Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

Mission Motorcycles Becomes Mission Electric, Boats & Cars to Come, Mission R/RS Motos Delayed Until Q2/Q3 2015

Interesting things are afoot in the electric realm. Mission Motorcycles is about to expand beyond the two-wheels, as the company becomes officially called Mission Electric. The change comes about as Mission plans to expand into the automotive and marine segments, though the San Francisco company isn’t saying yet who it is partnering with in those spaces. Mission says it will continue to offer consumer-side products, like its current crop of electric motorcycles, the Mission R and Mission RS. However, its business model will expand to offer business-side electric drivetrain components, which was previously the realm of Mission Motors.

Is US Superbike Racing on the Verge of a Revival?

Motorcycle road racing in the US looks set for a revival after its years in the wilderness. Today, the AMA announced that the rights to road racing in the US have been reacquired from the Daytona Motorsports Group, and handed to a consortium led by Wayne Rainey and Chuck Aksland. The KRAVE Group will run a new series of races in North America from 2015, under the joint auspices of the AMA and the FIM. It has been a long and difficult few years for motorcycle road racing in the US. Since the DMG bought the rights to the AMA Superbike series, at the start of the 2008 season, the series has been in a steady decline.

Broventure 2014 – Day Four: No Bad Days

09/11/2014 @ 6:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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One of my favorite phrases has to be “no bad day” — as it encapsulates everything about a motorcycle. There are no bad days on a motorcycle. There can be bad weather, there can be breakdowns, and even crashes, but never a bad day. My second favorite phrase is “if you’re not having fun on a motorcycle, you’re doing it wrong.”

This ties into the prior idea. If you’re on a motorcycle, you’re exploring new roads, you’re hanging out with good friends, you’re living this short existence we call life. Even when the unthinkable happens on two-wheels, the moment right before was spent in sheer bliss. Since we all have to punch out at some point, that seems like a pretty good deal on an inevitably losing hand.

I feel like this is a mantra that goes well with the adventure-touring segment. Breaking free of our nine-to-five lives, getting outdoors, and seeing where the road goes once the sidewalk ends. That’s at least what the marketing materials from OEMs tell us; and of course, the adventure is what you make of it.

Broventure 2014 – Day Three: 50/50

09/09/2014 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The third day of a trip begins the true measure of the adventure. You see, on the first day, you’re excited to be on the open road, and ambition mixed with some adrenaline fuels you. The second day, there remains enough of a connection to back home, that you haven’t truly left it behind yet. But by the third day, the miles being to take their toll, and a trip truly begins to gel. The Broventure is no different.

Despite being one of our shorter days, 210 miles in total, the 50/50 mix of off-road riding made it one of our hardest. We were truly off the beaten path, judging our route not by its direction or duration, but by the conditions on the various “roads” we were riding. They ranged from packed gravel, to loose rock, to rough dirt, and ended with a proper baptism of off-road fire.

Expansive views, sheer drops, and thirsty miles dominated Day Three, but you wouldn’t know it by our demeanor. Tired yes, but Oregon, Washington, and Idaho gave us plenty for our effort. The Bros are gelling too…and where perhaps Colin and Pete were resistant to the eyeroll-worthy “Broventure” mantle, they’ve embraced the spirit…or maybe that’s just the heat and dehydration talking.

Broventure 2014 – Day Two: An Embarrassment of Riches

09/08/2014 @ 12:20 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Day Two of the 2014 Broventure sees us riding from The Dalles, and ending up in Northeast Oregon, near the town of Joseph. It’s our first proper day of riding as a group of five, and our route is a solid 380 miles in length, approximately 60 miles of which is off-road fire trails. This all means there has been plenty of miles through which to get to know my fellow companions.

I’m not sure what contribution my presence brings to the ride, other than some sort of written/photographic record, but the rest of the group is very dynamic. Ronnie likes to pop wheelies on his Triumph Street Triple, usually down elevated freeway on-ramps — he’s also putting us to shame with his Dunlop DOT race tires on the gravel roads.

Quentin is easily distracted by cats, even when negotiating with locals over a five-gallon can of gasoline — I worry about him. Pete is our rock, and if I can be a bit self-centered, I’m grateful for every mile that his eight-gallon BMW R1200GSA is near me…as I’ll be the first one stranded on the side of the road, looking for a gas tank to siphon.

Colin is the glue the binds us, as he’s probably the only one of us who actually knows where we’re going. He’s planned an amazing route for our trip, which has us connecting an epic series of remote roads. He’s also even reluctantly accepted the “Broventure” title that these pages carry, or so he says.

Broventure 2014 – Day One: Getting Out of Dodge

09/06/2014 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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For the next four days, I’ll be on the road, riding and writing another Broventure for you all to enjoy. The plan is for our trip to take us through Oregon, Washington, and Idaho — through some of the best mountain roads in the Pacific Northwest.

If you’ve been following the Asphalt & Rubber social media accounts, you may have seen that I’ve been putting together a slightly modded Ducati Hypermotard SP for this trip (skid plate, radiator guard, heated grips, luggage rack, and Pirelli Scorpion tires), as our route includes both twisty asphalt roads and mild/moderate off-road trails.

