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The headline shares our thoughts on the matter. Is there really a four-cylinder Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R in the works? That is the rumor coming out of Asia, and not exactly a new one.

The bike is expected to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this year, in October, with an eye on reviving Japan’s lost history of screaming small-displacement machines.

While there seems to be some evidence that the bike will debut – sightings of a prototype have already been published – our reservations for excitement come from similar rumors that have failed to pan out.

With the three overseas* races out of the way and MotoGP back in Europe, the thoughts of the teams, riders, and series organizers are starting to turn to the future.

At Le Mans, there was much discussion in team trucks and among the organizers. And as a consequence, there was a stream of paddock rumor, interviews, and news articles on what’s coming up for the future. Here’s a round up of recent news.

Indonesia is to get a round of MotoGP and WorldSBK from 2021. Confirmation of the news came faster than we expected, as Dorna issued two press releases on Saturday, announcing that both World Championship series it manages will race at the new circuit to be built at Mandalika in Lombok.

That MotoGP would race there is not a surprise, but that WorldSBK would also visit had not been much talked about.

But, this follows the same pattern as the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, where WorldSBK was sent to the track first as a trial run, before MotoGP went to race there.

The agreement announced by Dorna envisages both series going in the same year, starting in 2021.

On Tuesday, Dorna issued a press release together with the Indonesian Tourism Development Company, or ITDC, that brought an Indonesian round of MotoGP one step closer to reality.

If the plans come to fruition, MotoGP could be racing on a specially-adapted street circuit on the island of Lombok as early as 2021.

Carmelo Ezpeleta and his son (and MotoGP Sporting Director) Carlos visited Nusa Dua, in the south of Bali, one of Indonesia’s favorite destinations for tourists, as guest of the ITDC. While he was there, they hopped across to Lombok, the next island east of Bali, to visit the Mandalika tourist resort on the south coast of Lombok, which is currently under development. 

The plan is for a race to be organized on a circuit using the public roads inside the resort. This is the ‘street race’ which was rumored much earlier in the year, but about which few details had emerged.

It looks like the Yamaha YZF-R3 will get a refresh for the 2019 model year, as photos of the bike – complete with a facelift – have surfaced in Indonesia.

The new design brings the R3 closer into the rest of Yamaha’s supersport family, particularly with an intake shape that looks inspired by the Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike.

There is a split on rumors as to whether the rest of the machine will get an update as well, specifically the frame and engine, though we can expect some some minor refinements to the overall package, no matter what the case may be on that front.

LED headlights and lighting all around have been tipped, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see an updated dash as well.

What you see here is the very unassuming 2017 Yamaha YZF-R15, a 155cc single-cylinder sport bike that was designed with the Asian market in mind – as such, the bike will debut in Indonesia in April 2017, and the rest of the ASEAN market later this year.

Hold on before you click through though, as while the R15 might be too small by our Western market standards, the new Yamaha YZF-R15 packs some interesting technology, namely Yamaha’s variable valve actuation (VVA).

Because of this technology, Yamaha says that the 2017 model of the YZF-R15 achieves a 18% increase in power output (19hp in total), and a 4.7% increase in fuel efficiency, all from its 3% engine displacement increase and with the VVA technology.

It is looking increasingly like the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand will be added to the MotoGP calendar for the 2018 season.

I understand from sources that there was a significant hurdle to be overcome: circuit title sponsor Chang is a major beer brand in Thailand, and a rival to the Official MotoGP Beer Singha, also a major beer brand in Thailand and further abroad. The race can only happen if a compromise has been found to accommodate this conflict.

This is good news for Thailand, and good news for fans in Asia. The World Superbike round at the circuit is always packed, and MotoGP should be even more popular. It is hard to overstate just how massive MotoGP is in that part of the world.

From India, through Southeast Asia, motorcycle racing in general and MotoGP in particular has a huge following. But the only country in the region that has a race is Malaysia, hosting its Grand Prix at Sepang.

So expanding the calendar to include Thailand is a welcome addition for fans in the region. If the financial and logistical problems with organizing a race in Indonesia ever get sorted, then there might even be a third race in the region, at the Palembang circuit in South Sumatra.

Given the massive interest in MotoGP from that country, it is a racing certainty that any race there will be a complete sell out.

An Asphalt & Rubber reader sent me link recently, outlining how President Trump's pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would adversely affect international sales for Harley-Davidson.

At first I was just going to post a quick synopsis and send you all to read it for yourselves, if you wanted to dive deeper into the meat of the story. But then, I did some digging of my own.

The story, done by Forbes, doesn't connect the dots too well. And while I agree with the author's ultimate point, the reasoning he uses to get there is fairly flawed.

His argument boils down to the fact that the TPP would lower import costs for brands doing business in Asia, and since Harley-Davidson sells 40% of its bikes in the Asian market, it would therefore benefit from the USA becoming a TPP signatory.

The issue of course isn't as cut-and-dry, and requires a bit of digging into what markets would become more favorable for Harley-Davidson, and where the future of the Bar & Shield brand resides. Buckle-up, because here we go.

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The first week of 2017 has come and gone, and we are a week closer to the MotoGP bikes hitting the track again at Sepang for the first test of the year.

Though little of consequence is happening publicly in the midst of the winter break, there are the first few signs of activity.

So, after the jump is a round-up of the news from last week: most of the things that matter, all in one place.