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.

Upcoming BMW S1000F Rendered by Nicolas Petit

07/02/2014 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

wunderlich-bmw-s1000f-nicolas-petit

Once again the folks at Wunderlich are readying themselves for another BMW model, and the German company has enlisted the services of French designer Nicolas Petit to render the upcoming BMW S1000F sport-tourer, which we are all eagerly awaiting.

Based off the BMW S1000RR sport bike, the S1000F features an upright handlebar design with a more touring-oriented sitting position, to make for better long-road travel. It’s not clear if BMW will follow the lead of Erik Buell Racing, and choose not to detune its superbike engine, but it does seem that BMW wants a bigger piece for the sporty end of the touring market.

Yamaha Trademarks “FJ-09” for the US Market

03/03/2014 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

yamaha-fz-09-engine-cutaway

In the digital age, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have become a good resource for sleuthing out upcoming machines from motorcycle manufacturers.

The publicly accessible online databases have outed Ducati’s plans to build a “frameless” motorcycle (later known to be a patent for the Panigale), tipped-off the coming of the water-cooled engines to Harley-Davidson, and even hinted at Honda doing something with the Africa Twin name.

Trademark registrations have tipped off bikes like the Ducati Diavel, Ducati Scrambler, and Yamaha YZF-R3; and for today, it seems another motorcycle has been outed by the government agency: the Yamaha FJ-09. Registered with the USPTO, the FJ-09 is likely to be a three-cylinder sport-tourer, if the tuning fork brand keeps to its naming conventions.

2014 BMW R1200RT — Cooler Heads Prevail

11/05/2013 @ 10:11 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

2014-BMW-R1200RT-studio-31

A big announcement at EICMA that we have seen coming down the pipe since the latest generation of the BMW R1200GS broke cover, the 2014 BMW R1200RT is the next logical step of progression in BMW Motorrad’s push to bring a “precision-cooled” water-cooled boxer-twin to its R-series of motorbike.

The new BMW R1200RT uses a basic formula for its philosophy: take BMW’s already proven touring package, and update it with the company’s latest technologies, while giving a mild facelift in the process. In many ways the 2014 BMW R1200RT feels like previous generations, and in many ways it is not.

A&R Broventure 2013: The Moab Expedition

08/29/2013 @ 11:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

broventure-map

Moab, even the name sounds as foreign as its landscapes are to a city slicker like me. You see, there comes a point where you can only pound so much payment on your daily two-wheeled commute before you have to get away from it all…and with San Francisco currently undergoing its Bridgepocalypse, the timing seems right for Asphalt & Rubber to get a little dirt on its riding boots.

The truth is that I have wanted to go the parks that flank the Moab, Utah region since my early Boy Scout days. Once I got a car, it went on the short-list for road trip destinations; when I got a 4×4 it became the target for a four-wheeling adventure; and of course when I got a motorcycle…well, you get the idea. I have never made the trip happen though, but all that is going to change next week.

Just as Scott and David get back from Silverstone, covering what should be a very entertaining British GP, I will be embarking on a eight-day, 2,000+ mile, Santa Barbara to Moab and back, motorcycle trip. Like most of my foolish travel adventures, my college roommate Tim, a long-time riding buddy and occasional A&R helper, will make the adventure with me on two trusty steeds: a BMW R1200GS and Yamaha Super Ténéré.

2014 BMW K1600GT Sport – Familiar, But Different

07/11/2013 @ 8:15 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

2014-BMW-K1600GT-Sport-02

BMW Motorrad has just released a bevy of minor changes to its 2014 motorcycle line, and amongst the facelifts and feature changes comes a “new” motorcycle from zie Germans. Unsurprisingly, the 2014 BMW K1600GT Sport is a take on the company’s flagship tourer, the K1600GT, but with a sportier, baggier, feel.

To be honest, we can’t help but think that the folks at BMW Motorrad saw the positive response that Honda had with the Honda Gold Wing F6B bagger conversion, and figured the same would work for them. If you can’t beat them, join them, eh? BMW junkies, we’ll want to hear your thoughts on this one.

