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.

This Week’s Suzuki Hayabusa Rumor, Part 3

We know to expect a Suzuki Hayabusa reboot in the coming months, and in a way, that is all that we know. The iconic superbike is in its 20th year of production right now, and an all-new machine is set to take its place, for the 2019 model year. Will it be turbocharged? Will it have a larger displacement? How about a dual-clutch transmission? That remains to be seen. Safe bets are that the 2019 Suzuki Hayabusa will have updated electronics, likely powered by an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Euro4 emissions homologation is a must, and Suzuki will presumably be building the new Hayabusa with the Euro5 standard in mind as well. Beyond these givens though, it seems that every week there is a new rumor regarding the next Hayabusa generation, and this week is no different.

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Barry Sheene is one of grand prix racing’s greatest riders, and perhaps one of its most intriguing characters. The two-time World Champion comes from a era when motorcycle racers were as unapologetic as the machines they rode, and Sheene exemplified both those those facts to the maximum.

Perhaps the original playboy of grand prix racing, Sheene eventually married Penthouse model Stephanie McLean – you’ve likely seen the set of iconic photos with her in Sheene’s unzipped leathers.

A heavy smoker, a big drinker, and a constant partier, Sheene represents a forgotten time in motorcycle racing where polished personalities weren’t the norm, and the personality of racers weren’t whitewashed by PR firms.

Why are we telling you all this? Because the epic story of Barry Sheene is finally coming to the silver screen, thanks to IO Films Australia and Deep Spring Pictures UK. It looks like it’s still early days for the crew, but the trailer is waiting for you after the jump.

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MotoGP fans should recognize the name Mark Neale, as he has produced some of the sport’s most popular movies, such as Faster, The Doctor, The Tornado and The Kentucky Kid, the sequel Fastest, and now Hitting the Apex.

Continuing the timeline of Neale’s films, Hitting the Apex chronicles six riders: Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, and Marc Marquez.

The movie picks-up just as Valentino Rossi is making his way from Yamaha to Ducati, carries us into the start of the 2015 season, and touches on the major events of those seasons. Neale as always provides a good balance between making MotoGP appealing to non-enthusiasts, while keeping plenty on the table for avid fans.

We’ll do a full review closer to the movie’s debut, but we think that fans and soon-to-be-fans will enjoy the two-hour film. We certainly did.

After the jump is the trailer for Hitting the Apex, and you will note it is narrated by Brad Pitt, who Neale tells us was instrumental behind-the-scenes in getting the movie released.

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Apparently there’s a new Mad Max reboot coming out, and it looks awesome. I have nothing really to say beyond that, and will argue a tenuous link to our usual content on Asphalt & Rubber because motorcycles are one of the best ways to survive the onslaught Imperator Furisoa (Charlize Theron) in George Miller’s post-apocolyptic imagination.

It’s interesting to think about Hollywood’s inclusion of motorcycles in collapse-of-civilization scenarios though. Is it because two-wheeled transportation is the best way to get around when roads no longer exist, much in the same way that Riders for Health uses motorcycles to effectively get medical aid to remote locations?

Or, is it some subliminal message that Hollywood feeds off of (and thus also helps create) that tells us society has truly fallen apart if we are riding motorcycles…much like how a movie character’s act of smoking a cigarette was used to heighten his/hers cool or mysterious persona?

I don’t know the answer to those question, but it keeps me up at night. I am the Nightrider. I’m a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!

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I have had to zip my lips for far too long about this project, but A&R can finally tell you about On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter – the sequel to the famous documentary of a similar name.

A project by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown, the man who filmed the original On Any Sunday, this next installment follows a variety of amateur and professional racers and enthusiasts, from a broad-spectrum of two-wheeled disciplines.

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Last month, our friend John Shofner (you may have seen some of his work on A&R already) sent us a link to a project he was working on, and we couldn’t wait for it to become a reality.

So finally, we can talk about the full-length documentary, It’s Something Inside, that Shofner Films hopes to produce, which will tell the story behind America’s two-wheeled petrol racing culture.

To help raise the $400,000 that the It’s Something Inside project will need to produce the film, John has turned to the crowd-sourcing platform of Kickstarter.

If funded (your contributions only get collected if John meets his fundraising goal), and once completed, Shofner Films will then pitch the film to various film festivals, with the hope of ultimately getting a theater or TV deal for the film.

As you can tell from the trailer above, and the stills after the jump, John has a great photographic eye; and his previous work, including a documentary of the karting scene, shows his immense talent in storytelling as well.

We are pretty pumped to see this project go forward, and if you are too, we hope you will contribute some money towards his Kickstarter fund. Count us in for a couple bucks John!

