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).

The Z800 Becomes the 2017 Kawasaki Z900

The naked sport bike segment continues to push into larger displacements, with the Kawasaki Z800 turning into the all-new 2017 Kawasaki Z900. With that change in number comes an obviously new 948cc inline-four engine, slung into a light-weight trellis frame, amongst other improvements. For the marquee differences between the machines, the Kawasaki Z900 brings with it a 13hp power increase to 124hp, and a weight reduction of over 50 lbs, for a curb weight of 458 lbs (non-ABS). For creature comforts, the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 comes with assist and slipper clutch, with optional ABS brakes. Priced at an aggressive $8,399 ($8,799 for the ABS model) though, that tradeoff comes from the Z900 being sans any advanced electronics and high-spec components.

Vintage Done Right, The Fantic Caballero 500

You probably haven’t heard of Fantic Motorcycles, but you won’t want to miss the company’s two new 500cc models, which are tastefully done heritage models. Bringing Italian sexiness to a segment dominated with an American aesthetic, the Fantic Caballero 500 street tracker and scrambler bikes are remarkable examples of purposeful and elegant machines. Based around a 449cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine that makes 43hp, the Fantic Caballero 500 scrambler comes with a 19″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel, whereas the street tracker model comes with 19″ hoops fore and aft. The chassis is done in the old style, with a backbone frame made out of chromoly steel, mated to a more modern aluminum swingarm. Upside down forks and a rear monoshock handle suspension, both of which are fully adjustable.

Italian Court Rules Benelli into Bankruptcy

07/25/2016 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Benelli-Logo

The story of Italian motorcycle companies falling into bankruptcy is not a new one, but Benelli’s version of the narrative is a strangely interesting departure from the norm. Let us explain.

Things apparently kicked off when Benelli failed to pay WP Suspension roughly €120,000 for suspension pieces. WP eventually took Benelli to court, despite the Italian company’s commitment to repay its debt.

An Italian court in Pesaro then declared Benelli bankrupt, and ordered the sum owed to be paid. Somewhere in this process, some of Benelli’s completed motorcycles were seized by a trustee, as collateral for payment.

This spurred Benelli’s Chinese owners, the Qianjiang Group, to release a statement after the court’s ruling, saying that the Italian brand is strong, and has ample cash on-hand to repay its debts (rumored to be in the €1 million range), and has already begun doing so.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 9 – EICMA, Part 1

11/23/2015 @ 5:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The 2015 EICMA show is finally over, and of course the guys from the Two Enthusiasts Podcast have something to say about everything that was unveiled in Milan. There is so much to talk about, in fact, that we had to break up the EICMA coverage into two separate shows.

So first up is Episode 9, which is Part 1 of our EICMA round-up. It covers all the happenings from the Italian OEMs: Aprilia, Benelli, Bimota, Ducati, Energica, Moto Guzzi, and MV Agusta.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 (Episode 10), which should debut on Wednesday, and will feature an in-depth discussion on the rest of the OEMs. Yes, that means double the Two Enthusiasts Podcast goodness for this week. Booyah!

Benelli Tornado 302 – Bringing Sexy Back

11/18/2015 @ 6:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2016-Benelli-Tornado-302

Just like the Benelli Tornado Naked T, the Benelli Tornado 302 treads on one of motorcycling’s iconic names, replacing it with a budget-oriented model that has none of the pizazz of its namesake.

This is what Benelli has been reduced to as a motorcycle brand, and the reason why the West no longer takes Benelli seriously.

That all being said, if we beat our head against the wall long enough to forget the Benelli Tornado, in either its 900c or 1130cc variants, the Benelli Tornado 302 is a fetching small-displacement machine.

Benelli Tornado Naked T – An Italian Monkey Bike

11/18/2015 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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The Honda Grom has been a sales success that no one saw coming. But in true Honda fashion, the adorable monkey bike wormed its way into our hearts, and has been flying off dealership floors ever since.

A domain that’s normally dominated by Asian manufacturers, namely the Chinese, it is perhaps not surprising then that we see the Benelli Tornado Naked T breaking cover at the 2015 EICMA show.

Available in either a 125cc or 135cc air-cooled, four-valve, dual-spark, single-cylinder format (like there’s really a big difference between the two), the roughly 12hp machines are a stylish alternative to the Grom’s…gromness.

So You Say You Want a Small, Light, & Cheap ADV Bike?

