US Motorcycle Sales Down in 2016, While UK Sales Are Up

For many in the motorcycle industry, 2016 felt like an off year, and now we know that those feelings weren’t unsubstantiated. Early leaks of the MIC’s industry sales figures for 2016 show that the US motorcycle market contracted 2.1% in 2016, erasing the modest gains made in 2015. Meanwhile for our neighbors across the pond, things are going substantially better, with sales in the United Kingdom up 11.7% (128,644 registrations). We will have to wait for all the motorcycle OEMs to report their final quarter sales results to know who are the big winners and losers of the 2016 sales year. Though, we do know that KTM and BMW (up 5.9%) have shown signs of strong results internationally, whereas Duacti and Harley-Davidson are expected to post overall sales declines for 2016.

BMW R1200R Drag Bike by Nicolas Petit

Nicolas Petit has a way of inking motorcycle designs that we didn’t even know we wanted. First it was drawings of dustbin motorcycles, and now its his drag bike creation, which is based off the BMW R1200R. BMW’s boxer-twin engine doesn’t lend itself to being a great platform for drag racing, but you have to admit that this is a handsome ride, even if it’s all show and no go. With BMW filling every niche under the two-wheeled sun with its bikes though, we wouldn’t be that surprised to see the Germans follow-up with something similar to what the French designer has done here. After all, BMW Motorrad is rumored to be working on an XDiavel-killer, and then there’s…

MV Agusta Relaunches in USA and Canada

It didn’t take long for the news to become officially official, but MV Agusta USA and MV Agusta Canada have come under new ownership, as the Italian brand attempts to relaunch itself in the North American market. Heading the new efforts is Urban Moto Group, headed by Joseph Elasmar, who imports MV Agusta, Benelli, EBR, Royal Enfield, and other brands into Australia. According to the their agreement, both MV Agusta and Urban Moto will co-develop the North America territories, with the aim of capitalizing on the region’s large market for big displacement motorcycles. “We are very excited to build a successful relationship with Urban Moto Group as a new partner also overseeing and developing the presence of MV Agusta in the USA market,” said Giovanni Castiglioni.

New Triumph Street Triple Debuts with 765cc Engine

As expected, today we get to see the 2017 Triumph Street Triple, with its new engine capacity: 765cc. The new engine displacement comes from both an increase in bore and stroke on the iconic three-cylinder motor, with Triumph using a new crank, pistons, and barrels in its construction. Three flavors of Triumph Street Triple will be available for 2017, with S, R, and RS-spec (above) machines being available, with obvious performance differences existing between the trim levels. As such, peak horsepower will be 113hp (S), 118hp (R), and 123hp (RS) – a notable boost over the 675cc machine’s 105hp. Meanwhile, peak torque has been improved from 50 lbs•ft, now to 53 lbs•ft (S) and 56 lbs•ft (R & RS). All the models tip the scales at 166kg (dry) according to Triumph, which is a 2kg reduction over the outgoing model.

Victory Motorcycles Ceasing Operations

Polaris Industries is starting the year off with some surprising news, announcing that it will cease operation of Victory Motorcycles and other related business operations to the brand. Scott Wine, Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO, explained the decision as coming down to basic business factors, with Victory not showing the growth and volume in order to sustain its continued existence. Polaris in its press release also cites the changing landscape of the motorcycle landscape, and that the resources and investments required to make Victory competitive going forward were too hard to justify for the troubled brand. Instead, Polaris will focus solely on its Indian and Slingshot brands, for the motorcycle space.

Triumph Set to Become the Official Moto2 Engine Supplier

The future of the Moto2 class looks secure. Reports from the UK and Austria are suggesting that Triumph has finalized a deal to supply the Moto2 class when the current deal with Honda concludes at the end of 2018. From 2019, Triumph will supply a new three-cylinder engine, probably based on the new, larger sports triple they are building for release in 2017. There had been uncertainty over the future of the Moto2 engine supplier since the beginning of this year. Honda had extended the deal to supply CBR600RR engines until the end of the 2018 season, but as the Japanese manufacturer was stopping production of its middleweight sports bike, it was clear that a replacement would have to be found.

Walt Siegl’s Dakar Inspired Ducati Hypermotard

This Dakar Rally inspired Ducati Hypermotard is the latest creation from Walt Siegl Motorcycles, and it comes with some very appropriate timing. Not only are we full-swing into the 2017 Dakar Rally, but this 1980s-styled Ducati comes during a week where we have been talking about my not-so-secret love affair with the Ducati Hypermotard. Again, we see the air-cooled version of this street-going supermoto being used as a platform for a unique work, though this time Walt Siegl has been commissioned to make a bike that rolled right off the sand dunes of Africa. The exercise centers around mostly the restyling of the bodywork, to give us a little nostalgia for when the Dakar Rally was actually held in its namesake in Northern Africa.

