Ben Spies Making a Return to Motorcycle Racing?

Could we see the return of Ben Spies to motorcycle racing? That’s the talk of the paddock right now, and the former MotoGP racer is helping fuel the fires with his social media posts. Our sources point to Spies gearing up for a return to domestic racing, as he looks to ride in the MotoAmerica Championship (presumably on a superbike), and possibly also as a team owner as well, fielding his own entry. This should come as a surprising but welcomed bit of news to motorcycle racing fans, as the 33-year-old seemingly retired from motorcycle racing after the 2013 MotoGP Championship season, after extensive damage to his shoulders seemed to rule him out of a future of racing motorcycles.

Ducati Will Stay as a Part of Volkswagen

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). With that, Evercore Partners – the investment bank that was hired to solicit bids on Ducati Motor Holding – will stop pursuing brands that may want to see Ducati within their corporate holdings.

Rumor: Street-Touring Version of the Kawasaki H2 Coming?

I like this rumor. I like what this rumor says. And, I like that this rumor doesn’t seem to go away. The scuttlebutt of the motorcycle industry right now is suggesting that the street-shredding Kawasaki Ninja H2 might be joined by a sport-touring variant. This Kawasaki Ninja H2 GT – as some are calling it – takes the potent supercharged liter-bike, and makes it a little bit better suited for long-distance riding…well, as better suited to touring that a 200hp+ fire-breathing motorcycle can be. It remains to be seen how Kawasaki plans to expand its supercharger lineup of motorcycles: whether these rumored new machines will vary slightly in form-factor to accommodate different kinds of riding (using the current H2 as a platform for new models), or if Kawasaki will debut an all-new chassis design for these rumored motorcycles.

Solid-State Batteries, A Game-Changer for EVs?

This week’s big news is that California is looking at how it can join China, France, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in the banning of internal combustion engines in the coming decade(s), a move that will surely be a shot in the arm for electric vehicles. While the social and political pressures are coming into alignment for electric cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the technology for these next-generation vehicles is still not fully baked, and the biggest rate-limiter for EVs are their batteries. That is about to change, however, with solid-state batteries (a battery that has both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes) looking like the silver bullet that could make electric vehicles comparable in performance and price to their internal combustion counterparts.

Investigator Releases Report on Nicky Hayden Crash

On May 17th, 2017, Nicky Hayden was out training on his bicycle, near the Adriatic Coast, when he was struck by car in an intersection very close to the Misano World Circuit. The incident would prove to be a fateful one, and send ripples through the motorcycle industry, as Hayden died five days later in a hospital outside of Rimini, Italy. Since then, the accident has been under investigation by the local prosecutor, and the results of that forensic investigation have now been released to the public. Reconstructing the incident through statements made by the driver, eyewitnesses, and CCTV video footage, the investigation has found fault on both sides of the crash – assigning 30% of the blame to Nicky Hayden, for running the stop sign, and 70% of the blame to the driver, for excessive speed.

California Considers Killing Internal Combustion

Bloomberg is reporting that California Governor Jerry Brown is considering ways to ban the sale of vehicles that use internal combustion engines – a move that could have massive implications not only for vehicle sales, the environment, but potentially the motorcycle industry as well. Still in the early days of consideration, the news comes from remarks made by Mary Nichols, who is the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and her remarks and relaying of thought from Gov. Brown don’t make it clear if the ban would apply only to passenger vehicles, or if it would include modes of transportation like trucks, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles. However, the move mimics similar bans that we have already seen in places like China, and follows a trend that is catching on in European countries as well.

MV Agusta F4 LH44 Limited Edition Debuts

Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta, and Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton have re-upped their contract for collaboration, and one of the first fruits of that labor is a limited edition MV Agusta F4 superbike. Confirming our story from earlier today, the MV Agusta F4 LH44 picks up where the MV Agusta Dragster RR LH44 left off, adding Hamilton’s “unique” tastes and stylings to MV Agusta’s tapestry of motorcycles. Like with the MV Agusta F4 RC, the exercise is primarily visual, though like on the RC edition, MV Agusta adds its race kit to the package, which is good for a claimed 212hp. The big technical change of note is the titanium race exhaust from SC Project, which does away with the beautiful four-pipe undertail exhaust that Massimo Tamburini made famous.

Eugene Laverty Explains His 2017 WorldSBK Season

A return to World Superbike, with the bike that he came so close to winning the championship on – it all appeared like a dream opportunity for Eugene Laverty, to put himself into a position to win the title. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare, and from the start of winter testing it was clear that major work needed to be done to return the RSV4 to the front. Moving to the Milwaukee Aprilia squad understandably led to heightened expectations. In their second year in WorldSBK, the former British Superbike champions were expected to make a leap forward. Teething problems were expected with the switch from BMW to Aprilia, but not the struggles that lay ahead. “During the winter you can go in the wrong direction with the bike,” commented Laverty. “Unfortunately, that was the case for us.”

