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.

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…

IOMTT: RL360 Superstock TT Race Results

06/09/2015 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The Superstock TT is an interesting part of the Isle of Man TT. As the name implies, it features liter-class machines, but in a near-stock level of trim. That being said, the speeds attained by the Superstock machines touches near to the highly tuned Superbike machines, with 130+ mph laps being a reality.

The Superstock machines only compete once in the TT fortnight though, whereas there are two Supersport races, and the Superbikes basically get two goes of things, with the Superbike and Senior TT having a staggering overlap in machinery.

With all the weather, the sole chance to run the RL360 Superstock TT was pushed to Tuesday, and was the only race to run today. But, it certainly did its part in providing TT fans with some entertainment.

IOMTT: Guy Martin Will Race Victory’s Electric Bike

06/09/2015 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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In a surprise move last night at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, Guy Martin climbed aboard the Victory Motorcycles electric bike that will race in Wednesday’s SES TT Zero race.

The move came about after Martin’s teammate, William Dunlop, who was also set to race for Victory in the TT Zero, crashed at Laurel Bank during the Superstock practice session yesterday, breaking his ribs in the process. As such, Dunlop will not compete in the rest of the TT races.

Superbike TT from Glen Helen with Tony Goldsmith

06/07/2015 @ 10:31 pm, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on Superbike TT from Glen Helen with Tony Goldsmith

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After a delay of 24 hours due to high winds on the Isle of Man the Superbike TT finally got underway at 2pm on Sunday.

I had decided before this year’s TT that I would photograph the Superbike race from the Glen Helen section. Around 9 miles from the start, Glen Helen is a tight tree lined section that would provide plenty of variety for the six-lap race.

I hope you enjoy the following selection of photos from that excursion.

Trackside Tuesday: 2015 Isle of Man TT Teaser

05/26/2015 @ 1:59 pm, by Tony Goldsmith13 COMMENTS

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It’s hard to believe that another Isle of Man TT is almost upon us — the racing this year has the potential to be the best we’ve ever seen. With all the usual suspects back, the pace at the front is going to be hot.

Will we see the first 133 mph lap of the Mountain Course? Can anyone stop Michael Dunlop’s dominance? Will John McGuinness edge closer to the 26 wins of the legendary Joey Dunlop?

Then of course there’s the question that everyone is fed up of asking, can Guy Martin finally take his first win? This year could be his best chance as he’s arguably got the best machinery he’s ever had at the TT.

Video: Honda Previews the Road Racing Season

05/14/2015 @ 3:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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When it comes to real road racing, the boys on Hondas are always the short-list of whom to beat. Gearing up for the North West 200 this weekend and the rapidly approaching Isle of Man TT, the road racing season is firmly upon us.

Never mind circuits and race tracks, these guys let it all hang out on public roads, with speeds approaching and surpassing 200 mph on some courses. Make no mistake, this is risky business.

Mental preparedness and track knowledge are key, but that doesn’t mean that machine shakedowns are unnecessary. Although the Honda CBR1000RR racing package hasn’t changed much over its eight years of use, HRC has been able to refine the Fireblade to be a keen, and more importantly, a reliable weapon on the roads.

This year, John McGuinness and Conor Cummins will wear the factory HRC livery, as they take on the other top riders. Honda has put together a quick video of the two racers, with their thoughts on the 2015 season. Check it out after the jump.

Victory Entering an Electric Race Bike at Isle of Man TT

05/12/2015 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It looks like we were only partially correct in our news that Brammo would be returning to the Isle of Man TT, as the brand’s sister company, Victory Motorcycles, will in fact be racing an electric entry — one that looks like a rebadged Brammo Empulse RR — in the TT Zero event at the historic road race.

According to its press release, Victory Motorcycles will field a two-rider team, comprised of William Dunlop and Lee Johnston (a photo of “General Lee” testing a Brammo superbike is what initially sparked this news).

While Victory is calling its racing platform a “Victory electric race prototype motorcycle” the chassis and fairings give way to a shape we recognize as the Brammo Empulse RR electric superbike.