Ride Review: 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800

It seemed when MV Agusta debuted only a solitary machine at the 2015 EICMA show, the MV Agusta Brutale 800, with less power, more weight, and subtle design revision, that the Varese-based company had taken a step backwards from its forward progress. Now that we have had the opportunity to ride the machine in Málaga, Spain – we can see that is not the case. The new Brutale 800 signals an elevation of MV Agusta, from a brand with a shiny veneer and little beneath the surface, to a motorcycle company that can not only tug on the heartstrings of our moto-lust, but can also pique our more reasonable senses into seeing the substance beyond the glossy paint and subtle lines. Quite simply put, the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is the best machine to come from Varese.

Opinion: Why the Rossi vs. Marquez Controversy Isn’t Going Away in MotoGP, Any Time Soon

If the Movistar Yamaha launch at Barcelona made one thing clear, it is that the feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez will be just as bitter in 2016 as it was in 2015. In Barcelona, Rossi once again repeated the litany of charges he leveled against Marc Márquez at the end of last season. Márquez had decided early in the season he would try to stop Rossi from winning the title, had played with Rossi at Phillip Island, done far worse at Sepang, then stayed behind Lorenzo at Valencia to hand him the title. For Valentino Rossi, nothing has changed since Valencia 2015.

Ducati draXter Concept Debuts in Verona

Ducati is at this year’s Motor Bike Expo in Verona, and it has a bevy of concepts and customs it wants to show the world. The Italian brand’s trio of Sixty2 Scrambler concepts didn’t really spark our engine, but the Ducati draXter Concept is certainly of note and worthy of further scrutiny. The Ducati XDiavel was Bologna’s big reveal at EICMA this year, and while the cruiser model wasn’t our cup of tea, we might have to change our tune with this decked-out version of the machine. Ducati says that the draXter model interprets the XDiavel from a “sports” point-of-view, and the modifications made to the machine certainly do a good job of connoting a bike that leaps from the line.

KTM Made Over €1 Billion in Revenue in 2015

To put it succinctly, KTM is crushing it. In 2015, the Austrian company posted another banner year, which is nothing terribly new from a European motorcycle brand; but in just a few five short years, KTM has addd over 100,000 motorcycles to its volume of production. As such, the Austrian sold 180,801 KTM and Husqvarna motorcycles in 2015, making €1.02 billion in the process. This is a 14% increase over KTM’s sales in 2014, a 18% increase in revenue, and a 26% in income (€95 million, EBIT). This also makes 2015 the first time that KTM has exceeded a billion euros in revenue, and the fifth year in a row that KTM sales have increased. According to KTM, this makes them the fastest growing motorcycle company in the world.

The 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1 Is Ready for WSBK Duty

Yamaha is headed back to the World Superbike paddock, and it is not taking any half-measures in doing so. As such, the Japanese manufacturer has retained the talents of Sylvain Guintoli (World Superbike Champion, 2014) and Alex Lowes (British Superbike Champion, 2013), with the highly regarded Crescent Racing running the factory-backed team. Officially debuting the team today in Spain, along with Yamaha’s other racing programs, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team should be a potent package for the pinnacle of production motorcycle racing, and we expect strong results from them, right off the bat. This is because the new Yamaha YZF-R1 had an entire year of honing at the national level.

Super Hi-Res Photos of the 2016 Yamaha YZR-M1

Debuting today in Spain, the Yamaha Racing factory MotoGP team took the wraps up the 2016 Yamaha YZR-M1 race bike, and debuted its team, which features riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Seemingly, not much has changed to the Yamaha YZR-M1, though the bike now features 17″ wheels and Michelin tires. Yamaha’s spec-sheet (full listing, after the jump) is sparse on specifics as usual, and thus is vague on its details – horsepower is listed simply as “over 240hp” for instance. Indeed, most of the changes to the Yamaha YZR-M1 reside beneath the fairings, with perhaps the most important changes coming to the M1’s ECU, which is now a spec Magneti Marelli unit that runs the unified team software.

Is Honda Preparing a Major Engine Upgrade for 2016?

It is no secret that Honda are struggling with the engine for the RC213V MotoGP. HRC have been making the engine ever more aggressive for the past three years, but in 2015, they finally went too far. The power delivery of the RC213V was too difficult to contain, even with Honda’s electronics, and HRC suffered their worst season in MotoGP since 2010. Things had not been looking much better for 2016 either. The engine Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez tested at Valencia and Jerez last November was at best a marginal improvement, with a bit more power at the bottom end, but still delivered in a very aggressive manner. Added to this, HRC have had problems with the new unified software which is compulsory for 2016.

