Is KTM Planning a V4-Powered Sport Bike?

Why would KTM be riding around on a camouflaged Aprilia Tuono V4? That is the question of the day, after a spy photographer caught the Austrian company testing in Spain with such a machine. The answer of course points to KTM working on a V4 street bike platform, which shouldn’t be too surprising since KTM CEO Stefan Pierer already tipped the media off to the fact that it is working on a MotoGP entry that would be based around a beastly V4 engine called the RC16. While Pierer confirmed the MotoGP, as well as a track-only consumer version of the GP bike, zie Austrians have been mum about other motorcycles in KTM’s lineup sharing the new V4 powerplant.

Honda CRF250 Rally Concept Breaks Cover in Japan

Adventure riders, you prayers have been answered. Honda is set to debut a new off-road model at the Osaka Motorcycle Show, the Honda CRF250 Rally. Based off the Honda CRF250L platform, the Rally concept is basically the CRF250L with rally-styled bodywork. The Honda CRF250 Rally concept will get its worldwide debut alongside the Honda True Adventure concept, which we first saw at last year’s EICMA show. This makes for an interesting dichotomy, as the CRF250 Rally is set to look like the CRF450 Rally race bike, while the True Adventure (cough, Africa Twin, cough) borrows heavily from the race bike’s technology package. With Honda showing a 250cc ADV model and a 1,000cc model at the same show, one has to wonder when a consumer-level version of the CRF450 Rally race bike will be ready as well.

Honda SFA Concept Gets Japanese Debut

After it first debuted in Indonesia last October, the Honda SFA concept motorcycle seems to be getting serious, as Honda will be showing the up-market bike at this weekend’s Osaka Motorcycle Show and next weekend’s Tokyo Motorcycle Show. While Honda only mentions that the SFA concept is a “street-fighter style light-weight motorcycle with a single cylinder engine mounted on a trellis frame,” sources in Indonesia say the fetching small-displacement machine is built around the 150cc CB150R for that market. Whether this means that Honda will make more premium-focused 150cc machines, and bring them to markets outside of Asia remains to be seen, though it is clear that the Japanese firm is taking such an approach under serious consideration.

Bimota Racing at IOMTT with American Brandon Cretu

Italy’s favorite boutique brand will be back at the Isle of Man TT races this year, with a two rider team that includes American Brandon Cretu. Cretu and his teammate Ben Wylie will campaign for Bimota at the big four road races (North West 200, Isle of Man TT, Ulster Grand Prix, and Macau GP) on-board the Bimota BB3 superbike. This is not the first time that Cretu and Wylie have raced together, having shared a pit while at the Wylie Racing team during the 2011 and 2012 Isle of Man TT races. Though the Bimota BB3 was ruled ineligible for FIM events, the international road racing scene has no hang-ups letting the S1000RR-powered superbikes lineup on the starting grid.

MV Agusta F4 RC Leaks Again with More “AMG”

We are still waiting for the 2015 MV Agusta F4 RC to break cover officially, but the top-of-the-line superbike from Varese continues to make itself sneakily available to the public. First there were the leaked studio photos, which looked spot-on to the photos MV Agusta USA teased us with at its press launch earlier this year. Now, we have more photos of the F4 RC leaking, though with some changes to the design — namely more prominent “AMG” badging, for MV Agusta’s newest minority partner. The 2015 MV Agusta F4 RC isn’t supposed to arrive at dealerships until June 2015; and when it does, it will be in limited numbers. The F4 RC is MV Agusta’s homologation special for World Superbike and domestic superbike racing classes.

Q&A: Romano Albesiano – “We Know It Takes Three Years to Be Competitive in MotoGP”

Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano has big shoes to fill. Taking over from Gigi Dall’Igna, Albesiano must continue the legacy of success which his predecessor left for him. He got off to a good start, Sylvain Guintoli lifting the World Superbike title in Albesiano’s first year at the helm. Now comes the hard part, following up on that success and expanding into MotoGP. A small group of journalists spoke to Albesiano at the Aprilia launch in Milan. In a wide-ranging conversation, the Aprilia boss covered many topics, including explaining why the Noale firm came back to MotoGP a year ahead of schedule, touching on what the new bike Aprilia is working on for 2016 and beyond might look like, and the 2016 rules in MotoGP.

Ducati CEO Leaves the Door Open for a Scooter Model

In a recent interview by Moto.it with Claudio Domenicali, the Ducati CEO fielded a number of questions about the Italian company’s business and its relationship with its German owners (read it here in Google English), but one question was of particular interest: a Ducati Scooter. The often rumored, often debated, and often denied subject is perhaps the most feared topics for Ducatisti, and it ranks generally just below discussions on which oil to use, which tires are best, and how to break-in a motorcycle engine properly. That being said, it seems we are headed for another round of debate, as Domenicali is quoted as saying the following to Moto.it: “a scooter marked Ducati is not blasphemy.”

