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).

Ducati Superquadro Motor in Photos

10/14/2011 @ 9:09 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

I’ll admit, I’m pandering to the crowd on this one. When we brought you the first images and details of the Ducati Superquadro motor, a recurring theme in the comments was how the motor bordered on art. While I’ll agree that a finely-built motorcycle has an aesthetic worthy of the MoMA (I fully expect the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale to be jaw-dropping beautiful), a motorcycle engine might be a tall order.

Content to let that one go and move on, Ducati ruined the whole thing by posting a bunch of artsy fartsy images of the 90°, overly-square, 195hp v-twin motor. Now, even I’m not bull-headed enough to avoid putting two and two together, so here you go you Ducatisti Asphalt & Rubber readers, more images of the Ducati Superquadro engine for you to drool over. Enjoy.

Video: Ducati Superquadro Motor [UPDATED]

10/10/2011 @ 4:29 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Ducati has added English subtitles to the video. Huzzah!

We don’t know why Ducati only has this video out in Italian, but there’s some good bike porn of the Ducati Superquadro motor being developed and worked on, not to mention some shots of the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Hopefully Bologna posts up an English version of the video (we’ll add it if/when they do), so the rest of the motorcycling world can hear about the company’s new Superbike engine. Until then, our translation goes something like, “the bike, it goes a verrry fasst!”

Ducati Superquadro Engine

10/10/2011 @ 2:58 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Ducati has a new flagship Superbike coming out soon, if you hadn’t heard the news. Powering the Ducati 1199 Panigale is a new 90° v-twin motor dubbed the Superquadro (Ducati mini-site here), which the Italian company officially unveiled today. Confirming the specs we released back in November of last year, the power plant boasts 195hp and 98 lbs•ft of torque, making the Ducati Superquadro motor a new direction for Bologna, in more ways than one. For starters, the Superquadro is the first production motor in the company’s history that’s is fully-integrated into a bike’s chassis, thus putting final confirmation that the 1199 Panigale will use the MotoGP inspired “frameless” chassis design (not that we were really doubting this).

Deriving its name from the massively over-sqaure cylinder design, the Superquadro is the most powerful motor to come in a production motorcycle from the Bologna brand. Other highlights include the use of hybrid chain/gear-driven camshaft, titanium valves, a wet slipper clutch, ride-by-wire throttle actuation, 15,000 mile major service intervals, and a rider-selectable “riding mode” system. Boasting that the company built the Superquadro motor with a clean sheet of paper, the company has proven once again that there are no sacred cows in Bologna.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Frame and Motor Revealed

10/07/2011 @ 6:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The last time we showed you the latest teaser from Kawasaki for its upcoming 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends across the pond), we found it fairly amusing when several sites called the video’s authenticity into question. Systematically leaked to media sites through Kawasaki channels, and generally having the production quality of a professional job, nay-sayers apparently over-looked the smoking-gun fact that the videos in question were hosted on Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-14R mini-site, which for added authority resides on a Kawasaki.com sub-domain. Yes, this video is real. Yes, an updated version of the Kawasaki ZX-14R/ZZR1400 is coming. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s bringing you a new 1,440cc motorcycle. Only a few more days until this baby drops on October 10th. Stay tuned.

First Look: KTM Moto3 Race Bike

10/06/2011 @ 6:52 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

KTM has finally given us a glimpse into its Moto3 class race bike, showing renders of the bike to journalists assembled at the company’s Hangar 7 press event. The Austrian company also officially showed its Moto3 race motor, and for those expecting to see a repurposed SX motor for the 250cc four-stroke Grand Prix racing series, abolish that thought. For the inaugural 2012 racing season for GP racing’s entry-level series, the Austrian company has started from scratch when approaching its Moto3 development.

700cc Honda Integra Motor for Mid-Sized Motorcycles

09/26/2011 @ 4:27 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Someone at Honda must have forgotten that the company has already used the Integra name, as Honda Motor Co. has released details on its new mid-sized motorcycle motor. A two-cylinder 700cc four-stroke lump, the Integra motor promises to be a class leader in fuel-economy for the Japanese brand.

Boasting 40% greater fuel efficiency from other “sport” motors in the 500cc-700cc class, the Integra motor can do 63 mpg (US) according to our rough calculations of Honda’s consumption figure of 27km/L. Perhaps more interesting than its fuel economy, Honda has also stated that the new motor can be coupled to the company’s second generation dual-clutch transmission, the first generation of which can be seen on the Honda VFR1200F.

Filippo Preziosi: “The Two-Cylinder is the Best Engine, If You’re Not Constrained by Rules”

08/16/2011 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Head of Ducati Corse, Filippo Preziosi is a busy man under regular circumstances, and with the shenanigans going on in Ducati Corse’s MotoGP team right now, the former motorcycle racer is a hard man to get a word with, let alone on a race weekend in Brno. Somehow catching up with Preziosi during MotoGP’s Brno test, our friend David Emmett at MotoMatters, along with several other journalists, sat down with Ducati’s Maestro of MotoGP to ask him about where the Italian team was headed, and the challenges it is currently facing.

