This Week’s “Ducati for Sale” Rumor

The Volkswagen Group got a new CEO last week, and in less than seven days, that news has already sparked renewed rumors in the German automobile conglomerate divesting itself of Ducati Motor Holdings. For those who have been following Ducati’s saga, there was much talk last year of Volkswagen selling off a number of its other brands, all under the reasoning that the German company would need to raise capital to cover its mounting Dieselgate liabilities. The logic for that reasoning wasn’t sound, but the actions were certainly there, with Volkswagen tendering offers from a number of would-be suitors. There was a fly in the ointment though: Volkswagen’s labor unions, who control half of the VW Group’s board seats, and were vehemently opposed to any brand divestitures.

Battery “Thermal Events” Lead to Zero Recall & Buy-Back

Zero Motorcycles is reporting a very serious defect with its 2012 model year bikes, specifically affecting the Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DSP (Police) models. The recall concerns Zero’s battery architecture for the 2012 model year, which may cause cells to fail, and thus create a runaway “thermal event” (read: catches on fire) within the battery pack. In total, this recall affects 218 motorcycle units – the entire volume of Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DPS motorcycles that were sold for the 2012 model year. In its recall documents, Zero cites three instances (one in Hong Kong, and two in the USA) where the battery packs on the affected 2012 model bikes have failed and lead to a thermal event.

Benelli’s Grom-Killer Debuts for the US Market, A Review

For years, Benelli has lain dormant, at least in the US market. That changes with the Chinese owned, but Italian-run, firm releasing the first of many street bikes for American consumption. It kicks things off with the 2018 Benelli TnT 135 ($2,499). US importer, SSR Motorsports, hosted a quick day ride that began atop Southern California’s Ortega Highway, and concluded in Newport Beach. Renowned for its twists and turns, Ortega Highway is an amusing, but also very high-traveled ribbon of blacktop that links the bustling inland and beach communities. This stretch of roadway is known for accidents as well – would the tiny TnT be able to keep up with “always in a hur

UK Salary Data Shows Gender Gap at Triumph

The United Kingdom has a new law, requiring companies with 250 or more employees to report to the authorities the earnings of its workers, by gender. The topic has been a sticking point in the British news cycle right now, with woman across the company showing median earnings that are 12% lower than men, which is a sizable gap in income equality. Where does the British motorcycle industry falls into place in all this? Well as Visordown initially reported, that is more difficult to say, as it appears that only Triumph Motorcycles meets the reporting criteria, amongst motorcycle manufacturers. Technically, it is two brands that meet reporting criteria for gender pay gap, as Triumph Motorcycles Limited and Triumph Designs Limited split their duties for the British marque.

What Caused Jorge Lorenzo’s Crash at the Qatar GP?

After a poor start, which saw him drop from ninth on the grid to thirteenth at the end of the first lap, Jorge Lorenzo was making steady progress through the field at Qatar. His lap times were starting to come down to match, and on some laps even beat, the pace the leaders were running. As the halfway mark approached, and less than four seconds behind the leaders, Lorenzo started to believe he was capable of salvaging a decent result from a difficult start. That all ended on Lap 13. The Spaniard crashed out of the race at Turn 4, when his front brake failed and he had to drop the bike in the gravel. “I just felt that the level of the front brake was getting closer to my fingers and I didn’t have brake,” Lorenzo described the incident afterwards.

The Ducati Panigale V4 Looks Good Wearing Termignoni

For a long time, the name “Termignoni” was synonymous with “Ducati exhaust”, with the popular scarico-maker being a constant fixture in the Ducati Performance parts catalog. So prevalent was the brand, that if you see a turn-of-the-century (21st century, that is) Ducati clacking down the street with its dry clutch, chances are the exhaust you are also hearing was made by Termignoni. But that has changed in recent years, with Slovenian marque Akrapovič supplanting Termignoni in Ducati’s good graces. To find out why, all one had to do was examine the products themselves – where Termignoni’s pieces were poorly fabricated and over-priced, Akrapovič was infinitely better built and often cheaper.

Honda CBR1000RRW Debuts for Endurance Duty

What you are looking at here is the bike that Honda hopes will win the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race this year. It is called the Honda CBR1000RRW. It is not all that different from the WorldSBK-spec model, the one that Leon Camier and Jake Gange are competing with currently (and that PJ Jacobsen is helping develop), save for some interesting changes. For starters, the Honda CBR1000RRW dumps its Cosworth boxes, and instead runs the Magneti Marelli electronics package that Jacobsen is using in WorldSBK. Also, there are some obvious bodywork changes, namely where the exposed front spars of the frame would be, which are now covered by a silver painted panel.Then of course, there are the mechanical changes for endurance duty, like quick-change wheel pieces and functional lights.

