2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto, for France Only

America might have invented supermoto racing, but the sport’s largest support base easily comes now from that other side of the Atlantic – more specifically, from France. So, it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that Honda’s French importer Superboost makes a special supermoto version of the Honda CRF450 for the French market. For the 2017 model year, the Honda CRF450 Supermoto follows that changes made to Big Red’s 450cc dirt bike, which notably includes the return of fork springs (goodbye air forks), an electric starter, and down-draft fuel injection. Basically a kit that is added at the importer level, the 2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto lineup has three models, building off the CRF450R (€11,299), CRF450RX (€10,999), and CRF450X dirt bike (€10,999), with each getting their own taste of the supermoto treatment.

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.

The 50th Macau Grand Prix with Tony Goldsmith

11/22/2016 @ 7:54 pm, by Tony Goldsmith5 COMMENTS

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/11/2016: Ivan Lintin at the 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix today. PICTURE BY TONY GOLDSMITH

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This gallery of photos came with a note from photographer Tony Goldsmith, apologizing that I was just now getting them, and also that they weren’t his usual “Gold Standard” of quality.

It turns out that when Tony left Valencia to go to Macau, his laptop took a different trip at the Madrid airport. This means that Tony wasn’t able to process his shots after the Macau GP ended, and also explains their late arrival to Asphalt & Rubber.

If you ask me, they look pretty damn good…as usual. Tony is a true talent with a camera, if you haven’t noticed already. I’ll let him tell the tale about this year’s Macau in the comment section though, but if the rumors are true, the full story involves a circus seal, a tube of toothpaste, and a pair of galoshes. -JB

Peter Hickman Wins the 2016 Macau Grand Prix

11/19/2016 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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If you had an A&R Pro membership, the photo and headline of this post would be different, so as to avoid race spoilers. Instead, your race results would look like this post.

2017 Suzuki GSX-250R Debuts in China

10/27/2016 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Suzuki has finally gotten into the quarter-liter sport bike game, debuting the 2017 Suzuki GSX-250R in China this month. Before you get too excited, you should know that the GSX-250R is really just the Suzuki Inazuma in new clothing.

This means that the twin-cylinder six-speed street bike makes 25hp, 17 lbs•ft of torque, and weighs 392 lbs at the curb.

Not exactly mind-blowing stats, but Suzuki’s goal with the GSX-250R is to build a more practical and affordable machine, rather than a race bike as seen with the KTM RC390 and Honda CBR250RR. To that end, we’d say they accomplished that goal.

The 49th Macau Grand Prix with Tony Goldsmith

11/25/2015 @ 10:41 am, by Tony Goldsmith1 COMMENT

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Peter Hickman on his way to victory. He crashed on his debut at last year’s Macau Grand Prix, and didn’t make the race as the bike sustained too much damage. That makes his victory in this year’s event even more impressive.

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The start of the race and Martin Jessop leads the field into the tight Lisboa turn on the opening lap.

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Ian Hutchinson leaves pit lane to start Thursday afternoon’s qualifying session. The Macau race was Hutchy’s last appearance on the Kawasaki before he moves to the Tyco BMW squad for the 2016 season.

Peter Hickman Wins the 2015 Macau Grand Prix

11/22/2015 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Macau: Qualifying Results from the 2015 Macau GP

11/20/2015 @ 5:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Benelli Makes a Return to the US Market

08/11/2015 @ 12:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Absent now for more years than we can remember, the historic Italian brand of Benelli is returning to the United States. While it Is always the more brands the better, when it comes to consumer choices, this news is perhaps a mixed bag for motorcycle enthusiasts.

SSR Motorsports will be the official importer and distributer for the Qinjiang Group, bringing Benelli motorcycles and Keeway scooters to the USA. This part we like.

The caveat though is that our favorite machines from Benelli are not going to be making it stateside for now, as SSR will initially only bring the Benelli BN302 and Benelli BN600i, with MSRPs of $3,999, and $6,999 respectively.

Ordos International Circuit – China’s Forgotten Race Track

07/01/2015 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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In Inner Mongolia, Ordos City is known better to the Western world as “China’s Ghost City” – a name that came about after a report by Al Jazeera and an article by Time magazine, both of which featured the newly built Chinese prefecture-level city, in all its failure.

The name comes about because of the massive construction projects taking place in Ordos, and the essentially non-existent population that lives in them.

This situation even more true in the Kangbashi New Area, where there is a goal to house one million residents (the actual current capacity is 300,000), though only 50,000 to 100,000 people claim the city as their home.

Many words have been written about Ordos, its buildings, its failures, and its future, though little has been said about the Ordos International Circuit.

Benelli Coming Back to the USA

04/17/2015 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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In an interview with Cycle World’s Bruno de Prato, Yan Haimei, the CEO OF Benelli, announced that the historic Italian brand will be returning to American soil.

Haimei says that Benelli will make its US return by the end of 2015, though she was not clear on what models the Chinese-owned brand would make available.

“Returning to a market as competitive and selective as the American one will require that we further refine and increase our efforts, adding more personalized models and looking back to our history,” explained Haimei to Cycle World.

China Set to Buy Pirelli for €7.1 Billion

03/23/2015 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) is set to buy into tire-maker Pirelli, with what is currently a €7.1 billion deal. The move would put the 143-year-old Italian company in Chinese ownership, with ChemChina being the majority and controlling shareholder.

ChemChina had planned to offer €15/share to existing Pirelli stock owners, but that number may have to be lifted after a recent rally in the stock’s price. Once the deal concludes though, it is expected that ChemChina will take Pirelli private once the buyout is complete.

The impetus for the buyout is that Pirelli’s knowledge making tires would be a huge asset to ChemChina’s current tire production, not to mention that Pirelli’s free production inventory could be used to make other ChemChina products.

The deal would also give Pirelli a strong footing in the massive Chinese tire market, a significant leg-up in Asia for the Italian brand over its other European competitors.