MV Agusta Looking to Part Ways with Mercedes-AMG

The story of MV Agusta continues with even more interesting developments, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer seems intent on buying back its shares from Mercedes-AMG, and recapitalizing with new investors. Talking this week to Italy’s Il Giorno, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni said that he is “negotiating a buy-back of shares,” though that might be a task easier said than done for the Italian CEO. This is because MV Agusta’s current financial predicament is due primarily from the company’s massive debt accumulation, which now totals over €40 million. To complicate matters further, some of that debt was secured by the involvement of AMG, and its investment contract stipulates that if AMG doesn’t own 20% or more of MV Agusta then the loaned sum is due immediately.

The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles: Haptic Feedback

We are at an interesting point in time for motorcycles, namely because the technological landscape for the transportation sector is shifting radically. Long-time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will note some of the issues at play here, namely autonomous vehicles, rider aids, and vehicle interconnectivity. Over the next few weeks I want to revisit those items in more depth and detail, with a series that focuses on emerging technologies that are either already permeating into our two-wheeled lifestyle, or will be hitting the motorcycle industry over the next decade or so. But before I tackle the more obvious items on this list, I want to invest some words on a lesser-known technological innovation, which has the potential to be the next, “next big thing” in the motorcycle industry.

You Already Want This Honda Grom Race Bike from HRC

Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well. Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs. To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.

Honda CBR250RR Headlight Spotted in Patents

We are literally marking time until Big Red debuts the Honda CBR250RR, the sportier sibling to the Honda CBR250R, which should rev to the moon and make more power with its two-cylinder engine. We have seen the prototype of the Honda CBR250RR already at trade shows, and the new CBR250RR is definitely on the edgier side of things, which is surprising coming the ever-conservative minds at Honda. How much of the edgy design will remain in the production version has yet to be seen, but we do have our first glimpse of some of the machine. The headlight shape has been filed with European patent offices, which is sort of a weird thing to be reporting on, but it does show insight into where Honda is headed.

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own. This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic. Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction. Time will tell on how this rumor plays out, though there are number of interesting things to consider with a BMW power cruiser.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles. As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride. With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Is BMW Working on 300cc GS Model?

When the BMW G310R arrived, the German brand indicated that the small-displacement street bike would be the first of many model based on the 313cc platform. Now it seems that the first iteration is ready to drop, with news that BMW Motorrad is working on a G310R-based adventure-touer model. According to Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, BMW Motorrad UK’s Director Phil Horton has confirmed that a BMW G310GS model will debut, perhaps in time for the 2017 model year, saying “new models aside, the line-up isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. But there are plenty more bikes to come, including, hopefully in 2017, a G310R GS-style derivative.” The idea of small-displacement ADV machine does mimic what we have been seeing from other brands.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events. The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts. Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Honda Halts Operations at Its Kumamoto Factory After Earthquakes Strike Japan

If you have been following mainstream news, you will know that the Pacific Rim has been active with earthquake activity these past few days. In addition to the devastating movements in Ecuador, Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes as well, two of which have centered on the Kumamoto prefecture of the country. If that names sounds familiar to motorcycle enthusiasts, it is because Kumamoto is Honda’s mothership for motorcycle production. As such, Honda is halting the operations of its Kumamoto factory, thru the rest of this week (ending April 22, 2016). Honda says that its subsequent production plans will be determined according to facility restorations and component supply.

Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened & What Happens Next

In case you missed it, Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati Corse for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP World Championship seasons. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed. We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

Don’t Call It a Recall: 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Goes on Technical Hold – Engine Problems Suspected

12/13/2010 @ 6:47 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. issued a statement this weekend saying that the company was placing a technical hold on all 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R sportbikes because of an undisclosed problem found to exist with the current design. While Kawasaki has been tight-lipped on what exactly is the issue with the new ZX-10R early indications seem to suggest a problem with the engine, which is an equally nebulous reason. As a part of the technical hold, Kawasaki dealers will be returning all unsold ZX-10R sportbikes to Kawasaki’s warehouses, and all sold units to customers will be bought back with a full refund.

Kawasaki Fielding Three-Man Team in World Superbike: Lascorz, Sykes, and Vermeulen

10/29/2010 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Kawasaki Fielding Three-Man Team in World Superbike: Lascorz, Sykes, and Vermeulen

Kawasaki, along with most of the WSBK grid, it at Aragon this week testing for the 2011 World Superbike season. Confirming that they’ll run a three-man team next year, Kawasaki has been testing with Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes, while the injured Christopher Vermeulen has been spotted around the paddock. Kawasaki has retained Sykes and Vermeulen from the 2010 season, while bringing up Lascorz from the World Supersport class. The team, which is being managed by Paul Bird Motorsports, will of course will be running the all-new 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Rider quotes after the jump.

Official: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Gets 750 RPM Redline Reduction Because of EPA Noise Laws

10/08/2010 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We just got off the phone with Kawasaki HQ, and it’s official: the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will inadvertently get a power decrease when it comes to the United States because of the EPA’s regulation of noise pollution, confirming earlier rumors from this week. The issue surrounds the EPA’s new methodology for measuring exhaust noise levels, which now involves taking the measurement at a percentage of the total rev range, instead of a specific rpm value.

The result is that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R passes the Euro III standards, but fails the EPA standards in its unadulterated form. To come into compliance with the EPA’s Noise Control Act, Kawasaki has lowered the rev-limit on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R by 750 rpm in order to meet the new criteria. The byproduct of lowering the rev-limiter will reduce the new ZX-10R’s maximum power output, but Kawasaki isn’t saying by how much.

