Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

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.

Yamaha FZ1 Fans Sleep Well, The Fazer Will Continue On

08/15/2014 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Yamaha FZ1 Fans Sleep Well, The Fazer Will Continue On 2014 Yamaha FZ1 635x423

When we saw that Yamaha had a sport-tourer based off the FZ-09, we had some worry for fans of the Yamaha FZ1. The venerable “Fazer” is certainly long in the tooth, and one doesn’t have to have an overly active imagination to see the FZ1 being replaced by an FZ-09 variant.

Applying for CARB certification this week though, Yamaha seems content to sell the four-cylinder Yamaha FZ1 within the borders of the Golden State in 2015, presumably along with the rest of the United States.

Google Wants Broader Autonomous Vehicle Law – Are You Ready for Riderless Motorcycles?

08/14/2014 @ 11:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Google Wants Broader Autonomous Vehicle Law   Are You Ready for Riderless Motorcycles? terminator 3 salvation motorcycle 635x423

No sooner has Google built its first autonomous car, and been granted its autonomous vehicle driving license in the State of California, than the Silicon Valley company has begun paving the way for autonomous two-wheeled transportation.

Writing an email to the State of California to do away with legal wording that restricts autonomous vehicle licenses just to cars, Google’s Ron Medford hopes to allow driverless/riderless trucks and motorcycles on city streets, provided they prove the same safety standards as with Google’s autonomous car program.

“It is certainly possible that future testing could include motorcycles or larger commercial vehicles,” said Medford in his email. “If some innovator can demonstrate that testing autonomous technology on such vehicles is safe, then they should be allowed to test.”

EBR 1190RX & SX Get CARB Certified, California Bound

08/04/2014 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

EBR 1190RX & SX Get CARB Certified, California Bound erik buell racing 1190sx california 635x425

Good news for California riders who want Erik Buell Racing’s latest motorcycles, as the EBR 1190RX and EBR 1190SX have been certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

A necessary step to selling in the Golden State, the news means that Erik Buell Racing can begin shipping RX and SX models to its California dealers, who in turn can now begin selling the bikes to the eager Californian biking public.

CHP Drops Lane-Splitting Guidelines from Website

07/21/2014 @ 4:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

CHP Drops Lane Splitting Guidelines from Website california highway patrol logo 635x410

The California Highway Patrol has removed its guidelines for lane-splitting in the Golden State on the CHP website, after receiving a complaint from a Sacramento citizen. Though lane-splitting has been a long-time established practice for motorcyclists in California, the act is poorly defined and regulated.

Since California has no provision directly outlawing the practice, motorcyclists are free to lane-split, lane-share, and filter so long as their actions fit under the California Vehicle Code’s catchall provision of “safe and prudent” operation of a motor vehicle. What does that mean? No one really knows.

In an effort to define what it viewed as safe and prudent, the CHP released last February a list of guidelines for motorcyclists to follow while lane-splitting in the Golden State. The guidelines were not law in the de jure sense of the word, but without any other comment from a government entity, they became the de facto rules of the road, which leads us to today.

MV Agusta USA Back in Business in California

05/28/2014 @ 4:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MV Agusta USA Back in Business in California MV Agusta F3 800 Ago Giacomo Agostini 17 635x421

Good news for Italian motorcycle fans in California, as MV Agusta license to operate within California has been reinstated. The Italian motorcycle brand saw its license to do business in California revoked earlier this month, after the company failed to renew its license with the Golden State, which had expired in July of last year.

MV Agusta USA had said that the license revocation was due to a paperwork issue, and sources have told Asphalt & Rubber that the American office had confused federal filings as being sufficient for California as well.

Thankfully with help from MV Agusta’s lawyers in Italy, MV Agusta USA was able to rectify the situation in a rapid manner, with dealers in California only being unable to sell new machines for a total of 12 days.

Californians, Apply Now for Your Self-Driving Car License

05/28/2014 @ 1:04 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Californians, Apply Now for Your Self Driving Car License google autonomous car 635x423

Californian motorists should brace themselves, as the Golden State is poised to let autonomous vehicles onto its roadways, en masse. Announcing that it will begin taking applications for driverless vehicle licenses starting in July, California will begin granting autonomous vehicles access to its roads in September of this year.

