California Formalizes Lane-Splitting Law

It finally happened, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 51 into law, making California the first state to put lane-splitting on its books. Lane-splitting has always been legal of course (despite what other headlines might suggest), though was legal only by a technical loophole in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). The passage of AB 51 now formally adds lane-splitting as a condoned practice by the CVC; and more importantly, it expressly allows government agencies, like the California Highway Patrol, to create and teach best-practice guidelines. AB 51 still creates some basic jurisprudence issues, like granting legislative powers to the executive branch, but many in the pro-lane-splitting movement seem to look past that issue, instead focusing on what it brings to motorcyclists.

EPA Slaps Harley-Davidson with $12 Million Fine

The EPA DOJ have just come to a settlement agreement with Harley-Davidson, which sees the American motorcycle manufacturer agreeing to pay a $12 million fine for its Screamin Eagle “super tuner” devices. Also in the agreement, Harley-Davidson agrees to spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution (through a project to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning stoves in local communities), as well as to stop selling, buy back, or destroy any illegal devices that increase air pollution from the company’s motorcycles. While not quite the Dieselgate scandal that caught Volkswagen circumventing EPA emission standards, Harley-Davidson’s “super tuners” do provide an aftermarket solution for motorcyclists to circumvent the emission devices on their motorcycles.

Moto3: Sky VR46 Fires Romano Fenati

As expected, Romano Fenati has been formally released from his contract with the Sky VR46 team. The Italian was suspended from the team after an incident at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. That was a temporary measure, but it has now been made permanent. Fenati was released for behavioral issues. The Italian had been abusive towards members of the team, and had not behaved in a professional manner. The incident in Austria was just the latest in a long line of breaches of behavioral conduct, which included confirmed reports of verbal abuse and unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports of physical conflict. The Sky VR46 team have announced that they will be bringing Lorenzo Dalla Porta in to join Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega in the Moto3 team.

Two New BMW R nineT Models Coming

Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) suggest that BMW Motorrad has two more variations of its retro-styled motorcycle line coming to the USA: the BMW R nineT Pure and the BMW R nineT Racer. These two bikes would join the other two air-cooled models we have already seen from the Germans, the base model BMW R nineT and the recently released BMW R nineT Scrambler, which debuted at EICMA last year. Our friends at Motorcycle.com spotted the CARB filings, and believe one of the machines will be based off the BMW Lac Rose concept – an ADV throw-back to when the Dakar Rally actually raced to Dakar. The other model though, could be anyone’s guess, as BMW hasn’t dropped any other concepts or hints in the past months.

Q&A: KTM On-Road Technical Director Sebastian Risse – The Development of the KTM RC16 MotoGP Bike

Sebastian Risse is the man behind the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike which was presented on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring. An automotive engineer by training, Risse has been with KTM since 2008. He started out as a crew chief and chassis analyst on KTM’s now defunct RC8 Superbike project, but when KTM returned to Grand Prix racing in 2012, Risse took charge of the Moto3 project, which has gone on to be the benchmark in the class. Risse is currently head of all of KTM’s roadracing activities, and has overseen and led development of the RC16 MotoGP bike. After the KTM RC16 was presented, we spoke to Sebastian Risse about the differences and design choices which went into the bike.

Here’s a Custom Ducati XDiavel by Roland Sands Design

In the event’s 76-year history, this year marks the first time that Ducati has ever participated at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – the Italian company hoping to showcase its Harley-Davidson alternative, the Ducati XDiavel. Helping fuel that fire was a collaboration between Roland Sands Design and Ducati, which has given way to the creation of a one-off XDiavel with the usual RSD touches. This means a flowing single-piece body, the addition of a 19″ front wheel, and shotgun-style exhaust are added to the already stylish XDiavel. The RSD Ducati XDiavel is then finished off with metallic flake paint job, along with the usual bits and bobs from the RSD catalog. There is a lot of “Southern California” transmitted through RSD’s design into the Italian-born XDiavel.

2017 KTM RC16 Officially Debuts

The Austrian GP might be tomorrow, but today the news is all about MotoGP’s newest entrant, KTM Racing. The Austrian team used its home to debut officially its MotoGP program, showing the KTM RC16 MotoGP race bike in its officially Red Bull livery for next year. The livery itself is what you would expect between at KTM/Red Bull collaboration, with the same blue and orange paint scheme as can be found on the Red Bull KTM Moto3 squad. The big difference of course is the rumored fire-breathing, 270hp, V4, engine, which Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will attempt to tame. The bike’s next outing will be at Valencia, where Thomas Lüthi and Mika Kallio will ride with the MotoGP-regulars once again, competing as wild card entries.

