The High Fives Heard in Milwaukee

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson’s Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka. No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well. Milwaukee even impressed with its more “core” offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be “a real motorcycle” in our eyes…we think.

Ducati’s Project 1309 Reveals a New Diavel Coming

We didn’t hear too much about “Project 1309” from World Ducati Week 2018, which is surprising considering what the past has shown us about Ducati’s secret reveals, but the Bologna brand was once again giving a teaser to fans in Misano. In the past, World Ducati Week has been the place where Ducati showed us the first Scrambler model, and last year the event debuted the return of the Ducati SuperSport. This year, it is another new bike. A new Diavel, to be precise. Set to compliment the current XDiavel model, the new Diavel features the same 1,262cc DVT engine with variable valve timing, but puts it into the more sport Diavel riding platform. This means tucked in feet on rearsets, rather than the XDiavel’s foot-forward controls.

VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Yesterday we broke the news about a massive recall that is affecting a number of sport bikes with Brembo master cylinders. The first wave of that recall included Aprilia’s two offerings, the Aprilia RSV4 superbike and the Aprilia Tuono 1100 streetfighter.

Today, we get our first official word of another manufacturer that is involved with this massive Brembo brake recall, and it is Ducati. With six affected models, spanning four model years, Ducati North America is recalling roughly 8,000 units because the piston in their master cylinder may crack.

If you recall our previous coverage, the issue stems from the plastic piston in the master cylinder possibly cracking after hard use. If this happens, the master cylinder can stop operating, which can lead to front brake failure. This is an obvious safety concern

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Today is the first day of a massive recall for Brembo brakes, as our inbox just received the first official notice of what is expected to a recall that touches a multitude of brands that use the Italian company’s high-performance line of brake master cylinders.

The issue stems from the Brembo’s popular PR16 radial master cylinder unit (the master cylinder that is often paired with the Brembo M50 calipers), which apparently can crack internally at the piston, which can then lead to front brake failure. 

Because of the physical properties of the piston material used on the master cylinder, and the porosity generated during the injection process used to create them, the piston could crack when used on race tracks, or with frequent ABS intervention, or when the motorcycle falls to the ground.

As such when the piston cracks, the front brakes may not operate properly during a braking procedure, which can lead to the front brakes failing entirely. 

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Honda Fury Recalled for Missing Fuel Tank Welds

12/27/2017 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A recall has landed for the Honda Fury, which affects only 20 units of the cruiser-styled motorcycle. According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the recall is a result of the bikes missing welds on the fuel tank.

This is because during the manufacturing process, a disruption at the factory allowed a batch of fuel tanks to skip the final welding stage. As such, certain fuel tanks did not receive the necessary welds around the stay bracket, and have only tack welds holding them together.

As you can imagine, vibrations from the road and engine can cause the tack welds to break, which could cause a fuel leak that could pose a safety hazard.

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Check Out the New Mini Ducati XDiavel…

12/27/2017 @ 11:11 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, then the folks at Benelli are positively glowing for their fellow Italians at Ducati, as the Benelli 402S seems somehow very familia to our eyes…

Ok, let’s just call a spade a spade here: Benelli wholesale copied Ducat’s XDiavel motorcycle when the Pesaro company designed its latest machine, the Benelli 402S.

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Happy Holidays from Asphalt & Rubber

12/25/2017 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Seasons Greetings from Asphalt & Rubber. While we stoke the fires on the yule log, everyone at A&R would like to wish our readers a Happy Holiday.

We will be taking the day off as we sip some cider and gorge ourselves on delicious home-cooked nom noms (yeah…nom noms), but we should (finally) be back in the swing of things tomorrow.

Whatever your denomination may be (bagger, café, supermoto, etc.), we hope you are with good friends and family, and that the two-wheeled vehicle in your garage gets some seasonal merriment as well.

We hope you are as excited about 2018 as we are…now go get you ‘nog on!

The Japanese motorcycle manufacturers take the Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race very seriously, and none of the brands make a bigger deal out of the mid-summer event than Honda.

Big Red has won the Suzuka 8-Hours on 27 occasions, out of its 40 runnings, which is an impressive win ratio, but there is one issue: for the last three years in a row, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team has displaced Honda’s supported efforts on the top podium step – a feat no other team has ever achieved.

This is an insult that Honda can apparently no longer tolerate, and this week the Japanese manufacturer announced that at the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours, a factory-backed “Team HRC” squad will compete in this iconic race.

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Recall: Kawasaki Z125 Pro

12/19/2017 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The most adorable motorcycle in Kawasaki’s lineup is getting a recall, as 9,914 units of the Z125 Pro and Z125 Pro KRT Edition motorcycles are being recalled for a faulty ECU setting.

According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the electronic control unit (ECU) may have an improper setting (ignition timing) for the fuel injection system, which would allow the engine to stall.

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MV Agusta Says New Four-Cylinder Bike in 2018

12/18/2017 @ 12:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We have been teased with near four-cylinder models from MV Agusta before, but after today’s announcement, the follow-up story that MV Agusta will launch its new four-cylinder platform in 2018 seems actually plausible.

Something we were expecting at this year’s EICMA show, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni has already shared that we can expect to see a 1,200cc four-cylinder Brutale in the near future.

We say this because its naked street bikes are MV Agusta’s best-sellers, so we expect the new Brutale to be given the nod over a new F4 superbike, in terms of priority, primarily because of financial reasons.

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MV Agusta Buys Back Shares from Mercedes AMG

12/18/2017 @ 11:12 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A bit of a housekeeping item, but today it was announced that MV Holding has completed the acquisition of the shares that were previously held by Mercedes AMG, thus effectively removing the German brand from the Italian motorcycle company’s business operations.

This means that MV Agusta is now solely controlled by Giovanni Castiglioni and the Sardarov family, though today’s news is likely due to investments by the latter, into the struggling motorcycle brand.

For fans of the MV Agusta brand, this surely is the start of a new chapter for this mercurial motorcycle marque. 

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