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.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Gets Closer to Production Form

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

MV Agusta’s Moto2 Race Bike Predictably Looks Awesome

After a 42-year hiatus, MV Agusta is returning to the Grand Prix Championship. This iconic Italian motorcycle brand will not be competing in MotoGP however, and instead MV Agusta will make its return in the Moto2 category. Partnering with the Forward Racing team, MV Agusta aims to take advantage of the rule changes for the 2019 season, which will see a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine replacing the 600cc Honda four-cylinder engine that is currently in use. This change in the spec-engine rule will likely upheave the Moto2 Championship, and MV Agusta wants to be part of that sea change. As such, the bike you see in the photos here will be the machine that launches MV Agusta’s assault on the GP paddock.

The Harley-Davidson “Custom” Is the First Cruiser We Like

In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept. There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over. For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept. Using the 1,250cc version of Harley-Davidson’s new modular engine, the Custom takes a number of cues from Harley-Davidsons of the past and future.

Harley-Davidson Streetfighter Model Coming for 2020

Harley-Davidson has ambitious plans for the 2020 model year, releasing a number of concept teasers today for new motorcycles. These plans include an adventure-touring model, some electric models including e-bikes, a new roadster “custom”, and perhaps our favorite, a streetfighter model. Based around the same modular engine design, which will have a variety of displacements (500cc to 1,250cc), the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter will get the 975cc version of the liquid-cooled v-twin engine. Perhaps the most lithe machine we have seen from the Bar & Shield brand, the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter looks the part, albeit in a very Harley-Davidson way. We say this because the big v-twin engine sits load and proud in the chassis, like it is on display and there to remind everyone that this bike comes from Milwaukee. 

Harley-Davidson Debuts ADV Concept Bike

For as long as Asphalt & Rubber has been in business, we have never seen Harley-Davidson debut an actual new motorcycle. Rehashing the same design ethos over and over again, Harley-Davidson’s “new” bikes each year fail to stray very far from their predecessors. This notion changes today, however. Releasing a number of concepts for future machines, the Bar & Shield brand is showing signs of life. The concepts include electric motorcycles, e-bikes, a new roadster, a streetfighter, and even an adventure-tourer. We will take a look at these machines in turn, but first up, let’s look at Harley-Davidson’s biggest surprise to us, its ADV bike, which is called the Harley-Davidson Pan America.

The Real Reason I Will Never Buy a Zero

07/24/2018 @ 10:02 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I first rode a Zero back in 2009. It was a horrible machine. It was so bad, I don't even dare call it a motorcycle - the execution on that goal was just too far off the mark to warrant calling that creation a motorcycle.

For an example of this, I remember going for a ride on an early Zero S and the on/off switch was marked in sharpie, right on the frame.

The brakes were like wooden blocks attached to the wheels, which didn't matter much because the tires were cheap rubber from China that were absolutely useless (and terrifying) in the rain.

It wouldn't take long to learn that Zero's focus on lightweight components was a bad decision as well, as we would see frames on the dirt bike models collapsing when taken over any sort of jump.

The bikes from Zero were so bad, the product reviews on them could serve as a litmus test of who in the media was bought and paid for, and who was actually speaking truth to power.

These machines were objectively awful, and anyone telling you otherwise was getting paid - straight up.

I could probably go on and on about the quality issues of these early machines, but it would rob us time from discussing the constant management issues that Zero has faced in the past decade, its failed dealership and servicing model, not to mention just the general branding issue of calling your product a "Zero".

To their credit though, the folks at Zero have improved their product with each successive iteration. The management team finally seems to be stable; Zero now uses a traditional dealership model, and isn't wasting time sending technicians all over the country in a van; and well...the branding is still tough, but there is a new corporate logo.

Most importantly though, Zero's motorcycles are actually now motorcycles. The quality of these machines has improved dramatically, and generally the bikes are fun to ride.

So what is keeping me from putting a Zero in my garage, and using that massive electric torque to put a grin on my face? The answer is right there above these words, in the lead photo of this story.

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A New Logo for Zero Motorcycles…And What Else?

06/04/2018 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

“I ride a Zero” or “my bike is Zero” always seemed like rather negative byproducts of the Zero Motorcycles’ brand to me. Generally speaking, a company should avoid associating their product as being zero or nothing.

Of course, the name is a cue to Zero Motorcycles emission-free motorcycles, using “Zero” as a call to action for those with a green agenda.

This always bothered me too though, since the market for environmentally conscious motorcyclists is incredibly small (at least when it comes to the ones that vote with their wallets), and the production of electricity in the United States isn’t exactly carbon-neutral, but I digress.

Secretly, I have always hoped that Zero would change its name. It would be a single step in a process that would require many, but it would be the bold first step.

The rules for such a drastic change are pretty hard and fast though – with the biggest caveat being that you don’t change a brand unless it is going to affect your bottom line.

This usually means that a company uses a rebranding to define a crack in time – a point where they either compartmentalize the mistakes of the past into the “old brand” while the “new brand” promises a new hope. You also see new logos when a company pivots in a new direction.

Unfortunately for Zero, neither of these examples seem to be the case, and that’s the rub. For Zero, I think you can make a pretty strong argument that the American electric motorcycle marque has its fair share of radioactivity.

