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.

Mission Motorcycles Becomes Mission Electric, Boats & Cars to Come, Mission R/RS Motos Delayed Until Q2/Q3 2015

Interesting things are afoot in the electric realm. Mission Motorcycles is about to expand beyond the two-wheels, as the company becomes officially called Mission Electric. The change comes about as Mission plans to expand into the automotive and marine segments, though the San Francisco company isn’t saying yet who it is partnering with in those spaces. Mission says it will continue to offer consumer-side products, like its current crop of electric motorcycles, the Mission R and Mission RS. However, its business model will expand to offer business-side electric drivetrain components, which was previously the realm of Mission Motors.

Is US Superbike Racing on the Verge of a Revival?

Motorcycle road racing in the US looks set for a revival after its years in the wilderness. Today, the AMA announced that the rights to road racing in the US have been reacquired from the Daytona Motorsports Group, and handed to a consortium led by Wayne Rainey and Chuck Aksland. The KRAVE Group will run a new series of races in North America from 2015, under the joint auspices of the AMA and the FIM. It has been a long and difficult few years for motorcycle road racing in the US. Since the DMG bought the rights to the AMA Superbike series, at the start of the 2008 season, the series has been in a steady decline.

Parker Brothers Does Daniel Simon’s Cosmic Detonator

11/10/2011 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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We’re big fans of Daniel Simon’s work here at Asphalt & Rubber, especially his Cosmic Motors series. Stocked with some of the most imaginative illustrations of vehicles from an alternate reality, Simon’s two-wheeled pièce de résistance is the Cosmic Motors Detonator motorcycle.

For reasons that probably resemble our work-induced daydreams, Parker Brothers Choppers (PBC), the same firm that brought you the rideable TRON Lightcycle and Batman’s Batpod, has built a functional, albeit unlicensed, version of Simon’s Cosmic Motors Detonator. To the company’s credit though, the build overall seems fairly true to the sketches and renders done by Simon.

Video: “Solus” by Lossa Engineering

08/08/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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After we brought you Barry Munsterteiger’s “Escapism” short, we got an email from Jay LoRossa at Lossa Engineering, sharing with us his company’s “Solus” film, which also takes us back to the original question as to why we ride motorcycles, and begs an answer to our postulation as to why OEM promotional videos are not this well done. Featuring Lossa Engineering’s Yamaha SR500 Café Racer, “Solus” is a movie about a man who finds the only moments of solitude in the busy city occur at night.

Riding alone on the streets of Los Angeles, which would normally be pack and busy during the day, there is that same message here that when you are on a motorcycle, you are alone with yourself, the bike, and the moment. The video is well shot, and tells a story that we think any motorcyclist can relate to about riding. It probably helps as well that Jay’s work is drool-worthy, and his custom SR500 sounds great over Beethoven’s 7th symphony. Watch it after the jump.

Ariel Motorcycles Returning in 2012

08/02/2011 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Before the name Ariel was synonymous with the Honda-powered Ariel Atom trackday car, the brand was affixed to vehicles of the two-wheeled variety. After producing great bikes like the Ariel Square Four, the now defunct Ariel Motorcycle company was folded into BSA, which in a roundabout fashion gave birth to the current Triumph brand. Building on that vein, we get word that the makers of the Ariel Atom want to get into the two-wheeled biz, and are planning to launch a new Ariel motorcycle by the end of this year.

Though there may not be any exact ties between the current past Ariel marques beyond their names, the idea of another motorcycle maker entering the treacherous and rarely lucrative motorcycle industry fray is nonetheless exciting to us here at A&R; and since we’re big fans of the Ariel Atom car project, we can only just barely contain our excitment on the idea of a similar movement done on two wheels as the one we’ve seen already on four.

Kwikasfaki by Cabbie

07/29/2011 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Take one Kawasaki H2 750 motor, recently decommisioned from drag strip duty we might add, throw in a plenty of bling parts, for measure include one deliciously white powdercoated frame, and you’ve got one seriously trick bike that is sure to go “kwikasfaki” (295lbs, 135rwhp, 9.3 down the ¼ mile if you’re a numbers person). Oddly enough, that’s exactly what one member on the Custom Fighters forum, named cabbie, did (full build thread here), and the result is Pamela-Anderson-in-a-wet-leotard-on-a-windy-day stunning.

While everyone is busy trying to murder out every piece of their motorcycles with the darkest shades of dark (quick diversion: has anyone noticed how the OEMs are all finally catching onto the styling trend?), cabbie is going the other way with his design: all white everything. The result is a bright and eye-catching bike, and oh…check out those three gorgeous two-stroke exhaust pipes. We’d write more, but we’ve soiled ourselves. More photos after the jump.

Video: Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang

07/06/2011 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Video: Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang 1 635x423

If you’ve ever gotten a mouthful of hairspray before (we were awkward children growing up), then you surely know the need to get a bad taste out of your mouth. Helping us get over our magnificient indifference regarding Husqvarna’s latest video is this short clip from our friends over in Spain, Radical Ducati. In case you haven’t heard of these guys, they take junked-out Ducatis (typically air-cooled), do a bit of a parts bin mash-up, and create eye-catching pieces of two-wheeled goodness for all of us to enjoy.

