2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto, for France Only

America might have invented supermoto racing, but the sport’s largest support base easily comes now from that other side of the Atlantic – more specifically, from France. So, it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that Honda’s French importer Superboost makes a special supermoto version of the Honda CRF450 for the French market. For the 2017 model year, the Honda CRF450 Supermoto follows that changes made to Big Red’s 450cc dirt bike, which notably includes the return of fork springs (goodbye air forks), an electric starter, and down-draft fuel injection. Basically a kit that is added at the importer level, the 2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto lineup has three models, building off the CRF450R (€11,299), CRF450RX (€10,999), and CRF450X dirt bike (€10,999), with each getting their own taste of the supermoto treatment.

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.

Bimota DB9 Brivido – The Best Looking Diavel Yet

11/16/2011 @ 2:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Astute readers this week would have noticed our coverage of the Bimota DB10 Bimotard, and wondered how the boutique Italian firm jumped from the DB8 to the DB10 designation. Well yes Virginia, there is a DB9. The Bimota DB9 Brivido arrived to the 2011 EICMA show with slightly less fanfare, but its still a classic example of the motorcycle company’s current design and ethos. Based around the 162hp Testastretta 11° motor from the Ducati Diavel, the DB9 Brivido continues the aesthetics that began with the Ducati Superbike 1198-powered DB8, and works in the more streetable maintenance-friendly Diavel motor.

Like every Bimota, the real masterpiece is the chassis that the Italian company builds around the production motors of other companies. In the case of the Bimota DB9 Brivido, the frame is made from both aluminum and a chromoly alloy, while the forks are 43mm Marzocchi units with the rear shock being from Extreme Tech. Brakes are of course Brembos, while the race exhaust is by Arrow. Bimota quotes the dry weight of the Bimota DB9 Brivido as 177kg (390 lbs), though true to the Italian company’s form, that weight can get further reduced with other premium options.

Up-Close with the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore

11/15/2011 @ 7:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The pinnacle of Ducati’s Superbike offering for 2012 is the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore. Incorporating the key features from the Ducati 1199 Panigale S, like its traction control (DTC), electronic quick-shifter (DQS), forged Marchesini wheels, and Öhlins-made Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) front forks and rear TTX shock, the Tricolore package adds anti-locking brakes and the GPS-assisted DDA+ Ducati Data Acquisition system as standard items to Tricolore’s technical list.

Add in bounty of carbon fiber, and a stunning three-color paint scheme (hence the name), and you’ve got a stellar motorcycle that should please all of a rider’s senses. Helping celebrate Italy’s 150 year anniversary of unification, the Tricolore is Ducati’s ultimate expression of Italian design and engineering. Up-close the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore instantly makes the plain Rosso Corsa-clad Panigale look pedestrian and commonplace, which is a shame. However, if this is the new Corse paint scheme for future bikes, we could get used to that.

Up-Close with the Bimota DB10 Bimotard

11/14/2011 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Making its debut at the 2011 EICMA show, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard is the boutique Italian motorcycle firm’s latest creation. Borrowing from the Bimota DB6’s frame design, the DB 10 Bimotard takes the same 1,078cc air-cooled two-valve Hypermotard 1100 EVO motor, with its 95hp peak power output, and builds around this platform a compelling maxi-motard design. Perhaps better labelled as Bimota’s take on building a better Hypermotard, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard also promises the usual Bimota design and exclusivity, and helps bridge the gap to the Italian company’s latest off-road offerings, which are amazingly less-compelling, vanilla, and not going to grace the pages of A&R.

Carbon fiber, Marzocchi suspension, Marchesini wheels, Brembo brakes, and Zard exhaust…all the usual suspects are present on this cleverly portmanteau-named Bimotard. The fit and finish in person is what you’d expect from Bimota: flawless. A part of me says that you have to praise the small Italian company for breaking from its recent tradition of glorified street-naked motorcycles a bit, and offering a motorcycle with a slightly different ethos. That being said, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard isn’t really that huge of a departure from the DB5, DB6, and DB8s that came before it. A Bimota DB6 with different clothes on, the DB10 is really more evolution than revolution, but it still manages to please us…just not wow us. No price yet, but “cheap” is a four-letter word here.

