Erik Buell’s Newest Project Is an Electric Street Bike

Erik Buell, we have missed thee. It has been almost a year since we last reported on the demise of Erik Buell Racing, but it has been over two years since we talked about the man himself. What has Buell been up to? Well, from the look of things, making a pivot into the electric motorcycle arena, it seems. Teaming up with New York City boutique bike brand, Vanguard Motorcycles, as well as Formula E car supplier, SPARK Racing Technologies, Buell is part of the new VanguardSpark venture. For its debut, VanguardSpark has two machines on offer. The first is an electric motorcycle (above), called the VanguardSpark Commuter. It’s a simple design, which we don’t find terribly appealing, though one should always reserve some judgments when only looking at a concept machine.

This Week’s “Ducati for Sale” Rumor

The Volkswagen Group got a new CEO last week, and in less than seven days, that news has already sparked renewed rumors in the German automobile conglomerate divesting itself of Ducati Motor Holdings. For those who have been following Ducati’s saga, there was much talk last year of Volkswagen selling off a number of its other brands, all under the reasoning that the German company would need to raise capital to cover its mounting Dieselgate liabilities. The logic for that reasoning wasn’t sound, but the actions were certainly there, with Volkswagen tendering offers from a number of would-be suitors. There was a fly in the ointment though: Volkswagen’s labor unions, who control half of the VW Group’s board seats, and were vehemently opposed to any brand divestitures.

Battery “Thermal Events” Lead to Zero Recall & Buy-Back

Zero Motorcycles is reporting a very serious defect with its 2012 model year bikes, specifically affecting the Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DSP (Police) models. The recall concerns Zero’s battery architecture for the 2012 model year, which may cause cells to fail, and thus create a runaway “thermal event” (read: catches on fire) within the battery pack. In total, this recall affects 218 motorcycle units – the entire volume of Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DPS motorcycles that were sold for the 2012 model year. In its recall documents, Zero cites three instances (one in Hong Kong, and two in the USA) where the battery packs on the affected 2012 model bikes have failed and lead to a thermal event.

Benelli’s Grom-Killer Debuts for the US Market, A Review

For years, Benelli has lain dormant, at least in the US market. That changes with the Chinese owned, but Italian-run, firm releasing the first of many street bikes for American consumption. It kicks things off with the 2018 Benelli TnT 135 ($2,499). US importer, SSR Motorsports, hosted a quick day ride that began atop Southern California’s Ortega Highway, and concluded in Newport Beach. Renowned for its twists and turns, Ortega Highway is an amusing, but also very high-traveled ribbon of blacktop that links the bustling inland and beach communities. This stretch of roadway is known for accidents as well – would the tiny TnT be able to keep up with “always in a hur

UK Salary Data Shows Gender Gap at Triumph

The United Kingdom has a new law, requiring companies with 250 or more employees to report to the authorities the earnings of its workers, by gender. The topic has been a sticking point in the British news cycle right now, with woman across the company showing median earnings that are 12% lower than men, which is a sizable gap in income equality. Where does the British motorcycle industry falls into place in all this? Well as Visordown initially reported, that is more difficult to say, as it appears that only Triumph Motorcycles meets the reporting criteria, amongst motorcycle manufacturers. Technically, it is two brands that meet reporting criteria for gender pay gap, as Triumph Motorcycles Limited and Triumph Designs Limited split their duties for the British marque.

What Caused Jorge Lorenzo’s Crash at the Qatar GP?

After a poor start, which saw him drop from ninth on the grid to thirteenth at the end of the first lap, Jorge Lorenzo was making steady progress through the field at Qatar. His lap times were starting to come down to match, and on some laps even beat, the pace the leaders were running. As the halfway mark approached, and less than four seconds behind the leaders, Lorenzo started to believe he was capable of salvaging a decent result from a difficult start. That all ended on Lap 13. The Spaniard crashed out of the race at Turn 4, when his front brake failed and he had to drop the bike in the gravel. “I just felt that the level of the front brake was getting closer to my fingers and I didn’t have brake,” Lorenzo described the incident afterwards.

The Ducati Panigale V4 Looks Good Wearing Termignoni

For a long time, the name “Termignoni” was synonymous with “Ducati exhaust”, with the popular scarico-maker being a constant fixture in the Ducati Performance parts catalog. So prevalent was the brand, that if you see a turn-of-the-century (21st century, that is) Ducati clacking down the street with its dry clutch, chances are the exhaust you are also hearing was made by Termignoni. But that has changed in recent years, with Slovenian marque Akrapovič supplanting Termignoni in Ducati’s good graces. To find out why, all one had to do was examine the products themselves – where Termignoni’s pieces were poorly fabricated and over-priced, Akrapovič was infinitely better built and often cheaper.

