Yamaha YZF-R3 Revealed – 321cc Twin Coming to the USA

The rumors were true, Yamaha is bringing a special small-displacement model to market, the Yamaha YZF-R3. As the name indicates, the new R3 gets a fuel-injected displacement bump over the R25, to the tune of 321cc. Debuted at the AIMExpo today, the Yamaha YZF-R3 is coming to the USA, with a price tag of $4,990. Said by Yamaha to have “class-leading power”, the new R3 finally adds a small-displacement sport bike to Yamaha’s North American lineup, and makes an attractive offering when compared to the other 250cc/300cc machines from the other Japanese manufacturers. Expect to see it in Yamaha dealers, starting January 2014. Yamaha North America expects the YZF-R3 to be the volume leader for the company in the USA and Canada, and rightfully so.

Ducati Announces DVT — Desmodromic Variable Timing

As was teased, Ducati is unveiling its “DVT” technology today, which stands for Desmodromic Variable Timing, and to showcase that technology (borrowed from Volkswagen), Ducati has produced the first motorcycle engine with variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. Adapted to the now-called Ducati Testastretta DVT engine, which we reported will debut first on the new Ducati Multistrada for 2015, Ducati’s new v-twin powerplant can change the intake and exhaust timing independently, and throughout the rev range. This means that the Ducati Testastretta DVT engine can be optimized for peak power at high rpms, while maintaing rideability and smoothness at lower rpms — not to mention keeping with emission and noise regulations throughout the rev range.

What If You Put Dustbin Fairings on Modern Sport Bikes?

I simply love the latest sketches from Nicolas Petit. The French designer is sort of re-imaging a previous project of his, where he designed a modern-looking dustbin-style fairing for a BMW HP2 Sport and Moto Guzzi V12 Le Mans. Taking on now the Ducati 1199 Panigale, Petit has mixed the old-styled TT racer look with Italy’s premier superbike, in an effective manner. We haven’t seen this sort of clash between old and new technology since John Hopkins raced the last two-stroke GP bike, the Yamaha YZR500 in 2002. There are some obvious issues with dustbin fairings. While they cut the air ahead of the motorcycle, the first step to achieving better aerodynamics, they do little to shape the air behind the motorcycle, the second step to achieving better aerodynamics.

Is This How Much the Kawasaki Ninja H2R Will Cost? Nope.

It has certainly been interesting to see the buzz around the Kawasaki Ninja H2 these past few weeks, especially as everyone tries to cash in on the supercharged hype-machine that Kawasaki has been running. Now lately we have seen a supposed dealer invoice for the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R, with a price tag just north of $60,000. Many publications have latched onto that price point — which isn’t the craziest conclusion to come to, considering that the H2R is Kawasaki’s halo-bike project, and will likely cost a pretty penny — though with just a quick glance, we can see that the alleged paperwork has clearly been a work of Photoshop, and not inside information.

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

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.

New Ducati 1299 Gets +100cc, While 1299R Gets None

For 2014, Ducati is giving the Panigale a bit of a model update, and thanks to an ill-framed photo from the Ducati North America dealers’ meeting, we know that the new superbike will be called by the 1299 designation. The upgrade in number caused some confusion though, as Ducati has a mixed history of matching designation numbers to actual displacement sizes. Hoping to clear up the confusion and speculation, we received some details from our Bothan spy network. As expected, Ducati will not be bumping up the 1299R up to 1,300cc of displacement, as the World Superbike rules are for 1,200cc twin-cylinder engines, and are not going to be changed anytime soon.

MotoAmerica’s Provisional 2015 Racing Calendar Released

There is positive momentum around America’s new MotoAmerica series, which will takeover duties from DMG and AMA Pro Road Racing, starting next season. We have already seen the series’ new class structure, which makes significant steps to parallel what’s going on in the World Superbike Championship. Today, we see MotoAmerica’s efforts on its racing schedule, a hot-ticket item after DMG’s five, then six, race schedule this season. American fans should rejoice, as eight races are on the calendar, which reads like a greatest hits album of American race tracks.

Triumph Tiger 800 Gets Four More Variants

Triumph seems set to debut four more variants of its Tiger 800, as CARB filings filings show a Tiger 800 XCA, Tiger 800 XCX, Tiger 800 XRT, and Tiger 800 XRX models for the 2015 model year. The news seems to show Triumph spreading out its middleweight ADV offering, giving on-road and off-road riders a bit more to choose from the British brand. Helping us understand how Triumph sees the four added variants, Motorcycle.com has publish a chart (above), which Triumph sent to Tiger 800 owners as a part of its market research. That chart breaks down the various models’ spec, and which features that would come with as standard. Noticeable across the board is that the three-cylinder gets a 15% MPG boost, as well as ABS and traction control as standard features.

