The TVS Apache RR 310 Is Finally Here – Et Tu, BMW?

As expected, the TVS Apache RR 310 debuted today in India, thus ending the bike’s nearly year-long delay in coming to market. Why do we care so much about a motorcycle that will likely never set foot on US soil? Because at the heart of the TVS Apache RR 310 is BMW Motorrad’s next small-displacement motorcycle: the BMW G310RR…well that, and the TVS Apache RR 310 looks pretty tasty as a track bike. Partnering with TVS Motor, BMW Motorrad is co-developing its 313cc line of single-cylinder motorcycles with the Indian firm, with the TVS Apache RR 310 set to become the BMW G310RR in the German brand’s lineup. As such, the BMW G310RR is expected to debut later in 2018, and join the G310R and G310GS as BMW’s multi-prong approach towards newer riders.

WorldSBK Approves the Use of Winglets*

The World Superbike Championship released the latest decision from the SBK Commission today, which clarified a few rules for the 2018 season, most notably the new rev-limiter and parts cost rules, which have been discussed already at great length here on Asphalt & Rubber (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3). There was another interesting rule change of note though, which is likely to get over-looked by the racing community, and that is the World Superbike Championship permitting the use of winglets, although there is a catch. In its rules update, the SBK Commission decreed that teams and manufacturers may fit aerodynamic components (e.g. winglets) to their superbikes so long as the winglets are fitted to the homologated motorcycle.

Crunching the Numbers: Rea vs. MotoGP vs. WorldSBK

The start of December marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in the world of motorcycle racing. After the Jerez test in late November, it is now “Why Is Jonathan Rea Faster Than A MotoGP Bike” season. At Jerez, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10R WorldSBK machine – down 35+ bhp and up 10+ kg – to the fourth fastest overall time of the week, ahead of eleven MotoGP regulars (including two rookies), three MotoGP test riders and Alex Márquez, who the Marc VDS team were using to train up the new crew recruited to look after Tom Luthi’s side of the garage while the Swiss rider is still injured. How is this possible? And what does this mean? Are WorldSBK machines too close to MotoGP bikes?

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX Priced at $19,000 for the USA

Kawasaki’s newest supercharged motorcycle is also its most affordable supercharged motorcycle, with the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX coming to the USA with an MSRP of $19,000. Even the better-equipped 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE is an “affordable” $22,000, when compared to the more sport-focused H2 models. Featuring a 200hp version of Kawasaki’s supercharged, four-cylinder, 998cc engine, the Ninja H2 SX is a fully faired sport-tourer, with an emphasis on the sport side of the equation. The base model comes in any color you want, so long as it’s black, while the Ninja H2 SX SE comes in the traditional Team Green color scheme of Kawasaki.

Oh Yes, The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Is USA Bound

Good news sport bike fans, Kawasaki USA in its infinite wisdom has decided to bring the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE to the United States for the 2018 model year. Debuted at this year’s EICMA show, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE takes the potent superbike and most notably adds Showa’s new semi-active suspension to the package. Other perks include the seven-spoke forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, found already on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, as well as an up/down quickshifter. Like what you hear? Well brace yourself…If you want a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE in your garage, you are going to need to shell out $21,899 MSRP for it. That sticker price represents quite the premium over Team Green’s race homologation machine, the ZX-10RR, which goes for $18,899.

PJ Jacobsen Racing in WorldSBK for 2018

Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen will be stepping up to the big show for the 2018 season, with today’s announcement that the American will be riding with the TripleM Honda WSBK Team. Moving off of the World Supersport grid and into the World Superbike Championship, Jacobsen will be riding the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 with the satellite Honda team effort that TripleM has put together. “I’m very excited to be making my World Superbike debut with TripleM Honda WSBK Team,” said PJ. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be finally racing in this class and I want to thank the team and Honda for making this possible. Both the team and I will be rookies in the WorldSBK championship so there’ll surely be a lot to learn, but it’s a challenge that stimulates me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Yamaha Selling Shares in Yamaha Motor to Raise Money

The Yamaha Corporation announced today that it will be selling 8 million shares of its holdings in Yamaha Motor Co., a movement of shares that will see roughly 2.3% of the voting power in the powersports company changing hands. This deal is expected to close on December 4th, and the Yamaha Corporation says that it will be selling its position to various unnamed securities companies, presumably to then be sold on the open market. At the current market price for Yamaha Motor stock, this deal should be worth close to ¥26 billion, and ¥18 billion after tax expenses have been factored. The news means that while the Yamaha Corporation will remain the single largest shareholder in Yamaha Motor Co., its ownership position as a shareholder will drop from 12.22% to 9.93%, as a result of the divestiture.

