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).

Yamaha VZ1 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/01/2011 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Obiboi has done up a Kenny Roberts paint scheme version as well. Find it after the jump.

Do you dream of Yamaha producing a V4 sport bike? How about naked-variant that supplants the popular FZ1? Does a carbon/aluminum trellis frame work for you, with a titanium exhaust of course? If you answered yes to these questions, and envision such a bike late a night when you’re forming your dream garage in, then Oberdan Bezzi has just the concept sketch for you.

Drawing on the same 1,000cc fairing-less street bike theme as the FZ1, Bezzi imagines a Yamaha with a forward-tilted V4 motor that has an almost perpendicular cylinder arrangement, and is capable of being a platform with worldly appeal.

Concept: Chaparral A1 e-Racer by Oberdan Bezzi

08/03/2010 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi (view our coverage here) is at it again with his pen and paper, and this time he’s set his mind to imagining a battery-powered electric motorcycle. Based off the now defunked Chaparral brand, Bezzi sees the Texan company reinventing itself and entering the electric motorcycle racing scene. The bike has a full carbon chassis, a liquid cooled motor, and great attention to aerodynamics, according to Obiboi. We can also see five removable battery packs on each side of the motorcycle, and single shock suspension used not only on the rear, but also on the front fork assembly.

Wait…we feel like we’ve seen this before…Yes, it seems Bezzi has ripped-off every detail found on the MotoCzysz E1pc, right down to the motor and controller mounting points. Of course the A1 e-Racer looks like the E1pc 1.0, with its square battery packs. Oberdan must have missed our article on the eDD where we explained that the E1pc’s chevron shaped batteries allowed for more front wheel clearance. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right Michael?

Ducati Desmolight 450 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

06/04/2010 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t publish any more Ducati singles by Oberdan Bezzi, after the Italian designer set out with his pen and paper to imagine the Italian brand with a bevy of off-road inspired motorcycles; however Bezzi’s Ducati Desmolight 450 concept was just too great of a design to ignore, and thus here we are. With styling drawn from the current Monster line, Obiboi’s 450cc single looks delicious, especially with the coloring that’s reminiscent of Ducati’s Corse theme. This is the kind of bike that would go in our fantasy garage, and we’ll need a Prozac knowing it won’t be built.

Oberdan Bezzi Rounds out the Ducati Off-Road Line with the Desmoscrambler 450

05/13/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Oberdan Bezzi has clearly been dreaming about Ducati entering the off-road/mixed terrain market recently. The Italian designer has already come out with a Ducati dirtbike and Ducati supermoto, and now adds to that collection with a Ducati scrambler, dubbed the Desmoscrambler.

Bezzi Imagines Ducati Dirt/Supermotard Bikes

05/05/2010 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We don’t expect Ducati to start making dirt-derived motorcycles anytime soon, but that didn’t stop Italian motorcycle sketcher Oberdan Bezzi from inking a pair of drawings that explore this unlikely scenario. Named the Desmotard and Desmocross, Bezzi takes a fairly standard approach to the aesthetics of dirt bikes, and adds a few Ducati inspired touches. If you close your eyes and imagine a Ducati SX bike, is this what you see? It’s hard for us to say yes to that question, but we do love the naming convention being used.

Oberdan Bezzi’s Second-Take on a Bimota/Moto Morini – MMB2 FighterMotard

04/21/2010 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Just a couple days after Oberdan Bezzi inked this incarnation of a Bimota MMB1 (Bimota Moto Morini), he brings us this drawing of a streetfighter/hypermotard version of his imaginative cross-pollination of the two Italian brands. The drawing of course looks great, but we have our same criticism from his previous render…it looks more of the same.

We were pretty tough on Bezzi for his prior design, and the problem is we take these drawings as compared to each other, whereas in the real world there would be only one iteration of these designs, which no doubt would look fantastic on its own. We especially appreciate how Obiboi has channeled Bimota’s genius in the frame design. So with that, we still hope for a change of inspiration from the Italian designer, but we’d gladly welcome any of these bikes in the A&R garage.

A Fantasy of a Fantasy – Oberdan Dreams of Ducati’s, Martini’s, and Rossi for MotoGP in 2011

03/29/2010 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Oberdan Bezzi has inked another motorcycle sketch, and this time the Italian designer has a modern take on an old school favorite with an Italian twist. Re-imgaging the Martini Ducati design, Obiboi takes the Martini racing theme and has modernized it on a Ducati Desmosedici. True to his roots, Bezzi sees this as being the ideal pairing of brands for the 2011 MotoGP season, and of course only Valentino Rossi himself could be at the helm. The 2011 MotoGP silly season rumor fest is still a ways out; but make no mistake, Italians have some big hopes for next season…despite the fact we still have the entire 2010 season of MotoGP ahead of us first.