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).

Sepang 1 Test Summary – Day 1: How the Factories Fared

02/04/2015 @ 12:05 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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There is something about the sound of a MotoGP bike that stirs the blood once again. After a long winter, in which one reflects on the many negatives of following motorcycle racing – hard work for little money, endless trips through faceless airports to faceless hotels, and long periods away from home.

A few milliseconds of the sound of a MotoGP bike being warmed up is enough to make you forget all that, and melt away the misery of business travel on the cheap under the fierce heat of passion for the sport. There is nothing that excites like motorcycle racing.

It was an intriguing first day back, with highs and lows, strong performers and real disappointments. The finishing order is not completely indicative of the real strength of the field, but it offers some sound clues as to who stands where.

2015 MotoGP Sepang 1 Test Preview – What Can We Expect As MotoGP Returns To Action?

02/03/2015 @ 12:11 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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The 2015 MotoGP season kicks off tomorrow. On Wednesday, the riders take to the track once again at Sepang to continue the development on the bikes they will be racing this year, and to test out the new updates the engineers have been working on during the winter break.

And yet the two most important and interesting developments won’t even be at the first Sepang test.

Ducati’s much-anticipated Desmosedici GP15 is not quite ready for primetime, and so will not make its public debut until 19th February at the launch in Bologna, and not make its first laps in public until the second Sepang test at the end of this month.

Yamaha’s fully seamless gearbox – allowing both clutchless upshifts and downshifts – will also wait until Sepang 2 before Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo get their hands on the bike.

The official reasons given for the delay are that the GP15 and Yamaha’s gearbox are almost ready, but not quite, still needing a few last checks by the engineers before they are ready to be handed over to the factory riders.

Those of a cynical – or perhaps even paranoid – bent may be tempted to speculate that the delays are more to do with the media than the engineering. The first Sepang test this week is well-attended by journalists and photographers alike, the MotoGP press just as eager as the riders and the fans for the winter to be over.

The second Sepang test sees only a very few journalists attend, with few publications willing to spend the money to cover the expenses for what is often just more of the same.

Perhaps the factories have caught on to this, and are taking advantage of the opportunity to test important new parts with a little less media attention. Or perhaps it really is just a case of not being quite ready in time.

Despite the absence of the really big news, there will still be plenty to see. So who will be testing what, and what are the key factors to keep an eye on?

Aprilia USA Confirms Official Entry in MotoAmerica

02/02/2015 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Aprilia USA will be part of MotoAmerica’s inaugural season, as the US subsidiary of the Italian brand confirmed an officially supported entry into the MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 class.

To go racing, Aprilia has partnered with HSBK Racing to form the “Aprilia HSBK Racing” team, which will campaign a two-rider lineup on the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 Factory superbike. The names of the riders have not been released as of yet.

Recall: Aprilia Shiver 750 & Caponord 1200

01/16/2015 @ 2:52 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Recall: Aprilia Shiver 750 & Caponord 1200

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Aprilia issued two recalls today, one concerning 2014-2015 Aprilia Shiver 750 models, and the other concerning 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 models. In all, the recall affects 337 units, and involves the output gear shaft.

According to the report filed with the NHTSA, the the output gear shaft face may have been improperly machined, which can cause the fastening screw on the sprocket to loosen, and potentially lock-up the rear wheel.

Marco Melandri Returns to MotoGP, with Aprilia

11/10/2014 @ 10:10 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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After finishing fifth in the 2014 World Superbike Championship with Aprilia, Marco Melandri will continue with the Italian manufacturer, but switch to the MotoGP paddock for next season.

Melandri will join Alvaro Bautista in the Aprilia Racing garage, where they will compete on an updated version of the ART machine, which was originally built to compete under the CRT bike rules.

The team, now operated by Gresini Racing, will come up to speed during the 2015 season, and in 2016 they will race with a brand new race bike, which will use the compulsory “open” spec-electronics from Magneti Marelli.

For Melandri, the move to MotoGP is a bit of gamble, with Aprilia’s program uncertain. But with the Italian brand pulling resources from its WSBK project for its one in Grand Prix racing, the writing has been on the wall regarding which series would take priority.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory – More of a Good Thing

11/04/2014 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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True to Aprilia’s typical form, where there is a base model, there must be a “Factory” model to go with it. 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory builds off the Tuono V4 1100 RR, and adds Öhlins suspension, upgraded brakes, and forged aluminum wheels to the package offering.

Like the Aprilia RSV4 RF superbike, the Tuono V4 1100 Factory comes with a special livery, so everyone knows you dropped the extra coin on the go-fast parts, which we think is rather fetching. This is how you make what is already the best streetfigther even better. More photos after the jump.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR – Refining Perfection

11/04/2014 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the first photo of the new Aprilia Tuono V4 1100, which as the name implies gets a modest displacement increase for the 2015 model year. Tacking on an extra 5hp, for a total of 175hp at the crank, the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 also gets the second-generation APRC electronics package, as well as other chassis refinements.

Coming in two trim levels, the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR is now the base model, and shown here. The top fairing has been changed for both models, and now replicates the three headlight design found on the RSV4 RR. These changes also allowed 3 lbs to be trimmed from the Tuono, which should please the performance-minded.

Aprilia RSV4 RF — Premium Wheels, Paint, & Suspension

11/04/2014 @ 6:12 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR represents a solid update to Noale’s already impressive superbike. Making 201hp, and dropping three pounds, the RSV4 RR features a bevy of other finer detail refinements, include a second-generation APRC electronics package. So how do you make a motorcycle like that better? Enter the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Taking the Aprilia Race Package, which adds Öhlins suspension pieces and forged aluminum wheels, and adding a special livery that honors Aprilia’s racing success, you get the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Aprilia hasn’t mentioned how much the RF will be over the RR, but we don’t think they will have any trouble selling them. More photos after the jump.

2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR — 201hp of Italian Superbike

11/04/2014 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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Details of the Aprilia RSV4 RR have finally surfaced, and it seems the folks at Noale have not been resting on their laurels, having just won the 2014 World Superbike Championship. As such, the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR makes a cool 201hp from its 999cc V4 engine, with peak torque coming in at 84.81 lbs•ft at 10,500 rpm.

Not only does the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR make 16hp more than its predecessor, but it’s also three pounds lighter (1.5kg). Aprilia says the power gains come from reducing internal frictions, improving combustion efficiency, and fluid dynamic efficiencies. These changes allow the RSV4 RR to rev higher than before, and thus make more power.

2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF Spied at EICMA

11/03/2014 @ 7:27 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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In addition to the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR that was spied by our friends at Oliepeil, the Dutch sleuths have caught a glimpse of the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF. What does the “RF” mean, and how is it different from the “RR” model? We really have no idea, to be honest. Leave your best guess in the comments section, and we will give five A&R bonus points to whomever is closest.