MV Agusta Tricruiser Concept – A 675cc Sport-Tourer?

11/14/2011 @ 8:39 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Walking around the halls of the 2011 EICMA show, I saw this concept for an MV Agusta tourer sitting in the Motociclismo booth, and wondered what was the story behind the bike. Luckily the internet has answers for such questions, and it turns out that the MV Agusta Tricruiser is the brainchild of students at Istituto Europeo di Design of Turin (IED).

Using the MV Agusta F3 as a starting point, the graduate students at IED set out to envision the next iteration in MV Agusta’s smaller-displacement platform. With the Italian company under tremendous pressure to become profitable, MV Agusta must increase its volume by a factor greater than 10x if it wants to see blank ink on its balance sheet.

Accordingly, the company from Varese has been making a bevy of variations of its F4-based models, showing three new Brutale street-nakeds at EICMA (Brutale 920, Brutale R 1090, & Brutale RR 1090) at ECIMA, along with two F4 superbikes (F4R & F4RR).

Slotting in a smaller-displacement and cheaper-price point model series that is based off a 675cc three-cylinder motor, MV Agusta also showed its F3 supersport and its corresponding Brutale 675 street-naked at EIMCA this year. While compelling pieces, MV Agusta will surely need more models in its arsenal if it wants to achieve its financial goals, and the next MV Agusta is heavily rumored to be a sport-touring/adventure model.

Up-Close with the Ducati 1199 Panigale in Superstock Trim

11/12/2011 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

The Ducati 1199 Panigale is surely going to be the bike of 2012. Not because the flagship Ducati packs a 195hp Superquadro motor into a wet 414 lbs bulk (thought that certainly helps in the sport bike genre), but because the Panigale brings so many revolutionary technical and design aspects to the business of production motorcycles. Electronically adjustable suspension, LED headlights, GPS assisted DDA+ data acquisition, traction control, ABS, engine braking control…the Ducati 1199 Panigle’s feature-set is like reading the wish list of any superbike enthusiast. However what makes the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale truly special is its revolutionary monocoque frame.

The gamble has bit the Italian company in the ass in MotoGP, but on the production-side of the equation, the Ducati 1199 Panigale could very well prove the gamble was worth taking. We here at Asphalt & Rubber have been reserving our judgment on Ducati’s new frame design until we can get the Panigale in our hands and on a track, but when that day finally comes, we really hope what we get to swing a leg over is a Ducati 1199 Panigale in Superstock trim with Ducati Performance pieces.

If you’re a track day enthusiast with some Italian leanings, you may not want to click past this point — at the very least, take precautions by hiding your wallet. With all the two-wheeld porno after the jump, get ready to be uncomfortable while sitting down. And just remember, “baseball, baseball, baseball.”

2012 Honda NC700S – The Return of the Standard

11/09/2011 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

Honda says it wanted to create a fun and user-friendly motorcycle when it set out to build the 2012 Honda NC700S — a simple, practical, two-cylinder get around town motorcycle. At 47hp and 44 lbs•ft of torque, the Honda NC700S isn’t exactly blowing the doors off with its performance figures, but of course that is not really the purpose of Honda’s new motor, which the NC700S features. Designed to be a compact, rideable, and efficient power supply for Honda’s new commuter entries, the Japanese company hopes that the 670cc motor, with its broad torque curve, will power a new generation and category of machinery.

Fairly unassuming in its outward design, the Honda NC700S shows its lifestyle practicality with features like a helmet-sized storage compartment under the faux-fuel tank, a low-slung seat, and low-cost maintenance structure. Available with Honda’s second-generation dual-clutch transmission (DCT), as well as Honda’s combined anti-locking brakes (C-ABS), the NC700S should be a fairly easy motorcycle for new riders to learn, especially with the DTC’s automatic-shifting feature.

