Three Rider Opinions on MotoGP vs. WorldSBK

As the sun set on the third day of the Jerez Test, Jonathan Rea hogged the limelight with the second fastest time of the day. With MotoGP bikes sharing the track with World Superbike runners, the story of the day was that Rea spent most of the day leading the “faster” GP boys. The question in the aftermath however was how does this reflect on both championships? Rea was a tenth of a second off the fastest time of the day, set by Hector Barbera. The speed and performance of the Kawasaki rider was hugely impressive, but is this a sign that the production bikes can hold their own, or is it a fortuitous confluence of circumstances?

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.

Video: Maintaining Oregon’s OHV Forest Trails

12/05/2016 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Oregon might be one fo the best-kept secrets in the American motorcycling landscape, with great riding abounding in the Beaver State, both on and off-road.

Maintaining all those trails, especially the ones that are built around logging territories, is no easy feat though, but the Oregon Forestry Service does a great job of doing it.

So, we were pretty stoked to see this candid video from GoPro, which features Reid Brown, a Off-Highway Vehicle Specialist for the Oregon Department of Forestry, who is also a diehard motorcyclist.

It is beautifully shot video, and it shows a get perspective into the enthusiasts and professionals that keep our trails maintained and growing. We think that you will enjoy it.

Spirit Motorcycles Debuts Potent Three-Cylinder Sport Bikes

11/30/2016 @ 12:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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If you are having a hard time figuring out what to get that special motorcyclist in your life, let us suggest something from the recently formed Spirit Motorcycles brand.

The British marque’s first offering is a trio of motorcycles: the GP Street is a naked street bike, the GP Sport is its fully faired sibling, and the GP Corse R is the full-fledge track supersport machine.

The base model machines make 160hp from their three-cylinder engine, and tip the scales around the 320 lbs mark. But, if you want to spring for the R-spec models, you are looking at a 180hp and 309 lbs machine, sans fuel. Do we have your attention now?

To power their machines, Spirit is using a repurposed Triumph Daytona 675 engine, which has been boosted to 750cc by stroking out the triple. Engine compression has been modified to help boost power, as well.

Like many things on the Spirit lineup, the chassis is of note, as the chrom-moly steel tubes have been brazed-welded together, for added flex. Spirit says that the chassis steering angle, rake, and trail is fully adjustable. The swingarm is made from cast aluminum, and the fairings are carbon fiber.

Watch a Tesla Drive Around Town, By Itself

11/21/2016 @ 12:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler51 COMMENTS

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So, this is what the future is going to look like. “Drivers” will hop into their cars, and zip around town, without paying any attention to the road in front of them. Cynics might say that already happens, but this scenario is about to move from hyperbole to reality very, very quickly, in a very, very interesting way.

When I say it will be interesting, I mean it in the old Chinese curse of “may you live in interesting times” sort of way.

Autonomous vehicles are going to usher in a revolution for transportation. They will change the way we commute, and change the way goods are transported. They will reduce on-road fatalities in motor vehicles, while also increasing the ethical concerns of transportation. It will be interesting.

For motorcyclists, it’s not clear what this all means. Motorcycles might become the two-wheeled escape from the autonomous grind, pushing our industry further into the “consumer discretionary income” realm and novelty. We should ask ourselves: is this a good thing?

It’s also just as easy to imagine a world where “unsafe” non-autonomous vehicles get outlawed, if for no other reason than the divergence they pose to the system.

Our one saving grace is that autonomous vehicle technology has to grow up in a world where it is several standard deviations outside of the norm. Pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, etc do not feed into the system that pilots a car like the Tesla Models S, shown in the video after the jump.

Instead, these vehicles have to evolve and grow-up in a world that doesn’t cater to them. That’s interesting too, but more so when you look at how a Tesla Model S perceives the environment around it – reading road signs, assessing objects in its path, understanding the markings of its environment.

It’s something to think about on your commute today.

Watch the Ducati 1299 Superleggera Shred a Race Track

11/09/2016 @ 12:41 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1299 Superleggera is a truly amazing motorcycle. With its carbon fiber chassis, 215hp engine, and state-of-the-art electronics, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera represents everything that the Italian brand is capable of achieving within the superbike format.

More importantly though, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera represents all that the Italian brand can achieve, when it decides to do so. That’s an interesting point to remember with this limited edition machine, as you watch it rip around a race track.

The Ducati 1299 Superleggera’s creation doesn’t come about from some loophole in the rules to some racing organization. It doesn’t exist because it will an incredibly profitable endeavor for Borgo Panigale.