Honda CB300R Coming to USA with Retro-Modern Looks

One of the surprise pleasures at last year’s EICMA show was Honda’s family of “Neo-Sports Café” street bikes, which brought a retro-modern look to Big Red’s approach road bikes. While the new Honda CB1000R tickled our fancy the most, we were delighted to see that the theme extended all the way to the Japanese brand’s small-displacement platform, the Honda CB300R. An attractive and affordable entry-level bike, the Honda CB300R looks like it was designed in Europe, rather than Nippon, which is probably why the 286cc commuter is doing so well in the European market. Seeing that success, American Honda has confirmed the CB300R as an early 2019 model for the US market – available in July 2018.

Motorcycling’s April Fools Round-Up for 2018

Another year, and another April Fools Day is done and dusted. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news they wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint. My colleague David Emmett had a nicely done story about the MotoGP World Championship. For my own part, I took advantage of the long-con approach, and fit a story into our ongoing series about the upcoming Suzuki Hayabusa, which seems to have no shortage of weekly rumors about this bike’s supposed features and technical specifications. How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

This Week’s Suzuki Hayabusa Rumor, Part 3

We know to expect a Suzuki Hayabusa reboot in the coming months, and in a way, that is all that we know. The iconic superbike is in its 20th year of production right now, and an all-new machine is set to take its place, for the 2019 model year. Will it be turbocharged? Will it have a larger displacement? How about a dual-clutch transmission? That remains to be seen. Safe bets are that the 2019 Suzuki Hayabusa will have updated electronics, likely powered by an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Euro4 emissions homologation is a must, and Suzuki will presumably be building the new Hayabusa with the Euro5 standard in mind as well. Beyond these givens though, it seems that every week there is a new rumor regarding the next Hayabusa generation, and this week is no different.

Asphalt & Rubber typically posts between 20 and 30 stories a week. We are not prolific in the amount of content we produce each week, instead we are selective about what we cover, and always try to frame a single story into a much larger understanding of what is happening in a particular segment or in the industry as whole.

So, this means that not everything we want to cover gets covered. Some stories don't make the cut, some stories fall to the wayside because of time or resources, and some stories just simply get lost in the shuffle.

It is a shame, so I wanted to create a new segment where we touch back on some of those topics, and include a few others that are completely outside the scope of this motorcycle blog.

Part clearinghouse for stories that we will never get our full attention, and part book club for our loyal readers who are doing their best to survive the work day, say hello to the first installment of the "What We're Reading" column series.

To continue reading this story, you need to have an A&R Pro subscriber account. If you have an A&R Pro account, you can login here.

BMW R1250 Global Sport Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/23/2018 @ 10:33 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

BMW basically created the adventure touring category, popularizing the segment with its Gelände Straße motorcycles. Ever since, the German brand has created more and more “GS” bikes to help diversify its lineup for the tastes of riders, and also to defend its position from other brands.

Here, designer Oberdan Bezzi imagines a different kind of GS – a grand sport. Living somewhere between a scrambler and a maxi-motard, Bezzi’s creation sees the use of an air-cooled 1250cc boxer engine, wedged into a light adventure-sport format.

It is an intriguing idea (and design), and it pokes an obvious hole in BMW’s current crop of motorcycles. We didn’t think the Bavarian brand could use another boxer-powered motorcycle in its lineup, but Bezzi’s Global Sport makes a good case for such a machine.

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Gone Riding: In Morocco with Bridgestone

03/20/2018 @ 11:50 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Apologies if things have been a bit sparse here the last few days, as I’ve been making yet another trans-Atlantic crossing…my third in just seven days.

The trip has been worth it though, as I have been fortunate enough to ride in Morocco with Bridgestone the last few days, testing out the new Battlax A41 adventure-touring tire, and the Battlax T31 sport-touring tire.

Because of the schedule, we are going to have to Tarantino this “Gone Riding” post a little, and do thing in reverse, but there is plenty to talk about.

Our routes have been based out of Ouarzazate (productions like Gladiator and Game of Thrones have been filmed here), and it is a high-desert terrain with red rocks and plenty of sand and wind.

With two different tires, I have been on a host of bikes as well. On the Battlax A41, it was the BMW 1200GS Rallye, KTM 1290 Adventure S, and the Honda Africa Twin; while for the Battlax T31, it was the Suzuki GSX-S1000F, BMW R1200R, and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

Feel free to pick my brain about the new Bridgestone tires, the bikes I have been on, and what it is like to visit Morocco and the Ouarzazate region.