Ducati Sold 54,800 Bikes in 2015 – Another Record

As expected from earlier sales reports, Ducati Motor Holding is posting a banner year for 2015. The Italian motorcycle maker says that it sold 54,800 bikes last year, a 9,683 unit (+22%) increase over the number of bikes sold in 2014. Helping break the 50,000 units barrier, the Ducati Scrambler line accounted for virtually all of Ducati’s sales growth in 2015, with over 16,000 Scrambler models sold worldwide. As we have reported before, this paints an interesting picture of what is going on behind Borgo Panigale’s walls. At a national level, we already saw the report that Ducati was on track for strong growth in the USA last year. Ducati now reports that Ducati grew by 14% in the USA for 2015. In Europe though, sales were even stronger, with the Italian market up 53%, the UK up 37%, Germany up 24%, and France up 22%.

Erik Buell Racing Sold at Third Auction, Will Live On Again

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet today. Much like the spirit of its riders, Erik Buell Racing refuses to go quietly into that good night. After two failed receivership auctions, the brand has now been acquired for $2.05 million via a third auction held Wednesday, and seems set for another revival. The winning party of this latest auction is the same winner from the second auction, Liquid Asset Partners – the same company that liquidated Buell Motorcycles when it was shutdown by Harley-Davidson, which makes for some interesting trivia. Walworth County Circuit Judge Phillip Koss approved the winning bid today, despite a similar bid from Bruce Belfer, the first auction winner.

A Turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa Really Should Happen

I have been trying to avoid this story, mostly because I think it is a pipe dream concocted from a dubious source, but the word circulating through the interwebs is that Suzuki is working on a turbocharged Hayabusa motorcycle, in the 1,500cc territory, for the 2017 model year. While we are not confident about this exact rumor, we know two things for certain: 1) that Suzuki is finally ready to breathe some life into the GSX-R line; and 2) that the Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa is in desperate need of an update. The first of the new GSX-R sport bikes is the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike, though we can expect to see all-new iterations of the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750. There is even word of a GSX-R250/300 in the works.

Carl Sorensen Has Died While Practicing at Pikes Peak

06/25/2015 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Tragic news comes to us today from Colorado, as racer Carl Sorensen died during today’s practice session for the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

With the motorcycles on the top section of the mountain, Carl crashed in a fast left-hand turn, known to have a bump on the racing line, near the summit.

Carl’s last run would have been one of the final runs up the course for the day, as the bikes were closing-in on their end time. Conditions reported to Asphalt & Rubber were that it was very cold at the Devil’s Playground staging area, with the road thawing from a measured 32°F to 42°F by the end of the sessions.

Thursday marks the third day of sanctioned practice for the motorcycles entered in Sunday’s racing event, with qualifying being tomorrow, on the lower section of the course (Pikes Peak practice sessions are divided into three course segments, with one motorcycle group and two car groups rotating through the course during practice week.

Familiar with the PPIHC race course, Carl finished last year’s hillclimb an impressive 16th overall, and 10th in the competitive “Open” class on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. For this year’s race, he made his move into the middleweight class, riding on a Ducati 848 Superbike.

A loyal A&R reader, and an avid motorcycle racer, Carl is survived by his wife and son, and will be sorely missed by all his family, friends, and racing compatriots. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by Carl’s passing.

Senior Race Day at the Isle of Man TT with Tony Goldsmith

06/12/2015 @ 6:16 pm, by Tony Goldsmith6 COMMENTS

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For the final day of racing at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, and I headed to the north of the Island, as I had a brief to photograph the Lightweight race from the Ginger Hall section in Sulby. Just after the Sulby Straight, the Ginger Hall is very popular with fans, mainly due to the pub that gives the section its name.

After the Lightweight race, I drove the few miles to Ramsey and to the spectacular Milntown jump. From there, it was a brief stop at Parliament Square in the center of Ramsey before driving back to the Grandstand for the podium celebrations.

Above: John McGuinness plants a kiss on the Senior TT trophy.

IOMTT: PokerStars Senior TT Race Results

06/12/2015 @ 1:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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If there is one event everyone gets excited about at the Isle of Man TT, it’s the Senior TT. Often called “the blue-ribbon event” at the Isle of Man, the Senior TT is not a race for the elderly, like the name suggests, but instead it features the biggest, meanest, machines on the road course.

Most of the PokerStars Senior TT grid is filled with bikes from the Superbike TT, as the classes have a great deal of overlap, but the Senior TT usually has one or two special machines, who fall outside of the Superbike rules — the Norton SG4 is one of those machines.

All the TT riders want to win the Senior TT, and it fittingly is the final race of the Isle of Man TT, which only adds to excitement.

With Friday being drama-filled at the Isle of Man TT, the Senior TT was no different.

IOMTT: Bennetts Lightweight TT Race Results

06/12/2015 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Bennetts Lightweight TT Race Results

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The final day of racing at the Isle of Man TT is usually set by two extremes: the “beginner class” Lightweight TT and the blue-ribbon event, the Senior TT.

The rules for the Bennetts Lightweight TT are pretty simple, bikes with two-cylinders, no bigger than 650cc, and the riders must perform at least one pit stop during the three-lap race.

This means that pit stop strategy is king for the Lightweight riders, and the shuffling of positions adds a bit of drama to the usually tight racing already found on the course.

