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.

First Glimpse: Brammo Empulse RR

07/23/2010 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

This is what we believe is the first shot of the Brammo Empulse RR race bike that was slated to race in the e-Power Championship round at Laguna Seca this weekend. Unfortunately for fans, and for Brammo, the Empulse RR race bike suffered a critical component failure, and will have to be a scratch on Sunday…but fortunately for Brammo fans (and Brammofan) Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher said on twitter today that the team would race this year.

Officially Official: Brammo Racing at Laguna Seca

07/15/2010 @ 7:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Officially Official: Brammo Racing at Laguna Seca

Confirming what we already knew, Brammo has officially announced that it will be racing at Laguna Seca in the e-Power Championship in two weeks’ time. Taking to the track with its new Empulse RR race bike that’s based off the new Brammo Empulse, Brammo will be reunited with racing rivals MotoCzysz and Team Agni (the latter has not been independently confirmed).

With the addition of Brammo to the line-up, the FIM’s e-Power Championship race at Laguna Seca is looking like the electric race of the year, as the “Flying Banana” of Lightning Motors, which is currently leading the TTXGP points standings in the US, will race at the event, along with Betti Motors who have been dominating the European rounds of the e-Power Championship.

Outed by Partner Press Release – Brammo Racing at Laguna Seca

07/13/2010 @ 11:31 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Confirming what we already knew, Brammo’s plans to race at Laguna Seca just got outed by a press release issued by their partner ESX Motorsports. Discussing the company’s partnership with Brammo, ESX motorsports let it slip that it will be the promoter behind Brammo’s presence at Laguna Seca…as Brammo races at the e-Power Championship race. As a marketing company, you’d think they’d know better than to pre-empt their client’s own press releases.

Brammo TTR-based Sportbike Coming

07/09/2010 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber took a lot of flak last month when we speculated about Brammo working on an electric sportbike. Armed with more than a hunch at the time, we have been told from multiple sources that Brammo is set to debut a TTR-based electric sportbike. For added measure, we’ve also been told that Brammo intends to race the bike, which we’d expect will have various configurations, at the e-Power Championship round at Laguna Seca later this month.

e-Power Could Rival MotoGP for Grid Size at Seca

07/07/2010 @ 3:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

With the US round of the e-Power Championship closing in upon us in two weeks, news of the grid size has begun to form. We had earlier predicted that the California rounds of the TTXGP and e-Power series would attract the largest field of competitors, when compared to the other races, and we were right. Set to go off on July 25th, with the MotoGP racing weekend at Laguna Seca, the e-Power Championship race at Seca is set to have 15 electric motorcycles or more on its starting line.

MotoCzysz Confirmed For e-Power Race at Seca

05/17/2010 @ 2:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

While attending the Skip Barber Superbike School, A&R Editor Jensen Beeler overheard a conversation between Lead Instructor Michael Czysz and a couple of students. As the students asked Czysz if he’d be at Seca to watch the Red Bull US GP, Czysz lamented that he would not be able to watch MotoGP at Laguna Seca because MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend. As some may remember the FIM’s e-Power Championship series has a round that is occurring at Laguna Seca in coordination with Dorna and the AMA. Czysz went on to pique out ears, confirming that MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend in the FIM e-Power Championship, with the rider yet to be determined.

FIM Releases e-Power Entry List for Le Mans

04/14/2010 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The electric sportbike season is rapidly approaching us, and the first event is the FIM’s e-Power Championship race at Le Mans. With six bikes and five teams on the entry list, the race will be sparse with entrants and could see the field shrink further if rumors are right that suggest one bike might be jumping ship to the Italian TTXGP series. Despite all this, the FIM’s first race has a great venue. Set to take place April 16th, the e-Power Championship launches just ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans World Endurance Championship race in Sarthe, France.

Vito Ippolito Speaks on The Future of Motorcycling and the FIM’s e-Power Championship

03/25/2010 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

During at stop in Utrecht, Netherlands, David Emmett over at MotoMatters was able to have a sit down discussion with FIM bossman Vito Ippolito. In their conversation, Emmett gets a rare chance to ask Ippolito a variety of questions regarding the latest MotoGP rule changes, and inner-workings of the FIM, and its involvement in roadracing events.

The interview sheds terrific insight into how manufacturers, sponsorships, national and internationa pressures, and rule making shape the sport we all enjoy, and as the interview winds down, Emmett asks Ippolito about the role the FIM is taking in electric motorcycle racing, and how the FIM sees the future of motorcycling. With permission from MotoMatters we’ve reproduced this section of the interview after the jump, but recommend everyone to read the full interview transcript on MotoMatters.com. It’s well worth the read, and one of the best interviews we’ve seen in a while in the racing space.

e-Power Coming to Laguna Seca During MotoGP

03/25/2010 @ 6:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

UPDATE 2: The Laguna Seca round is now officially added to the e-Power Championship.

UPDATE: It would seem the folks at Laguna Seca are still negotiating with the FIM, and nothing has been signed yet. This statement does confirm however that Seca is the targeted venue for the e-Power Championship.

The FIM isn’t saying it outright, but it looks as if the e-Power Championship is slated to occur during MotoGP’s stop at Laguna Seca on July 25th. Listed as “TBA,” the FIM’s new venue is listed as being organized by the AMA, and of course the race falls on the same date as the US GP, so putting two and two together on this one isn’t too hard. This addition to the schedule comes after the FIM cancelled the e-Power Championship’s stop at the Doha endurance race, and the Dutch GP at Assen. More after the jump.

FIM Cuts Two Races From e-Power Championship

02/19/2010 @ 1:47 pm, by John Adamo3 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz e1pc three motor electric drive

The FIM has cut Doha and Assen from it’s e-Power electric motorcycle racing program’s list of 6 race venues. Keeping with e-Power tradition, FIM gave no reason for the decision. FIM claims interest from teams is high but it appears it’s not high enough to support six races in 2010.

In only about 6 months, the electric motorcycle racing world went from one high profile race in 2009 at the Isle Of Man, to three competing organizations and an abundance of high profile of venues. Three crowns are up for the taking and it appears there is not enough incentive or teams to fight for all of them. In racing, the value of the crown is usually measured by the caliber of teams fighting for it.