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.

Here It Is, The Norton V4 RR Superbike

It has been a long time coming for the Norton V4 RR, but the British firm has finally debuted its 1,200cc, 72° V4-powered, 200hp superbike. The actual machine looks pretty close to its concept sketches, which in turn are based closely to Norton’s TT race bike. Norton has made a pretty stout machine, with the V4 RR coming with a robust electronics package that was developed in-house, which includes traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and cruise control, augmented by a six-axis IMU; a 7″ high-definition display that includes a rear-facing camera; and a up-and-down quickshifter and datalogger. Key chassis components include the twin-tube “shotgun” frame, and a single-sided swingarm with a fully adjustable pivot point (the steering head angle is also adjustable).

Claudio Castiglioni Purchase of MV Agusta Imminent

08/06/2010 @ 8:40 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

UPDATE: The deal is now done, with Harley-Davidson issuing a press release.

Expected to be closed within hours, Harley-Davidson is on the verge of selling MV Agusta to Claudio Castiglioni. Castiglioni was able to leverage the purchase of MV Agusta by using the funds that would have been generated by his stock buy-out, which is rumored to be between €20 – €30 million. Castiglioni is today’s big winner in the deal, as the Italian is basically buying back the company he sold to Harley-Davidson for pennies on the dollar, while Harley-Davidson is left holding the tab on a hefty purchase price and cash infusion into the Italian company.

Garry McCoy Leaves FB Corse

06/07/2010 @ 7:42 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Garry McCoy announced this weekend that he has left FB Corse, presumably after the MotoGP team failed to develop its racing effort in any meaningful way. Beleagured from the start with lofty goals and un-true press releases, FB Corse has struggle both technically and financially to get on the MotoGP grid. After suffering a setback of not being given the green light to race while testing  at Valencia, FB Corse seemed determined to make at least a few wild card appearances this season.

Now with McCoy resigning from the team, the MotoGP paddock expects this to be the end of the Italian racing project (editor’s note: FB Corse has already removed its photos from its flickr stream). Of course knowing Franco Uncini and the FB Corse spin machine, we may still see another press release or two in the future from the Italian racing effort. McCoy’s official statement after the jump, best of luck to you Garry.

WSBK: Race 2 at Monza Should be Called “The Crash, The Motor, & The Podium”

05/10/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

With strong showings by familiar and unfamiliar faces this season, Race 2 at Monza proved to have some excitement up its sleeve. This anticipation proved to be worth it, as crashes took out victory hopefuls, leading to a comfortable finish for one rider, and nail biter for another. With a surprise podium in the mix, there’s a team still partying in Italy as we speak. Find out why after the jump.

WSBK: Close Racing in Race 1 at Monza

05/10/2010 @ 5:49 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Close Racing in Race 1 at Monza

World Superbike racing was back again this weekend with a stop in Monza, Italy. The Italian circuit played host to a very fast group of riders, which helped shed the course’s former lap record and top speed with little effort. With Max Biaggi and his Aprilia RSV4 at the top of the heap, all eyes were on them for a hometown victory. Check after the jump to see how Biaggi et al fared, and for the full race results.

WSBK: New Record Set During Superpole at Monza

05/09/2010 @ 1:00 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Max Biaggi took his first career Superpole today (as well as Aprilia’s first Superpole), at his home track of Monza no less. As if that wasn’t enough for the Italian rider and his Italian team, Biaggi also set the fastest top speed for the track on a superbike (205 mph), as well as a lap record (1’42.121).

Superpole however wasn’t as kind to the other Italian manufacturer, with only Michel Fabrizio making it into the third Superpole round. Fabrizio finished 3rd for the day, but his teammate, Norikuki Haga, finished at the bottom of Superpole 2 in 16th position.

With Ruben Xaus finishing 6th in the Superpole, six different manufacturers will make up the top six riders on the starting grid come Sunday, which should make the races exciting for any fan. Check the full Superpole results after the jump.

Ex-Ducati CEO & Current MV Agusta President Linked to MV Agusta as Possible Buyers

04/30/2010 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Italian newspaper Il Sol 24 Ore is reporting more rumors about MV Agusta divesture and the company’s possible suitors. As we’ve reported already, there’s been some speculation that Paolo Berlusconi might be interested in the Italian brand, but he’s also been linked to another Italian company looking for a home. Now coming out of the woodwork are some new names, with links to Ducati & MV Agusta.

2011 Ducati Monster 796 Confirmed

04/19/2010 @ 4:26 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE 2: Ducati has just informed us that the Monster 796 is being considered an early 2011 model year motorcycle, we’ve update our post to reflect this.

UPDATE: Pricing for the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 will be $9,995 in the USA.

The rumor floodgates were wide-open this weekend about a possible late model entry by Ducati that would see the Italian company add a Monster 796 to its 2010 model lineup. We can now confirm that the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 has been added to the Monster product line, and will fit in-between the 696cc and 1100cc versions of the Monster.

The impetus for this late addition is reportedly because of poor sales in the 1100cc range of Monsters, which has prompted Ducati to further segment the line-up with a middle offering. The Monster is actually Ducati’s best selling line of motorcycle, and the brand is keen to maximize its return on the newly updated design, and is seemingly pinning its hopes on this late entry. Video, photos, and more of the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 below.

Moto Morini Saved From Bankruptcy? – Paolo Berlusconi Makes €2.9 Million Offer

04/13/2010 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Quirky Italian motorcycle manufacturer Moto Morini has reportedly been saved from the chopping block by Paolo Berlusconi. If that names rings a bell, it should because Berlusconi is the brother to Italy’s Prime Minister, and owns Garelli scooters. The Italian businessman has also been recently linked to acquiring MV Agusta, which if both transactions go through could see Berlusconi owning the parts of a formidable Italian motorcycle company. Berlusconi has reportedly made a €2.9 million offer for Moto Morini which includes the company name, infrastructure, and rights to past and future product lines.

Loris Capirossi to Start 300th Race at Qatar

04/06/2010 @ 6:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Veteran MotoGP rider Loris Capirossi is set to start his 300th GP at Qatar this weekend, a record for the most GP starts by any rider. The 37 year old Capirossi easily out paces his nearest rival in this regard, Alex Barros, who started 276 races during his GP career. Likely to be one of the few riders to make it to 300 race starts, Capirex would have hit the benchmark in 2009 had the Hungarian GP at the Balatonring not been cancelled. Known for being injury free (knock on wood), Capirossi will likely add another 17 starts to this number, with it being anyone’s guess when the Italian hangs up his leathers for good.

Triumph Scrambler in Black & White

03/31/2010 @ 12:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Triumph has made a great name for itself with its modern take on vintage motorcycles, the “Bonnie” being our personal favorite. So what better way to promote the Triumph Scrambler than to take it out for a vintage style photo shoot using some black and white film? The result is 15 photos that could have been taken a weekend ago, or a generation ago. We especially enjoyed the obligatory cigarette in mouth while sliding shot. Check it out after the jump.