Three Rider Opinions on MotoGP vs. WorldSBK

As the sun set on the third day of the Jerez Test, Jonathan Rea hogged the limelight with the second fastest time of the day. With MotoGP bikes sharing the track with World Superbike runners, the story of the day was that Rea spent most of the day leading the “faster” GP boys. The question in the aftermath however was how does this reflect on both championships? Rea was a tenth of a second off the fastest time of the day, set by Hector Barbera. The speed and performance of the Kawasaki rider was hugely impressive, but is this a sign that the production bikes can hold their own, or is it a fortuitous confluence of circumstances?

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.

Rossi Launching Moto2 Team in 2011?

09/22/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

According to MCN, MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi is poised to launch his own Moto2 team for the 2011 season. Rossi is said to be funding the team, with lifelong friend Uccio Salucci acting as team manager. Italian rider Andrea Iannone (currently 3rd in the Moto2 Championship) has been linked to the team, as has chassis designer Suter (how’s that for a star-studded cast?). It’s not clear at this time if Rossi is expected to field one or two machines in the 600cc prototype class.

The Countdown to V-Day

07/29/2010 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.

Silly Season: Capirex to Pramac Ducati?

05/25/2010 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The MotoGP silly season continues, this time with a rumor that’s not about one of the four alien riders. MotoGP veteran Loris Capirossi has long been the rider behind the development of the Suzuki GSV-R in MotoGP, but that hasn’t stopped the lens of paddock gossips from pointing Capirex towards the direction of a satellite Ducati team. More specifically, Capirossi has been linked to talking to the Pramac Ducati team about a seat on a satellite Ducati for 2011.

Silly Season: Italian Press Says Stoner Signed with Honda – Rossi Offered Deal by Ducati

05/11/2010 @ 9:39 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Casey-Stoner-Ducati-confirmed-Estoril-MotoGP

UPDATE: GPOne.com (probably the most reliable source in the Italian Media) has gotten word from Livio Suppo that “no one has signed anything yet”, which probably confirms that Stoner is talking to HRC, but obviously hasn’t made his mind up about anything.

Silly season is officially underway starting today as the Italian press is full of accounts (all penning their source as being from Sportmediaset) that Casey Stoner has signed with the Repsol Honda MotoGP team, with a sub-headline that Valentino Rossi has been offered a two-year contract with Ducati. Sportmediaset cites the deciding reason for Stoner jumping ship as being the Australian rider’s disappointment in how Ducati backed him during his mysterious illness last year.

Despite headlining Stoner’s move, the bulk of their article concerns Rossi’s switch to Ducati, which may be a tip-off on the validity of the news, as the Italian press loves to pair the two marquee names together. We wade through the silly season possibilities further after the jump.

Spotted: What Do a Zero S, Suzuki GSX-R, and Shawn Higbee Have in Common?

05/07/2010 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

UPDATE: It looks like Zero is using Team Agni’s GSX-R based electric motorcycle, which won the inaugural TTXGP last year at the Isle of Man. Picture in the comments posted by our very own John Adamo (skadamo).

They were all at Thunderhill Park Raceway yesterday testing for Team ZeroAgni, that’s what. With a Suzuki GSX-R (600 we’re assuming, but impossible to tell) and a modified Zero S that was sporting the K² logo, the team from Santa Cruz was out getting their lean on with some special help from Shawn Higbee, of AMA privateer fame. The assumption from these findings is that Zero Motorcycles was out pacing the K² Zero S, against the sportbike to see how the two compare. We can only assume that the added presence of Buell-tour-de-force Higbee means the AMA rider has been tapped to pilot ZeroAgni’s race bike at Infineon on May 16th.

Ex-Ducati CEO & Current MV Agusta President Linked to MV Agusta as Possible Buyers

04/30/2010 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Italian newspaper Il Sol 24 Ore is reporting more rumors about MV Agusta divesture and the company’s possible suitors. As we’ve reported already, there’s been some speculation that Paolo Berlusconi might be interested in the Italian brand, but he’s also been linked to another Italian company looking for a home. Now coming out of the woodwork are some new names, with links to Ducati & MV Agusta.

2011 Ducati Monster 796 Confirmed

04/19/2010 @ 4:26 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE 2: Ducati has just informed us that the Monster 796 is being considered an early 2011 model year motorcycle, we’ve update our post to reflect this.

UPDATE: Pricing for the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 will be $9,995 in the USA.

The rumor floodgates were wide-open this weekend about a possible late model entry by Ducati that would see the Italian company add a Monster 796 to its 2010 model lineup. We can now confirm that the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 has been added to the Monster product line, and will fit in-between the 696cc and 1100cc versions of the Monster.

The impetus for this late addition is reportedly because of poor sales in the 1100cc range of Monsters, which has prompted Ducati to further segment the line-up with a middle offering. The Monster is actually Ducati’s best selling line of motorcycle, and the brand is keen to maximize its return on the newly updated design, and is seemingly pinning its hopes on this late entry. Video, photos, and more of the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 below.

Volkswagen Chairman Confirms VW Motorcycles?

03/23/2010 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It’s been our long standing view that Volkswagen entering into the motorcycle realm after it’s 20% stake in Suzuki is purely a work of fiction fabricated by bored journalists. The majority opinion is that Volkswagen acquired an interest in Suzuki (who also makes cars) to gain a better foothold in developing countries where smaller vehicles with smaller displacements are king.

This sentiment hasn’t stopped others from believing that there could be more collaboration between the two marks in making a two-wheeled vehicle, and the latest rumor pegs Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Director of Management of Volkswagen AG, as saying explicitly saying just that…of course, no one actually has him on the record with that statement.

AMA Tips from The Sparrow: Duhamel & Hopper

03/13/2010 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Known only to us as “The Sparrow“, we just got some tips from our insider in the AMA. The Sparrow goes on to tell us that rumors of Miguel Duhamel making a return to AMA racing at Fontana are untrue, and the actual rider listed as “TBA” is instead Tyler Odom. The Sparrow also goes on to say that John Hopkins has been incredibly unhappy with the performance of his GSX-R1000, faulting the motor as having less power than the rest of the field. While indications seem to suggest that’s not the case, Yoshimura has put together a new lump for Hopper that looks to have plenty of juice, but will it pass scrutineering after the races? Continue reading for the full report from The Sparrow.

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List – FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone?

01/28/2010 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

This article takes a doubly interesting turn of events. You may remember that a week ago we brought to you the unveiling of the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike. The HB4, the first time a Honda motor has been in a Bimota in 25 years, was to be campaigned by FB Corse in the first running of the 250GP replacement series, Moto2, but has mysteriously been left out of the Moto2 Provisional race list.

Equally unnerving was the postponement of the FB Corse MotoGP & Moto2 press launch, which was allegedly due to FB Corse boss, Andrea Ferrari, undergoing hand surgery. The timing of that postponement drew some skeptical attention since it was right in the middle of the Hoppergate saga, which saw American rider John Hopkins teetering back and forth between riding the FB Corse MotoGP machine or taking a seat in the AMA Pro Superbike series.

Now with Hopkins making his intent to ride in the AMA clear, the FB Corse MotoGP bike yet to be unveiled, and the Bimota HB4 absentee from the Provisional Moto2 racing list, there are rumors circulating in the American and Italian racing camps that this entire thing is a charade and done for publicity.