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).

AGV PistaGP Helmet – The Next Generation Helmet

03/23/2012 @ 3:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Today at the MotoGP test in Jerez, AGV debuted its next-generation helmet: the AGV PistaGP. The fruits of the Italian company’s Project 46, the PistaGP is the first helmet to come from AGV’s new AGV Standards program, which seeks create products with an inside-out approach. You have likely already seen Valentino Rossi testing the AGV PistaGP in the recent Sepang tests, and I have already waxed poetic about how excited I am about this product.

Generally I am not a big fan of AGV sport bike helmets (though I do have a torrid love affair with the AGV AX-8 Dual Sport helmet), as I find the field-of-view (FOV) on AGV lids to be far too limited for my riding tastes, but the PistaGP promises a host of improvements to AGV’s helmet design, especially an improved FOV, which should allay my complaints. For AGV, the company hopes the PistaGP, and its progeny from the AGV Standards program, will reposition the helmet manufacturer once again as again the pinnacle maker of motorcycle helmets.

Releasing details on the PistaGP to the assembled GP paddock press at Jerez, we can finally publicly talk about this new lid and AGV’s new approach to designing motorcycle helmets. Details after the jump, along with more photos than you can shake a stick at.

Project 46, AGV Standards, & Rossi’s New Helmet

03/02/2012 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

You may have already noticed that Valentino Rossi has been sporting a new lid in his off-season tests with the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Said to have a greater field of vision, the prototype helmet has being going by the code name “Project 46” as the helmet has literally been built around Rossi himself. I say literally because AGV’s new helmet is based off what the Italian company is calling AGV Standards, a new philosophy on how the Italian company makes its forthcoming helmets.

AGV, Please Make This Helmet!

01/31/2012 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

In addition to testing the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 “Phoenix” this week at Sepang, Valentino Rossi is also trying out a new lid from AGV. Aside from the carbon fiber goodness, and of course the Rossi stickers (which add 5hp & $200), AGV’s prototype helmet sports a noticably pronounced rear spoiler. Tucked in behind the windscreen, it is obvious why the Italian helmet manufacturer designed such a large protrusion off the back of the prototype helmet, as it looks to be clearly helping the flow off the back of the helmet, across the rider’s hump, and down his backside.

Yes, that’s all well and good, but what has this writer really salivating is that reports from Malaysia say the windscreen’s field of view is HUGE. I think the exact words described to me were, “it’s like watching a flat screen TV with your nose against the monitor.” While I love my AGV AX-8 Dual Sport (I rocked it hard at the BRD RedShift SM prototype test), I just can’t get that same enthusiasm behind AGV’s road race line. Having ridden with both the AGV T2 and AGV GP-Tech, my biggest complaint is that the field of view on both these helmets feels restricted (a common complaint apparently from riders used to Arai’s helmet design).

The Dainese D-Air Racing Airbag Suit Comes to America

01/26/2012 @ 7:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Getting a look at Dainese & AGV’s 2012 collection, Asphalt & Rubber was down in Orange County earlier this week to see the highly anticipated Dainese D-Air Racing leather suit, which has a four liter airbag system that helps reduce the risk of injury during a motorcycle crash.

Dainese has been working on the D-Air Racing system for 10 years now, and after soft-launching the airbag suit in Europe, the Italian company is ready to bring the game-changing technology to American soil.

If you watch MotoGP or World Superbike, you have likely already seen the roughly one pound (650 grams) D-Air Racing suit at work, as riders like Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Stefan Bradl, Leon Haslam, and Max Biaggi have been wearing Dainese’s airbag leathers while racing, and have also been providing the company with feedback on the D-Air’s design and development.

In addition to deploying an airbag that protects a rider’s neck, chest, and shoulders, the Dainese D-Air system also provides a telemetry package that track riders can use in lieu of a basic motorcycle data acquisition system.

Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Mugello Helmet

07/02/2011 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Despite Valentino Rossi getting the Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1 for the Italian GP at Mugello, the nine-time World Champion is still struggling with a 12th place qualifying position. Despite his troubles, Rossi is keeping true to his tradition of wearing a special AGV helmet at his home GP round. Featuring a giant eyeball on the top of the lid (Rossi’s bulldogs are featured on the back of the helmet), we can only imagine Rossi is paying with the fact that all eyes are on him this year as he tackles the new challenges that surround his move to Ducati Corse.

So far Rossi and Jeremy Burgess haven’t been able to tame the beast, and at Mugello, the famous crew chief is absent, having to attend to personal obligations back home in Australia this weekend. With QP cut-short by inclement weather, Rossi and Ducati had only a handful of laps to work on setting up the GP11.1 for Mugello, which could prove to be a hurdle come Sunday morning. Whatever the reasons are for Rossi’s design choice, he will be one to watch tomorrow to see if he can overcome the hurdles that are set out before him. More photos after the jump.

