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.

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.

In the past years, Akrapovič has done a proper job of branding as the exhaust of choice for motorcycle exhausts (note the company’s many B2B marketing deals in MotoGP and with OEMs), with Termignoni seemingly all but forgotten…until today.

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I can tell you from personal experience that Casey Stoner is not one to mince words.

The two-time World Champion’s direct and sometimes confrontational approach to interpersonal conversations was at times difficult for MotoGP fans to get behind, but on the brightside, one always knew exactly were they stood in Stoner’s opinions.

Maybe that is why it is interesting to hear Stoner talking about the latest superbike from Ducati, the Panigale V4. Riding it around Valencia, the same venue where we tested the Ducati Panigale V4 S earlier this year, Stoner gives his fairly insightful thoughts on the 1,100cc machine.

The short version? The Australian was quite impressed with the new V4, though admittedly it still wasn’t up to the standards of his former MotoGP ride.

One can hardly blame Casey though, he does have a slightly different perspective than most, which is why he is one of our favorite GP riders of all time. Though, we should point out, he is technically a Ducati employee, so maybe that skews the perspective as well…

On a side note and for those keeping track, photos of this pre-launch test were “leaked” ahead of the Panigale V4’s debut at EICMA.

Looking at this video now, it seemingly confirms our suspicion that Ducati leaked the photos itself, as they are exact image captures from the video footage used here. Such is how the sausage gets made.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #72 – The Lost Episode

02/28/2018 @ 5:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Have you ever lost the key to your bike? Forgotten where you parked? Can’t remember your last dank whoolie? Episode 72 is kinda of like that for us.

What should have been something like the 68th episode in our queue, comes to us today as the great Lost Episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast. It’s a good one too.

In it, we talk about what it’s like to ride the new Honda Gold Wing, as well as the new Ducati Panigale V4. Quentin also gets a few good kickstand jokes in there, and my asshole cat even makes an appearance.

All in all, pretty standard podcasting fodder from your favorite enthusiasts podcast.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Introducing the MOTR Podcast

02/05/2018 @ 9:52 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Today we are announcing the third podcast that Asphalt & Rubber is involved with, the Motorcycles on the Record Podcast…or as we like to call it: the MOTR Podcast.

The concept is pretty simple, as the MOTR Podcast is designed to compliment our popular Two Enthusiasts Podcast production. For those who don’t listen to it aleady, on the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson take an outside perspective on what is happening in the motorcycle industry.

So, to contrast that with the MOTR Podcast, this new show will provide an insider’s view of what’s going on in motorcycles, with a focus on interviews and discussions with the industry’s leading figures.

We will loosely be publishing shows on a weekly basis, with yours truly on the mics as I pop from one industry event to the next, and steal time with various motorcycle experts.

To jump right into it, we already have a show for you to sink your teeth into, straight from Spain and the Ducati Panigale V4 S press launch.

In this Episode 1, I sit down with motorcycle journalists Adam Waheed (freelance) and Rennie Scaysbrook (Cycle News), after a fun day of riding Ducati’s new flagship superbike around the Valencia circuit.

Talking about the new Panigale V4, we give our riding impressions of the new Ducati, which we all agreed was a potent track weapon. We don’t agree on everything though, and the back-and-forth between this gathering of journalists is pretty interesting.

To get our full opinions on the new Ducati Panigale V4 you can read my review here on Asphalt & Rubber, as well as Adam’s reviews on Ride Apart & Sports Bike Inc., and Rennie’s review on Cycle News.

You can find the latest episodes of the MOTR Podcast on iTunes, Google PlaySoundCloud, or via your RSS feed, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

If you’re not already, you should also listen to our sister podcasts, the Two Enthusiasts Podcast and The Paddock Pass Podcast.

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Is the Ducati Panigale V4 S the most anticipated motorcycle of 2018? If you are a diehard sport biker, the answer is probably yes, though a number of significant models are debuting this year, from several manufacturers.

Still, in terms of ground-changing machines, the Panigale V4 has to rank high up on the list, as it is Ducati’s first proper four-cylinder motorcycle to go into mainstream production.

Yes, the Apollo came before it – all ~1.9 models that were produced – and the Desmosedici RR was also a MotoGP-inspired V4 motorcycle, but those were only available to a select few, with a total of 1,500 units ever made.

The Ducati Panigale V4 and its progeny, however, are here for everyone…and Ducati has taken quite a gamble in producing this “New Opera” – as the tagline goes.

