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.

That Suzuki Katana 3.0 Concept Though…

One of the less-publicized motorcycles on display at this year’s EICMA show was this Suzuki Katana concept, which has since been making the rounds on social media. Rightfully so, we would say, as the “Katana 3.0” is a very intriguing idea into how Suzuki can revitalize one of its most iconic names. A creation by the folks at Motociclismo, with the help of designer Rodolfo Frascoli and Engines Engineering, the Katana 3.0 concept isn’t the “official” concept that many had hoped for from Suzuki. However, the fact that Suzuki hosted the concept inside its EICMA display is a sign that the Japanese manufacturer is certainly listening to the feeback the bike generates.

The KTM 790 Duke’s Killer Feature? Its Price Tag

The KTM 790 Duke launches a new platform for the Austrian brand, based around an 800cc parallel-twin engine. As such, we already know that we can expect the twin-cylinder platform to spawn an adventure version of the bike, with the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype debuting at EICMA as well. We can also expect other “790” models in the coming years, both from KTM and likely from Husqvarna as well. That is a good thing, because the KTM 790 Duke is a potent bike, rich with features. The real kicker though – if early indications about the pricing can be believed – is the KTM 790 Duke’s price tag, as KTM has been quoted as pricing the 790 Duke at below €10,000. This would put US pricing around the $11,000 mark, if not cheaper.

The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year’s work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season. Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA. So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week’s big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry. For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences.

ARCH Motorcycle’s Next Bike Won’t Be a Cruiser

ARCH Motorcycle is in Italy right now, and they just took the wraps off three bikes, one of which isn’t so much a cruiser, as it is a naked roadster model. Built using carbon fiber MonoCell chassis technology, a building technique usually reserved for ultra high-end sport cars and Formula 1 racing chassis, the ARCH Method143 features a potent 143ci (2,343) v-twin engine. Though, instead of the performance cruiser layout the company is better known for, the ARCH Method143 will have mid-body rearsets for the feet, and clip-on handlebars for the hands, making for a very sporty riding position. Backing up that notion is the use of Öhlins suspension, which includes a proprietary Öhlins FGRT series front fork with carbon fiber airfoil covers.

No One Seemed to Notice that the MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Is New for the 2018 Model Year

We had to search high and low for information about the 2018 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR – it doesn’t help that MV Agusta’s press site is offline right now – but it seems just about every news publication missed the fact that this attractive roadster got some serious changes for the 2018 model year. These unnoticed changes certainly are partially due to the fact that MV Agusta went without a press introduction at this year’s EICMA show, but it is also due to the company’s never-ending line of “bold new graphics” changes, one-off customs, and special livery designs, which only muddy the waters for when actual changes occur.

Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe Brings Modern to Retro

Kawasaki made an impression at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, debuting the new Z900RS standard. The premise was simple there: take the potent Kawasaki Z900 street bike, and dress it in retro clothing. The effect was something that looked incredibly like the Kawasaki Zephyr of old, but with modern brakes, suspension, traction control, and even a slipper-assist clutch. Now we see that Team Green plans on already expanding the line, debuting today the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe. Basically the Z900RS with a bikini fairing, this modern café racer should be a perfect fit for those riders that want an older looking motorcycle that doesn’t run like an older looking motorcycle. Mostly a visual exercise, the basic stats of the Z900RS Cafe don’t stray too far from the donor bike from whence it came.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Debuts with Track Goodies

For the 2018 model year, Kawasaki continues to develop its superbike package. As such, the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE brings some special new features, to earn those extra letters after its name. The big addition is the new Showa electronic suspension, which is the only semi-active suspension system on motorcycles that includes built-in stroke sensors. These stroke sensors are able to measure the movement of the fork and shock internals, allowing Showa’s suspension to measure and change its damping settings on the fly, as you ride. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE also gets the forged aluminum wheels found on Kawasaki’s homologation-spec superbike, the Ninja ZX-10RR, which should help the Ninja ZX-10R SE feel more nimble on the race track, despite its 459 lbs wet weight.

