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).

2017 Montesa Trials Bikes Available in the USA

09/16/2016 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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American Honda will once again be importing a range of Honda-powered Montesa trials bikes into the USA, which is music to our ears. As such, both the  and the 2017 2017 Montesa Cota 300RR will be available for order at Honda dealerships.

For the 2017 model year, the Montesa Cota 4RT260 gets mostly bold new graphics, though it does have a longer kickstarter lever, for easier starts. The Montesa Cota 300RR (above), however, gets more substantial changes for this coming model year

2017 Montesa Cota 4RT260 Gets “BNG” – Still Awesome

07/08/2016 @ 10:59 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Normally, we would roast a brand for bringing a “bold new graphics” model to market, but in the case of the 2017 Montesa Cota 4RT260, we will give the Spanish firm a pass…purely because we think trials riding is AWESOME.

So, yup…for the 2017 model year, Montessa is brining basically the same machine to market, with the big changes being the red, white, and blue HRC-inspired color scheme, along with the chromed fork tubes that have black-painted lowers.

If it counts as a technical change, the kickstarter lever has been made longer than on what is found on the 2016 model, and of course there is a “race replica” version, which drips in carbon fiber, Showa suspension pieces, and has the traditional Repsol livery.

2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 Shows Proof of Life

02/29/2016 @ 3:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Gas Gas has been saved from what seemed like certain death, and to give us a proof of life, the Spanish off-road company is showing off the 2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 trials model.

Production on the 2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 will start in March, with units arriving at dealers later in the year. And yes, the 2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 will be coming to US soil, for all you two-stroke trials fans.

Visually and technically not much has changed for the 2017 model, but given how highly regarded the TXT Racing 300 is in the trials community, that’s perhaps not that surprising.

Gas Gas Rescued by Spanish Firm Torrot

02/16/2016 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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In case you missed the initial reports, those in the off-road world will be especially happy to hear that Spanish motorcycle maker Gas Gas has been saved from the deadpool. Infusing €13 million into the failing motorcycle brand, Torrot is our unlikely hero, the Spanish firm a producer of electric bicycles and urban mobile two-wheelers.

The cash infusion will come into Gas Gas over the next three years, with a focus on updating the company’s product lineup. This will include bringing Gas Gas back to the trials market in a big way, as well as developing new enduro models. Even electric models in the works.

Gas Gas Employees: “KTM, This is Not Your House”

07/30/2015 @ 1:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber regulars should be aware by now that Spanish trails/enduro manufacturer Gas Gas is in a bit of financial trouble, and is now up for liquidation. One of the suitors of Gas Gas is of course KTM, as the Austrian company is likely eager to add a robust trials machine to its lineup.

There’s a slight problem with that thought though: the Gas Gas employees are well aware of what happened to Husqvarna and its Italian employees, after KTM purchased the Swedish brand from BMW Motorrad, and moved Husky’s Italian operations to Austria.

We don’t think we need to parse too many words explaining the position of some Gas Gas employees, this video says it quite well enough. Watch it, after the jump.

2016 Montesa Cota 300RR Trials Motorcycle

07/01/2015 @ 4:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Do you enjoy jumping rocks, crossing logs, and generally being a two-wheeled bad ass on a motorcycle? If you responded with a “hell yes!”, then trials might be the sport for you.

We’ll be the first to say, we’re not experts on riding trials motorcycles — the site is called Asphalt & Rubber for a reason. That being said, the 2016 Montesa Cota 300RR looks like silly fun, as well as some serious motorcycle porn…even if you’re not a true trials competitor

The Cota is bred for competition though, and it is the same machine that Cody Webb is competing on in the AMA NATC MotoTrials USA National Trials Championship, and it also is based off the Montesa Cota 4RT260 that Toni Bou uses to dominate the international trials scene.

Accordingly, the Montesa Cota 300RR has a 288cc Honda single-cylinder engine, which has a longer stroke and larger bore than the Cota 4RT260. The ECU is programmable for fine-tuning the bike for conditions, with two selectable maps controllable from the handlebars.

Other tasty features include a titanium header pipe, aluminum forks, a monoblock four-piston front brake caliper, and aluminum D.I.D. wheels. All of this means 4 lbs have been dropped from the 2015 design, making the 2016 model a paltry 159 lbs dry.

Dorna Will Manage TV Rights for Other FIM Championships

01/20/2015 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Dorna Sports is starting to consolidate its position as the TV right holder for all international motorcycle championships, as the Spanish media giant has signed an agreement with the FIM to manage the television rights for a number of less-popular FIM Championships.

Starting this year, Dorna will handle the TV rights for Championships that the FIM manages, namely the the FIM Trial, X-Trial, MOTUL Ice Speedway, Speedway GP Challenge, Sidecar and Cross-Country Rallies World Championships, and the FIM International Six Days Enduro.

2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 – Honda Give Trials a Try

08/01/2014 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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This isn’t the first year where the Honda COTA 4RT 260 has been available in the United States, but until now only a limited number of these trials bikes have been available to American riders. Thankfully Honda America is changing that though, officially announcing the 2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 & 2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 Race Replica for the US market.

Essentially rebadged Montesa machines that come from Honda’s partnership with the Spanish marque, Honda’s COTA 4RT 260 models represent Big Red’s attempt to offer a competition-grade trials bike (2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 Race Replica, shown above) as well as an entry-level trials bike (2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260) to American motorcyclists.

Gas Gas and Ossa Merge

01/24/2014 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you thought the times are tough here in the United States, be thankful that you don’t live in Spain right now, as the Iberian country hovers around 20% unemployment for the general population, with 50% unemployment for the country’s 20-something crowd. Indeed, all the Mediterranean states, save for France, are on the verge of economic collapse. It’s a scary time.

Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to hear last year that the rebirth of the Ossa brand saw the Spanish dirt bike company using the available production capacity in the struggling Gas Gas factory. It seems that manufacturing partnership has now gone a step further, with Gas Gas and Ossa formerly merging, so as to better take on the rough economic landscape.

Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa Go Trials Riding with Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami

01/23/2014 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa might be living gods when it comes to riding a MotoGP bike, but when it comes to the ultimate in two-wheeled prowess, we leave it to the trials riders, and two of the best in the biz are Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami.

Thankfully, all four riders are under the Repsol banner, which makes for an interesting opportunity to have these very talented competitors riding together. Maybe next time Bou and Fujinami can take the RC213V for spin — it seems only fair, right?