2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto, for France Only

America might have invented supermoto racing, but the sport’s largest support base easily comes now from that other side of the Atlantic – more specifically, from France. So, it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that Honda’s French importer Superboost makes a special supermoto version of the Honda CRF450 for the French market. For the 2017 model year, the Honda CRF450 Supermoto follows that changes made to Big Red’s 450cc dirt bike, which notably includes the return of fork springs (goodbye air forks), an electric starter, and down-draft fuel injection. Basically a kit that is added at the importer level, the 2017 Honda CRF450 Supermoto lineup has three models, building off the CRF450R (€11,299), CRF450RX (€10,999), and CRF450X dirt bike (€10,999), with each getting their own taste of the supermoto treatment.

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.

MV Agusta Rivale by Luca Bar Design

02/28/2012 @ 2:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Luca Bar must be in his lab cranking out designs, because the talented young Italian motorcycle designer has rendered up the heavily rumored and eagerly awaited MV Agusta Rivale. Based on the 675cc three-cylinder engine found in the soon-to-be-delivered MV Agusta F3 and the soon-to-be-unveiled MV Agusta Brutale 675, the MV Agusta Rivale is expected to be a rival (see what we did there?) to the Ducati Hypermotard 796.

Considering that MV Agusta is expected to unveil the Brutale 675 at EICMA later this year, we would expect to see the Rivale break cover in 2013 as a 2014 model. The fact that we haven’t see prototypes of the bike “spied” out in the wild also lends itself to this theory, though the Italian company has reportedly already trademarked the “Rivale” name in foreign markets. Taking what we know about the MV Agusta’s design philosophy with the F3 and Brutale 675, Luca has rendered the shape he imagines the MV Agusta Rivale to take.

Call Your Mother Because Here is the Ultimate Ducati 1199 Panigale Photo Gallery

02/17/2012 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Ducati has been hogging the news the past few weeks, thanks in large part to the debut of the most important motorcycle the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has ever released. With Ducati up for sale and being valued at €1 billion, the Ducati 1199 Panigale sets the record straight that Bologna has not strayed from its sport bike and racing heritage with the release of bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, and Diavel. With Ducati hosting the Panigale’s international press launch in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit (click here to let Ducati know that you wish A&R had been invited to this launch), the initial reports from the assembled press is that all the concerns about Ducati, its frameless chassis design, and its future can be laid to rest.

With a hybrid chain/gear-driven camshaft, titanium valves, a wet slipper clutch, a ride-by-wire throttle, rider-selectable “riding mode” system, and 15,000 mile major service intervals, the Superquadro v-twin motor alone is a major step for Ducati with its Superbike engine design. And, if you add in the first full-LED headlight on a produciton motorcycle, the first electronically-adjustable suspension on a sport bike, the first motorcycle engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle, the total package of the 1199 redefines the word “superbike” and takes the next logical technological step forward in this market segment…and we’ve got over 160 images of the Ducati 1199 Panigale waiting for you after the jump.

Motorcycle Drawings by Rich Lee Draws!!!

09/29/2011 @ 4:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

I stumbled upon these drawings last week, and have been meaning to post them up ever since. While Asphalt & Rubber likes to cover the art side of the industry, that vein is primarily relegated to concept sketches and renders, and while it is fun to ponder the “what if” side of motorcycles and use a little imagination, we rarely get a chance to appreciate art for simply being art.

That being said, these drawings from San Francisco illustrator/graphic designer Rich Lee (BlogFacebook & Twitter), of appropriately named Rich Lee Draws!!!, made us smile when we saw them, as they’re the sort of thing you wish you’d see in a comic book, or pinned to a little kid’s bedroom wall. Check out some samples of Rich’s motorcycle work after the jump, and be sure to check out his portfolios for his non-moto stuff (Warning: you’ll lose a couple hours in your day if you do).

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike in Sketches

05/26/2011 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The folks at MCN have had their finger on the Husqvarna street bike pulse lately, and today published sketches of the soon-to-be released BMW-derived 900cc Husqvarna street bike. Part street-naked, part supermotard, these sketches seem to suggest that the new Husky will stick somewhat to its dirt roosting roots. Despite the large displacement size, the street-going Husqvarna looks to be very minimalistic and svelte, though how much of that will translate over into the final design remains to be seen.

