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.

2012 Honda Goldwing Gets Minor Tweaks

02/21/2011 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

There must be a new rule in the tourer market segment where “all new bikes” consist of minor revisions to existing machines, as Honda has apparently taken a page out of Harley-Davidson’s playbook, and done an exciting upgrade to the 2012 Honda Goldwing. While rumors were overly-hyped that an all-new Goldwing would be making an American appearance, it appears instead that the Honda engineers have gone on to further improve upon their design of the legendary touring motorcycle.

No longer built in America at Honda’s now defunct Marysville, Ohio plant, the Japanese produced 2012 Honda Goldwing comes with a slightly larger price tag, but boasts some improvements to justify the cost. Revamped bodywork, larger capacity luggage pieces, improved built-in GPS with iPod/MP3 player support, and revised suspension complete the changes for the new Goldwing. It’s hard to impress sport bike guys with a big bike like the Honda Goldwing, but if you’re interested in buying the gold standard (no pun intended) of motorcycle touring, things just got a bit more appealing we imagine.

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Rumor: Husqvarna Planning Road Bikes for 2012

01/07/2011 @ 2:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Husqvarna turned more than a few heads at the 2010 EICMA show when it unveiled its Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept. Of course the 993cc asymmetrical v-triple motor was primarily responsible for raising the eyebrows of passers-by, but the idea that Husqvarna would come out with a street-based concept was also more than curious (compounded by the fact that we still can’t quite define what street segment the Mille 3 would fit into). Well the Mille 3 Concept is starting to make a bit more sense now if news from Visordown proves to be correct, as the British publication is reporting that Husqvarna is poised to begin offering true street bikes in 2012.

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Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré

11/21/2010 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber was recently one of a few blogs, along with the usual suspects from the American media, to be invited out to Arizona for Yamaha’s press launch of the Super Ténéré adventure-tourer motorcycle (because we know Americans have no idea what to do with an accented “e”, think “tay-nay-ray” for pronunciation…or just cheat like us and say “ten-air-ray”). The earth is orange here in Arizona, and between the mesas and evergreen forests, Sedona makes for a picturesque setting, that’s away from the bustling metropolitans and city life. This serves our purpose well as its an ideal environment to show-off the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré against the desert’s beautiful backdrop and star-filled skies, but it also serves as the type of destination Super Ténéré owners would likely visit on Yamaha’s new motorcycle, putting us right in the shoes of the target customer.

A market segment based around compromises, adventure-tourers sit somewhere between the juxtaposition of dirt and touring bikes. Based on the idea that the journey doesn’t end where the road does, the adventure-tourer market has taken over from the Harley-Davidson crowd as the next expression of freedom on the open road. Essentially created by the BMW GS series, it is impossible to talk about adventure bikes without mentioning the GS, but other manufacturers as well have entered into this growing market, coming up with different ideas on what riders are looking for when they want to escape from the daily grind.

Built to ride both on and off the street, adventure bikes pose the unique problem of having to decide where to make the trade-offs between these two different purposes, and in this regard we find the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré, leaning more heavily to the street side of this equation than say the BMW R1200GS. As a publication that centers around street bikes generally (hence the name Asphalt & Rubber), we too lean towards the street side of that equation, making the Yamaha Super Ténéré a strong congruency to what we look for in this motorcycle segment, and a bike we wouldn’t mind adding to our stable of daily riders and long-distance tourers.

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Honda VFR Adventure Concept – A Naked VFR1200F?

10/14/2010 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Released in Italy today, Honda has taken the wraps off a concept drawing that shows a new crossover motorcycle, based off the VFR1200F. Super-imposed over the shape of the new VFR, this new concept rendering shows a largely reduced fairing, in anticipation of its more “adventurous” segment orientation. If rumors are to believed on the internet, the bike may not share the same 1237cc displacement as its sport-touring cousin, and instead will sport a middleweight displacement (800cc’s seems to be a popular number).

This new VFR is one (or two?) of eight new models Honda has said it will debut in Milan. One of the other rumored models is a 1200cc concept bike, which will reportedly be a 2012 model year motorcycle with Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out the rest of what Honda has in store for us.

