Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST. The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away. While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

Americas Top Öhlins Dealer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Daniel Laine Kyle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – known best for his speed shop, Kyle Racing – pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government earlier this week, after it was found that Kyle had been hiding cash-based purchases made at this business. Dan Kyle Racing is known best for being the largest Öhlins suspension dealership in the United States (if not the world), as the company offered aggressive pricing on the Swedish-born suspension, and was one of the first Öhlins dealers with an online presence in the early days of the internet. According to the plea agreement made between Kyle and the US Attorney’s Office, Kyle pleaded guilty to tax fraud and structuring currency transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements in the US Tax Code.

The 2017 Saroléa SP7 Is Ready for the Isle of Man TT

The focus for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT may center around Team Mugen’s dual entry with John McGuinness and Guy Martin, but one should not overlook this very attractive entry from Belgium. Saroléa is back for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, continuing with its state-of-the-art carbon fiber chassis goodness and retro fairing design. On board will once again be Dean Harrison, who will be gunning for a podium-finish on the 2017 Saroléa SP7. If looks alone could get you across the finish line, then Saroléa would have our vote. The Belgians have always been in the running for a strong result though, finishing 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. Maybe this year will be “their year” at the TT.

India Is Now the World’s Biggest Motorcycle Market

Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Motorcycle Patents

I am really excited about the Suzuki brand right now. Out of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the recession affected Suzuki the most, probably more than many people realize, but the Hamamatsu brand is poised to bring out some exciting machines in the coming few years. Could we finally see a turbocharged Suzuki this year though? The rumor mill is pointing to yes…but just pointing, and the reason is because of patents. Much of this internet rumors stems from a flood of patents that have been found, where Suzuki is patenting technology related to turbo-powered engines in motorcycles, or because of other patents that make reference or inference to being part of a turbocharged motorcycle.

No, Royal Enfield Isn’t Buying Ducati

I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

Spy photos from Austria have caught KTM testing a rather interesting motorcycle – one that does not run on a petroleum-based fuel, but rather it has an electric drivetrain at its core. This isn’t the first time that KTM has experimented with an electric motorcycle, of course, with the KTM Freeride E being available in select markets. However, the machine seen here is a pretty big step forward for the Austrian brand, from its modest electric dirt bike. Using the chassis of a KTM 390 Duke to house the battery, inverter, and motor, KTM’s electric street bike (we’ll call it the KTM E-Duke for now) looks like a rolling mess, but is what you would expect from a project in its early stages of development.

For the Geeks, Your Luke Skywalker HJC Helmet Is Here

I am a solid Star Wars geek, but not in the dress-up and go to a convention sort of way – if you know what I mean. But, this new lid from HJC might have me singing a different tune, as it mimics Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing “Red 5” fighter helmet, in a DOT legal ¾ helmet format. That’s just cool…in a really un-cool sort of way. Based off the budget-friendly HJC IS-5 helmet, this Luke Skywalker replica will cost roughly $180 when it comes out (at a date still to be determined). Additionally, 10 versions of the lid will be signed by Mark Hamill, and auctioned for charity (UNICEF and the Starlight Children’s Foundation), if your geekdom takes you in such a direction (and you have a four-figure wallet).

Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

The Rise and Fall of Danny Kent

“Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with,” Peter Bom, Danny Kent’s former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent. Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom’s three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.

Remembering Nicky – Words by Steve English

Wednesday - 05/24/2017 @ 12:09 pm, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

I have always been a fan of racing, and from my earliest memories all I can remember is watching racing and loving it. From when I started watching motorcycle racing, I was drawn towards flat track racers from the United States.

Perhaps, it was because the risks they take are so similar to road racing in Ireland, or just their style on a bike. There was always an attraction for me towards flat trackers, and as a child the riders I admired were Americans who grew up on the dirt.

Whether it was hearing stories of Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer, or watching Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz, the Americans held a certain mystique for me.

Nicky Hayden was the next of that lineage and coming into MotoGP as a 21-year-old rookie — as well as being paired with Valentino Rossi, no less — I couldn’t help but root for the underdog.

Having been to Laguna Seca, to see Nicky pick up a MotoGP win, I was firmly a fan of his by the time he claimed his MotoGP title in 2006. Like so many others around the world, it was impossible not to like the rider and the man.

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A Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen Is Coming Soon

Wednesday - 05/24/2017 @ 11:25 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

At the 2015 EICMA show, the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen (shown above) debuted to much fanfare, as the neo-retro model showed a new direction for the Swedish brand’s street lineup, with the machine heavily expected to come as a production model.

And now today, we see that a “Svartpilen” 701 model will debut as well, with spy photos of the bike being captured in its near-production form.

The black-colored and more scrambler-styled Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen is an addition to the white-colored and more roadster-styled Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen that we have already seen.

As such, it seems clear that Husqvarna is expanding its on-road offering in a big way, and to be beyond its current crop of simple supermoto designs.

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Site News: HTTPS, For Your Security & Privacy

Wednesday - 05/24/2017 @ 9:49 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

In the mainstream news, there is a lot of talk right now about net neutrality for internet service providers (ISPs), not to mention the whirlwind discussions about malicious electronic intrusions, like the Russian involvement in the 2016 US Presidential election, or the recent bout of ransomware that is being linked to North Korea.

