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.

Hillier Sets 206 MPH Sulby Record on a Kawasaki H2R

06/11/2015 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The Sulby Straight is the fastest part of the Isle of Man TT course, and when the conditions are right, it’s not uncommon for the big Superbike and Senior TT bikes to break the 200 mph mark on the nearly mile-long stretch.

It is, however, a bit uncommon for riders to reach the 200 mph mark during the TT’s parade laps, but don’t tell that to James Hillier. “Parading” the supercharged Kawasaki H2R around the Mountain Course, Hillier set an outright top speed record down the Sulby Straight, with an official speed of 206 mph.

Wednesday Race Day from Keppel Gate by Tony Goldsmith

06/11/2015 @ 3:15 pm, by Tony Goldsmith3 COMMENTS

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We were treated to the best conditions of the 2015 Isle of Man TT for Wednesday’s racing. With that in mind, I decided to head for the hills and to Keppel Gate/Kate’s Cottage. Around three miles from the finish of the lap, Keppel Gate marks the point the riders start to descend from the mountain section.

As I’ve already mentioned the conditions were great with very little wind and warm sunshine. With the perfect conditions came the photographers worse nightmare, heat haze. I will therefore use that excuse for any pictures that look a little soft.

Above: The hard working volunteer marshalls at Kate’s Cottage, without them there would be no racing.

IOMTT: Colin’s TT Blog – I’m Hooked & I’ll Be Back

06/11/2015 @ 1:08 am, by Colin Evans1 COMMENT

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A world traveler on two-wheels, Asphalt & Rubber reader and good friend Colin Evans is attending his first Isle of Man TT this year. We asked him to share his perspective on the trip, as both someone new to the Isle of Man, but also as a veteran of the world and riding motorcycles. Our hope is that it will be an informative, yet different, perspective than your typical coverage of the IOMTT. Please enjoy! -Jensen

Sadly I had to leave before the end of the Isle of Man TT festival but, I admit it: I’m addicted and I’ll definitely be back. But why? It’s just a motorbike race and there are lots of motorbike races that don’t require booking bloody ferry tickets a bloody year in advance.

So what’s so special that brings people back time after time after time?

IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 Results

06/10/2015 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 Results

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In addition to the TT Zero race, Wednesday at the 2015 Isle of Man TT played host to Race 2 of the Monster Energy Supersport TT. Despite the weather that had played havoc during the practice week, conditions for the second Supersport TT were perfect.

As such, the fans were out in force to see who would grab the checkered flag. Bruce Anstey had shown himself capable of winning, taking the RST Superbike TT, and of course Ian Hutchinson has been the talk of the TT.

Generally not a top pick in the supersport class, John McGuinness has been off his pace this year, though coming off the TT Zero win, he certainly seemed on point Wednesday.

Reversing his decision to sit out the second supersport race, Michael Dunlop lined up on Glencrutchery Road, and certainly cannot be counted out of a solo-class race, especially one on a 600cc machine.

Up-Close with the Victory Electric IOMTT Race Bike

06/10/2015 @ 12:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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In less than 24 hours, the TT Zero race will be underway at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, which means that riders Lee Johnson and Guy Martin (who is substituting for the injured William Dunlop) will be putting the Victory Motorcycles electric race bike through its paces on the 37.773-mile Mountain Course.

If Victory’s entry looks familiar, it should, as it’s based off the Brammo Empulse RR. Brammo has made some improvements to the machine for Victory though, namely a reworked motor, new battery pack, and aerodynamic touches.

Superstock TT at Quarry Bends with Tony Goldsmith

06/09/2015 @ 4:26 pm, by Tony Goldsmith1 COMMENT

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I headed to Quarry Bends today for the delayed Superstock race.

Just after the famous Ballacrye jump and about a mile from Ballaugh Bridge, the Quarry Bends series of corners are amongst the most important on the track as any speed lost through here will effect the riders’ speed onto the Sulby Straight and vital seconds can be lost.

Above: Lee Johnston took his debut TT podium in today’s Superstock TT race. He pipped James Hillier to third place by 3/10sec which is staggering statistic after 151 miles of high-speed racing.

Video: Ian Hutchinson Gives Michael Dunlop a Surprise

06/09/2015 @ 4:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The Isle of Man TT is a time trial event, meaning that riders are ultimately competing against the clock, not necessarily against the other riders on the course.

Usually when a rider has caught another rider on the course, it means one of them overcame an initial 10 second separation, and thus is considerably faster than the other.

The general protocol then is to let the faster rider through. This benefits the faster rider, who clearly has a superior pace to the slower rider. But, it also benefits the slower rider, who can get a tow from the faster rider, and benefit from their added confidence on the course.

As such, it’s rare to see riders get too close to each other on the Snaefell Mountain Course. Then again…this is motorcycle racing, and these are motorcycle racers…

IOMTT: RL360 Superstock TT Race Results

06/09/2015 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The Superstock TT is an interesting part of the Isle of Man TT. As the name implies, it features liter-class machines, but in a near-stock level of trim. That being said, the speeds attained by the Superstock machines touches near to the highly tuned Superbike machines, with 130+ mph laps being a reality.

The Superstock machines only compete once in the TT fortnight though, whereas there are two Supersport races, and the Superbikes basically get two goes of things, with the Superbike and Senior TT having a staggering overlap in machinery.

With all the weather, the sole chance to run the RL360 Superstock TT was pushed to Tuesday, and was the only race to run today. But, it certainly did its part in providing TT fans with some entertainment.

IOMTT: Guy Martin Will Race Victory’s Electric Bike

06/09/2015 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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In a surprise move last night at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, Guy Martin climbed aboard the Victory Motorcycles electric bike that will race in Wednesday’s SES TT Zero race.

The move came about after Martin’s teammate, William Dunlop, who was also set to race for Victory in the TT Zero, crashed at Laurel Bank during the Superstock practice session yesterday, breaking his ribs in the process. As such, Dunlop will not compete in the rest of the TT races.

IOMTT: Colin’s TT Blog – Someone I Can Cheer For

06/08/2015 @ 11:06 pm, by Colin Evans1 COMMENT

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A world traveler on two-wheels, Asphalt & Rubber reader and good friend Colin Evans is attending his first Isle of Man TT this year. We asked him to share his perspective on the trip, as both someone new to the Isle of Man, but also as a veteran of the world and riding motorcycles. Our hope is that it will be an informative, yet different, perspective than your typical coverage of the IOMTT. Please enjoy! -Jensen

Everyone here it seems has their favorite rider, and it’s usually someone from their home towns across the UK and across the world; whether it be Morecambe, Ballymoney, Wellington, Bingley, or Grimsby.

But I could not find a team to cheer from my part of Nottinghamshire until this afternoon, when I found sidecar outfit driver and passenger brothers Ben and Tom Birchall – from Mansfield.

I didn’t ever live in Mansfield, but it’s the town next door where I went to school. The picture of them on the podium says it all; they are clearly instantly likable blokes who are pleased as punch with their victory – and they speak with the same accent as I do. All good enough for the fan club registration.