Instead, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera simply is because it can be. It is a line in the sand for Ducati, showing what the Italian brand is capable of creating. If this sounds like hyperbole, it should. We are off the charts now, and in new waters.

Yamaha T7 Concept Hints at a 700cc Ténéré for 2018

11/07/2016 @ 2:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Part of Yamaha’s 2016 EICMA show program includes a nod to the future, teasing us today with the Yamaha T7 concept. Picking up the torch where the Yamaha XT600Z Ténéré left off, the Yamaha T7 concept uses the same 270° parallel-twin engine found in the Yamaha MT-07/FZ-07 street bike.

Yamaha has wrapped that stout twin-cylidner engine in a brand new chassis that is suited for dual-spot riding, and hopes to focus its efforts on offering a middleweight adventure-tourer that is high on off-road brapping, and low on electronic wizardry.

This should appease those who complain about ADV bikes being too road focused and sophisticated for true adventure riding, and Yamaha hopes to use the T7 concept to develop a bike that meets this ethos, and is suitable for production, but also capable of proper rally raid riding.

As such, the Yamaha T7 is a fully functional prototype, and it is being developed with help from the Official Rally Team in France, Yamaha R&D in Italy, and GK Design in The Netherlands.

Yamaha Teases a New TMAX Scooter

11/04/2016 @ 10:12 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha TMAX doesn’t make too many waves in the US market, but abroad it is one of the most popular scooters on the market, and the TMAX custom scene is as strong as any other “proper” motorcycle.

So it is pretty big news to hear that Yamaha will be updating the TMAX for the 2017 model year, with the new design set to debut at EICMA next week.

It’s not clear if Yamaha will make any technical changes to the TMAX for 2017, or if we simply will see new bodywork and graphics in the coming model year.

Judging from the waves that Yamaha is making abroad though, we expect some good things.

The Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Readies Its EICMA Debut

11/03/2016 @ 11:25 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Husqvarna says that it will be debuting two new street bikes at the upcoming EICMA show, along with one new concept bike. We have known for some time that one of those machines would include the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen, the Swedish brand’s neo-retro take on the KTM 390 Duke platform.

Teasing us now with a short video of this “white arrow”, we get our first obfuscated glimpses of the 2017 Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen, though we doubt the bike has changed much from its concept form.

Video: How to Ride a Sidecar

10/31/2016 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Every motorcyclist should ride a sidecar at some point in their life, if for no other reason than to live on the wild side. If you really want to get silly with it, you should take vintage-fueled romp on a Ural – a Russian sidecar that is “based” off a pre-WII BMW sidecar design.

You really have to be a special breed to own a Ural, and while a good mechanical background isn’t a pre-requisite, it certainly helps with those “unplanned stops” that may occur.

While most motorcyclists are turned off by the quirks of the sidecar brand, Ural owners love their machines, and have an almost cult-like relationship Russian company.

Take this video from the good folk at Good Spark Garage, which instructs us on how to properly ride a sidecar. Like everything else in the Uralverse, it takes a light-hearted approach to life, the universe, and everything. We think you will enjoy it.

FGR Midalu 2500 V6 – The Boss Hoss of Sport Bikes

10/31/2016 @ 9:58 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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The FGR Midalu 2500 V6 has been in the motosphere for some time now, but finally the six-cylinder Czech-built motorcycle is available for purchase and going into production. Just in case you wanted a V6-powered street bike, right?

At 577 lbs…dry…it is east to dismiss the FGR Midalu 2500 V6 as being too heavy, and an exercise in excess. The sport bike world’s Boss Hoss, if you will.

But, we have to admit that there is something interesting about FGR’s creation, if for no other reason than the Czech company’s willingness to make something that is a standard deviation or two from the normal motorcycling fare.

Finally, A Better Look at the Upcoming Norton V4 Superbike

10/28/2016 @ 3:26 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It seems like we have been talking about the Norton V4 superbike for ages, with not much to go on beyond concept sketches and vague promises. Well, this unicorn of a machine seems closer to reality now, with Norton giving us another teaser that we can sink our teeth into.

Debuting in three weeks’ time, it seems that we will finally get to see this 1,200cc V4-powered machine. The British brand says it has already sold out of the Norton V4 SS model (~£40,000), while you can still get your hands on one of the 250 units of the Norton V4 RR, which will cost £28,000.

Details on the bikes are still very much in short supply, which makes it hard to believe Norton has found already 200 individuals who are willing to buy the sold out SS model, sight unseen. Stay tuned though, the Brits are supposed to give us the full monty on November 19th.