How Jason Pridmore Scared the Crap Out of Me…Twice

05/29/2011 @ 7:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

It all started innocently enough, as I was having dinner with some friends from Dainese before the West Coast Moto Jam, they suggested that I do a two-up ride with Jason Pridmore on the National Guard Suzuki Superbike. “Yeah, that’d be really cool,” I said in response, trying not to burst with excitement as to how awesome and unique I thought the experience would be. Barely sleeping the night before, I arrived Saturday morning at Infineon Raceway, and got decked out in the Dainese/AGV gear that was provided, and headed over to the National Guard Jordan Superbike team pits where we met up with Jason Pridmore.

I was accompanied by several National Guardsmen and some fans (you can win a two-up ride by following Jason on Twitter), and before we got started the AMA & FIM World Endurance veteran introduced the program to us. “Before we start has anyone here been drinking?” asked Pridmore – the day had been hot, and this was a NASCAR venue after all. Raising his hand and looking at the ten of us, “Oh, so just me?..let’s get started” continued Pridmore. Yeah…it was going to be like that.

Swinging my leg over the pillion seat on the Suzuki GSX-R1000, Jason gave me a run-down again on the instructions, and asked me how I was feeling. “I’m pumped,” I replied. “Go as fast as you can.” Now let us take a moment to evaluate who this is the point where I made my critical error in the day, as I suspect Pridmore takes a special joy in scaring the life out of hapless moto-journalists who find themselves on the back of his motorcycle.

Actually, Jason makes it a point to say in his briefing that the goal is to make the ride fun for every passenger, and consider that a goal achieved, as you’d be hard pressed to find someone getting off the back of Jordan Suzuki without a grin that stretches ear-to-ear. However, I suspect that if you’re a motorcycle blogger with more ego than commonsense, this whole concept is forfeit, and it’s at this point in time that I would like to apologize to every pillion I’ve ever had on the back of my street bikes (you know who you are).

Valentino Rossi All Dressed Up for Work at Ducati Corse – Finally Talks on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11

01/11/2011 @ 3:36 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Holding a press conference this morning at the Wrooom media event in the Dolomite Mountains, Valentino Rossi finally got a chance to officially talk to the press about his experience testing the Ducati at Valencia late last year, and his general impressions on riding with Ducati Corse. Commenting that “the Ducati is different from all the other bikes, it’s a proper prototype, the concept is different from the Japanese factories,” Rossi went on to explain that “you need a bit of a ‘dirtier’ style to ride the Desmosedici.”

In addition to his thoughts, official photos of Rossi’s leathers (Nicky Hayden’s as well, but to less fanfare) have been released by Ducati Corse, which see Rossi’s neon yellow color scheme mixed in with the red and white of Ducati Corse. The clashing colors might not please the aesthetically critical, but we have a feeling people will get used to the arrangement. Photos of the GP11’s race livery are expected tomorrow (Wednesday).

Valentino Rossi’s Laguna Seca Helmet

07/24/2010 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Just as Fiat-Yamaha will be running special race livery this weekend, Valentino Rossi had some one-off paint work done to his helmet for MotoGP’s race at Laguna Seca. For Fiat-Yamaha, the Laguna Race livery consists of the faces of 500 fans who submitted their photos to the race team, but on Rossi’s helmet you’ll find the people that help him go fast: his team.

You can also find Rossi’s dogs near the back, and while it hasn’t been confirmed…the fellow above the AGV on the front looks a lot like Ron Jeremy (whoever that is).

Photo: © 2010 Scott Jones Photography

Rossi’s Custom Helmet at Mugello – The Jolly Joker

06/07/2010 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Overshadowed by Rossi’s highside and subsequent injury, one thing we missed at Mugello (besides the Italian himself) was Rossi’s traditional custom helmet for the Italian GP. Always one to pander to the home crowd, Rossi has made it a tradition to have a special helmet designed for when he races at Italian tracks (with Mugello in particular), and this year was no different.

AGV Opens Up Customizable “Scream” Helmet Site

01/30/2010 @ 1:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi made quite the scream with his face helmet at Mugello back in 2008. With all the buzz it created, AGV brought out a limited edition version replica of Rossi’s lid to the market in 2009. Now it’s 2010, and AGV has decided to spread the customized lid to everyone else, with a personalized touch. Opening up valentinosface.com, AGV has created a website where you can put your own mug on Rossi “Scream” rep, and have the helmet shipped directly to you from AGV.