I’ve always been a fan of the new Hypermotard, and I’ve been curious to see how it goes as a smaller ADV option to the more “purpose-built” Ducati Multistrada 1200. I have no delusions however about the bike’s small fuel tank and fairly uncomfortable seat — sometimes you have to roll a hard six.

Speaking of the magic number, six of us in total will be going on the trip, half of the group I haven’t met before; but all of us seem to be connected in multiple ways, and everyone shares the same passion for bikes and getting out of Dodge, and onto the open road.

Broventure Update Day Eight – All Good Things…

09/17/2013 @ 1:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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All good things must come to an end, and so too must this Broventure. Our travels have forged our buttocks into iron, impervious now to the long days in the saddle; our minds have been steeled against the lonely nature of navigating the back roads of America; and our road beards prevent us from stopping within 500 feet of an elementary school — talking to members of the opposite sex has been proven to be difficult as well.

Our bodies show that we have gone to Moab and back, and along the way we took in many of the breath-taking sights that the Southwest has to offer. We traded in our track leathers for some ADV gear, and tipped our toe into the off-roading waters — there is a reason this site is called Asphalt & Rubber, but this whole dirt thing is starting to look appealing as well.

Broventure Update – Day Seven: Unusual Perspectives

09/16/2013 @ 10:16 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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The days are winding down now, with today being our last real day of this Broventure (tomorrow we make the long arduous trek from Las Vegas back to Santa Barbara). Our agenda is simple: go see the Grand Canyon and stop at the Hoover Dam.

It’s raining this morning, naturally, and a weather front is coming in behind us. This wouldn’t be much of an issue, except we have to back-track our way from Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It would seem that we cannot escape the rain.

Broventure Update – Day Six: The Long Goodbye

09/13/2013 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The trails and trials of Moab are behind us now, and all that remains is the long ride home, back to California. For as much “what if” planning that went into our preparation for this trip, we are surprisingly unscathed by our off-roading and touring adventures thus far.

I mean, Tim probably has a hairline fracture or severely torn ligament in his right wrist — a reward for an epic bike-before-body save on the Super Ténéré — but he continues to get punches on his Man Card by soldiering on with little complaint. Overall, our spirits are good.

Getting some greatly deserved slumber, we awoke to see that the rain has not left us from the previous day. It is coming down in waves, and making the process of getting out of our sleeping bags and tents a very undesirable prospect.

We have roughly 500 miles of riding planned for the day, as we plan to back-track out of Moab to get onto SR-95 South — our last great riding route of the trip. The excursion is a bit out of our way home, but all reports suggest it to be another epic ride, and for bonus points it will bring us close to the Grand Canyon, another sight Tim and I were hoping to see on this Broventure.

But before we can do that, we must first say goodbye to Moab, with its pantheon of geological wonder, and the trails and road that we navigated to see them.

Broventure Update – Day Five: The Road Less Traveled By

09/11/2013 @ 9:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” finishes with the iconic lines that “two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” This phrase has become the embodiment of the idea that the road less-often taken brings us greater reward, and in many ways that is the impetus behind trips like ours to Moab — we are searching for something, adventure maybe, beyond where the roadway ends.

With those words in mind, we strapped our boots on in the morning, geared up for a full day of riding on the trails that lead down the Colorado River and into Canyonlands National Park. Tim and I were a combination of excited and nervous for the day’s ride — after all, we had just ridden 1,000+ miles for this very day. Our first order of business was to take Kane Creek Road, to Hurrah Pass, and onto the Chicken Corners Trail.

Broventure Update – Day Four: No Halfway Measures

09/10/2013 @ 10:08 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Tim and I are sportbikers through and through, having cut our riding teeth on the canyon roads that are just inland of Santa Barbara, CA. So while the main goal for this trip is to get our feet dirty on the off-road trails of Moab, we both have been looking forward to today’s stretch of our route.

Our course promises not only to have corner-after-corner of fast and clean sweepers, but also some epic views as we summit and decend the mountains, and cut our way through the rock desert. Utah did not disappoint in this regard as we left Bryce Canyon National Park and headed to Moab, Utah along SR-12, SR-24, and SR-191. The fourth day of our eight day trip, it was hard to believe that by the end of the day we would have halfway completed our trip.

Broventure Update – Day Three: The Same, But Different

09/08/2013 @ 9:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Waking up at the campsite in Zion is like waking up in any national park, really. If you rise early enough, you are treated to warm colors laying like patchwork along the scenic terrain. But, you have to savor the spectacle quickly, as it will soon be ruined by the hum of generators firing up, headlights on high-beam casting shadows across your tent, and the booming voices of other tourists who were born without courtesy.

Camping, well…let’s be honest, car-camping in a national park is really an exercise in enjoying nature at its lowest common denominator, and such was our stay in Zion. Immensely gorgeous, but Tim and I have no illusions to the fact that we are short on “adventure” on this adventure-touring trip, as we break-down our tents in our pre-assigned and marked campsite, clean our dishes with the running tap water, and take care of pre-ride business with the established restroom facilities. The park itself though? Gorgeous in the morning light.