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Suzuki Cutting a Deal To Run a Single-Bike Team in 2011

10/08/2010 @ 8:26 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Suzuki seems to be edging closer and closer to a single-man team for the next season, despite Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta making the rounds in Japan last week reminding the Japanese manufacturers of their legal obligations. With news that a good portion of the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP crew were told they should start looking for new employment, including long-time Crew Chief Stuart Shenton, Suzuki seems to be culling its ranks for a pull-back in 2011 despite the consequences.

With Dorna already showing that it may be more bark than bite, after letting Kawasaki get away with its 2009 pull-out, the folks at MCN suggest Suzuki may have brokered a deal with Dorna for a larger involvement in 2012, when MotoGP goes back to the 1000cc format, in exchange for an allowance to run a single-bike next year in an effort to cut the company’s racing costs.

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Jorge Lorenzo Signs Two-Year Deal with Yamaha

10/01/2010 @ 11:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Yamaha Racing announced this morning in Motegi, Japan that they have finally come to an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo, which sees the Spanish rider signing a two-year contract with the factory team. The announcement isn’t a surprise, as Lorenzo has made it clear over the course of the season that his goal was to remain at Yamaha, with the Japanese company making similar overtures.

Lorenzo is however the last MotoGP alien to sign-up for next year, with the delay likely being due to salary negotiations and other perks within the team, like developing the YZF-M1 to suit his riding style. Lorenzo is currently 56 points ahead of Dani Pedrosa for the MotoGP Championship title, and is heavily favored to win the accolade this year for Yamaha, after finishing second last year to teammate Valentino Rossi.

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Suter Unveils S1000RR Powered MotoGP Bike

09/07/2010 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

When the guidelines for the 2012 MotoGP season were released, a new class of motorcycle was allowed entry into the top series of motorcycle racing. Allowing the use of production-based motors in prototype chassis, claiming rule teams will be able to enter into the series theoretically for much less money than non-factory teams could in the past, which is a move by Dorna to bolster the GP grid size.

One of the first firms to jump on the opportunity is Suter Racing Technology, the maker of one of the more popular chassis being used in Moto2 this season. Using a BMW S1000RR motor as the power plant, the prototype race bike is based heavily off Suter’s MMX Moto2 bike.

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Official: Cal Crutchlow to Monster Yamaha Tech3

09/06/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Filling the void left behind by Ben Spies, who will be riding with the factory Yamaha squad in MotoGP next season, Cal Crutchlow has officially re-signed to a two-year contract with Yamaha, and will begin his MotoGP tenure with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team. None of this news should be shocking to the MotoGP and WSBK loyal, as Crutchlow has been linked with a MotoGP/Tech3 seat for some time now.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager Hervé Poncharal revealed to Asphalt & Rubber back at Laguna Seca that Crutchlow was one of a few names on a very short list that could replace Ben Spies next season.With the Englishman seen repeatedly around the MotoGP paddock and meeting with Tech3 and Yamaha representatives, it was clear where Crutchlow would land, but the announcement is still a big one for Yamaha all the same.

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Norton Returning to MotoGP Racing

08/19/2010 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

German magazine Speedweek is reporting that Norton will be back in GP racing for the 2012 season with a two-man team. Speedweek‘s highly respected Austrian journalist Gunther Wiesinger has received word that Norton has requested two spots on the 2012 MotoGP grid, and has signed a request to join the series when it returns to the 1000cc format. It’s unclear at this time if Norton will be entering as a claiming rule team (CRT), or be listed as a factory prototype, which could have a dramatic affect on the team’s success in the series.

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Moto3 Rumors Continue – The Death of 125GP & Two-Strokes Seems Nigh

06/28/2010 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

After the GP Commission convened at Assen to meet regarding rules for the 2011 season, and other GP affairs, talk quickly began to spread that rumors of a Moto3 class were true. Seeing the success of Moto2 in replacing 250GP, the GP Commission seems to think that a similar race series could successfully replace the 125GP class, making all of GP racing a four-stroke affair as early as 2012 or 2013.

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