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).

2013 KTM 690 Duke R – Please Come to America

11/13/2012 @ 5:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Considering that the base model KTM 690 Duke didn’t come to the USA, we don’t have high hopes for the higher-spec KTM 690 Duke R making it out our way…but that doesn’t keep us from dreaming. Breaking cover today at the EICMA show, the KTM 690 Duke R defines its with fully adjustable WP suspension pieces, which includes a four-way adjustable rear shock.

Brembo M50 monoblocs also make their way onto the KTM 690 Duke R, as the new more rigid calipers are 6% lighter than the previous top-spec Brembos. KTM has added a dual-channel Bosch ABS system, which has an anti-roll over mode (read: a Max Biaggi setting) for those who let their wheelies get away from them. The ABS system also has a “supermoto” mode, which lets a rider lock-up the rear wheel. Yeah, we thought you’d like that.

Other changes include an Akrapovic exhaust, new footpegs, handlebars, crash bars, and various orange colored pieces. At 69hp and 330lbs at the curb (without fuel), the 2013 KTM 690 Duke R is on our short-list for reasons why we should move to Europe…just behind Scandinavian women (and maybe the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype). Photos after the jump.

2013 Honda CB500F – The UJM Returns to America

11/12/2012 @ 1:33 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Where there is a full-faired 2013 Honda CBR500R, there must be a naked 2013 Honda CB500F — and thus the Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM) makes a proper return to American soil. Priced at a vey modest $5,499 ($5,999 with ABS brakes), the Honda CB500F is an affordable, dependable, and stylish street-naked or “standard” motorcycle for the masses.

Like the rest of Honda’s 500cc line, the CB500F is based around  a modest liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 180° crank, parallel-twin motor that will put down 54hp at the wheel for the US market (tiered-license countries will see a 47hp machine).

At 420 lbs ready to ride with a full tank of fuel, the 2013 Honda CB500F saves 8 lbs off its clothed sibling (click here to read our full description of the new CBR), with the lack of fairings being the real distinction between the two machines.

Available in either black or pearl white, expect the Honda CB500F to be at your local Honda dealer in April of 2013 (the ABS version is available only in black). Full technical specifications are after the jump.

Benelli BN600 – Italy’s Other Street-Naked

11/07/2012 @ 5:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

A Chinese-owned Italian brand, Benelli makes some of the most beautiful motorcycles we have ever seen (Benelli Tornado anyone?), but the company has been rather absentee since getting acquired by the Qianjiang Group. Sure, Benelli seems to walk out a new variation of the Benelli TnT or TRE-K just about every year or so, and the Benelli Due has been a work in progress since before the first Obama administration, but for the most part, Benelli has been phoning it in when it comes to its proper motorbikes.

That seems to be changing though, as at EICMA the Italian brand will debut the Benelli BN600 — an 80hp, 600cc, inline-four street-naked. Building off the same established Benelli road-bike aesthetic, the BN600 (we cant tell if that that is Mandarin for either ‘horrible motorcycle name’ or ‘Benelli Naked 600cc’) is an interesting new model from Italy’s other motorcycle manufacturer, as it adds yet another street-naked to the Benelli line, and is close in displacement to the 118hp Benelli TnT 899.

Three Flavors of MV Agusta Brutale 1090

10/22/2012 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

We have already showed you MV Agusta’s teaser video of its four-cylinder Brutale line-up for 2013, which featured only 1078cc machines, and seemingly dropped the MV Agusta Brutale 920  from the company’s repertoire (its entry-level position taken by the 2013 MV Agusta Brutale 675). Teasing three versions of its MV Agusta Brutale 1090 street-naked, MV Agusta has confirmed the three models today: the MV Agusta Brutale 1090, MV Agusta Brutale 1090 R, & MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR.

Spreading three models over this narrow niche, the 203 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 & 2013 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 R feature a 142 hp / 82 lbs•ft 1078cc package, while the peppier MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR get a power boost to 156 hp, though is down to 73.74 lbs•ft of torque according to MV Agusta’s typotastic website. All three machines appear to be very peaky with their power, and come with MV Agusta’s traction control system that first debuted on the MV Agusta F3.

53 Photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & Z800e

10/02/2012 @ 6:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

We already knew well ahead of the INTERMOT show that Team Green would debut the Kawasaki Ninja Z800, a bike that replaces the best-selling sport-naked in the Europe: the Kawasaki Ninja Z750. Featuring an 806cc inline-four motor, the new Z800 comes in two flavors: the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e. The Kawasaki Ninja Z800 makes 111hp and 61 lbs•ft of torque, while the Kawasaki Ninja Z800e gets a bit more watered down with 94hp and 56 lbs•ft of torque, though it saves 6 lbs over its more burly counterpart.

The two-pronged model approach by Kawasaki is surely being done to better capture a wider audience with the Ninja Z800 line, which also explains why the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e comes with a 47hp A2 license compliant option as well. Designed to be at home on the set of the next Transformers movie, you will either love or hate the lines of the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 — we happen to think it looks rather edgy and mean, which is how we like our street-nakeds to carry themselves.