11/18/2015 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler47 COMMENTS

2016-Benelli-TRK-502

Comments on certain stories are predictable, and as such, we always expect some enduro rider to show up on an ADV story, and lament the weight of the bike in question, calling it too heavy to really go off-road.

That argument is bullshit, of course. Though, it is easier to handle a lightweight machine in the dirt than a heavy one, but you would be surprised at how capable any motorcycle is with a pair of knobby tires on it.

Just in case you are not convinced, we have got a little something for you. Behold the Benelli TRK 502. It’s got the profile of a condor, but the little 500cc adventure-tourer looks like it should do the job you are asking of it.

2016 Benelli Leoncino Brings Back the Lion Cub

11/18/2015 @ 2:25 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

2016-Benelli-Leoncino

Benelli is not a brand we usually talk about with great reverence, as the Italian company has steadily lost its luster since its acquisition by China’s Qianjiang Group.

Benelli’s motorcycles were never known for being terribly reliable, and unfortunately the artful designs that they exuded have slowly eroded away over time.

The big announcement for Benelli at the 2015 EICMA show is the new Benelli Leoncino, the “lion cub” model that’s rooted in Benelli’s post-WWII history.

This modern take on the classic Benelli Leoncino is an attractive scrambler model, which makes 47hp from its 500cc parallel-twin engine.

This also means that the Benelli Leoncino a well-suited A2 license machine in Europe, and its wire-spoked wheels are 19″ in the front and 17″ in the rear, and should make the Leoncino surprisingly adapt at light off-road use.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 8 – Schwartz

11/15/2015 @ 2:34 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 8 – Schwartz

two-enthusiasts-podcast

The EICMA show is nearly upon us, so Quentin and Jensen walk us through what bikes are expected to debut in Italy, and what bikes the pair would like to see at the show. It’s a pretty exhaustive overview recording, and thus a little longer than the normal Two Enthusiasts Podcast, but we don’t think you’ll mind.

There’s some good stuff in Episode 8 you won’t want to miss, and it expands on our EICMA show preview story, though pre-dates it. Obviously some news has come out since this show’s recording, but we seem to be pretty good a predicting some things. Take a lesson, and get ready for EICMA starting on Monday.

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. Cheers!

Your Definitive Guide to the 2015 EICMA Show

11/13/2015 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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We are already feeling the early effects of the EICMA show in Milan, Italy – easily the most important trade event for the motorcycle industry.

EICMA is where many of the next year’s new models are released, not to mention the show serves as a platform for much of the yearly business that occurs in the motorcycle industry, especially in Europe.

For us in the media, EICMA is a cross between a marathon and Christmas, a plethora of days where articles surge as we see the launching of so many new models. It can be a lot to take in, but it is always exciting to see what the manufacturers have been working on for the past year(s).

To help you keep track of everything, and to help guide your expectations, we have put together this exhaustive list of all the models we expect to see at EICMA. Let the holiday season begin!

Benelli Leoncino Makes Its Return at EICMA

11/13/2015 @ 1:19 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

benelli-leoncino

Benelli piqued our interest when it said that a legend was returning, and now we know what machine the Italian brand was referring to: the Benelli Leoncino. A historic name for Benelli, the Leoncino (Italian for “lion cub”) was the model that defined the Italian company after World War II.

Like many motorcycles during that time period, the Leoncino offered Italians an affordable way to get around town, when many families could not afford a car, nor could the Italian infrastructure support four-wheeled mass transport.

As a result, many of Italy’s iconic names go their start in this manner (the same can be said of Japan’s motorcycle brands), so the hyper is certainly worthy of a legend’s return. The model teased of course, is a different story.

Benelli Teases the Return of a “Legend” – A Scrambler?

11/05/2015 @ 11:20 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

benelli-scrambler-teaser

Benelli is very much the forgotten Italian marque in the motorcycle industry, with Ducati, MV Agusta, and Aprilia (in that order, perhaps) taking most of the attention when it comes to motorcycle that hail from a country shaped like a boot.

The brand has made some fantastic modern models, like the Tornado, TnT, and Tre, and of course Benelli is steeped in a rich history that has some classic motorcycles. Those are the elements that have always attracted us to the brand, and what keeps us longing for more from Benelli.

However, ownership under the Qianjiang Group has proved difficult for motorcycle enthusiasts, with the company’s sexy Italian-designed motorcycles giving way to practical simple people movers. The Benelli TnT25 proves that point.

It seems though that things are slowly coming around for Benelli and its Chinese owners though, with the Italian-born brand sending the above teaser with the message “The Legend is back…” So we dug a little deeper.