Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST. The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away. While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

Americas Top Öhlins Dealer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Daniel Laine Kyle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – known best for his speed shop, Kyle Racing – pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government earlier this week, after it was found that Kyle had been hiding cash-based purchases made at this business. Dan Kyle Racing is known best for being the largest Öhlins suspension dealership in the United States (if not the world), as the company offered aggressive pricing on the Swedish-born suspension, and was one of the first Öhlins dealers with an online presence in the early days of the internet. According to the plea agreement made between Kyle and the US Attorney’s Office, Kyle pleaded guilty to tax fraud and structuring currency transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements in the US Tax Code.

The 2017 Saroléa SP7 Is Ready for the Isle of Man TT

The focus for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT may center around Team Mugen’s dual entry with John McGuinness and Guy Martin, but one should not overlook this very attractive entry from Belgium. Saroléa is back for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, continuing with its state-of-the-art carbon fiber chassis goodness and retro fairing design. On board will once again be Dean Harrison, who will be gunning for a podium-finish on the 2017 Saroléa SP7. If looks alone could get you across the finish line, then Saroléa would have our vote. The Belgians have always been in the running for a strong result though, finishing 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. Maybe this year will be “their year” at the TT.

India Is Now the World’s Biggest Motorcycle Market

Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Motorcycle Patents

I am really excited about the Suzuki brand right now. Out of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the recession affected Suzuki the most, probably more than many people realize, but the Hamamatsu brand is poised to bring out some exciting machines in the coming few years. Could we finally see a turbocharged Suzuki this year though? The rumor mill is pointing to yes…but just pointing, and the reason is because of patents. Much of this internet rumors stems from a flood of patents that have been found, where Suzuki is patenting technology related to turbo-powered engines in motorcycles, or because of other patents that make reference or inference to being part of a turbocharged motorcycle.

No, Royal Enfield Isn’t Buying Ducati

I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

Spy photos from Austria have caught KTM testing a rather interesting motorcycle – one that does not run on a petroleum-based fuel, but rather it has an electric drivetrain at its core. This isn’t the first time that KTM has experimented with an electric motorcycle, of course, with the KTM Freeride E being available in select markets. However, the machine seen here is a pretty big step forward for the Austrian brand, from its modest electric dirt bike. Using the chassis of a KTM 390 Duke to house the battery, inverter, and motor, KTM’s electric street bike (we’ll call it the KTM E-Duke for now) looks like a rolling mess, but is what you would expect from a project in its early stages of development.

For the Geeks, Your Luke Skywalker HJC Helmet Is Here

I am a solid Star Wars geek, but not in the dress-up and go to a convention sort of way – if you know what I mean. But, this new lid from HJC might have me singing a different tune, as it mimics Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing “Red 5” fighter helmet, in a DOT legal ¾ helmet format. That’s just cool…in a really un-cool sort of way. Based off the budget-friendly HJC IS-5 helmet, this Luke Skywalker replica will cost roughly $180 when it comes out (at a date still to be determined). Additionally, 10 versions of the lid will be signed by Mark Hamill, and auctioned for charity (UNICEF and the Starlight Children’s Foundation), if your geekdom takes you in such a direction (and you have a four-figure wallet).

Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

The Rise and Fall of Danny Kent

“Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with,” Peter Bom, Danny Kent’s former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent. Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom’s three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.

A Honda RVF1000 V4 Superbike for 2019?

02/23/2017 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

Since before I started Asphalt & Rubber, the scribe’s at MCN have been predicting a MotoGP-derived V4 superbike from Honda – I think the original rumor started with a V5 power plant, if that gives you an idea of how long this story has been making the circuit.

The hands on the clock are finally starting to meet with reality though, and the British magazine now says that a more affordable version of the Honda RC213V-S could hit dealerships in time for the 2019 model year.

This information echoes similar news that we saw before the launch of the updated Honda CBR1000RR – that Honda was working in parallel on a new Fireblade as well as a V4 superbike project.

Though now, MCN now points to recent patents filed by Honda, as well as sourced information that the bike is a couple model years away.

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The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Is Coming to the USA

11/13/2016 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a homologation special, through and through, with only 1,000 units (upgraded from the 500 announced in Germany) set to go into production worldwide. And now today, we learn that this special snowflake will come to the US market, as a 2017 model.

For those that don’t remember the bike’s INTERMOT release, the ZX-10RR comes with a bevy of engine upgrades, as well as a special “Winter Test” livery, up-and-down quick-shifts, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and single-seat riding accommodations.

The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR won’t be cheap though, with US pricing set at $18,899 MSRP. After the jump, we have some lovely high-resolution photos of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR going around my home track, of Portland International Raceway.

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Here Are Some Photos of the 2017 MV Agusta F4 RC

10/20/2016 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Like with its three-cylinder counterparts, virtually no changes come to the 2017 MV Agusta F4 RC – the Varese company’s 212hp homologation special (with the supplied race kit, of course).

Still, this fine-looking Italian is worth some pixels, especially in high-definition photos.

Though MV Agusta is making great strides in the World Superbike Championship, next season will see Leon Camier using the same machinery as this year, with the team working towards its first podium finish with the MV Agusta F4.

