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.

Husqvarna Nuda 900R in Race Trim

04/16/2012 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Racing in the Bol d’Argent, the three-hour endurance race that supports the Bol d’Or 24 hour race, we get our first glimpse of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R in racing-trim. Not exactly designed to go road-racing, the Nuda still held its own at the French endurance race, finishing ninth overall. Making the feat even more impressive was the team of French journalists that raced the Husqvarna Nuda 900R, and we all know that moto-journalists can ride for beans…let alone French ones.

Husqvarna’s first true sport bike, the Swedish brand hopes that the street-going Nuda, Strada, and Baja/Moab concepts will help turn around its failing dirt-centric business. Not exactly the first thing that comes to our minds for a track bike, let us know what you think of the Nuda 900R in track form. Photos after the jump.

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The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

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The Business Case for the Husqvarna Nuda

09/20/2011 @ 2:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Not too different of an analysis from the one I did regarding the Ducati Diavel, the business case surrounding the Husqvarna Nuda is all about extending brand attributes, reaching new demographics, and putting more volume into sales figures. While I will reserve judgment on what the Nuda 900 is as a motorcycle for when A&R actually gets a chance to swing a leg over one, the positioning and reasoning behind Husqvarna’s first true-blooded street bike can be analyzed by us before the Nuda hits dealership floors early next year.

A Swedish brand based in Italy and owned by German company, there can be little wonder as to why Husqvarna suffers from an identity crisis. When the small, but eclectic, dirt bike manufacturer was brought into the folds of BMW, many loyal to the Husqvarna brand wondered and were concerned about what was in store for the company.

If brand loyalists were waiting for the first shoe to drop, then surely the release of the Husqvarna Nuda 900 & 900R is that moment. A departure from a history of motorcycles that like to get grime under their fingernails, the Nuda 900 represents Husqvarna’s attempt at a pure-street offering — a move both Husqvarna and BMW hope will pave the way for more street models, and thus more sales volume. The positioning and branding of the Nuda 900 is also especially interesting, as adding a street dimension to the Husqvarna name is certainly a new dynamic to the brand, but how to do so with parent company BMW looking over one’s shoulder is another affair all together.

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Husqvarna Nuda 900/900R Technical Details

09/02/2011 @ 9:40 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Our favorite German-owned, Italian-based, Swedish brand has released some more images of its Husqvarna Nuda 900 and Husqvarna Nuda 900R street motards, and also disclosed some of the bikes’ technical specifications in the process as well. Using a fully-revamped BMW motor, Husqvarna has taken F800’s parallel-twin motor, and bored it out by 2mm (84mm total), as well as lengthened the stroke by 5.4mm (81mm), taking the 798cc motor to an 898cc displacement. Originally built as a 0º crank motor, Husqvarna has altered the crankshaft to a 315º configuration, which the company says creates a more aggressive feel to the bikes’ power delivery.

The compression ratio on the motor has also been raised from its BMW-spec, and comes with modified head gasket, camshafts, pistons, and conrods (along with a re-designed crankshaft). Additionally the intake and exhaust valves have been increased by 1mm, making them 33mm and 28.5mm respectively. With these modifications, both the base model Nuda 900 and higher-spec Nuda 900R will make 105 hp and 73.8 lbs•ft of torque. Still listing the curb weight for the Nuda 900R as sub-175kg (385 lbs), expect the Nuda 900 to weigh-in a few kilos heavier.

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Husqvarna Nuda 900 Base Model Breaks Cover

08/12/2011 @ 6:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Husqvarna’s foray into true-blue street bikes has unsurprisingly taken a two-pronged approach (for an “R” version to exist, a base model must exist as well, right?), as the Swedish brand has unceremoniously dropped photos of the base model Husqvarna Nuda 900. Sporting lower-spec components, and having a noticeably absent “R” missing from its nomenclature (that’s called product differentiation), the Husqvarna Nuda 900 is no doubt going to be Husqvarna’s more affordable version of the Nuda 900R.

Though we can only discern the differences that are skin deep at this point in time, it would look like the base model sees the R’s Öhlins rear-suspension, Brembo monoblocs, and carbon-accented exhaust exchanged for lesser models. The base model’s rear shock is now a Sachs unit (matching the fully-adjustable Sachs forks Husqvarna says it will be using on the Nudas), while the exhaust can is aluminum stem-to-stern. Noticeably still present though is the Nuda’s anti-lock brake pick-up discs (in fact, the entire wheel/fork package looks to be the same), which could also suggest that a traction control system is available on the base model.

It will be interesting to see how Husqvarna prices the Nuda 900 against the higher-spec Husqvarna Nuda 900R. Unless there is significant differences between the two bikes’ motors, the R-variant will have a hard time commanding more price tag for a shock and carbon fiber-tipped exhaust, especially considering the latter will be one of the first things owners will be replacing. 21 photos of the Nuda 900 base model after the jump, including the mysteriously really bad ones where you can see the photographer’s turntable in every photo…go fig.

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Video of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R Makes Us Feel…Bleeh!

07/06/2011 @ 12:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The straw vote in the A&R office is that the jury is still out on the recently unveiled Husqvarna Nusa 900R. We like that BMW is setting up Husqvarna to be the more edgy on-street brand in its two-wheeled house, and the maxi-motard is a safe street entry for the otherwise dirt-based company. A narrow, fairly light, and peppy twin should be fun to blast from stoplight to stoplight, lane-split between traffic-packed cars, and generally just hoon about town. Price of course will be an issue for the Nuda 900R, as its components don’t suggest a cheap price tag, of course we don’t think Husqvarna (read BMW) is too concerned with that issue, as they’re likely focusing on the more exclusive side of the market continuum.

Speaking of select target markets, the looks are not the most generally palatable, with our office’s spectrum of reception ranging from drool-worthy praise to motions of people hanging themselves with their belt (and not in that good auto-erotica asphyxiation sort of way). One thing we can agree on, as far as promo videos go…this one doesn’t really achieve any of the goals we’d think Husqvarna would set out for its first street bike.

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23 Photos of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R

07/01/2011 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Well it didn’t take long for Husqvarna to release some official photos, after showing the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R street bike to the assembled press. The Nuda definitely has a unique look to it, which is already growing on us in a weird way…the name however, well…that’s a different story. Based around the BMW F800GS parallel-twin, Husqvarna has bumped the power plant up to 900cc, making over 100hp with the red-topped lump.

With a 385 lbs dry weight, the Husqvarna 900 should be a potent animal on the street, and promises to be quite the hooligan machine (if you’re into that sort of thing). Until we get a chance to explore our inner-child while on the seat of a Husqvarna Nuda 900R, we’ll have to tide ourselves over with the 23 photos found after the jump.

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Husqvarna Nuda 900R Revealed

07/01/2011 @ 6:46 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Find 23 Official Photos of the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R here.

These are the first images of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R motorcycle (taken by our good friends at OmniMoto), the Swedish brand’s first foray into the street bike scene. Making over 100hp and weighing less than 385 lbs, the new Husqvarna will hit dealer floors by the end of the 2011 (hopefully by then they’ll have the spec-sheet ironed out a bit more). What technical specifications we do is this: 320mm Brembo disc brakes, fully adjustable 48mm Sachs forks, and a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock. Check out the photos and video from the unveil after the jump.

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