Unions End Partnership Agreement with Harley-Davidson

Two labor unions have ended a partnership agreement with Harley-Davidson, citing differences with how the Bar & Shield brand handles staffing issues at its factories (Harley has been accused of replacing hourly union workers with temporary seasonal workers). The move comes after a meeting on Monday, which saw leaders from the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM), United Steelworkers (USW), and Harley-Davidson President & CEO Matt Levatich unable to agree on how to handle staffing issues going forward. While the disagreement ends an accord that has existed between the unions and Harley-Davidson for the past two decades, it does not affect the collective bargaining agreement that the unions have with Harley-Davidson, which has been incorrectly reported elsewhere.

US House of Representatives Passes Self-Driving Car Bill

Say what you will about American politics, but the US House of Representatives has passed the “SELF-DRIVE Act” (H.R. 3388) – a bipartisan bill that would open up autonomous vehicle regulation for manufacturers. The big advantage of the SELF-DRIVE Act is that it would supersede the varying and ad hoc state rules that manufacturers must currently adhere to while developing their autonomous platforms. The bill would also do away with some safety standards put in place for vehicles with drivers, such as where the steering wheel and foot pedals must be located. Lastly, the SELF-DRIVE Act would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to research and develop a way of conveying to consumers the level of automation a vehicle possesses.

Is the MV Agusta Brutale 800 the Best Bike on the Market?

In early 2016, I was fortunate enough to ride the revamped and Euro4 version of the MV Agusta Brutale 800. On paper, the Brutale 800 lost power and gained weight, but the reality is that MV Agusta improved upon already one of its best-selling machines, in subtle and clever ways. Now a year-and-a-half later, the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is finally available in the United States, and I have been reunited with one of the best street bikes on the market. Spending almost all of last month with this motorcycle again, it is clear that not much has changed from a rider’s perspective, though internally improvements have been made to some of the weaker elements of the design, like the sprag clutch and valve train. While not much has changed with this year’s edition of the MV Agusta Brutale 800, I am mostly fine with that.

Lin Jarvis Talks Rossi’s Injury, Replacement, & Training

What happened when Valentino Rossi crashed? How serious is his injury? When will he be back? Who will replace Rossi, if he doesn’t return at Aragon? And what does Yamaha think of Rossi’s training methods? Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis spoke to a small group of journalists at Misano on Saturday morning, to answer these questions and much more. Jarvis knew about the accident very shortly after it had happened. “I knew before he got to the hospital,” Jarvis told us. “Albi [Tebaldi] called Maio Meregalli as soon as he got the news that Vale was on the way to the hospital. Maio called me straight away.” The good news was that Rossi’s injury was not as bad as the last time he broke his leg, at Mugello in 2010. “It’s much less serious,” Jarvis told us, “but probably just as irritating.

Aprilia Debuts Augmented Reality Helmet for MotoGP

While the launch of the Ducati’s Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine and leaked photos of the Ducati Panigale V4 dominated the news on Thursday, Aprilia Racing was quietly changing the sport of motorcycle racing, as it debuted an augmented reality helmet that its mechanics will wear in MotoGP. Aprilia has partnered with DAQRI and Realmore to make the augmented reality helmet come to fruition – DARQI is making the hardware, while Realmore is responsible for the software. As followers of augmented reality (AR) tech may already have guessed, Aprilia Racing’s AR helmet will allow its mechanics to visualize and share information, overlaid on what is occurring in the pit box. Aprilia Racing sees two major scenarios where using augmented reality could be of benefit.

More Leaked Photos of the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4

Apparently today is Ducati Day, as news continues to come from Italy about the Ducati Panigale V4 and its Desmosedici Stradale engine. Ducati has already spilled the beans on the new 210hp V4 engine it has been developing for its next superbike, but now we also get more spy photos of the Panigale V4 that will carry it. These latest spy photos show quite clearly the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 that will debut later this November, at the EICMA show in Milan. Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali confirmed the Panigale V4 name today, and for our A&R Pro members, we have gone into a lengthy analysis as to why Ducati is choosing to keep the styling and name of this machine so similar to the previous model.

Ducati Reveals the 210hp Desmosedici Stradale Engine

Hello and welcome to a new era of Ducati motorcycles, which is starting with a very special engine. Named the Desmosedici Stradale, this road-going version of the company’s MotoGP power plant is what is going to power Ducati’s next superbike, the Ducati Panigale V4. Debuting today in Misano, at a special event ahead of the San Marino GP, the mystery around the Desmosedici Stradale engine has finally be revealed, to the tune of 210hp (@ 13,000 rpm) and 88.5 lbs•ft of torque (@ 12,250 rpm). Dropping details on the 90° V4 engine with desmodromic valves, we now know that Ducati will continue to play the displacement game with its superbike, as the street version of the Panigale V4 coming with a 1,103cc displacement.