Interesting Entries for the 2015 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb may be over three months away, but the historic American road race released its official entry list this week, with some interesting participants for 2015’s Race to the Clouds. So far with 78 motorcycle entries confirmed, our attention was piqued with the entry of a 2015 Kawasaki H2 sport bike by Japan’s Takahiro Itami. Bringing things more locally, Colorado-based Ronin Motorcycles has an entry with one the company’s 47 heavily modified Buells, with Pikes Peak class-winner Travis Newbold at the helm. While Pikes Peak has several “To Be Determined” motorcycle entries still to disclose, noticeably absent from the entry list are many of the race’s recent top-finishers.

2015 Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP Race Bike Gallery

Aprilia Racing officially debuted its MotoGP team today, giving us our first glimpse of Marco Melandri and Alvaro Bautista in the team’s racing livery. It is also our first glimpse of the Aprilia RS-GP race bike all kitted-out, which should be a treat for the tech-heads in the crowd. The RS-GP is an evolution of the Aprilia ART project, now with pneumatic valves, an 81mm bore, and evolved electronics. There is a lot of ahead for Aprilia Racing, Gresini Racing, and their riders. The first check box is developing the chassis, finding one that gives both riders the confidence they need to push the RS-GP to its limits. Aprilia is said to have an all-new bike in the works for the 2016 season, but the development of that machine will take cues from what Aprilia Racing learns this year with the RS-GP.

Kawasaki Trademarks “Ninja R2″ with USPTO & Others

Let the rumors fly as to what Kawasaki has up its sleeve, because Team Green has registered “Ninja R2″ with the US Patent and Trademark office, as well as similar offices internationally. The trademark application is fairly broad in what the name can be used for, but knowing Kawasaki’s product line, a new motorcycle can be expected from the “Ninja” name. What that motorcycle could be, is up for debate. Some draw a line between the “Ninja R2″ name and the recently revived “Ninja H2″ model, and thus see another supercharged machine to come from Kawasaki. Others hear the whispers of a small-displacement sport bike, perhaps one with a stratospheric rev-limit (our pick).

Husqvarna TR 650 Terra – An Off-Road Strada

07/12/2012 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna TR 650 Strada, our favorite German-owned Italian-based Scandinavian-branded motorcycle company has released a 21-inch-wheeled version of the Strada that is destined for more off-road use. They call it the Husqvarna TR 650 Terra. Using the same 652cc water-cooled single-cylinder DOHC motor, the Husqvarna Terra also makes 58hp and 44.25 lbs•ft of torque, just like the Husqvarna Strada.

Tipping the scales a bit lighter than its road-going sibling, the Terra has a dry weight here in the United States of 368 lbs (410 lbs wet). Available with ABS as an option in other markets, it appears our more feature-reluctant American riders will only be given the non-ABS variant of the pseudo off-road machine (apparently Husky isn’t a part of BMW’s pledge for universal ABS). While the Terra shares many components with the Strada, BMW Husqvarna hopes that the minor changes between the two bikes will help facilitate the Husqvarna Terra’s more off-road oriented purpose in life.

Husqvarna TR 650 Strada – Now Officially Official

07/11/2012 @ 8:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

It has been eight months since Husqvarna took the wraps off its second road-going model, but the Husqvarna TR 650 Strada is now officially official ahead of fall’s motorcycle bike shows. A big displacement thumper to compliment the only moderately civil Husqvarna Nuda 900, the Strada is an interesting model to go alongside its parallel-twin street counterpart.

Featuring a 652cc water-cooled single-cylinder DOHC motor, the Husqvarna Strada puts out 58hp and 44.25 lbs•ft of torque (Husqvarna offers a de-tuned version of the Strada with 48hp for countries with graduated license schemes). At 375 lbs dry (414 lbs wet), the Strada has a strong power-to-weight ratio for its class, and is the on-road variant in Husqvarna’s dual-pronged single-cylinder motorcycle attack plan.

Touratech’s Husqvarna Nuda-X-Cross

06/08/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

I imagine that for some, despite the business case to the contrary, a Husqvarna should always play well in the dirt, which seems to be the mantra with the folks over at Touratech. Taking Husky’s first true-born road bike, and baptizing it with mud, the Touratech Nuda-X-Cross looks perfectly capable going where the sidewalk ends.

Shod with a set of knobbies, some purpose-built bodywork from Touratech’s line, and a new attitude, we dig what the ADV-touring parts company has done with Swedish brand’s latest offering. Not just a looker, Touratech intends on racing two Touratech Nuda-X-Cross bikes in the grueling Erzberg Rodeo, held in the Austrian Alps. Even that makes our street-bound hearts skip a beat. More photos after the jump.

Husqvarna Nuda 900R in Race Trim

04/16/2012 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Racing in the Bol d’Argent, the three-hour endurance race that supports the Bol d’Or 24 hour race, we get our first glimpse of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R in racing-trim. Not exactly designed to go road-racing, the Nuda still held its own at the French endurance race, finishing ninth overall. Making the feat even more impressive was the team of French journalists that raced the Husqvarna Nuda 900R, and we all know that moto-journalists can ride for beans…let alone French ones.

