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).

Vespa Elettrica – An Icon Goes Electric

11/08/2016 @ 11:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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When it comes to scooters, no name is better known than Vespa, as the iconic Italian brand is recognizable around the world, with 18 million scooters carrying the Vespa name in cities globally.

It is of note then that Vespa has jumped onto the electric bandwagon, and unveiled its first electric scooter this week at EICMA. As such, we get our first look today of the Vespa Elettrica, which will be for sale in the latter part of 2017.

Not quite ready for production at this time though, Vespa says that it will be working with leaders in the electric drivetrain business to develop the Elettrica, making the scooter shown at EICMA more of a concept than a finalized vehicle.

However, the Italian company promises that the Vespa Elettrica will continue to bring the attributes the brand is known best for – which in our mind hinges mostly on its classic Italian styling. To that goal, we say mission accomplished.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 9 – EICMA, Part 1

11/23/2015 @ 5:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The 2015 EICMA show is finally over, and of course the guys from the Two Enthusiasts Podcast have something to say about everything that was unveiled in Milan. There is so much to talk about, in fact, that we had to break up the EICMA coverage into two separate shows.

So first up is Episode 9, which is Part 1 of our EICMA round-up. It covers all the happenings from the Italian OEMs: Aprilia, Benelli, Bimota, Ducati, Energica, Moto Guzzi, and MV Agusta.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 (Episode 10), which should debut on Wednesday, and will feature an in-depth discussion on the rest of the OEMs. Yes, that means double the Two Enthusiasts Podcast goodness for this week. Booyah!

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 8 – Schwartz

11/15/2015 @ 2:34 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 8 – Schwartz

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The EICMA show is nearly upon us, so Quentin and Jensen walk us through what bikes are expected to debut in Italy, and what bikes the pair would like to see at the show. It’s a pretty exhaustive overview recording, and thus a little longer than the normal Two Enthusiasts Podcast, but we don’t think you’ll mind.

There’s some good stuff in Episode 8 you won’t want to miss, and it expands on our EICMA show preview story, though pre-dates it. Obviously some news has come out since this show’s recording, but we seem to be pretty good a predicting some things. Take a lesson, and get ready for EICMA starting on Monday.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Cheers!

Your Definitive Guide to the 2015 EICMA Show

11/13/2015 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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We are already feeling the early effects of the EICMA show in Milan, Italy – easily the most important trade event for the motorcycle industry.

EICMA is where many of the next year’s new models are released, not to mention the show serves as a platform for much of the yearly business that occurs in the motorcycle industry, especially in Europe.

For us in the media, EICMA is a cross between a marathon and Christmas, a plethora of days where articles surge as we see the launching of so many new models. It can be a lot to take in, but it is always exciting to see what the manufacturers have been working on for the past year(s).

To help you keep track of everything, and to help guide your expectations, we have put together this exhaustive list of all the models we expect to see at EICMA. Let the holiday season begin!

A&R’s EICMA 2012 Best in Show: Vespa 946

11/16/2012 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

It is no easy feat in picking the very “best” from a wide array of motorcycles, like we have to do here with the 2012 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. How do you compare an adventure-touring bike to a sport bike, and then declare one better than the other? As you can imagine, the comparison is very much an exercise in measuring apples to oranges.

If our metric of choice was simply based on how much buzz was generated here on Asphalt & Rubber, and on the various social media networks as a whole, then the clear winner would be the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype. With a bored-out RC8 R motor that makes 180hp, the KTM surely performs as good as it look, and it looks quite delectable indeed.

Maybe the best bike of the show should go to the now water-cooled Ducati Hypermotard, or its touring variant the Ducati Hyperstrada. Doing away with the air-cooled DesmoDue design of Pierre Terblanche, the 2013 Hypers are a new chapter for Ducati, and just further proof that there are no sacred cows in the Borgo Panigale factory. Speaking of Panigales, we also have to consider the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, of course if that conversation is to occur, then we have to also include the Aprilia RSV4 Factory ABS.

You see it is no easy feat to pick the “Best in Show” at EICMA, and in even our short thought-process above, there are names that are glaringly omitted. What makes the process possible however is when a new model comes along, and clearly outshines everything else — such is the case with the Vespa 946.

2011 Pricing and Availability for Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, & Piaggio Motorcycles and Scooters

12/28/2010 @ 12:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The North American distributor for the Piaggio Group (PGA) has released pricing and availability info for the company’s 2011 range of motorcycles and scooters for the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, and Piaggio brands. While most of the scooters are immediately available, many of the big bikes will come in the first half or middle of 2011. Noticeably absent from the pricing and availability sheet are the 2011 Aprilia Tuono V4 R & 2011 Aprilia RS4 125, but the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory SE ($22,499 MSRP/mid-2011) is listed along with the base model RSV4 R ($15,000/mid-2011). Check after the jump for a full breakdown of prices and availability times.

Piaggio Group Sales Up 11% in Q1 2010

04/30/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Piaggio Group is reporting an 11.2% increase in its first quarter 2010 sales across its motorcycle and scooter subsidiaries compared to last year’s numbers. The group netted  €2.9 million for Q1, which is noticable increase from its €4.7 million loss in Q1 of 2009. For motorcycle sales alone, the company saw a 12.4% increase unit sales, with the European market leading the charge.

Brammo Anti-Scooter in 60 Days

09/21/2009 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Just a few weeks ago, Brammo began rolling-out their program to sell Enertia electric motorcycles at Best Buy’s along the west coast. Most companies would be content to rest on this accomplishment and catch their breath, but not the folks in Ashland, Oregon.

Maybe it’s all that clean-air they’re breathing, or there’s something in the water; either way, we’re happy to report that in the nexy 60 days or so, you’ll see a new product announcement from Brammo, secretly dubbed “The Anti-Scooter”.

Carbon Fiber Vespa Scooter at the Milan Design Week

05/08/2009 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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When one talks about Milan, Italy, it envokes the idea of high fashion, models, runway exhibtions, and the yearly EICMA motorcycle expo. OK, that last one may only occur for the die-hard motorcyclists, but the rest hold fairly true for just about everyone else. The Milan Design Week is a celebration of both artistic and technical design, and this year, Bimota made some waves with its carbon clade DB7 Nerocaronio. But, carbon fiber Bimota’s are a dime a dozen these days.