2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto, for France Only

America might have invented supermoto racing, but the sport’s largest support base easily comes now from that other side of the Atlantic – more specifically, from France. So, it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that Honda’s French importer Superboost makes a special supermoto version of the Honda CRF450 for the French market. For the 2017 model year, the Honda CRF450 Supermoto follows that changes made to Big Red’s 450cc dirt bike, which notably includes the return of fork springs (goodbye air forks), an electric starter, and down-draft fuel injection. Basically a kit that is added at the importer level, the 2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto lineup has three models, building off the CRF450R (€11,299), CRF450RX (€10,999), and CRF450X dirt bike (€10,999), with each getting their own taste of the supermoto treatment.

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.

Brand Confusion? Brand Reversion by Graham Smith

07/19/2011 @ 4:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Artist Graham Smith is helping play with our brand awareness today, as the British graphic designer has done up several companies’ logos with the name of another (usually a competitor). The effect is an interesting one, as your mind tries to sort out the shapes it recognizes with the name it actually sees, much like the Stroop Effect in psychology studies – an interesting phenomena where names of colors were shown in a font whose color was different than the name. When subjects were asked to say out loud the color used for the font, it often resulted in the tendency to want to say word shown instead. We had the same effect looking at Smith’s work, making this an interesting take on logo design and a bit of fun psychology all wrapped-up into one. Examples after the jump.

55 Photos of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160

06/20/2011 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

We brought you some of the first pictures of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 all the way back from the 2009 EICMA show. Originally slated as 2010 model-year bike, the R160 has taken a while to make its way into dealer showrooms. The pinnacle of the TnT line, the R160 is presumably worth the wait with its 157.8hp, 88.5 lbs•ft of torque, and 474 lbs ready-to-ride curb weight. As with anything though, the devil is in the details, and the Benelli TnT R160 is no different.

There’s something about Adrian Morton’s design with the TnT that we’re drawn to like a moth to flame, nearly bringing one into this author’s stable of motorcycles (I wouldn’t mind a Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 too). Plagued with electrical issues though, the TnT line perpetuates the Italian stereotype of finicky and unreliable motorcycles trapped in otherwise gorgeous veneers. Seeing the Benelli TnT R160 in 2009, we were disappointed on the fit-and-finish of the bike, as the pitted and cloudy carbon exterior seemingly matched the interior: unrefined.

With the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 now ready for dealer showrooms, Benelli’s top streetfighter seems to have benefited from a better build process, and we hear that some of the electrical issues have even been resolved. While we’ll reserve judgment as to whether the bike can maintain a positive net charge at a stand-still, it sure is stunning in its final form. There are 55 high-resolution photos of the new Benelli TnT R160 waiting for you after the jump.

2011 Benelli TnT 1130 “Century Racer”

10/29/2010 @ 5:45 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Founded in 1911, Benelli is celebrating its 100th year anniversary at EICMA this year with special “Century Racer” versions of its Tornado Naked Tre (TnT), the company’s naked three-cylinder street bike. The Benelli TnT 1130 “Century Racer” (a Benelli TnT 899 “Century Racer” is also being made available) features a desaturated green color scheme that honors Renzo Pasolini, and will be on display at the show in Milan. Along with the Century Racers, Benelli will have an exhibit that traces the company’s motorcycling history throughout its years. More details about the company’s 2011 model line after the jump.

Claudio Consonni Leaves from Yamaha Motor Italy to Become Technical Director at Benelli

07/19/2010 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Benelli has announced that Claudio Consonni has taken-on the role of Technical Director at Benelli QJ. As a former manager of Yamaha Motor Italy, Consonni was repsonsible for the tuning fork brand’s production, research & development, quality after sales divisions over his 20 years at Yamaha…all things Benelli needs in spades right now as its Chinese owners look to turn-around the company.

Oberdan Bezzi Inks Benelli Due Flat-Tracker

03/08/2010 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Oberdan Bezzi Inks Benelli Due Flat-Tracker

Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi is at it again with hit imagination and design tools in hand. Taking the iconic Italian brand of Benelli, Bezzi has put together an imagined flat-track ready version of the fabled Benelli 2ue (Due?) motorcycle that he calls the Benelli 2 TechnoTracker.

2010 Benelli TnT R160 Up-Close at EICMA

12/01/2009 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

As promised, here are our impressions and up-close photos of the new Benelli TnT R160, which was launched at EICMA this year. As we noted earlier, the 2010 Benelli TnT R160 gets more power and more carbon fiber bodywork. And as expected, the bike from afar is stunning.

We make no secret about how much we lust over the TnT’s lines, and the R160 accentuates those not-so-secret desires even more so. However, up-close the bike has some peculiar, to put it kindly, or shoddy, to put it bluntly, finishes to its carbon pieces. Photos and more after the jump.

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer at EICMA

11/30/2009 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

At the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Benelli finally gave the public a glimpse at its new TnT 899 Cafe Racer, after teasing us with spy photos of the bike out testing. While this was our first opportunity to see the bike in person, it was also the first time that Benelli released the 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer’s technical specifications. With 120hp at the crank, the baby TnT packs some power, and it will need it if it wants to haul around the 454lbs (wet) motorcycle it’s attached to. Pictures and more after the jump.

Benelli 2ue 756 Shown Off at EICMA…Again

11/21/2009 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Stopping by the Benelli display at EICMA, we got our first chance to check out the rarely talked about Benelli 2ue. We first spotted the finalized version of the 2ue earlier this year without its fairings on, but for Milan the bike was fully dressed. While seemingly similar to last-year’s concept, Benelli left 2ue completely out of its press information. What few details we have on the 2ue 756 are after the jump, along with more photos of the 2ue up-close.

2010 Benelli TnT R160: More Power, More Carbon

11/12/2009 @ 5:52 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

In addition to the 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer, Benelli also launched the 2010 Benellli TnT R160, it’s latest iteration of the 1130cc TnT platform. The new R160 is the pinnacle of Benelli’s naked motorcycle line, boasting not only the most power in the TnT class, but it’s also laden with tons of tasty carbon bits. More details and photos after the jump.

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer

11/12/2009 @ 5:51 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Like a young kid that sneaks down to the family room on the night of Christmas Eve, spying on Santa Clause as he delivers his bounty of presents, we’ve gone and spoiled maybe the biggest announcement to come out of Benelli for 2010. After catching the 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer out in the wild testing, it comes as no surprise that the bike has now been officially made public at EICMA.