Husqvarna’s first true sport bike, the Swedish brand hopes that the street-going Nuda, Strada, and Baja/Moab concepts will help turn around its failing dirt-centric business. Not exactly the first thing that comes to our minds for a track bike, let us know what you think of the Nuda 900R in track form. Photos after the jump.

BMW Motorrad Posts Best Quarter Ever…Again

04/10/2012 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Writing about BMW Motorrad’s quarterly sales announcements is starting to become an exercise in mad libs, and I really should just create a template that is full of praise and positive comments, leaving blank only the spots where the figures of units sold and percentage growth should go. Since I have no such template at my disposal, here we go again with the back-slapping about BMW’s sales juggernaut. Read onward for more sales news from Zie Germans.

Will 2012 Finally Be Husqvarna’s Year?

03/08/2012 @ 2:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

For the past day I have been plunking away at a spreadsheet, adding in values found in several years’ worth of press releases. You see, while most motorcycle manufacturers go out of their way to hide sales information in their media communications, they still leave enough clues that allow one to decipher these pieces of information in their entirety. A monthly figure here, a quarterly result there, a percent gain over last year mentioned, and you’ve got your self five or more months of sales data extrapolated.

That being said, there is no need to go through this much work to know that Husqvarna has been having a rough couple of years. Even by just taking a straw poll from any of the BMW Group’s many glowing sales reports, you’ll find a three to four sentence paragraph outlining the continued disappointment that the Italian-based Swedish brand has brought the German company. Often not even cracking four-digit monthly sales figures, Husqvarna has been on a sales decline that has spawned BMW Motorrad’s decision to push the once dirt-only brand into the street bike scene.

In its most recent media communication, the BMW Group has praised Husqvarna’s sales success over the past two months. With the subsidiary posting a 50% gain in January, and a 2% gain in February, Husqvarna has thus far this year posted a 15% gain over the first two months of 2011. All is well for Zie Germans, no? You know the setup, continue reading for the take-down.

Concept: BMW F900S by Luca Bar Design

02/24/2012 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

To build the Husqvarna Nuda 900, the Swedish brand started with the 798cc motor from the BMW F800 series, and then bored and stroked the parallel-twin motor to a 898cc displacement. Through its marketing of the Nuda 900 & Nuda 900R, BMW has been sure to include itself, making sure that the connection of BMW’s trusted road-going heritage is tied to the previously dirt-only brand of Husqvarna. It’s been an interesting process for both brands to say the least, the product of which we haven’t even begun to fully realize.

Taking a reversal on the process between BMW and Husqvarna, our friend Luca Bar (check out his site here) is back with another concept bike. Designing what he calls a BMW F900S, Luca has taken the F800S aesthetic and imagined it with the newly-revised 900cc motor from the Husqvarna Nuda. Not stopping just at the revised motor though, his F900S also gets some trellis-frame love, which the Nuda used in lieu of the F800’s twin-spar frame design. Adding in some updated bodywork, the total package looks very clean. More photos after the jump.

Husqvarna Baja Concept Breaks Cover

01/20/2012 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Husqvarna continues its push into the on-road market, and has debuted another concept while at the New York IMS show today. Already showing us the Husqvarna Moab Concept in Milan, the folks at Husky have continued the thought process with the Moab, and built a more off-road capable dual-sport, which they are calling the Husqvarna Baja Concept. Another modern-take on retro design, the Baja concept carries over with it many of the Moab’s bigger design features, while sporting a 19″ knobby front tire for better off-road use.

Husqvarna simply states that the concept uses a four-stroke liquid-cooled 650cc single-cylinder motor (same as the Moab), which surely will be sourced from BMW’s G650GS. The Baja is also being fitted with a five-speed wide-ratio transmission, fuel-injection, perimeter frame, and Brembo brakes. The design from Husqvarna looks fairly polished, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some form of the Baja or Moab made it into production (or a fusion of the two).

With the Swedish brand already releasing the Husqvarna Nuda 900, and set to bring the Huqvarna Strada into production sometime this year, BMW’s want-to-be rogue street bike company could have a robust line-up if it brings the Baja and/or the Moab into produciton. We hope they do, because out of all the street bikes we’ve seen from the brand, these two seem the most intriguing, and also happen to better fit the Husqvarna name as well. Photos after the jump.

BMW Motorrad Had Its Best All-Time Sales in 2011

01/09/2012 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The BMW Group has released its 2011 sales numbers, and the results for BMW Motorrad are very impressive indeed. Posting its best yearly sales figures ever in the brand’s nearly 90-year history, BMW Motorrad surpassed its previous high-water mark, set in 2007, of 102,467 units by selling 104,286 units in 2011 (Q1, Q2, & Q3).

Accordingly, sales for 2011 were up 6.4% over 2010, which saw the brand sell 98,047 units last year. Helping spur that sales growth was BMW Motorrad’s strong performance in December 2011, as the German motorcycle manufacturer delivered 4,232 units worldwide in the last month of the year alone, a 12.4% increase over sales in December 2010.

The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.