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).

KTM 390 Duke Gets a Facelift for 2017

11/08/2016 @ 6:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The KTM 390 Duke has sold like hotcakes since its 2013 debut, and now the pint-sized street bike is getting a facelift for the 2017 model year.

As has been the case with many of KTM’s new model releases, the 2017 KTM 390 Duke will get a similar kendo-styled LED headlight design, which we have already seen debut on the updated KTM 1290 Super Duke R and the recently released KTM 1290 Adventure R.

Bodywork changes come to the 2017 KTM 390 Duke as well, which give the entry-level machine a very edgy look and feel. Other changes include an improved ride-by-wire throttle, a full-color TFT dash, and a rear subframe that now bolts directly onto the steel trellis chassis.

The new subframe also means that the seat design has been changed, and KTM has seen fit to adopt a larger 3.5-gallong fuel tank for the 390 Duke. There are new 43mm WP suspension forks to soak up the bumps, and also a 320mm front disc for better stopping power.

Overall, the changes address many of the complaints levied at the original KTM 390 Duke design, which really should be taken as a compliment since the original model was pretty good out of the box.

The new bike is quite the looker as well, so it looks like KTM has another hit on its hands.

More Photos of the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6

10/13/2016 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will know how much we like our high-resolution photos here at A&R, so we wanted to make sure you could get a good high-res look at the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 that debuted today at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida.

Yamaha has left its class-leading bike mostly unchanged for the next model year, when it comes to the R6 motor and chassis, which might disappoint some. But with the addition of R1-inspired styling, traction control, ABS brakes, and better suspension pieces, we think supersport fans will be pleased with this update.

With the bar now set higher in the 600cc realm, hopefully we will see other manufacturers take up the challenge, and the supersport class will have new life breathed into it.

We’ll have to wait and see on that. Until then, enjoy this modest photo gallery.

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Gets ABS, Traction Control, & More

10/13/2016 @ 7:23 am, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

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The wait is finally over, as the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 debuted today at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida. As expected, the new Yamaha R6 visually borrows from the recently updated R1, with a similar headlight and intake setup featuring now on both machines.

On the technical side of things, the 2017 Yamaha R6 is more evolution than revolution, with the basic chassis and engine configuration staying the same.

However, updates for 2017 include a revised suspension package, ABS brakes, riding modes via ride-by-wire, traction control, and an optional quickshifter.

Up-Close with the KTM 1290 Adventure S

10/06/2016 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It doesn’t look like 2017 KTM 1290 Adventure S is coming to the USA, but our European readers will enjoy the street-focused ADV bike, as it straddles somewhere between the touring-focused KTM 1290 Adventure T and the off-road shredding KTM 1290 Adventure R.

The KTM 1290 Adventure S offers a turnkey street bike with ample power (158hp), while the 19″/17″ dual-sport cast aluminum wheels give added off-road abilities.

KTM has also added semi-active suspension from WP, as well as traction control (with an off-road setting) and the Bosch cornering ABS package.

In reality, the 2017 KTM 1290 Adventure S helps the Austrian brand keep a strong hand on the 19-inch wheel portion of the adventure-touring segment, helping keep at bay bikes like the potent Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro and the BMW R1200GS.

With a revised look for the 2017 model year, and all the promise the previous model years have shown, we expect sales to be strong for the KTM 1290 Adventure S.

For our American readers, the photos after the jump may be as close as we get to this machine. Many thanks to our friends at MotoFire for sharing them with us.

2016 Honda CBR500R Debuts with Modest Changes

10/15/2015 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2016 Honda CBR500R

Not quite “bold new graphics” territory, but the Honda CBR500R will get mostly cosmetic changes for the 2016 model year, as the machine made its world debut at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida today, as expected.

The most noticeable change comes to the fairings, which get a more aggressive design that Honda says improves airflow over the rider. LEDs will replace the incandescent bulbs on the headlights and taillights, which is an interesting upgrade to make, though a welcomed one.

Other changes include a new exhaust can design, an adjustable front brake lever, improved feel through the gearbox, and a larger fuel tank. We saved the best new feature for last though: a wave ignition key, for smoother function. Welcome to Flavor Country, people.

BMW Concept Roadster – Nom de Dieu!

05/23/2014 @ 12:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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For a foreign language in school, I took French — nine years of French, to be precise. Knowing the “Language of Diplomacy” doesn’t help one too much in the motorcycle industry, which is dominated by Spanish and Italian speakers, and it certainly doesn’t help one when dealing with the newest release from BMW Motorrad.