Valentino Rossi’s Winter Test Helmet Gets Mexican Flair

It is another winter testing period for the MotoGP riders, and that means that Valentino Rossi has another special “Winter Test” AGV helmet design for us. This year, The Doctor takes his inspiration from Huichol bead art, after he visited the region on a recent vacation to Mexico. As such, Rossi’s winter test AGV Pista GP R helmet features a hand-painted bead design that plays on the winter motif, with the Italian’s usual affinity for symbols. “Huichol art immediately intrigued me, because it uses many of my symbols, like the sun and moon or the turtle,” explained Valentino Rossi. “We have tried to recreate the effect of the beads that the Mexicans use to bring color and shape to these objects, but to do so with a Valentino Rossi twist.”

Jonathan Rea Talks About New WorldSBK Rules

Three years of unparalleled success has seen Jonathan Rea notch up 39 victories, 70 podiums, and 3 WorldSBK titles. To put those numbers into context, only Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, and Noriyuki Haga have won more races in their WorldSBK careers. It truly has been a historic run of form for Rea and Kawasaki. For WorldSBK though the achievements have been outweighed by the reaction of fans to these results. Feeling that significant changes were needed to ensure a more competitive balance for the field, WorldSBK has introduced a wide range of new regulations to curtail the Kawasaki dominance. The goal isn’t to stop Rea and Kawasaki winning but simply to allow other manufacturers to get on an even keel.

The “Smart” Approach to Writing the WorldSBK Rulebook

Scott Smart has been tasked with writing and rewriting the rule book for Superbikes around the planet. The FIM Superbike Technical Director has been instrumental in bringing about the recent regulation changes for WorldSBK, and speaking at the season ending Qatar round he explained the philosophy behind the changes. “There’s a lot of benefits to these changes, but the biggest factor is that we want to find a way to have more exciting racing in WorldSBK,” explained Smart. “With the new regulations each team on the grid has the chance to run the same specification as the factory teams or to develop their own parts. This gives a private team the chance to have a bike with development work already having been completed by simply buying the relevant parts for their bike.”

Honda Motor Europe just announced its road racing squad for the 2018 season, welcoming Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston to team. The duo should be a strong lineup for Honda, and it is fairly big news to see Hutchy with Big Red for next season.

The bigger news though is that today’s announcement leaves us asking what happened to John McGuinness, the 23-time race winner at the Isle of Man TT being absent from Honda’s racing announcement.

Missing the 2017 TT because of injuries he sustained at this year’s North West 200, doubt had been cast over McPint’s road racing future.

Always chasing the high-water mark left behind by 26-time TT race winner Joey Dunlop, McGuinness has to contend with a new generation of fast racers, his age and health, and a troublesome racing package in the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

This leaves the question, are we just marking time before we hear a retirement announcement? Or, is something else afoot?

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #56 – Nicky Bobby

06/29/2017 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 56 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast gets us back into our normal format of talking about motorcycles, and whatever rabbit holes present themselves along the way.

Before we get to that part though, we take a somber moment to remember Nicky Hayden, who passed away just a couple weeks before the recording of this episode.

We had recorded a special episode just about Nicky, the day that he passed, but it didn’t feel right to publish it. Our emotions were too raw.

Modestly philosophical during the show now, we also discuss the passing of Davey Lambert, who on the day of this recording succumbed to his injuries sustained at the Isle of Man TT. Two more racers would later die at the TT, Jochem van den Hoek and Alan Bonner. We hold all these racers in our thoughts.

Getting back to our normal selves, we discuss a bit of news, namely Harley-Davidson’s new factory in Thailand, and what that says about the state of the motorcycle industry. We also talk some racing action, as Andrea Dovizioso had just won the Italian GP at Mugello.

The show wraps up with some discussion about supermoto racing, as I participated in the Cascadia Supermoto round held here in Oregon, near Portland.

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.

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Take a Lap Around the Isle of Man TT on the BMW HP4

06/20/2017 @ 10:59 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

With five podium-finishes at this year’s Isle of Man TT, Peter Hickman is the man to watch in future TT fortnights, as the 30-year-old is showing tremendous talent and progress with his racing.

Helping Hickman to those finishes in the superbike classes (Superbike TT, Superstock TT, and Senior TT) was the BMW HP4, the Bavarian brand’s carbon-fiber-everything liter-bike that was just unveiled earlier this year.

A talented rider, an amazing machine, and one of the most iconic race tracks in the world? That sounds like the recipe for an epic onboard video.

