Three Rider Opinions on MotoGP vs. WorldSBK

As the sun set on the third day of the Jerez Test, Jonathan Rea hogged the limelight with the second fastest time of the day. With MotoGP bikes sharing the track with World Superbike runners, the story of the day was that Rea spent most of the day leading the “faster” GP boys. The question in the aftermath however was how does this reflect on both championships? Rea was a tenth of a second off the fastest time of the day, set by Hector Barbera. The speed and performance of the Kawasaki rider was hugely impressive, but is this a sign that the production bikes can hold their own, or is it a fortuitous confluence of circumstances?

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.

First Official Photos of the 2011 Ducati Diavel – Traction Control, ABS, Multiple Driving Modes, & 456lbs

10/12/2010 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Ducati USA just sent us a larger version of the photo posted on Facebook (enhanced version above). Check out the key entry for the trunk under the tail, and how the tail lights extend past the tail section to function as turn signals as well.

Ducati has just released the first official images of the 2011 Ducati Diavel on its website and Facebook page, thus beginning the teasing process as we lead up to the EICMA show in Milan in three weeks (and confirming the name Diavel in the process). Showing the ass end of the power cruiser, we get our first good glimpse of the carbon tank on the Diavel (rumors are the Ducati Diavel will come in two trim levels). Ducati has also announced that the Diavel will sport ABS, Ducati Traction Contorl, multiple riding modes, and weigh 456lbs.

Ducati has also confirmed that the 2011 Ducati Diavel will use the Testastretta 11° engine found on the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200, but has coyly made no mention of power figures, leading us to take an educated guess that the “Devil” makes a bit more power than its sport-touring cousin.

Smaller details are starting to come out as well, as we see the frame will get some red paint (as inked-in earlier), along with a central racing stripe down the tank and tail. We’ve brightened up the close-up photo after the jump, but don’t expect to see anything more than some pieces from the Ducati parts bin.

2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track

10/06/2010 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track

We told KTM when we rode the 1198 RC8 R that it was the perfect bike for the track. Agile steering, gobs of v-twin power, sure-footed suspension…there really wasn’t anything more we could ask from the Austrian manufacturer (except maybe a price reduction and a free puppy with every purchase). Someone at KTM must have agreed with our sentiments, because the Ready to Race firm has taken that mantra to the next level with the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track, it’s ready to race incarnation of the KTM 1198 RC8 R.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Becomes Officially Official

10/06/2010 @ 1:50 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Finally breaking cover officially, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R made its official debut at Intermot this week. For 2011, Kawasaki has taken a ground-up approach to building its liter-bike offering, and the Japanese company has its eye squarely on racing in World Superbike for 2011. Developing the race bike ahead of the street model, the new ZX-10R should prove to be a monster of a machine with its 197hp at the crank power figure (207hp with ram air) and 436.6lbs curb weight (+12lbs for ABS). However, for the US market the bike will get watered down by 10hp or so for emissions, which Kawasaki is quietly trying to downplay.

As we reported earlier when the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R leaked, Kawasaki like many other brands is bringing an optional ABS system to the sportbike genre, but Japanese firm has also brought a very sophisticated traction control system to the party, which will be a standard option. Taking measurements every 5 milliseconds from the front and rear tire pickups, throttle position sensor, engine speed, and other inputs, Kawasaki’s S-KTRC, according to the company, is the most advanced traction control system to-date in the consumer market. With pricing starting at $13,799 MSRP (+$1000 for ABS), we’d certainly hope it’s the most advanced sport bike on the market.

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 – The Fully Faired Z1000 Tourer

10/05/2010 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Rumors have been swelling about Kawasaki introducing a full-faired version of its popular Z1000 street naked, and at Intermot today those rumors became true. Dubbed the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (the bike is going by the Kawasaki Z1000S or Z1000SX name in other markets, which has lead other sites to misreport the model name for here in the US), the new heavyweight 1000 street bike uses the same 1043cc motor as the current Z1000, and remains largely unchanged from the Z1000 except for some modifications to make the bike fit a more touring-oriented segment.

Fitted with an adjustable windscreen and hard-mounts for panniers, Kawasaki hopes that the new Ninja 1000 will fill a sportier-touring role in the company’s line-up. Likely realizing that Z1000 owners like to log some miles on their bikes, the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 seems to be Kawasaki’s response to these adventurers’ wants, needs, and criticisms.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 Get Face Lifts and 20lbs of Liposuction for 2011

10/05/2010 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Suzuki made a design departure in 2009 when it revamped its GSX-R1000, while leaving the GSX-R600 & GSX-R750 unchanged aesthetically. Finally bringing the two smaller middleweight gixxers in-line with the larger superbike, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 get not only a face lift for the new model year, but also a revised engine package that has ample weight trimmings. While the new Suzuki GSX-R600 & GSX-R750’s won’t make more power than the 2010 models, the revised motor and other components shed roughly 20lbs off both the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 (413lbs wet) & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 (416lbs wet).

