Ben Spies Making a Return to Motorcycle Racing?

Could we see the return of Ben Spies to motorcycle racing? That’s the talk of the paddock right now, and the former MotoGP racer is helping fuel the fires with his social media posts. Our sources point to Spies gearing up for a return to domestic racing, as he looks to ride in the MotoAmerica Championship (presumably on a superbike), and possibly also as a team owner as well, fielding his own entry. This should come as a surprising but welcomed bit of news to motorcycle racing fans, as the 33-year-old seemingly retired from motorcycle racing after the 2013 MotoGP Championship season, after extensive damage to his shoulders seemed to rule him out of a future of racing motorcycles.

Ducati Will Stay as a Part of Volkswagen

Reports out of Italy are confirming the news that Ducati will remain as a part of the Volkswagen Group, with the German company ceasing its pursuits of divesting the Italian motorcycle company from its ranks. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Ducati’s business situation, as reports of the divestiture stalling out were circulating this time last month. The news seems to come with a bonus, with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali reportedly confirming the news internally (other reports quote Audi CEO Rupert Stadler doing the same as well). With that, Evercore Partners – the investment bank that was hired to solicit bids on Ducati Motor Holding – will stop pursuing brands that may want to see Ducati within their corporate holdings.

Rumor: Street-Touring Version of the Kawasaki H2 Coming?

I like this rumor. I like what this rumor says. And, I like that this rumor doesn’t seem to go away. The scuttlebutt of the motorcycle industry right now is suggesting that the street-shredding Kawasaki Ninja H2 might be joined by a sport-touring variant. This Kawasaki Ninja H2 GT – as some are calling it – takes the potent supercharged liter-bike, and makes it a little bit better suited for long-distance riding…well, as better suited to touring that a 200hp+ fire-breathing motorcycle can be. It remains to be seen how Kawasaki plans to expand its supercharger lineup of motorcycles: whether these rumored new machines will vary slightly in form-factor to accommodate different kinds of riding (using the current H2 as a platform for new models), or if Kawasaki will debut an all-new chassis design for these rumored motorcycles.

Solid-State Batteries, A Game-Changer for EVs?

This week’s big news is that California is looking at how it can join China, France, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in the banning of internal combustion engines in the coming decade(s), a move that will surely be a shot in the arm for electric vehicles. While the social and political pressures are coming into alignment for electric cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the technology for these next-generation vehicles is still not fully baked, and the biggest rate-limiter for EVs are their batteries. That is about to change, however, with solid-state batteries (a battery that has both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes) looking like the silver bullet that could make electric vehicles comparable in performance and price to their internal combustion counterparts.

Investigator Releases Report on Nicky Hayden Crash

On May 17th, 2017, Nicky Hayden was out training on his bicycle, near the Adriatic Coast, when he was struck by car in an intersection very close to the Misano World Circuit. The incident would prove to be a fateful one, and send ripples through the motorcycle industry, as Hayden died five days later in a hospital outside of Rimini, Italy. Since then, the accident has been under investigation by the local prosecutor, and the results of that forensic investigation have now been released to the public. Reconstructing the incident through statements made by the driver, eyewitnesses, and CCTV video footage, the investigation has found fault on both sides of the crash – assigning 30% of the blame to Nicky Hayden, for running the stop sign, and 70% of the blame to the driver, for excessive speed.

California Considers Killing Internal Combustion

Bloomberg is reporting that California Governor Jerry Brown is considering ways to ban the sale of vehicles that use internal combustion engines – a move that could have massive implications not only for vehicle sales, the environment, but potentially the motorcycle industry as well. Still in the early days of consideration, the news comes from remarks made by Mary Nichols, who is the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and her remarks and relaying of thought from Gov. Brown don’t make it clear if the ban would apply only to passenger vehicles, or if it would include modes of transportation like trucks, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles. However, the move mimics similar bans that we have already seen in places like China, and follows a trend that is catching on in European countries as well.

MV Agusta F4 LH44 Limited Edition Debuts

Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta, and Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton have re-upped their contract for collaboration, and one of the first fruits of that labor is a limited edition MV Agusta F4 superbike. Confirming our story from earlier today, the MV Agusta F4 LH44 picks up where the MV Agusta Dragster RR LH44 left off, adding Hamilton’s “unique” tastes and stylings to MV Agusta’s tapestry of motorcycles. Like with the MV Agusta F4 RC, the exercise is primarily visual, though like on the RC edition, MV Agusta adds its race kit to the package, which is good for a claimed 212hp. The big technical change of note is the titanium race exhaust from SC Project, which does away with the beautiful four-pipe undertail exhaust that Massimo Tamburini made famous.