I am writing to you today from Valencia, Spain – where we just finished a day of riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is better known as the final stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar.

It is a new track for me to ride, and I have to give Ducati credit for picking a venue that doesn’t play just to the strengths of its new motorcycle. A short and technical course, the Valencian circuit is fun and rewarding to ride, but it is also a torture-rack test for a motorcycle’s handling prowess.

It would have been really easy for Ducati to take us somewhere, say like Mugello, where a fast and flowing circuit could hide any flaws in the Panigale V4 chassis design, while in-turn it could also hightlight the superbike’s claimed 214hp.

But here we are in Spain, getting to ride the first entry into this next chapter of Ducati superbike history, so let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

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Gone Riding: Ducati Panigale V4 S

01/20/2018 @ 9:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Asphalt & Rubber traveling circus doesn’t stop, and after spending less than 12hrs at home after the Honda Gold Wing launch, I’m back at it…this time in Valencia, Spain for the Ducati Panigale V4 international press launch.

Arguably the most anticipated motorcycle to debut for the 2018 model year, the Panigale V4 is a huge step for Ducati, mostly because of the Italian company’s radical departure from its iconic v-twin power plant configuration, in favor of the 90° V4 engine configuration.

Now with four-cylinders of fury, this 1,103cc, 214hp, V4 machine is set to tackle the superbike market, but will it live up to the hype? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out.

To do so, Ducati has us riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is just outside of Valencia and home to the final round of the MotoGP Championship. A fun and flowing track with a little bit of everything, Valencia should be a good spot to see how the Panigale V4 truly handles.

We will have five track sessions, four of which will be on the Ducati Panigale V4 S, and of which will be on the 226hp Ducati Panigale V4 Speciale.

With a bevy of electronic upgrades and plenty of features, we will need all the time that we can get to in order to play around with Ducati’s flagship model, and see how it goes.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Ducati Panigale V4 S right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Ducati Panigale V4, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Ducati personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtag #PanigaleV4.

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At the beginning of this month, Ducati posted a promo video for its new Panigale V4 superbike. The video shows the new machine testing in a wind tunnel, touting the tagline that the motorcycle was “shaped by the wind.”

Surely this access to a high-speed wind tunnel for development purposes is the byproduct and one of the benefits of Ducati being part of the Volkswagen Group.

Though, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has all but made wind tunnels obsolete, making such things more of a show of engineering, and thus marketing. We digress.

What is of note though in this video, however, beyond the interesting glimpses of Ducati’s physical fluidic analysis, is that it is a glimpse at one of the Panigale V4’s very early designs.

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Ducati Panigale V4 Pricing Revealed for 2018

11/17/2017 @ 9:33 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Fancy yourself the new Ducati Panigale V4? It’s going to cost you a pretty penny if you do, as pricing for the USA and Europe has been revealed, and the 215hp superbike is not going cheaply into that good night.

As such, Ducati lists 2018 pricing for the Panigale V4 as €22,590 in Europe, with pricing in the US set at $21,195 for the base model. For those keeping score, this is a premium of $1,200 over the outgoing Ducati 1299 Panigale.

When you get to the Panigale V4 S though, things start getting considerably more expensive. European pricing on the Ducati Panigale V4 S is set at €27,890, while pricing for the USA will be $27,495.

For the American market, this is a $1,700 bump on pricing when compared to the 2017 Ducati 1299 Panigale.

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The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

11/14/2017 @ 12:04 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year's work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season.

Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA.

So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week's big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry.

For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences. Don't worry, I'll break them down for you, though it might take a while.

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XXX: The Ducati Panigale V4 with Its Clothes Off

11/05/2017 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

While on the exterior, there might seem to be a great deal of similarities between the Ducati Panigale V4 and its predecessor the Ducati 1299 Panigale, stripping away the bodywork shows that the relation is mostly skin deep.

Yes, the “frameless” chassis design remains, and yes the exhaust routing for the four-cylinder machine mimics that on the twin-cylinder bike, but there are noticeable, even critical differences between Ducati’s superbikes, which should translate to meaningful differences on the race track.

The most obvious is how raked back the Desmosedici Stradale engine sits within the Panigale V4 chassis, which measures at 42° from parallel – the same as the Italian company’s V4-powered MotoGP race bike. No coincidence there.

This allows for the “front frame” to become a much longer lever, and attach to the motorcycle in more conventional mounting points. Both of these factors can contribute to making the Panigale V4 handle better on the race track, and provide better rider feedback – a common complaint of the old design.

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