Report: Apple Looking at Acquiring Lit Motors

I had to check the A&R archives to see if we have even mentioned Lit Motors before, mostly because the the San Francisco startup has been slow to develop its self-balancing motorcycle, and I’m not terribly bullish on the project. That doesn’t mean the concept is without merit though, and its apparently caught the interest of Apple. If that sounds strange to you, then you need to understand that Apple, along with a bevy of other tech giants, is working on an autonomous car for the masses. This “Project Titan” as it’s called, has already seen Apple poach a couple of Lit Motors’ personnel, and now the most valuable company in the world is looking at acquiring Lit Motors, and/or other automotive entities, according to the New York Times.

WSBK: Milwaukee SMR Switching to Aprilia for 2017+

Aprilia have finally confirmed that they will be providing factory backing for the Milwaukee SMR squad in WorldSBK for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. It had been an open secret for months that the Milwaukee team were looking to make a switch to Aprilia, and they had signed Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori to contest the championship for them. But, it took a long time for the official confirmation to come through. One of the key factors in the choice, for both Laverty and Milwaukee SMR, was to have strong factory support from Aprilia for the 2017 season. The Aprilia RSV4 RF is still widely viewed as the best package on the WorldSBK grid inside the paddock, subject to the condition that the team running the bike has support from the Noale factory.

Is This the Year of the Monkey, The Honda Monkey?

If you read as many motorcycle news sites as I do, then you surely know that Honda is almost definitely probably maybe debuting a new “monkey bike” in the near future. The source of this news is Honda’s recent application for design patents in the European and Japanese markets. Intellectual property filings are a great way of seeing what a motorcycle OEM is up to, but as our colleagues at Motorcycle.com correctly pointed out, they can also be a great source of red herrings. Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s easy to jump to conclusions when one sees a filing that exactly mimics a show bike or concept, as we’ve seen this week with the Grom-powered Honda Monkey.

A Baby Version of the Ducati Multistrada Cometh?

The above photo was sent to the Italian website Moto.it by one of its readers, and it is supposedly a photo of an upcoming new version of the Ducati Multistrada, which is physically smaller than the current 1200cc model. Presumably, this would make the machine in question then the Ducati Multistrada 939, thus adding to the Euro4 compliant engine’s call to action for the 2017 model year. We say this all hypothetically however, because it is hard to verify anything from this photo…beyond the very obvious double-sided swingarm setup. What we do know is that the photographed motorcycle shares a chassis with the current Multistrada models, with both the cast and trellis pieces of the frame matching the Multistrada 1200 models, and not the Hypermotard 939.

Two New Ducati Scramblers Spotted in CARB Docs?

More new model news, as filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) suggest that we will see two new Scrambler models debuting, later this year. We come to this conclusion because emissions papers from CARB state that “Scrambler CR” and “Scrambler DS” models are coming from Ducati for 2017, in addition to the models we already have from the Italian manufacturer. The two-letter designations imply that we are likely to see a café racer (CR) version of the Ducati Scrambler, as well as a dual-sport (DS) version of the machine, which we have already seen in spy photos. This news isn’t surprising, since Ducati has made no secret about its desire to expand the Scrambler lineup.

New Four-Cylinder MV Agusta Brutale Debuting at EICMA

You know the new-bike season is just around the corner, because we’re starting to get glimpses of what the motorcycle OEMs will debut at shows like INTERMOT and EICMA. We’ve already had a glimpse of the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR, as well as the 2017 BMW S1000R, and if the folks at Italian motorcycle magazine Motociclismo are correct, the following is a concept sketch of the four-cylinder 2017 MV Agusta Brutale. The new Brutale is one of two new bikes that MV Agusta will launch at the EICMA show, with the other machine pegged as a special edition three-cylinder model. To be up front, we don’t expect anything too crazy from MV Agusta for the 2017 model year, with the Italian company still limited in options by its financial situation.

