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.

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.

Today’s Headline Winner is…

09/22/2010 @ 12:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Who Says Lorenzo Doesn’t Have a Sense of Humor?

09/22/2010 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Be careful the next time you heckle a MotoGP rider on Twitter, because they might just respond. Such was the case when a fan chastised Lorenzo, who was upset about his performance during the Aragon GP. Catching the attention of Lorenzo, the fan promptly found himself on the wrong end of a retweet from the Spanish rider. Zinger! Thanks for the tip David!

Source: Jorge Lorenzo (Twitter)

Pope Benedict XVI Gets Two Ducati Multistrada’s

09/15/2010 @ 6:37 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Pope Benedict XVI received a nice surprise today as Ducati Motor Holdings dropped off two purpose-built Ducati Multistrada 1200S Touring bikes for His Holiness. We don’t expect Il Papa to be riding the bikes anytime soon though, as the two Ducatis will be used by the Pope’s motorcade and Vatican gendarmerie (the Vatican police force), hence the special papal yellow paint scheme.

Yamaha VMAX Concept by Vacuita

09/14/2010 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

We came across this render while trolling the internet for Ukrainian wives, and thought to ourselves that it sure did look like the bastard child of the Yamaha FZ1 and the upcoming Ducati Diavel. Made back in 2009, this artist’s render pre-dates any of the leaked viewings we saw of the Diavel, but could be an interesting evolution of the VMAX design to answer the Ducati power cruiser.

We like to think of the render as a VMAX on steroids, although we can’t seem to wrap our heads around how the Öhlins shock above the motor mounting works out…but then again we had trouble finding Ukrainian wives on the internet (now that’s saying something).

Valentino Rossi Gets the Shepard Fairey Treatment

09/10/2010 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

As a nine-time Grand Prix Champion, Valentino Rossi might be the most iconic rider in the MotoGP paddock, if not the greatest motorcycle racer of all-time. Now that Rossi has signed-on with Ducati for the next two MotoGP seasons, there is a wave of enthusiasm in Italy about the duo, and what it could mean for the sport.

Along with Rossi’s move to Ducati, MotoGP is set to go back to 1000cc capacities, Dorna has allowed claiming rule teams to run production-based engines, all in the hopes of turning the sport around into the spectacle it once was.

Of course the greatest excitement will be seeing Rossi on a Ducati GP bike that he helped develop, so we thought it fit to give Valentino the Shepard Fairey treatment for his “Barack moment”, and thus we whipped-up some posters of the Italian. Check them out after the jump.

Caption this Photo: Sweet Nothings

08/26/2010 @ 8:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Scooters are the preferred mode of transport in the MotoGP paddock, and if you stand still in the MotoGP paddock, it won’t be long before you see one of your GP heroes whisk by on their way to the next press event. With his personal manager riding shotgun, we can only imagine the conversation that’s ensuing in this photo as Lorenzo rolls around The Brickyard. Leave your best caption in the comments section.

Get Ready for Sturgis Asia

08/20/2010 @ 12:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

No, this is not an April Fool’s joke…but it has all the makings of one though. Long-time Sturgis rally veteran Tom Bandy must have woken up one day and thought to himself, “man how cool would it be if Sturgis wasn’t held in South Dakota, but instead it was in South Korea!” and boom, Sturgis Asia was born.

In actuality, Bandy told the Rapid City Journal that “[he] had a a dream to bring Sturgis to the rest of the world,” which is starting with a tour of South Korea. While the festival is catering heavily to locals (much of SturgisAsia’s website is in Korean), the group will also fly riders and their bikes to South Korea presumably from China and Japan.

Caption This Photo: Teammates

08/17/2010 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Reading Between the Lines of Valentino

08/16/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

Handwritten and then reproduced by Fiat-Yamaha, Valentino Rossi included an open letter with the announcement of his departure from Fiat-Yamaha to Marlboro Ducati. In his own words Rossi documents his “relationship” with the Yamaha YZR-M1, and is quick to point-out that it was Rossi’s direction and input that turned the bike into the weapon of choice in MotoGP. Reading the letter, it might be a bit strange as to why the message was included with the official press release from Yamaha, but peering between the lines some parting words can be inferred from Rossi, and perhaps greater insight into what makes a nine-time World Champion.