Honda CBR1000RRW Debuts for Endurance Duty

What you are looking at here is the bike that Honda hopes will win the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race this year. It is called the Honda CBR1000RRW. It is not all that different from the WorldSBK-spec model, the one that Leon Camier and Jake Gange are competing with currently (and that PJ Jacobsen is helping develop), save for some interesting changes. For starters, the Honda CBR1000RRW dumps its Cosworth boxes, and instead runs the Magneti Marelli electronics package that Jacobsen is using in WorldSBK. Also, there are some obvious bodywork changes, namely where the exposed front spars of the frame would be, which are now covered by a silver painted panel.Then of course, there are the mechanical changes for endurance duty, like quick-change wheel pieces and functional lights.

Honda CB300R Coming to USA with Retro-Modern Looks

One of the surprise pleasures at last year’s EICMA show was Honda’s family of “Neo-Sports Café” street bikes, which brought a retro-modern look to Big Red’s approach road bikes. While the new Honda CB1000R tickled our fancy the most, we were delighted to see that the theme extended all the way to the Japanese brand’s small-displacement platform, the Honda CB300R. An attractive and affordable entry-level bike, the Honda CB300R looks like it was designed in Europe, rather than Nippon, which is probably why the 286cc commuter is doing so well in the European market. Seeing that success, American Honda has confirmed the CB300R as an early 2019 model for the US market – available in July 2018.

Motorcycling’s April Fools Round-Up for 2018

Another year, and another April Fools Day is done and dusted. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news they wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint. My colleague David Emmett had a nicely done story about the MotoGP World Championship. For my own part, I took advantage of the long-con approach, and fit a story into our ongoing series about the upcoming Suzuki Hayabusa, which seems to have no shortage of weekly rumors about this bike’s supposed features and technical specifications. How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

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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Hold onto your butts, because the Teutuls are about to have a television show again, as the Discovery Channel is rebooting the incredibly popular American Chopper TV show.

In it, Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. will once again stir the pot of their family feud, as they face off against each other as they build custom motorcycles and vie for title of “Biggest Man-Child in the History Humankind” on cable television.

The news is of course a double-edged sword for the motorcycle industry, as American Chopper’s popularity was responsible for bringing motorcycling outside of our niche media focus, and putting it into the mainstream public consciousness.

Conversely though, the reality TV show feeds off some of the worst personalities that have ever been created, which doesn’t exactly put motorcycling’s best foot forward in the eye of the public, and only furthers the counter-culture perspective the general population has of motorcycles.

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L’Avventura by Walt Siegl

10/19/2017 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

How do you say “The Adventure” in Italian? You start with an air-cooled 1,100cc Ducati engine. You then strip the chassis it comes with, down to only its most essential elements, and then from there you create a purpose-built ADV machine.

You will want to focus on the details too though. Details like long-travel suspension and knobby tires mated to 21″ and 17″ wheels, which are a must, especially if you want to create significant ground clearance.

Contrasting headlights and extensive crash protection help complete the transformation as well, and of course some stylish, but functional, bodywork should wrap everything together.

When you are done with all that, you have the L’Avventura by Walt Siegl – an Italian-bred dual-sport that begs to be taken down wooded trails, lofted over jumps, and railed through dirty berms.

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Naughty Quadro by Alexey Afanasyev

09/29/2017 @ 2:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you needed more proof that the Ducati 1299 Panigale can make for an attractive retro-styled motorcycle (here, here, and here), then may we present to you one more piece of evidence, the “Naughty Quadro” by designer Alexey Afanasyev.

To make the Naughty Quadro, Afanasyev took the Panigale’s Superquadro engine and built around it an attractive and trendy body structure, which should look familiar to Scrambler owners. If the swingarm looks familiar too, that is because it is off of a Ducati Monster S2R 1000.

One of the most noticeable aspects of Afanasyev design is the custom radiator, which creates a tasteful line for the superbike engine, though we’re not sure if it will do the duty in heavy traffic.

Of course, the most interesting aspect of the motorcycle is that it isn’t a motorcycle at all…as Afanasyev has created some very detailed and very convincing renders for his concept on the computer, which include even the dirt and debris on the engine and tires. It’s really well-crafted.

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