MotoGP Considering Team Communication via Dashboards

Dorna is considering allowing communication between teams and riders via the dashboard. At a meeting today between Dorna and the teams, initial discussions took place over a system to allow teams to pass very brief messages to the dashboard of the bikes. The ability to pass messages between team and bike has been made possible thanks to the transponders currently being used in MotoGP. Those allow for a very limited and very short burst of communication as the bikes pass the timing loops at the track. Race Direction is currently using the system to pass signals to the dash in the case of a red flag, black flag or ride through penalty, but the system would also allow teams a limited ability to pass messages to the riders.

Norton Announces V4 Superbike, Again

A year ago, to the day, Norton announced that it was working on a street-going superbike that featured a 200hp, 1,200cc, V4 engine. Now, Norton confirms that news, saying that we will see the limited-production (200 units) machine later this fall. Yay. On the bright side, Norton posted a concept drawing of the new bike to its Facebook page, giving us at least something new to whet our appetites on the new motorcycle. The concept looks very similar to the sketch we saw last year, making today’s new a little bit about nothing. But, our friends at MotoFire report that Norton is still working on a 650cc project, which will debut later this year as well.

Is This the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6?…Nope

Someone is trying to pass off the above photo as the eagerly awaited 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 – unfortunately, it’s a fake. I’m actually surprised this piece of photoshop has some legs, and is making its way around the internet, considering how obvious the forgery. To verify its authenticity, all one would have to do is to compare the above photo with photos of the current generation Yamaha YZF-R1. Contrasting the two, it’s clear that the chassis and exposed parts of the engine are right off the Yamaha YZF-R1 (it’s easiest to see on the swingarm). The real smoking gun though is that the forger used a Yamaha press photo as their base. I was able to find the base photo, which clearly shows that the five-spoke wheels on the alleged R6 are in the exact same ones from a R1 press photo.

Brammo eCruiser & Other Models Spied in Investor Pitch

09/23/2014 @ 4:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

brammo-product-road-map

Brammo continues to build upon its war chest of investment, and has turned to crowd-funding site EarlyShares for help in that regard. The site is targeted towards Angel-type investors, and is along the lines of a Kickstarter-style site for the wealthy and investment-minded.

The news that a company like Brammo is looking to raise more capital is nothing new, nor is it terribly noteworthy, but the documents provided to EarlyShares investors are certainly worth chewing on by two-wheeled enthusiasts.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is a diagram of Brammo’s planned model lineup, which briefly appeared on EarlyShares; and among other things, shows an eCruiser model from the Oregonian company. Boom goes the dynamite.

Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster – By Pierre Terblanche

08/15/2014 @ 5:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Confederate-X132-Hellcat-Speedster-01

The Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster is the newest motorcycle from the venerable “Southern” brand, and that’s enough of a pedigree for the machine to grace the pages of Asphalt & Rubber, but this latest incarnation of the Hellcat line also happens to be the first work by a certain Pierre Terblanche, who became Head of Design at Confederate not too long ago.

Based around the same 132 cubic inch (2,163cc) v-twin engine as the previous Hellcat models, the Speedster is good for 121hp and 140 lbs•ft of torque. The styling is true to the Confederate canon, though Terblanche’s touches can certainly be seen in the details of the machine.

Confederate C2 P-51 Fighter — Pierre Terblanche’s Latest Motorcycling Creation

12/07/2013 @ 8:12 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

confederate-C2-P51-Fighter

It has been over two years since we saw a new motorcycle from Confederate Motors, but you would be wrong to think that the boutique Southern brand has been sitting idly by all this time.

Earlier this year, Confederate added esteemed motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche to its ranks, and now we get to see the first fruition of the South African’s influence on the American motorcycle company.

Announcing today the Confederate C2 P-51 Fighter, Terblanche has created Confederate’s second-generation model of the Fighter line — no easy feat to build upon, as Terblanche calls the original fighter one of his all-time favorite motorcycle designs.

2014 Honda Valkyrie — Your Valhalla of Power Cruisers?

11/20/2013 @ 7:11 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

2014 Honda Valkyrie

As our Bothan spies had predicted, Honda has unveiled a new power cruiser for the upcoming model year, the 2014 Honda Valkyrie. Thankfully dropping its F6C designation for the more iconic “Valkyrie” name, Honda’s new machine is based around the 1,832cc flat-six engine of the Honda Gold Wing, and aims to be a stripped-down cruiser alternative to Honda Gold Wing F6B bagger.

A model that first debuted in 1996, this new Valkyrie features an aluminum twin-spar frame, a low-seat height, and will tip the scales at the curb with 750 lbs. An anti-locking braking system (ABS) will be optional for the US market, though pricing is yet to be determined by American Honda. We think the cruiser market will like the new Valkyrie, how about you?