Mike’s Carbon Fiber Motus MSTR

The Motus MSTR is a beast of a machine, it just oozes raw power and torque from its 1,650cc V4 engine; and to compliment all that grunt, the MSTR also comes tastefully wrapped in painted carbon fiber fairings. But when a composites expert wants one of your motorcycles, painting those carbon fiber body panels might not be the best of choices – it may even be an affront the Gods of Internal Combustion. When customer “Mike M.” wanted to see show off the weave of the Motus MSTR’s carbon fiber bodywork, he opted for his machine to come sans the livery. We think that was a pretty good choice, and the gods are surely pleased as well. So, to help get the New Year off to a proper start, and to return to the appreciation of all things two-wheeled, we give you Mike M.’s Motus MSTR motorcycle – how’s that for alliteration?

10 Things to Look Forward to in Motorcycle Racing for 2017

The new year has officially started, the real world of contracts finally lining up with the world of motorcycle racing. Riders who swapped factories are now free of their old contracts, their new contracts having commenced as the world greeted 2017. That also leaves them free to post about the new season on social media again. Aleix Espargaro was so keen to do so that he posted right on the stroke of midnight. If the riders are excited, that gives fans reason to be excited too. Here are 10 reasons to look forward to 2017.

Michael Lock Talks About the Future of Flat Track Racing

As discussed previously on Asphalt & Rubber, flat track racing in the United States will have a comprehensive makeover in 2017. The series will be rebranded as the American Flat Track Series, and the calendar expanded to 18 rounds. At the Superprestigio in Barcelona last weekend, the CEO of the American Flat Track series, Michael Lock, sat down with Asphalt & Rubber to discuss the reasoning behind the changes. The expat Englishman came to flat track with a unique perspective; that of an outsider. He was an Englishman abroad, and brought fresh eyes to the problem of trying to grow flat track racing once again. The single biggest change is to simplify the structure of the championship with the GNC1 class now just for twin-cylinder engined bikes, with the GNC2 class using the smaller singles.

Are You the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP Race Bike?

08/11/2011 @ 8:15 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Taken during a Yamaha testing session in Japan, these two videos appear to be our first glimpse into Yamaha’s next MotoGP race bike: the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1. Though MotoGP regulations will be allowing up to 1,000cc in factory team motor displacement, it is still anyone’s guess as to what displacement Yamaha and the other teams will be running. Likely not to reveal that information until the new M1’s formal launch ahead of the 2012 season, we will still get our first official glimpse of the new Yamaha M1 on Monday.

After the race at Brno, Yamaha plans to test its 1,000cc bike with Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies. On-hand will be Honda with its 2012 Honda RC213V, while Ducati will test its 2011 Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, and not the new GP12. There’s no word yet on what Suzuki will be doing for 2012, though it is widely held that the team will run an updated version of it 2011 machine in a 800cc capacity. A second spy video is after the jump, and though the video quality is poor, the sound of the new M1 is crisp.

Yamaha Testing 1,000cc MotoGP Bike Monday at Brno

08/09/2011 @ 11:12 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Yamaha Testing 1,000cc MotoGP Bike Monday at Brno

Following the Czech GP, Yamaha will debut its new 1,000cc formula MotoGP bike on the Monday. The first public outing of the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1, Yamaha factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will get their hands on the new machine, and see how it compares to the current 800cc M1. Also testing their 1,000cc bike on Monday is Honda, which will have factory riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa behind the handlebars of the 2012 Honda RC213V. Not testing the new RC213V is Andrea Dovizioso, who will be out of contract in 2012, and according to paddock gossip will be in one of the satellite Honda teams with factory support.

Yamaha YZR-M1 WGP 50th Anniversary Edition

05/17/2011 @ 1:02 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Helping commemorate its 50th Anniversary of World Championship Grand Prix racing, Yamaha has unveiled special race livery for its factory-backed MotoGP squad, which the team will run at the Assen TT and Laguna Seca Grand Prix. Set to be unveiled Wednesday, June 22nd at the Assen circuit by Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, the Yamaha YZR-M1 WGP 50th Anniversary Edition motorcycles with their red color schemes are described by the Japanese company as paying “homage to the iconic Yamaha Factory Racing liveries of the past with a modern twist.”

Take that as you will, but the new race livery for the two races is a welcomed detraction from the reminder that the Yamaha squad has been unable to field a title sponsor for the 2011 MotoGP Championship season, despite having the 2010 Rookie of the Year Ben Spies and reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on-board the squad’s Yamaha YZR-M1 race bikes. Nonetheless, Yamaha has been celebrating its racing heritage with a special 50th Anniversary website, which is well-stocked with images of racing lore for the tuning fork brand.

