California Formalizes Lane-Splitting Law

It finally happened, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 51 into law, making California the first state to put lane-splitting on its books. Lane-splitting has always been legal of course (despite what other headlines might suggest), though was legal only by a technical loophole in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). The passage of AB 51 now formally adds lane-splitting as a condoned practice by the CVC; and more importantly, it expressly allows government agencies, like the California Highway Patrol, to create and teach best-practice guidelines. AB 51 still creates some basic jurisprudence issues, like granting legislative powers to the executive branch, but many in the pro-lane-splitting movement seem to look past that issue, instead focusing on what it brings to motorcyclists.

EPA Slaps Harley-Davidson with $12 Million Fine

The EPA DOJ have just come to a settlement agreement with Harley-Davidson, which sees the American motorcycle manufacturer agreeing to pay a $12 million fine for its Screamin Eagle “super tuner” devices. Also in the agreement, Harley-Davidson agrees to spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution (through a project to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning stoves in local communities), as well as to stop selling, buy back, or destroy any illegal devices that increase air pollution from the company’s motorcycles. While not quite the Dieselgate scandal that caught Volkswagen circumventing EPA emission standards, Harley-Davidson’s “super tuners” do provide an aftermarket solution for motorcyclists to circumvent the emission devices on their motorcycles.

Moto3: Sky VR46 Fires Romano Fenati

As expected, Romano Fenati has been formally released from his contract with the Sky VR46 team. The Italian was suspended from the team after an incident at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. That was a temporary measure, but it has now been made permanent. Fenati was released for behavioral issues. The Italian had been abusive towards members of the team, and had not behaved in a professional manner. The incident in Austria was just the latest in a long line of breaches of behavioral conduct, which included confirmed reports of verbal abuse and unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports of physical conflict. The Sky VR46 team have announced that they will be bringing Lorenzo Dalla Porta in to join Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega in the Moto3 team.

Two New BMW R nineT Models Coming

Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) suggest that BMW Motorrad has two more variations of its retro-styled motorcycle line coming to the USA: the BMW R nineT Pure and the BMW R nineT Racer. These two bikes would join the other two air-cooled models we have already seen from the Germans, the base model BMW R nineT and the recently released BMW R nineT Scrambler, which debuted at EICMA last year. Our friends at Motorcycle.com spotted the CARB filings, and believe one of the machines will be based off the BMW Lac Rose concept – an ADV throw-back to when the Dakar Rally actually raced to Dakar. The other model though, could be anyone’s guess, as BMW hasn’t dropped any other concepts or hints in the past months.

Q&A: KTM On-Road Technical Director Sebastian Risse – The Development of the KTM RC16 MotoGP Bike

Sebastian Risse is the man behind the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike which was presented on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring. An automotive engineer by training, Risse has been with KTM since 2008. He started out as a crew chief and chassis analyst on KTM’s now defunct RC8 Superbike project, but when KTM returned to Grand Prix racing in 2012, Risse took charge of the Moto3 project, which has gone on to be the benchmark in the class. Risse is currently head of all of KTM’s roadracing activities, and has overseen and led development of the RC16 MotoGP bike. After the KTM RC16 was presented, we spoke to Sebastian Risse about the differences and design choices which went into the bike.

Here’s a Custom Ducati XDiavel by Roland Sands Design

In the event’s 76-year history, this year marks the first time that Ducati has ever participated at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – the Italian company hoping to showcase its Harley-Davidson alternative, the Ducati XDiavel. Helping fuel that fire was a collaboration between Roland Sands Design and Ducati, which has given way to the creation of a one-off XDiavel with the usual RSD touches. This means a flowing single-piece body, the addition of a 19″ front wheel, and shotgun-style exhaust are added to the already stylish XDiavel. The RSD Ducati XDiavel is then finished off with metallic flake paint job, along with the usual bits and bobs from the RSD catalog. There is a lot of “Southern California” transmitted through RSD’s design into the Italian-born XDiavel.

2017 KTM RC16 Officially Debuts

The Austrian GP might be tomorrow, but today the news is all about MotoGP’s newest entrant, KTM Racing. The Austrian team used its home to debut officially its MotoGP program, showing the KTM RC16 MotoGP race bike in its officially Red Bull livery for next year. The livery itself is what you would expect between at KTM/Red Bull collaboration, with the same blue and orange paint scheme as can be found on the Red Bull KTM Moto3 squad. The big difference of course is the rumored fire-breathing, 270hp, V4, engine, which Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will attempt to tame. The bike’s next outing will be at Valencia, where Thomas Lüthi and Mika Kallio will ride with the MotoGP-regulars once again, competing as wild card entries.

