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.

Here It Is, The Norton V4 RR Superbike

It has been a long time coming for the Norton V4 RR, but the British firm has finally debuted its 1,200cc, 72° V4-powered, 200hp superbike. The actual machine looks pretty close to its concept sketches, which in turn are based closely to Norton’s TT race bike. Norton has made a pretty stout machine, with the V4 RR coming with a robust electronics package that was developed in-house, which includes traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and cruise control, augmented by a six-axis IMU; a 7″ high-definition display that includes a rear-facing camera; and a up-and-down quickshifter and datalogger. Key chassis components include the twin-tube “shotgun” frame, and a single-sided swingarm with a fully adjustable pivot point (the steering head angle is also adjustable).

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Prototype

11/05/2014 @ 6:35 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Cruisers really aren’t our cup of tea here at Asphalt & Rubber, which might explain the lack of coverage for America’s gift to the two-wheeled world on our website. That being said, it’s hard to pass on the lurid Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype that is on display at this year’s EICMA show.

A reworked Moto Guzzi California 1400, the MGX-21 is clad in carbon fiber, matte black paint, and red highlights. The carbon fiber disc wheels are a nice touch too (that’s a 21″ wheel up front, by the way), as are the sweeping lines from the front cowl and fenders.

We’re finding ourselves a bit smitten with this Moto Guzzi, as true to the brand, it strays from the cruiser norm. We think you’ll like it too, check out the photos after the jump.

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M — An Exclusive Track Weapon

11/03/2014 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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While the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 is pretty impressive in its own right, the folks at Iwata weren’t content to let things be, and thus have produced the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M. An exclusive extension of the R1, Yamaha calls the R1M the closest thing there is to the company’s GP machine, the Yamaha YZR-M1.

Featuring the same 200hp “CP4” crossplane 998cc inline-four engine as the base model, Yamaha has added Öhlins’ ERS semi-active suspension pieces to the superbike, along with carbon fiber fairings, and a robust GPS-powered data acquisition system.

The Yamaha YZF-R1M utilizes the powerful electronics package that Yamaha has developed, with traction control, launch control, wheelie control, slide control, and anti-locking brakes all acting in unison through the inertial measurement unit (IMU).

Able to know how the motorcycle is moving through six-axis, the Yamaha YZF-R1M can then tailor how it responds to rider and road inputs, via the engine, the suspension, and the brakes.

Transform Your Honda CBR600RR into a Vyrus 986 M2

04/30/2014 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Maybe one of the most lurid motorcycles ever to grace the pages of Asphalt & Rubber, the Vyrus 986 M2 Moto2 race bike is just as much art as it is engineering innovation. A hub-center steering front-end, self-supporting carbon fiber body pieces, and a bevy of GP-level electronics adorn this futuristic looking motorcycle from Italy.

The goal from Vyrus was to have a Moto2-class legal racing machine that was ready for competition, though we doubt many owners see it that way. What few bikes that actually leave their owner’s garage, we imagine only a handful will see any track time, but that’s sometimes just the way it goes.

Originally priced at €55,000 for the race bike (a pretty cheap price for a Moto2 machine), a street version was supposed to debut at €25,000, while a Vyrus 986 M2 kit was to be made available at €16,900 (one must supply their own Honda CB600RR motor to use the kit option).

After currency exchange rates, the Vyrus 986 M2 kit sounded like a fairly affordable and hands-on way to own such a unique machine. Well, now that Vyrus is actually able to make good on its do-it-yourself option, things have changed a little…by say €10,000 or so.

Video: Ducati 1199 Superleggera – The Power of Lightness

02/04/2014 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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I don’t have a good excuse as to why I want to post this video up on the site, other than the Ducati 1199 Superleggera is probably the most awesome motorcycle to come out in the past decade (apologies to any Honda DN-01 owners in the crowd).

An exercise in engineering prowess, which saw Borgo Panigale drop shed some serious weight from its venerable superbike, it should come as no surprise then that the 155kg (dry) Superleggera was a model put forth by Claudio Domenicali, a man who rose from engineer to CEO at Ducati Motor Holding.

That being said, I’m not sure we need a good excuse to fawn over the Superleggera. A magnesium monocoque frame, forged magnesium Marchesini wheels, carbon fiber rear sub-frame and bodywork (with integrated R-spec aero-kit), lithium-ion battery, titanium exhaust system with stainless steel headers, titanium bolts and fasteners…I’m sorry, what was I saying?

Officially Official: Ducati 1199 Superleggera

10/22/2013 @ 2:18 am, by Jensen Beeler57 COMMENTS

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Well it looks like all the leaks and speculation are now over, as Ducati has finally released photos and information about the 2014 Ducati 1199 Superleggera — the company’s “super light” limited edition superbike. A halo bike for Borgo Panigale, the new Superleggera slots into Ducati’s lineup above the homologation-purposed Ducati 1199 Panigale R.

