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.

Small-Displacement BMW Motorcycles Debuting in 2015

05/08/2014 @ 2:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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I had to check the date on when we last talked about BMW and TVS partnering up to build small-displacement motorcycles together, and it looks like it was almost exactly a year ago. In that timeframe, the two companies have been quietly working, but rumors have started to heat-up as to when we could see a sub-500cc BMW motorcycle.

A cynic’s response might be that BMW doesn’t want to be perceived as late to the small-displacement party, especially since its sub-500cc machines won’t be ready until Q3/Q4 of 2015.

With Honda, Kawasaki, and KTM already debuting their 250cc & 300cc  models, and Yamaha & Triumph set to debut 250cc machines shortly, it seems the only manufacturer without a small-displacement offering either available or in the works is Ducati.

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Yet Another Solid Photo of the Yamaha YZF-R25

04/30/2014 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Unfortunately, the Yamaha YZF-R25 isn’t slated to debut until May 2014; but as luck would have it, the month of May starts tomorrow. It shouldn’t surprise us then that the R25 is leaking like a sieve all over the internet.

We brought you some very nice photos of Yamaha’s 250cc sport bike earlier this morning, and now we have another good glimpse of the Yamaha R25 from the front.

In this shot we get a good glimpse of the YZF-R25’s headlight, which reminds us of the redesign Honda did to the CBR600RR. Clearly visible on the side fairing is the “R25” logo, so we know we are dealing with the real thing. Unfortunately though, the photo is pretty low-resolution, so it’s hard to gauge fit and finish.

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Proper Spy Photos of the Yamaha YZF-R25 in the Wild

04/29/2014 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Last week, alleged photos of the much-anticipated Yamaha YZF-R25 made their rounds on the internet. The shots in question were really just of a tail light and tail section, which honestly could have been of anything — so, we passed on running them.

We get it, it had been a slow news week in the motorcycle world…but the photos had no substance, and we really just don’t go for the whole linkbait thing here. We’d make you a Top 10 list as to why, but you wouldn’t believe what we’d type next (did you see what we did there?).

Anyhoo…today we have something of some real substance: our first proper shots of the Yamaha R25, courtesy of our Indonesian friends over at TMC Blog. Giving us a proper view of the R25’s profile and front fairings, we know that this is the R25 because of the teaser film released during Yamaha’s RevStation site.

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Yamaha YZF-R25 Launch Outed by Website Metadata

03/24/2014 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It is a brave new world when it comes to the internet and motorcycle companies, and I have no problem saying that Asphalt & Rubber has broken a number of stories simply because we bring a different set of skills to the table when it comes to sniffing out a lead: namely we’re a bunch of nerds, who spend far too much time with computers.

Motorcycle OEMs are still coming to grasp with this internet thing and how the opening of information has changed the landscape, and that is where Yamaha got itself into trouble today. Just hours ahead of their launch, we can confirm that Yamaha is ready to drop the Yamaha R25 250cc sport bike and the Yamaha Tricity three-wheel scooter.

This isn’t exactly new information — it has even been hotly tipped by a number of publications, including A&R — but where the information comes from certainly is: Yamaha’s website metadata.

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Yamaha YZF-R3 and More to Debut Next Week?

03/17/2014 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Yamaha has setup a teaser website, complete with countdown clock, for a new motorcycle(s) that should break cover next week. With just over eight days on the clock, at the time of this writing, we won’t have to wait long as we speculate to what Yamaha is brewing for us.

The general consensus so far is that we will see the Yamaha YZF-R25 and Yamaha YZF-R3 twin-cylinder sport bikes, which should come in either 250cc or 300cc formats, depending on which country we are talking about. Yamaha teased us with the YZR-R25 concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, and recent trademark filings in the United States and Europe have tipped off the YZF-R3 model.

From Yamaha’s teaser video we get a quick line drawing and head-on render of a sport bike, which looks very close to the R25 model we saw in Tokyo, which helps fuel the small-displacement sport bike fire further. Also seen in the video is some sort of urban maxi-scooter, along with its presumably accompanying engine. More details as we get it.