We’re still apprehensive as to what BMW’s plans for Husqvarna are in the coming years, as the German company clearly wants to use Husky for its evil road-going purposes, but so far there’s nothing in these sketches that send us running for a long rope and a short drop. The designs appear to stay true to what we’d expect from Husqvarna, though you can leave your conclusions in the comments. Additional sketches after the jump.

The Buell 1125CR That Never Was…

11/09/2010 @ 7:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

When we talk about Buell motorcycles that fail to see the light of day, people are almost universally referring to the Buell Barracuda, the 1190cc successor to the 1125R series. Dubbed “The Buell We Wouldn’t Have to Make Excuses For”, the Barracuda lives on in many ways in the EBR 1190RR superbike, which we’ll see next year take its street-going form as the EBR 1190RS.

While the limited-production EBR 1190RS certainly is exciting to think about, and the Buellisti are already counting down the days until Erik Buell re-enters the street bike market, what has us chomping at the bit is the fact that in 2009 Spanish design firm Edda Design was commissioned by Buell to revamp the 1125CR street bike; and with the result they came up with, we wouldn’t mind seeing life breathed back into that project, just like the Barracuda.

Honda VFR1200F Concept Sketches

06/22/2010 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

At the American press launch of the 2010 Honda VFR1200F we got our dirty little mits on a bevy of information about the new sport-tourer from Honda. As we dive through the information this week, and tell you our thoughts on Honda’s flagship motorcycle, we thought we’d start off with how the 2010 Honda VFR1200F came about, from concept to conception. Check out the renders after the jump.

Oberdan Bezzi Rounds out the Ducati Off-Road Line with the Desmoscrambler 450

05/13/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Oberdan Bezzi has clearly been dreaming about Ducati entering the off-road/mixed terrain market recently. The Italian designer has already come out with a Ducati dirtbike and Ducati supermoto, and now adds to that collection with a Ducati scrambler, dubbed the Desmoscrambler.

Bezzi Imagines Ducati Dirt/Supermotard Bikes

05/05/2010 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We don’t expect Ducati to start making dirt-derived motorcycles anytime soon, but that didn’t stop Italian motorcycle sketcher Oberdan Bezzi from inking a pair of drawings that explore this unlikely scenario. Named the Desmotard and Desmocross, Bezzi takes a fairly standard approach to the aesthetics of dirt bikes, and adds a few Ducati inspired touches. If you close your eyes and imagine a Ducati SX bike, is this what you see? It’s hard for us to say yes to that question, but we do love the naming convention being used.

Oberdan Bezzi’s Second-Take on a Bimota/Moto Morini – MMB2 FighterMotard

04/21/2010 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Just a couple days after Oberdan Bezzi inked this incarnation of a Bimota MMB1 (Bimota Moto Morini), he brings us this drawing of a streetfighter/hypermotard version of his imaginative cross-pollination of the two Italian brands. The drawing of course looks great, but we have our same criticism from his previous render…it looks more of the same.

We were pretty tough on Bezzi for his prior design, and the problem is we take these drawings as compared to each other, whereas in the real world there would be only one iteration of these designs, which no doubt would look fantastic on its own. We especially appreciate how Obiboi has channeled Bimota’s genius in the frame design. So with that, we still hope for a change of inspiration from the Italian designer, but we’d gladly welcome any of these bikes in the A&R garage.

Ducati Streetfighter Sketches, An Evolution of a Motorcycle’s Design

04/07/2009 @ 1:30 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

ducati-streetfighter-sketches-5

Norwegian site MC24 has gotten its hands on some of the sketches used in the process of designing the Ducati Streetfighter. While the drawings show a glimpse into the process of what it takes to bring a motorcycle to fruition, you can also see the evolution of the design itself. From rough polygons and shapes, to the detailed and shaded sketches, and finally the CAD drawing of the finished design, one can see the refinement and process that must be going on in the artists heard.