KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Gets Closer to Production Form

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

MV Agusta’s Moto2 Race Bike Predictably Looks Awesome

After a 42-year hiatus, MV Agusta is returning to the Grand Prix Championship. This iconic Italian motorcycle brand will not be competing in MotoGP however, and instead MV Agusta will make its return in the Moto2 category. Partnering with the Forward Racing team, MV Agusta aims to take advantage of the rule changes for the 2019 season, which will see a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine replacing the 600cc Honda four-cylinder engine that is currently in use. This change in the spec-engine rule will likely upheave the Moto2 Championship, and MV Agusta wants to be part of that sea change. As such, the bike you see in the photos here will be the machine that launches MV Agusta’s assault on the GP paddock.

The Harley-Davidson “Custom” Is the First Cruiser We Like

In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept. There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over. For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept. Using the 1,250cc version of Harley-Davidson’s new modular engine, the Custom takes a number of cues from Harley-Davidsons of the past and future.

MV Agusta Debuts Auto-Clutch Tech for Sport Bikes

06/10/2018 @ 10:29 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The concept of an auto-clutch is nothing new, and for dirt bike riders, products like those produced by Rekluse are virtually common place. But, on the sport bike side of things, the use and adoption of this technology is still relatively young.

We have seen scooters and other small-displacement machines use continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology before, and Honda is currently proudly touting its dual-clutch transmission (DCT) on several of its models, the latest being the new Honda Gold Wing, but what about the rest of the market?

Today we see that MV Agusta is the first brand to strike back in this space, debuting its “Smart Clutch System” (SCS) – an automatic clutch designed with sport bikes in mind, making it an option on the marque’s MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso sport-tourer.

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If you were reading other moto-news sites this week – first of all, shame on you – then you would have noticed much noise being made about Ford Motor Company applying for a patent on detection technology for when a motorcycle is lane-splitting between cars.

What you didn’t notice, along with those other publications, is that this is nothing new from Ford, as the American automobile manufacturer was already granted a patent for this technology over a year ago.

Much ado about nothing? Not quite, but the story isn’t remotely close to what was being reported elsewhere. In fact, this news of Ford’s lane-splitting patent strategy is much bigger, and much more important, than what has been in the media thus far.

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What Does the Yamaha NIKEN Look Like Naked?

05/31/2018 @ 6:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It has to be the weirdest motorcycle yet, if you can even call it that (some don’t), but it is also luridly intriguing. we are of course talking about the Yamaha NIKEN (read the ride review here, by the way).

A mullet of machines, the NIKEN is business in the front, and party in the back, with its dual 15-inch front wheels mated to a grand total of four conventional fork tubes, via an elaborate parallelogram linkage, while the 17-inch rear wheel spins from a more conventional swingarm design.

This is because from behind the headstock, things get a bit more familiar, with a chassis that is built mostly from steel tube, and a swingarm that comes from cast aluminum. The motor is a revised version of the three-cylidner engine that is found in the Yamaha MT-09.

Available in any color you want, so long as it’s blue, Yamaha has wrapped up the NIKEN in some…interesting…fairing designs, but it is what is under the plastic that is the most intriguing.

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You are driving down a road with questionable conditions, and as you round a bend, you see a minefield of gravel the path of your motorcycle.

For anyone who has ridden the backroads of America, this scenario should be one that is familiar, and while a certain amount of rider skill can navigate you to safety, if you hit a gravel patch while leaned-over, the physics simply aren’t on the side of the motorcycle.

According to the CNET though, the folks at Bosch want to change that, and it seems that Bosch has a novel concept in the works – straight from NASA and the space program. The idea is both simple and complex. It is compressed gas thrusters.

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Your Next Ford Could Have a Built-in Motorcycle

05/01/2018 @ 6:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

For quite some time now, manufacturers have been focusing on this concept called the “last mile” – the idea that the final mile of a daily commute will have to be undertaken with something other than an automobile.