Eugene Laverty Explains His 2017 WorldSBK Season

A return to World Superbike, with the bike that he came so close to winning the championship on – it all appeared like a dream opportunity for Eugene Laverty, to put himself into a position to win the title. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare, and from the start of winter testing it was clear that major work needed to be done to return the RSV4 to the front. Moving to the Milwaukee Aprilia squad understandably led to heightened expectations. In their second year in WorldSBK, the former British Superbike champions were expected to make a leap forward. Teething problems were expected with the switch from BMW to Aprilia, but not the struggles that lay ahead. “During the winter you can go in the wrong direction with the bike,” commented Laverty. “Unfortunately, that was the case for us.”

Superbike Deathmatch Round #1: Aprilia vs. Ducati

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Asphalt & Rubber’s 2017 Superbike Deathmatch – our take on the motorcycle media’s superbike shootout review format, and the solitary path for a motorcycle to become the A&R Superbike of 2017. For those just tuning into the Superbike Deathmatch, the rules are easy. In each round, two bikes enter the race track, but only one bike leaves. We have six motorcycles from the eight superbike manufacturers on the market. For our first round, we have started things off with a special treat, and a battle for the right to call a bike the “Best Italian Superbike” on the market. That’s right, we are going to pit the Ducati 1299 Panigale S against the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Leak Online

What you see here are early leaked photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing – one of the most successful and important motorcycles for the Western markets. Honda is expected to debut this new model at a media event in October, but our friends at MaxxMoto and Oliepeil managed to get their dirty Dutch-speaking mits on these low-res gems, ahead of time. Beyond the styling refresh, the most obvious change that we can see for the Honda Goldwing is the new front-end, which appears to be a Hossack-styled design – similar to what BMW uses on its K-series motorcycles. The engine continues to be a flat-six, from the view in the photos, though we can expect some changes to the massive block – likely with fewer emissions, maybe with more torque/power.

Supersport TT Race 1 & Superstock TT with Tony Goldsmith

06/08/2016 @ 12:46 am, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on Supersport TT Race 1 & Superstock TT with Tony Goldsmith

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Ian Hutchinson at the bottom of Barregarrow on his way to winning the Supersport TT race 1.

Monday was not a good day for Michael Dunlop. He was excluded from the Supersport results due to a technical infringement, and failed to finish the Superstock race.

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Dean Harrison finished on the podium in both races.

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IOMTT: RL360º Quantum Superstock TT Race Results

06/08/2016 @ 12:19 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: RL360º Quantum Superstock TT Race Results

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The RL360º Quantum Superstock TT race features liter-class bikes that are supposed to be closer to what rolls out of a motorcycle dealership, as such, few modifications are allowed to these machines at the Isle of Man TT.

That being said, the Superstock TT bikes have been putting down impressive lap times, nearing the speeds that the Superbike TT machines produce. This is due partially to the plateauing of speeds at the Isle of Man, and also because modern-day superbikes are very stout, even right out of the box.

A good example of this is the “unofficial” outright lap record that Ian Hutchinson set on his superstock BMW S1000RR, but perhaps a better example was during this year’s Superstock TT race, where a new record was not only set, but the 133 mph barrier was broken yet again.

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IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1 Results

06/07/2016 @ 11:45 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1 Results

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With the big bikes getting the 2016 Isle of Man TT off to a wonderful start, Monday saw the Supersport and Superstock bikes on the Mountain Course for the racing action. Though the machines were different, the same names were the talk of the paddock.

The weather was once again stellar for Race 1 of the Supersport TT, the first match of the 600cc class of machines, and all eyes on the TT course were getting record to see another race record drop. They would not be disappointed.

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Episode 23 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out for your audio pleasure, and it covers a range of topics that we think you will find interesting. First off, Quentin and Jensen cover the spectacle that is the Isle of Man TT, talking about this iconic road race, some of racers who compete in it, and what the TT needs to grow in the future.

This discussion then evolves into a conversation about flat track racing, which has already seen a bump in popularity, and seems to have additional momentum to grow in the coming years. This is of course aided by Harley-Davidson’s renewed interest in the sport, with the Bar & Shield brand releasing its first flat track race bike in 44 years, the Harley-Davidson XG750R.

