Ben Spies Making a Return to Motorcycle Racing?

Could we see the return of Ben Spies to motorcycle racing? That’s the talk of the paddock right now, and the former MotoGP racer is helping fuel the fires with his social media posts. Our sources point to Spies gearing up for a return to domestic racing, as he looks to ride in the MotoAmerica Championship (presumably on a superbike), and possibly also as a team owner as well, fielding his own entry. This should come as a surprising but welcomed bit of news to motorcycle racing fans, as the 33-year-old seemingly retired from motorcycle racing after the 2013 MotoGP Championship season, after extensive damage to his shoulders seemed to rule him out of a future of racing motorcycles.

Ducati Will Stay as a Part of Volkswagen

Reports out of Italy are confirming the news that Ducati will remain as a part of the Volkswagen Group, with the German company ceasing its pursuits of divesting the Italian motorcycle company from its ranks. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Ducati’s business situation, as reports of the divestiture stalling out were circulating this time last month. The news seems to come with a bonus, with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali reportedly confirming the news internally (other reports quote Audi CEO Rupert Stadler doing the same as well). With that, Evercore Partners – the investment bank that was hired to solicit bids on Ducati Motor Holding – will stop pursuing brands that may want to see Ducati within their corporate holdings.

Rumor: Street-Touring Version of the Kawasaki H2 Coming?

I like this rumor. I like what this rumor says. And, I like that this rumor doesn’t seem to go away. The scuttlebutt of the motorcycle industry right now is suggesting that the street-shredding Kawasaki Ninja H2 might be joined by a sport-touring variant. This Kawasaki Ninja H2 GT – as some are calling it – takes the potent supercharged liter-bike, and makes it a little bit better suited for long-distance riding…well, as better suited to touring that a 200hp+ fire-breathing motorcycle can be. It remains to be seen how Kawasaki plans to expand its supercharger lineup of motorcycles: whether these rumored new machines will vary slightly in form-factor to accommodate different kinds of riding (using the current H2 as a platform for new models), or if Kawasaki will debut an all-new chassis design for these rumored motorcycles.

Solid-State Batteries, A Game-Changer for EVs?

This week’s big news is that California is looking at how it can join China, France, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in the banning of internal combustion engines in the coming decade(s), a move that will surely be a shot in the arm for electric vehicles. While the social and political pressures are coming into alignment for electric cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the technology for these next-generation vehicles is still not fully baked, and the biggest rate-limiter for EVs are their batteries. That is about to change, however, with solid-state batteries (a battery that has both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes) looking like the silver bullet that could make electric vehicles comparable in performance and price to their internal combustion counterparts.

Investigator Releases Report on Nicky Hayden Crash

On May 17th, 2017, Nicky Hayden was out training on his bicycle, near the Adriatic Coast, when he was struck by car in an intersection very close to the Misano World Circuit. The incident would prove to be a fateful one, and send ripples through the motorcycle industry, as Hayden died five days later in a hospital outside of Rimini, Italy. Since then, the accident has been under investigation by the local prosecutor, and the results of that forensic investigation have now been released to the public. Reconstructing the incident through statements made by the driver, eyewitnesses, and CCTV video footage, the investigation has found fault on both sides of the crash – assigning 30% of the blame to Nicky Hayden, for running the stop sign, and 70% of the blame to the driver, for excessive speed.

California Considers Killing Internal Combustion

Bloomberg is reporting that California Governor Jerry Brown is considering ways to ban the sale of vehicles that use internal combustion engines – a move that could have massive implications not only for vehicle sales, the environment, but potentially the motorcycle industry as well. Still in the early days of consideration, the news comes from remarks made by Mary Nichols, who is the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and her remarks and relaying of thought from Gov. Brown don’t make it clear if the ban would apply only to passenger vehicles, or if it would include modes of transportation like trucks, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles. However, the move mimics similar bans that we have already seen in places like China, and follows a trend that is catching on in European countries as well.

MV Agusta F4 LH44 Limited Edition Debuts

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.

Eugene Laverty Explains His 2017 WorldSBK Season

A return to World Superbike, with the bike that he came so close to winning the championship on – it all appeared like a dream opportunity for Eugene Laverty, to put himself into a position to win the title. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare, and from the start of winter testing it was clear that major work needed to be done to return the RSV4 to the front. Moving to the Milwaukee Aprilia squad understandably led to heightened expectations. In their second year in WorldSBK, the former British Superbike champions were expected to make a leap forward. Teething problems were expected with the switch from BMW to Aprilia, but not the struggles that lay ahead. “During the winter you can go in the wrong direction with the bike,” commented Laverty. “Unfortunately, that was the case for us.”