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada – Now We’ve Seen Everything

11/12/2012 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

What happens when you take a Ducati Diavel and raid the Ducati Performance parts bin? You get the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada. After seeing the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada, it is clear that the Bologna Brand has touring on the brain, and thought that the Diavel should get some extra attention at this year’s EICMA show (although, maybe not as much as the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada, & 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R).

Designed with longer trips in mind, the Diavel Strada features improved wind protection, higher handlebars (15mm) that are also swept farther back (60mm) making for a more comfortable sitting position. Other additions include a gel seat and heated grips, as well as two auxiliary power outlets that are fed by a higher-output generator. For the pillion, a backrest has been included, and of course there is 41 liters of side luggage available.

Not exactly our cup of tea, but then again we have never been a big fan of the Diavel’s styling (riding the beast is a whole different matter though), but we imagine there are some would-be Diavel owners who would jump at the chance to tour on Ducati’s sport-cruiser. Photos and video after the jump for you intrepid souls.

2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B – A Tourer Minus the Touring

11/12/2012 @ 3:00 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

The last of Honda’s six new models for the 2013 model year (checkout our coverage of the 2013 Honda CBR500R, 2013 Honda CB500F, 2013 Honda CB500X, & 2013 Honda CBR600RR), the 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B is in a class of its own.

If the traditional Honda Gold Wing is the Cadillac of the motorcycling world, then the Honda Gold Wing F6B must be what the bike looks like with a drop-top. Taking the huge weekend touring machine, Honda has made the Gold Wing F6B more of a day-to-day cruiser…but not in a horrible Honda Rune sort of way.

Using the same chassis and 1,832cc flat-six motor that is found in the Honda Gold Wing, the 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B not only looks like less motorcycle than its predecessor, but it also sports 62 lbs in less heft than the base tourer model, for a “curvy” 842 lbs curb weight.

Coming in two models, the Honda Gold Wing F6B will cost $19,999, while the Honda Gold Wing F6B Deluxe will cost $20,999, and will include a center stand, passenger backrest, and self-cancelling turn signals. Color choices are simple: black or red. Photos and tech specs are after the jump.

The Indian Gambit – Polaris Puts Harley-Davidson on Notice

04/20/2011 @ 6:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Before yesterday afternoon, I had a hard time getting excited about Polaris. I think they make snowmobiles…but I’m not sure. This is how engaged with their brands I was, but of course this has all changed with the news that Polaris Industries, Inc. has acquired Indian Motorcycle for still undisclosed terms. Covering the business strategy side of motorcycling for the past two and a half years, I can tell you that there are few moves or decisions that strike me as truly inspired, but that events of the past 24 hours are surly Mensa-worthy.

Before I can talk about Polaris and Indian, I have to talk about another motorcycle company: Harley-Davidson. Kingdoms are fated to topple, but looking at Harley-Davdion and its dominance in the American motorcycle scene, let alone in popular culture, the legacy of the Milwaukee company seems assured to endure the test of time. So many companies have tried to be the next Harley, and all of their failures reinforce that concept that no company does “Harley” better than Harley-Davidson. Virtually creating the the legacy cruiser segment, and Harley-Davidson’s success in this regard is also the double-edged sword that is slowly prostrating the Milwaukee brand.

If I had to give one piece of advice to a company wanting to compete with Harley-Davidson, it would be real simple: don’t. Seemingly at the risk of painting itself into a corner, Harley-Davidson has refined its marketing message so thoroughly that it has honed in on a particular type of rider, and exhibits such a distinct persona of motorcycling that the company’s identity has found itself heading full-speed down a one-way street of branding. Thus the low-hanging fruit of competing with Harley-Davidson is to go after the brand where it cannot go.

Polaris Acquires Indian Motorcycle

04/19/2011 @ 3:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Polaris Industires has just announced its acquisition of the historic Indian Motorcycle company. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the deal sees one of the most historic names in American motorcycling finding a home with a major player in the motorcycle industry. The move is an interesting one for Polaris, as the company already owns cruiser and touring motorcycle manufacturer Victory Motorcycles.

According to the company press release, Indian will function as an autonomous business unit, but will likely gett help from Polaris’s engineering department, along with the obvious supply chain and purchasing power of the larger brand.

Harley-Davidson Considering an Electric Model

04/01/2011 @ 10:11 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Our favorite brand from Milwaukee continues to surprise us, as we’ve gotten confirmed reports that Harley-Davidson is considering an electric model to its line-up. Details are scarce on the project, but the company has made a poor secret out of its desire to return as an industry innovator (yes, there was in-fact a time when you could call a Harley-Davidson a trendsetter in the motorcycle industry…it just hasn’t been in this blogger’s lifetime). Likely eyeing the next big trend in motorcycling, internally the Bar & Shield brtand has been exploring the idea of an electric or hybrid ICE/electric drive train.

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer

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

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.