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.

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.

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – Got Roost?

11/07/2016 @ 9:53 am, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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As expected for EICMA, Ducati has two new models to add to its Scrambler sub-brand, the first being the 2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – a long-suspension Scrambler model with some added off-road chops.

The name is of note, giving a nod to the scrambler-style street bikes that competed in events like the iconic LA-Barstow-Vegas races several decades ago.

Picking up on that vintaged past, Ducati has unsurprisingly created its own modern riff on the dirt sled style, and produced a proper scrambler at the same time.

Now with five models in its Scrambler lineup, Ducati finally has a machine that is ready to get its feet properly dirty. We expect this bike to be a big hit with a wide gamut of riders who are looking for back-to-basics dual-sport machines.

Here is the Aptly Named Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer

11/07/2016 @ 9:43 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The other addition to Ducati’s vintage lineup, the aptly named Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer adds the last missing piece to Ducati’s post-authentic puzzle: a café racer model.

Following the trend that so many other OEMs have followed, Ducati has wisely used its Scrambler sub-brand for its café racer offering, which features an old-school 803cc air-cooled platform that is easy to own, and cheap to buy.

Tastefully styled, the 75hp machine should be very attractive to retro-focused riders, or those who are simply looking for a basic street bike to add to their garage.

Ducati Scrambler Café Racer Cometh Soon

10/19/2016 @ 12:26 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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In addition to bringing the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled to market at the upcoming EICMA show, Ducati will pair its off-road focused scrambler model with a café racer version of the Scrambler, which has cleverly been named the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer.

The models will use the same 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine that we’ve seen already in the Scrambler lineup, and as you would expect, the machine will have the typical café racer aesthetic, with a round headlight and bullet fairing.

As with all of the Scrambler Ducati lineup, you can expect customization to be a big part of the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer’s appeal. Keep an eye out for its debut, November 7th in Milan, Italy.

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled Teased for EICMA Debut

10/18/2016 @ 11:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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We know from filings with the California Air Resources Board that we should expect two new Scrambler models for the 2017 model year – a “DS” model and a “CR” model.

With photos of a long-travel suspension Scrambler circulating, we assumed that the “DS” designation stood for “dual-sport”, but the latest teaser video from Ducati corrects our almost-right assumption.

While Ducati will indeed launch a more off-roady Scrambler model, as we expected, the 803cc machine will be called the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, an homage to the Baja-busting bikes of yore that carried the same name.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #34 – Doohickey

09/27/2016 @ 1:39 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Episode 34 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast starts off by using the two new Ducati Scrambler models, which were spotted in CARB filings earlier this month, as a jumping off point to talk about how motorcycle manufacturers are chasing the post-authentic biker movement.

We then opine a bit about the apparent decline in the number of scrambler and café racer builds we are seeing in the custom motorcycle scene right now, and how we think that superbikes from the 1980s could be the next platform of choice for bike builders.

This takes the show into a discussion about the rise of electronics, and how they not only affect the motorcycle hobbyist, but also custom motorcycle builders. We then finish up the show with a listener question that asks about for selling advice on a heavily customized Japanese motorcycle.

There might be a revolving KLR joke in there as well…all in all, it’s another classic Two Enthusiasts Podcast show.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

What It’s Like to Party with 81,000 Ducati Fans

08/04/2016 @ 5:10 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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“It’s like drinking from a firehose” is the phrase I would use over and over while telling people about my recent trip to this year’s World Ducati Week.

The three-day event attracted 81,000 rabid Ducati fans through the gates of the Misano race track, which is just a stone’s throw from Italy’s Adriatic Coast. One of the best race tracks in the world, along one of Italy’s best beaches…the recipe for success here might seem obvious.

Beyond these factors though, World Ducati Week itself is a magnet event that attracts Ducatisti from the world over by offering them the ultimate Ducati experience.

Strangely enough though, you don’t even have to be a Ducati fan to attend – though it helps – as WDW2016 is something that any motorcyclist can enjoy.

