Oh Yes, The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Is USA Bound

Good news sport bike fans, Kawasaki USA in its infinite wisdom has decided to bring the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE to the United States for the 2018 model year. Debuted at this year’s EICMA show, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE takes the potent superbike and most notably adds Showa’s new semi-active suspension to the package. Other perks include the seven-spoke forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, found already on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, as well as an up/down quickshifter. Like what you hear? Well brace yourself…If you want a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE in your garage, you are going to need to shell out $21,899 MSRP for it. That sticker price represents quite the premium over Team Green’s race homologation machine, the ZX-10RR, which goes for $18,899.

PJ Jacobsen Racing in WorldSBK for 2018

Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen will be stepping up to the big show for the 2018 season, with today’s announcement that the American will be riding with the TripleM Honda WSBK Team. Moving off of the World Supersport grid and into the World Superbike Championship, Jacobsen will be riding the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 with the satellite Honda team effort that TripleM has put together. “I’m very excited to be making my World Superbike debut with TripleM Honda WSBK Team,” said PJ. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be finally racing in this class and I want to thank the team and Honda for making this possible. Both the team and I will be rookies in the WorldSBK championship so there’ll surely be a lot to learn, but it’s a challenge that stimulates me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Yamaha Selling Shares in Yamaha Motor to Raise Money

The Yamaha Corporation announced today that it will be selling 8 million shares of its holdings in Yamaha Motor Co., a movement of shares that will see roughly 2.3% of the voting power in the powersports company changing hands. This deal is expected to close on December 4th, and the Yamaha Corporation says that it will be selling its position to various unnamed securities companies, presumably to then be sold on the open market. At the current market price for Yamaha Motor stock, this deal should be worth close to ¥26 billion, and ¥18 billion after tax expenses have been factored. The news means that while the Yamaha Corporation will remain the single largest shareholder in Yamaha Motor Co., its ownership position as a shareholder will drop from 12.22% to 9.93%, as a result of the divestiture.

Valentino Rossi’s Winter Test Helmet Gets Mexican Flair

It is another winter testing period for the MotoGP riders, and that means that Valentino Rossi has another special “Winter Test” AGV helmet design for us. This year, The Doctor takes his inspiration from Huichol bead art, after he visited the region on a recent vacation to Mexico. As such, Rossi’s winter test AGV Pista GP R helmet features a hand-painted bead design that plays on the winter motif, with the Italian’s usual affinity for symbols. “Huichol art immediately intrigued me, because it uses many of my symbols, like the sun and moon or the turtle,” explained Valentino Rossi. “We have tried to recreate the effect of the beads that the Mexicans use to bring color and shape to these objects, but to do so with a Valentino Rossi twist.”

Jonathan Rea Talks About New WorldSBK Rules

Three years of unparalleled success has seen Jonathan Rea notch up 39 victories, 70 podiums, and 3 WorldSBK titles. To put those numbers into context, only Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, and Noriyuki Haga have won more races in their WorldSBK careers. It truly has been a historic run of form for Rea and Kawasaki. For WorldSBK though the achievements have been outweighed by the reaction of fans to these results. Feeling that significant changes were needed to ensure a more competitive balance for the field, WorldSBK has introduced a wide range of new regulations to curtail the Kawasaki dominance. The goal isn’t to stop Rea and Kawasaki winning but simply to allow other manufacturers to get on an even keel.

The “Smart” Approach to Writing the WorldSBK Rulebook

Scott Smart has been tasked with writing and rewriting the rule book for Superbikes around the planet. The FIM Superbike Technical Director has been instrumental in bringing about the recent regulation changes for WorldSBK, and speaking at the season ending Qatar round he explained the philosophy behind the changes. “There’s a lot of benefits to these changes, but the biggest factor is that we want to find a way to have more exciting racing in WorldSBK,” explained Smart. “With the new regulations each team on the grid has the chance to run the same specification as the factory teams or to develop their own parts. This gives a private team the chance to have a bike with development work already having been completed by simply buying the relevant parts for their bike.”

Ben Spies Returns to Motorcycle Racing…On Dirt Bikes

Ben Spies fans will be happy to hear that the Texan is returning to racing motorcycles, announcing the news while talking to Matthew Miles at Cycle World. However, the news might not be as expected, as Spies isn’t returning to the superbike paddock, but instead will compete in the AMA National Enduro series next season. As such, Spies will take part in several rounds on the Full Gas Sprint Enduro calendar, in the mid-level “Pro2” class; as well as an ISDE qualifier, with an eye on making the squad for Team USA. Certainly not the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship bid that was reported earlier, though Spies confirmed that he had been in talks with Ducati about racing a Panigale, and had also spun some laps on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R at a track day in Texas.