Only 500 Ducatisti worldwide will have the chance to own a Ducati 1199 Superleggera, and that ownership will mean having a superbike with a dry weight of only 155kg (341.7lbs) — 177kg (390.2lb) at the curb with at least a tank that is 90% full. Ducati officially rates the power at “over 200hp” as the Superleggera revs an extra 500 rpm’s off its modified motor.

Coming Soon: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera

10/04/2013 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen Beeler65 COMMENTS

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Ducati has gone to great lengths so that you won’t know this, but our sources have confirmed to us that in about a month’s time, the Bologna Brand will debut perhaps the most ostentatious machine ever to come from the Borgo Panigale factory, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera. An ultra-exclusive version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, the Superleggera edition is exactly what its Italian name suggests, a super-light version of the Panigale R.

With the Panigale R already the lightest sport bike to ever come from Ducati, the Panigale R Superleggera goes even further, employing titanium, carbon fiber, and magnesium throughout the machine to drop its curb weight by an additional 40 lbs. Ducati isn’t stopping there though.

Heavily reworking the 1,199cc Superquadro engine, the engineers at Bologna have bumped the bike’s peak horsepower figure, somehow finding a way to shoehorn 220hp into the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera.

It’s ok if you need to take a minute to readjust yourself in your chair before reading further — we’ll wait.

Taylormade Carbon2 – Life Outside the Moto2 Box

07/10/2013 @ 7:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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David spent some lines of text yesterday talking about the lack of chassis innovation in the Moto2 Championship — a series whose spec-engine rules were supposed to be a playground for chassis engineers. As we know now, Moto2 has become a race of common denominators, with twin-spar aluminum frames ruling the day.

Company’s like Vyrus have threatened to enter Moto2 with their very stylish Vyrus 986 M2 race bike, with its hub-center steering design; but as David pointed out, the work involved to train racers for the new inputs these machines provide is perhaps the bigger boulder to carry when compared to developing the motorcycles themselves.

That doesn’t mean that innovation is lacking though, as we bring you another intriguing design, this time one built right here in sunny California: the Taylormade Carbon2.

Arete Americana’s Ducati 999 CF

07/03/2013 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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It might not have been the sales disaster that many make it out to have been, but Pierre Terblanche’s Ducati 999  remains one of the most controversial machines ever to come out of Borgo Panigale. However, the more we look at the 999’s staked-headlight and double-sided swingarm design, two of the biggest design elements that Ducatisti took umbrage with at the bike’s launch, the more we think that the Ducati 999 Superbike will become a collector’s classic, and stand as a unique time in the Italian brand’s history.

So, it warms out hearts to see that there are people out there still building off of Terblanche’s work, and one of them is Bryan Petersen at Arete Americana and his Ducati 999 CF. Sporting a tail and tank from Radical Ducati (Arete Americana is the North American distributor for the Spanish firm), along with a singe-sided swingarm conversion from an 848, the Ducati 999 CF is our kind of custom: subtle, yet to the point, and Arete Americana has ensured that all the right go-fast bits were included in the build.

2013 Triumph Daytona 675R: A Bargain Racer for $13,499

11/13/2012 @ 3:59 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Like the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675, the “R” model of Britain’s three-cylinder supersport has gotten a number of refinements and changes for the new model year. Virtually every aspect of the Triumph Daytona 675 has been seen to, and we won’t rehash those changes here (head over to our article on the base model for the full-monty).

Commanding a $1,900 premium over the base model, the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R adds a TTX rear shock and NIX30 inverted forks to the mix, along with a new quick shifter, higher-spec Brembo monobloc brakes, and some carbon fiber bits.

Would we spend the extra green for the Daytona 675R over the base model? Yup, but the better question is whether you would buy the Triumph Daytona 675R over the MV Agusta F3. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Look for the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R in dealerships come February 2013.

Up-Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電)

05/31/2012 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

It is hard to believe that it was only last November that Mugen started its electric motorcycle racing program, and drafted the first designs of the Mugen Shinden (神電) motorcycle. In four months, the Japanese tuning brand, known better for its four-wheeled efforts than its two-wheeled ones, was proving its concept at Motegi with John McGuinness on-board, and had subsequent rounds at Suzuka and Caldwell Park. Mugen had of course been on the Isle of Man for the 2011 SES TT Zero race, and took close notes of its competitors, namely MotoCzysz and Kingston University.

Admitting that both aerodynamics and stored energy were key factors in its design, Mugen has clearly put more emphasis on the prior. While the team is tight-lipped about how much energy will be available to its 122 hp motor, they have said the battery pack weighs over 100 kg (220 lbs), which means it accounts for nearly half of the bike’s weight (and likely much more than that).