MotoGP Considering Team Communication via Dashboards

Dorna is considering allowing communication between teams and riders via the dashboard. At a meeting today between Dorna and the teams, initial discussions took place over a system to allow teams to pass very brief messages to the dashboard of the bikes. The ability to pass messages between team and bike has been made possible thanks to the transponders currently being used in MotoGP. Those allow for a very limited and very short burst of communication as the bikes pass the timing loops at the track. Race Direction is currently using the system to pass signals to the dash in the case of a red flag, black flag or ride through penalty, but the system would also allow teams a limited ability to pass messages to the riders.

Norton Announces V4 Superbike, Again

A year ago, to the day, Norton announced that it was working on a street-going superbike that featured a 200hp, 1,200cc, V4 engine. Now, Norton confirms that news, saying that we will see the limited-production (200 units) machine later this fall. Yay. On the bright side, Norton posted a concept drawing of the new bike to its Facebook page, giving us at least something new to whet our appetites on the new motorcycle. The concept looks very similar to the sketch we saw last year, making today’s new a little bit about nothing. But, our friends at MotoFire report that Norton is still working on a 650cc project, which will debut later this year as well.

Is This the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6?…Nope

Someone is trying to pass off the above photo as the eagerly awaited 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 – unfortunately, it’s a fake. I’m actually surprised this piece of photoshop has some legs, and is making its way around the internet, considering how obvious the forgery. To verify its authenticity, all one would have to do is to compare the above photo with photos of the current generation Yamaha YZF-R1. Contrasting the two, it’s clear that the chassis and exposed parts of the engine are right off the Yamaha YZF-R1 (it’s easiest to see on the swingarm). The real smoking gun though is that the forger used a Yamaha press photo as their base. I was able to find the base photo, which clearly shows that the five-spoke wheels on the alleged R6 are in the exact same ones from a R1 press photo.

IOMTT: Subaru Exhibition Lap Almost Ends in Disaster

06/13/2011 @ 6:14 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

If you were on the Isle of Man for the TT, it wasn’t hard to notice that Subaru was the official car sponsor of the event. Beyond the bevy of billboards, signs, and strategically parked cars, every race or practice session was preceded and concluded by the Course Inspection car, or cars as it was this past fortnight. With no less than four vehicles making the rounds around the ~38 mile Mountain Course, the idea was pretty simple: more cars = more exposure, and it doesn’t hurt that it means more seats for VIPs and the like.

Subaru also got its money’s worth this year, as there was also a series of Subaru exhibition laps, where Manx-born rally driver Mark Higgins took a Subaru Impreza WRX STI on a flying-lap around the TT course, in an effort to break the four-wheeled vehicle record. Higgins did so on the very first day, and by the end of the week had posted a top time of 19:56.7, which works out to be an average speed of 113 mph.

This shattered the 21-year-old record set by Tony Pond by nearly two minutes (22:09:01), and of course got the interwebs talking about Subaru. Things almost went a different way though, as flying down Ago’s Leap, Higgins and passanger Chris Cantle had a 150 mph moment. Watch what Higgins called “the moment of his life” after his jump.

Kickboxer Concept Gets Diesel and AWD Variants

02/22/2011 @ 6:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Back in 2009 we fell in love with the Kickboxer concept by Ian McElroy, who taught himself some SolidWorks and dreamt of a motorcycle powered by a turbocharged Subaru WRX engine. Well McElroy is back with two variations on his original Kickboxer design: one with a diesel motor (also sourced from Subaru), along with an all-wheel drive model.

To make the AWD configuration work, McElroy employed a dual-chain drive design that uses a jack shaft, idler sprocket, and a drive axle with a U-joint. While the original Kickboxer was designed in the 3D modeling software to be precise enough to produce, we’re not sure about all of the engineering behind McElroy’s AWD design (that’s a polite way of saying this author was a social science major in college), but the idea is certainly intriguing.

The diesel Kickboxer though, it’s so crazy it just might work…we’ll just have to wait for someone to build one. Renders galore after the jump.

Concept: Subaru WRX Powered “KickBoxer”

10/26/2009 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

What you see above is the work of one Ian McElroy. It’s a render, done in SolidWorks, of a concept motorcycle that has a Subaru WRX motor at its core. With twin-intercoolers, underseat turbocharger, and a hub-steering chassis, the KickBoxer, as McElroy calls it, is an impressive looking machine, but what’s most impressive is that Ian didn’t know a lick of SolidWorks before he set out to make this design. Photos and spec’s after the jump.

Ken Block vs. Ricky Carmichael

07/07/2009 @ 8:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Possibly the best car show on television…ever, Top Gear has been at it again. This time the boys have sent Capt. Slow, James May, out to an airport to meet rally driver Ken Block and his Subaru Impreza rally car for a little Sunday drive.

Queue a few well-timed turns, some great photography, and toss Ricky Carmichael into the mix to see what happens. While not quite our area of focus, we thought any gearhead would appreciate this find.