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.

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.

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At the 10th Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

05/14/2018 @ 7:36 am, by Andrew KohnADD COMMENTS

Ten years of doing anything is typically a reason to celebrate. Whether it’s ten years of marriage, a birthday, or the tenth year of a company being in business, ten years is a seminal anniversary.

Recently, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering celebrated its 10th anniversary in Carmel, California. Over 3,000 attendees had the opportunity to ogle over 350 amazing motorcycles from many different genres.

Unlike last year, there was no need for beanies or puffy jackets, as the weather was significantly warmer and the crowd was a lot more comfortable.

And though this was the 10th anniversary of the event, there wasn’t a lot of fanfare around the milestone. But maybe that’s what makes the Quail special. Amazing, while remaining low-keyed. Dazzling, without making a spectacle of itself. In a word, elegant.

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At the 5th Annual Handbuilt Motorcycle Show

05/04/2018 @ 3:06 pm, by Andrew KohnADD COMMENTS

What do you do to celebrate five years of one of the most successful custom motorcycle shows in the country? Well, you move into a new, bigger venue with about 4 weeks’ notice. At least that’s what you do if you’re the leaders of the Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas.

This year’s show was held in the Austin American-Statesman building, and offered a significantly larger venue than the previous location in the Austin Fair Market.

Stefan Hertel, one of the co-founders of Revival Cycles, who put on the Handbuilt, graciously took a moment out of his day to discuss the new venue.

When I spoke with Stefan at last year’s show, I asked if he had ever considered a bigger venue, and he mentioned that they were looking at larger alternatives.

As it turns out, up until about a month before this year’s show, the team at Revival was planning on being at the Fair Market again, but in one of those serendipitous moments, the Handbuilt Team found the Austin American-Statesman building.

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Alpinestars is celebrating its 55th anniversary at this year’s Americas GP, and to help commemorate the event, they have commissioned the creation of a special one-off motorcycle from Michael Woolaway, the prorietor of Woolie’s Workshop and Deus ex Machina in Venice, California.

The bike is based off a Ducati 1974 Ducati 750 Sport, with an old race engine that Woolie found in a crate, wedged into a custom frame that was built by Jeff Cole.

The design is immediately recognizable as one of Woolie’s creations, with its minimalist red bodywork, retro-mod lines, and performance-oriented pieces. 

Speaking at the bike’s unveiling, Woolie described his creation as having the heart of a classic sport bike, with the benefit of modern technology and chassis dynamics.

As such, you will find Öhlins suspension front and back, Brembo braking pieces, Marchesini wheels, and a custom 2-2 Akrapovic exhaust.

Other trick bits include parts by Rizoma, as well as a thumb-brake system on the left-hand side.

If you ever happen to see the creation on the road, look closely at the rider. It’s like Alpinestars CEO Gabriele Mazzarolo.

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A Bike Like No Other, The Watkins M001

03/26/2018 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

To steal a phrase from my Two Enthusiasts Podcast co-host Quentin Wilson, this bike is pinnacle weird. And while the Watkins M001 is certainly one strange duck, it is also incredibly alluring, with its boxer engine, metal plate frame, and funky front-end design.

The work of Jack Watkins, an engineer by trade, the Watkins M001 is nine years in the making, a date that is helped measured by the air-cooled BMW R1150RT engine that resides at the machine’s center.

The hub-center steering design is inspired by Stellan Egeland’s BMW Harrier, which first caught out attention back in the early days of Asphalt & Rubber, again a nod to how long Jack Watkins has been working on his custom, in his spare time.

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There simply are not enough big-displacement supermotards in this world we live in. There is the Ducati Hypermotard 939, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900, then there is the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, and well…that’s about it.

Thankfully, I am not alone in feeling that this is a big travesty – a crime against motorcycling itself, even. That is where Maxwell Hazan (the man behind Hazan Motorworks) comes in, with his “HazanSMR” project.

It starts with a 942cc LC8 v-twin engine from KTM, and it ends with a ~310 lbs motorcycle that spits 110hp to the rear wheel. Go ahead, we’ll give you a moment to compose yourself before continuing onward.

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Just the other day, I was lamenting to a Ducati person about how the Desert Sled should have been the first model from the motorcycle makers Scrambler sub-brand…since, you know, it goes off-road quite well.

Built for the hard hits and jumps that come with taking a production street bike scrambling through the woods, the Desert Sled pretty much lives up to its name. But, if you really want to do the business, some changes need to be made.

This is where Alex Earle comes in the picture, with his Ducati Desert Sled “ADV Alaska” Prototype. A designer for Audi by day, Earle is known better in motorcycling circles for his street-tracker inspired custom Ducatis. You’ve probably seen them before.

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Confederate Motorcycles is to become the Curtiss Motorcycle Company. We reported on this story back in August already, so loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers should know that the news comes with the twist that the new company will focus on motorcycles that have electric drivetrains, provided by Zero Motorcycles.

Not much beyond those details was available at the time, and admittedly we don’t have a plethora of new information about this boutique American brand at this point in time as well, but we’ll share with you what we do know.

First of all, Curtiss Motorcycle will ultimately have a bike for a wide range of pocketbooks, not just the uber-rich that were serviced by Confederate. Curtiss’ first bike will be called the Hercules, and it is scheduled to drop on May 5, 2018.

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It is good to be Valentino Rossi. Not only do you have nine world championships to your name, legions of yellow-crazy fans, but you also get pretty nice gifts from your friends.

Take “Mya” for example – a special Yamaha XJR1300 custom flat tracker that the folks at VR|46 built for their fearless leader.

Now, when you think about bikes that should be the basis for a custom project, the Yamaha XJR1300 doesn’t exactly come to mind. It probably doesn’t help that this decades-old model is only Euro3 compliant, and set to sunset at the end of this year.

The XJ1300 certainly doesn’t strike us as the appropriate starting point for a flat track bike either, especially with its 530 lbs weight figure.

That all being said, the VR|46 crew have done a pretty good job of spiffing up the old girl.

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Classified Moto Announces RESTRICTED Series

10/19/2017 @ 5:05 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Want a better reality TV option than the Discovery Channel’s reboot of American Chopper?

How about something that follows the in-shop antics of a group of people who are actually talented at making custom motorcycles? How about a show that follows people who are funny and entertaining in normal life, and aren’t just TV’s base caricature of the lowest common denominator?

If that sounds like something that would appeal to you, then we think you will like a new RESTRICTED series from the folks at Classified Moto.

The show launches on November 8th on YouTube, and we are eager to see the antics and builds that it reveals.

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