Variable Valve Timing Coming to the Ducati Multistrada

For the 2015 model year, Ducati is bringing a brand new Multistrada, which will debut at the upcoming EICMA show in Milan, Italy. Not much has been said about the new Multistrada, aside from A&R breaking the news about the new model a few weeks ago, so we thought we would update you further on it. Designed to look very similar to the current Multistrada 1200, the new Multistrada will keep the basic profile and design of its predecessor, despite being an all-new machine. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the 2015 Ducati Multistrada though is the fact that Borgo Panigale has fitted variable valve timing (VVT) to the desmodromic valves of the Testastretta 11° engine.

Is Ferrari Working on a Motorcycle?

Lately we have seen a lot of car manufacturers taking an interest in the two-wheeled world — Audi bought Ducati from Investindustrial, and MV Agusta is expected to announce that Mecerdes-AMG is taking a minority stake in the Italian motorcycle company. These collaborations and consolidations make a lot of sense from a business perspective: economies of scale, common four-stroke technology, shared R&D, and CAFE standard benefits, just to name a few. So that’s why the latest news that Ferrari has filed a patent on a motorcycle engine doesn’t surprise us in concept. Nor does the press’ intensity of the subject.

Sbay Jerry – Fine Art Meets Motorcycling

03/13/2012 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Sbay Jerry   Fine Art Meets Motorcycling Sbay Jerry 05 635x339

While the United States has always been a center for custom motorcycle fabrication, a biker renaissance is currently underway on Spanish soil. It shouldn’t surprise us that one of the largest and most rabid places for motorcycling is fostering some of the most beautiful motorcycle masterpieces in the world, this is after all the same country that brought us Dalí, Goya, & Picasso.

Of course you have seen Madrid’s Radical Ducati gracing our pages, but some of our most favorite work comes from the folks over at Sbay. Truly two-wheeled artistry, our love affair first started with the Sbay Flying 1800, but we find ourselves in serious motorcycling lust with the firm’s latest creation: the Sbay Jerry.

1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries

01/09/2012 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries Trillion Industries 1979 Honda CB650 01 635x419

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we don’t feature too many bikes that subscribe to the “modern-take on the retro look” hipster theory of motorcycling. Maybe it’s because we prefer to go fast rather than look cool, or maybe it’s because we don’t own any form fitting denim pants — honestly, it could go either way on that one. That being said, we know what we like, and more importantly when know what we like when we see it, and that pretty much sums up our thoughts on the 1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries.

Beginning life in the mundane, the Honda CB is a crowd favorite with the retro-turned-hipster crowd for making modern takes on the café racer design aesthetic. Don’t get us wrong, we have seen plenty of café racers that we like, and the market segment enjoys a small but militant following of motorcycle enthusiasts. However, rarely does a Honda CB, no matter how much beauty school it has attended, floor you in your seat. This work by Derek Pauletto however, would be the exception to that statement.

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Endurance Racer by Luca Bar

02/03/2011 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Endurance Racer by Luca Bar Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Café Racer Luca Bar Design 635x459

When the Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Racer debuted at EICMA in 2009, it looks like we weren’t the only ones smitten by the bike’s retro yet refined presence. Moto Guzzi’s creation also caught the eye of the purveyor of pixels himself, Luca Bar of Luca Bar Designs, as the Italian designer plans on having a V7 in his garage, albeit with a slightly different look and feel from the stock model.

Basing his design off the endurance racers of the 1970’s, Bar is constructing a streamlined forward fairing for his Guzzi. Of course the process is added by his talented eye for design, which brings us the render you see here. Staying true to the classic lines of the Clubman, we think there might be more demand for such a piece than just the one destined for Bar’s garage.

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer

11/29/2010 @ 6:17 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer  Sbay Flying 1800 cafe racer 2 635x422

Here’s to starting Monday morning off right as we bring you the Spanish-made Sbay Flying 1800 custom café racer from Sbay Motor Company. If cruisers from a certain American manufacturer could look like this, we imagine that talks of an aging demographic would cease to exist as the Flying 1800 has ample doses of eye-candy, sportiness, and innovation.

Between the 3.7 gallon carbon fiber tank that is hangs below the oil-holding frame and above the motor, the rear taillight that integrates into the tail section like a Ducati GP9/GP10, and the tasteful use of copper pipes that we liked so much on the Confederate Fighter, there’s plenty to get you drooling on this bike as it borrows from some of the best ideas in motorcycle design.

