Not-A-Review: I Finally Understand the Polaris Slingshot

All the way back in February, I got an email from a loyal A&R reader, Tone, who had just put a down payment on the Polaris Slingshot. He had just sold his Honda RC-51 to make room in the garage for his new three-wheeled toy…to put it shortly, he was excited for his soon-to-arrive “motorcycle”. I have to admit…I didn’t quite get the fuss about the new Slingshot — and to sell an RC-51 (a bike I wouldn’t having in mind two-wheeled collection) for one? That seemed sort of blasphemous — may the Gods of Motorcycling forgive this transgression. Tone’s enthusiasm and offer to give me a ride in his scoot, once it arrived, won me over in the end though. After all, if you’re not having a good time in a motorcycle, even a three-wheeled one, you’re probably doing it wrong. Right?

Ride Review: Aprilia RSV4 RF

After a great many success in World Superbike, Aprilia claims to have improved the venerable 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR street bike once more. Aprilia’s halo motorcycle has lost a couple of pounds and its power output has risen to a punchy 201hp. To celebrate this milestone Aprilia not only unleashes the standard RR version, but also a limited run of 500 units for the “RF” (Racing Factory) bikes.The RSV4 RF hosts obvious upgrades such as forged wheels, Öhlins suspension and steering damper, and a WSBK-inspired color scheme. To see how the updated RSV4 goes, we were invited to review RF #77 out of 500, on the newly resurfaced Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”.

Team Hero EBR Withdraws from World Superbike

After first saying it would be business as usual, Team Hero EBR has regrouped and found that it will not be continuing in the 2015 World Superbike Championship. Though a change in announcements, the news is perhaps unsurprising considering the state of EBR and the economic troubles reportedly faced by Hero MotoCorp. The team quotes the “recent bankruptcy of EBR and the re-prioritizing of efforts by title sponsor Hero” as the cause of its withdrawal, with Pegram Racing hoping to announce its future racing plans soon. “This is a really hard pill for us all at Pegram Racing to swallow, as we always live by the philosophy of Never Give Up,” said team owner Larry Pegram.

MV Agusta USA Expands Dealer Network

One of the main issues MV Agusta USA’s new management is addressing right off the bat is the company’s dealer network in the United States. It was an issue that considerable time was spent on during our media meeting with them late last year, and clearly the American subsidiary has heard the pleas of journalists and consumers alike. As such, MV Agusta USA is announcing the addition of nine new dealers to its list, which is roughly a 25% increase in MV Agusta dealers in the USA. Of course, simply adding more dealers doesn’t solve MV Agusta’s problem in the US, finding the right dealers is key. “We have a continual strategy to make changes in selected open areas where rider demand is high and the prospective MV rider community is underserved,” said Helen Vasilevski, CEO of MV Agusta USA.

Recycled Dainese Leathers for Your Two-Wheeled Lifestyle

What are you to do with a set of leathers, once they’ve been retired from protecting your motorcycling hide? The answer to that question is why Dainese has teamed up with Regenesi, an Italian firm known for recycling old products and turning them into new ones. Taking the crashed leathers of Dainese’s sponsored riders, Regenesi turns the leather pieces into various lifestyle items, like wallets ($139), smartphone sleeves ($79), key fobs ($54), etc. Each piece is obviously unique, comes straight from the race track, and is hand-made in Italy. Helping things too is the fact that Dainese is selling (re-selling?) the pieces at a reasonable prices, so buying a wallet doesn’t also hurt you in the wallet.

Troy Bayliss Riding a Ducati Scrambler Inspired Race Bike

We already know that Troy Bayliss will be making another return to racing this year, taking on five one-mile events on the AMA Pro Grand National Series. We also knew that Bayliss would be on a Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati race bike, continuing the Australian’s link to the Italian brand. Ducati has given us a glimpse of that flat-tracking machine, and to our surprise, it seems the folks in Bologna are looking to get some more marketing mileage out of the partnership, as Troy’s race bike is a spitting image of the Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle. Of course, Bayliss will compete with an 1,100cc air-cooled machine, in lieu of the Scrambler’s 803cc v-twin engine. The race bike will feature a custom-built chassis, and of course 19″ flat track wheels.

Oregon Just Got Closer to Legalizing Lane-Filtering*

Motorcyclists living in the fine State of Oregon (this author included) have something to celebrate today, as the Oregon State Senate passed SB 694 (18 to 10, with two abstentions): proposal that would make lane-filtering or lane-sharing legal under certain conditions. The bill now goes before the Oregon House of Representatives, where it will be first heard on April 27th. If voted on successfully in the House, Oregon will become only the second state to permit lane-filtering of some kind on public roads. While today’s news is a boon for motorcyclists in Oregon, there are some serious caveats to the bill that has passed through the Senate, namely that it only permits lane-sharing during specific instances.

