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.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

08/03/2018 @ 11:15 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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.

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A Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled 1100 on the Way?

07/20/2018 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled debuted, I said that this was the scrambler model the Bologna should have released first. Built actually to go off-road, it is the real scrambler in Ducati’s Scrambler lineup.

Now, I have a feeling that in a few months’ time I’m going to be saying this phrase again about a different bike, as there are some rumors floating in the Bothan Spy network that an 1,079cc version of the Desert Sled is set to debut for the 2019 model year.

This supposed Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled 1100 (try saying name that three times fast) will add to the Scrambler 1100 lineup from Ducati, adding some off-road prowess to a family of bikes that is really just a reworked Ducati Monster 1100.

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Sometimes, it seems like motorcycle manufacturers are intentionally tanking the supersport segment. For proof of this, I look at the electronics available, on this supposedly cutting-edge segment.

Something as ubiquitous as traction control is still slow to come to the supersport space, while it remains a standard feature on virtually every new street bike model. The concept is so foreign in this segment that less than half of the available supersports on the market have a traction control option.

One of those brands is MV Agusta, which was the first motorcycle marque to bring TC to the supersport class. Now, the Italian brand is ready to raise the bar another notch further, bringing the power of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to supersport riders.

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We have known for some time that Yamaha planned on making its leaning multi-wheel vehicle technology into a family of bike and car analogs.

The Japanese brand has invested heavily into the chassis technology to make these unique machines, and Yamaha is not content to just leave the marketplace with the Tricity scooter and NIKEN sport bike.

To that notion, Yamaha has already tipped a mid-sized leaning multi-wheeler to us, with Yamaha CEO/President Yoshihiro Hidaka showing a slide in February of this year that had a blurred out LMW sitting between the Tricity and NIKEN models.

Now, we get word from Europe that a 300cc version of the NIKEN is set to drop later this year.

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There will be a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R for the 2019 model year, of this much we are certain.

It is a story that has been floating around for over a year now (I thought we had reported it already, but apparently not), but now this rumor is heating up, and we have some details to share.

First off, the confirmation. Making filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), we see that Kawasaki has plans for a new ZX-6R. It will have a 636cc (cheater) displacement, and produce roughly half the emissions of the previous model.

Likely ready for the coming wave of Euro5 emission regulations, details from across the pond show a power decrease and weight increase for the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, and point to a whole-new motorcycle coming from Team Green.

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India Boss Tips KTM 390 Adventure Debut for 2019

06/19/2018 @ 9:36 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It has been a motorcycle that we have long waited for, but it seems that the KTM 390 Adventure is finally set to debut. Based on the KTM 390 Duke platform, which currently shares itself with the KTM RC390, the new ADV bike targets the small-displacement adventure-touring segment.

This means that at the core of the KTM 390 Adventure model should be a 373cc single-cylinder engine, making roughly 43hp. Multiple spy photos of the bike have been spotted over the years, which show a long-travel machine that should be fairly capable off-road.

“With the 390 Adventure we would be making our long awaited entry into the niche premium dual-sport segment which is a very apt segment for Indian roads,” said Bajaj SVP and KTM India boss Amit Nandi, in a statement reported by several Indian publications.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #36 – Tikka Masala

11/01/2016 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Recapping the recent INTERMOT show, Episode 36 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast covers the three big themes that emerged from Cologne: homologation specials, vintage motorcycles, and rider aids.

With these themes in mind, we have a good conversation about the three homologation specials we saw from the Japanese manufacturers at INTERMOT: the Honda CBR1000RR SP2, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.

The conversation then turns to the neo-vintage models we saw in Germany, and how brands like Triumph and BMW are investing heavily in this trendy niche.

We finish up the show talking about motorcycle electronics, inertial measurement units (IMUs) to be specific. This game-changing technology continues to permeate through the motorcycle industry, along with other rider aids, so we have a good conversation about the rise of the IMU.

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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One of the gems on display at the INTERMOT expo in Cologne, Germany this year was this Dakar Rally race bike, built off the Suzuki DR-Z dual-sport model. A predecessor to the bikes that share its name now, these DR-Z750 and DR-Z800 bikes were the OG of adventure bikes.

The modern-day equivalent now is the DR-Z400, which comes to the US both in a dual-sport and supermoto trims. Despite closing in on its second decade of service, the DR-Z400 remains a popular model, offering a reliable motorcycle package at an affordable price.

As a rally raid racer, the Suzuki DR-Z400 offers a reliable and affordable racing platform for privateers, and if you look far enough down the entry list of races like the Dakar Rally, you will find this venerable dirt bike listed.

This particular DR-Z800 was raced by Belgian Gaston Rahier, a two-time Dakar Rally winner (’84 & ’85) on the BMW R100GS, but during the 1989 Dakar Rally, he campaigned this Suzuki with the Hessler Rallye Team.

Rahier’s race bike is a cool piece of history, and it is an interesting glimpse into a piece of Suzuki’s past that should be remembered.

The headlines out of INTERMOT have been about the return of the King of Superbikes, so its easy to forget that Suzuki’s success go beyond the road racing paddock. Hopefully we’ll see a follow-up on great bikes like these from Suzuki, now that the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer has awoken from its slumber.

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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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I was trying to come up with some sort of excuse to show this video about the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R, since it’s basically just a two-minute orgasm about Suzuki’s new superbike.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty jazzed about the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R and its lower-spec sibling, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

I think there would be more buzz about the new GSX-R if Suzuki hadn’t basically shown the superbike to us a year before its release, but that seems to be the Japanese manufacturer’s jam right now.

I wont’ waste your time further. Close the office door, hide the kids, pour a drink, grab a towel, and press play.

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