MV Agusta Looking to Part Ways with Mercedes-AMG

The story of MV Agusta continues with even more interesting developments, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer seems intent on buying back its shares from Mercedes-AMG, and recapitalizing with new investors. Talking this week to Italy’s Il Giorno, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni said that he is “negotiating a buy-back of shares,” though that might be a task easier said than done for the Italian CEO. This is because MV Agusta’s current financial predicament is due primarily from the company’s massive debt accumulation, which now totals over €40 million. To complicate matters further, some of that debt was secured by the involvement of AMG, and its investment contract stipulates that if AMG doesn’t own 20% or more of MV Agusta then the loaned sum is due immediately.

The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles: Haptic Feedback

We are at an interesting point in time for motorcycles, namely because the technological landscape for the transportation sector is shifting radically. Long-time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will note some of the issues at play here, namely autonomous vehicles, rider aids, and vehicle interconnectivity. Over the next few weeks I want to revisit those items in more depth and detail, with a series that focuses on emerging technologies that are either already permeating into our two-wheeled lifestyle, or will be hitting the motorcycle industry over the next decade or so. But before I tackle the more obvious items on this list, I want to invest some words on a lesser-known technological innovation, which has the potential to be the next, “next big thing” in the motorcycle industry.

You Already Want This Honda Grom Race Bike from HRC

Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well. Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs. To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.

Honda CBR250RR Headlight Spotted in Patents

We are literally marking time until Big Red debuts the Honda CBR250RR, the sportier sibling to the Honda CBR250R, which should rev to the moon and make more power with its two-cylinder engine. We have seen the prototype of the Honda CBR250RR already at trade shows, and the new CBR250RR is definitely on the edgier side of things, which is surprising coming the ever-conservative minds at Honda. How much of the edgy design will remain in the production version has yet to be seen, but we do have our first glimpse of some of the machine. The headlight shape has been filed with European patent offices, which is sort of a weird thing to be reporting on, but it does show insight into where Honda is headed.

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own. This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic. Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction. Time will tell on how this rumor plays out, though there are number of interesting things to consider with a BMW power cruiser.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles. As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride. With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Is BMW Working on 300cc GS Model?

When the BMW G310R arrived, the German brand indicated that the small-displacement street bike would be the first of many model based on the 313cc platform. Now it seems that the first iteration is ready to drop, with news that BMW Motorrad is working on a G310R-based adventure-touer model. According to Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, BMW Motorrad UK’s Director Phil Horton has confirmed that a BMW G310GS model will debut, perhaps in time for the 2017 model year, saying “new models aside, the line-up isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. But there are plenty more bikes to come, including, hopefully in 2017, a G310R GS-style derivative.” The idea of small-displacement ADV machine does mimic what we have been seeing from other brands.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events. The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts. Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Honda Halts Operations at Its Kumamoto Factory After Earthquakes Strike Japan

If you have been following mainstream news, you will know that the Pacific Rim has been active with earthquake activity these past few days. In addition to the devastating movements in Ecuador, Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes as well, two of which have centered on the Kumamoto prefecture of the country. If that names sounds familiar to motorcycle enthusiasts, it is because Kumamoto is Honda’s mothership for motorcycle production. As such, Honda is halting the operations of its Kumamoto factory, thru the rest of this week (ending April 22, 2016). Honda says that its subsequent production plans will be determined according to facility restorations and component supply.

Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened & What Happens Next

In case you missed it, Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati Corse for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP World Championship seasons. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed. We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

At the Laguna Seca World Superbike Race Weekend

07/22/2015 @ 12:05 am, by Andrew KohnComments Off on At the Laguna Seca World Superbike Race Weekend

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A race is more than just a race. This past weekend, both the World Superbike and MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing series came to one of the most fabled tracks in America, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The racing was exciting, yet the crowd was not nearly as big as you would think. Maybe it was the threat of rain. Maybe it was the lack of TV coverage. Or maybe it was the fact that a lot of American riders have never been exposed to motorcycle racing and don’t know what a race weekend is all about.

Do folks think a race weekend is just sitting in the hot sun watching bikes droning around the track in endless, boring circles? Of course it’s not! Sure, there’s lots of racing, and as in any outdoor event, Mother Nature can be a factor, but there is so much more to a race weekend.

Many riders who didn’t grow up as race fans may not realize that a motorcycle race is more than just a race; it’s an event – a gathering of the motorcycling community. It doesn’t matter if you ride a cruiser, a tourer, or a sportbike. A race weekend offers something for everyone.