Ducati 1199 Panigale Says “Checkmate” to the Competition

11/09/2011 @ 8:09 am, by Jensen Beeler43 COMMENTS

The folks around Borgo Panigale are feeling very confident about the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale. Dropping 22lbs off the Superbike 1198′s design for a 361 lbs dry wright, while making an extra 20hp over its predecessor for a 195hp peak horsepower figure, the Ducati 1199 Panigale is an impressive machine based purely off its spec-sheet. That’s not including a revolutionary monocoque frame, the first full-LED headlight on a motorcycle, the first electronically adjustable suspension on a sport bike, the first engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle (the DDA+ package is an optional equipment item for the Panigale).

The Ducati 1199 Panigale also comes standard with traction control, while ABS brakes are an optional item for the flagship superbike. With all that technology packaged into one machine, we can understand why Ducati might be acting pretty pleased with itself right now. We’ll reserve our critique on the two-wheled titan until we get the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale on the street and track, though we have to admit, it’s hard not being impressed with the bike at this point in time…especially when it is such a stunner in person. While we whet our appetite, Ducati’s hubris is after the jump.

KTM Freeride E – OEMs Enter the Electric Motorcycle Fray

11/08/2011 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

The writing has been on the wall for sometime now, as the entire electric motorcycle community has been waiting for a major OEM to debut its own electric motorcycle. Answering that call, KTM unveiled at EICMA today the new 2012 KTM Freeride E. Saying that as the leading off-road motorcycle manufacturer (KTM accounts for about 50% of the worldwide dirt bike market), the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer could not afford to sit idly by while other companies innovated in its space.

Built along the Freeride’s ride anywhere mantra, the KTM Freeride E comes with 2.1kWh of battery power on-board, and is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor. With a rated output of 10hp, KTM says the electric motor is good for 30hp peak, with a maximum of 300 Volts going through the system. Helped by its small battery size, the Freeride E weighs only 204 lbs and can be recharged off a 220V socket in 90 minutes. As for range, KTM has an interesting rating system for the electric Freeride, quoting a 20 minute ride time in the hands of a professional, while the KTM Freeride E is rated to last 45 minutes in the hands of an amateur.

Husqvarna MOAB Concept – A Modern-Day Scrambler

11/08/2011 @ 1:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We already know that the Husqvarna as a brand needs to start pulling its weight around the BMW Group, which has lead the once off-road brand to expand into on-road segments. We also know that the last time the Swedish brand debuted a concept bike at EICMA, it ended up giving birth to a production model. Debuting the Husqvarna MOAB concept at EICMA today, Husqvarna has done a modern-take on the classic 1960’s & 1970’s scrambler aesthetic, and is undoubtedly testing the waters on the brand increasing its range of street motorcycles.

“The red tank, the spacious seat, the yellow side panel number holders, the simple stripped-down frame…these all form the essence of the new incarnation of the Husqvarna spirit,” said the company in its press release. While it is always interesting to see how a group perceives itself, it is perhaps even more telling to hear a company describe what it is trying to change itself into. While many Husqvarna hard-part liners were put-off by the debut of the Husqvarna Nuda 900, we have a feeling the Husqvarna MOAB concept will strike a chord that is clearly novel, but also true to Husky’s old values.

2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 – The Z1000 Adventure-Sport

11/08/2011 @ 11:34 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Giving the original Kawasaki Versys a bigger sibling, the 2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 brings liter bike capacity to Kawasaki’s adventure-sport offering. Based around the 1,043cc inline-four motor from the Z1000, Kawasaki has “tuned” the Versys 1000 for smoother power delivery and throttle response, rather than just outright peak power. Accordingly then, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 gets a modest peak horsepower rating of 116hp, while making  75 lbs•ft of torque. While it is disappointing to see such a low peak horsepower figure, it should be pointed out that the Versys makes more power and torque in the lower part of the rev-range than its sport-naked counterpart, which should also suit the intended purpose of the 2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 a bit better.

Packaged into a 527 lbs curb-side mass, the Versys 1000 certainly isn’t the lightest bike on the block, though it does rate as being more svelte than the newly released 2012 Honda Crosstourer, which will tip the scales at over 600 lbs with the DCT configuration. With 17″ wheels, Kawasaki is making no overtures about the Versys 1000 being a street-going machine, and while the Kawasaki Versys 1000 is ready for touring duty, the Japanese company is touting the bike’s sport appeal with its “adventure-sport” segment nomenclature.