Michael Dunlop is all smiles after his record breaking win in the Superbike TT.
John McGuinness at Union Mills.
Ian Hutchinson couldn’t match the blistering pace of Michael Dunlop and had to settle for second place.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The Isle of Man TT is still two months away, but Team Mugen is looking ready to make it a three-peat in the TT Zero electric race. Mugen’s 2016 bike is called the Shinden Go, and while “go” might be Japanese for “five” the name is very appropriate for the electric superbike.
Many expect Mugen to break the 120 mph lap barrier at the Isle of Man TT, especially since John McGuinness came extremely close to the mark last year, with a 119.279 mph lap.
Caught testing in Japan this month, here are our first glimpses of the Mugen Shinden Go, with test rider Hikaru Miyagi on-board at the Tsukuba Circuit (above) and Sodegaura Forest Raceway (photos after the jump).
Development for properly fast electric racing motorcycles has fallen onto the shoulders of one brand: Team Mugen, and the Japanese firm has confirmed that it will continue to push boundaries at the Isle of Man TT this year.
Confirming this week that it would race the 2016 Isle of Man TT, in the SES TT Zero electric race, Mugen also announced the return of its two-rider team of John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey.
In addition to that news, Mugen formerly divulged the fifth edition of its electric superbike, called the Shinden Go – in case you haven’t caught onto Mugen’s naming scheme, “go” is “five” in Japanese.
If there is one event everyone gets excited about at the Isle of Man TT, it’s the Senior TT. Often called “the blue-ribbon event” at the Isle of Man, the Senior TT is not a race for the elderly, like the name suggests, but instead it features the biggest, meanest, machines on the road course.
Most of the PokerStars Senior TT grid is filled with bikes from the Superbike TT, as the classes have a great deal of overlap, but the Senior TT usually has one or two special machines, who fall outside of the Superbike rules — the Norton SG4 is one of those machines.
All the TT riders want to win the Senior TT, and it fittingly is the final race of the Isle of Man TT, which only adds to excitement.
With Friday being drama-filled at the Isle of Man TT, the Senior TT was no different.
It might be the shortest event during the TT fortnight, but the TT Zero packs the more technology and development than the other TT races combined. Every year, the electric race bikes make leaps of progress in their pace, and for 2015 the unofficial mark to beat was the 120 mph barrier.
Team Mugen seemed close to that mark during the practice sessions, with John McGuinness posting a timed 118 mph lap. With Bruce Anstey already a race winner from the Superbike TT, and McPint always looking good on the Shinden race bike, the duo was heavily favored to win.
This year’s TT Zero also sees the return of Brammo to the Isle of Man, disguised as the Victory Racing team.
Victory was originally slotted to have Lee Johnston and William Dunlop as its riders, but Dunlop’s crash during the Superstock race meant his TT racing was over for this year. Luckily, his Tyco BMW teammate, Guy Martin, was available and keen to ride the electrics, and thus substituted for the injured Dunlop.
Other entries include Saroléa and Saietta, as well as the university teams from Brunel, Kingston, and Nottingham.
When it comes to real road racing, the boys on Hondas are always the short-list of whom to beat. Gearing up for the North West 200 this weekend and the rapidly approaching Isle of Man TT, the road racing season is firmly upon us.
Never mind circuits and race tracks, these guys let it all hang out on public roads, with speeds approaching and surpassing 200 mph on some courses. Make no mistake, this is risky business.
Mental preparedness and track knowledge are key, but that doesn’t mean that machine shakedowns are unnecessary. Although the Honda CBR1000RR racing package hasn’t changed much over its eight years of use, HRC has been able to refine the Fireblade to be a keen, and more importantly, a reliable weapon on the roads.
This year, John McGuinness and Conor Cummins will wear the factory HRC livery, as they take on the other top riders. Honda has put together a quick video of the two racers, with their thoughts on the 2015 season. Check it out after the jump.