Like the Alsace-Lorraine in 1940, we were surprised today by a secret that the Germans had been keeping from us, the BMW Concept Roadster. A boxer-twin powered streetfighter (125hp / 92 lbs•ft), BMW says that the Concept Roadster is an expression that “motorcycling is much more than just perfect function.”

Equipped with a single-sided swingarm, driveshaft, LED headlight, and tubular steel frame, the BMW Concept Roadster sounds on paper a lot like the BMW’s we are used to, but one look at the styling of the concept betrays that thought, and we like that.

BMW Developing OLED Lighting Technology

04/17/2014 @ 12:05 pm, by Bryan Delohery9 COMMENTS

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As one of the leaders in today’s automotive and motorcycle advancements, BMW is again pushing the envelope of technology and blurring the lines between science fiction and reality.

The German manufacturer prides itself on state of the art safety features on both cars and motorcycles, most notably the introduction of ABS for motorcycles in 1988 and their semi-active chassis which was released in 2012.

More notably are BMW’s recent updates  in motorcycle lighting technology which include BMW’s adaptive headlight technology for the 2010 BMW K1600GT and GTL models, which uses ride height and pitch sensors to automatically level the headlight.

Also, the 2012 BMW R1200GS which was the first motorcycle to feature an LED main headlight with integrated daytime running light.

For 2014, BMW has announced the introduction of Organic LEDs (OLED) which are claimed to be a vast improvement over the inorganic LED lighting that is currently being used.

2015 Ducati Diavel Mega Gallery

03/03/2014 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Announced today at the Geneva Motor Show, the updated Ducati Diavel is being called a second-generation model, though the power cruiser offers only modest changes for the new model year.

For most riders, the key differences are the addition of the Testastretta 11° DS engine, new exhaust system, and full-LED headlight. These changes come with an additional $1,000 price tag to the “Dark Stealth” base model, and two Diavel Carbon machines (Ducati Red & White Star).

Peak power is the same (162hp) though comes in at 9,250 rpm rather than last year’s 9,500. Like the Dual Spark engine update on the Multistrada, the power range has been broadened, with more power lower in the revs than before. Peak torque is up though, to 96.3 lbs•ft — up from the 94 lbs•ft of last year.

Visually, the big changes are the stock exhaust (tailored to look more like the Ducati Performance Termignoni exhaust), as well as the radiator guards and LED headlight. It’s the headlight element that will catch most people out visually though.

Fans of the Diavel design will enjoy the refresh and modern tech, however if you happen to be in the group that never cared for the looks of Ducati’s Devil, we imagine the change will do little to woo you over. We fall into the latter group, as we’ve never been big fans of the Monster aesthetic, until we saw the Monster 1200 of course.

Without having swung a leg over the machine, we expect the “second-generation” Diavel to be just as much fun to ride as its predecessor. Low, comfortable, and fast…there isn’t much to dislike once you’re behind the handlebars of this machine. Expect to see bikes in or after April; but until then, enjoy the high-resolution photos we have after the jump.

2015 Ducati Diavel Unveiled – DS Engine & LED Headlight

03/03/2014 @ 12:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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As expected, Ducati has unveiled an updated version of the Diavel power cruiser today at the Geneva Motor Show, during Volkswagen’s presentation. Expected to hit dealerships from April onwards, the 2015 Ducati Diavel features a Testastretta 11° DS engine, a new exhaust system, and a new full-LED headlight.

With the additional of the “Dual Spark” engine, top power remains the same as before, at 162hp, while mid-range power has been improved upon. Tipping the scales at 452 lbs dry, 11 lbs lighter than before, the updated Diavel is pretty much the same everywhere else though.

First Photos & Video of the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800

11/01/2013 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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The 2013 EICMA show is just a couple days away, and the first OEM on the docket to reveal its new models is MV Agusta. We already know what MV Agusta’s big reveal is the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800, which will be a high-sitting sport-touring machine, complete with hard-bags, that features the company’s 800cc three-cylinder engine.

Teasing the new model now in a video, we can get our first glimpse at what MV Agusta has been cooking up back in Varese. Fusing the three-pipe exhaust of the MV Agusta F3 with the squared-off exhaust tips of the MV Agusta F4, MV Agusta has taken many design elements from its other models to make the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 — note the Rivale handguards and signals, for instance.

We’ll let the video and screen grabs do the rest of the talking, but a couple features of note are the full-LED headlight, Sachs semi-active suspension, and what looks like some sort of Bluetooth / cellphone connection system. We like what we see, and we like what we hear…Monday can’t come soon enough.