So Many Photos of the New KTM 790 Duke to Drool Over

We are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the new KTM 790 Duke is the bike of this year’s EICMA show. Making a potent 105hp from its 799cc parallel-twin engine, packed into a 418 lbs (wet)steel trellis body, the 2018 KTM 790 Duke brings a host of features to the middleweight sport bike category. In typical KTM fashion, the 790 Duke left no angle behind in its high school honors geometry course, and the LED headlight builds upon the common design features that KTM has been putting together on its street-going machines. Not quite the vision that was the KTM 790 Duke prototype, the production model still evokes the same emotions, and is handsome in its own right – allaying our fears when seeing spy shots of the machine.

Mega Gallery: Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

We have had to wait two years to see it come into production, but the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 will finally be available to motorcyclists in March 2018. As an added bonus, the street-going machine stays true to its concept design, which wowed the crowd at last year’s EICMA show. This year in Milan, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 is all the talk of EICMA, and while “Best in Show” at EICMA almost exclusively goes to an Italian marque, the real winners are surely coming from Austria, as both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 and KTM 790 Duke look like winners. A duality from Mattighofen, KTM and Husqvarna approach motorcycles from two opposite spectrums. KTM lives in the extreme, with an edgy focus on its “Ready to Race” mentality. Conversely, Husqvarna is subtle and sophisticated…maybe even understated.

Ducati Going Electric by 2030?

10/20/2017 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A bit of news that has gone under the radar: at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Volkswagen Group Chairman Matthias Muller dropped a bombshell, saying that the German company’s house of brands would all have a fully electrified lineup of vehicles by 2030 – at the latest.

The initiative is called Roadmap E, and while Volkswagen is focusing mostly on it automotive holdings, the Germans have made obvious signs that they are including their Italian motorcycle company, Ducati, in this push to go electric.

The most obvious indication comes from the company’s press statement. In it, the Volkswagen Group says that by 2030 “there will be at least one electrified version of each of the 300 or so Group models across all brands and markets.”

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L’Avventura by Walt Siegl

10/19/2017 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

How do you say “The Adventure” in Italian? You start with an air-cooled 1,100cc Ducati engine. You then strip the chassis it comes with, down to only its most essential elements, and then from there you create a purpose-built ADV machine.

You will want to focus on the details too though. Details like long-travel suspension and knobby tires mated to 21″ and 17″ wheels, which are a must, especially if you want to create significant ground clearance.

Contrasting headlights and extensive crash protection help complete the transformation as well, and of course some stylish, but functional, bodywork should wrap everything together.

When you are done with all that, you have the L’Avventura by Walt Siegl – an Italian-bred dual-sport that begs to be taken down wooded trails, lofted over jumps, and railed through dirty berms.

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Ducati Monster 821 Gets Updated for 2018

10/17/2017 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati is set to release five new models at this year’s EICMA show, and it is giving us a sneak peak at one of the first of those machines: the 2018 Ducati Monster 821.

The basic mechanics of the previous Monster 821 remain the same, but for the new year, the Italian brand has revised the Ducati Monster 821 to look more like its bigger sibling, the Ducati Monster 1200.

As such, the fuel tank and tail of the Monster 821 have been changed, along with the bike’s exhaust and headlight. Ducati has also added a full color TFT display to the Monster 821, which shows selected gears and fuel status.

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A major surprise out of Borgo Panigale this afternoon. Ernesto Marinelli, the man behind so much of Ducati’s World Superbike success, is to leave the company at the end of 2017 for pastures new.

Marinelli has been a lynchpin in Ducati’s WSBK operation, working with the company for 22 years. He started as a track engineer, working with both Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson, but soon took on a major role in Ducati’s racing operations.

The Italian led Ducati’s AMA racing program at the end of last century, working with such legendary riders as Troy Bayliss, Ben Bostron, Anthony Gobert, and John Kocinski.

After returning to Europe, he took over the role of technical director, then project manager of Ducati’s WorldSBK project.

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Ducati Will Stay as a Part of Volkswagen

10/02/2017 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Reports out of Italy are confirming the news that Ducati will remain as a part of the Volkswagen Group, with the German company ceasing its pursuits of divesting the Italian motorcycle company from its ranks.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Ducati’s business situation, as reports of the divestiture stalling out were circulating this time last month.

The news seems to come with a bonus, with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali reportedly confirming the news internally (other reports quote Audi CEO Rupert Stadler doing the same as well).

