2018 KTM 790 Duke Spotted in the Wild

We know that we can expect a finalized version of the KTM 790 Duke at this year’s EICMA show in Milan, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the streetfighter model has been caught testing by spy photographers. The bike’s parallel-twin engine can clearly be spotted in the pictures, tipping us to its model, and many of the lines from the prototype machine remain, as further clues. Though, noticeable differences include a new tail section design, different exhaust, as well as a headlight. The headlight is clearly derived from KTM’s new design language, and its shape mimics what we’ve seen already added to the Duke, Super Duke, and Adventure lineup. The KTM 790 Duke prototype hinted that we would see a similar face in the new hoon-machine, so no surprises there.

Ducati’s 2017 World Superbike Team Debuts

Race teams continue to debut their 2017 liveries and riders, and this time around we feature the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike squad that will race in the World Superbike Championship. Chaz Davies of course returns to the team, and this season he will be joined by Marco Melandri. The duo will be an interesting pair to watch this season, with Davies holding onto his impressive form from the last-half of the 2016 season, and Melandri making his return to motorcycle racing, after sitting out last season. With 2017 to be the penultimate season for the Ducati Panigale R in the World Superbike Championship, the v-twin superbike has shown itself to be an extremely mature machine on the race track.

Imagining the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 Supermoto

It is a tremendous shame that the options for a road legal supermoto for are so limited, with the venerable Suzuki DR-Z400SM being the only offering in the 450cc on-road class. For virtually a decade, Suzuki has left the DR-Z basically unchanged – as it has done with many of its sport models – so we would love to see Suzuki and other manufacturers give this space more attention (a hat tip to Husqvarna for bringing the track-only FS450 to market, long with the 701 Supermoto). Although you can wake-up the DR-Z400 with a few simple modification, and there are a bevy of aftermarket kits that can punch the 398cc machine out in size, what we really want from Suzuki is a proper 450cc street supermoto – one that doesn’t stray too far from the brand’s current strong motocross offering. So, when we saw this little bit of Photoshop work by the folks at the German Suzuki dealership of DSR-Suzuki, we got a little excited.

Honda & Hitachi Join Forces on Electric Vehicle Motors

News out Japan sees Honda and Hitachi starting a joint venture that will focus on providing motors for electric vehicles. The two companies signed today what they call a “memorandum of understanding, which is the Japanese business version of getting a promise ring to start a future company together. The still unnamed joint venture will be located in Hitachinaka City in the Ibaraki Prefecture, and be initially capitalized with ¥5 billion (~$44 million). Honda Motor Co. and Hitachi Automotive Systems hope to finalize this deal by March 2017, and the new company will have subsidiaries in China and the United States – both of which will have sales and production capabilities.

US Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Close the EPA by 2018

A bill has been presented to the United States House of Representatives that would seek the closure of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) by 2018. Proposed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R – Florida), HB 861 will likely be a mixed bag for motorcycle enthusiasts, as it will deregulate environmental restrictions set at the federal level, leaving states to draft or adopt their own provisions, which will likely have a fracturing effect on the regulatory market for motorcycles. But, it will also mean the abolition of EPA regulations that many motorcyclists oppose, like the blending of ethanol in our fuel, and restrictions on noise, emissions, and vehicle modifications.

KTM Invests in Heads-Up Display Company NUVIZ

Heads-up display (HUD) company NUVIZ just took a strategic investment from Pierer Industrie AG, the company behind KTM, Husqvarna, WP Suspension, and others. Today’s news is quite a catch for the San Diego based technology startup, and it bodes well for NUVIZ to bring its heads-up display technology to market. As such, NUVIZ hopes to have a heads-up display unit and connected rider system available in the first half of 2017. NUVIZ has raised roughly $9 million to date, via equity and debt, and our sources tell us that KTM’s purchase into the company has contributed to the lions’s share of that amount – upwards of $5 million, along with a seat on NUVIZ’s board of directors.

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team Debuts

In an airplane hangar in Austria, Honda’s World Superbike team unveiled its wings…that is to say, the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team debuted in the energy drink’s Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg today. As the name implies, Red Bull will be the title sponsor for Nicky Hayden’s and Stefan Bradl’s World Superbike title bid this year, on the updated 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2. This is the first time that Red Bull has been a title sponsor in the WorldSBK paddock, though the energy drink company’s livery can be seen on variety of bodywork throughout motorsport. “It’s a new year with a new bike, new title partner and new teammate, so there are definitely many changes ahead and a lot of things to look forward to,” said former MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden.