Superbike Deathmatch Round #1: Aprilia vs. Ducati

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Asphalt & Rubber’s 2017 Superbike Deathmatch – our take on the motorcycle media’s superbike shootout review format, and the solitary path for a motorcycle to become the A&R Superbike of 2017. For those just tuning into the Superbike Deathmatch, the rules are easy. In each round, two bikes enter the race track, but only one bike leaves. We have six motorcycles from the eight superbike manufacturers on the market. For our first round, we have started things off with a special treat, and a battle for the right to call a bike the “Best Italian Superbike” on the market. That’s right, we are going to pit the Ducati 1299 Panigale S against the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Leak Online

What you see here are early leaked photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing – one of the most successful and important motorcycles for the Western markets. Honda is expected to debut this new model at a media event in October, but our friends at MaxxMoto and Oliepeil managed to get their dirty Dutch-speaking mits on these low-res gems, ahead of time. Beyond the styling refresh, the most obvious change that we can see for the Honda Goldwing is the new front-end, which appears to be a Hossack-styled design – similar to what BMW uses on its K-series motorcycles. The engine continues to be a flat-six, from the view in the photos, though we can expect some changes to the massive block – likely with fewer emissions, maybe with more torque/power.

Alta Adds Enduro Model to Its Electric Lineup

10/05/2017 @ 6:37 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The electric motorcycle lineup from Alta Motors quietly grew larger today, with the San Francisco startup adding an electric enduro model to its range. As such, say hello to the 2018 Alta Motors Redshift EX.

The bike is pretty straightforward, as it takes the motocross-focused Redshift MX, makes some chassis changes and adds a license plate, so you can go shredding off-road and on-road alike.

To the finer details, the chassis changes include an 18″ rear wheel, narrower rake and larger offset, a WP rear shock with a custom reservoir, a smaller rear brake, and Metzeler 6 Days Extreme tires.

All of this adds up to a 275 lbs electric motorcycle (which is kind of a thing right now) with 40hp at the rear wheel, and 120 lbs•ft of torque at the countershaft sprocket.

Continue Reading

Should Suzuki Bring the V-Strom 250 to the USA?

09/22/2017 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Suzuki V-Strom 250 is already available to our riding compatriots across the pond, but Suzuki Motor of America is considering bringing the model to the United States, which is a bit of good news.

The quarter-liter ADV machine shares a motor with the Suzuki GSX250R, which is really just the Suzuki Inazuma in new clothing. Still, 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 250 provides new riders and attractive entry into the ADV space, at an affordable price point.

The 248cc motorcycle makes just a touch under 25hp from its parallel-twin engine, which gets 88mpg and should be good for roughly 300 miles of range.

Suzuki is looking for feedback as to whether they should being the V-Strom 250 to the USA. So, if you like what you see here, speak-up in the comments section.

Continue Reading

Yamaha Begins Teasing T7 Adventure Bike

08/17/2017 @ 2:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Yamaha Motor Europe has begun its teaser campaign for what we expect to be a new adventure bike in the company’s lineup.

Debuting the Yamaha T7 Concept at the 2016 EIMCA Show, the 689cc, twin-cylinder, ADV motorcycle is the prime suspect for the unseen motorcycle in this teaser video.

Yamaha hasn’t been bashful about the T7 Concept either, with prototype versions of the bike being caught out testing, and even loaned out the bike for a special photo shoot with Italian publication DueRoute.

Even in Milan, it was widely known that the concept on stage would be headed into production. So, here we are.

Continue Reading

KTM Finally Brings the Freeride E-XC to the USA

08/07/2017 @ 3:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

KTM was the first major motorcycle manufacturer to debut a production-ready electric motorcycle, all the way, way back in 2011. In true KTM fashion though, it has taken six years for the “Ready to Race” brand to be ready for the US market with its electric motorcycle design.

This is because KTM North America is finally bringing the KTM Freeride E-XC to the United States, starting with a handful of dealerships (11, to be precise) who will carry the electric dirt bike, reportedly in limited quantities.

Continue Reading

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Goes Pro with Parts & BNG

06/20/2017 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Goes Pro with Parts & BNG

The folks at Bologna seem to have a few mid-summer releases for us this year, with the Italian brand announcing today the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Pro.