Ducati Panigale V4 Pricing Revealed for 2018

Fancy yourself the new Ducati Panigale V4? It’s going to cost you a pretty penny if you do, as pricing for the USA and Europe has been revealed, and the 215hp superbike is not going cheaply into that good night. As such, Ducati lists 2018 pricing for the Panigale V4 as €22,590 in Europe, with pricing in the US set at $21,195 for the base model. For those keeping score, this is a premium of $1,200 over the outgoing Ducati 1299 Panigale. When you get to the Panigale V4 S though, things start getting considerably more expensive. European pricing on the Ducati Panigale V4 S is set at €27,890, while pricing for the USA will be $27,495. For the American market, this is a $1,700 bump on pricing when compared to the 2017 Ducati 1299 Panigale.

MAG Files for Chapter 11

The Motorcycle Aftermarket Group (MAG) is not a name that motorcycle enthusiasts are usually familiar with, but the family of brands that the company owns certainly is: Performance Machine wheels, Roland Sands Design, Renthal handlebars, Vance & Hines exhausts, Tucker Rocky, J&P Cycles, etc. The network of brands has been struggling over the recent years though, and today we learn that many of them will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while the overarching MAG Group business restructures its debt and finds new ownership. While this is not the sexiest news story to happen in the motorcycle industry this year, it is certainly one of the most important and complicated. As such, we will try to break it down in a digestible way for you.

Valentino Rossi’s Special Yamaha XJR1300 Flat Tracker

It is good to be Valentino Rossi. Not only do you have nine world championships to your name, legions of yellow-crazy fans, but you also get pretty nice gifts from your friends. Take “Mya” for example – a special Yamaha XJR1300 custom flat tracker that the folks at VR|46 built for their fearless leader. Now, when you think about bikes that should be the basis for a custom project, the Yamaha XJR1300 doesn’t exactly come to mind. It probably doesn’t help that this decades-old model is only Euro3 compliant, and set to sunset at the end of this year. The XJ1300 certainly doesn’t strike us as the appropriate starting point for a flat track bike either, especially with its 530 lbs weight figure. That all being said, the VR|46 crew have done a pretty good job of spiffing up the old girl.

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The Piaggio Group, which owns Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Aprilia, Derbi and Moto Guzzi, has just been given the green light on a seven year, €150 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The money is ear-marked to be used for R&D, with a focus on hybrid and electric vehicles. Read more about the loan after the jump.

 

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The Return of Cagiva?

12/31/2008 @ 3:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Spanish magazine Solo Moto has gotten word that Harley-Davidson has put together a plan to revive the Cagiva brand. Cagiva, like many Italian marks, has struggled the past years because of poor financing and business management. In its deal to acquire MV Agusta, Harley-Davidson also acquired Cagiva with that hopes that the American company could provide a remedy to these problems, and has recently laid out its plan on how it is going to achieve those goals. Read more about their road map for Cagiva after the jump.

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Rumor: Kawasaki Pulls Out of MotoGP

12/30/2008 @ 9:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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Rumors are shooting across the web that Kawasaki is retiring from MotoGP for the 2009 season. Allegedly, Kawasaki has notified Dorna Sports that it will be pulling out of the series, with a public announcement to come Monday next week. More on the announcement after the jump.

 

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FGSport, organizer of the World Superbike Series, announced today that the Miller Motorsports Park circuit, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been given the “2008 Organizer of the Year Award”.

This commendation is award to the WSBK venue that shows the the highest level of professionalism, and is able to provide the highest level of standards from an organizational, promotional and sporting point of view. This is obviously a prestigous award to win, if you own a WSBK quality track, but it is especially impressive as this is only Miller Motorsports Park first year partnering with FGSport.

Paolo Flammini, FGSport CEO, declared: “I express my warmest and most sincere congratulations to the circuit management and all its staff and wish them the very best for the season ahead.”

The 2009 round of the Superbike World Championship at the Miller Motorsports Park circuit will take place on May 31st.

Source: FGSport

French Voxan’s New 2009 Roadster

12/29/2008 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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10 years ago French builder Voxan added the Roadster to their growing line-up. After positive traction in France, and slippery black ice traction just about everywhere else, a new Roadster is joining the line-up.

Voxan is hoping to level out their rocky past with this brand new take on their popular Roadster model. Slotted to be released in the 1st quarter of 2009, the Roadster will continue to make use of Voxan’s unique 72°, 996cc, 100hp, v-twin motor. The Roadster features 4 valves per cylinder head, and the model shown above is rumored to be close to what the final project will look like, meaning a new more aggressive look for Voxan.

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Harley-Davidson is getting creative with selling motorcycles, and we here at Asphalt & Rubber like it. HD must really want to capitalize on those sales, as it’s just announced a unique incentive to purchase a new Sportster, or alternatively to trade in your recently purchased model. 

