BMW Motorrad is looking for new ways to get motorcyclists on the German brand’s two-wheelers, and as such BMW has created its “Rent a Ride” program. The name sort of gives things away, as the BMW “Rent a Ride” service is a short-term rental program that will be based out of BMW dealerships.
The concept is in its pilot phase right now, and focused on the German, Austrian, and French markets, with two dealers from each of these markets having a small fleet of motorcycles that renters can choose from.
If successful, the BMW “Rent a Ride” program will be rolled out to all BMW Motorrad dealers, effectively giving the German brand the largest motorcycle rental network in the world.
Riders, teams, journalists, fans, almost everyone likes to complain about the layout of the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg. Three fast straights connected by hairpins, with a long left hand corner thrown in for the sake of variety.
The facilities and setting may be magnificent, but the track layout is pretty dire. Coming from the spectacular, flowing layout of Brno, the contrast could hardly be greater.
And yet the Red Bull Ring consistently manages to produce fantastic racing. The combined gap between first and second place across all three classes on Sunday was 0.867 seconds, and nearly half a second of that was down to Moto3.
The MotoGP race was decided on the last lap again, just as it had been in 2017, though the race was decided at Turn 3, rather than the final corner. Spielberg once again served up a breathtaking battle for MotoGP fans, with a deserved winner, and the rest of the podium riders losing with valor and honor.
If we were to be picky about it, it would be to complain that the protagonists of the MotoGP race were rather predictable.
It is no surprise that the factory Ducatis would play a role at the front of the race: a Ducati had won in Austria in the previous two races, and the long straights from slow corners are almost made to measure for the Desmosedici’s balance of power, mechanical grip, acceleration, and braking stability.
Nor was it a surprise that Marc Márquez should be involved, the gains made by Honda in acceleration giving the RC213V the tools to tackle the Ducatis.
Naturally, the show starts with a look at Ducati’s third-straight victory at the Red Bull Ring, and how it came to be that Jorge Lorenzo stood on the top podium step, come Sunday afternoon.
Part of Lorenzo’s victory can be credited to his tire choice, which creates some discussion as well about the Michelin rear tire selection.
The conversation then turns to Marquez’s increasing lead in the MotoGP Championship standings, as he continues to gain on Valentino Rossi, who is making the best of a lackluster year on the Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1.
Lastly, the show takes a look at Aprilia Racing, which seems to be making little progress on its MotoGP program. The show covers the various reasons why Aprilia is struggling, and how the factory team can turnaround its fortunes.
Of course, the show finishes with out winners and losers from the weekend, which you won’t want to miss.
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It is a good job it will be dry on Sunday at the Red Bull Ring. Because if it were to stop raining half an hour before the race started, the rest of the field wouldn’t see which way Marc Márquez went.
That is the conclusion we can draw from Saturday morning in Austria, when FP3 started on a wet track with a dry line forming.
Márquez waited patiently in the pits for half an hour, then when the dry line got wide enough, went out on slick, and destroyed the field, lapping 2 seconds or more faster than anyone else.
It was a display of just how useful all that riding flat track has been to Márquez. There is no one quite so good at searching for grip on a sketchy surface, and clinging so precisely to the thin line of drying track which offers grip.
It is hard to imagine two tracks more different from one another than Brno and Austria.
From one of the most flowing and challenging circuits on the calendar, which caters to many different styles of bike and many different types of rider, to one of the plainest and simplest tracks which emphasizes braking and acceleration, and little more.
The Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in Austria is an amazing facility, set in a stunning backdrop, but the track layout remains a simplistic and uninspiring affair.
“You can split the track in two parts,” Johann Zarco explains. “The first part until Turn 4, that you have hard braking and then strong acceleration, you restart from the corner from almost no speed to 300 km/h.”
From Turn 10, the last corner, there is the front straight, braking hard uphill for Turn 1, then the climb up the hill through the narrow and fast kink of Turn 2, before braking for the hairpin at Turn 3, then following a gentle downward slope along the hillside down to another tight right hander at Turn 4.
