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.

SCRAMP Begins “Keep Laguna Seca Local” Campaign

08/06/2015 @ 1:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Jonathan Rea Kawasaki corckscrew WSBK Laguna Seca

Fans of Laguna Raceway are certainly aware that the coastal Californian track could be set for a swap in operators, as International Speedway Corporation (ISC) is currently in a 90-day due diligence process with Monterey County about taking over operations the historic track.

The name ISC may not be familiar to two-wheeled racing fans, but in the four-wheeled world it’s known as another part of NASCAR’s business operations, as the company was founded by the France family (the same founder as NASCAR), and it owns and operates many of the tracks on NASCAR’s calendar.

Motorcycling racing fans are of course more familiar with the Daytona Motorsports Group, another France family creation, which ran AMA Pro Road Racing into the ground, and is currently managing AMA Pro Flat Track.

With Monterey County likely wooing ISC’s deep pocketbook to make needed repairs and modifications to Laguna Seca, the track’s current operator SCRAMP is crying foul on the looming change in control.

As such, SCRAMP has begun a “Keep Laguna Seca Local” campaign, and is asking Monterey County to allow the non-profit organization, which has operated Laguna Seeca for nearly 60 years, the opportunity to have an equal and open proceeding for the right to operate Laguna Seca.

An open letter from Gregg Curry, SCRAMP’s Board President, is attached after the jump.

WSBK: Davide Giugliano To Miss Remainder of the Season

07/26/2015 @ 1:00 am, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

Davide-Giugliano-WSBK-Laguna-Seca-Rainey-Curve-Jensen-Beeler

2015 has not been kind to Davide Giugliano. The factory Ducati rider was already forced to miss the first four rounds of the season after fracturing two lumbar vertebrae in testing crash at Phillip Island, a week before the season began.

Now he will be forced to miss the remainder of the season, after scans revealed a fracture of the thoracic vertebra T3, sustained in a crash at Laguna Seca.

At the Laguna Seca World Superbike Race Weekend

07/22/2015 @ 12:05 am, by Andrew KohnComments Off on At the Laguna Seca World Superbike Race Weekend

World-Superbike-MotoAmerica-Race-Weekend-Andrew-Kohn-03

A race is more than just a race. This past weekend, both the World Superbike and MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing series came to one of the most fabled tracks in America, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The racing was exciting, yet the crowd was not nearly as big as you would think. Maybe it was the threat of rain. Maybe it was the lack of TV coverage. Or maybe it was the fact that a lot of American riders have never been exposed to motorcycle racing and don’t know what a race weekend is all about.

Do folks think a race weekend is just sitting in the hot sun watching bikes droning around the track in endless, boring circles? Of course it’s not! Sure, there’s lots of racing, and as in any outdoor event, Mother Nature can be a factor, but there is so much more to a race weekend.

Many riders who didn’t grow up as race fans may not realize that a motorcycle race is more than just a race; it’s an event – a gathering of the motorcycling community. It doesn’t matter if you ride a cruiser, a tourer, or a sportbike. A race weekend offers something for everyone.

52,704 Attendees at the Laguna Seca WSBK Round

07/21/2015 @ 4:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Michael van der Mark Honda WSBK Laguna Seca

Under normal circumstances, I would say that if you missed the World Superbike / MotoAmerica round at Laguna Seca this weekend, then you missed a great weekend of motorcycle racing.

Of course, the deaths of Daniel Rivas and Bernat Martinez have written a tragic ending to an otherwise great story, and their passing is still being felt around the industry, both here and in Spain.

Before that tragic race started though, Dorna released the attendance figures for American round, quoting 52,704 people in attendance over the race weekend. Breaking things down by day, that’s 12,436 fans on Friday, 18,559 fans on Saturday, and 21,709 fans on Sunday.

This accordingly means that World Superbike fan attendance for 2015 is up 6.7% over last year’s total attendance, which was 49,408. It should be noted that attendance in 2014 was up 20% over 2013, the first year of WSBK’s return to Laguna Seca.

Sunday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/20/2015 @ 6:23 am, by Scott Jones3 COMMENTS

WSBK Laguna Seca weather

The weather is often a large part of the story at Laguna Seca. Usually it’s either heat, like the dangerously hot 2006 MotoGP weekend, or morning fog that delays the start of a day’s sessions, like nearly every time an event is held at this circuit.