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Yamaha Riding Academy and the Story of Hidenobu Toh

11/17/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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You may remember the well-done short film that Yamaha Racing put together recently about Kazutoshi Seki, the man behind the electronics of Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP race bike, and how great of a job Yamaha did in portraying someone in the MotoGP paddock that you likely have never heard of, but whose contributions are so vital to what happens on the race track every weekend.

Well today we bring you an earlier installment of Yamaha’s “Moving You” series, from which that video came from, and which instead focuses on the Yamaha Riding Academy (YRA) and its Chief Instructor Hidenobu “Concorde” Toh.

A film about the work that Yamaha does beyond just selling motorcycles, it highlights the fact that YRA primarily deals with police forces around the world, and that Toh-san is responsible for teaching the motorcycle officers both basic and advanced riding techniques, which will serve them in the line of duty, and could make the difference between life and death.

As the video explains, this is a high-stakes training effort, as many of the countries involved use officers on motorcycles for their most dangerous assignments. In that regard, Toh-san and his instructors are tasked with giving these officers the tools they need to not only perform their jobs, but to also come home safe from assignment.

Like its MotoGP counterpart, it is well-told story that focuses on the work of one individual, and how that person contributes to a larger effort. It also happens to be a great eleven-minute distraction from your weekend, which we think you will enjoy.

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Trailer: Why We Ride

10/23/2013 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Though the trailer to Why We Ride has been around for some time now, we have been getting emails about the two-wheeled documentary ever since its limited screening at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida. Encompassing every form of the motorcycling lifestyle, all accounts we have heard about the film say its a feel-good movie with a positive message about motorcycles. Think of it as a recruitment film for future motorcyclists.

Screenings of Why We Ride are limited though, with the movie set to debut in New York and Los Angeles, and with future screenings being held in the Southern California area. Hopefully the Why We Ride team can add other locales to the list. If they want to have a screening in San Francisco, Asphalt & Rubber is down to help with that. The trailer is after the jump. Enjoy!

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Video: Road Warriors 2012

02/13/2013 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Self-described as an “all access behind the scenes with the fastest riders in America,” Road Warriors is a documentary that follows five riders in the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship over the 2012 season: Josh Hayes, Danny Eslick, Melissa Paris, Elena Myers, and Austin Dehaven.

In a series that desperately needs to promote the sport and the riders within it, Road Warriors looks to be a much needed shot in the arm for AMA Pro Racing. We hope the full-length documentary is just as good as the trailer, and that it helps generate some buzz for the 2013 season. Check it out after the jump, and be sure to follow the film’s Facebook page.

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Grand Prix Racer – A Documentary on the Manx GP

01/29/2013 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you haven’t seen TT3D: Closer to the Edge, the documentary about the Isle of Man TT, then you owe it to yourself to beg, borrow, or steal a copy for your viewing pleasure (we enjoyed it greatly at our viewing at the Isle of Man). A follow-up to that venerable film (no, not this), from the Isle of Man comes Grand Prix Racer, a documentary that covers that other race over the Snaefell Mountain Course: the Manx Grand Prix.

Originally a race for amateurs that was designed to help introduce them to the TT, the Manx GP runs on the same 37 mile course as the TT and uses the same time trial format. Building its regulations to cater to older machinery, the Manx Grand Prix has just recently gone through a brand and format restructuring to make it more of a “Classic TT” event, helping differentiate the autumn race from its summer counterpart.

The restructuring is surely due to the hope by the Isle of Man government to make the Manx Grand Prix as much of a headline and destination event for motorcycle enthusiasts as the TT, and to aid in that effort the island nation has, followed-up the progress made by TT3D by producing Grand Prix Racer.

With a one-hour version of the film set to air on Britain’s ITV4 network on Tuesday, February 5th at 8pm, the film will also be made available to international broadcasters (cross your fingers America). A DVD of the film will be available March 4th. Check the trailer out after the jump.

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For the uninitiated readers of Asphalt & Rubber, I have an axe to grind with the way OEMs market our sport, lifestyle, and culture. For an industry that centers so heavily around the idea of personal freedoms and individuality, the way motorcycle brands engage motorcyclists is appalling.

Often creating cheap one-dimensional campaigns that feed into the most base stereotypes available, it is rare to find any sort of marketing campaign that touches on the nerves of why we ride motorcycles. We’ve seen the car. We know it exists. And yet, we choose to ride motorcycles. Think about it.

If what is after the jump costs 10x what a normal cheap YouTube flick from (insert OEM here), then I’ll take 10x less marketing material from any motorcycle manufacturer if what I do end up seeing looks this good, and actually has this much substance. Like the Escapism short we debuted by friend Barry Munsterteiger, this film Joy Ride by Sandro has the same level of quality and storytelling we need to publish in the industry.

For bonus points, it shows that motorcyclists are real people with depth and character; and for ultra-bonus points, the star of the film is some guy named Mark Miller.The only thing that I hate about this video? It was made to promote a new digital SLR camera, not a motorcycle. Wake up people.

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