Spotted: The Subtly Changed 2017 BMW S1000R

Thanks to our loyal readers, we were pointed in the direction of some photos of what looks like a pre-production version of the upcoming 2017 BMW S1000R streetfighter (one of the machines we tipped for an update this coming model year). It appears that the new BMW S1000R is going to get a bevy of changes already found on the current BMW S1000RR superbike, both visually and mechanically. Caught at the Oschersleben track in Germany, we can’t imagine how many people walked by this parked motorcycle, without realizing what it was. We can’t blame them though, because the updates coming to the 2017 BMW S1000R are subtle, and you’d really have to know what you’re looking at, in order to see the changes.

More of the Sexiness That Is the KTM Moto2 Race Bike

KTM’s Moto2 project officially debuted today, with Aki Ajo managing the team that will consist of riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira. Like KTM’s MotoGP project, with the KTM RC16 race bike, the Moto2 project uses some intriguing elements. Namely, the frame is of a steel trellis design, the suspension is provided for by WP, and of course the engine is a lightly tuned Honda CBR600RR lump. If looks could win races, the WP KTM Moto2 machine would already be a contender. That being said, we have high expectations for the racing program in next year’s Moto2 Championship. Until then tough, we’ll let you drool over the high-resolution images we have waiting for you, after the jump.

Hi, Are You the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR?

If you were hoping that the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR would be a completely new machine for sport bike enthusiasts, the following might disappoint you. This is because photos published on Twitter seem to suggest that the 2017 Honda Fireblade will get mostly cosmetic changes for the upcoming model year. As you can see after the jump, what looks like the new CBR1000RR was caught lapping for what appears to be a PR video spot for the Japanese OEM. While it is clear from these shots that the pictured Honda CBR1000RR has a radically new fairing design, a closer comparison to the chassis (see above) suggests that the machine is simply the current generation machine, with new clothing.

Official: KTM Enters Moto2 with Binder and Oliveira

KTM is to enter the Moto2 class. The Ajo team is to expand its current Moto2 operation to two riders, with Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira (not Tom Lüthi, as we had previously reported) taking the place of the departing Johann Zarco. The team is also to switch from Kalex to KTM, as part of KTM’s project to provide a career path for young riders from the FIM CEV Moto3 championship through all three Grand Prix classes to MotoGP. The names of the riders involved should come as no surprise. Brad Binder is a race or two away at most from becoming the 2016 Moto3 world champion, and Miguel Oliveira came very close to winning the Moto3 title in 2015, as Binder’s teammate in the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team. Both riders are highly rated both by KTM and by team boss Aki Ajo.

The Motorcycle Industry’s Very Best April Fools Jokes

04/04/2016 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Another year, and another April Fools Day is in the bag. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

As usual, David had a timely piece on MotoGP adopting regulations that govern aerodynamics, namely that a spec-winglet shape would be entering into racing starting in 2017. The Grand Prix Commission has already banned winglets in Moto2 and Moto3 for next season, so there was some precedent already for this story.

Less of a product review, and more of a satirical rant that focused on that guy at your next track day, we ran a story about the Dainese “D-Bag” luggage. The bags are made by Ogio, and are actually very good. I have two Ogio Rig 9800 bags, for some reason, and would highly recommend them or Dainese’s branded version.

Our last April Fools story was about Honda patenting a three-stroke engine design, which seemed to be very popular and catch more than a couple readers unaware. There is such a thing as a three-stroke engine…sort of…you can read its description here, but don’t expect Big Red to adopt the design any time soon.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

Good News, You Can Now Watch AMA Supermoto on TV

03/30/2016 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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For the first time in eight years, you can now watch AMA Supermoto racing action on TV, as the rebooted series has signed a television deal with the MAVTV Motorsports Networks.