All new 2008 and 2008 Sportsters, bought between December 26, 2008 and March 31, 2009, will be sold with a guarantee that Harley-Davidson will offer the full MSRP of the bike when traded in for a larger bike, within on year of the original purchase. The offer does not apply to the new XR1200, and the bike bought after the trade-in must be a Dyna, Softail, VRSC, or Touring model. 

Economically, this is an interesting deal. Harley-Davidsons, unlike most other marquees, generally appreciate in value over-time. This is mostly a function of long-waiting lists, and difficulty of purchasing abroad. Regardless, its a bonus point for buying the Milwaukee brand. The Sportster line, being at the bottom of the Harley totem pole, is the most susceptible to having this trend end with the economic crisis. This promotion, effectively squashes that possibility for the time being. Anyways, for the average consumer, revile in the fact that an otherwise depreciating object will hold its value for the next year minus the rate of inflation, and in the event of deflation in the value of the dollar, will actually be a decent investment. Booyaca!

Source: Harley-Davidson via Autoblog

Happy Holidays From Asphalt & Rubber

12/25/2008 @ 6:43 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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We here at Asphalt & Rubber want to wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Wonderful Winter Solstice, and a Kick-ass Kwanza. May your holiday presents be full of Ti exhaust systems, racing slicks, and fresh kneesliders.

BMW Returns to Single Cylinders With The G650GS

12/24/2008 @ 7:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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Earilier this year BMW replaced the F650GS, its single-cylinder go anywhere bike, with de-tuned version of the F800GS. This also meant a shift from the single-cylinder motor, to the 800’s parallel twin. Police and military buyers have apparently groaned loud enough to BMW that they are bringing back the old F650GS, but under the g650GS model name.

The reasoning behind this is that police and military buyers still have plenty of old F650GS’s in their fleet, as well as plenty of spares for them. Instead of having to build support chains for a new model like the new F650GS or another brand, they would much rather keep on trucking with their tried and true single-cylinder workhorse. BMW apparently was happy to oblige.

The G650GS will be identical to the old F650GS, which means 50hp, 40lb/ft motor, laced with a 19″ front wheel, and five-speed gearbox. Price is rumored to be about 15% less than the 2007 model, which is an added bonus. The G650GS will also be available in the American markets.

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UPDATE: Here is a link to buy the Roehr on eBay

By now you have surely heard of the Roehr 1250sc. The American made superbike that has a supercharged Harley-Davidson VROD motor at its heart, which makes 180hp. This 432lbs (dry) MV Agusta look-a-like will be sure to turn heads down at the local bike night, especially when you’ve paid out the nearly $50,000 price tag (before taxes and licensing). The regulation friendly bike will meet all CARB and EPA  requirements, and will be DOT certified for sale in all 50 states. The 1250sc will be available for delivery starting March 2009.

Enough of that, here’s how the press release should read:

If you like bikes that take their styling queues from the early 2000’s, make the same amount of power as bikes in their class without forced induction, and still costs 67% more than a Ducati 1098R, then this is the bike for you. In which case, the option to purchase the bike through eBay will be especially appealing (I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to). The Roehr 1250sc is representative of everything that is truly American, at least all of the negative stereotypes that people often label upon the American auto industry.

While as much as we’d like to see a great American made motorcycle, it looks like Roehr hasn’t learned from the lessons of Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Bigger does not mean better, and there is a replacement for displacement: It’s called ingenuity.

Honda to Have Battery Powered Bikes by 2010

12/22/2008 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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There’s been a lot of talk in the auto industry lately about electric cars, and moving to fully electric platforms. Quietly, motorcycle companies have seen the writing on the wall, and have been exploring electric two-wheel applications for new models. KTM has promised to bring an electric bike by this time in 2010, and Quantya has an electric dirt bike, the Strada already available for purchase.

Not to be left out on this one, Honda has announced that it has partnered with Yuasa to bring an electric bike line-up to their model range by the year 2010.

“Honda is currently developing a battery-powered electric motorcycle which emits no CO2 during operation. The company is aiming to introduce this electric motorcycle to the market about in two years from now,” says Takeo Fukui, Chairman and CEO of Honda Motor Co. “History shows that motorcycles remain strong in a difficult market environment and have always supported Honda in difficult times,” he adds.

Yuasa, maker of most motorcycle batteries (check yours), will be responsible for the development of the high-performance lithium-ion batteries necessary for the electric motorcycles. The two companies will jointly set up a research and development center, and a battery manufacturing facility near Kyoto in Japan. This joint venture is being funded to the tune of $18.5 million, with Honda holding a 49% stake in the company, and the rest being held by Yuasa.