Their designs are cleverly creative and very pleasing on the retinal units, but yet also have a certain gritty quality that makes for a good juxtaposition to the prim and proper Ducati brand. As for the video, its does a pretty good job of showing the Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang sitting there and looking pretty, though the go-fast addict in us really wants to see the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO make some laps around (insert famous Spanish circuit here). Ehh boys? Video and photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO

05/25/2011 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO 1 635x423

Our affection for the work by Radical Ducati is getting to the point where we need seek professional help. Not only are we becoming a broken record for our praise of the Spanish firm’s work, but our love affair for their motorcycles is completely one-sided. They don’t return our calls, nor our late night texts. We suspect they’re talking to other weblogs, and we can’t stand the thought of them going around town with a print magazine. Like all schoolyard crushes, this is sure to end in tears, but until then we’ll continue our hardcore crush on their take of Italian motorcycle design.

For our latest infatuation, we show you the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO (2011). We’ve been pretty pumped over this build since we heard about it a couple weeks ago, and now that it’s blown it’s cover, well…we’re revamping our Christmas list. While we appreciate all forms of motorcycles, we’re sportbike folk at heart here at Asphalt & Rubber, so a Radicalized sportbike tickles the pink out of us in ways that café racers cannot. We think you’ll agree when you check out all the photos after the jump.

Akrapovič Morsus Custom Motorcycle

05/09/2011 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Akrapovič Morsus Custom Motorcycle Akrapovic Morsus 635x410

Akrapovič is known for making some of the finest sport bike exhausts on the market, with its carbon and titanium artistry gracing many a bike in the AMA, World Superbike, and MotoGP paddocks. Now we learn from our friends at OmniMoto.it that our favorite Slovenian motorcycle exhaust maker is getting into the custom chopper scene, and helping promote the company’s launch of cruiser-styled exhausts is the modern-styled Akrapovič Morsus custom show bike.

Built in collaboration with Dreamachine Motorcycles, the Akrapovič Morsus features an S&S 113 CI (that’s 1,852cc for the mertic-inclined) motor that pumps out 114hp through its modified Akrapovič exhaust pipe. The Morsus design appeases our modern-leaning design sensibilities, but true to its ethos, it’s the Akrapovič exhaust that really makes us drool over this bike. There’s something about an underslung side-venting pipe that makes us happy, and the Akrapovič Morsus is no exception to the rule. Photos and more after the jump.

Big Dog Motorcycles Shuts Its Doors

04/05/2011 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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More bad news from the business sector this week, as reports are starting to come in that Big Dog Motorcycles has shut its doors after being taken over by the company’s creditors. With the banks halting the production line, this is effectively the end of one of the largest (if not the largest) custom motorcycle builders in the world. Cyril Huze broke the news on his blog on Monday that the company had closed its doors, but Big Dog President Mike Simmons denied that news on Monday.

However Big Dog dealers have since confirmed that company owner Sheldon Coleman has contacted them, informing them of the bank’s take over, and that the business and production would be ceasing. Coleman is reportedly planning on starting a new company that would supply parts to current Big Dog owners.

Radical Ducati Raceric

04/05/2011 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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As we look at the latest creation from Radical Ducati, a Spanish custom shop whose name you should know by now if you’re a regular A&R reader, there’s always something about their design that just grabs you and sucks you us into the motorcycle (check the RAD02 Imola Café Racer, , Café Veloce, and Mikaracer). We don’t agree with all the choices they make (of course that might be why we’re blogging, and they’re building), but Radical has certainly created a distinct look that you can spot a mile away. Combine that with some superb photography (they always throw in a couple artsy shots for us it seems), and it shouldn’t be a big surprise as to why their work makes it onto our pages so regularly.

The Radical Ducati Raceric was built way back in 2010 (check out this Facebook album with older photos), which technically doesn’t make it a new creation from the Spaniards, but the folks at Radical Ducati did enlist Paolo Grana to take some more shots of the bike, and that’s good enough for us. Radical did-up both monoposto and biposto seat for the Raceric, and in these news shots we see only the biposto version. Half the fun with the bikes from Radical Ducati is spotting which parts came from which Ducati models. The photos are after the jump, shout out what you see in the comments.

Pierobon F042 hstreet

04/04/2011 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Pierobon F042 hstreet Pierobon F042 hstreet

It seems only fitting that a company that takes a Ducati Monster motor, and puts it in its own proprietary frame should also hail from the Italian city of Bologna, as is the case here with Pierobon. Making a bevy of parts to add to your Ducati of choice, Pierobon also makes complete bikes, and has recently done up its F042 hstreet for your motorcycling consumption.

Showing off Pierobon’s aluminum trellis frame, the Pierobon F042 hstreet also features the ability to mount any of the current two-valve v-twins from Ducati (we’d suggest the peppier 1,100cc version, but wouldn’t judge anyone for going after a 796cc or 696cc motor).

While each bike is made to order, you can expect to drop at least €19,980 on a Pierobon F042 hstreet if you want one in your garage. For the more adventurous and mechanically inclined, the frame can be bought as a stand-alone part for the tidy sum of €3,680. Not exactly ridiculous prices for something that looks this good. Photos after the jump.