Ducati 350 Café Racer – Proof That Less is More

11/24/2010 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati 350 Café Racer   Proof That Less is More Ducati 350 Cafe Racer

Christian Klein’s Ducati 350 Café Racer might be a work of art, and it’s certainly an example that you don’t have to make an elaborate motorcycle to make something visually stunning. Using a Ducati 350 Scrambler motor, Klein has ported and polished the single-cylinder lump, and then fabricated a custom steel frame to make his creation. Klein was meticulous in his construction, taking several years to perfect his machine. The attention to detail has paid off though, and we especially like the custom made exhaust that wraps around the rear shock, and comes to a minimalist conclusion under the rider’s handmade seat. Photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati Café Veloce

11/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati Café Veloce Radical Ducati Cafe Veloce 635x441

Seeing how popular the work of Radical Ducati has been on our site, both with the Radical Ducati 9½ and Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we thought we’d bring you another one of the Spanish group’s fabulous creations: The Radical Ducati Café Veloce. Based off a Ducati Sport Classic, the Café Veloce features the same DS 1000 air-cooled two-valve motor, and steel tube frame as the now discontinued Ducati, but grows upon the Sport Classic’s cafe inspired lines.

Tastefully refining the Café Veloce into a sleeker and more dynamic package, Radical Ducati has created the Café Veloce to be devoid of Ducati’s more bland touches to the GT1000. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re smitten with the Café Veloce, even if it’s not usually the kind of thing we’d go for in our own garage. Photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati 9½

10/25/2010 @ 12:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati 9½ Radical Ducati 9 one half Javier Fuentes 5 635x423

From the guys at Spanish firm Radical Ducati comes the 9½, a Ducati ST2 motor wedged into a Monster 900 chassis, making an Italian beauty that’s part cafe racer, part streetfighter. Drawing inspiration form Ducati’s single-cylinder race bikes from the 1970’s, the 9½ is not only a looker, but is comprised of parts from Ducatis long forgotten past (but perhaps more memorable bikes, if you can handle that oxymoron).

If you look closely you’ll see pieces from not only the ST2, Monster 900, but also from the Ducati 916 Superbike (swingarm and rear-wheel), and 999 Superbike (fuel tank). Some other Radical parts enter the mix as well from its RAD series, and the result is a retro-esque bike that looks scintillating, classy, light, and fast. Keep your eyes trained for more bikes from Radical Ducati, we expect we’ll see some more great pieces (like this Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola) from the firm as they continue their Desmo mash-up. Bunch o’photos after the jump.

How to Save Harley-Davidson – Step 2: Shift Your Product Lineup into New Segments

04/07/2010 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler66 COMMENTS

How to Save Harley Davidson – Step 2: Shift Your Product Lineup into New Segments RSD Cafe Sportster 2 560x373

35 motorcycles, 7 model lines, 4 chassis, 3 motor families, & 1 market segment, that’s Harley-Davidson’s product line by the numbers. Where many large production motorcycle companies might have 30 or so motorcycles that span the entire gamut of motorcycling’s different sub-markets, Harley-Davidson has put all of its eggs in the heavy cruiser market. This singular pursuit of one market segment has not only been the cause for Harley’s success, but also a significant contributing factor to the company’s recent downfall, which has led to a recently rumored leveraged buyout.

As the old idiom goes, one should not put all their eggs in one basket, which is exactly the faux pas being committed here by Harley-Davidson in its product offering. Businesses, especially public ones, should always have an eye on sustained long-term growth, and a key element to that goal is a well-diversified position in their appropriate industry. Taking this lens and applying it to Harley-Davidson, one can immediately see a portfolio that has been extensively mismanaged by focusing on only one segment of the total motorcycle industry: the heavy cruiser market.

What this has effectively created is a motorcycle company that looks like Alfred Hitchcock’s take on Baskin Robins: 31 flavors, but they’re all Rocky Road.

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer at EICMA

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

2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer at EICMA 2010 Benelli TnT 899 Cafe Racer EICMA 1 635x425

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.

Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer

11/26/2009 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer radical ducati rad02 imola 1 635x423

Creating a tribute to the 750 Imola Desmo, Spanish tuner Radical Ducati has made this special cafe racer, the RAD02 Imola. Featuring a 900SSie engine with hot cams, a Monster S4R chassis, 749S forks, a MV Agusta ride-height adjuster, and asymmetric megaphone cans, the RAD02 Imola is a stunning example of the modern cafe racer genre. We drooled over it for a while, and you will too. Photos and more after the jump.