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.

Oh My! The Honda Africa Twin Enduro Sports Concept

11/08/2016 @ 2:13 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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File the Honda Africa Twin Enduro Sports concept under things we like, as the adventure-bike concept takes perhaps the most off-road competent ADV bike on the market, and raises its dirt credit by another factor of ten.

Built off the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin, the Enduro Sports concept is intended to expand the Africa Twin family, and to help the new adventure bike attract more riders into its Cult of Brap.

To do this, Honda’s R&D department came up with several lighter weight chassis components (Honda does say what specifically, of course), which were initially developed for the Honda CRF450 Rally race bike, which competes in the Dakar Rally.

The styling is aggressive, especially with the revised headlight assembly. The windscreen and fairings have been re-styled for a sportier look as well, and of course the Termignoni exhaust system is eye-catching, in utilitarian sort of way. Overall, the effect is quite stark.

Honda concept bikes have a funny way of becoming production models in a year or two’s time. As such, we wouldn’t mind have one in our garage. Would you?

Honda Africa Twin Supermoto Concept by Nicolas Petit

10/17/2016 @ 4:46 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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The Honda Africa Twin doesn’t lend itself naturally to a supermoto format, though it is one of the most capable off-road adventure bikes on the market, but you have to admit that this photoshop render by French designer Nicolas Petit is very intriguing.

Maybe it’s our obvious bias towards anything supermoto that is talking, or maybe it’s that there is something to the idea of taking the Africa Twin, adding 17” wheels, and lowering it just enough that riders can actually flat-foot the machine while sitting on it.

Add in some styling cues that scream “supermotard” and you have a very handsome machine that is ready to conquer anything the urban environment can throw at it. Hell, it’s probably just a scary clown costume away from a good time on a gravel road. Right??!

We doubt Honda has any eyes on offering a more on-road version of the CRF1000L, though if they did, and it looked like this, we might be intrigued. Just leave the DCT off of it.

Honda’s Kumamoto Factory Back to Normal Production for Large-Displacement Motorcycles

08/24/2016 @ 1:02 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Honda’s flagship factory, in the Kumamoto Prefecture, is now back to normal production levels, after its slow recovery from earthquake damage sustained earlier this year.

For those who don’t remember, Honda took the Kumamoto factory offline on April 14th, resumed minor operations on May 6th, and resumed production of key models on June 6th.

Honda says that its large motorcycle production lines are now ready to go back to work, meaning the production at the Kumamoto factory is now back to its normal levels, though mini-vehicle parts production has been transferred to Honda’s Suzuka factory.

KTM Is Working on an 800cc Parallel-Twin ADV Bike

06/30/2016 @ 12:46 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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“If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to” seems to be KTM’s marching orders right now, as the Austrian brand is pushing into seemingly every segment and market with its motorcycle lineup.

KTM already has a robust off-road lineup, which they have used to launch themselves into the ADV category with great success. As such, the KTM 1190 Adventure series already sees strong sales success with adventure-touring riders, but KTM isn’t resting on those laurels.

Set to debut a 800cc parallel-twin platform later this year, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has revealed, while talking to MCN, that his company will soon have a rival for the Honda Africa Twin.

Production Resumes at Honda’s Kumamoto Factory

06/14/2016 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Honda-Kumamoto-Factory

After seeing the region devastated by earthquakes, the Honda factory in the Kumamoto Prefecture is slowly coming back online. The Kumamoto factory (seen above, before the earthquake) has been offline since April 14th, though resumed minor operations on May 6th.

Honda says it has finally completed removal of debris from its most affected facilities; and as of June 6th, the company has partly resumed production of its main motorcycle models.

This is of particular note for American motorcyclists, as it means that Honda can once again being producing the Honda Africa Twin adventure-tourer, which was mid-production for the US market at the time of the earthquakes.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 22 – Two ADV Bikes

05/25/2016 @ 5:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Episode 22 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast starts off with a frank and insightful conversation about traction control, and how it applies in off-road scenarios. Quentin and Jensen discuss the various ways OEMs and racers control the rear wheel’s movements, and what “true” traction control really means, if there is such a thing.

Moving along from that discussion, Quentin and Jensen talk about their separate and different experiences riding two of the hottest ADV bikes out in 2016 – the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro and the Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L.

Riding the Africa Twin at Honda’s press launch in Moab, Jensen tells how Big Red’s adventure bike handles both on the road, and on the trail. Meanwhile, Quentin was in Eastern Oregon, putting some miles on Ducati’s latest iteration of the Multistrada, getting some serious off-road time in the process.

The guys tell their stories, and trade some notes on these two machines, which makes for an interesting discussion. Whether or not you are a hardcore ADV rider, we think you’ll find this show highly engaging.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

What the Honda Kumamoto Factory Closure Means for You

05/09/2016 @ 5:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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After devastating tremors in the region, Honda’s Kumamoto factory, as well as the facilities of their nearby suppliers, were closed for equipment and structural repairs.

Making progress on those repairs, Honda partially re-opened its Kumamoto facility two weeks ago, though the factory’s production capabilities currently remain limited.

Now, the latest word from Honda is that Kumamoto will be back to full capacity by mid-August of this year, though it goes without saying that the production time will affect the rollout of several Honda machines.

Gone Riding: Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L

05/03/2016 @ 7:28 am, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

2016 Honda Africa Twin

Hello from the road, dear readers. I’m out in Moab, Utah for the next few days, testing the Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L adventure-touring motorcycle. We have a solid couple of days riding ahead of us, with Tuesday being an on-road day, and Wednesday seeing our feet get dirty with some off-road action.

Weather here in Moab has been fluctuating for the past few days, with rain, hail, and flurries being previously on the menu, but the forecast promises us some sunshine for our stay. Hopefully the weatherman right.

One of the most anticipated machines for the 2016 model year, the Honda Africa Twin is finally about to arrive in motorcycle dealerships (though, in limited numbers). We’ve been looking forward to swinging a leg over this off-road focused ADV machine for some time, to see if it lives up to the hype.

New Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports Concept Puts the BMW R1200GS Adventure on Notice

03/22/2016 @ 4:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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The Honda Africa Twin is on the short list for being one of the top bikes released in 2016, with Big Red finally getting serious about the adventure-touring market.

To drive that point home further though, Honda has released another variation of the Africa Twin, which it calls the Africa Twin Adventure Sports Concept.

The premise with the Africa Twin Adventure Sports Concept is pretty simply, and it borrows heavily from what others in the ADV space have done: if the Africa Twin is Honda’s answer to the BMW R1200GS, then the Africa Twin Adventure Sports Concept is Honda’s answer to the BMW R1200GS Adventure.

A more stoutly built platform with a larger bias for off-road riding, the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports Concept is meant to be taken through the most rugged ADV terrain, whatever that may be.

“Choose Your Own Adventure” with the Honda Africa Twin

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

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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.