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.

Two Competitors Have Died at the Isle of Man TT

06/05/2016 @ 12:42 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of two competitors who died in separate incidents while at the Isle of Man TT. Dwight Beare died during today’s Sidecar TT Race 1, and Paul Shoesmith who died during this evening’s solo-class practice sessions.

Dwight Beare was a 27-year-old from Melbourne, Australia who moved to Onchan on the Isle of Man. While competing in the Sure Sidecar 1 TT, Beare unfortuantely did not survive a crash near Rhencullen, the race was red-flagged immediately after the crash.

Beare’s sidecar passenger, Benjamin Binns, was airlifted from the crash site to Nobles Hospital, and thankfully is reported to have only a fractured ankle.

Later that day, 50-years-old Paul Shoesmith from Poynton, Lancashire died during Saturday’s evening practice session. His incident occurred on the Sulby Straight. The practice session was red-flagged immediately following the incident.

IOMTT: Michael Dunlop Breaks Outright Lap Record

06/04/2016 @ 7:33 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Michael Dunlop Breaks Outright Lap Record

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The 2016 Isle of Man TT got off to a blistering start today, with two riders in the Superbike TT breaking the outright lap record on the very first lap, from a standing start no less.

Ian Hutchinson was the first rider to break the outright lap record, which was set by John McGuinness during last year’s Senior TT race, with a 132.892 mph lap.

The record would be short-lived though, as Michael Dunlop was hot on Hutchy’s heels, with a 133.369 mph lap performance on his Hawk Racing BMW S1000RR.

The first ever TT lap under 17 minutes, and the first ever lap that averaged over 133 mph, Dunlop’s performance during the Superbike TT was nothing short of dominant…and he wouldn’t stop there.

Upping the ante on the second lap, Dunlop benefited from less fuel and put down another scorcher – a 133.393 mph lap.

IOMTT: RST Superbike TT Race Results

06/04/2016 @ 5:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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It’s been seven perfect days of weather at the Isle of Man TT, which is a rarity for the island nation, which sits in the turbulent Irish Sea. That has boded well for Saturday’s opening race, the RST Superbike TT, as riders have been putting in scorching laps so far this practice week.

All expectations were for a record lap to be set, especially after Ian Hutchinson set an “unofficial” outright lap record the day before during practice, but the question was from whom would the record be broken by officially, as a number of riders were showing good race pace.

Friday at St. Ninian’s at the IOMTT with Tony Goldsmith

06/04/2016 @ 2:43 am, by Tony Goldsmith2 COMMENTS

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It’s Saturday morning on the Isle of Man, and the Superbike TT is only 50 minutes away as I write this final practice update. What a week! The weather has been amazing on the Isle of Man. The track is in perfect condition and the riders are ready to go.

I commented to my friend Steve English yesterday evening that we would probably see the riders take it easy in Friday evening’s practice session. They’d had so much practice that surely they didn’t need to push. How wrong I was.

Ian Hutchinson went out on his Superstock BMW and unofficially broke the outright lap record at 132.8mph. An incredible time!

Anyway, enough talking, on with the photos, which were taken during Thursday and Friday’s practice sessions at a mixture of the paddock, St. Ninian’s Crossroads, and Lambfell/Cronk-y-Voddy.

Ian Hutchinson Sets Unofficial Absolute TT Lap Record

06/03/2016 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson Isle of Man TT Tyco BMW Superstock

The weather gods have been smiling on the Isle of Man TT this fortnight, with six consecutive days of sunshine and warm temperatures thus far. That bodes well for the TT riders, as it means that they will push faster and faster with each session.

Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising to hear that Ian Hutchinson is now “unofficially” the fastest man ever to lap around the Isle of Man TT course, setting a scorching 132.803 mph lap on his Tyco BMW Superstock. That’s right, on his Superstock machine.

Wednesday at the K-Tree with Tony Goldsmith

06/02/2016 @ 1:24 pm, by Tony Goldsmith6 COMMENTS

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Since my last update from the Isle of Man TT, the sun has continued to shine and the speeds have continued to rise. After spending Tuesday evening in and around the paddock, I headed out to the K-Tree, just outside Ramsey, for Wednesday’s practice.