The guys then turn their attention to lane-splitting in the USA, a topic that is fueled by the recent news that California is looking to codify the practice, which is already legal permissible in the Golden State. That codification process has consequences for riders outside of California as well though, and the guys talk about those in the show.

Overall it’s a very informative look at three hot topics in motorcycling. We think you will find it both enlightening and entertaining.

As always, 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. Enjoy the show!

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Superbike TT & Sidecar TT Race 1 with Tony Goldsmith

06/05/2016 @ 5:54 pm, by Tony Goldsmith4 COMMENTS

IOMTT: RST Superbike TT Race Results

06/04/2016 @ 5:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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It’s been seven perfect days of weather at the Isle of Man TT, which is a rarity for the island nation, which sits in the turbulent Irish Sea. That has boded well for Saturday’s opening race, the RST Superbike TT, as riders have been putting in scorching laps so far this practice week.

All expectations were for a record lap to be set, especially after Ian Hutchinson set an “unofficial” outright lap record the day before during practice, but the question was from whom would the record be broken by officially, as a number of riders were showing good race pace.

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Ian Hutchinson Isle of Man TT Tyco BMW Superstock

The weather gods have been smiling on the Isle of Man TT this fortnight, with six consecutive days of sunshine and warm temperatures thus far. That bodes well for the TT riders, as it means that they will push faster and faster with each session.

Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising to hear that Ian Hutchinson is now “unofficially” the fastest man ever to lap around the Isle of Man TT course, setting a scorching 132.803 mph lap on his Tyco BMW Superstock. That’s right, on his Superstock machine.

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Wednesday at the K-Tree with Tony Goldsmith

06/02/2016 @ 1:24 pm, by Tony Goldsmith6 COMMENTS

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Since my last update from the Isle of Man TT, the sun has continued to shine and the speeds have continued to rise. After spending Tuesday evening in and around the paddock, I headed out to the K-Tree, just outside Ramsey, for Wednesday’s practice.

Also known as Lezayre Church or the Conkerfields, the K-Tree has become very popular in recent years. Some of the most spectacular slow motion footage from the last few years has been filmed there.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve also included in this post a selection from Tuesday evening’s session in the paddock. Above: James Hillier on the back wheel at the K-Tree.

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Monday on the Mountain Section with Tony Goldsmith

06/01/2016 @ 1:52 am, by Tony Goldsmith2 COMMENTS

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Practice for the 2016 Isle of Man TT got underway on Saturday evening and continued on Monday. Both sessions ran under beautiful conditions on the Isle of Sun, at least it’s the Isle of Sun for now.

I spent Saturday evening around 7 miles from the start at the Greeba Castle section. I’m lucky to still be here after being eaten alive by midges.

Monday evening was spent in the sun on the mountain at Guthrie’s and the 27th Milestone. Thankfully the midges weren’t a problem, but I did have to chase away a pheasant that had popped along for a look.

Above, you will find Dean Harrison on his Superstock Kawasaki at Guthrie’s Memorial.

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Are You Ready for This Year’s Isle of Man TT?

06/01/2016 @ 1:26 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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This year marks the 97th running of the Isle of Man TT, and the two weeks of practice and racing sessions should be considered a “must attend” item on any motorcyclist’s bucket list.

The TT is a special event to attend, and I can tell you as a journalist that it is one of the more surreal motorcycle races to cover. First, there is the serenity in watching machines race on public roads, just inches sometimes from where you are sitting. There is no where else that gets you that close to the action.

And then, there is the pound of flesh that comes with the spectacle: the knowledge that statistically speaking, two racers will lose their lives over the course of the fortnight. It is sobering to know going into an event that you will likely report the death of an athlete.

Whether you are a fan of road racing or one of its detractors, I still feel that it should be compulsory to attend an Isle of Man TT before one can make comment one way or another on its continuance.

This isn’t just another motorcycle race, and this isn’t just another extreme sport; this isn’t life in the sand of the coliseum, but it’s also not going through life in the passenger seat.

There is something truly special about the Isle of Man TT, and until you experience it from beyond these words, they will just continue to seem hyperbolic.

It is easy to wax poetic about the TT – you will just have to attend one yourself to understand that. Until you do though, we aim to bring you the best Isle of Man TT coverage available over the next two weeks. So, here’s a primer of information, before we start cluttering your A&R news feed with TT postings.

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