The End of Marzocchi Suspension is Nigh?

Reports out of Italy suggest that the Marzocchi brand may soon be no more, after parent company Tenneco made the decision to close the Italian firm’s Bologna factory in Zola Predosa. The Italain outlets go on to say that motorcycle manufacturers that use Marzocchi as an OEM part have been notified that they will no longer be supplied with the suspension pieces, once the co Marzocchi’s stock of forks has been exhausted from supply. This news would affect a bevy of brands, including BMW, Ducati, MV Agusta, TM, GasGas, Beta, and AJP. The writing on the wall has been coming for some time for Marzocchi, as Tenneco initially wanted to close the plant in 2011, but instead through labor negotiations, laid off 50 of the company’s 170 employees.

Is This Really the End of EBR? Receivership Explained

It didn’t surprise me last week that the headlines regard Erik Buell Racing ranged in their proclamations from the more accurate “ceased operations” to “gone bankrupt” – with the even more presumptive publications proclaiming the ultimate demise of the American brand. This comes from a lack of understanding about how the receivership process works, which my European colleagues should have a stronger grasp of, as the concept is more prevalent across the pond. As such, I would like to explain the issue further, and how it applies to the situation facing Erik Buell Racing. To entice you on what will surely be a boring subject to many, this doesn’t spell the end of Erik Buell Racing…not even close.

Troy Bayliss Racing in the 2015 Grand National Series

He may have retired from World Superbike racing, but that isn’t stopping Troy Bayliss from continuing his pursuit of checkered flags, as the Australian has confirmed his long-rumored move to the AMA Pro Grand National Series. Bayliss will be racing on an 1,100, air-cooled, two-valve Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati (no surprise there), as a teammate to Johnny Lewis. The former World Champion plans to contest all five mile-long racing events, with his first race being the Springfield Mile in Illinois on May 24th. Bayliss may be an old salt, at the ripe age of 46, but the Aussie has been keeping his game sharp on local flat track courses. Every year as well he hosts the invitation-only Troy Bayliss Classic, where many AMA Pro Flat Track racers have competed.

Turbocharged Suzuki Recursion Going into Production?

01/02/2015 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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News from Japan seems to suggest that Suzuki is making a production version of its Recursion concept. For those that don’t remember, the Suzuki Recursion Concept was based around a turbocharged 588cc two-cylinder engine.

The idea was to achieve liter-bike power from a middleweight-sized machine, thus offering enthusiasts high-power but nimble machines to ride.

The news that Suzuki is putting the Recursion into production isn’t too far-fetching, though the original source does seem to be the not-always-accurate Japanese publication Young Machine.

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine?

01/28/2014 @ 7:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Nissan Motor Company is better known for its four-wheeled vehicle pursuits, so it might surprise you to see its name mentioned here on Asphalt & Rubber. To front load the answer to your most pressing question, no the Japanese marque is not getting into the two-wheeled universe.

However, Nissan has been doing some interesting work, ever since it took over the DeltaWing project. In a nutshell, the Nissan DeltaWing was a failed IndyCar replacement race car project that aimed to push the boundaries of light, aerodynamical, and efficient vehicle design.

It found new legs in the endurance racing arena though, and participated in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans — however it didn’t finish the iconic race, when a competitor crashed into it 75 laps into the race.

Nissan and the DeltaWing team have since parted ways collaboratively, but the Japanese car maker has clearly learned something from the process. Returning to Le Mans for the 2014 season, Nissan will field a very similar design, which it has dubbed the Nissan ZEOD RC.

A hybrid race car (Nissan hopes to complete its first lap at Le Mans solely on electric battery power), what tickles our fancy most is the 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine, which weighs a featherlight 88 pounds. Twenty inches tall, eight inches wide, the Nissan DIG-T R engine is small, though mighty. How does 400hp grab you?

Rumor: MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster a Turbo?

01/18/2014 @ 9:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Italy’s venerable Motociclismo magazine is starting an interesting rumor that MV Agusta is experimenting with a turbocharged version of its 800cc three-cylinder engine, and that the forced-induction lump could find its way onto the soon-to-be-released MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster model for 2014.

The Italian publication is also running the above render of the machine, which matches up with the photos found earlier this week. Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), list the 2014 model motorcycle as the MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster, and as the name and photos suggest, the “Ducati Diavel rival” is based heavily upon the MV Agusta’s Brutale platform.

Though a highly respected publication, Motociclismo‘s speculation sounds a bit far off the mark this time around to our ears, so as always, time will tell on this one.