Driving this concern is the vehicle crackdown in urban centers, with cities like London, Paris, and others already creating congestion zones for their city centers, which all but outlaw the ability for one to commute via car into a downtown area.

Mass transit is surely filling this void, as are taxis, but we have also seen a shift towards two-wheeled solutions. That is where today’s story kicks in, as Ford is looking at its own city center solution, patenting a car concept that has a built-in motorcycle.

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BMW Shows Off 3D Printed BMW S1000RR Frame

04/26/2018 @ 6:04 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ultimately, I think we are going to come back to this story several times over the next few weeks, as there is so much going on here, from such a simple thing, that one story just won’t do it all justice.

To start things off though, let’s look at the basics…as the BMW Group recently hosted what it called the BMW Group Digital Day 2018, which was basically a showcase for all the cool technologies that the Bavarians are using to create a digital frontier that will reshape the human condition.

Most of the technology concerns BMW’s automotive business, but there was one little tidbit that could be of interest for motorcycle fans: the 3D printed frame for a BMW S1000RR superbike.

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Ducati Will Start Making Motorcycles with Radar

04/18/2018 @ 11:35 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati is making an interesting announcement today, boasting that it will bring front and rear radar technology to its motorcycles by the year 2020.

Using radar technology developed with the Politecnico di Milano University, Ducati will use radar not only to detect vehicles in the motorcycle’s blind spot, but also to detect the flow of traffic ahead of the motorcycle, and use that information for an adaptive cruise control system.

Ducati plans a number of other rider alerts as well, with the fore and aft radar units, which will help riders know when there is a fast-approaching vehicle coming from the rear, when there is a risk of head-on collision in front of the motorcycle, and so forth.

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More on How the Yamaha Niken Three-Wheeler Works

03/07/2018 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I find the Yamaha Niken to be the most intriguing motorcycle (and I use that word loosely) to debut for the 2018 model year. It is probably the model I most look forward to riding this year, from all of those that debuted at this year’s EICMA show (riding the Ducati Panigale V4 S didn’t suck, however).

What Yamaha calls a leaning multi-wheel (LMW) vehicle, this three-wheeler promises more stability than a traditional motorcycle, while still providing the rider the same amount of fun.

Take one look at the Niken though, and you can tell that the Yamaha engineers were quite busy in making it all work as planned. An elegant solution, this is not. But, the Niken is still fascinating from an engineering perspective.

Thankfully, Yamaha has taken the time to explain more clearly just all the technology that has gone into making the Niken lean, steer, and move like a motorcycle…despite having an extra wheel on the front-end.

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Harley-Davidson Invests in Alta Motors

03/01/2018 @ 4:00 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We bring you big news this first day of March, as Harley-Davidson has announced its strategic investment in Alta Motors, which will see the two American companies co-developing two new electric motorcycle models.

As one can imagine, the news has big ramifications for both brands. For Harley-Davidson, it means having access to cutting-edge electric vehicle technology, and a technical partner that can help them navigate the coming shift to electric drivetrains.

And for Alta Motors the news is perhaps even more impactful, as Harley-Davidson brings not only a key monetary investment into the San Francisco startup, but the deal likely provides access to a variety of assets for Alta, namely purchasing power with parts supplier, access to a worldwide dealer network, and instant credibility with other future investors.

For the immediate future though, Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors foresee their collaboration including two new electric motorcycles, which will be branded under the Harley-Davidson name. 

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If you are riding in California anytime soon, you might want to think twice before blaming the state’s fleet of drivers, as The Golden State just made it legal for self-driving cars to operate without a human behind the wheel.

While similar actions have stalled in the US Congress (the SELF DRIVE ACT is stuck in a Senate committee), states have begun to take matters into their own hands, like they did in Arizona.

That is right, the dawn of truly autonomous vehicles has just arrived, and it is primed to change the driving landscape as we know it, which by correlation means changes for the motorcycle community as well.

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