For my part in this, I will admit to having more than one Ducati in my garage (none on press loan, mind you), so consider my glass of Kool-aid aptly filled, but truthful Ducati has put together a motorcycle enthusiast agenda that other brands and venues should take note of .

As such, World Ducati Week is a great example of how to get motorcyclists excited about being…well, motorcyclists.

Ducati does this by having no shortage of events and spectacles for fans to enjoy, and while the venue is a race track, most of what makes World Ducati Week special doesn’t take place on the Misano Circuit itself.

Instead, the key to World Ducati Week’s success is the carnival atmosphere, that immerses attendees in the very best that the Ducati brand has to offer.

Some Photos from the Scrambler Races at WDW2016

07/05/2016 @ 9:52 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you have been following Asphalt & Rubber for the past week, you would know I was just in Italy for World Ducati Week. A bi-annual gathering of Ducatisti from around the world, for three days the Misano circuit and surrounding areas are flooded with Ducati motorcycles.

The tagline for WDW2016 was “More than Red” and part of that credo is a nod to the addition of the Scrambler Ducati line, with the yellow-colored “Land of Joy” sitting in prominence at the circuit’s entrance.

With the Scrambler too came a new event for World Ducati Week, flat track racing, which featured eight GP and SBK riders competiting on Misano’s TT-styled flat track course. In competition were Andrea Dovizioso, Troy Bayliss, Tati Mercado, Davide Giugliano, Danilo Petrucci, Yonny Hernandez, and Alessandro Valia.

The racing was head-to-head, with a pair of riders battling against each other over three laps, from a staggered start of 100 meters or so. It was good fun to watch, and the crowd seemed into it. I only took a few shots from the races, but thought I’d share them with you.

Above “Desmo Dovi” on the gas, and on his way to a race win. There’s more after the jump.

Ducati Debuting Two New Bikes at World Ducati Week

06/15/2016 @ 9:39 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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If you’re attending this year’s World Ducati Week, then you’re in for a treat, as Ducati is set to debut two new bikes at the gathering in Misano.

Details are thin at the moment, but we do know that one of the machines will be a limited-edition motorcycle that celebrates Ducati’s 90th anniversary.

Meanwhile the other bike is a new model to the Ducati range, which will be shown in a “closed room” setting as a sort of sneak peak before its official launch.

Ducati Sold 54,800 Bikes in 2015 – Another Record

01/14/2016 @ 6:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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As expected from earlier sales reports, Ducati Motor Holding is posting a banner year for 2015. The Italian motorcycle maker says that it sold 54,800 bikes last year, a 9,683 unit (+22%) increase over the number of bikes sold in 2014.

Helping break the 50,000 units barrier, the Ducati Scrambler line accounted for virtually all of Ducati’s sales growth in 2015, with over 16,000 Scrambler models sold worldwide. As we have reported before, this paints an interesting picture of what is going on behind Borgo Panigale’s walls.

“The record sales of 2015 are the result of our company’s courage and skill,” said Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding.

“Ducati closes 2015 with record volumes and also a substantial growth of 22% over 2014. During the year Ducati not only launched successful new motorcycles, but also a new brand, Ducati Scrambler, which immediately won global acclaim with over 16,000 sales worldwide.”

Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe Is “Pinnacle Weird”

11/17/2015 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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If you’re not listening to the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, you should…there is some good two-wheeled gold in the show. So, with a hat-tip to my co-host Quentin Wilson – whose new favorite phrase is “pinnacle weird” – we present you with perhaps the strangest motorcycle to debut at the 2015 EICMA show.

The Bimota Tesi 3D champions the hub-center steering chassis design, and is one of the more unique motorcycles in the industry right now. Its design is positively futuristic, so it is a little strange that Bimota is trying to make the Tesi 3D into a café racer with the launch of the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe.

Powered by the same 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine that’s found in the Scrambler series, you can tell that Bimota is trying to latch onto the post-heritage trend that is dying a slow death in the motorcycle industry, but hasn’t quite figured out how to do it yet.