for us the modern-day version of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, using YouTube in a very similar manner. What are they promoting, you may ask? The Honda Africa Twin adventure bike, naturally.

The story found in the YouTube might not be of the same page-turning qualities as the original namesake, but we doubt you can take a wrong turn in Honda’s variable story line. Check it out, after the jump…and yes, for those keeping score, this is yet another video from Honda on the Africa Twin. Sweet merciful Jesus.

Another Africa Twin Cometh from Honda?

10/14/2015 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2016 Honda Africa Twin

Honda Motorcycles Europe has a peculiar video on its YouTube channel, which teases that “the adventure continues” starting this Friday, October 16th. The video is peculiar, because we have already seen the Honda Africa Twin, which debuted at last year’s trade shows.

The video itself doesn’t give away much, other than two riders making their way through some backcountry on a pair of Honda Africa Twin motorcycles.

Best guess seems to be that we’ll see a model variant or two from Honda, most likely including a “touring” model. More radical guesses would be a smaller displacement machine to accompany the 1,000cc adventure-touring beast.

While the latter makes a great deal of sense from a segment point-of-view, there is nothing to suggest such a thing, so we are thinking it’s more likely the prior. We won’t have to wait long to find out though.

Watch These Urals Ford the River, Oregon Trail Style

08/19/2015 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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I don’t really get the people who obsess about riding a Ural – a Russian knock-off of a German sidecar just doesn’t strike me as an enjoyable time on a motorcycle.

Of course, my saddle time on a Ural has been relegated to around-town and highway riding, which isn’t really the Ural’s domain of choice. These Cossack bikes really shine off-road, where their funky WWII-era 2WD design becomes an asset, not a hinderance.

Add to the fact that Urals are bone-simple to work on — owning a Ural means you will be wrenching on it, a lot, by the way — and you’ve got a motorcycle that’s well-suited to the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of where the road ends…especially when the road ends in a river.

Attempting to ford the river, Oregon Trail style, these Ural owners are experiencing all that the Russian marque has to offer. Seeing is believing, after the jump.

There’s So Much “Zef” in this Triumph Tiger Explorer

08/11/2015 @ 5:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Chappie-Triumph-Tiger-Concept-Jakusa-Design-02

Eleven years ago I saw this short CGI’d film about robotic police officers that patrolled in South Africa, in lieu of humans. It was really well-done and impressive short, more so because over 10 years ago it was really incredibly hard to make passable CGI.

This video, “Tetra Vaal” by Neill Blomkamp (of District 9 & Elysium fame, and embedded after the jump), just recently became the launching point for the box-office buster Chappie.

The feature film is a bit painful, especially if you’re not into the whole “zef rap” scene (I honestly wouldn’t click that link, NSFW). But, the movie touches on some interesting nerdy points, such as artificial intelligence and generally how messed up South Africa is, as a country.

This discussion of special effects, musical tastes, and semi-opinionated geo-politics is all necessary and relevant because of a Triumph Tiger Explorer concept inked by Jakusa Design, which riffs heavily on the Chappie‘s namesake character.

Such is the soft spot in my heart for the lovable robot Chappie, that I’m forcing this concept upon you. Sorry for partying…but more sorry for adding zef to your lexicon.

Official Details & Photos of the 2016 Honda Africa Twin

07/24/2015 @ 3:11 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

2016 Honda Africa Twin DCT

After leaking twice yesterday, Honda has officially dropped details and photos on its highly anticipated adventure-tourer, the 2016 Honda Africa Twin. A continuation of the legacy by the same name, the new Honda Africa Twin is an off-road focused machine that will go head-to-head with the big ADV bikes already on the market.

Built around a 998cc parallel-twin engine, which makes 94hp and 72 lbs•ft of torque, the Africa Twin tips the scales at the curb at 503 lbs (standard model, first photos after the jump) / 534 lbs (DCT/ABS models, shown above).

Spec-sheet off-road racers are likely not going to be happy with these numbers, though they measure well against the KTM 1190 Adventure R and BMW R1200GS Adventure.

What we think ADV riders will come around to is Honda’s off-road built dual-clutch transmission, which will have the benefit of making shifts while out of the saddle much easier, and giving clutch-free operation, much like a Rekluse clutch.

Honda Africa Twin Specs Leaked with Hi-Res Photo

07/23/2015 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2016-Honda-Africa-Twin-CRF1000L

Last night we brought you a leaked video of the new Honda Africa Twin, which revealed the off-road oriented adventure bike in all its glory. Today, we get to see the leaked specs of the Honda CRF1000L (the model designation of the Africa Twin), along with what looks like an official high-resolution photo.

The spec-sheet for the Africa Twin has long been something of interest for ADV fans, with the obvious questions being 1) how much horsepower will it make? and 2) how much will it weight. The answers are 94hp, and 458 lbs dry (467 lbs with ABS, 489 lbs with DCT).

Finally, Here is the Honda Africa Twin in All Its Glory

07/22/2015 @ 7:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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UPDATE: Technical specifications for the 2016 Honda Africa Twin have also leaked.

Honda has been teasing a six-part video series about the Honda Africa Twin, and the final installment has just leaked onto the internet. As you would expect, the video finally gives us the full monty on what the Honda CRF1000L will look like, along with some great action footage.

Perhaps even better, the final installment of Honda’s video series also features a very interesting discussion with HRC riders, Honda engineers, and stakeholders to the Africa Twin brand.

The discussion is very insightful to the development of the 1,000cc adventure bike platform, including off-roading’s first dual-clutch transmission (DCT).

Report: KTM 390 Adventure Begins Testing in India

06/18/2015 @ 1:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

ktm-390-adventure-photoshop

It’s been a while since we heard about the KTM 390 Adventure, the Austrian company’s third installment to its built-in-India small-displacement motorcycle lineup.

Based off the KTM 390 Duke, the Adventure model has been a long-time coming, ever since KTM CEO Stefan Pierer lit it slip that the dual-sport would be coming, two and a half years ago.

It seems now that KTM is getting closer to production, as the folks at CarTrade are reporting that two test models of the KTM 390 Adventure (codenamed KT22) have been sent to India for R&D, presumably as a prelude to Bajaj beginning production on the budget-friednly machines.

Even More Photos of the Honda Africa Twin

05/18/2015 @ 7:18 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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After a few grayscale photos of the new Africa Twin hit the internet from Honda’s Australian patent filing, now even more photos have emerged, which show the adventure-tourer from every angle…literally.

The Honda CRF1000L, as it is designated, will features a 1,000cc parallel-twin engine, an option dual-clutch transmission that has been tuned for road use, and a setup very similar to Honda’s Dakar stage-winning bike.

If the hype is to be believed, the Africa Twin is going to be a very capable off-road ADV bike, something that the machine’s 21-inch front wheel hints at with a purpose.

Honda Africa Twin Revealed in Photos

05/14/2015 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Honda-Africa-Twin-grayscale-02

After Honda first released heavily cropped and vignetted photos of the 2016 Honda Africa Twin, we have been wanting to know more about the 1,000cc ADV bike.

It helps that a video leaked of the Africa Twin out playing in the dirt, but of course we know that the CRF1000L (as Honda designates it) will be very similar to the True Adventure prototype that Honda brought to EICMA.

But like the spoiled children we the media are, we want to open all our Christmas presents right now, so we go digging through the interwebs for every little clue.

Luckily, patent applications for the Honda Africa Twin’s design show the new off-roader in all its glory, sans color unfortunately. Still, this is our first glimpse at the final design of the Africa Twin, which will be in US dealers early next year.