The High Fives Heard in Milwaukee

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson’s Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka. No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well. Milwaukee even impressed with its more “core” offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be “a real motorcycle” in our eyes…we think.

Ducati’s Project 1309 Reveals a New Diavel Coming

We didn’t hear too much about “Project 1309” from World Ducati Week 2018, which is surprising considering what the past has shown us about Ducati’s secret reveals, but the Bologna brand was once again giving a teaser to fans in Misano. In the past, World Ducati Week has been the place where Ducati showed us the first Scrambler model, and last year the event debuted the return of the Ducati SuperSport. This year, it is another new bike. A new Diavel, to be precise. Set to compliment the current XDiavel model, the new Diavel features the same 1,262cc DVT engine with variable valve timing, but puts it into the more sport Diavel riding platform. This means tucked in feet on rearsets, rather than the XDiavel’s foot-forward controls.

VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

This Is the Ducati Scrambler That We Really Want

06/18/2018 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Scrambler Desert Sled concept from the Ducati Design Center is probably the best scrambler that you haven’t heard of – as the motorcycle had a very limited debut at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, around roughly this time last year.

The brainchild of Alex Earle – of Earle Motors fame – the Scrambler DS concept is very modern in its approach, and looks like it could easily do the deed when it comes to getting dirty in the muck.

Highlights include a beautifully machined double-sided swingarm; a large fuel tank up front, with an auxiliary tank in the rear; dual rear shocks and long-travel forks at the front; and a custom Akrapovic exhaust that tucks under the rear fender / fuel tank.

Overall, it is the bike that we wish Ducati would build, as it looks like a Scrambler that could really do some serious off-roading…while also adding to the premium look and feel that has made Ducati such an iconic brand.

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Turbocharged Can-Am Spyder F3 Concept

02/18/2016 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Despite what the DMV says, you might not consider the Can-Am Spyder to be a motorcycle, but the three-wheeler is part of a growing segment of on-road fun machines that have a pretty strong overlap with two-wheeled buyers.

It is not necessarily our cup of tea, but we wouldn’t mind swinging a leg over BRP’s latest creation, a turbocharged Can-Am Spyder F3 concept, which just debuted at the Daytona International Speedway.

The venue comes from Can-Am’s involvement as a title sponsor in the series, so naturally the Canadian brand wanted to spice things up with a special concept.

As such, the turbocharged 1,330 three-cylinder Rotax engine puts out 150hp (considerably more than the stock 113hp figure), and is aided in its breathing by its custom Akrapovič three-into-three exhaust system.

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2016-KTM-1290-Super-Duke-R-Special-Edition

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R Special Edition is an easy motorcycle to explain. You take the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, raid the KTM power parts catalog, slap some gold paint on the sucker, and call it done.

The extra goodies include an Akrapovič titanium exhaust, wave brake discs, stiffer triple clamps, adjustable hand levers, carbon fiber engine cover, and of course the orange anodized paint scheme.

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Every race track has something special, but each is special in a different way. There are the tracks which are notable for the speed, such as Mugello, Termas de Rio Hondo, or Phillip Island. There are tracks which have a spectacular setting, such as Phillip Island, Mugello, or Aragon.

There are tracks which are notable for their layout, either fast and flowing like Assen or Brno, or tight and treacherous such as the Sachsenring. And then there are tracks which are so unlike anywhere else that motorcycle racing goes to that they have a character all of their own. Like Indianapolis.

What makes Indy such a unique challenge? “The special thing about this track is that during the weekend, the grip is improving a lot, so this is one point you must understand during the weekend how the grip improves,” Marc Márquez said.

Understanding this, that the track you roll out onto on Friday morning bears no relation to the track you will be racing on come Sunday, presents a very specific challenge.

It rewards riders and teams who understand how a track matures and changes, can anticipate what is coming without getting ahead of themselves and paying the price for overestimating the available grip. A number of riders did that on Friday morning, especially in Moto3.

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It is hard to believe that the venerable Yamaha VMAX has been around for 30 years (it is even harder to believe that the VMAX has only seen one design revision in that timeframe as well), and so Yamaha is bringing out a special edition model to celebrate this special motorcycle.

The 2015 Yamaha VMAX Carbon is exactly as the name implies: a VMAX drag bike laden with lightweight carbon fiber. In total, the VMAX Carbon’s tank cover, front and rear fenders, and side covers are all made from carbon fiber.

Yamaha has teamed up with Akrapovic as well, and as such the Slovenian company’s slip-on mufflers complete the exhaust system and the changes to this beastly drag bike.

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Akrapovic-Full-Moon-Concept-06

Known better for its fine exhausts, Akrapovič is starting to get into the habit of making some intriguing concept motorcycles as well.

