Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST. The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away. While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

Americas Top Öhlins Dealer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Daniel Laine Kyle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – known best for his speed shop, Kyle Racing – pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government earlier this week, after it was found that Kyle had been hiding cash-based purchases made at this business. Dan Kyle Racing is known best for being the largest Öhlins suspension dealership in the United States (if not the world), as the company offered aggressive pricing on the Swedish-born suspension, and was one of the first Öhlins dealers with an online presence in the early days of the internet. According to the plea agreement made between Kyle and the US Attorney’s Office, Kyle pleaded guilty to tax fraud and structuring currency transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements in the US Tax Code.

The 2017 Saroléa SP7 Is Ready for the Isle of Man TT

The focus for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT may center around Team Mugen’s dual entry with John McGuinness and Guy Martin, but one should not overlook this very attractive entry from Belgium. Saroléa is back for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, continuing with its state-of-the-art carbon fiber chassis goodness and retro fairing design. On board will once again be Dean Harrison, who will be gunning for a podium-finish on the 2017 Saroléa SP7. If looks alone could get you across the finish line, then Saroléa would have our vote. The Belgians have always been in the running for a strong result though, finishing 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. Maybe this year will be “their year” at the TT.

India Is Now the World’s Biggest Motorcycle Market

Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Motorcycle Patents

I am really excited about the Suzuki brand right now. Out of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the recession affected Suzuki the most, probably more than many people realize, but the Hamamatsu brand is poised to bring out some exciting machines in the coming few years. Could we finally see a turbocharged Suzuki this year though? The rumor mill is pointing to yes…but just pointing, and the reason is because of patents. Much of this internet rumors stems from a flood of patents that have been found, where Suzuki is patenting technology related to turbo-powered engines in motorcycles, or because of other patents that make reference or inference to being part of a turbocharged motorcycle.

No, Royal Enfield Isn’t Buying Ducati

I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

Spy photos from Austria have caught KTM testing a rather interesting motorcycle – one that does not run on a petroleum-based fuel, but rather it has an electric drivetrain at its core. This isn’t the first time that KTM has experimented with an electric motorcycle, of course, with the KTM Freeride E being available in select markets. However, the machine seen here is a pretty big step forward for the Austrian brand, from its modest electric dirt bike. Using the chassis of a KTM 390 Duke to house the battery, inverter, and motor, KTM’s electric street bike (we’ll call it the KTM E-Duke for now) looks like a rolling mess, but is what you would expect from a project in its early stages of development.

For the Geeks, Your Luke Skywalker HJC Helmet Is Here

I am a solid Star Wars geek, but not in the dress-up and go to a convention sort of way – if you know what I mean. But, this new lid from HJC might have me singing a different tune, as it mimics Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing “Red 5” fighter helmet, in a DOT legal ¾ helmet format. That’s just cool…in a really un-cool sort of way. Based off the budget-friendly HJC IS-5 helmet, this Luke Skywalker replica will cost roughly $180 when it comes out (at a date still to be determined). Additionally, 10 versions of the lid will be signed by Mark Hamill, and auctioned for charity (UNICEF and the Starlight Children’s Foundation), if your geekdom takes you in such a direction (and you have a four-figure wallet).

Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

The Rise and Fall of Danny Kent

“Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with,” Peter Bom, Danny Kent’s former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent. Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom’s three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.

KTM 790 Duke Prototype Debuts with Parallel-Twin Engine

11/08/2016 @ 5:21 am, by Jensen Beeler46 COMMENTS

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For KTM, the 2016 EICMA show is all about the Duke line of streetfighters. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R got a pretty sizable upgrade for 2017, the KTM 690 Duke received a facelift, and the KTM 390 Duke is now easily the best bike in its class.

The Austrians didn’t stop there though, they also gave us a taste of what is still to come for the Duke brand, teasing us with the KTM 790 Duke prototype.

Rumored heavily before the new bike season, this “KTM 800 Duke” features an 800cc parallel-twin engine, slapped into an upright motard-esque chassis.

The Kendo-styled LED headlight that’s finding its way into the entire KTM range features here as well, though that is hardly the most radical part of the 790 Duke’s design – checkout the undertail exhaust, which probably spit plums of fire before the lawyers got ahold of it.

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Oh My! The Honda Africa Twin Enduro Sports Concept

11/08/2016 @ 2:13 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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File the Honda Africa Twin Enduro Sports concept under things we like, as the adventure-bike concept takes perhaps the most off-road competent ADV bike on the market, and raises its dirt credit by another factor of ten.

Built off the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin, the Enduro Sports concept is intended to expand the Africa Twin family, and to help the new adventure bike attract more riders into its Cult of Brap.

To do this, Honda’s R&D department came up with several lighter weight chassis components (Honda does say what specifically, of course), which were initially developed for the Honda CRF450 Rally race bike, which competes in the Dakar Rally.

The styling is aggressive, especially with the revised headlight assembly. The windscreen and fairings have been re-styled for a sportier look as well, and of course the Termignoni exhaust system is eye-catching, in utilitarian sort of way. Overall, the effect is quite stark.

Honda concept bikes have a funny way of becoming production models in a year or two’s time. As such, we wouldn’t mind have one in our garage. Would you?

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Yamaha T7 Concept Hints at a 700cc Ténéré for 2018

11/07/2016 @ 2:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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Part of Yamaha’s 2016 EICMA show program includes a nod to the future, teasing us today with the Yamaha T7 concept. Picking up the torch where the Yamaha XT600Z Ténéré left off, the Yamaha T7 concept uses the same 270° parallel-twin engine found in the Yamaha MT-07/FZ-07 street bike.

