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.

Gas Gas Employees: “KTM, This is Not Your House”

07/30/2015 @ 1:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber regulars should be aware by now that Spanish trails/enduro manufacturer Gas Gas is in a bit of financial trouble, and is now up for liquidation. One of the suitors of Gas Gas is of course KTM, as the Austrian company is likely eager to add a robust trials machine to its lineup.

There’s a slight problem with that thought though: the Gas Gas employees are well aware of what happened to Husqvarna and its Italian employees, after KTM purchased the Swedish brand from BMW Motorrad, and moved Husky’s Italian operations to Austria.

We don’t think we need to parse too many words explaining the position of some Gas Gas employees, this video says it quite well enough. Watch it, after the jump.

Gas Gas Enters into Liquidation

07/21/2015 @ 3:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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This looks like the end of the road for motorcycle manufacturer Gas Gas, as the Spanish brand entered into liquidation today, after its bankruptcy proceedings failed to find the €30 million necessary to pay the company’s creditors.

The news is timely, as today interested parties in owning Erik Buell Racing (or parts of it) will be placing their bids on the similarly wayward company.

Back in Spain though, the news is troubling for Gas Gas fans, as the company’s assets will be liquidated, with the hope of raising enough money to pay-off the company’s creditors.

Recall: Yamaha WR250R & WR250X Dirt Bikes

07/15/2015 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Recall: Yamaha WR250R & WR250X Dirt Bikes

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If you are the owner of a 2008-2011 Yamaha WR250X or 2008-2015 WR250R dirt bike, this recall might concern you. Affecting 12,721 units in total, Yamaha is recalling its WR off-roaders because of the insulation on the starter coil, which may become damaged and short-circuit due to insufficient heat resistance.

The result of such a failure would result in the battery not getting charged, and thus ultimately dying. This can cause the engine to stall, which in-turn can be a safety concern for the rider.

2015 Erzberg Rodeo Finishes With Four-Way Tie

06/09/2015 @ 1:03 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Winning Ceremony - Lifestyle

The Erzberg Rodeo billed as the toughest single-day motorcycle race on the planet, and all you have to do in order to check that superlative against hyperbole is to ask a competitor about the Red Bull Hare Scramble event.

With 500 riders qualifying for Sunday’s Red Bull Hare Scramble, out of some 1,500 entries, only five…yes five…finished the gruelling “Iron Giant”.

As if the past races in the open-air Austrian pit mine, haven’t been hard enough, this year’s event included a number of changes, including an all-new section lovingly named “Downtown” that was right before the finish line.

Adding 21 miles to the previous course length, the Downtown section was virtually impassable with its ravine and steep muddy hill, even for the top entries. Accordingly, the Top 4 riders banded together in order to make it through the meatgrinder and finish the race.

As such, Jonny Walker, Graham Jarvis, Andreas Lettenbichler, and Alfredo Gómez are this year’s joint Erzberg Rodeo winners, with Mario Roman Serrano credited as the fifth and final race finisher.

In case the race wasn’t breath-taking enough, the photos seemingly do it justice. We have 71 high-resoltuion shots for you, after the jump.

Gas Gas Files for Bankruptcy

05/21/2015 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Gas Gas Files for Bankruptcy

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Perhaps already a reflection on the waning popularity of the brand, but the slow-to-break news this week is that Spanish motorcycle brand Gas Gas has filed for bankruptcy.

The news comes after an earlier effort by the Spanish company to try and reconcile its debt of roughly €30 million, and to restructure its business to be more profitable.

With a last-minute deal between the shareholders falling through, Gas Gas had no choice but to file with the Spanish courts.

Laia Sanz Drops HRC for KTM in Enduro and Rallies

04/10/2015 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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A bit of shocking news in the rally raid world, as Laia Sanz has jumped ship from HRC to KTM for the Women’s Enduro World Championship.

The move means Sanz will also compete as a factory KTM rider in the various FIM World Championship rallies, including the Dakar Rally, though only where the schedule permits, as the Women’s Enduro World Championship is her racing priority.

Honda Bulldog Concept Lets the Dogs Out in Osaka

03/20/2015 @ 11:04 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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After first showing us the Honda SFA and Honda CRF250 Rally concepts, Big Red made good on its promise for another motorcycle concept premiere at the Osaka Motorcycle Show, debuting the Honda Bulldog concept.

With the face of a Ruckus, and built to “leisurely” take-on the great outdoors in an unassuming manor, the Honda Bulldog is a stout off-roader that adds a new slant to the term adventure-bike.

With wide 15″ knobby tires, a 28″ seat height, and 400cc parallel-twin engine mated to a six-speed gearbox, the Bulldog certainly isn’t what you expect to see bombing down the trails, yet it sorta makes sense.

Moto Guzzi X-Rally 1200 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/10/2015 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Moto Guzzi would do well to add a scrambler model to its current lineup, and build off the hype generated by the Ducati Scrambler’s launch, not to mention the “post-authentic” movement (whatever that means) that seems to pull models out of the 1960’s and thrust them into the modern conversation.

Helping us imagine such a machine is Oberdan Bezzi, with his Moto Guzzi X-Rally 1200 concept. Maybe too heavy to appeal to die-hard off-roaders (I can hear the moans already in the comments section), but the X-Rally 1200 certainly fills the need for a brutish enduro with classic cues — not to mention, a break from the beaked-ADV status quo that the Stelvio tries so hard to chase.

Portland’s “Alley Sweeper” Urban Enduro is a Go for 2015

03/03/2015 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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When it comes to the western states and motorcycling, California gets all the credit. But, Oregon has a thriving motorcycling community all of its own, especially in Portland — albeit, things can get a little weird up here, with influences like Moto Corsa, See See Motorcycles, Dirt Quake, and now Asphalt & Rubber.

On the vein of keeping PDX out of the norm, and reaffirming that there are no bad days on a motorcycle, we hear good news that the much-loved Alley Sweeper ride is back on for 2015.

For the uninitiated, the Alley Sweeper is an urband enduro of sorts, which takes place on the unmaintained alleyways within the Portland city limits. It’s part ride, part parade, part critical-mass….and usually more fun in the mud.

Husqvarna Sets All-Time Sales Record – 16,337 Motorcycles

01/29/2015 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Just a year after being acquired by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, Husqvarna Motorcycles posted an all-time sales record of 16,337 units. The tally is the most the Swedish brand has ever sold in its 111 year history, which is perhaps surprising considering the company’s tenuous history as of late.

With those record sales, Husqvarna also posted over €100 million in revenue, a key metric for the brand, as it struggles to grow into KTM’s more exclusive and upscale counterpart.