PJ Jacobsen Gives His First Impressions of MV Agusta

PJ Jacobsen will once again be the sole American representation in World Supersport this year. The New Yorker had his first taste of his MV Agusta F3 in the dry while at the Jerez test, and came away suitably impressed by the bike that has won eight races in the hands of Jules Cluzel in recent years. The 23-year-old tested the bike in Jerez last year in what was seen as a shootout for the ride, but on a damp track he didn’t get a real feel for the bike. “Today was my first day on the bike this year,” said Jacobsen. “I did half a day on the MV last November in Jerez, but it was half wet, half dry so today was good to get out there. It was fully dry so I learned a lot and I’m quite happy with it. The bike is totally different to what I’ve ridden in the past, but the team works really well and they’ve impressed me.”

Check Out the 2017 Honda RC213V

The MotoGP launch season is still upon us, and now that we have seen the teams and bikes from Ducati, Suzuki, and Yamaha – it is time for Honda to take the wraps off the team its campaigning for its title defense. Debuting the 2017 Honda RC213V at a press event in Indonesia, not much has changed outwardly for the 240+ horsepower GP bike, though there a subtle differences to be seen, if you look closely and compare it to last year’s bike. The Repsol Honda fairings cover the biggest change that we know of, as reports from the test tracks confirm that Honda is experimenting with a “big-bang like” firing order on its V4 engine, a change from the “screamer” configuration of last season, which was handful for Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to manage.

2016 Was A Very Good Year for Husqvarna

Last year proved to be a tough year for many brands, especially those with operations in the United States, but that wasn’t the case for Husqvarna. The rebooted Swedish brand is seeing good life while under its Austrian ownership. Making 2016 a very good year for Husqvarna, the brand is reporting a sales increase of a whopping 43% over 2015’s sales numbers. That is no small feat for Husqvarna, as 2015 was already a record year for the dirt-focuses brand, where it saw a 32% increase. Of course in many ways, up is the only direction Husqvarna can go, after its purchase by Pierer Industrie AG. Still, Husqvarna’s figure of 30,700 sold motorcycles in 2016 is a marked improvement from the near 10,000 units it was producing while part of BMW Motorrad.

Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Hertrampf

12/16/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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As soon as Bologna debuted the Ducati 1199 Panigale, the speculation was rife on if/when the Italian brand would bring streetfighter and supersport-class machines to market. We have already seen the Ducati 899 Panigale, which isn’t quite race-legal, though packs the superbike’s design philosophies into a more affordable package with a smaller engine displacement.

As for the Streetfighter, the debut of the Ducati Monster 1200 seems to confirm suspicions that Ducati has no plans to continue with a performance-based street naked. With the demise of the Streetfighter 1098, one can only wonder how much longer the Streetfighter 848 will remain in Ducati’s lineup. Surely when the smaller displacements of the Monster line move to water-cooled engine, the we will see the removal of the 848, much to our chagrin.

This still leaves us with some “what if’s” though, as some believe the monocoque “frameless” chassis design of the Panigale makes a streetfighter variant all but impossible. We would have to say that when the fairingless photos of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera that came out this year, our eyes searched for ways to tailor the Panigale’s naked body into some sort of Streetfighter, though it looks like some Germans have gone a step further.

Iron Lung by Icon 1000

12/10/2013 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Oregon’s favorite motorcycle apparel brand has a custom motorcycle build for the holidays, the Icon 1000 “Iron Lung” Sportster. An homage to the bikes that Harley-Davidson used to build in the 1970’s, you know when the Bar & Shield brand did real racing, and was fairly good at it too.

Based around a 1991 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 engine, the Iron Lung sees its lump bored out to 1,200cc, with a Supertrapp exhaust helping things breathe a bit better as well. The front-end has been lowered and widened with wide-glide forks and custom triple clamp. Similarly, the rear features a custom subframe with Progressive 970 shocks.

To make Iron Lung work visually, Icon widened the fairings, which gives the machine a bulldog like stance: low and wide. Fitted with the company’s own variety of Portlandian hipster chic, the Iron Lung sports paint by Garage 31 and a custom seat by New Church Moto — two local outfits in Portland, Oregon.

The design isn’t really our usual fare here at Asphalt & Rubber, but you have to appreciate the honesty in Icon’s retelling of the Iron Lung’s performance assessment:

“Once completed, we headed down to an oval in Southern Oregon and kicked ‘er in the guts to be featured along side of our Spring 2014 ICON 1000 apparel collection – coming soon. Her handling was as questionable as the grandstand snacks, but she bore the brunt of torture with aplomb. It wouldn’t be an ICON 1000 bike without a true trial by fire. In Iron Lung’s case this was literal as she burst into flame after her initial shakedown run just a few weeks prior.”