The TV package is a bit limited, as it includes 12 airings of six episodes (two apiece), which will cover racing from three venues, as well as highlights from the other three races on the calendar, but it is still a step in the right direction for supermoto racing in the USA.

The three race venues that MAVTV will cover are the rounds in Sturgis, South Dakota (round three); Denver, Colorado (round five); Tuscon, Arizona (the season finale).

In addition to the MAVTV package, the main event at the Quebec City race (round four) will get national and international coverage, as its part of the World Rally X Series.

No, MV Agusta Hasn’t Declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

03/28/2016 @ 6:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Despite what you may have read, MV Agusta isn’t declaring protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the United States Code. But, we can understand the confusion.

Just so we are clear, by definition Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings are a figment of American law. Since MV Agusta is an Italian company, it would be fundamentally wrong to say that MV Agusta Motor S.p.A. was seeking a protection under the US Code that pertains to bankruptcy.

The branch of MV Agusta that would be able to file for Chapter 11 would be MV Agusta USA, but the US subsidiary is not embroiled in MV Agusta Motor’s financial troubles, which makes the use of the term incredibly inaccurate.

Wednesday MotoGP Summary at Qatar: Oppressive Regimes, Muzzled Speech, & Unknown Quantities

03/16/2016 @ 11:57 pm, by David Emmett24 COMMENTS

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There is good news and bad news for MotoGP fans. The good news is that the 2016 season is just a few hours away from kicking off, with the Moto3 bikes the first to go out at 6pm, shortly after the sun sets in Qatar.

The good news is that the season opener takes place at the Losail International Circuit, a first class facility featuring a fantastic track, with a good mixture of fast and slow curves, and a serious test of both rider and machine.

The good news is that with the switch to spec electronics and the unified software, the racing is set to get closer among the factories, and put more control in the hands of the rider.

The best news is that the MotoGP field has never been so strong, so deep in talent, and feature such a broad range of competitive machinery, that Moto2 looks like being much more of a contest this year than it was in previous seasons, and that Moto3 features some spectacularly talent rookies, up against fiercely competitive established riders.

The racing this year is set to be outstanding in all three Grand Prix classes.

The bad news, though, is really bad. Of immediate importance to MotoGP fans is that it has rained on and off in the Gulf region for the past couple of weeks, and rained all day on Wednesday.

The fact that Qatar is a night race means that if it rains at any time, the track will be immediately closed, the floodlights causing dazzling reflections from any water on the surface, making it impossible to ride.

The current forecast is for it to stay dry until Tuesday, but whether such forecasts can be trusted remains to be seen.

The worst news is that the opening race of the season is in Qatar. The first race of the year will be held in front of a tiny crowd (more fans will often turn up at a European track on a Thursday, when there is no on-track action, than on race day in Qatar), at a track surrounded by desert, where sand and dust tends to blow in and cover the track, causing severe tire wear and making the track treacherous if a rider gets off line.

Beside the track sits the Lusail Sports Arena, part of a massive expansion of sporting facilities which have cost the lives of over 1200 migrant workers already, and are set to cost the lives of more.

You see these migrant workers packed into buses as you drive to the track, on their way to work long hours for little pay, which all too often they do not receive. They cannot leave, as under the country’s Kafala system, the employers take away their passports, making travel or complaint impossible.

Celebrating 10 Years of David Emmett & MotoMatters

03/14/2016 @ 4:28 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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I want to take a break from our usual daily slew of news and opinion, to give my dear friend David Emmett a moment in the spotlight (something I’m sure he will hate), as this week will mark 10 years of David covering the MotoGP Championship.

David explains the genesis story of MotoMatters much better than I ever could, so I will simply refer you to his posting today on the subject, which can be found on his website. Simply put though, what started out as a modest forum posting on the ADV Rider forum, has turned into one of the most influential websites covering the MotoGP paddock.

