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.

Electric Done Right, Enjoy the Aero E-Racer Street Tracker

It has been a while since we have seen an electric motorcycle that caught out fancy – you know, one that looked like it was made by someone who actually understands motorcycles, and isn’t just gunning for a spot at Art Center. There is this notion in the electric world that just because powertrains are evolving, that we need to throw the baby out with the bath water as wellwhen it comes to design. But, when I think about the electric motorcycle builds that have caught my attention the most, it is the ones that understand this concept at their core – good examples being bikes like the Mission R, Alta Motors Redshift SM, or Vespa Elettrica. Add another name to that list now, as the E-Racer from Aero Motorcycles is a truly beautiful two-wheeled machine, and it runs on electrons, not hydrocarbons.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #36 – Tikka Masala

11/01/2016 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Recapping the recent INTERMOT show, Episode 36 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast covers the three big themes that emerged from Cologne: homologation specials, vintage motorcycles, and rider aids.

With these themes in mind, we have a good conversation about the three homologation specials we saw from the Japanese manufacturers at INTERMOT: the Honda CBR1000RR SP2, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.

The conversation then turns to the neo-vintage models we saw in Germany, and how brands like Triumph and BMW are investing heavily in this trendy niche.

We finish up the show talking about motorcycle electronics, inertial measurement units (IMUs) to be specific. This game-changing technology continues to permeate through the motorcycle industry, along with other rider aids, so we have a good conversation about the rise of the IMU.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Checkout This Historic Suzuki DR-Z Dakar Rally Race Bike

10/10/2016 @ 1:03 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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One of the gems on display at the INTERMOT expo in Cologne, Germany this year was this Dakar Rally race bike, built off the Suzuki DR-Z dual-sport model. A predecessor to the bikes that share its name now, these DR-Z750 and DR-Z800 bikes were the OG of adventure bikes.

The modern-day equivalent now is the DR-Z400, which comes to the US both in a dual-sport and supermoto trims. Despite closing in on its second decade of service, the DR-Z400 remains a popular model, offering a reliable motorcycle package at an affordable price.

As a rally raid racer, the Suzuki DR-Z400 offers a reliable and affordable racing platform for privateers, and if you look far enough down the entry list of races like the Dakar Rally, you will find this venerable dirt bike listed.

This particular DR-Z800 was raced by Belgian Gaston Rahier, a two-time Dakar Rally winner (’84 & ’85) on the BMW R100GS, but during the 1989 Dakar Rally, he campaigned this Suzuki with the Hessler Rallye Team.

Rahier’s race bike is a cool piece of history, and it is an interesting glimpse into a piece of Suzuki’s past that should be remembered.

The headlines out of INTERMOT have been about the return of the King of Superbikes, so its easy to forget that Suzuki’s success go beyond the road racing paddock. Hopefully we’ll see a follow-up on great bikes like these from Suzuki, now that the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer has awoken from its slumber.

The Three Big Trends That We Saw at INTERMOT

10/08/2016 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

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News from the INTERMOT show is winding down, with the motorcycle industry waiting until the next trade show (AIMExpo) to get its fill of new motorcycles and products.

Such is the time of the season, where we jump from one headline to the next, as we get our first glimpse of next year’s wares. Sorry for flooding your social media feeds.

In my opinion, INTERMOT is the second-most important trade show on the schedule (the first being EICMA), as we always see strong showings from the Germanic brands at INTERMOT, and we can count on a few surprises from the Japanese OEMS as well.

When it occurs (INTERMOT is held every-other year, unlike EICMA and AIMExpo which are held every year), the German show is good for revealing trends in the industry, and this year was no different.

As such, I saw three big trends emerge from INTERMOT this year, which promise to shape the motorcycle industry for several years to come.

Any Excuse to Watch the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R, Right?

10/07/2016 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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I was trying to come up with some sort of excuse to show this video about the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R, since it’s basically just a two-minute orgasm about Suzuki’s new superbike.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty jazzed about the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R and its lower-spec sibling, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

I think there would be more buzz about the new GSX-R if Suzuki hadn’t basically shown the superbike to us a year before its release, but that seems to be the Japanese manufacturer’s jam right now.

I wont’ waste your time further. Close the office door, hide the kids, pour a drink, grab a towel, and press play.

Up-Close with the KTM 1290 Adventure S

10/06/2016 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It doesn’t look like 2017 KTM 1290 Adventure S is coming to the USA, but our European readers will enjoy the street-focused ADV bike, as it straddles somewhere between the touring-focused KTM 1290 Adventure T and the off-road shredding KTM 1290 Adventure R.

