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).

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 5 – Terminated

10/22/2015 @ 10:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The long-awaited Episode 5 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is now up for your listening pleasure. Apologies for it taking so long, but I had to celebrate another rotation around the sun, which sort of got in the way of editing the show this past weekend.

We think you’ll find this episode worth the wait though, and I personally think it’s our best show yet (there’s only five of them though, so I guess that statement has a fairly low bar to beat).

In the show we talk about the Yamaha R1S, the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, Nicky Hayden going to World Superbike, riding the Aprilia RSV4 RR, and trying out the new Icon Airframe Pro Carbon helmet.

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. Cheers!

At the American International Motorcycle Expo

10/19/2015 @ 4:43 pm, by Andrew Kohn14 COMMENTS

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The American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) was held in Orlando, Florida from October 15th to 18th. It was billed as “the show that changed the powersports industry”; the event included over 560 exhibitors from across the motorcycle world.

Additionally, AIMExpo hosted an outdoor demo area that offered rides on bikes and ATVs from 11 different manufacturers. The question is, with all that it had to offer, did AIMExpo live up to expectations?

More Supercharged Motorcycles Coming from Kawasaki?

10/13/2015 @ 12:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The internet motosphere is buzzing right now with the idea that we will see some more supercharged models from Kawasaki for the 2016 model year.

The wave of news is really just the parroting of a report from Japanese publication Young Machine, which has a hit-or-miss record with predicting new models from the Japanese OEMs.

And as usual, some publications are mistakenly taking Young Machine’s photoshop renders as the genuine article, so we should dismiss this tom foolery out of hand, right? Not so fast.

XXX: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R KRT Edition

10/08/2015 @ 9:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is a pretty big “refresh” for the WSBK-winning superbike, much more so than we expected. With a revised engine, chassis, and electronics suite (including the addition of an IMU), it’s probably easier to list what hasn’t changed, than what has.

Of course, Kawasaki is trying to stay as competitive in the marketplace as it is on the race track, and the latest 10R finds a happy medium in that pursuit with the limited.

Coming with all the updates on the base model, the KRT Edition adds what you would expect: race-team inspired graphics. We would use the pejorative “bold new graphics” statement here, but it actually applies…in a positive way.

For $300 extra on top of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R’s $16,000 price tag, we can see a few WSBK enthusiasts opting for the premium paint job. Just in case you happen to be one of those people, we have a bevy of high-resolution photos for your viewing pleasure.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Debuts with Serious Updates

10/08/2015 @ 2:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It may be evolution, instead of revolution, for the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in the 2016 model year, but Team Green has made sure to make sure that this model refresh is more than just “bold new graphics” and minor tweaks. The updated 10R is a serious beast, with a fresh WSBK scalp on its belt.

Trying to draw a parallel between Jonathan Rea’s World Superbike Championship victory, and Kawasaki’s latest superbike offering, the new Ninja ZX-10R is replete with features that come from Kawasaki’s production-racing efforts. This is no ordinary model refresh.

The changes to the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R include a revised and more powerful motor – 207hp with ram air and 83 lbs•ft of torque on the European-spec model, though we expect those figures in the USA to be less. Curb weight is set at a competitive 454 lbs.

Other goodies include lightweight titanium exhaust, a revised chassis, more aerodynamic fairings, upgraded Showa Balance Free suspension, Brembo M50 monobloc calipers, a five-axis Bosch IMU, and a revised electronics package.

Recall: Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 – Vaquero & Voyager

09/25/2015 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Recall: Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 – Vaquero & Voyager

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Riders of Kawasaki’s big honking Vulcan 1700 cruiser line, both the Vaquero and Voyager, should head this recall notice from the NHTSA, as it affects 11,836 units built between February 2, 2009 and March 20, 2015.

The recall concerns an ignition wire that may chafe, due to contact with the fuel tank. This can result in a short-circuit and possible engine stall, which in-turn could lead to the rider losing control of the motorcycle and crashing.

Jonathan Rea is the 2015 FIM Superbike World Champion

09/21/2015 @ 9:57 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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After this weekend’s World Superbike racing in Jerez, Jonathan Rea has finally emerged as the 2015 FIM Superbike World Champion, clinching the title with a fourth place in Race 1, and then backing up that result with another fourth place in Race 2.

The championship title has been a long-time coming for Rea, having first shown himself to be the only man capable of wrangling the factory Honda CBR1000RR to success, and then this season showing his brilliance on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

Absolutely dominating the 2015 season on the track, and continuing his typical humble nature off of it, Rea is a popular choice for the WSBK Championship title, and will certainly be a force to reckon with now that he’s on a competitive machine.

“This is an amazing moment for me in my career because I started schoolboy motocross when I was six years old, spending time at race circuits with my father and growing up in a racing environment, so I always dreamed of being world champion. So to finally be here and be world champion is incredible,” said Rea.

Updated 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Confirmed

09/08/2015 @ 9:56 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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Kawasaki will be bringing WSBK-influenced changes to the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, the company said in a press statement today, thus confirming earlier reports about a new superbike for the upcoming model year.

Kawasaki says that the new model will have a direct link to the World Superbike Championship winning machine that is being campaigned by both Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes at the moment.

The new ZX-10R will feature a “subtle yet highly effective” change to the cowling design, in addition to new suspension and braking components, but Team Green is quick to say though, this is not a ground-up new bike from Kawasaki.

James Hillier Talks About Taking a Lap Around the Isle of Man TT Course Aboard the Kawasaki Ninja H2R

08/21/2015 @ 12:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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What is it like to ride a supercharged 300hp hyperbike around the Isle of Man TT? Somewhat terrifying, and that’s coming from a guy who does it for a living: James Hillier.

As you might know, Hillier rode a Kawasaki Ninja H2R around the Isle of Man TT road course as part of an exhibition lap during this last TT fortnight, much to the delight of fans lining the Manx hedgerows.

Now we can relive that experience, since Kawasaki put together a short video on James’ impressions riding the supercharged carbon fiber beast, complete with on-board footage. Enjoy!

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Scrambler by Holographic Hammer

08/17/2015 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Taking a superbike off-road isn’t the dumbest thing we’ve ever done, but too many it certainly is sacrilegious. The truth is, the Venn diagram of motorcycles and their capabilities for different uses has a lot more overlap than riders are willing to admit.

That’s why when we see our friends at Holographic Hammer working on a scrambler model based off a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R we get a little excited. With enough suspension travel, bash plates, and right-handed traction control, there’s no reason that a ZX-10R can’t be the basis for a fun dual-sport.

And naturally, the talents at HH are going to make the project look amazing, so what’s the rub? Think differently, and have a brappy day – we say!