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).

The Z800 Becomes the 2017 Kawasaki Z900

The naked sport bike segment continues to push into larger displacements, with the Kawasaki Z800 turning into the all-new 2017 Kawasaki Z900. With that change in number comes an obviously new 948cc inline-four engine, slung into a light-weight trellis frame, amongst other improvements. For the marquee differences between the machines, the Kawasaki Z900 brings with it a 13hp power increase to 124hp, and a weight reduction of over 50 lbs, for a curb weight of 458 lbs (non-ABS). For creature comforts, the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 comes with assist and slipper clutch, with optional ABS brakes. Priced at an aggressive $8,399 ($8,799 for the ABS model) though, that tradeoff comes from the Z900 being sans any advanced electronics and high-spec components.

Vintage Done Right, The Fantic Caballero 500

You probably haven’t heard of Fantic Motorcycles, but you won’t want to miss the company’s two new 500cc models, which are tastefully done heritage models. Bringing Italian sexiness to a segment dominated with an American aesthetic, the Fantic Caballero 500 street tracker and scrambler bikes are remarkable examples of purposeful and elegant machines. Based around a 449cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine that makes 43hp, the Fantic Caballero 500 scrambler comes with a 19″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel, whereas the street tracker model comes with 19″ hoops fore and aft. The chassis is done in the old style, with a backbone frame made out of chromoly steel, mated to a more modern aluminum swingarm. Upside down forks and a rear monoshock handle suspension, both of which are fully adjustable.

WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

09/27/2009 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

Michel-Fabrizio-Superpole-WSBK-Imola

Race 2 promised to have more close racing, as many riders in Race 1 proved they could race near the top (not to mention, many riders in WSBK have contracts up for renewal). With Imola being the home track for the Ducati loyal, a lot of fans we’re waiting to see the red bikes up front.

Many Xerox Ducati fans were also keen to see if Haga could retake the lead in the World Superbike Championship standings with a strong showing at Imola. They would not be disappointed, a full race report after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level

09/27/2009 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Imola-WSBK-Race-1-Haga

Racing went off without a hitch this Sunday, as the Imola circuit seemed devoid of earlier traction problems that almost sidelined the racing earlier this week. With Imola sitting literally in Ducati’s backyard, all eyes were on the Xerox Ducati squad, and Noriyuki Haga.

Haga, who trails Ben Spies for the first time this season coming into Imola, was especially keen on grabbing back some points from the American. Lastly, a new addition to the WSBK paddock took the form of Marco Simoncelli, who was filling in on the factory Aprilia team for the injured Shinya Nakano. A full race report with spoilers after the jump.

WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track

09/26/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track

Michel-Fabrizio-Superpole-WSBK-Imola

With track conditions at the Imola causing a near mutiny during the practice sessions, there was a panic in the WSBK paddock as to whether racing would occur at the Bologna circuit this weekend. After track officials cleaned the Imola tarmac, it became too slippery to ride upon. Whether due to the mixture of oil and water on the track, or the absence of the usual layers of rubber forming on the race line, the conditions caused riders to refuse to take to the track over safety concerns.

Commenting about the conditions, Ben Spies stated the course was slipperier than full wet conditions. Max Biaggi was also heard saying that the course was too slippery for racing, and that Sunday’s races could not take place on the course under these circumstances. Despite this, WSBK Superpole action still occurred, read on for more.

Breaking: Stoner Out Next 3 MotoGP Races

08/10/2009 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Casey-Stoner-fatigue-Brno

Ducati has just announced that Casey Stoner will miss the GP this weekend at Brno, as well as the next two races. The decision was made by Stoner and his medical staff back in Australia, who have been trying to track down the reason for the rider’s chronic fatigue.

Stoner will return to MotoGP racing in October, at the Portuguese GP. Until then, Mika Kallio will replace Stoner on the Ducati Marlboro factory bike, and WSBK rider Michel Fabrizio will take Kallio’s spot on the Pramac Ducati satellite team.

Video: Fabrizio/Spies Crash from Brno

07/27/2009 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Video: Fabrizio/Spies Crash from Brno

We called it the crash that could cost the Championship. Time will tell whether we were right about that one, but you can make the call for yourselves as to whether you think its possible to surf a sliding R1. We gave Ben a C-.

This isn’t the first time Fabrizio has collided with a competitor while passing. Last year he took out Max Biaggi…twice (Misano then later Portimao). Fabrizio, in his garage before race 2, displayed a little note to the cameras apologizing for the incident, it read, “I’m realy sorry. I love you Ben”, clearly feeling bad about the incident.

Spies wasn’t feeling the love though, writing on his site that “it was not the best move in the world, but that’s how racing goes sometimes. Michel was trying to apologize to me after the crash and I didn’t want to hear it. I was trying to tell him to use his head. Obviously I was not happy at the time.”

Source: YouTube via TwoWheelsBlog

WSBK: Something to Prove in Race 2 at Brno

07/26/2009 @ 8:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Something to Prove in Race 2 at Brno

Biagii-Race-2-Brno-WSBKjpg

Continuing on our Eastern European tour, Race 2 had a number of riders with something to prove on two wheels. With teams on a more level playing field after the recent test at the Brno venue, Race 2 proved to be an opportunity for the diamonds in the rough to shine, and for old rivals to get some payback.

WSBK: Race 1 at Brno – The Crash That Could Cost the Championship

07/26/2009 @ 7:32 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 1 at Brno – The Crash That Could Cost the Championship

Spies-Biaggi-Brno-Race-1-WSBK

Brno has a variety of meanings to different people. To the Old Czech, the words means muddy, to the Slavs it means to fortify, to men aged 16-55 it means rail thin supermodels, but to motorcycle race fanatics, the city should take on the meaning of unpredictable racing action. You’ll have to continue after the jump to see why Race 1 proves this theory.

Hopkins Questionable for Racing at Brno

07/17/2009 @ 1:30 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

John-Hopkins-Stiggy-Honda-WSBK

Despite being 6th fastest in today’s World Superbike testing at Imola, Italy, John Hopkins may not be at Brno in two weeks, when WSBK takes up racing again. After yesterday’s off, Hopkins was in pain through out the night, and after this mornings testing session, the American had some X-rays taken of his leg.

After looking at the results of his X-ray, doctors here in the US determined that Hopkin’s bones were not developing calcium deposits properly, and diagnosed him with osteoporosis. This finding leaves some doubt as to whether Hopper will be on his Honda at Brno, since a crash there would likely have dire consequences on his body in its current state.

Fabrizio Fastest at Day 1 of Imola WSBK Test

07/16/2009 @ 2:50 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Fabrizio Fastest at Day 1 of Imola WSBK Test

imola-1

Michael Fabrizio was the fastest man of the day while testing at Imola today for World Superbike. He was followed closely by Ben Spies, who was just a tenth of second behind the Italian rider.

Notably absent from the testing day was the injured Noriyuki Haga, who isn’t expected to be back to WSBK until the race at Brno, which is in two weeks.

However, noticably present near the top of the leaderboard was Ruben Xaus, with the BMW squad clearly making some progress with their $13,800 motorcycle.

WSBK: Race 2 at Donington Park Ends with a Nearly Fractured Vertebrae

06/28/2009 @ 6:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ben-Spies-WSBK-Race-2-Donington-Park

If the close racing of Race 1 wasn’t enough drama for the fans at Donington Park, Race 2 provided it in full. Another breakaway start, and a couple key crashes, lead to a shake up in the finishing results, and one rider was rushed off to the hospital for a suspected fractured vertabrae that might change the course of the season. Continue reading for spoilers.