“Then second part with fast corners, but not many,” the Monster Tech3 rider continues. The loop through Turn 5, then the omega of Turns 6 and 7, the kink of Turn 8, then the hard right of Turn 9, which is crucial for lining up the final corner at Turn 10, and back onto the straight again.
“You get focused on four corners, and you are already finished the lap,” Zarco said. “And I don’t know, I like that, you repeat things many times, so it’s a lot of concentration for a short time, and then you repeat it.”
What are you doing for the next 4 hours and 45 minutes? Take a break from your office-drone life and come watch the hardest single-day motorcycle event in the world.
That’s right, the entire Erzbergrodeo is up on YouTube (complete with a livestream chat feed), for your dirty-biking pleasure and two-centric practice of schadenfreude.
This year was the 24th running of the Erzbergrodeo, and this hard enduro hare scramble lived up to the hype once again. Only 23 riders finished this year’s race in the four-hour time limit (out of the 1,500 entrants and 500 qualifiers), and the clear winner didn’t emerge until the end of the course.
The “Iron Mountain” proved once again to be a great equalizer in rider skill and machine setup, which is why so many people flock to this old iron mine in Austria.
Over the years, thanks largely to the support of Red Bull, the Erzbergrodeo has become one of those iconic motorcycle races that lives a live of its own. Each year we see more top riders flocking to Erzberg, and this year saw the debut of the race’s first electric competitor: Ty Tremaine with Alta Motors.
We don’t want to give too much away, for those who don’t know the result and want to come into the stream clean, but it’s a worthwhile watch. Grab a beverage (or ten), turn off the phone, and enjoy!
“Ride the Revolution.” That’s Yamaha’s tag line for its latest sci-fi powersport creation— the three-wheel equipped NIKEN.
But the NIKEN is more than just a Transformer-esque motorcycle equipped with an extra wheel, instead, its engineered specifically to increase cornering grip, while maintaining an authentic leaning experience that only a motorcycle can provide.
Easier said than done, right? Well, after spending a day riding high in the Austrian Alps, we can see merit in Yamaha’s latest production concept.
Some loyal A&R readers may already disappointingly know that Yamaha Motor USA has blacklisted Asphalt & Rubber from Yamaha events, which is a dumb decision in its own right, but when it comes to press launches, Yamaha Motor USA proved this week that it truly has its head completely up its own ass.
This is because the American subsidiary of the Japanese brand has embargoed reviews for the new Niken three-wheeler until next week – a full seven days after American journalists were in the Austria alps on the leaning multi-wheel vehicle.
This wouldn’t be such a bad thing (worthy of mentioning at least), except the embargo is region by region, and other English-speaking publications have been allowed to post their reviews as they write them (check Visordown & MCN…even the horrid MoreBikes has a short review up).
This means you won’t read a review on the Yamaha Niken by us, or any other US publication, until next Monday…if you even bother reading them at that point. It almost makes you wonder why Yamaha Motor USA even bothered sending journalists to Europe in the first place, but I digress.
Of course, everyone is very curious to know how the Yamaha Niken handles on the road.
So far from what I’ve read coming from Europe, the three-wheeler comes across as being a bit complex, and a little vague in the front-end. The bike (if we can call it that) loses grip in the rear too often, possibly because of the adventure-touring tires it has mounted, and suffers in general from a lack of power and braking ability.
The Niken makes up for those negatives though with a front-end that is solidly planted to the ground, a bulk that doesn’t feel like a nearly 600 lbs bike at speed, and which turns into a fun ride when carving at speed. The European price-point seems fairly affordable as well.
Surmising from our colleagues across the pond, the Niken sounds like a intriguing touring option, though it seems to miss the boat when it comes to being a sport-bike platform, which is unfortunately how Yamaha has pitched this unique vehicle.
Of course, what you really want to know is whether the Yamaha Niken can wheelie, like any god-fearing motorcycle should. Thankfully Adam Waheed was in Austria to answer that exact question.
You can read Adam’s in depth review next Monday, along with the rest of the American journalists, but until then you should enjoy his behind-the-scenes videos, if you haven’t already. The answer to your most burning question is in Part III, around the 3:19 mark.