Ordos International Circuit – China’s Forgotten Race Track

07/01/2015 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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In Inner Mongolia, Ordos City is known better to the Western world as “China’s Ghost City” – a name that came about after a report by Al Jazeera and an article by Time magazine, both of which featured the newly built Chinese prefecture-level city, in all its failure.

The name comes about because of the massive construction projects taking place in Ordos, and the essentially non-existent population that lives in them.

This situation even more true in the Kangbashi New Area, where there is a goal to house one million residents (the actual current capacity is 300,000), though only 50,000 to 100,000 people claim the city as their home.

Many words have been written about Ordos, its buildings, its failures, and its future, though little has been said about the Ordos International Circuit.

MotoGP Locksdown Motorland Aragon Through 2016

03/02/2011 @ 4:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The planets must have aligned oddly in the past 24hrs, as there has been an over-abundance of news about motorcycle racing venues in the past day or so. In addition to the reports that Donington Park has gotten the go-ahead to host the WSBK European round at the end of this month, we’ve also gotten word that the Spanish track of Jerez has hit financial troubles, which could jeopardize the track on MotoGP’s calendar.

A contrast to that latter report, Dorna and Motorland Aragon (you know, that other Spanish track) have announced that Aragon will remain a permanent stop on the GP calendar through the year 2016. While MotoGP fans aren’t likely keen on hearing that Spain will account for nearly 25% of the stops on the GP calendar, the 2010 Aragon GP was immensely popular last year, attracting 70,000 spectators to the otherwise remote location.

Ferrari vs. Ducati: The Great Debate Continues

11/29/2010 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Motor Trend has weighed in on the great debate: which is faster, a car or a bike? Wanting to explore the issue with some style, the car mag proved prints isn’t dead, and took a Ferrari 458 and Ducati 1198S Superbike to the track to see which Rosso Corsa was fastest. With a quarter-mile drag and a lap around the Streets of Willow, MT has its definitive answer on which is the fastest Italian, but we imagine the answer to what form of transportation is ultimately faster will remain an open debate for a while longer. The video is after the jump, stop watching at the 8:22 mark if you don’t want to hear a bunch of excuses being made.

Motorland Aragon to Host World Superbike

05/19/2010 @ 6:23 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

You may remember Motorland Aragon as the fourth Spanish-based track that was added to the MotoGP schedule after the Hungarian GP was canceled for a second time in two years. Set to play host to MotoGP on September 19th of this year, the Spanish track has also just gotten the nod to host World Superbike with its premiere facilities. However WSBK is taking a different tack from MotoGP, and instead of running two Spanish stops, Motorland Aragon will replace Valencia on the World Superbike calendar for 2011 (and on through 2013).

Imola Gets FIM Approval – Ready to Race

05/14/2010 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Imola Gets FIM Approval – Ready to Race

The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, better known to many simply as the Imola race track, has received approval by the FIM this week, and will be allowed to host FIM sanctioned events this year. This is good news for the Italian track, as it’s slated to play host for World Superbike testing June 28th-30th, and is hosting a WSBK race the week of September 26th, which would have caused a huge disruption in the WSBK schedule if the facility hadn’t gotten the organization’s rubber stamp.

Arizona Motorsports Park Wins Crucial Legal Battle to Re-Open Race Track in the Desert

09/20/2009 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Arizona Motorsports Park, the $6 million, 155-acre, 16-turn, 2.23-mile racecourse outside of Glendale, Arizona, has won a crucial legal verdict from the Arizona Court of Appeals. The appellate court has ruled that the race track detrimentally relied on a permit provided by the county to build their facility, and is therefore entitled to continue using its property for racing events.

Laguna Seca Added to Google Street View

09/10/2009 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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In Google’s attempt to map every piece of asphalt on planet Earth, they have begun to take their Street View service to the race tracks of America. First on their list, and our personal favorite, is Laguna Seca. Check it out after the jump, you’ll catch a few ALMS cars in the shots, as they flanked the Google Street View car as it went around the course.

SE Service Harrier on the Race Track

08/28/2009 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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After taking second place the 2009 European Championship Of Custom Bike Building, Sweden’s SE Service immediately brought their radical BMW custom to the race track to see how she goes when not standing still. The bike’s styling may be too far from the norm for some riders, but at the heart of it is a bevy of technological goodness. Track footage and pictures after the jump.

Google Earth Reveals Coolest Driveway Ever

02/21/2009 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Located outside of Lakeland, Florida, this one speaks for itself.

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