More on Kawasaki’s Supercharged Motorcycle Engine

12/09/2013 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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The tease of 2013 has to be Kawasaki and its supercharged four-cylinder engine, which the Japanese OEM debuted at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Showing the engine, and giving virtually no information about the intended uses of the supercharged power plant, we have been left to speculate over what Kawasaki’s intentions are in the two-wheeled forced-induction realm.

Diving through the Google’s database of patent applications though,  we see that over the years Kawasaki has published a number of patents that relate to adding a supercharger to a motorcycle. Not only has Kawasaki been thinking about how to fit a supercharger into a motorcycle for some time now, but the OEM has some clever tricks up its sleeve in order to optimize its designs.

Kawasaki Debuts Supercharged Four-Cylinder Engine

11/20/2013 @ 1:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The start of the Tokyo Motor Show is today, if you haven’t already noticed, and it looks like the Japanese OEMs have saved their best models for the home court advantage this year, with all four of the Big Four having something special for Tokyo.

Yamaha’s big announcement of course is the nearly-ready-for-production Yamaha R25 concept, a 250cc two-cylinder sport bike that Valentino Rossi says “packs quite a punch.” The tuning fork brand also has its more fanciful concepts to show-off, chiefly the Yamaha PES1 electric street bike and the Yamaha PED1 electric dirt bike.

Suzuki is in the mix as well, with its turbocharged Recursion concept, as well as its electric monkey bike, the Extrigger concept. Both of these motorcycles look like a hoot to ride, for very different reasons of course.

Not wanting to be left out on the forced-induction warpath, Kawasaki has its own blower for the two-wheeled world. Showcasing a supercharged four-cylinder engine at its booth, Kawasaki says it developed the turbine and motor in-house, and hints that we will see this in a motorcycle model in the near future.

Wanting, Hoping, Praying for Hayabusa

11/21/2012 @ 6:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Fifteen years ago, I fell in love with the Suzuki Hayabusa. A courtship that started well-ahead of my formal indoctrination to two-wheels, the Hayabusa was the capstone of motorcycle performance in my youthful eyes. I lusted after its sleek wind-tunnel tuned lines, and marveled at its outright speed, which at its debut, trumped everything else on the market. Approaching the 200 mph mark with their designs, Japan sold us on a “gentleman’s agreement” between the factories to govern their machines to 186 mph — I call it the pinnacle of technical collusion of the first degree.

It is so much easier to compete against another manufacturer when you don’t actually have to compete against them. The Suzuki Hayabusa could co-exist with the Honda CBR1100XX and Kawasaki ZX-12R in bubble that assured no one bike, on paper, could trump the other, after all…they all went 186 mph in the newly declared speed war. It is debatable whether this self-governing measure by the Japanese OEMs avoided a nanny state imposition of laws and regulations onto the motorcycle industry, but there can be no debate about the stagnation the gentleman’s agreement caused in the marketplace.

Once designated as being hyperbikes, a term that gave a nod to the performance specifications being beyond the superbikes found on the race track, we have watched the cessation of the Honda Super Blackbird (2003 in the USA, 2007 worldwide), and witnessed the Hayabusa and ZX-12R, later the Kawasaki ZX-14R, morph into capital “s” sport-tourers that are a far cry from their original intents.

Whether you caste the current Suzuki Hayabusa as the second-generation of the machine, or simply a massaged version of the first-generation GSX-1300R, it has stood motionless for far too long since its beginnings 15 years ago, and revision in 2008. It is time for the Hayabusa to return to its hyperbike roots, and once again captivate the imagination of little boys, and grown men, with what its possible on two wheels.

2013 Bimota DB11 VLX – Supercharged Italian Hotness

11/13/2012 @ 12:56 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Bimota is known for making some exquisite machines by taking production motors from other OEMs, and wrapping those engines in frames of Italian company’s own design. Art on two wheels, Bimota rarely strays from this formula, though when it does, something interesting usually happens. One such example is the 2013 Bimota DB11 VLX , which looks strikingly similar to the Bimota DB9 Brivido we saw at EICMA last year.

Rumor: New Kawasaki ZX-14 Facelift Coming This Month? Supercharged Hypersport Later?

08/11/2011 @ 11:59 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Rumors are swelling around the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 (the Kawasaki ZZR1400 for friends on the other side of the pond). First up is that a new updated Kawasaki ZX-14 is set to debut by the end of the month. Expected to be only a cosmetic makeover, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 will mechanically be the same as the current model.

Looking farther down the pipe though, it would seem from reports and patents that Kawasaki has been eyeing putting a supercharger on the hypersport machine, presumably to better position the ZX-14 against the increasingly more powerful 1,000 superbikes, like the company’s on 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R.