The decision is part of a larger nationwide push for autonomous vehicles, a topic we have covered at length here on Asphalt & Rubber, and accordingly something that the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) have finally taken an interest in participating on an advisory level.

MV Agusta No Longer Allowed to Sell Bikes in California

05/17/2014 @ 9:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

MV Agusta No Longer Allowed to Sell Bikes in California MV Agusta F3 800 Ago Giacomo Agostini upside down 635x421

Tough news today for MV Agusta dealers and potential buyers, as the Italian motorcycle brand is no longer allowed to sell motorcycles in the State of California.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles publishes a list of vehicle makers that are no longer licensed to conduct business within the Golden State’s borders, and as you can imagine, the names are usually those of fly-by-night or foreign entities with less-than-reputable backgrounds.

In its most recent release, sent to dealers and registration services, the California DMV named MV Agsuta USA as one of the companies whose license to operate in California is no longer valid, which means 2014 model year machines can no longer be sold in California (we’re not sure how this affects 2013 and earlier machines that remain unsold at dealerships).

California Law Mandates “Tobacco” Warning Labels To Be Put on All New Motorcycles Sold in State

04/01/2014 @ 11:34 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

California Law Mandates Tobacco Warning Labels To Be Put on All New Motorcycles Sold in State honda cbr1000rr warning label 635x475

Call it the ever-increasing nanny state, or maybe just blame the liberals in Sacramento who just can’t help themselves, but starting with all 2015 model year bike, motorcycles OEMs will have to affix tobacco-style warning labels to any motorcycle they wish to sell in the great State of California.

Passed this morning, SB 0401 cites the overwhelming statistical evidence that motorcycles are likely to lead to serious injury or death, which has prompted California State Surgeon General Avril Trompez, working with a consortium of Democrat California Senators, to write and pass a bill that would treat motorcycles more like cigarettes when it comes to warning of these “potential” dangers.

Where Are the Motorcyclists in the USA?

02/18/2014 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Where Are the Motorcyclists in the USA? united states text map 2 635x425

Talking to a European colleague the other day, I had to remind him that the United States is just as big and diverse as the European Union, with our country’s states being as unique as the sovereigns involved in the EU. The same goes for motorcycling in the US, with our sport and passion taking different shapes depending on your geography of this Great Union.

It tickled my fancy then, when today I saw a breakdown of motorcyclists by state in the United States, especially when the results were displayed on a per capita basis. Of the 8,410,255 motorcycles registered in the United States (D.O.T. figure, as of 2011), which states have the most motorcyclists by volume? The answer shouldn’t surprise you as California, Texas, and Florida take the top honors, likely due to their mild winters and coastal routes.

But which states have the highest concentrations of motorcyclists? Now that is where things get more interesting: South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Iowa. You’re a no good dirty liar if you say you predicted those three states to be at top of the list — with each stating sporting 12, 17, 18 and people per bike, respectively.

The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition

01/17/2014 @ 2:54 pm, by Aakash Desai52 COMMENTS

The Womens Motorcycle Exhibition womens motorcycle exhibit marie

The Riverside Art Museum is hosting “The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition,” an exhibit featuring the photography of Lanakila MacNaughton until March 16th.  The Portland-based photographer is also motorcyclist and wanted to capture a female-centric perspective on the colorful and wild side of motorcycling that is either underrepresented or misrepresented in this male-dominant culture.

Lanakila’s portraits show women embodying roles that are typically reserved for male motorcyclists, including images where a male takes on the role of pillion passenger in an obvious gender reversal. Another interesting set of images depicts a desert road scene where two barely dressed ladies (save for the stickers on their breasts) ride missionary (a la Kanye’s “Bound 2” music video).

We were excited by the potential for this exhibit to further the conversation around reimagining the role of women in motorcycling. Although the number of women riders in the U.S. is increasing, in marketing and in product development women are still considered a niche demographic.

There is not much space in the culture for women to stand on their own without being coddled or catered to by patronizing marketing gimmicks or feeling ogled by every dude on the road. Simply developing bikes with lower seat heights and apparel with pink and purple flower schemes is not going far enough to really opening the doors of the industry guys’ club.