The KTM 1290 Adventure S offers a turnkey street bike with ample power (158hp), while the 19″/17″ dual-sport cast aluminum wheels give added off-road abilities.

KTM has also added semi-active suspension from WP, as well as traction control (with an off-road setting) and the Bosch cornering ABS package.

In reality, the 2017 KTM 1290 Adventure S helps the Austrian brand keep a strong hand on the 19-inch wheel portion of the adventure-touring segment, helping keep at bay bikes like the potent Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro and the BMW R1200GS.

With a revised look for the 2017 model year, and all the promise the previous model years have shown, we expect sales to be strong for the KTM 1290 Adventure S.

For our American readers, the photos after the jump may be as close as we get to this machine. Many thanks to our friends at MotoFire for sharing them with us.

2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX Brings an IMU to the Street

10/06/2016 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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It might seem like the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX brings only modest updates to Team Green’s liter-bike street bike, what with Kawasaki touting the machine’s “double-bubble” adjustable windscreen, LED headlamps, revised rider and passenger seats, and pannier mounts.

Yawn. Nothing to see here, right? Thanks for playing Kawasaki…but wait…hold on a second. What really sets the new Kawasaki Z1000SX apart is the fact that it also includes a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU).

This ties into the brakes, traction control, and riding modes on the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX, adding another level of sophistication to this popular sport bike, while also raise the high-water mark in the street bike market.

2018 Suzuki GSX-S750 – An Open Class Streetfighter

10/05/2016 @ 8:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Suzuki is giving us an early look at its 2018 lineup, showing the 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750 and 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750Z street bikes at the INTERMOT show this week.

Adding a better compliment to the Suzuki GSX-S1000, these 750cc machines build off the same strategy of taking a track-focused sport bike, and making an naked street bike out of it. For the 2018 model year, Suzuki is revising the GSX-S750 it debuted in 2014, to take on the FZ-09 in earnest.

This time, Suzuki is adding more to its venerable open-class machine, the Suzuki GSX-R750, in order to make the 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750.

Also, two flavors will be available, the Suzuki GSX-S750 and the 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750Z – the latter having ABS brakes and a matte black livery.

BMW S1000R Gets Refinements for 2017

10/05/2016 @ 2:35 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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As we reported before the INTERMOT show, the 2017 BMW S1000R will see an update over this year’s model, namely getting an updated chassis, more powerful motor, Euro 4 homologation, and a minor weight reduction.

The new chassis of course comes from the 2015 BMW S1000RR, and helps the streetfighter drop 2kg from its curb weight. The street-tuned inline-four engine gets a modest increase of 5hp, for a peak power figure of 165hp.

Long distance riders will enjoy BMW’s new “vibration free” handlebars, which address one of the complaints made by owners of the previous model. Another requested item has been added as well: the HP Shift Assistant Pro, for quick shifting up and down without clutch.

More Improvements Come to the 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RF

10/05/2016 @ 12:05 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Let’s just be really honest for a moment – the 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RF looks as hot as it is fast. Debuting at the  INTERMOT show in Germany, this is our first look at what the engineers at Noale have in store for the superbike market, also debuting the l0wer-spec Aprilia RSV4 RR for the 2017 model year.

Both bikes benefit from improved suspension and braking pieces, as well as an updated electronics package, which includes Bosch’s cornering ABS.

Like the RSV4 RR, the Aprilia RSV4 RF is compliant with the Euro 4 emissions standard, though Aprilia worked hard to maintain the bike’s 201hp / 84.8 lbs•ft power and torque ratings.

Aprilia was able to do this, mostly by raising the RSV4 RF’s redline by 300 rpm. Aprilia has also done away with its variable timing intake ducts (a 500g savings), deeming them unnecessary now with the updated APRC electronics package.

Several internal changes have been made to the engine, including lighter pistons and a number of friction-reducing treatments. A linear sensor has also been added to the gearbox, which aids in the new quick-shifting functions for upshifts and downshifts.

Typical for the “RF” model, the 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RF comes with premium suspension pieces from Öhlins. It might be evolution, not revolution for the Aprilia RSV4 line, but the Italian superbikes continue to set the bar for others the chase.

2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory – Just Add Öhlins

10/04/2016 @ 11:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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It goes without saying that if the 2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 is getting a list of updates at INTERMOT, then the same must be true for the Factory version of the potent 175hp streetfighter.

This means that the 2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory takes the new fourth-generation APRC electronics package, Bosch-powered cornering ABS, improved combustion chamber, larger exhaust can, and adds to it the typical Factory-spec improvements like Öhlins suspension (including an Öhlins steering damper).

If you haven’t ridden the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR or Factory, we highly recommend it. They’re so choice.