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).

Pure & Simple, Here is the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure

10/04/2016 @ 2:36 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Ever since we saw its name published in the California Air Resources Board documents, we have been speculating what could be “pure” about the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure motorcycle. Today, at INTERMOT, we get that answer.

We might be mildly disappointed that the BMW Lac Rose Concept is not one of the two new models for the trade show in Germany, though it shouldn’t surprise us to see that BMW is taking another styling exercise with its R nineT platform – albeit a more simple one, this time around.

One of two new bikes based off the air-cooled BMW R nineT platform for 2017, the BMW R nineT Pure is supposed to harken back to a more classic time for motorcycles.

An extension of the heritage line that BMW is creating with the R nineT, the Pure and Racer two sides of an older coin.

2016 Honda CB500F Gets Much-Needed Facelift

11/16/2015 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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When the Honda CB500F first debuted, it was a welcomed addition to Honda’s lineup, as the Japanese brand was really filling out its 500cc/A2 offerings, but the bike itself was hardly something to get excited about, especially in the looks department.

That seems to have changed now, with the release of the 2016 Honda CB500F at the EIMCA show in Milan, as the street “standard” is looking a lot more aggressive and edgy with its new haircut.

Benelli Leoncino Makes Its Return at EICMA

11/13/2015 @ 1:19 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Benelli piqued our interest when it said that a legend was returning, and now we know what machine the Italian brand was referring to: the Benelli Leoncino. A historic name for Benelli, the Leoncino (Italian for “lion cub”) was the model that defined the Italian company after World War II.

Like many motorcycles during that time period, the Leoncino offered Italians an affordable way to get around town, when many families could not afford a car, nor could the Italian infrastructure support four-wheeled mass transport.

As a result, many of Italy’s iconic names go their start in this manner (the same can be said of Japan’s motorcycle brands), so the hyper is certainly worthy of a legend’s return. The model teased of course, is a different story.

Here are the First Photos of the 2016 Honda CB500F

11/09/2015 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Media Advisory: 2016 Honda CB500F Preview Images

Here is your first look at the 2016 Honda CB500F, which like its other Honda brethren, will get a bit of makeover for next year. American Honda is teasing the new model now, but says it won’t release more information until the EICMA show in Milan, on November 17th.

We don’t think Honda will stray too far from the current Honda CB500F, with most of the modifications being cosmetic refinements that enhance the street-standard’s appeal to riders.

Victory Empulse TT — A Rebadged Brammo Empulse R

07/28/2015 @ 10:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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When Polaris acquired Brammo’s electric motorcycle business, and left the startup to be its electric drivetrain guru, much was talked about what would come to the electric motorcycle manufacturer. So, when a Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike showed up at the Isle of Man TT in Victory Motorcycles livery — let’s not forget the Brammo employees in Victory t-shirts — a bit of Polaris’ game was tipped.

Therefore it is perhaps without surprise that today we bring you the Victory Empulse TT, which is basically a rebadged Brammo Empulse R street bike.

There are some improvements to the Victory Empulse TT over the Brammo Empulse, namely a larger battery pack (+10% for 10.4 kWh nominal), a narrower rear tire (180 is now a 160), a new seat, and most importantly, a rubber cush drive for the rear wheel.

We won’t waste words hyping a motorcycle that has effectively already been on the market for several years, but we will point out two things: 1) Brammo Victory has improved upon an already competent design, and 2) the addition of the cush drive could change our luke-warm opinion of the Empulse R.

2016 Yamaha XSR700 – Hip Meets Modern Tech

07/22/2015 @ 1:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Yamaha’s new FZ/MT platform has been a home run for the Japanese brand, with both the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-07 selling well, here in the United States (the bikes sell around the rest of the world as the MT-09 and MT-07).

So how does Yamaha build on that success? How do they reach riders who aren’t looking for the modern naked aesthetic? Well, you give them what they want.

Meet the 2016 Yamaha XSR700. Underneath that retro-standard exterior resides the basic makings of the FZ-07. It’s the same 700cc parallel-twin engine with its 270° crankshaft mated to a new lightweight aluminum chassis.

The Yamaha XSR700 is the production version of Yamaha’s recently unveiled “Faster Sons” concept, and is an obvious offering to the hipster motorcycle crowd that has come to adore the work of Japanese bike builder Shinya Kimura, who made the concept bike.

Quattrocento by XTR Pepo

03/20/2015 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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What happens when you take the unassuming French-built MASH 500 and give it the same Spanish treatment that brought us the Radical Ducati brand? Something certainly a lot less bland than the budget-friendly standard, that’s for sure.

Radical Ducati’s Pepo has a new company, XTR Pepo, and he has branched out beyond just restyling Ducati motorcycles.

Accordingly, he just sent us his latest work, the Quattrocento XTR Pepo – and we are glad to see that out-of-the-box designs that are Pepo’s bread and butter remain in the motorcycle industry with his latest creation.

Unsurprisingly, just about all of the MASH 500 that remains is the learner-bike’s engine, and a few pieces of the frame; since as usual Pepo has sourced just about everything else from the leftover parts bin of other motorcycles.

A Naked Yamaha YZF-R25 Is Coming Soon?

03/18/2015 @ 4:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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If you believe the reports coming out of India and Southeast Asia, Yamaha is working on a naked version of its YZF-R25 sport bike.

Presumably to be call the Yamaha MT-25, the naked bike would continue Yamaha’s trend of making naked version of its fully faired sport bikes, similar to the recently released Yamaha MT-125 that is available for the European market.

2015 BMW R1200R Mega Gallery

10/02/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Though the addition of BMW’s water-cooled engine to the 2015 BMW R1200R was a move everyone saw coming down the pipe, the German company’s extensive style shift on the BMW R1200R was perhaps a move unexpected.

The classic looking roadster of before is now replaced with a more aggressive design — though perhaps not as aggressive as the BMW Roadster Concept that we saw earlier this year.

Still, the new BMW R1200R is a handsome machine that incorporates both mild-touring capability with a fun sporty ride. Since we had a tough time pulling images off BMW’s press site earlier this week, because of all the traffic from INTERMOT, here’s a “mega gallery” of 181 high-resolution images. Enjoy!

2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer — Japan’s Cafe Racer

09/29/2014 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Yamaha has debuted three machines ahead of the INTERMOT show, and the first two birds of the same feather: the Yamaha XJR1300 and Yamaha XJR1300 Racer. Based around Yamaha’s 1,300cc air-cooled inline-four engine (98hp / 80 lbs•ft), the XJR1300 and XJR1300 Racer take on the lines of the classic “naked bike” aesthetic — building upon Yamaha’s previous offering.

Yamaha says that it has worked closely with motorcycle customizers to update the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300, and the result is an addition to its “Sport Heritage” line, with a decidedly sporty twist coming from the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer, which has carbon fiber bodywork and clip-on handlebars.