We find that worryingly appealing. Party on boys and girls.

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

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

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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.

Radical Ducati Matador

12/02/2013 @ 3:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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We haven’t seen something from the boys at Radical Ducati in a while, so their timing with Radical Ducati Matador and the holidays seems like an early moto-related present.

For the un-initiated, Radical Ducati is a small shop in Madrid, Spain that specializes in Frankensteining together custom motorcycles from the Ducati parts bin.

Based around the Ducati 1198 Superbike lump, and featuring all the usual Radical Ducati parts, the Radical Ducati Matador is not only typical of the Spanish firm’s gritty design practice, but also makes us nostalgic for the now deceased Ducati Streetfighter 1098 platform, which hit upon the same raw vein during its brief time in Ducati’s lineup.

BMW R nineT – 90 Years in the Making

10/16/2013 @ 5:04 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

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Officially official now, BMW Motorrad has taken the wraps off its new BMW R nineT cafe racer motorcycle. Helping the German brand celebrate 90 years of building motorcycles, the nineT is an air-cooled homage to BMW’s rich motorcycling past.

Based around the iconic 1,170cc air-cooled boxer engine that BMW has employed in a number of its best selling machines, the BMW R nineT is good for 108hp and 88 lbs•ft of torque.

With styling said to be based off the legandary BMW R32 from 1923, the nineT has more traditional cafe racer lines, mated to some of BMW’s best technology.

BMW hopes that the production model R nineT will be the basis for more custom builds though, citing the company’s collaboration with Roland Sands for the BMW Concept Ninety project as one such project to use the nineT’s roots for inspiration.

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.

The Build Film

04/03/2013 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva

03/11/2013 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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It has been a while since we posted about those crazy Spaniards at Radical Ducati, but long-time readers will remember fondly the exquisite custom motorcycles that Pepo and Reyes have created from the various pieces of Ducati’s finest.

It is hard to pick a favorite from machines like the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer, Radical Ducati Café Veloce, Radical Ducati Mikaracer, Radical Ducati Raceric, and Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO, but our moto-lust keeps bringing us back to the Radical Ducati 9½ – a café racer styled motorcycle that uses an ST2 motor, a Monster 900 frame, and a 916 fuel tank and swingarm.

Getting its name from the ST2’s 944cc engine displacement, the 9½’s designation should tip-off where the Spanish firm has gone in its creation with the Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva. Another water-cooled machine, the 7½ Sportiva ups the ante with the Ducati Superbike 749R taking the honor as its donor bike, while still remaining true to its predecessor’s café racer look and feel.

Ducati 1199 Panigale S Nero by Commonwealth Motorcycles

01/24/2013 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Visual aesthetics have always been something of import and interest to me, a trait that is probably tied into the fact that I am visual learner. So it interests me when we see subtle changes having a great affect on a design.

Take the new Repsol livery on the 2013 Honda RC213V — the simple change from black to white creates a significantly different visual understanding of the MotoGP bike, though the basic idea of the livery remains the same.

We can see the same process with the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Nero by Commonwealth Motorcycles, as the Kentucky-based Ducati shop has massaged in a bit black paint on the already stunning Ducati 1199 S Tricolore paint scheme (work by Robbie Nigl of Peach Pit Racing).

The effect? A whole new take on an already very classy looking machine. Nice work guys…now let’s talk about posting some hi-res photos next time, eh? Far too small pictures are after the jump.

Benchmark by Walz Hardcore Cycles

01/01/2013 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Regular readers will know that I am not a big chopper guy, but every now and then one comes along that tugs enough on this sportbiker’s heart strings that I feel compelled to post about it. Such is the case with the Benchmark by Walz Hardcore Cycles, whose close proximity to the F1 course in Hockenheim, Germany certainly must play a factor.

I am fairly confident that the Öhlins superbike suspension, carbon fiber wheels, carbon/ceramic disc brakes, and debadged Akrapovic exhaust can aren’t going to really make the difference on this low-slung S&S-powered motorcycle, but they certainly do add to the bike’s sporty lines.

The streamlined sporty-chopper look has always worked well on me, and the Benchmark is no different with its brushed aluminum metal bodywork and carbon fiber accent pieces. I can’t say that I am a fan of the Ducati Monster headlight though, a design element that kills the donor machine for me.

With pricing that starts at €124,900 (€149,900 for the bike shown here), there is a hefty dose of sticker shock that comes with the Benchmark as well. So, we doubt one will find its way into your garage anytime soon, but for now it is something nice to look at, even if the chopper thing isn’t your bag of two-wheeled fun.