But today the weather was a sudden thunderstorm that started just before sunrise. As the paddock came awake, lightning was flashing to the south and rain was drenching the circuit, washing the rubber off the asphalt and soaking the Media Center, to name only a couple of moisture-related casualties.

Out came the rain tires for the morning warm-up, and away they went on a track that was drying but still wet. But by the time Race 1 arrived, it was back to slicks for two dry races.

Tragedy Claims the Lives of Two MotoAmerica Racers

07/19/2015 @ 11:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Bernat-Martinez-SBK-MotoAmerica-Scott-Jones

It is with a heavy heart that we have to report the passing of Daniel Rivas (pictured after the jump) and Bernat Martinez (pictured above), both of whom died during today’s MotoAmerica Superbike/Superstock 1000 race.

The multi-bike incident occurred during the start of the race and included other riders who were more fortunate, such as Josh Chisum, Devon McDonough, & Kevin Pinkstaff.

Fan video of the start shows Rivas’ bike going down the front straight of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and then lose speed relative to the rest of the starting grid.

On the ground, Rivas was ultimately struck by another rider. He was airlifted to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, where he succumbed to injuries. He was 27.

One of the riders involved in the aftermath was Bernat Martinez, who was less fortunate than the rest. After the incident, he was transported from the raceway by ambulance to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, where he too succumbed to his injuries. He was 35.

Friday at Laguna Seca with Jensen Beeler

07/17/2015 @ 11:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Alex-Lowes-Corkscrew-Laguna-Seca-WSBK-Jensen-Beeler

Alex Lowes, twin brother to Sam Lowes, was perhaps the quickest learner of The Corkscrew today…some other riders are going to have a think on it.

Chaz-Davies-T2-Laguna-Seca-WSBK-Jensen-Beeler

Chaz Davies was looking fast out there on the Ducati Panigale R. The red bike and red leathers really pop on the track too.

Rizmayer-Corkscrew-save-Laguna-Seca-WSBK-Jensen-Beeler

Rizmayer saved this off-road excursion. I believe the on-track announcers called it an “agricultural endevour” — I just liked the way he made the pebbles go fly. The Corkscrew crowd applauded his efforts, as well.

Come Meet WSBK Riders in San Francisco Tomorrow

07/14/2015 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We doubt that we have to remind you that World Superbike is coming to the USA this week, but just in case…well…it is. Hosted by one of America’s best race tracks, WSBK  riders will once again enjoy the undulating design of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Those in attendance last year know that WSBK isn’t drawing the crowd that MotoGP once did for Laguna Seca, and the officials at SCRAMP want to change that.

Accordingly, the pre-event press conference this year will be held in San Francisco, and will double as an opportunity for fans to meet the top WSBK and MotoAmerica riders. This should be good news for just about every motorcycle racing superfan in The Bay Area.

NASCAR Powerhouse Could Takeover Laguna Seca Ops

06/22/2015 @ 9:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

laguna-seca-motogp-daniel-lo

The operation of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca could be set to change hands, as Monterey County officials have confirmed that they are in negotiations with the France family’s International Speedway Corporation (ISC) to takeover operations at the rack track.

ISC should be a familiar name to NASCAR fans, as the corporation not only built Daytona International Speedway, but the company’s primary business is owning and operating NASCAR race tracks (roughly half of the NASCAR season takes place on an ISC-owned track).

Owning 13 tracks in all, ISC could add another if its deal with Monterey County goes forward, supplanting the nonprofit Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), which has operated Laguna Seca since its inception in 1957.

According to a statement by Monterey County officials, the coastal Californian track “has been exploring options for the management of the raceway to ensure its long-term success.” ISC is therefore just one of several options on the table for the county, and its running of the historic racing venue.

WSBK: Laguna Seca Round Set for 2015 Calendar

10/22/2014 @ 10:45 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The provisional calendar for the World Superbike Championship hasn’t been released yet, but American fans can start planning their pilgrimage to Laguna Seca, as the sole US round has secured its racing weekend. Hosting WSBK July 17th thru July 19th, Laguna Seca is once again host to the premier production racing class.

“We continue to be pleased with the growth of the fan base for the Series,” said Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO & General Manager Gill Campbell. “With the continuation of GEICO as title sponsor, it seems clear that the U.S. motorcycle industry also sees this as an important event in which to reach out to their enthusiasts.”