gone riding


We have a bit of a fun one today, as we are about to take the Honda Trail 125 for a spin around the roads and trails of Julian, California.

Like the original it mimics in design, the Honda Trail 125 has been based off the Honda Super Cub platform. This means a 125cc single-cylinder engine with a four-speed gearbox and an automatic clutch (technically, it’s two clutches, but we’ll get into that later.

Another bike on our list of “must-rides” for 2020, we are about to swing a leg over the Aprilia RS 660. This middleweight-twin has been a long time coming, especially in its full-fairing aesthetic.

On the spec sheet, the Aprilia RS 660 looks set to upend the segment, but of course the proof is in the pudding on how this parallel-twin motor runs, how its twin-spar aluminum chassis handles, and how refined its APRC electronics package truly is on the open road.

Today’s test takes us to the curvy pavement near Santa Barbara, California, where our 200-mile route through canyons and highways promises to give us a glimpse at this bike’s potential.

As if waiting for the debut of a new superbike from Honda wasn’t a marathon event in itself, the arrival of the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP onto US soil took its time in its own right, thanks in part to the coronavirus outbreak.

But, the new Fireblade is finally here in the United States, and Asphalt & Rubber is among the first to ride this new superbike.

Our ride test takes us to smokey California, at the Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, CA. With fires smoldering not too far away, we consider ourselves lucky to ride this popular Californian track, and the new Fireblade should feel right at home on this undulating circuit.

With only 500 being made worldwide (and maybe 100 or so of them coming to the USA), the chances of getting to swing a leg over the Ducati Superleggera V4 are pretty slim. Riding one around Laguna Seca in anger? Even slimmer.

So naturally when Ducati North America called and asked if we wanted to do exactly that, the answer was an obvious yes.

That brings us to this moment, where on Thursday Asphalt & Rubber will get a chance to ride a $100,000 carbon-fiber-everything superbike around one of the most iconic race tracks in America. Sometimes, this job is really, really tough.

Funny enough, this is a rare case of the coronavirus actually causing some positive changes in the motorcycle industry, as normally the US would only get to send one publication to the press launch for a bike like this.

But instead, Ducati North America has the ability to host its own event, while the European magazines were forced to slum it at Mugello for a day. Hence, here we are.

Hello from a sunny Ronda, Spain where we bring you a different type of “Gone Riding” review. Instead of a particular bike to test, we will be hopping onto a plethora of motorcycles, in an effort to put the new Metzeler Sportec M9 RR tire through its paces.

The successor to the highly revered Sportec M7 RR, the Sportec M9 RR has a high standard to live up to, especially as the “hypersport” tire market has seen an influx of strong competitors.

In what has to be the shortest commute for an international press launch, our hometown of Portland, Oregon is playing host to the first riding of the Harley-Davidson Livewire.

This is our first press launch with the Bar & Shield brand, and it is a big one at that. The Livewire is a mammoth shift for the motorcycle industry, as Harley-Davidson becomes the first major manufacturer to debut a full-sized electric motorcycle for the street.

The Livewire is a big deal for the American brand as well, as Harley-Davidson is pivoting its business model towards new horizons, new markets, new riders, and most importantly for today’s purpose: new drivetrains.

The Harley-Davidson Livewire is a halo product from Milwaukee, but it shows how far the marque is willing to go in order to ensure its future. The question before us now though, is the bike any good?

Greetings from a very warm Birmingham, Alabama where we are about to swing a leg over the new BMW S1000RRagain.

After a disappointing and inadequate international launch in Portugal, where the rain got in the way of our two-wheeled fun, BMW Motorrad USA has invited us out to the famous Barber Motorsports Park to ride their new superbike for a second time.

That is just fine by us, because yours truly has been keen to swing a leg over the 2020 BMW S1000RR, and see how it compares to the offerings from the other top brands, not to mention I have always wanted to ride this popular American track.

Summer might be upon us, but the new bike launches are still in full swing. This time around, we have a two-fer, as Honda has invited us out to try its new CBR650R and CB650R street bikes.

Built around the same 650cc four-cylinder engine, the two models offer a fully faired and naked version of the same basic idea, but what is really important about the two machines is the last letter in their names.

That new “R” means that Honda has added some more pep to the lineup, with more power, more torque, more aggressive bodywork, more aggressive riding position, well…just about more of everything.

To test these changes, and to see if the unassuming sport bikes blow our hair back, we are riding out in the Palm Desert of California.

Unfortunately, yours truly had a previous engagement in Sweden (more on that soon) and couldn’t attend this launch, so we sent racer Shelina Moreda out to sunny SoCal to tell us all about the bikes, since she’s cut from that same “call it how you see it” cloth that we so greatly enjoy here as Asphalt & Rubber.

Greetings from Lisbon, Portugal as we come to our final destination on this three-week European press launch adventure. For this installment, we switch countries of origin, and get ready to hop on the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 street bike.

A sort of street-tracker meets roadster type of bike, the Svartpilen 701 is a unique build from Husqvarna, and it pairs well with the company’s “white arrow” – the Vitpilen 701.

The plan is for us to get to know the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 on the roads outside of Lisbon, riding along the coast for some twisties, touring along the highway, and doing some city miles in the urban jungle of Lisboa.

The route should give us a good idea of what to expect from the Swedish brand’s newest street bike, and to see if it is as fun as Husqvarna would like us to believe.

Greetings from the Mugello, as we continue our three-week European adventure, this time gearing up to ride the Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory superbike.

The culmination of 10 years of RSV4 motorcycles, this 2019 edition sees the engine displacement bumped to 1,078cc, winglets added to the front fairings, an Akrapovic exhaust, and a host of other changes made to the venerable superbike.

As you can expect then, this machine should be a rocket ship around this iconic Italian race track – rumor on the street is that rear-wheel horsepower is just over 200hp!

For the bullet points on what’s new here, the 2019 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory weighs 11 lbs lighter than its predecessor, and makes 16hp more power, and 5 lbs•ft more torque as well.