The man to beat in the Lightweight TT class is Ryan Farquhar, one of the top privateer riders at the TT (if not, the top privateer). Farquhar is responsible for tuning and building many of the top Kawasaki race bikes on the Lightweight TT grid as well, though other brands and builders have started to find competitiveness in the class.

Not to spoil the results for the Senior TT, but Friday would see records drop at the Isle of Man, and we start that trend off first in the Bennetts Lightweight TT.

Hillier Sets 206 MPH Sulby Record on a Kawasaki H2R

06/11/2015 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The Sulby Straight is the fastest part of the Isle of Man TT course, and when the conditions are right, it’s not uncommon for the big Superbike and Senior TT bikes to break the 200 mph mark on the nearly mile-long stretch.

It is, however, a bit uncommon for riders to reach the 200 mph mark during the TT’s parade laps, but don’t tell that to James Hillier. “Parading” the supercharged Kawasaki H2R around the Mountain Course, Hillier set an outright top speed record down the Sulby Straight, with an official speed of 206 mph.

Wednesday Race Day from Keppel Gate by Tony Goldsmith

06/11/2015 @ 3:15 pm, by Tony Goldsmith3 COMMENTS

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We were treated to the best conditions of the 2015 Isle of Man TT for Wednesday’s racing. With that in mind, I decided to head for the hills and to Keppel Gate/Kate’s Cottage. Around three miles from the finish of the lap, Keppel Gate marks the point the riders start to descend from the mountain section.

As I’ve already mentioned the conditions were great with very little wind and warm sunshine. With the perfect conditions came the photographers worse nightmare, heat haze. I will therefore use that excuse for any pictures that look a little soft.

Above: The hard working volunteer marshalls at Kate’s Cottage, without them there would be no racing.

IOMTT: Colin’s TT Blog – I’m Hooked & I’ll Be Back

06/11/2015 @ 1:08 am, by Colin Evans1 COMMENT

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A world traveler on two-wheels, Asphalt & Rubber reader and good friend Colin Evans is attending his first Isle of Man TT this year. We asked him to share his perspective on the trip, as both someone new to the Isle of Man, but also as a veteran of the world and riding motorcycles. Our hope is that it will be an informative, yet different, perspective than your typical coverage of the IOMTT. Please enjoy! -Jensen

Sadly I had to leave before the end of the Isle of Man TT festival but, I admit it: I’m addicted and I’ll definitely be back. But why? It’s just a motorbike race and there are lots of motorbike races that don’t require booking bloody ferry tickets a bloody year in advance.

So what’s so special that brings people back time after time after time?

IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 Results

06/10/2015 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 Results

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In addition to the TT Zero race, Wednesday at the 2015 Isle of Man TT played host to Race 2 of the Monster Energy Supersport TT. Despite the weather that had played havoc during the practice week, conditions for the second Supersport TT were perfect.

As such, the fans were out in force to see who would grab the checkered flag. Bruce Anstey had shown himself capable of winning, taking the RST Superbike TT, and of course Ian Hutchinson has been the talk of the TT.

Generally not a top pick in the supersport class, John McGuinness has been off his pace this year, though coming off the TT Zero win, he certainly seemed on point Wednesday.

Reversing his decision to sit out the second supersport race, Michael Dunlop lined up on Glencrutchery Road, and certainly cannot be counted out of a solo-class race, especially one on a 600cc machine.

IOMTT: SES TT Zero Race Results

06/10/2015 @ 4:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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It might be the shortest event during the TT fortnight, but the TT Zero packs the more technology and development than the other TT races combined. Every year, the electric race bikes make leaps of progress in their pace, and for 2015 the unofficial mark to beat was the 120 mph barrier.

Team Mugen seemed close to that mark during the practice sessions, with John McGuinness posting a timed 118 mph lap. With Bruce Anstey already a race winner from the Superbike TT, and McPint always looking good on the Shinden race bike, the duo was heavily favored to win.

This year’s TT Zero also sees the return of Brammo to the Isle of Man, disguised as the Victory Racing team.

Victory was originally slotted to have Lee Johnston and William Dunlop as its riders, but Dunlop’s crash during the Superstock race meant his TT racing was over for this year. Luckily, his Tyco BMW teammate, Guy Martin, was available and keen to ride the electrics, and thus substituted for the injured Dunlop.

Other entries include Saroléa and Saietta, as well as the university teams from Brunel, Kingston, and Nottingham.

Video: Ian Hutchinson Gives Michael Dunlop a Surprise

06/09/2015 @ 4:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The Isle of Man TT is a time trial event, meaning that riders are ultimately competing against the clock, not necessarily against the other riders on the course.

Usually when a rider has caught another rider on the course, it means one of them overcame an initial 10 second separation, and thus is considerably faster than the other.

The general protocol then is to let the faster rider through. This benefits the faster rider, who clearly has a superior pace to the slower rider. But, it also benefits the slower rider, who can get a tow from the faster rider, and benefit from their added confidence on the course.

As such, it’s rare to see riders get too close to each other on the Snaefell Mountain Course. Then again…this is motorcycle racing, and these are motorcycle racers…