Rumor: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Getting Horsepower Reduction for the American Market

10/07/2010 @ 6:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Immediately after the launch of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, which claimed a 207hp figure at the crank with ram-air (197hp sans the air), rumors began to swell that the new ZX-10R’s peak performance figure would be drastically less in the American market. Apparently and supposedly due to federal regulations by the EPA, Kawasaki will be lowering the rev-limiter on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R in order to comply with US government provisions.

Whether those rumors are in regards to the ZX-10R’s emissions or noise levels at that rev range is unclear at this time, but speculation that the power decrease is due to the new 10R’s peak power figure being north of 200hp are completely unfounded (Editor’s note: the United States has no provisions, at both the state and federal level, that cap motorcycle horsepower performance levels from the factory). We’ve reached out to Kawasaki for an official response on the issue, more as we get it.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Becomes Officially Official

10/06/2010 @ 1:50 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Finally breaking cover officially, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R made its official debut at Intermot this week. For 2011, Kawasaki has taken a ground-up approach to building its liter-bike offering, and the Japanese company has its eye squarely on racing in World Superbike for 2011. Developing the race bike ahead of the street model, the new ZX-10R should prove to be a monster of a machine with its 197hp at the crank power figure (207hp with ram air) and 436.6lbs curb weight (+12lbs for ABS). However, for the US market the bike will get watered down by 10hp or so for emissions, which Kawasaki is quietly trying to downplay.

As we reported earlier when the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R leaked, Kawasaki like many other brands is bringing an optional ABS system to the sportbike genre, but Japanese firm has also brought a very sophisticated traction control system to the party, which will be a standard option. Taking measurements every 5 milliseconds from the front and rear tire pickups, throttle position sensor, engine speed, and other inputs, Kawasaki’s S-KTRC, according to the company, is the most advanced traction control system to-date in the consumer market. With pricing starting at $13,799 MSRP (+$1000 for ABS), we’d certainly hope it’s the most advanced sport bike on the market.

LEAKED: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Details

09/29/2010 @ 1:07 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Who has two thumbs, $4.99, and no embargo obligations? These guys [holds up thumbs]! Do you want to know every dirty secret about the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, but don’t want to wait until the big end-of-the-year bike shows? Well don’t worry, we won’t make you wait any longer than these overly-hyperbolized introductory paragraphs.

In what can only be described as another “accidental” story leak by Cycle World, this embargoed information could be bought for $4.99 at the right news stand in Hollywood this evening (by the way, it’s a long drive from San Francisco). Since Asphalt & Rubber isn’t under any obligations to keep this information secret, we’ve waded through the non-copyrightable facts and figures on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R and printed them here.

The first thing you need to know about the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R is that it comes in the color green. Continue past the jump for other juicy details.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R SBK Now in Green

09/02/2010 @ 3:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Kawasaki will be officially be “unveiling” its 2011 World Superbike-spec ZX-10R at Nurburgring this weekend, but has released photos of the bike, finally showing the ZX-10R in its green livery. Team Green has slowly been leaking photos and videos of the new 10R through a massive online social marketing campaign, which centered around the company’s Next_Ninga twitter account.

Kawasaki is putting a lot of weight on the superbike’s shoulders after being un-competitive in World Superbike racing, and withdrawing completely from MotoGP. Hoping the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-1oR will turn around Kawasaki’s racing fortunes, Kawasaki is also hopeful that the bike will help spur its fading sport bike sales.

For 2011, Kawasaki says it has down a top-down approach to the ZX-10R, starting for the first in the company’s history with making the race bike before the street model. This hopefully means that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will be a no-compromises race/track weapon with turn signals, but we’ll leave that hyperbole until A&R gets a leg over one.

Tom Sykes Tests the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R WSBK

08/05/2010 @ 11:04 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Kawasaki is at the track again with its 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R World Superbike platform, and this time at the helm is WSBK rider Tom Sykes. Sykes, who is picking up the slack for his injured teamamte Christopher Vermeulen, isn’t sure of his chances of staying with Team Green in 2011, but was obliged to help the team develop it’s new superbike. Kawasaki has had a horrible run of things in WSBK lately, despite killing its MotoGP program. Hoping to turnaround its poor results, Kawasaki has been teasing us with its WSBK development, which of course also clues us in to how the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R road bike will shape up. Photos and videos after the jump.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Testing with Photos & Video

07/08/2010 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

There’s a lot of pressure on Kawasaki for 2011. Team Green has exited MotoGP, and is completely un-competitive with its ZX-10R in World Superbike and World Superstock 1000. Looking to rectify the situation, Kawasaki has gone back to the drawing board with it’s liter bike offering, and have been testing the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R at Suzuka for the last two days this week.

With test riders Hidemichi Takahashi & Akira Yanagawa on-board, we get our first glimpse at the rumored 190hp/190kg Superbike taking laps. Video confirms that a normal firing order is inside the four-cylinder motor (sorry, no cross-plane here), but traction control is rumored to come as a standard option. Photos and video after the jump.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Teaser & Concept

06/21/2010 @ 1:41 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Kawasaki has released a glimpse to its all new 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R sport bike with this concept sketch. While it’s hard to say how closely the production bike will be to this still artistic sketch, we do know the new 2011 ZX-10R will have a new motor, new frame, and new suspension.

After holding-off on bringing us new sport bikes for 2010, Kawasaki seems ready to gear up for production again (another sign the economy is getting better), and has seemingly re-done the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R from the ground up. Promo video after the jump.