For its added price and power, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 comes 41mm KYB forks that feature preload and rebound damping only — the same goes for the Z800’s rear shock. The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e, however comes with forks and a rear shock that have only preload adjustment capability, and no damping controls. Both models come with an optional ABS package. We do not expect the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 to come to North America at this point in time. Waiting for you after the jump are 53 photos of the new Kawasaki Ninja Z800.

2013 Triumph Street Triple R – Loses Weight, Looks Hotter

10/02/2012 @ 5:07 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Speaking of triples at INTERMOT, Triumph is debuting the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R at the international bike show in Cologne. Using the same 105hp 675cc three-cylinder motor that we know and love, Triumph has revised the Street Triple’s chassis for better handling, and in the process dropped up to 13 lbs off the machine (403 lbs, fueled up and ready to ride).

While the motor remains untouched, Triumph did re-work the exhaust system, reportedly to help meet noise and emissions standard, but the design also helps the Triumph Speed Triple with its mass-centralization. Besides looking the business, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R comes with switchable ABS as a standard item, as well as an engine immobilizer (also standard). Rounding out the package is a two-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Officially Official: 2013 Kawasaki Z800

09/05/2012 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

If we had to summarize Kawasaki’s new model philosophy, it would have to be with the old tuner’s phrase that “there is no replacement for displacement.” Bumping the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R from 599cc back to its odd 636cc figure from 2003-2006, Team Green has also trumped the quarter-liter market with the debut of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300, a peppier clone of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R world-model that debuted last month (it looks like North American will have to make do with the mundane and carb’d version of the Ninja 250R, sad trombone).

While we expect to see a bevy of new Kawasaki’s later next week, one bike we don’t expect to see is the 2013 Kawasaki Z800, which just officially debuted in Europe. We were on vacation when some Thai readers leaked the first images of the Kawasaki Z800 in our comments section, luckily other publications read our site and picked up the story. You have probably already seen the photos, but just in case they are in a gallery after the jump.

Husqvarna Strada – Do We Need A Single-Cylinder Nuda?

11/29/2011 @ 10:06 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Husqvarna apparently didn’t show all it had to offer at the 2011 EICMA show in Milan, Italy several weeks ago. Debuting the Husqvarna Strada concept at the Paris Motor Show today, the Swedish brand continues its expansion into the on-road market. While the business case is strong for why Husky is currently on a street-bike tear, excitement over the Strada might pale in comparison to the hype that surrounded the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900.

Based on BMW’s 650cc single-cylinder motor found in the G650GS, the Husqvarna Strada has allegedly been “breathed” on by the Italian engineers at Husqvarna. Details are still under lock and key, though Husqvarna says the Strada will tip the scales at less than 170kg dry (375 lbs). While the bike being unveiled in Paris is a concept, Husqvarna plans to go into production with the Husqvarna Strada in 2012, meaning what we’ll see on dealer showroom floors will look very similar to what we see here now.

2012 Honda NC700S – The Return of the Standard

11/09/2011 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

Honda says it wanted to create a fun and user-friendly motorcycle when it set out to build the 2012 Honda NC700S — a simple, practical, two-cylinder get around town motorcycle. At 47hp and 44 lbs•ft of torque, the Honda NC700S isn’t exactly blowing the doors off with its performance figures, but of course that is not really the purpose of Honda’s new motor, which the NC700S features. Designed to be a compact, rideable, and efficient power supply for Honda’s new commuter entries, the Japanese company hopes that the 670cc motor, with its broad torque curve, will power a new generation and category of machinery.

Fairly unassuming in its outward design, the Honda NC700S shows its lifestyle practicality with features like a helmet-sized storage compartment under the faux-fuel tank, a low-slung seat, and low-cost maintenance structure. Available with Honda’s second-generation dual-clutch transmission (DCT), as well as Honda’s combined anti-locking brakes (C-ABS), the NC700S should be a fairly easy motorcycle for new riders to learn, especially with the DTC’s automatic-shifting feature.

Ariel Motorcycles Returning in 2012

08/02/2011 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Before the name Ariel was synonymous with the Honda-powered Ariel Atom trackday car, the brand was affixed to vehicles of the two-wheeled variety. After producing great bikes like the Ariel Square Four, the now defunct Ariel Motorcycle company was folded into BSA, which in a roundabout fashion gave birth to the current Triumph brand. Building on that vein, we get word that the makers of the Ariel Atom want to get into the two-wheeled biz, and are planning to launch a new Ariel motorcycle by the end of this year.

Though there may not be any exact ties between the current past Ariel marques beyond their names, the idea of another motorcycle maker entering the treacherous and rarely lucrative motorcycle industry fray is nonetheless exciting to us here at A&R; and since we’re big fans of the Ariel Atom car project, we can only just barely contain our excitment on the idea of a similar movement done on two wheels as the one we’ve seen already on four.