MV Agusta Looking to Part Ways with Mercedes-AMG

The story of MV Agusta continues with even more interesting developments, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer seems intent on buying back its shares from Mercedes-AMG, and recapitalizing with new investors. Talking this week to Italy’s Il Giorno, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni said that he is “negotiating a buy-back of shares,” though that might be a task easier said than done for the Italian CEO. This is because MV Agusta’s current financial predicament is due primarily from the company’s massive debt accumulation, which now totals over €40 million. To complicate matters further, some of that debt was secured by the involvement of AMG, and its investment contract stipulates that if AMG doesn’t own 20% or more of MV Agusta then the loaned sum is due immediately.

The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles: Haptic Feedback

We are at an interesting point in time for motorcycles, namely because the technological landscape for the transportation sector is shifting radically. Long-time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will note some of the issues at play here, namely autonomous vehicles, rider aids, and vehicle interconnectivity. Over the next few weeks I want to revisit those items in more depth and detail, with a series that focuses on emerging technologies that are either already permeating into our two-wheeled lifestyle, or will be hitting the motorcycle industry over the next decade or so. But before I tackle the more obvious items on this list, I want to invest some words on a lesser-known technological innovation, which has the potential to be the next, “next big thing” in the motorcycle industry.

You Already Want This Honda Grom Race Bike from HRC

Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well. Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs. To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.

Honda CBR250RR Headlight Spotted in Patents

We are literally marking time until Big Red debuts the Honda CBR250RR, the sportier sibling to the Honda CBR250R, which should rev to the moon and make more power with its two-cylinder engine. We have seen the prototype of the Honda CBR250RR already at trade shows, and the new CBR250RR is definitely on the edgier side of things, which is surprising coming the ever-conservative minds at Honda. How much of the edgy design will remain in the production version has yet to be seen, but we do have our first glimpse of some of the machine. The headlight shape has been filed with European patent offices, which is sort of a weird thing to be reporting on, but it does show insight into where Honda is headed.

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own. This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic. Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction. Time will tell on how this rumor plays out, though there are number of interesting things to consider with a BMW power cruiser.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles. As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride. With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Is BMW Working on 300cc GS Model?

When the BMW G310R arrived, the German brand indicated that the small-displacement street bike would be the first of many model based on the 313cc platform. Now it seems that the first iteration is ready to drop, with news that BMW Motorrad is working on a G310R-based adventure-touer model. According to Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, BMW Motorrad UK’s Director Phil Horton has confirmed that a BMW G310GS model will debut, perhaps in time for the 2017 model year, saying “new models aside, the line-up isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. But there are plenty more bikes to come, including, hopefully in 2017, a G310R GS-style derivative.” The idea of small-displacement ADV machine does mimic what we have been seeing from other brands.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events. The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts. Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Honda Halts Operations at Its Kumamoto Factory After Earthquakes Strike Japan

If you have been following mainstream news, you will know that the Pacific Rim has been active with earthquake activity these past few days. In addition to the devastating movements in Ecuador, Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes as well, two of which have centered on the Kumamoto prefecture of the country. If that names sounds familiar to motorcycle enthusiasts, it is because Kumamoto is Honda’s mothership for motorcycle production. As such, Honda is halting the operations of its Kumamoto factory, thru the rest of this week (ending April 22, 2016). Honda says that its subsequent production plans will be determined according to facility restorations and component supply.

Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened & What Happens Next

In case you missed it, Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati Corse for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP World Championship seasons. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed. We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

A Turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa Really Should Happen

01/13/2016 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Suzuki-Hayabusa-GSX-1300R-Anupamdas08

I have been trying to avoid this story, mostly because I think it is a pipe dream concocted from a dubious source, but the word circulating through the interwebs is that Suzuki is working on a turbocharged Hayabusa motorcycle, in the 1,500cc territory, for the 2017 model year.

While we are not confident about this exact rumor, we know two things for certain: 1) that Suzuki is finally ready to breathe some life into the GSX-R line; and 2) that the Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa is in desperate need of an update.

The first of the new GSX-R sport bikes is the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike, though we can expect to see all-new iterations of the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750. There is even word of a GSX-R250/300 in the works.

Suzuki GSX Concept Hints At…Something

09/30/2015 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

suzuki-gsx-concept

Unlike the Honda “Light Weight Super Sports” concept, which gives a clear indication as to the cut of the Japanese manufacturer’s jib, the Suzuki GSX concept leaves a bit more to the imagination.

We know that the Suzuki GSX-R line is woeful need of an update, and our best information pegs the Suzuki GSX-R1000 finally getting a refresh in mid-2016, as an early 2017 model.

Other rumors suggest we’ll see something interesting from the Suzuki brand at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, and hopefully that doesn’t mean just this GSX concept.

Nissin ABS Brake Defect Creates Waves of Recalls for OEMs

07/31/2013 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Nissin-anti-lock-brakes

A wave of recalls are reaching the shores of motorcycle manufacturers, as brake maker Nissin has had to recall a number of its ABS units for a misaligned inlet valve, which could allow foregin particles into the fluid of the braking system, which could cause the ABS functionality to fail.

Triumph first discovered the defect, and reported it to Nissin, which in-turn notified its other affected OEMs. So far  5,766 motorcycles have been affected by the recall, comprising a total of four manufacturers (a list of the models is after the jump, with a link to the appropriate NHTSA posting). We will update this list if/when more model recalls are announced.