Making the weight-loss program possible, Suzuki went in with its surgical knife and dropped weight in a variety of places, primarily focusing on the bikes’ four-cylinder motor. Losing 4lbs in the motor alone, Suzuki lightened the pistons by 14% and the connecting rods by 12%, while increasing the ventilation holes between the cylinders, helping reduce pumping losses and improve combustion efficiency. Relocating the ECU has saved .6lbs in weight from wiring, which is sort of crazy and impressive at the same time. The new exhaust system sheds 3lbs from the prior models’, while revised injectors increase fuel efficiency by 10% and meet the strict Euro III emission standards. More info and photos after the jump.

2011 Suzuki GSR750 Unwrapped

10/05/2010 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The street-naked segment, what used to be known as the “standard” motorcycle segment, is heating up this year as another Japanese OEM enters the fray with the official announcement of the 2011 Suzuki GSR750. Suzuki’s answer to the growing middleweight street bike segment, the GSR750 is like the Yamaha FZ8 in that it uses a de-tuned sportbike motor (sourced from the GSX-R 750), and employs a relatively cheap and basic frame and component set to make an affordable, yet punchy, bike for the street warrior.

With power in the 120hp range, and weight expected to be under 420lbs dry, the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 stacks up decently well on the spec sheet (compared to its competition at least), and knowing that swap-over aftermarket parts from the GSX-R line should bolt up nicely, the new Suzuki GSR750 should be popular with the modder crowd. No word yet if Suzuki plans on selling the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 in the United States, but we expect the Japanese company will take a page out of Yamaha’s book, and make a late entry into the model year.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple – Johnny 5 Lives!

10/05/2010 @ 3:20 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

As children of the 1980’s, we grew up with movies that promised us a future where tracked military robots would learn what it means to love and be human in a humorous yet adventurous manner. While we doubt we’ll see Johnny 5 unveiled at the Intermot show in Germany this week, Triumph is trying fulfill this need of ours as best they can. Officially showing its 2011 Triumph Speed Triple (photos of the bike leaked ahead of Intermot when it was shown on the Triumph’s accessories page), the British company has completely re-worked its larger streetfighter offering, and is slowly winning our hearts.

The biggest improvement for the new Speed Triple is the bike’s all-new aluminum frame. Initially reported to drop the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple’s weight by 40lbs, the bike tips the scales at 471lbs with a full-tank of gas, which is only several pounds lighter than the 2010 model’s curb weight, but that doesn’t mean Triumph has been lax in its revisions. More details and photos after the jump.

2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 Breaks Cover

10/05/2010 @ 1:12 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The wrappings have been taken off the 2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 ahead of the Intermot show in Germany this week, with the middleweight street naked getting an adjusted rider position that should prove to be sportier than previous models. With a narrower seat, and revised foot and hand positions, new Shiver 750 owners will find themselves hunched over more as they slam through city streets and canyon roads (we’re not too sure about Aprilia’s claim that a “sportier” riding position will be “perfect for longer hauls”). This concludes everything new about the 2011 model compared to the 2010, thank you for reading.

2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple – Official Teaser Photos Released

09/17/2010 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Get your first glimpse of the MV Agusta F3 here.

In what can only be described as a terse press release, MV Agusta has released two teaser photos of its upcoming MV Agusta F3, the three-cylinder supersport bike that Claudio Castiglioni hopes will save his company. Known to be using a three-cylinder motor, it has been previously reported that the MV Agusta F3 would be a 675cc machine, just like the Triumph Daytona 675. However the Italian brand has confirmed that it will be using a 600cc displacement for its street machine, while giving us a glimpse of the bike without its F4 camouflage.

Valentino Rossi Goes to Ducati – Officially Official

08/15/2010 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The worst kept secret in the paddock is finally official, thus completing what MotoGP fans (especially Italians) have been waiting for: Valentino Rossi signing with Ducati Corse. The nine-time World Champion and Italian celebrity is finally paired up with Italy’s most iconic motorcycling brand for the 2011 season, an action that has been the subject of intrigue not only for the better part of this season, but for years inside MotoGP.

Announcing their partnership today, Rossi and Ducati have their work cut out for them in taking-on impressive up-start Jorge Lorenzo and the formidable Yamaha YZR-M1. Press releases from Ducati & Fiat-Yamaha after the jump, along with a quote from Valentino himself.