Also known as Lezayre Church or the Conkerfields, the K-Tree has become very popular in recent years. Some of the most spectacular slow motion footage from the last few years has been filmed there.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve also included in this post a selection from Tuesday evening’s session in the paddock. Above: James Hillier on the back wheel at the K-Tree.

Monday on the Mountain Section with Tony Goldsmith

06/01/2016 @ 1:52 am, by Tony Goldsmith2 COMMENTS

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Practice for the 2016 Isle of Man TT got underway on Saturday evening and continued on Monday. Both sessions ran under beautiful conditions on the Isle of Sun, at least it’s the Isle of Sun for now.

I spent Saturday evening around 7 miles from the start at the Greeba Castle section. I’m lucky to still be here after being eaten alive by midges.

Monday evening was spent in the sun on the mountain at Guthrie’s and the 27th Milestone. Thankfully the midges weren’t a problem, but I did have to chase away a pheasant that had popped along for a look.

Above, you will find Dean Harrison on his Superstock Kawasaki at Guthrie’s Memorial.

Are You Ready for This Year’s Isle of Man TT?

06/01/2016 @ 1:26 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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This year marks the 97th running of the Isle of Man TT, and the two weeks of practice and racing sessions should be considered a “must attend” item on any motorcyclist’s bucket list.

The TT is a special event to attend, and I can tell you as a journalist that it is one of the more surreal motorcycle races to cover. First, there is the serenity in watching machines race on public roads, just inches sometimes from where you are sitting. There is no where else that gets you that close to the action.

And then, there is the pound of flesh that comes with the spectacle: the knowledge that statistically speaking, two racers will lose their lives over the course of the fortnight. It is sobering to know going into an event that you will likely report the death of an athlete.

Whether you are a fan of road racing or one of its detractors, I still feel that it should be compulsory to attend an Isle of Man TT before one can make comment one way or another on its continuance.

This isn’t just another motorcycle race, and this isn’t just another extreme sport; this isn’t life in the sand of the coliseum, but it’s also not going through life in the passenger seat.

There is something truly special about the Isle of Man TT, and until you experience it from beyond these words, they will just continue to seem hyperbolic.

It is easy to wax poetic about the TT – you will just have to attend one yourself to understand that. Until you do though, we aim to bring you the best Isle of Man TT coverage available over the next two weeks. So, here’s a primer of information, before we start cluttering your A&R news feed with TT postings.

Victory RR Electric Race Bike Debuts for the Isle of Man TT

05/23/2016 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Victory Motorcycles will return to the Isle of Man TT this year, competing again with its electric superbike platform, the Victory RR.

Evolving from the ashes of the Brammo Empulse RR project, the Victory RR continues the work on electric drivetrains for Brammo, which now develops the electric drivetrains that power the Victory Empulse TT electric street bike.

With an all-new machine for the 2016 racing season, the Victory RR is the top-pick to upset the recent domination we have seen from Team Mugen, though that will be a tall order, with Mugen updating its Shinden race bike this year as well.

Mugen Shinden Go Debuts in Japan with More Power

03/25/2016 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The Mugen Shinden Go has officially dropped in Japan, showing us the Japanese outfit’s fifth evolution of the Isle of Man TT electric superbike.

As we reported earlier, the Shinden Go comes with obvious changes to the fairing design, though likely there are further enhancements underneath its skin.

To our eye, the Shinden Go looks to have smaller frontal cross-section than bikes of the past, and there are noticeable changes to the race bike’s carbon fiber chassis, which now looks to be of a monocoque design. The carbon fiber swingarm design has also been changed.

Additionally, Mugen says that the rear suspension is a “cross link rocker” design, which has been developed specifically for the Shinden Go.

Of course, the biggest change people will be talking about is the 10kW power increase, which brings the Mugen Shinden Go’s peak horsepower figure up to 161hp. Weight remains at 550 lbs, with peak torque down to 154 lbs•ft (from 162.24 lbs•ft).