Bill Warner, The Fastest Man on a Motorcycle, Dies While Attempting 300 MPH in One Mile

07/15/2013 @ 6:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

bill-warner-land-speed-record-hayabusa

The motorcycle industry is mourning the loss of Bill Warner today, as the 44-year-old land speed record holder died while attempting to break the 300 mph barrier over the course of a single mile. Racing in the “The Maine Event” at the Loring Air Force Base, Warner’s partially streamlined and turbo-charged Suzuki Hayabusa veered to the right after clearing the one-mile marker, and went off the runway course roughly 2,000 feet later, before ultimately crashing.

According to reports, Warner was conscious and communicative after the crash, but he succumbed to his injuries about an hour and fifteen minutes later at a hospital near Caribou, Maine. It is not clear how fast he was going when he left the course’s runway, but he had been clocked at 285 mph while on the course.

Wanting, Hoping, Praying for Hayabusa

11/21/2012 @ 6:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Fifteen years ago, I fell in love with the Suzuki Hayabusa. A courtship that started well-ahead of my formal indoctrination to two-wheels, the Hayabusa was the capstone of motorcycle performance in my youthful eyes. I lusted after its sleek wind-tunnel tuned lines, and marveled at its outright speed, which at its debut, trumped everything else on the market. Approaching the 200 mph mark with their designs, Japan sold us on a “gentleman’s agreement” between the factories to govern their machines to 186 mph — I call it the pinnacle of technical collusion of the first degree.

It is so much easier to compete against another manufacturer when you don’t actually have to compete against them. The Suzuki Hayabusa could co-exist with the Honda CBR1100XX and Kawasaki ZX-12R in bubble that assured no one bike, on paper, could trump the other, after all…they all went 186 mph in the newly declared speed war. It is debatable whether this self-governing measure by the Japanese OEMs avoided a nanny state imposition of laws and regulations onto the motorcycle industry, but there can be no debate about the stagnation the gentleman’s agreement caused in the marketplace.

Once designated as being hyperbikes, a term that gave a nod to the performance specifications being beyond the superbikes found on the race track, we have watched the cessation of the Honda Super Blackbird (2003 in the USA, 2007 worldwide), and witnessed the Hayabusa and ZX-12R, later the Kawasaki ZX-14R, morph into capital “s” sport-tourers that are a far cry from their original intents.

Whether you caste the current Suzuki Hayabusa as the second-generation of the machine, or simply a massaged version of the first-generation GSX-1300R, it has stood motionless for far too long since its beginnings 15 years ago, and revision in 2008. It is time for the Hayabusa to return to its hyperbike roots, and once again captivate the imagination of little boys, and grown men, with what its possible on two wheels.

2013 Suzuki Hayabusa Gets ABS & Brembo Brakes

10/02/2012 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

It’s hard to believe that for over a decade, the Suzuki Hayabusa has gone relatively unchanged from its original form. Sure, there have been some updates — a nose-job here, a face-lift there, but let’s be honest, the engineer responsible for the Suzuki GSX1300R has mostly just been pushing paper around his desk since the Clinton administration.

That tradition has not come to a close for the next model year, though the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa does get some massaging from the Japanese brand. Updated with an anti-locking brakes system (ABS), the 2012 Suzuki GSX1300R, as it name implies, joins the rest of the GSX-R family in getting Brembo Monobloc calipers.

Ghost Rider Giving Away His 499hp Turbo Hayabusa

01/05/2012 @ 11:06 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

I’m going to date myself here, but I remember when I first got into motorcycles, I watched a video of this guy named “Ghost Rider” storm the streets of Sweden. Weaving through traffic like it was a rolling chicane and evading the cops with reckless abandon, I would find out later that Ghost Rider had made a name for himself by doing something all motorcyclists have wanted to partake in at some time or another, but never had the stones to follow through with.

Releasing a number of DVDs of his street antics, Ghost Rider’s identity has remained somewhat of a secret throughout all this, though locals tell me that everyone knows who the man clad in black is, but because of how Sweden handles its burden of proof, Johan Law has never been able to knock on the Ghost Rider’s door. Whether you think his videos are cool, irresponsible, or both, it look like Ghost Rider’s 499hp turbo-powered Hayabusa streetfighter is going to a new home…and it might be yours.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R Breaks Cover

10/10/2011 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

True to its teaser campaign, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 to our friends abroad) finally got revealed today. Tweaking its hyperbike offering, Kawasaki has confirmed that the ZX-14R (note the added R to the name) will get a displacement bump to 1,441cc, along with a cosmetic overhaul and other basic features. Most notably added to the Kawasaki ZX-14R is the addition traction control, and ride-by-wire throttle control system. Kawasaki hasn’t spilled all the beans about the new ZX-14R, but power is said to be over 200hp at the crank with ram-air.

Kawasaki is already pitting the ZX-14R against Suzuki’s Hayabusa, perhaps in an attempt to re-ignite the speed wars of the 1990’s. While no top speed has been touted, the Japanese company is quoting the Kawasaki ZX-14R as “the world’s fastest accelerating production motorcycle.” A lengthy superlative, but it will be interesting to see if Suzuki responds with an update to the aging Hayabusa, which hasn’t had a meaningful upgrade since its 1999 market introduction.

Bill Warner: The First Man to Go 300 mph on a Motorcycle

07/20/2011 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Racing his 1,299cc turbo Hayabusa to 311.945 mph, Bill Warner (you may have heard of him) became the first man to break the 300 mph barrier while sitting on a motorcycle. Eeeking close to 312 mph, Warner set the speed at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, which has a 2.5 mile concrete runway that serves as the LSR course. With 1.5 miles to hit a top speed, the Loring Timing Association certified Warner’s run, though it would appear that a follow-up pass in the opposite direction was not undertaken, meaning that the speed is not an official FIM land speed record. Don’t let that fact leave you unimpressed though, few riders see a true 200 mph, let alone 300 mph in any direction.