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.

Marzocchi Bought by Italian Automotive Company VRM

01/05/2016 @ 2:19 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Suspension brand Marzocchi has been saved from liquidation, as Tenneco is set to sell the Italian company to VRM – an Italian automotive company from the Bologna province of Zola Predosa.

Last year, Marzocchi seemed destined for the chopping block, as Tenneco seemed set on shutting down the business, and its 70 employees, rather than selling the company.

However with intervention from the local government in Bologna, and its strong labor unions, Marzocchi has been seemingly saved before the new year.

Marzocchi Will Cease Operations by the End of 2015

08/21/2015 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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It seems any efforts to save Marzocchi have been squashed, as the suspension company’s owners, Tenneco Inc., intend to cease Marzocchi’s world operations and transfer its motorcycle and bicycle business for clients to new providers.

The news not only affects a number of motorcycle manufacturers, but also 127 employees at Marzocchi’s Bologna-based factory, and another 11 employees in North America and Taiwan.

Tenneco announced its intent to shutdown Marzocchi back in July, though the news has been slow to permeate the motorcycle industry.

You Wish You Had Summer School with Ducati

07/14/2015 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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What American child of the 1980’s didn’t dream of going to NASA’s Space Camp? Maybe my dorky self is alone on this one, but as a kid, I always wanted to go to the Kennedy Space Center, get spun around in an Aerotrim, and shoot-off rockets.

But, I’m too old to go to Space Camp now (sad trombone), not to mention they closed the USSC in 2002 (double sad trombone), and now I’m also too old to go to the next best thing: Ducati’s Summer School Fisica in Moto.

The concept is exactly what you think it is, high school level students learning all about science via motorcycles.

The End of Marzocchi Suspension is Nigh?

04/22/2015 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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Reports out of Italy suggest that the Marzocchi brand may soon be no more, after parent company Tenneco made the decision to close the Italian firm’s Bologna factory in Zola Predosa.

The Italain outlets go on to say that motorcycle manufacturers that use Marzocchi as an OEM part have been notified that they will no longer be supplied with the suspension pieces, once the co Marzocchi’s stock of forks has been exhausted from supply.

This news would affect a bevy of brands, including BMW, Ducati, MV Agusta, TM, GasGas, Beta, and AJP.

Analyzing The Ducati Desmosedici GP15

02/17/2015 @ 8:55 pm, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

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Anyone watching the presentation of Ducati’s 2015 MotoGP bike will have learned two Italian phrases: “Emozionante” and “tanto lavoro”. Both were extremely apt.

Getting from where Ducati was to where it is now with the Desmosedici GP15 had needed “tanto lavoro”, a lot of hard work, and they still have “tanto lavoro” ahead of them.

The results were “emozionante”, a fantastic word nearer to exciting than emotional. But both exciting and emotional were apt phrases. The sense of eagerness was palpable among Ducati staff at Bologna on Monday. For good reason, the GP15 presented in a long, loud, and rather meandering show is radically different from what came before.

Ducati Reaches New Workforce Agreement with Factory Unions – Reduced Hours, Higher Wages

10/14/2014 @ 11:59 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Ducati Motor Holding has reached a new agreement with its workforce, particularly those workers who are responsible for building the Italian company’s iconic two-wheeled machines.

The agreement with the unions sees 13 new jobs created in the Italian factory, which will now stay open on seven days a week — a big move for a country that is usually resistant to working on Sunday.

The factory workers will also go from 15 to 21 shifts per week, with a format of three days on, and two days off. In exchange, factory employees will work fewer hours per week on average, though will make higher average wages for their time.

2015 Ducati Monster 821 Mega Gallery

06/24/2014 @ 10:16 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Ducati is hosting its press launch of the 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in Bologna right now, which means that the Italian motorcycle company also just released a ton of high-resoltuion photos of its new water-cooled baby Monster on the interwebs.

Visually very similar to the Monster 1200, the Monster 821 distinguishes itself with lower-spec components, and more noticeably with a double-sided swingarm.

Featuring the same 821cc Testastretta 11° engine (112hp and 65.9 lbs•ft) that is found on the Ducati Hypermotard and Ducati Hyperstrada, the Monster 821 tips the scales at 395.7 lbs (dry) – just 5 lbs less than its 1,200cc counterpart. Other features include traction control, ABS brakes, and a ride-by-wire throttle.

Expect to see the 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in  a Ducati dealership near you next month. Pricing is set at $11,495 for the in red and white models, while the “Dark” is priced at $10,995.

Ducati Museum Goes Virtual with Google Maps

02/19/2014 @ 1:59 pm, by Bryan Delohery2 COMMENTS

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For those Ducati owners who have been pining to visit the world famous Ducati museum in Bologna, but cannot cover the cost or justify the trip, you are in luck. The doors at Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati have opened to Google Maps to allow you to take the tour without getting up from your computer.

The 9,150 sq ft museum in Borgo Panigale already hosts 40,000 visitors a year and with the virtual tour, Ducati hopes to attract hundreds of thousands more.

Moto Morini Tries New Payment Scheme – Pay for Only Half of the Bike, Get It for 18 Months

05/20/2013 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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It is no secret that the financial collapse of a few years had devastating effects on the motorcycle industry as a whole, and few markets have been hit worse than the Italian motorcycle market. Coming through a painful bankruptcy process, and re-emerging into a still devastated Italian economy, Moto Morini has perhaps had the worst luck of the Italian brands in dealing with this economic chaos.

Needing to sell bikes, and operating really only in its home market, Moto Morini is getting creative with putting Bologna’s other brand into the garages of motorcyclists. With necessity being the mother of all invention, Moto Morini has a clever scheme to help cash-strapped Europeans get a new ride: pay for only half of the motorbike.

Moar Photos of the Pierobon X60R

12/17/2012 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Last year, our Christmas was ruined with the sighting of the Pierobon X60R sport bike. A small Italian company based in Bologna, for those who aren’t in the know, Pierobon has ties to some big projects in MotoGP & WSBK.

Known for their trellis chassis designs, the Pierobon X60R is the company’s two-wheeled flagship (be sure to checkout the Pierobon F042 street bike). We lusted after the X60R last year, you wanted one under your Christmas tree, and we all had to learn how to live our lives with disappointment afterwards.

Discontent to call things done, Pierobon has revised the X60R over the past year, with the most noticeable change being the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO air-cooled v-twin lump. Putting a little bit more pep in the bike’s step, Pierobon has also revised the chassis, namely the X60R’s swingarm.

Derived from the company’s GP designs, the chain-side of the swingarm has been fully enclosed, presumably for increased rigidity. Pierobon has also increased the size of the oil-cooler radiator to help with heat transfer on the more powerful motor.