Most of Zero’s baggage comes from its early days though, when the product was dreadful, the management team looked like a game of musical chairs, and the business decisions (especially on how to build a dealer network and support staff) were dodgy at best.

Crappy bikes, upset owners, and dealers with burned bridges… Yes, changing the Zero name could do wonders for the Californian company’s bottom line. So, let’s consider today’s news the Diet Coke version of that strategy, as Zero Motorcycles is sporting a new logo.

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An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women.

“Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”

“We are so excited to announce our partnership with Honda for this ’80s and ’90s inspired collection,” said Linda Chang, VP of Marketing for Forever 21. “We are always looking for new and unexpected partnerships, and this collaboration with Honda is especially relevant now with the popularity of racing and strong ties between fashion and motorsport. We hope that both fans of Honda and our customers will celebrate with us through this collection.”

Of course, the launch of this line is being promoted by a contest on Instagram, where the winner gets a brand new Honda CRF250L dirt bike, once they take a photo of themselves in their F21xHonda gear and tag it on the photo-sharing service, of course.

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We interrupt this EICMA show coverage for an adjustment in semantics, as Yamaha Motor USA has informed as that going forward into the 2018 model year, the company’s lineup of “FZ” motorcycle models will go by the designation “MT” – thus aligning themselves with the rest of the Yamaha markets worldwide.

The FZ designation – used on the FZ-10, FZ-09, and FZ-07 – was always a curiosity when Yamaha started using “MT” back in 2005, though it likely stems from the name-recognition found with the very popular Yamaha FZ-1 at the time.

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MV Agusta F4 LH44 Limited Edition Debuts

09/28/2017 @ 11:16 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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, and replaces it with a single canister, a nod to Leon Camier’s current WorldSBK-spec racing machine.

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Lewis Hamilton Edition MV Agusta F4 About to Debut

09/28/2017 @ 12:32 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Our friends at Motor.nl have a good scoop for Italian motorcycle fans, as MV Agusta is about to release later today a Lewis Hamilton edition of its iconic MV Agusta F4 motorcycle.

Like the MV Agusta Dragster RR that also brandishes the F1 stars name, this F4 is expected 1) to be mostly a visual exercise, and 2) show the furthering bond between the Italian marque and the British driver, which just renewed their contract with each other.

Meanwhile, rumors that Lewis Hamilton would wild card alongside Leon Camier at the next WorldSBK round appear to be unfounded, though profoundly intriguing to consider.

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Nike Makes Air Force 1 Shoe for 12 O’Clock Boys

09/15/2017 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Nike Air Force 1 shoe is perhaps the most iconic piece of footwear ever created. It spurred an entire industry of sneakerheads – people who collect and trade shoes – and the Nike AF1 is one of the most collectible items for this genre of collector.

So, it’s not surprising that there is industry buzz about a new Nike Air Force 1 being created.

With each release, Nike has kept AF1 brand in line with its urban roots, where playing basketball on the street gave rise to young kids who would dream of following their heroes, like Michael Jordan, onto the courts of the NBA.

Now having more of a cult following, Nike has been branching out with its AF1 offerings, and last month the sport brand debuted a special AF1, which pays tribute to Baltimore’s 12 O’Clock Boys.

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Confederate Motors Changes Names, Goes Electric

08/28/2017 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We are in the final days of Confederate Motors, as the Alabama-based company just debuted its last motorcycle: the FA-13 Combat Bomber. Once the uniquely styled cruiser is sold out though, a new company will be formed: Curtiss Motorcycles.

The name Curtiss is a nod to aviator Glenn Curtiss, who before he battled with the Wright Brothers for control of the sky, was an avid motorcycle builder and motorcycle racer.

Like its namesake, Curtiss Motorcycles will be looking to the future, and thus its first model will be an all-electric motorcycle.

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Here’s Your Chance for a Real Career in Motorcycles

03/09/2017 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

If you are a young motorcycle enthusiast, looking to start a real career in this industry, the perfect time might be now. KISKA, the design firm responsible for the KTM and Husqvarna brands, is looking for a Product Management Intern in its motorcycle section. 

An amazing opportunity, this six-month internship is open to students or recent graduates, with fields of studying in marketing or product management. You must be willing to relocate though, as KISKA’s main base of operations is in Salzburg, Austria (one of the most beautiful cities in Europe).

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #46 – Caveat Emptor

03/07/2017 @ 10:59 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Episode 46 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is another must-listen show, and it starts out with a talk about one of motorcycling’s forbidden subjects: motorcycle run-in/break-in procedures.

As former service area manager and professional race team mechanic, Quentin drops some knowledge on how to break-in that new motorcycle in your garage, and dispels some myths along the way. You will definitely want to have a listen…we even touch on which oil is best for your motorcycle.

The conversation then turns to Ducati’s new financing program, and how that is an insight into things to come from motorcycle OEMs for the future. The show finishes with a listener question, which gets us talking about racer sponsorship, brand messaging, energy drinks, and brand “ambassadors” in the industry.

We think you will find Episode 46 both entertaining and informative, as well as well-worth a listen.

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. Enjoy the show!

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