California Formalizes Lane-Splitting Law

It finally happened, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 51 into law, making California the first state to put lane-splitting on its books. Lane-splitting has always been legal of course (despite what other headlines might suggest), though was legal only by a technical loophole in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). The passage of AB 51 now formally adds lane-splitting as a condoned practice by the CVC; and more importantly, it expressly allows government agencies, like the California Highway Patrol, to create and teach best-practice guidelines. AB 51 still creates some basic jurisprudence issues, like granting legislative powers to the executive branch, but many in the pro-lane-splitting movement seem to look past that issue, instead focusing on what it brings to motorcyclists.

EPA Slaps Harley-Davidson with $12 Million Fine

The EPA DOJ have just come to a settlement agreement with Harley-Davidson, which sees the American motorcycle manufacturer agreeing to pay a $12 million fine for its Screamin Eagle “super tuner” devices. Also in the agreement, Harley-Davidson agrees to spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution (through a project to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning stoves in local communities), as well as to stop selling, buy back, or destroy any illegal devices that increase air pollution from the company’s motorcycles. While not quite the Dieselgate scandal that caught Volkswagen circumventing EPA emission standards, Harley-Davidson’s “super tuners” do provide an aftermarket solution for motorcyclists to circumvent the emission devices on their motorcycles.

Moto3: Sky VR46 Fires Romano Fenati

As expected, Romano Fenati has been formally released from his contract with the Sky VR46 team. The Italian was suspended from the team after an incident at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. That was a temporary measure, but it has now been made permanent. Fenati was released for behavioral issues. The Italian had been abusive towards members of the team, and had not behaved in a professional manner. The incident in Austria was just the latest in a long line of breaches of behavioral conduct, which included confirmed reports of verbal abuse and unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports of physical conflict. The Sky VR46 team have announced that they will be bringing Lorenzo Dalla Porta in to join Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega in the Moto3 team.

Two New BMW R nineT Models Coming

Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) suggest that BMW Motorrad has two more variations of its retro-styled motorcycle line coming to the USA: the BMW R nineT Pure and the BMW R nineT Racer. These two bikes would join the other two air-cooled models we have already seen from the Germans, the base model BMW R nineT and the recently released BMW R nineT Scrambler, which debuted at EICMA last year. Our friends at Motorcycle.com spotted the CARB filings, and believe one of the machines will be based off the BMW Lac Rose concept – an ADV throw-back to when the Dakar Rally actually raced to Dakar. The other model though, could be anyone’s guess, as BMW hasn’t dropped any other concepts or hints in the past months.

Q&A: KTM On-Road Technical Director Sebastian Risse – The Development of the KTM RC16 MotoGP Bike

Sebastian Risse is the man behind the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike which was presented on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring. An automotive engineer by training, Risse has been with KTM since 2008. He started out as a crew chief and chassis analyst on KTM’s now defunct RC8 Superbike project, but when KTM returned to Grand Prix racing in 2012, Risse took charge of the Moto3 project, which has gone on to be the benchmark in the class. Risse is currently head of all of KTM’s roadracing activities, and has overseen and led development of the RC16 MotoGP bike. After the KTM RC16 was presented, we spoke to Sebastian Risse about the differences and design choices which went into the bike.

Here’s a Custom Ducati XDiavel by Roland Sands Design

In the event’s 76-year history, this year marks the first time that Ducati has ever participated at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – the Italian company hoping to showcase its Harley-Davidson alternative, the Ducati XDiavel. Helping fuel that fire was a collaboration between Roland Sands Design and Ducati, which has given way to the creation of a one-off XDiavel with the usual RSD touches. This means a flowing single-piece body, the addition of a 19″ front wheel, and shotgun-style exhaust are added to the already stylish XDiavel. The RSD Ducati XDiavel is then finished off with metallic flake paint job, along with the usual bits and bobs from the RSD catalog. There is a lot of “Southern California” transmitted through RSD’s design into the Italian-born XDiavel.

2017 KTM RC16 Officially Debuts

The Austrian GP might be tomorrow, but today the news is all about MotoGP’s newest entrant, KTM Racing. The Austrian team used its home to debut officially its MotoGP program, showing the KTM RC16 MotoGP race bike in its officially Red Bull livery for next year. The livery itself is what you would expect between at KTM/Red Bull collaboration, with the same blue and orange paint scheme as can be found on the Red Bull KTM Moto3 squad. The big difference of course is the rumored fire-breathing, 270hp, V4, engine, which Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will attempt to tame. The bike’s next outing will be at Valencia, where Thomas Lüthi and Mika Kallio will ride with the MotoGP-regulars once again, competing as wild card entries.