There is of course a tremendous amount of chatter going on in the MotoGP paddock about Ducati’s “frameless” carbon fiber chassis, a switch to an aluminum twin-spar frame, the Bridgestone tires, and Valentino Rossi’s psyche, all of which Emmett has already summarized for us in his detailed analysis of Ducati Corse’s situation. Taking on all of these issues, Preziosi sheds some insight on what is going on behind the scenes at Ducati, and is candid about what issues they are and are not facing.

Dismissing out right that the “L” engine configuration is at least partially to blame for Desmosedici’s lack of front-end feel, one of the more interesting points Preziosi makes is his preference for the v-twin motor. Acknowledging that the package will perhaps make less power/torque than a four-cylinder, Preziosi opts for instead the two-cylinder’s rideability, and if the rules allowed it, the motor’s weight advantage over the inlines (this of course coming from a man who has figured out how to make a v-twin without the weight of a traditional frame).

His comments raise some interesting thoughts about the way rules are constructed in motorcycle racing classes, and perhaps speaks to the central issue occurring MotoGP: that the rules are pigeonholing the development of GP motorcycles into one particular slot, that just happens to be a four-cylinder motorcycle with a conventional frame that reacts to a prescribed tire construction methodology. Preziosi makes some other interesting comments that read well between the lines, check them out in transcribed interview after the jump.

Motus KMV4 Motor Will Be Available as a Crate Motor

08/10/2011 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Talking to Lee Conn when Motus was on its US tour here in California, the Motus founder revealed that part of Motus’s business plan incorporates selling the Katech-designed KMV4 motor as a crate motor for enthusiasts and tuners. Though the Motus MST motorcycles will be using a 1,645cc 160+ hp version of the gasoline direct injection (GDI) motor, Katech and Motus have left plenty of beef to the KMV4’s cyclinder housings, allowing the V4 lump to be bored out to a 2L displacement.

An Analysis of the Troubles with the Ducati Desmosedici

08/09/2011 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The obvious point to make in the 2011 MotoGP Championship is that Ducati Corse is struggling to compete with Yamaha and Honda, despite having the G.O.A.T. himself, Valentino Rossi, riding for the Italian squad. The recent history of the Desmosedici is fraught with bullet points of issues, most of which coming back to the bike’s notoriously vague front-end. Though showing moments of promise, even brilliance, including a World Championship with Casey Stoner at the helm, the Ducati Desmosedici has earned the reputation as a career-ender and a confidence destroyer among its less fortunate pilots.

When the dream team of development came to Ducati, in the guise of Valentino Rossi and Jeremy Burgess et al, the talk before the 2011 season was that the nine-time World Champion and his perhaps even more impressive garage crew could have the Desmosedici figured out in no-time at all. With the now infamous quote from Burgess that the GP10 could be sorted out in about 20 seconds still resonating in the MotoGP paddock, we stand now well over half of the way through the current MotoGP season, and the Championship standings hide what’s been apparent from day one: the Desmoproblema requires more than a quick-fix.

The solution to fixing the Ducati Desmosedici can be broken down into three camps, and depending whose opinion you solicit, you’ll get one of the following causes for Ducati’s uncompetitive season: the motor, the chassis, or the rider. Walking us through that analysis is our good friend David Emmett (bookmark his site MotoMatters.com right now), who may not be the most astute automatic transmission driver we’ve ever seen, but when it comes to comprehensive MotoGP analysis, the man is second to none.

Putting together an exhaustive digest on the issues that are surrounding Valentino Rossi, Ducati Corse, and the Desmosedici, Emmett weighs and measures the different dynamics of the problem at hand. Head on over to MotoMatters with your beverage of choice in-hand, and hear what MotoGP’s most-enlightened journalist has to say on the biggest subject in MotoGP.

Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

MotoGP: Ducati Racing with 2012 Chassis Starting at Assen

06/20/2011 @ 6:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Ducati Corse continues to battle a war on two-fronts: both by trying to market itself out of an otherwise disastorous MotoGP season, and also to rapidly develop and search for answers to the lackluster Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The latest news out of Bologna now leans more towards this latter effort (or is it the prior?), as Ducati Corse has announced that it will bring a version of its 2012 chassis to Assen for Valentino Rossi to use in the Dutch TT.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, as they’re calling it, features a modified motor, and will debut Ducati’s next-generation gearbox: the Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST). Ducati hopes bringing out the new chassis, which has already been given the nod by both Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden, will not only help turn around the season’s results, but also expedite development for the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Along with a new carbon chassis, the GP11.1 features an inverted swingarm design, which sees the rear shock mounted higher-up with a special rear-subframe assembly.