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).

Photos from the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

08/16/2012 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber is already off the mountain, and onto Indianapolis, but I am still wrapping up my coverage of the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The second-oldest motorsport race in the United States, Pikes Peak gets a bit less fanfare than America’s oldest race, the Indianapolis 500 (apropos to my current locale). In general, the hill climb is a campy affair that is full of privateers, with that statement being even more relevant in the motorcycle class. More of a car event, than a bike one, it is the two-wheeled riders who are the real heroes in my mind, as stakes for any crash on the mountain is met with higher stakes, as well as trees, jagged rocks, and long drops.

Ducati is ever-present at the mountain, and brings with it another level of media attention for the motorcycles. The hope this year was that the Italian brand would not continue to race itself to the clouds, as Triumph was expected to arrive in force as well, with rider Joe Kopp giving Carlin Dunne and Greg Tracy a run for their money. This hope failed to materialize, with the 1205cc class hosting four Ducatis in total: the two backed Multistradas, as well as two Streetfighter entries. Now with the fully-paved course to the top, there was a lot of speculation regarding what sort of entries we would see this year in the motorcycle classes, though PPIHC put the kibosh on that fairly quickly, slotting the proper road bikes in the “Exhibition Powersports” class.

Watching the bikes file through, one after another, during the practice sessions, it is clear Pikes Peak is a still a dirt bike race masquerading itself as a road course event. Supermotos and flat trackers rule the entry list; but more so, it is the style of the riders that gives it all away. Foot out with the bike pushed down and under was the status quo, with the occasional rider coming through with a knee out and the bike leaned over. I will probably explore this idea further later, but you can’t help but feel that Pikes Peak is in a transitional state. Stymied in its history, it will be curious to see if the event can evolve into something else. The road certainly has.

2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Race Bike

08/09/2012 @ 7:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Ducati is in Colorado this weekend, taking part in the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The second oldest motorsport race in the United States (the first being the Indy 500), 2012 is the first year that the Race to the Clouds will take place on a fully-paved road course, which is sure to bring a new chapter in this historic race.

Asphalt & Rubber made the great trek out to Colorado (braving the far-too-early mornings), and we are here mostly to heckle our boy Carlin Dunne, who won the race last year in his rookie debut (setting a course record no less). Riding with the Ducati Spider Grips Team this year, Dunne will be joining Greg Tracy, as the pair will again ride the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S up to the 14,000+ foot finish line.

Ducati hopes to continue its dominance on the mountain this year, and the Ducati has rolled out another iteration of its Multistrada 1200 S race bike, which we gushed over last year. It is hard to believe that the previous bike feels a bit dated now (though, we still wouldn’t mind a Pikes Peak edition MTS 1200 in our garage), but this year’s machine brings added refinery to the race bike, as well as an understated and classy, yet beautiful paint job.

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2011 – The Ducati Story

02/02/2012 @ 11:59 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Grab some popcorn, because this video from Ducati North America is over 14 minutes long. Telling the story of Ducati at the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), DNA has put together a great video that really captures how special the racing is at Pikes Peak, and how gorgeous the scenery is of the Colorado Mountains. With Santa Barbara Ducati’s Carlin Dunne winning the overall motorcycle category on his dealership’s Multistrada 1200 demo model, Alexander Smith from the Spider Grips Ducati Team made it a double podium for Ducati in the 1205cc class.

If you’re new to racing at Pikes Peak, or wanted a quick re-cap of last year’s race, Ducati’s video pretty accurately sums up racing on the mountain and the anxiety around last year’s race. A&R was on-hand at the 2011 PPIHC (cameo at the 12:00 mark), and I can still remember the collective breath that was held while we waited for news about Greg, and the jubilation of our good friend Carlin setting an outright record, on his rookie outing no less. If you haven’t been, you owe it to yourself to see Pikes Peak first-hand.

Ducati Announces Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Team with Carlin Dunne & Greg Tracy

02/02/2012 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ducati has announced its factory team for the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), and the Italian company has secured the services of last-year’s winner and Rookie of the Year Carlin Dunne as well as six-time PPIHC winner Greg Tracy. Ducati has also partnered with the Spider Grips team, who will help prepare the teams Ducati Multistrada 1200 for the “Race to the Clouds” on July 8th.

For 2012, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be fully-paved to the top of the mountain, which will surely see the speeds of competitors increase, and lap times drop on the 12.42 mile long course that ends at 14,110 feet. Holding the outright fastest motorcycle lap time on the mountain, Santa Barbara Ducati’s Carlin Dunne is eager to defend his title from last year, as well as his status as the fastest motorcyclist on the mountain.

Joe Kopp & The Fastest Triumph at Pikes Peak

12/19/2011 @ 12:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

As 2011 winds down, I’ve been going through some of my folders of old material that I wanted to publish earlier this year, but for some reason or another the article didn’t grace the front page of Asphalt & Rubber. One such story was the fastest Triumph ever to run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), which in 2011 was a Triumph Speed Triple raced by professional flat track star Joe Kopp.

If I were to say politics were at play with Kopp campaigning the Team Latus Triumph Speed Triple in the exhibition class of the PPIHC (along with Chip Yate’s electric superbike), then surely the metaphor would extend to the redrawing of the district lines at Pikes Peak, and may or may not have had something to do with the Ducati-dominated 1200cc class, where surely the Triumph properly belonged.