Superbike Deathmatch Round #1: Aprilia vs. Ducati

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. 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.

Photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Leak Online

What you see here are early leaked photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing – one of the most successful and important motorcycles for the Western markets. Honda is expected to debut this new model at a media event in October, but our friends at MaxxMoto and Oliepeil managed to get their dirty Dutch-speaking mits on these low-res gems, ahead of time. Beyond the styling refresh, the most obvious change that we can see for the Honda Goldwing is the new front-end, which appears to be a Hossack-styled design – similar to what BMW uses on its K-series motorcycles. The engine continues to be a flat-six, from the view in the photos, though we can expect some changes to the massive block – likely with fewer emissions, maybe with more torque/power.

Do You Have 20/20 Vision?

01/11/2012 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Because motorcycles can move from lane to lane with ease, and even vary their position in a single lane with regularity, motorcyclists are sadly hard to spot when automobile drivers are accustomed only to looking out for larger slow-to-move cars that take up an entire lane’s width. Yes, as motorcyclists we impose a special duty on automobile drivers, a duty which more often than not gets pushed back onto us. This then requires motorcyclists to ride defensively. It requires us to assume a cage doesn’t see us, and is gong to move into our lane.

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Nissan Responds Over Juke Commercial Controversy

09/09/2011 @ 11:32 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

After an outpouring of criticism of its Nissan Juke commercial, it looks like someone at the Japanese company has yanked its videos of the motorcycle-eating CUV from the internet. With the videos on YouTube and Vimeo now set to “private” and requiring a password to watch, it would seem that Nissan wisely doesn’t want you to see one of its latest promotions of the Juke, where a computer animated version of the Nissan Juke turns the tables on the “predatory” motorcycles, and hunts them down by running-over the motorcyclists. The pièce de résistance to this motorcyclist massacre is that the Juke’s motorcycle-inspired center console is in fact a trophy from one of the CUV’s many kills from the video. We seriously couldn’t make this up if we tried, and yet that very storyboard somehow made its way through an ad agency pitch.

Getting a proper roasting here at Asphalt & Rubber, we can only imagine that the frustration vented by motorcyclists in our comments showed a glimpse into the emails that Nissan recieved from the advertisement. Luckily one of our readers here at A&R shared with us the response they got from Nissan Canada, the branch responsible for the online Nissan Juke campaign in question. The reply confirms that the videos are in the process of being removed, though we’re not sure the duration of the campaign, nor its “super-natural” fell has much relevancy to the situation, and it certainly does not ease the fact that Nissan is showing an automobile maliciously run-over motorcyclists.

Considering that many of the members of the motorcycle community can share a common story about how a negligent or road-raged driver has nearly run them of the road (or worse, succeeded in that endeavor), we stand behind our position that Nissan probably could have picked a better way to make references to motorcycling-inspired design elements than what the company produced in this “trophy” storyline. A copy Nissan Canada’s response, with redacted names, is after the jump.

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Video: Stay a Hero, Stay Safe

06/13/2011 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It seems more often than not, the video advertisements we feature here on Asphalt & Rubber are examples of what is wrong with marketing in the motorcycle industry. However every once and a while, we get a gem like this safety campaign for The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, which was done by director Daniel Cox , the maker of a similar car campaign that was quite the rage in the advertising world.

The best part about this ad is that it centers around a little boy who seeS the motorcycle of his father, and wants to share in that experience. In a way, a lot of us are like little boys when we get on our bikes, and there certainly is a captivating element with motorcycles and small children. It just makes the imagery seem more fitting, and then there is of course the whole rolemodel message. It’s good heartfelt stuff, and it’s waiting for you right after the jump.

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Video: Casey Stoner Helps Hock Some Hondas

05/09/2011 @ 8:54 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It’s been a while since we had a motorcycle advert to critique, but with the thawing of winter’s ice, we should have a plethora of videos to show in the coming motorcycle friendly months. First up for the new riding season is Honda with this CBR1000RR ad that features MotoGP star Casey Stoner, and what appropriately looks to be Oz’s Repsol Honda Casey Stoner race replica that he is riding.

As far as motorcycle marketing goes, this clip is a pretty good effort by Honda Australia. Star GP rider, good production quality, and a demand generation focus all make for a compelling advert. Honda will need all the help it can get though, as it’s hard to sell the same bike that’s been out for four years, albeit with some fresh paint and some minor tweaks here and there.

In a market segment where dyno graphs and high-tech gizmos rule the sales sheet, here’s to hoping that quality in adverts can make up for quantity on the dynamometer in the Land of Kangaroos. Check it out after the jump and let us know what you think.

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I Think They’re Selling Gasoline…

04/01/2011 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on I Think They’re Selling Gasoline…

Repsol Honda has debuted a new advertisement to go in-line with the MotoGP Championship stopping in Jerez, Spain this weekend. Drawing on the petroleum company’s sponsored riders in GP racing, we see Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, and Marc Márquez making an appearance for their benefactor. We can only imagine the acting direction that must have been given to the riders for this video: “Marc, you’re the youngest so no talking and only use your hands. Dani, divide a really big number by another really big number while staring off into space. Andrea, you’re hot, so very, very, very hot…do something about it. Casey, you’re a sweaty boy, and everyone knows it.”