Verdict Reached in Alpinestars/Dainese Airbag Patent Case

A verdict has finally been reach in the German patent law dispute between Alpinestars and Dainese, concerning their respective airbag suit technologies. In the ruling, the “Landgericht” court in Munich found that Alpinestars violated two Dainese patents concerning its D-Air technology, and thus issued a verdict that sees Alpinestars forbidden from selling its Tech-Air products in Germany. Alpinestars will also have to pay Dainese restitution for damages incurred from Alpinestars selling Tech-Air products in Germany. The monetary amount of the damages will depend on how much Tech-Air product the Italian firm sold in Germany, which has yet to be determined. After the verdict, both companies issued press releases touting their side of the patent dispute story, with clearly no love lost between the two parties.

Ducati Divestiture Seemingly Stalls Out

For the past few months, talk of Ducati’s divestiture from the Volkswagen Group has grabbed the attention from news outlets and Ducatisti alike, as the future of the Italian motorcycle company seemed uncertain. Internally, a power struggle was a play, with Audi keen to unload Ducati from its books, but lacking the support from upper management in the Volkswagen Group. Talks reportedly hit the skids once it was realized that the Volkswagen labor unions, which control half of the seats on the Volkswagen Group management board, weren’t onboard with divesting Ducati from the holding group. This is probably information that investors would have liked to know, before they spent the time and resources putting together purchase proposals for Audi’s consideration.

Ducati Panigale V4 Spotted in Photo

Later this week, Ducati will debut its Desmosedici Stradale engine, the new 90° V4 engine that will power Ducati’s next superbike (amongst other models). To see Ducati’s next superbike though, we’ll have to wait until November’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy…or will we? This photo is going around the internet, purporting to show the new “Panigale V4” superbike. The photo looks legit, and looks very similar to the spy photos that we have seen of the Ducati’s new superbike machine. The bodywork on the Ducati Panigale V4 mimics very closely the previous generation Panigale (the v-twin model), though there are some obvious changes. It looks like the headlight recesses also channel air around the body, likely to aid in cooling the V4 engine.

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-crf1000l-supermoto-nicolas-petit

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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mv-agusta-brutale-concept

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

BMW-HP2-Sport-Concept-Oberdan-Bezzi

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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Norton Announces V4 Superbike, Again

08/10/2016 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Norton-V4-Superbike

A year ago, to the day, Norton announced that it was working on a street-going superbike that featured a 200hp, 1,200cc, V4 engine. Now, Norton confirms that news, saying that we will see the limited-production (200 units) machine later this fall. Yay.

On the bright side, Norton posted a concept drawing of the new bike to its Facebook page, giving us at least something new to whet our appetites on the new motorcycle.

The concept looks very similar to the sketch we saw last year, making today’s new a little bit about nothing. But, our friends at MotoFire report that Norton is still working on a 650cc project, which will debut later this year as well.

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Yamaha FZ-09 R Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

08/05/2016 @ 1:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Yamaha-FZ-09-R-Concept-Oberdan-Bezzi

Here’s a little concept art from Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi, to get your weekend started. The idea takes the venerable Yamaha FZ-09, and imagines an R-spec model with a little bit more pep in its step.

Noticeable changes include a revised tail section, fuel tank design, and wheels – all of which give the FZ-09 a much sportier look. Presumably the suspension pieces have been upgraded as well, and the murdered Akrapovic exhaust means a modest bump in power too.

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The Honda X-ADV Adventure Scooter is Coming

07/26/2016 @ 1:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

City Adventure Concept

The Honda City Adventure concept is set for production, according to a new teaser video from Honda. Now called the Honda X-ADV, the basic idea is to have a step-through scooter design with off-road “ADV” attributes, such as longer suspension and dual-sport tires.

Showing us a short video with a scooter that looks almost identical to the Honda City Adventure concept, the clip hard-cuts between city scenes and dirt roads. Ending with a nod towards August 30th, we can almost certainly expect Big Red to debut this adventure scooter then.

The idea of an adventure scooter is a weird notion, to be sure, but Honda likes remixing established segments to create new machines, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by this recent mashup.

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