XXX: 122 Photos of the Ducati Hyperstrada

05/27/2013 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2013-Ducati-Hyperstrada-87

Based off the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, which got all the attention at EICMA, the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada is the more touring friendly version of the new water-cooled maxi-motard machine from Bologna. Like its tardy sibling, the Hyperstrada features the new 821cc Testastretta 11° engine, which is good for 110hp, incorporates among other things a lower seat and suspension package for easier on-road touring.

Other obvious changes are the 50 liters of removable side luggage, helping to emphasize the touring purpose of the Hyperstrada. A motorcycle built to travel the Italian countryside, so it should come as no surprise then that when it came time for Ducati to debut the Hyperstrada to the international press, the Italians didn’t have far to look for a suitable venue.

Of course with an international launch comes a bevy of photos, and so we have 122 high-resolution pictures of the Ducati Hyperstrada after the jump for your viewing pleasure. If you are like us, this is as close as we have come to the new Hyperstrada, since we weren’t one of the chosen ones to get an invite to Italy last week.

Never fear however, A&R should be swinging a leg over one of these Stradatards soon enough. Enjoy the photos after the jump until then.

Spy Shot: Husqvarna Nuda Touring Bike

01/10/2013 @ 10:51 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

husqvarna-nuda-900-touring-spy-photo

Not long after we talked about how Husqvarna’s on-road segment was saving the boutique motorcycle manufacturer from its dwindling off-road segment, do we get a spy photo of what appears to be a Husqvarna Nuda 900 in a touring setup.

Featuring more of a top fairing, proper windscreen, and a broader saddle for the rider and passanger, the changes should make this Nuda variant a bit more comfortable on long hauls when compared to its predecessor, if not more attractive as well.

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada – $13,295 & Ready to Tour

11/12/2012 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

With the rumors of the liquid-cooled 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, there was also talk of a midrange Multistrada model at EICMA as well. This rumor then morphed into three distinct Hypermotard models, with one model set on the task of bringing touring to the maxi-motard line. In essence though, what we have is a cross between the Ducati Hypermotard and a Ducati Multistrada 1200 — Bologna just calls it the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada.

On the outside, the Ducati Hyperstrada is a Hypermotard with revised suspension and a few more goodies to aid in those long-distance trips. However, on its inside, the Hyperstrada really wants to be the Multistrada 1200’s smaller counterpart.

Triumph Trophy SE Priced at $18,999 for the USA

09/04/2012 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

When the Triumph Trophy SE broke cover earlier this June, the comparisons were quickly made between Britain’s most advanced motorcycle ever, and the German competition it was so clearly trying to emulate. While Triumph Trophy’s engineers and designers clearly took a long-look at the BMW R1200RT, and tried to improve upon the staple of a touring bike, Triumph’s marketers may have been asleep as the switch, as the Triumph Trophy SE has one thing the BMW does not: a bigger price tag.

2013 Triumph Trophy – The Most Advanced Triumph Ever

06/22/2012 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

The rumors and spy photos were true, as for the past few years Triumph has been working on a proper touring motorcycle named the Triumph Trophy. A direct assault on the BMW R1200RT and its progeny, the Triumph Trophy SE boasts the title of being the most technologically advanced Triumph motorcycle, ever. As you can tell then, the Trophy comes in two trim flavors, with the Triumph Trophy SE boasting some impressive tech to earn its title. Accordingly, the British tourer comes with electronically adjustable suspension, ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, electronic cruise control, linked anti-locking brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system, as well as some other features.

While both models are shaft-driven and sport the same 132 bhp, 1215cc, three-cylinder motor that is found on the Triumph Explorer adventure-tourer, only the SE comes with the electronic suspension, audio package, and tire pressure monitoring system. Realizing that Americans and Canadians enjoy their gizmos, the Triumph Trophy SE will be the only variant coming to the North American market, while the SE and base model will be available in all the other Trophy markets.