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).

Solidarity.

03/17/2011 @ 4:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: A Man with a Million Things to Ponder

03/14/2011 @ 3:57 pm, by Scott Jones3 COMMENTS

Jorge Lorenzo has his hands full in 2011. With his stylized JL #1 replacing last year’s 99 on his Yamaha M1, Lorenzo wants to keep up the momentum with which he swept the 2010 season. But as the official tests have made clear, repeating in the style of the man he both dislikes, and wants to be, will be prove a difficult task indeed. After the first night of the final test in Qatar, Lorenzo managed the fifth best time, four tenths behind Dani Pedrosa, and nearly three tenths behind the man everyone fears, Casey Stoner.

Stoner only put in 20 hot laps (32 total) and managed second on the time sheet. Lorenzo did 60 total laps, but had one impressive series of low 1:57s and high 1:56s after another. That consistency just may be the key to fending off the competition over the long haul if he can make 2011 as mistake-free as 2010. The lone star on JL’s new 1 logo is eerily reminiscent of his teammate, Texan Ben Spies, who managed to creep ahead of Lorenzo to demote the Spaniard to 5th on the evening. There is no shortage of riders who are likely to make Lorenzo’s amazing season in 2010 very tough to replicate.

Photo of the Week: Sunday Night Lights

03/07/2011 @ 12:30 pm, by Scott Jones1 COMMENT

With the MotoGP season about to begin, all eyes are on Rossi and what he and Jeremy Burgess have been able to accomplish with the Ducati GP11. Will Valentino be thinking of his glory days under the lights on his beloved Yamaha M1? This image, from 2009, shows Valentino in peak form as he began his final championship season with Yamaha. Though Casey Stoner won by almost eight seconds, Rossi began his title chase with a strong second in the first ever Monday night race after a rare desert rain storm ruined the Sunday night schedule.

In this photo Rossi’s bike wears the Forza Abruzzo logo on its tail section, representing Rossi’s contribution to the relief effort to help L’Aquila recover from a devastating earthquake that struck the city on April 6th, 2009. Of all the bikes braking for Turn 1 after Losail’s long front straight, Rossi’s showed the brightest brake discs, glowing hot like fire in the desert.

Photo of the Week: Ducati Meccanica

02/28/2011 @ 10:34 am, by Scott Jones4 COMMENTS

As the Ducati Cup, also know as World Superbike, enters the 2011 season, the grid looks odd without a presence many have taken for granted for several decades, a factory Ducati team. While Ducati does have Valentino Rossi on its prototype GP11 this year, the Xerox WSBK team is no more, leaving others to defend Ducati’s honor in the series. This weekend at Philip Island, Carlos Checa rode his Althea Ducati to pole and a double victory, dominating the weekend. Though the Bologna factory may not be present as an official team entry, Ducati’s racing heritage appears well represented in World Superbike for 2011.

Caption This Photo: The Secret Origin of the Funky Chicken

02/23/2011 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: Five Star Rating

02/21/2011 @ 8:54 am, by Scott Jones7 COMMENTS

2010 World Superbike Champion Max Biaggi will be adding a fifth star to his leathers in 2011, the existing four representing his previous world titles. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, four of his five titles have been on Aprilia machines, the first four being consecutive 250cc GP Championships between 1994 and 1997.

Max has re-signed with Aprilia for another two years and will begin his title defense next weekend when the WSBK season kicks off at Philip Island. The above photo is from the Miller Motorsports Park round in 2010, where Max won twice after Carlos Checa’s Ducati quit while in comfortable leads in both races.

Photo of the Week: Trail Braking

02/14/2011 @ 9:05 am, by Scott Jones5 COMMENTS

Taking over Valentino Rossi’s factory Yamaha seat, multiple AMA Superbike Champion, 2010 WSBK Champion, and 2011 MotoGP Rookie of the Year Ben Spies will have the same equipment as reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. Given how well Spies did on the satellite Tech3 Yamaha in 2010, the factory bike and a year of experience could mean the difference between being the “Best of the Rest” and the “Big Four” becoming the Big Five.

Photo of the Week: Game Face

02/07/2011 @ 7:57 am, by Scott JonesComments Off on Photo of the Week: Game Face

With the 2011 MotoGP season right around the corner, there are several big questions waiting to be answered. The biggest is how Valentino Rossi will manage with the Ducati GP11. Last year Rossi won the season opener at Losail after Stoner crashed out of the lead, and was pleased to have what would become his final year with Yamaha off to a good start.

But his broken leg at Mugello put him out of the Championship running as rival Jorge Lorenzo rode the bike Rossi had developed to the title. Rossi’s challenge in 2011 is formidable if he is going to reclaim the premiere class championship, and go down in the record books as having done so with three different factories. He has a lot to think about before the lights come on in Qatar.

For Hire.

02/02/2011 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: In Wheelies We Trust

01/31/2011 @ 12:37 pm, by Scott Jones3 COMMENTS

MotoGP isn’t the only season about to get under way, and 2010 AMA Superbike champ Josh Hayes will trade his #4 for a #1 on his Graves Yamaha, as he sets out to defend the first title not owned by a Suzuki in…well, nearly too long to count after the dominance of Spies and Mladin.

Hayes was the fastest superbike at the recent weather-plagued tire test at Daytona, but he is likely to face some good competition in 2011, from a slew of experienced Suzuki riders, including Tommy Hayden, Blake Young, Ben Bostrom, Roger Hayden, Chris Ulrich, and 600cc star Martin Cardenas. Add to the suspense veteran Larry Pegram on a BMW instead of his Ducati, and Eric Bostrom on a Kawasaki, and there should be plenty to watch here at home in the AMA.