So far the Slovenian brand has kept these bikes to a cruiser theme, perhaps to amplify the company’s message to the Bar & Shield realm that other options exist outside of their Screamin’ Eagle©®™ Patriot-Freedom exhaust cannons that are so ubiquitous in that segment.

In contrast to the current trend, Akrapovič’s designs have been sleek, and this weeks’ latest, the Akrapovič Full Moon concept continues that ideal.

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Ducati 1299 Panigale – 205hp, Across the Board

11/03/2014 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Ducati-1299-Panigale

As was rumored, Ducati’s flagship machine, the Panigale superbike, gets an update for the 2015 model year. Now called the Ducati 1299 Panigale, the number designation means different things for the base, S, and R models.

All three models will sport a class-leading 205 peak horsepower, have the “cornering ABS” thanks to the inertial measurement unit (IMU) that is installed, and have the new Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) system, with its up and down clutchless shifting.

All three models also have a revised chassis geometry, with the steering head angle set at 24° now, while the fork pivot is 4 mm lower — all in the name of more precise steering (a critique of the 1199 model).

For the Ducati 1299 Panigale and Ducati 1299 Panigale S trim models, the high-revving Superquadro motor gets a displacement increase to 1,285cc, via a larger bore size (116mm). The Ducati 1299 Panigale R will remain at the original 1,198cc displacement, in order to comply with World Superbike regulations.

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husqvarna-701-concept

One of the more eye-catching things we saw today at the EICMA show (besides the Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE), the Husqvarna 701 Concept is an homage to the Swedish brand’s past, and a signal to its future. Truly Scandinavian in its aesthetic, the modern, yet simple, lines of the Husqvarna 701 provide a unique approach to the very cookie-cutter supermoto segment.

Featuring a 650cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine, Husqvarna says that the concept is good for 75hp and “outstanding” torque. Built with a chromoly steel trellis frame, WP Suspension, and Brembo brakes, the real eye-catcher is the custom Akrapovic exhaust and its integrated bodywork shroud.

The seat is made of multiple materials, and is designed to have grippy spots for where the rider sits under braking and acceleration, and slippery spots for where a rider needs to move along the seat unimpeded. We aren’t huge fans of the LED headlight, but otherwise it is a nice concept by Husqvarna.

Will the folks at Husqvarna create an on-road machine in the future? Certainly not. A supermoto perhaps though? Time will tell. Photos of the machine, taken in-person by yours truly, are after the jump.

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So Yamaha have brought their seamless gearbox to Misano. Being of a mind not just to blindly believe what Yamaha say they are doing, I naturally spent all of MotoGP FP1 on pit wall, watching the bikes come out of the 2nd gear final corner, and recording the sound of the gear changes to measure the gaps and estimate the length of time spent changing gears.

Without even looking at the numbers, you could tell the difference: the gear changes of both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were audibly quicker, taking place without the usual bang of exploding fuel as the quickshifter cuts ignition.

The difference was clear even when they were riding on their own, but when Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow went past shortly afterwards, the difference between the factory and the satellite machines was stunning. Where a large gap and small explosion could be heard when the Tech 3 bikes changed gear, the factory machines sounded smooth, revs dropping but continuing to drive, well, seamlessly.

You didn’t even need to hear the noise: just watching the bikes come out of the final corner gave you enough visual clues to see the bikes were using the seamless gearbox. The factory Yamahas were smoother, with less wheelie, and no movement of the rear when the gears were changed. This was clearly a seamless transmission Yamaha were using.

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2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Race Bike

07/12/2013 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Another year, and another Pikes Peak race bike from the Falkner Livingston Racing crew to frustrate current Ducati Multistrada 1200 S owners. This gorgeous machine was quick all throughout practice week in the hands of Micky Dymond, but being the first runner out of the gate on race day, with a very green track that had endured two heavy rainstorms, Micky hit the tarmac on several occasions during his Race to the Clouds — a herculean effort in its own right.

Certainly not the result the team deserved, but as Nicky Hayden is found to remind us, that’s why we line-up on the grid on Sunday. Taking the “official” fastest time up the mountain on a motorcycle was Bruno Langlois, with the Frenchman riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 S as well. Of course, we all know Carlin Dunne was the fastest up the course on his electric superbike from Lightning Motorcycles, but the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb doesn’t count the exhibition class in those results.

Each year I wax on about how gorgeous these Multistradas are, and this year is no different. In the pictures after the jump you will find yet another mouth-watering Ducati, with a new race livery, a custom-built exhaust from Akrapovič (only six were made), carbon brakes, a dry slipper-clutch conversion, and a bevy of other interesting modifications to the Italian adventure sport-tourer. Enjoy!

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