The takeaway from these current events is that as our lives become increasingly dependent upon our online presence, we need to take our online security and privacy more seriously, especially during uncertain times.

Asphalt & Rubber might be only a modest motorcycle website, where you spend a handful of minutes during your day reading about all things two-wheeled, but we take these issues very seriously…and for good reason.

As such, we have enabled and forced HTTPS browsing for all users on our site, not only so your connection to our website is secure, but also so your privacy is protected from anyone who might wish to read or track your presence across the internet.

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John McGuinness on the Allure of the IOMTT

Tuesday - 05/23/2017 @ 9:45 pm, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

John McGuinness is a name that has become synonymous with the Isle of Man over the course of the last 25 years. The Englishman has claimed seven wins for the blue ribbon Senior TT race, and 23 wins overall to leave himself second on the all-time winners list.

Having been back in the winners enclosure in 2015, this year was marked as the race where he would once again take the fight to Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson.

A crash at the recent North West 200 put an end to any such ambition, and unfortunately for McGuinness and his army of fans, the Honda rider will have to sit out this year's running of the event.

With a compound fracture of his right lower leg, four broken vertebrae, and three broken ribs there are question marks as to whether McGuinness will make a return to racing in the future, but the legacy he has left on motorcycle racing is almost unique.

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Bridgestone Close to Releasing an Airless Tire Design

Tuesday - 05/23/2017 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When you think about it, tires haven’t changed a great deal in the past 100 years.

Sure, there have been advancements in the construction of the tire’s carcass, and the grip properties of rubber continue to advance, but the overall package has remained virtually unchanged throughout all this development.

Thinking of how vehicles, especially motorcycles, will travel in the future, we have seen several attempts to redesign the tire. Goodyear has an intriguing concept with its spherical tire design that mimic brain coral for its tread.

Bridgestone is innovating in this space as well, working on its “airless” tire design, which uses a self-supporting tire architecture. 

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Recall: Can-Am Spyder RT

Tuesday - 05/23/2017 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Kind of an odd recall issue to come across our desk, but Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) is recalling a handful (92, to be specific) of 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT trikes because the low-beam setting on the trike’s headlight shoots too high down the road – the issue stemming from a manufacturing error in the headlight assembly.

Besides annoying on-coming traffic, the headlight fails to meet requirements set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), under item number 108: “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and associated Equipment.”

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Remembering Nicky Hayden – Photos by Daniel Lo

Tuesday - 05/23/2017 @ 11:35 am, by Daniel LoADD COMMENTS

The untimely passing of Nicky Hayden affected motorcycle fans around the world, the team at Asphalt & Rubber included. To work through the grief, we are going to take this week to celebrate the life of The Kentucky Kid, sharing with you our thoughts and images from the years we worked with Nicky. So, we hope you will enjoy these photos by photographer Daniel Lo, as we all continue to hold Nicky in our thoughts and remember him. – JB

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Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

Monday - 05/22/2017 @ 10:28 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST.

The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away.

While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

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American Flat Track at the Arizona Mile with Scott Jones

Monday - 05/22/2017 @ 8:44 am, by Scott JonesADD COMMENTS

Our man Scott Jones was out at the Arizona Mile recently, with the American Flat Track racing, doing what he does best. Shooting the fourth round of the season, Scott got to document the resurgence we’ve seen in American Flat Track racing.

As usual, his photos are outstanding, and we hope that we will see him at a few more AFT races this year. Above, a pack of AFT Twins riders chase down Brad Baker. Check out the other photos, after the jump. -JB

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Sunday MotoGP Summary at Le Mans: An Age of Champions

Monday - 05/22/2017 @ 12:04 am, by David EmmettADD COMMENTS

It sucks being the best rider in the world. Just as you believe you have everything under control and can dominate your rivals, along comes some jumped up kid with ideas above his station, determined to administer a king-sized kicking to your behind.

That kid has answers to all the tricks you learned to use to beat your rivals, and now you have to reinvent yourself, push harder than you wanted just to stay in the game.

Back in 1998, for example, a cocky Italian swaggered into the 500cc class and threatened the supremacy of Mick Doohan. Doohan finished Max Biaggi off at the end of that year, but he had to dig deep.

After Doohan retired, another cocky Italian took his place to rough Biaggi up, just as the Roman Emperor thought he owned the premier class. After a string of titles, Valentino Rossi, the cocky Italian in question, found himself facing a couple of rookies giving him real trouble.

Casey Stoner beat him at the second time of asking in 2007, then Jorge Lorenzo took the fight to him inside Rossi’s own team, getting the better of him in 2010.

Just as Lorenzo was settling in to take what he considered as his rightful place atop the MotoGP pile, along came a cheeky-faced Spanish youngster on a record-breaking spree, winning his second race and the title at his first attempt.

After winning two titles in a row, then an impressive third last year, Marc Márquez suddenly finds himself grappling with an improbably fast Yamaha rider with steel in his soul and the name of a warrior (albeit a fictional one).

And in addition to Maverick Viñales, Márquez has to contend with Johann Zarco, who has sprung from Moto2 like a jack-in-the-box, scaring the living daylights out of the regulars.

This is the circle of racing. Every racing series is in a state of permanent revolution, where the newcomers dream up new ways of usurping the established riders, and the old guard have to adapt or die.

The moment you get comfortable is the moment your era has passed. The ultimate reward for being top dog is to ride around with a massive target on your back.

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