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Honda CB300F Single-Cylinder Spotted in Trademark Docs?

03/10/2014 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Just last week, Yamaha’s US trademark filings tipped off a possible three-cylinder sport-tourer from the Japanese OEM, and in that article we noted how intellectual property filings are becoming an important element in spotting new models from motorcycle manufacturers.

The irony of course is that patents and trademarks are designed to protect the intellectual property of applicants; but in our case, they often give notice to things OEMs would like to keep secret. Such is the case with what we believe is the Honda CB300F, a single-cylinder naked bike that is based off the Honda CBR300R small-displacement sport bike.

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ADVers, Your 250cc Prayers Have Been Answered

02/26/2014 @ 11:14 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Five years at this game now, and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what the reaction to an article will be before it’s published.

With big-displacement ADV bikes, there are invariably those who arrive, deploring the unnecessary weight and size of the machine in question, and who adamantly believe that 450cc is all you will ever need off-road (let’s side-step the whole “two-strokes vs. four-stroke” debate on this one).

This group always seems to miss the point though: that one would not want to travel hundreds (if not the thousands of miles we did on our Broventure) on the wooden saddle of a dirt bike — I already cringe at the thought of the handlebar buzz as well.

As cumbersome as a big ADV bike is off-road compared to its dual-sport brethren, they get the job done well enough, without sacrificing too much on the macadam while loaded to the gills. This is what we call compromise

That doesn’t change the fact that these detractors are somewhat right though, it’s high time that motorcycle manufacturers built smaller, lighter, and more comfortable ADV bikes of the sub-800cc variety. Well, one finally has: China’s Zongshen has just debuted its 250cc Zongshen RX3 adventure machine, for your touring pleasure.

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2014 Kawasaki Ninja RR – A 250cc Single-Cylinder for Asia

02/16/2014 @ 6:29 pm, by Aakash Desai16 COMMENTS

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Let’s see, what would be an ideal motorcycle for tackling the treacherous roads, unending traffic and inclement weather conditions of a typical Asian city?

You want a bike that is lightweight, easy to maneuver and doesn’t put too much of a traction burden on mounds of slippery cow manure. You also want a bike that is torquey to get you out of the way of juggernaut garbage trucks that won’t stop no matter what gets in their way.

With these characteristics in mind, the newly revealed Kawasaki Ninja RR (or Kawasaki Ninja 250SL in some markets) seems tailored made for these environments.

The Japanese company took their popular twin-cylinder Kawasaki Ninja 250R, changed it to a single-cylinder thumper, and built the bike around a new steel trellis frame.

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Hero HX250R – An Erik Buell Racing Designed 250cc

01/30/2014 @ 12:25 pm, by Aakash Desai27 COMMENTS

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With a shot across the bow of former-partner Honda, Hero recently unveiled its flagship HXR 250R small-displacement sports bike this week.

Aimed at young enthusiasts in developing markets and newer riders in general, the claimed power of 31 hp, coupled with the svelte 306 lbs curb weight, make it both more powerful and lighter than the current Honda CBR250R and putting in more in line with the CBR300R.

We are told that the Erik Buell Racing (EBR) had a hand in helping design and develop the bike but it is unclear what specifically EBR contributed towards the design.

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Yamaha Trademarks “YZF-R3” & “R3” Name for Motorcycles

01/16/2014 @ 4:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Could the next Yamaha sport bike be a triple? That’s been the rumor for some time now, but there hasn’t been too much evidence to support the matter. Just last week, Yamaha Motor Corporation filed for trademarks in the European Union and United States that include “YZF-R3” and “R3” names for motorcycles.

The first reaction to the news is that Yamaha is finally reading a three-cylinder versions of its popular YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 machines; however, with some understanding of Yamaha’s naming conventions, the more likely assumption to make from this trademark filings is that Yamaha is readying a 300cc class sport bike, likely along the same veins as the Yamaha YZF-R25 concept that was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show.

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