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Naughty Quadro by Alexey Afanasyev

09/29/2017 @ 2:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you needed more proof that the Ducati 1299 Panigale can make for an attractive retro-styled motorcycle (here, here, and here), then may we present to you one more piece of evidence, the “Naughty Quadro” by designer Alexey Afanasyev.

To make the Naughty Quadro, Afanasyev took the Panigale’s Superquadro engine and built around it an attractive and trendy body structure, which should look familiar to Scrambler owners. If the swingarm looks familiar too, that is because it is off of a Ducati Monster S2R 1000.

One of the most noticeable aspects of Afanasyev design is the custom radiator, which creates a tasteful line for the superbike engine, though we’re not sure if it will do the duty in heavy traffic.

Of course, the most interesting aspect of the motorcycle is that it isn’t a motorcycle at all…as Afanasyev has created some very detailed and very convincing renders for his concept on the computer, which include even the dirt and debris on the engine and tires. It’s really well-crafted.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #62 – Diss Invited

09/26/2017 @ 11:03 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 62 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it covers an omnibus of motorcycle topics.

Things start with a discussion about the recently spied 2018 Honda Gold Wing, and its Hossack-style front-end. Our conversation then turns to the resurrection of the Skully helmet brand, which culminates in a frank conversation about head safety and concussions.

With injuries on the brain (see what I did there?), we can’t help but talk about Valentino Rossi and his return to MotoGP action after breaking his tibia and fibula. Note, this show was recorded before Sunday’s Aragon GP race.

We finish the show talking about the official unveiling of the Ducati Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine, and the unofficial leaking of the Ducati Panigale V4 photos. As you can imagine, Quentin and myself have some strong feelings about both those topics.

There’s a little something for everyone in this show. We think you’ll like it.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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Superbike Deathmatch Round #1: Aprilia vs. Ducati

09/21/2017 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Asphalt & Rubber’s 2017 Superbike Deathmatch – our take on the motorcycle media’s superbike shootout review format, and the solitary path for a motorcycle to become the A&R Superbike of 2017. 

For those just tuning into the Superbike Deathmatch, the rules are easy. In each round, two bikes enter the race track, but only one bike leaves.

We have six motorcycles from the eight superbike manufacturers on the market, and the trim-level for each bike has been carefully chosen so that all the superbikes have a similar price and feature set as the other motorcycles in the comparison.

This means that we are looking at motorcycles around the $20,000 price point, all of which have IMU-powered electronics and brakes, along with up-spec components. Our goal here is to compare apples to apples, and see which one tastes best.

Our venue is the Portland International Raceway, and to evaluate these machines we have four riders that vary in skill levels and physical attributes, from professional racers to track day enthusiasts, from tall to short, and from skinny to….less skinny.

For our first round, we have started things off with a special treat, and a battle for the right to call a bike the “Best Italian Superbike” on the market. That’s right, we are going to pit the Ducati 1299 Panigale S against the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

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More Leaked Photos of the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4

09/07/2017 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Apparently today is Ducati Day, as news continues to come from Italy about the Ducati Panigale V4 and its Desmosedici Stradale engine.

Ducati has already spilled the beans on the new 210hp V4 engine it has been developing for its next superbike, but now we also get more spy photos of the Panigale V4 that will carry it.

These latest spy photos show quite clearly the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 that will debut later this November, at the EICMA show in Milan.

Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali confirmed the Panigale V4 name today, and for our A&R Pro members, we have gone into a lengthy analysis as to why Ducati is choosing to keep the styling and name of this machine so similar to the previous model.

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Video: Desmosedici Stradale Bench Test at Mugello

09/07/2017 @ 12:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

In case you missed it, the Ducati Desmosedici Stradale engine debuted today at Misano. The 1,103cc 90° V4 engine with desmodromic valves makes 210hp and 88.5 lbs•ft of torque.

One of the core elements of the Desmosedici Stradale engine is its 70° crank pin offset, which creates a “Twin Pulse” firing order (0-90-290-380), which should make the road-going engine behave similar to a v-twin engine.

We don’t have to speculate too much though, as Ducati has a video of the Desmosedici Stradale bench testing a simulated run of the Panigale V4 around Mugello. Enjoy!

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