Be sure to check out the full gallery of images on the Yamaha YZR-M1 WGP 50th Anniversary Edition motorcycle after the jump. We think it’s a looker.

MotoGP: Here Come the 1,000’s

04/04/2011 @ 1:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

For the 2012 season, MotoGP will be reverting back to its 1,000cc format (actually, it used to be 990cc, but what’s ten cubic centimeters among friends?). While many MotoGP fans have been awaiting the day that the “big bikes” would return to premier racing with their powersliding, rider chewing, wheelie popping ways, it’s hard to get excited when the first two races of the last 800cc season have been so eventful. Nevertheless the die has been cast, and this week should be begin our first glimpse into these two-wheeled monsters.

2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 Technical Specifications

02/21/2011 @ 2:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Along with the official unveiling of the 2011 Yamaha MotoGP team & livery, the Japanese manufacturer has also released photos of the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1, with accompanying technical specifications. Unsurprisingly, Yamaha is keeping many of its exact specifications close to the chest, but test reports indicate that a refined chassis, and a slightly more powerful motor have been added to the 2011 YZR-M1.

Yamaha’s 2011 MotoGP Livery Unveiling

02/21/2011 @ 2:11 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Yup, it’s official folks: Yamaha will run without a title sponsor for the 2011 MotoGP season (at least initially), as the team’s official race livery was unveiled at Sepang today (actually, we’re releasing these photos ahead of the official announcement, so in a way this post is coming from the future), along with the official unveiling of the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP race bike.

Trading a corporate sponsor for a “50th Year in Road Racing Championship Grand Prix” emblem, Yamaha has seemingly been unable to woo a title backer onto its carbon fiber fairings after Fiat’s departure, despite winning the team, rider, and manufacturer Championships in the 2010 season. Check out the full gallery after the jump.

Ben Spies on the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1

11/09/2010 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ben Spies made his factory debut today, taking to the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time. Showing an impressive position as third fastest for the day’s testing time sheets, Spies clearly showed an aptitude for the new Yamaha, as did teammate Jorge Lorenzo who topped today’s charts. Spies used the 2010 spec tires from Bridgestone to get a base feeling for the new M1, while tomorrow he is expected to try the 2011 tires. Meanwhile Lorenzo spent his time divided between a modified 2010 chassis and the 2011 bike, as the Spaniard tested new Öhlins suspension and various setups.

“For the first day of testing I’m super happy with the team, a lot of things are new including obviously riding the prototype bike,” said Spies. “There are a lot of subtle changes from last year so I spent some time getting used to it along with working with a new Japanese engineer who is very, very good. I had a couple of new mechanics who were learning the ropes as well so it was a lot of learning today. I’m really happy, I can feel the potential of the bike and I think there’s quite a bit more to come.” More photos of Ben and some guy named Jorge after the jump.

Video: Valentino Rossi on “His M1”

11/05/2010 @ 8:15 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

We’ve got a special treat for you this Friday as Yamaha Racing has released a video that talks about the evolution of the YZR-M1 over the past seven seasons, which is narrated by The Doctor himself. Valentino Rossi and his team were integral to the success of Yamaha, turning what was considered to be the worst bike in the paddock into the star it is today. Giving a great account of each bike’s progress over the next, Rossi points out each model’s strengths and weaknesses, and what each M1 meant to him. Grab a beverage and enjoy the video after the jump.

Yamaha Looking to Sign both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to the Factory Team

08/17/2010 @ 7:04 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The news is a bit obvious, but Lin Jarvis, the Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, has confirmed that the factory MotoGP squad intends to retain the services of Jorge Lorenzo, and bring Ben Spies into the squad for the 2011 season.

The news comes on the heels of Valentino Rossi’s decision to move to Ducati for next season, and has been assumed to be a done deal once Rossi’s announcement was made public. This is however the first time that anyone at Yamaha has spoken about the team structure for next year in such a direct tone, likely because of the need to keep Rossi’s departure under wraps.

Fiat-Yamaha Won’t Replace Rossi For Another Two Races Out of Sign of Respect

06/08/2010 @ 5:55 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

It didn’t take long after Valentino Rossi’s highside for the speculation to begin as to whom will replace the Italian rider at Fiat-Yamaha, but as MotoMatters is reporting, the MotoGP team is in no rush to replace Rossi on their roster. For the next two races, Fiat-Yamaha will campaign only one bike on the MotoGP grid, leaving Rossi’s bike untouched as a sign of respect to the Champion rider.