With MV Agusta’s financial future still a bit uncertain, it’s not clear when we will see the next generation superbike, with the 2018 season being the earliest hope for Camier and the Reparto Corse team.

Until then, we will have to make do with these drool-worthy photos. You have to admit, no matter how it performs on the track, MV Agusta makes one good looking superbike.

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The Three Big Trends That We Saw at INTERMOT

10/08/2016 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

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News from the INTERMOT show is winding down, with the motorcycle industry waiting until the next trade show (AIMExpo) to get its fill of new motorcycles and products.

Such is the time of the season, where we jump from one headline to the next, as we get our first glimpse of next year’s wares. Sorry for flooding your social media feeds.

In my opinion, INTERMOT is the second-most important trade show on the schedule (the first being EICMA), as we always see strong showings from the Germanic brands at INTERMOT, and we can count on a few surprises from the Japanese OEMS as well.

When it occurs (INTERMOT is held every-other year, unlike EICMA and AIMExpo which are held every year), the German show is good for revealing trends in the industry, and this year was no different.

As such, I saw three big trends emerge from INTERMOT this year, which promise to shape the motorcycle industry for several years to come.

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Honda CBR1000RR SP2 – Big Red’s New Racing Platform

10/04/2016 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

17YM CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2

The current state of the World Superbike Championship rules entirely encourage the adoption once again of “homologation specials” – production bikes whose sole purpose is to be used on the race track.

While none of the manufacturers have adopted a radical approach with their homologation special designs, this year’s INTERMOT show has already seen several such machines introduced, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

For Honda, the differences between the SP and SP2 aren’t terribly radical, but they are more purposeful.

The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2 does come with several visual cues that are different from the CBR1000RR SP model: carbon insert panels, gold striping on the tri-color paint scheme, and the more obvious Marchesini wheels.

The real differences though are under the hood, and in the two race kits that will be available from Honda.

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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Earns that Extra “R”

10/04/2016 @ 3:07 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Before INTERMOT this year, Kawasaki USA sent out a cautionary email that Kawasaki bikes debuting at trade show in Germany would be for the European market only, and that those bikes coming to the USA would debut later next month.

So, we can’t say for certain for our North American readers that the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR will be crossing the pond, but for our European compatriots, here is a new superbike that should get your motor really running.

A byproduct of the World Superbike rules, the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a homologation special, of which only 500 units will be made for public consumption.

To get that extra “R” on its name, the folks at Kawasaki have taken their already stout ZX-10R superbike, and massaged in some pretty choice engine, chassis, and electronic upgrades.

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New Honda Superbike for 2017, But Will It Be Any Good?

02/08/2016 @ 1:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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It’s the worst kept secret in the motorcycle industry right now, Honda is finally updating its superbike offering for the 2017 model year – replacing the now extremely long-in-the-tooth Honda CBR1000RR.

The interesting part of that news of course is whether that new superbike will go by the name CBR or RVF, as there is a bit of a debate regarding what kind of engine will power the Honda.

Despite whether it is an inline-four machine like the CBR1000RR, or a V4-powered beast like Honda’s MotoGP bike, the new superbike will have big shoes to fill.

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World Superbike Races Will Split Over Saturday & Sunday

12/16/2015 @ 12:54 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

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The World Superbike championship is to undergo a radical shake up. Today, the Superbike Commission, WSBK’s rule-making body, announced two major changes aimed at improving the health of the series.

The first change is the most noticeable. As predicted when the 2016 WSBK Calendar was published, World Superbike races are to be held on both Saturdays and Sundays, with Race 1 being held on Saturday, Race 2 on Sunday. This means that Superpole has now been moved to Saturday morning, rather than the afternoon.

The move, the Superbike Commission says, is to provide a fuller experience for fans at a WSBK weekend. The move has been made after consultation with the teams, TV broadcasters, and with circuit owners, which produced positive feedback.

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Ducati CEO Quashes Four-Cylinder Superbike Rumor

09/24/2015 @ 9:52 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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Well, the fun is over. Talking to MCN, Claudio Domenicali has laid to rest any rumors about the Ducati building a four-cylinder superbike to replace the Panigale.

The news confirms what everyone already expected to be the case, as it is hard to imagine a Ducati superbike model being anything other than a v-twin, World Superbike rules be damned.

“I can confirm there is no officially confirmed project at Ducati for a four-cylinder engine to replace the Panigale V-twin,” Domenicali confirmed to MCN. “There is no Ducati four-cylinder superbike planned.”

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Updated 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Confirmed

09/08/2015 @ 9:56 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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Kawasaki will be bringing WSBK-influenced changes to the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, the company said in a press statement today, thus confirming earlier reports about a new superbike for the upcoming model year.

Kawasaki says that the new model will have a direct link to the World Superbike Championship winning machine that is being campaigned by both Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes at the moment.

The new ZX-10R will feature a “subtle yet highly effective” change to the cowling design, in addition to new suspension and braking components, but Team Green is quick to say though, this is not a ground-up new bike from Kawasaki.

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