As a mutual friend and colleague once said to me, there isn’t a press officer, team member, or rider that doesn’t read MotoMatters with regularity, and there is good reason for that – such is David’s influence on Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

It is a surprise that he has achieved such a mantle in 10 short years.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 18 – Sorry for Partying

03/12/2016 @ 7:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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In Episode 18 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, Quentin and I use the recent news of Danny Eslick’s arrest in Daytona Beach, and his subsequent suspension from AMA racing, as a launching point to discuss the myriad of issues that surround rider personalities in motorsports.

Our conversation hits on the topic of how rider personalities have been whitewashed over the years, for the sake of corporate sponsors and team image, and we talk about the need for more “raw” riders in motorcycle racing.

This is obviously a topic that expands beyond just Eslick’s situation, and what is going on inside AMA Pro Racing / MotoAmerica, as we see other series, like World Superbike and MotoGP struggling with the same issues. It’s a meaty show, and we think you will like it.

As always, 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. Enjoy the show!

How To Watch the 2016 Daytona 200 on Saturday

03/10/2016 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Now with the blessing of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) the 2016 Daytona 200 is set to kick-off on Saturday, March 12th at 1pm EST, during Bike Week in Daytona, Florida.

Racing for 57 laps on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, Daytona 200 contenders will be on supersport class machines, where tire management and careful drafting will be the most important aspects for the racers.

At one point in time, the Daytona 200 garnered the attention of motorcycle racing fans around the world, and its owners DMG hope to return the iconic race to that stature.

To that end, the AMA’s sanction now makes it is easier for FIM-licensed riders to participate in the Daytona 200, and vie for its impressive $175,000 purse ($25,000 goes to the winner).

And for fans, the race is easy to watch, as DMG will be live streaming the Daytona 200 on its FansChoice.TV web property. The pre-race action starts at 12:30 EST; so if you’re on the West Coast, you will want to rise and shine a little earlier than normal, perhaps.

Cycle News Acquired by Powersport Media, LLC

03/03/2016 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The MAG Retail Group has  completely divested itself of its media holdings, as we can now bring you word regarding the sale of Cycle News to the newly formed Powersport Media LLC company, which was founded by Sean Finley, Bryan Robb, and Jesse Ziegler.

In the interest of transparency, Asphalt & Rubber readers should be aware of the fact that Finely and Robb also own Digital Throttle, an advertising network that caters to the motorcycle and automotive industries, and that Asphalt & Rubber is one of Digital Throttle’s clients, as is Cycle News.

Back to the matter at hand, the change in ownership for Cycle News is the second such change in recent times, as Cycle News was sold to MAG near the end for 2010.

Industry gossip suggests that this deal likely saved Cycle News from following the fate of its sister publication, Motorcycle USA, which was shutdown last week.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 17 – EPA, Q&A, & KSU

03/03/2016 @ 12:53 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Episode 17 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast a show we’re pretty proud of, as it tackles some meaty subjects.

As such, Quentin and myself get into a healthy discussion about the EPA’s recent statement that it intends to change wording to the Clean Air Act in order to close the “race use only” loophole for aftermarket equipment for motor vehicles. We hope our arugments spur further debate amongst your own circle of riding friends.

We then shift gears and answer a listener’s question about whether or not he should become a mechanic, and per usual it takes some interesting turns as we discuss the current trends of education, labor, and economics, which eventual devolves into a more philosophical discussion on life, the universe, and everything.

We think you’ll find the whole show highly engaging.

As always, 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. Enjoy the show!

Motorcycle USA Closing Its Doors After 20 Years

02/24/2016 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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After 20 years of service, Motorcycle USA is going to shut its doors at the end of this week.

The news is a shock to anyone in the industry, as Motorcycle USA was one of the largest daily news outlets in the space, with extensive industry knowledge, racing coverage, and bike reviews on its pages.

The news came over Twitter, though we are sure that the MotoUSA team will have a prepared statement on their site shortly, which will explain the MAG Retail Groups decision more clearly.