Yamaha has wrapped that stout twin-cylidner engine in a brand new chassis that is suited for dual-spot riding, and hopes to focus its efforts on offering a middleweight adventure-tourer that is high on off-road brapping, and low on electronic wizardry.

This should appease those who complain about ADV bikes being too road focused and sophisticated for true adventure riding, and Yamaha hopes to use the T7 concept to develop a bike that meets this ethos, and is suitable for production, but also capable of proper rally raid riding.

As such, the Yamaha T7 is a fully functional prototype, and it is being developed with help from the Official Rally Team in France, Yamaha R&D in Italy, and GK Design in The Netherlands.

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Energica Debuting New Electric Motorcycle Concept

10/31/2016 @ 5:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It looks like we will get to see a new electric motorcycle at the EICMA show in Milan, as Energica says it will debut a new electric motorcycle concept at the Italian trade show.

Saying in its press release that the new concept will be “an evolution of design and technologies already adopted on Energica models. The company with this new concept will approach the most recent motorcycle market trends.”

Beyond this, Energica is being very tight lipped about the new machine. As such, it is not clear what kind of motorcycle Energica will actually unveil.

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Honda Africa Twin Supermoto Concept by Nicolas Petit

10/17/2016 @ 4:46 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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The Honda Africa Twin doesn’t lend itself naturally to a supermoto format, though it is one of the most capable off-road adventure bikes on the market, but you have to admit that this photoshop render by French designer Nicolas Petit is very intriguing.

Maybe it’s our obvious bias towards anything supermoto that is talking, or maybe it’s that there is something to the idea of taking the Africa Twin, adding 17” wheels, and lowering it just enough that riders can actually flat-foot the machine while sitting on it.

Add in some styling cues that scream “supermotard” and you have a very handsome machine that is ready to conquer anything the urban environment can throw at it. Hell, it’s probably just a scary clown costume away from a good time on a gravel road. Right??!

We doubt Honda has any eyes on offering a more on-road version of the CRF1000L, though if they did, and it looked like this, we might be intrigued. Just leave the DCT off of it.

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BMW Says That This Is the Future of Motorcycles

10/12/2016 @ 3:27 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Fresh as an MBA graduate, in the very early days of Asphalt & Rubber, I had an interview with a prominent Fortune 500 company that was well-known for its 100 year plan.

This was a topic of conversation during my job interview, as I found it intriguing that a company could even pretend to predict what the world will look like in 100 years.

To find the arrogance in this notion, imagine the trying to predict things like social media, cell phones, the internet, automobiles, commercial flying, and space travel…all at the turn of the 20th century.

With the rate of change we have seen in the past 100 years, apply that same trend to the next 100 years, and you will see how futile such a prediction can be. What don’t know what we don’t know, in this regard.

So, it’s with some amusement that we share with you today BMW Motorrad’s vision for motorcycling in the next 100 years.

The German brand calls its the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100, and says that the concept “embodies the BMW Group’s vision of biking in a connected world – an analogue experience in a digital age.”

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New Four-Cylinder MV Agusta Brutale Debuting at EICMA

09/14/2016 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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You know the new-bike season is just around the corner, because we’re starting to get glimpses of what the motorcycle OEMs will debut at shows like INTERMOT and EICMA.

We’ve already had a glimpse of the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR, as well as the 2017 BMW S1000R, and if the folks at Italian motorcycle magazine Motociclismo are correct, the following is a concept sketch of the four-cylinder 2017 MV Agusta Brutale.

The new Brutale is one of two new bikes that MV Agusta will launch at the EICMA show, with the other machine pegged as a special edition three-cylinder model.

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Oh Yes, Honda’s ADV Scooter is Coming

08/31/2016 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

City Adventure Concept

Remember how Honda teased with a 21-part video series for the Africa Twin adventure-tourer? Get ready for the same treatment again, this time for Big Red’s ADV Scooter, which so far we only know as the “Honda City Adventure” concept.

This off-roading feet-forward scooter is coming to Europe, and likely North America as well, which should be an interesting test for this crossover model.

The latest teaser video gives us a pretty good glimpse of the machine, which doesn’t stray too far from its trade show concept, complete with wire wheels and dual-sport tires.

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BMW HP2 Sport Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

08/29/2016 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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As a young sport bike enthusiast, I never really took the BMW HP2 Sport seriously during its brief tenure as part of BMW Motorrad’s two-wheeled lineup (the BMW HP2 Sport was discontinued after the 2012 model year).

Under-powered, overweight, with clearance issues from the air-cooled boxer engine – I just didn’t “get it” when it came to the HP2.

As a more veteran rider, who too now is a little underpowered, overweight, with some clearance issues, I have a better appreciation for this quirky street bike, and a sort of longing for the HP2 to return to BMW’s arsenal. So too does Oberdan Bezzi.

Here, the Italian designer imagines a machine that benefits from BMW’s liquid-cooled version of its boxer-twin engine, the same lump that powers the current line of R-bikes, like the venerable BMW R1200GS adventure-tourer.

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Honda CB1100R Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

08/24/2016 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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We’ve got air-cooled bikes on the brain today, so it seemed appropriate to share one of Oberdan Bezzi’s latest work. The Honda CB1100R concept imagines an air-cooled inline-four engin, wrapped in the bodywork of a sport bike that harkens back to the Honda RC30.

Two classic bikes from Honda’s lineup that make for odd bedfellows, Bezzi’s concept strikes a chord though – especially with more veteran riders who remember when 100hp was more than any street rider could hope for.

Despite the advent of Euro4 emission regulations and crack-downs by the EPA, air-cooled motorcycles are finding their second wind. Free from having to achieve outright performance figures,  less powerful air-cooled motorcycles are filling a niche where more simple and affordable bikes are the most alluring.

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