While we don’t speak a lot of Spanish here in the A&R office, we imagine the real message here is about teamwork, winning, and using Spanish gasoline…at least that’s what we’re hoping for, and that this is not the making of a motorcycle-themed boy band music video. Honestly though, it’s a pretty cool video with the slow-motion shots, and luckily for Repsol it looks like they have a good chance of being on the podium this weekend to go along with this campagin. Check out the making of this video after the jump, as it looks like there’s some A-quality footage still to be used. Do we smell a sequel coming on?

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“Crash Proof” Motorcycle Hoax Video Revealed

03/15/2011 @ 9:50 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

You’ve likely seen the video where a “crash proof” motorcycle, which has rider detection aids on-board, gets plowed by a truck as it enters the highway. If you haven’t seen this video, well…we just sorta ruined it for you, and we’re going to ruin it some more for the rest of you who thought it was real, as the group behind the video’s making has finally stepped forward, and revealed it was all a hoax to get you thinking about rider safety.

Produced by the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership (TVSRP), as part of the Safer Rider campaign, the locale has been trying to make riders in their 30’s and 40’s aware of the area’s high casualty rate on the roadway. “Our aim was to produce a video that encouraged people to discuss the attitudes and ability involved when riding a motorcycle and for it to spread virally within the motorcycle community,” said Craig McAlpine of TVSRP.

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Caution: Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health

12/29/2010 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Pirelli (makers of the 2011 Pirelli Calendar) and the Italian arm of ad firm Y&R (the NY arm of Y&R did the Xerox/Ducati ad set) want you to know that smoking can be hazardous to your health. Playing off the Surgeon General warning labels found on cigarette packages, Pirelli’s new ads show a motorcycling protagonist full of gusto putting one of his Italian doughnuts to good use with a puff of smoke and a mighty burnout (we’re working on our ad copy hyperbole).

There’s some good play on words going on here, which Y&R has put to good use with motorcycling imagery. We especially like the line “smoking can cause circulation problems” as the photo focuses on the time-warped spinning tire, while the “protect chicks: don’t make them breathe your smoke” seems a bit more pedestrian and blunt. Good photography, a hot custom bike, clever ad work. Chalk up a win for Pirelli (more photos after the jump).

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Video: Ducati Helps Xerox Sell Some Copiers

09/09/2010 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Xerox essentially foots the bill for Ducati’s World Superbike racing adventures, so it’s not surprising that the company, whose name is synonymous with photocopying, would like to capitalize on that relationship. It’s hard to imagine how one can make an intriguing commercial about xeroxing some documents (see what we did there?), which may be why Rochester-based brand is involved with WSBK in the first place, as the company has tapped its relationship with Ducati to help sell some copy machines. The result is an actually semi-engaging ad, but we’re just not sure what Xerox is going to do next year. Video after the jump.

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Carmichael Lynch, the ad agency behind Harley-Davidson’s “Screw it, Let’s Ride” campaign, has just announced that it will be parting ways with the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer. In a pair of “it’s not you, it’s me” press releases, the two companies, which have partnered together for the past 31 years, cite different reasons for their mutual departures.

Harley-Davidson CMO Mark-Hans Richer said in the company’s statement that, “our strategies have been moving away from a singular consumer target and a one-size-fits-all agency solution. Rather than accept this new reality, Carmichael Lynch chose a different path and we respect that.” Meanwhile according to Advertising Age,  President of Carmichael Lynch Doug Spong said that, “Our agency leadership came to the consensus that we’ve taken the Harley-Davidson brand as far as we can. It’s in our best interest to part ways.”

We just think that Harley-Davidson is on Step 1 of our three part strategy on How to Save Harley-Davidson.

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Harley Continues to Chase a Younger Audience

08/24/2010 @ 8:05 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

We’ve gotten more than a few emails from readers between the ages of 18-30 saying they’ve been approached at motorcycling events by market research company representatives working for Harley-Davidson. In conjunction with beefing up its Sportster line-up (the goto motorcycle at Harley-Davidson for catering to Gen-Y/X riders) with more youth-oriented motorcycles, Harley-Davidson is clearly trying to latch onto a new generation of rider.

Looking for the next generation of rebels, Harley’s focus lately has been on the skateboarding inclined, hoping perhaps that the demographic’s lifestyle of “skateboarding is not a crime” is a value that transfers over easily to two-wheeled transportation. Of course this marketing effort wouldn’t be complete without a new ad campaign, and Harley is clearly making ads for the customer it wants, not the customer it has.

Giving credit where credit is due, this is one of the better ads to come out of the Milwaukee brand. Check the video out after the jump, and note how many times you see a woman behind the handlebars.

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