Read in between the lines as you will with that explanation of events, but at the end of the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Kopp, on his Triumph, was the overall second-fastest rider up The Mountain, winning the exhibition class in the process. Meanwhile Ducati, the official motorcycle of PPIHC, maintained its 1-3 double podium in the 1200cc class, which was lead by rookie rider, and A&R hetero-life partner Carlin Dunne.

Pikes Peak to be Fully Paved by 2012

07/18/2011 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Probably the worst kept secret on the mountain, the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will occur on a fully-paved race course. Responding to legal and safety pressures, Pikes Peak has slowly been paving its dirt sections, which during the hill climb week made for spectacular plumes of dust and breath-taking slides from cars and bikes alike. With under 3 miles of dirt section currently remaining on the course, Pikes Peak has slowly been adding more asphalt sections over the past few years, which in-turn have been a major contributing factor to the hill climb seeing records smashed across virtually all classes each year.

While the remaining dirt section resides in a lower portion of the race course (between mile markers 10 & 13), which is relatively safer than the higher elevation sections (do NOT look over the edge), Pikes Peak has been under pressure to increase the safety of the mountain, adding guardrails and paving dirt sections. Even in its current form, our initial impression of the course was that there were seriously risky corners that we couldn’t imagine taking at speed, let alone with a dirt surface.

Chip Yates’s Track Notes from Pikes Peak

06/30/2011 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The course for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is 12.42 miles long, includes 156 turns, and goes from 9,390 ft at the starting line to 14,110 feet at the finish. Learning the course can take years, mastering it even longer, and considering that many of the higher elevation turns have sheer drop-offs with no guard rails, mistakes are not an option. To keep all of the turns straight, and to come up to speed as quickly as possible for his rookie year on Pikes Peak, Chip Yates constructed a crib sheet of notes on Pikes Peak.

With the actual notes sheet about four feet long and two feet wide, Chip’s track notes are more like conquistador’s map to the summit, and from what he tells us…he can redraw the whole thing from scratch, blind-folded, while jumping out of an airplane with not parachute (well, maybe he can just draw and annotate the whole thing from scratch). Check out Chip’s notes on racing to the clouds after the jump, and click the photo for the life-size version that aided him in his double-record run.

On-Board Chip Yates’s Electric Superbike at Pikes Peak

06/28/2011 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Chip Yates claimed two records at the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: the most powerful motorcycle ever to race on the mountain, with 241hp, and the fastest electric motorcycle ever to finish the 12.42 mile climb and its 156 turns. Finishing with a time of 12:50.094, Yates not only smashed the previous electric motorcycle record by over four minutes, but also raced to the top of Pikes Peak with a very respectable time on a motorcycle, even for a rookie.

In the video you can see how much time Chip loses in the dirt section (he was officially the 97th fastest out of 112 racers in that section), though on the paved sections showed true speed (9th fastest overall on the first section of asphalt). With Pikes Peak to be completely paved for its 90th running in 2012, Yates and his crew will have a leg-up on the competition for further dropping the mountain’s fastest pace, and for showing that electrics can compete, and even best, their internal combustion engine counterparts. Click pas the jump to see Chip’s record run on the SWIGZ.com Electric Superbike.

PPIHC: Carlin Dunne Smashes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Motorcycle Record – Declared Rookie of the Year

06/28/2011 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber spent the last week waking up at 2am everyday to muster up to the staging grounds for the 89th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and upon arriving at the second oldest running race in the United States (the Indy 500 being the oldest), we were surprised to see our old friend Carlin Dunne, owner of Ducati Santa Barbara, pitting in the motorcycle paddock with a Ducati Multistrada 1200 race bike.

Now, we’ve always known that Carlin was a wicked fast rider, as this humbled author recalls that at his last track day with Dunne just a year ago, the 28-year-old dirt and street racer lapped him about every third lap at Big Willow. Despite this fact, the hard part has always been describing to other people how fast Dunne truly is, that is until now.

Riding Pikes Peak for the very first time, Carlin Dunne not only stood at the pole position on Sunday’s race to the clouds, and not only did the Santa Barbara native also win the checkered flag in the 1205cc motorcycle class, but the Desmo Devil himself dropped some two-wheeled knowledge on Pikes Peak when he set the outright fastest time ever for a motorcycle on the fabled mountain road and its 156 turns.

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak – Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles

06/27/2011 @ 9:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com crew were on hand at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past week, racing the team’s 240+ hp electric motorcycle. An event that highlights the advantages of electrics over internal combustion engines, Pikes Peak saw not only the most powerful motorcycle ever to race its 156 turns, but also saw its electric motorcycle record time fall under Chip’s throttle hand. Blowing the previous record of 16:55.849 set by John Scollon out of the water, Yates posted a respectable under time of 12:50.094, which would put him well above the median of the super-fast Supermoto 450 class, and fourth in the heavyweight 1205cc class.

Pleased with his result, Yates was hindered by the dirt section and nearly 600 lbs motorcycle. Still, the up-beat competitor views the 89th annual hill climb as paying his dues for when Pikes Peak becomes fully-paved for its 90th running in 2012. “I felt bad for the fans that watched me through the dirt section. They saw an electric superbike going 1 mph around the hairpins in the dirt,” admitted Yates to A&R. “After the dirt section though, it’s called Glen Cove, it goes paved again, and there’s some tight twisties were I can kind of hold my own.”