MotoGP Considering Team Communication via Dashboards

Dorna is considering allowing communication between teams and riders via the dashboard. At a meeting today between Dorna and the teams, initial discussions took place over a system to allow teams to pass very brief messages to the dashboard of the bikes. The ability to pass messages between team and bike has been made possible thanks to the transponders currently being used in MotoGP. Those allow for a very limited and very short burst of communication as the bikes pass the timing loops at the track. Race Direction is currently using the system to pass signals to the dash in the case of a red flag, black flag or ride through penalty, but the system would also allow teams a limited ability to pass messages to the riders.

Norton Announces V4 Superbike, Again

A year ago, to the day, Norton announced that it was working on a street-going superbike that featured a 200hp, 1,200cc, V4 engine. Now, Norton confirms that news, saying that we will see the limited-production (200 units) machine later this fall. Yay. On the bright side, Norton posted a concept drawing of the new bike to its Facebook page, giving us at least something new to whet our appetites on the new motorcycle. The concept looks very similar to the sketch we saw last year, making today’s new a little bit about nothing. But, our friends at MotoFire report that Norton is still working on a 650cc project, which will debut later this year as well.

Is This the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6?…Nope

Someone is trying to pass off the above photo as the eagerly awaited 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 – unfortunately, it’s a fake. I’m actually surprised this piece of photoshop has some legs, and is making its way around the internet, considering how obvious the forgery. To verify its authenticity, all one would have to do is to compare the above photo with photos of the current generation Yamaha YZF-R1. Contrasting the two, it’s clear that the chassis and exposed parts of the engine are right off the Yamaha YZF-R1 (it’s easiest to see on the swingarm). The real smoking gun though is that the forger used a Yamaha press photo as their base. I was able to find the base photo, which clearly shows that the five-spoke wheels on the alleged R6 are in the exact same ones from a R1 press photo.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1947 Vincent-HRD Series B Rapide Special “Gunga Din”

08/18/2009 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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This 1947 Vincent-HRD Series B Rapide Special, with its 998cc motor, has a special story. Named “Gunga Din”, the bike started out like any other standard Series B Rapide, but was quickly recruited by the factory to showcase new parts, and serve as a publicity test ride bike. The bike also served as the beginning point for bike like the Vincent-HRD Black Shadow and Black Lightning race bikes.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel

08/18/2009 @ 7:00 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel

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The 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel is one of the most innovative motorcycles to be produced by Alfred Scott. Built in Yorkshire, England, the Flying Squirrel cost twice as much as comparable four-stroke sport motorcycles, partly because of the innovative solutions it housed. For instance, Scott employed a unique thermosyphon convection cooling system to lower the temperature on his 596cc two-stroke motor, and would paint the bottom of the motor either green or red for racing or road use, respectively. Pictures and more after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport

08/18/2009 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport

Here we have a 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport, complete with saddle bags. Built from 1925 to 1940, the SS100 was one of the most famous motorcycles to come out of George Brough’s Brough Superior.

Powered by a 980cc v-twin motor from JA Prestwich, each bike came with a signed guarantee that the bike had been timed, and reached over 100 mph over a quarter-mile. Pictures after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1957 Manx Norton Featherbed 40M

08/18/2009 @ 12:46 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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One of the most successful TT racers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Manx Norton dominated the 50cc and 350cc classes. This 350cc Model 40M features a “Featherbed” frame, and was raced in the 1957 Isle of Man TT by Norton Team rider, Bob Keeler. Keeler owned and raced this motorcycle as a privateer racer with factory support from Norton. The bike is now owned by Allan Grimm of Piedmont, California. Pictures after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: The Stig Cruising the Motorcycle Section

08/17/2009 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Some say he never blinks, and that he roams around the woods at night foraging for wolves…

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: Confederate P120 Fighter Combat Official Launch

08/17/2009 @ 3:39 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Asphalt & Rubber spent the weekend in Monterey, drinking flutes of champagne with the rich and marginally famous. Despite rubbing elbows with our eledged betters, we did get to see the first ever showing of motorcycles on the greens at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

As such, there were plenty of motorcycles around the course, and Confederate Motors picked the locale for the public unveiling of their new P120 Fighter Combat. Our invitation to the event must have been lost in the mail, but we still managed to get some photos of the new bike in the flesh.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1979 MV Agusta Magni Superlight up for Auction

08/15/2009 @ 8:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1979 MV Agusta Magni Superlight up for Auction

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We find ourselves down the California Coast this weekend, hobnobbing with the suits down at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Amongst the bevy of tasty four-wheeled vehicles that seem to abound here (who knew?), we found a few motorcycles that we thought would fancy you, our dear reader. First up, is this 1979 MV Agusta Magni Superlight that is up for auction at the MidAmerica Auctions here at the Concours.

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