The Enduro Pro is a pretty straight-forward parts-bin special, with a rough-surface sand-colored livery and more than a few parts from the Ducati Performance catalog coming as standard. The big change is the Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires – 120/70 R19 at the front, 170/60 R17 at the rear, which come fitted stock.

Other highlights include Touratech bull bars with auxiliary LED lights; a lower windscreen for better off-road viewing; and a slip-on exhaust from Termignoni. So everyone will know that you’re headed off-road, the word “Enduro” is prominently emblazoned on the machine.

As such, this well-equipped ADV bike is the second model announced by Ducati this week, with the last iteration of the Ducati 1299 Panigale teased, ahead of its Laguna Seca debut, as well.

Continue Reading

2018 Yamaha YZ450F Debuts with Tuner App

06/14/2017 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2018 Yamaha YZ450F Debuts with Tuner App

Not one to let the other brands have all the fun, Yamaha has debuted its all new 450cc class motocross bike, the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F, which features the first engine tuning app available for a production MX bike.

The new Yamaha YZ450F is truly an all-new machine, with a new engine, frame, and bodywork. For bonus points too, the new YZ450F comes with an electric starter, which means MX riders can now skip leg day at the gym, and still get their bikes running on race day.

Available in July, in either “Team Yamaha Blue” or “White” color schemes, the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F will cost $9,199 MSRP. This price includes the onboard communication control unit (CCU), which allows the rider to connect to the bike via smartphone.

Continue Reading

The Updated 2018 Husqvarna FS 450 Supermoto Debuts

06/13/2017 @ 9:33 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on The Updated 2018 Husqvarna FS 450 Supermoto Debuts

Husqvarna continues to be the only motorcycle manufacturer with a race-ready supermoto, straight from the factory, and what a machine it is, the Husqvarna FS 450. For the 2018 model year, the Swedish brand has added more updates for the Husqvarna FS 450, keeping it at the pointy end of technology.

The big changes come in the form of a new slipper clutch from Suter, and brand that any MotoGP team should be familiar with, along with a new map switch control on the handlebar, which continues to toggle on and off the bike’s traction control, dual engine maps, and launch control features.

The last change of note for the 2018 model year that Husqvarna wants us to share is that fact that there is a new graphics package…this year, the seat is blue.

Continue Reading

CCM Spitfire Scrambler Looks Just as Tasty

06/05/2017 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on CCM Spitfire Scrambler Looks Just as Tasty

British marque CCM Motorcycles is getting some much-deserved press for its new 600cc “Spitfire” street bikes, which use a single-cylinder thumper from SYM.

The company’s roadster model has already caused quite a stir, and now CCM is showing off its scrambler variant, which features of course knobby dual-sport tires.

The bulk of the platform remains the same of course, as such the CCM Spitfire Scrambler uses the same tubular chassis as the roadster, which is made of T45 carbon steel, though there are noticeable off-road touches that set the scrambler apart from its roadster counterpart.

Still, the Spitfire Scrambler is simple in its bespoke design, offering a back-to-basics approach for riders who want a fun street bike, without all the bells and whistles that come on today’s modern machinery.

Only a limited number will be produced, with pricing said to be around the $10,000 range.

Continue Reading

American Flat Track at the Arizona Mile with Scott Jones

05/22/2017 @ 8:44 am, by Scott JonesComments Off on American Flat Track at the Arizona Mile with Scott Jones

Our man Scott Jones was out at the Arizona Mile recently, with the American Flat Track racing, doing what he does best. Shooting the fourth round of the season, Scott got to document the resurgence we’ve seen in American Flat Track racing.

As usual, his photos are outstanding, and we hope that we will see him at a few more AFT races this year. Above, a pack of AFT Twins riders chase down Brad Baker. Check out the other photos, after the jump. -JB

Continue Reading

The Five Mistakes You Make Riding a Supermoto

05/17/2017 @ 3:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on The Five Mistakes You Make Riding a Supermoto

Riding a supermoto might be one of the most fun things you can do on two-wheels. Basically dirt bikes with street tires, supermotos offer an approachable way to hoon yourself around town, as well as practice some more advanced riding techniques in a lower-risk platform.

If you don’t have a dirt bike background though, your street bike habits might mean bad habits on the pavement with a supermoto, which is why the good folks at SoCal Supermoto put together this informative video about the five most common mistakes they see with new supermoto riders.

It’s a pretty informative, and heck…any chance to talk about supermoto riding, right?

Continue Reading