As always, you can follow our thoughts on the tires via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #BattlaxA41 & #BattlaxT31

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Triumph Just Put the Desert Sled on Notice

03/17/2018 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Triumph is sending a major wakeup call to its colleagues down south in Bolonga, as the revamped 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 just broke cover in spy photos, and the bike looks to be a direct competitor to the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled.

Abandoning its previously frumpy British roadster-with-knobbies design, the new Triumph Scrambler 1200 looks the part, and seems focused on actually going off-road, like a good scrambler should.

It is a big surprise from the British brand, and a bit of a new direction for Triumph, but clearly the Brits have been feeling the post-authentic pressure from Ducati, and are thus responding in kind.

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Gone Riding: Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

02/25/2018 @ 9:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Riding bikes is what we do, and the dude abides, so I am out here in Moab, Utah swinging a leg over the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa – the British brand’s fully loaded middleweight off-road focused adventure-touring bike.

Kitted with extra goodness, the XCa is the more premium counterpart to Triumph’s other off-road 800cc model, the Tiger 800 XRx…and if you are confused by Hinckley’s alphabet soup, don’t worry, you are not alone.

To be clear, the Tiger 800 XCa is the fully-loaded off-road model, complete with a 21″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel. It includes also things like a heated seat and grips, an aluminum radiator guard, and LED lighting, 

New for the 2018 model year is a bevy of updates, namely a revised dash and smoother three-cylinder engine. Triumph says that there are over 200 changes to the Tiger 800, though you would have a hard time seeing them. This truly a model refresh, not a new machine.

Still, these are welcomed updates to the class-leader, and I have high hopes for riding the XCa on Moab’s dusty and dirty trails – the previous edition was a very capable off-roader, after all.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Triumph personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Just the other day, I was lamenting to a Ducati person about how the Desert Sled should have been the first model from the motorcycle makers Scrambler sub-brand…since, you know, it goes off-road quite well.

Built for the hard hits and jumps that come with taking a production street bike scrambling through the woods, the Desert Sled pretty much lives up to its name. But, if you really want to do the business, some changes need to be made.

This is where Alex Earle comes in the picture, with his Ducati Desert Sled “ADV Alaska” Prototype. A designer for Audi by day, Earle is known better in motorcycling circles for his street-tracker inspired custom Ducatis. You’ve probably seen them before.

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Is a Baby Africa Twin Coming from Honda?

12/08/2017 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Brits over at MCN have an interesting story right now, whereby Honda is considering making a middleweight version of its Africa Twin adventure-tourer.

Really, that thought isn’t so shocking, and if this year’s EICMA show was any indication of things, it’s that the middleweight ADV segment is of particular interest to motorcycle manufacturers right now.

One look at Honda’s lineup, and it is obvious that Big Red is missing something that can go head-to-head with bikes like the BMW F850GS and Triumph Tiger 800 (I’m willfully excluding the Japanese brands here), and the soon-to-come KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha Ténéré 700.

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The KTM 790 Adventure R Prototype in Action

11/20/2017 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I am always kind of amazed that when KTM shows its hot new bikes at a trade show like EICMA, the Austrian brand does such a bad job sharing the media it creates. Such is the case with the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype.

As such, only a handful of studio shots were released to the public upon the bike’s debut in Milan, Italy. But yet, KTM has clearly gone through the trouble of doing photo shoots with the middleweight ADV machine, and still the “Ready to Race” brand isn’t spreading the love.

Fortunately, we do have a couple photos of the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype, lifted from KTM’s Facebook page, and they do entice.

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BMW Debuts Revised F750GS & F850GS Models

11/07/2017 @ 10:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The middleweight ADV segment is hot in Milan right now, with a bevy of models in this category debuting at this year’s EICMA show. For BMW Motorrad, its a two-pronged effort, showing the updated BMW F750GS and BMW 850GS models.

This space has always been a big crowded in the BMW motorcycle lineup, with the F700GS and F800GS having considerable overlaps. For 2018, the Germans explain how they see the F750GS and F850GS as differing.

Accordingly, the BMW F750GS is designed for riders who prefer a travel enduro that has a low seat height, good power, and plenty of bang for the buck.

Conversely, the new BMW F850GS boasts more power and torque, is more feature-heavy, and is designed with extensive off-roading in mind.

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We were the first outlet to bring you photos of the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype, but now this 799cc trail-shredding machine is out in the wild, and we can share with you more specs, details, and higher resolution photos.

The first point is the obvious, the KTM 790 Adventure R will not be a 2018 model, but instead will debut for the 2019 model year.

It shares a parallel-twin engine with the KTM 790 Duke, which also debuted today at the EICMA show in Milan. The 105hp engine is a fully stressed part of the steel-tube chassis, which means there should be excellent weight savings for the 790 Adventure R.

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