Grab a stopwatch before you click play though, and see how much time Hickman’s front wheel spends in the air. It’s impressive.

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Peter Hickman, The Makings of a Future TT Star

06/19/2017 @ 8:05 am, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

Four years ago, Peter Hickman was a mid-pack British Superbike rider whose career was looking for a spark. He found that spark at the Isle of Man TT. Fast-forward to current time, and Peter Hickman has already established his road racing credentials prior to this year's Isle of Man TT.

With victories at the Ulster Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix, Hickman had shown that he has the speed, but five podiums at this year's TT has cemented his reputation as a front-runner on the roads.

Success hasn't come easy to the three-time British Superbike race-winner though, and after claiming a second place finish in this year's Senior TT race, he made it clear how much this TT had meant to him.

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If you took a straw poll from road racers, the Ballagarey corner would likely rank highest on the list of places found on the Isle of Man TT race course that scared these otherwise two-wheeled warriors.

The corner has such a reputation, that the name “Balla-Scary” has been coined to describe this fast section of the track, situated between the 3rd and 4th milestones. In 2010, Ballagarey claimed the life of racer Paul Dobbs, and a day later Guy Martin escaped a fiery crash there as well.

While every TT rider surely knows the reputation of Ballagarey, at this year’s Isle of Man TT, it was James Hillier who found a new respect for that part of the Mountain Course, having a huge moment on his Kawasaki superbike, during the Senior TT race. You can watch this miracle save, after the jump.

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Watch Ian Hutchinson’s Terrifying Crash at the TT

06/12/2017 @ 11:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson might have a broken femur bone right now, but all-in-all he is a pretty lucky man. Crashing during the Senior TT at the 2017 Isle of Man TT, the 16-time TT race winner had a horrific off while coming over the mountain section of the famed road racing course.

It is suspected that Hutchinson suffered from a punctured front tire, which caused the crash. That revelation though probably does little to change the fact that Hutchinson will once again have to recover from a serious injury to his left leg.

Hutchinson is expected to fully heal from his broken femur, though one has to wonder if he can ever truly recover from this crash at the 27th Milestone. You will understand what we mean, after you watch the embedded video.

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IOMTT: The Final TT Race Day with Tony Goldsmith

06/11/2017 @ 1:10 am, by Tony GoldsmithADD COMMENTS

IOMTT: Pokerstars Senior TT Results

06/09/2017 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The final race of the 2017 Isle of Man TT, the Pokerstars Senior TT is the competition that every rider wants to win. The “Blue Ribbon” event of race week, the six-lap Senior TT is the crown jewel to the TT fortnight.

Once again, a TT race was framed around two riders: Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop. Hutchinson came into the Senior TT with two race wins on his tally, one from the Superbike TT and one from the Superstock TT.

Riding on the BMW S1000RR, Hutchinson has a race-proven machine under him, and he has been riding in the form of his life. Contrast that with Michael Dunlop, who has been doing the donkey work in developing the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R as a formidable TT racing machine.

Dunlop comes into the Senior TT with only one win – earned during the Supersport TT Race 1 – with the jump to the GSX-R1000R still not panning out like he would have hoped.

With this in mind, we head into the Senior TT – a race, once again, defined by two riders.

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IOMTT: SES TT Zero Results

06/09/2017 @ 7:59 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 2017 Isle of Man TT will go down as a tough year for the electric bikes racing in the SES TT Zero race. With few laps around the course because of weather, and with record-holder John McGuinness stuck on the sidelines with injury, the speeds haven’t been what we were expecting.

Bruce Anstey filled in for McGuinness on the Team Mugen bike, and was only able to post a 113 mph lap in qualifying – well off the 119 mph pace that McGuinness set in 2015.

With the 2017 SES TT Zero race being Guy Martin’s best hope for a TT race win, there was a bit of intrigue heading into the race, though it was clear that Martin’s head was still stuck on his crash in the Superbike TT race.

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The Isle of Man TT has gone full circle. From the biggest race in the world, to a struggling to survive annual, and now it is back on top seeing record numbers of fans worldwide.

In this story, Asphalt & Rubber talks with Paul Phillips, the TT & Motorsport Development Manager for the Isle of Man Government, about the revival of this iconic fortnight of racing.

At the turn of the century, the Isle of Man TT was at a crossroads. The most unique and historic event on the motorcycle racing calendar was under pressure with a lack of coverage and dwindling interest in the event.

With the TT now back at the height of its power, the event has drawn in a new generation of fans and the future looks brighter than ever.

Paul Phillips has been largely credited with being central to the renaissance of the Isle of Man TT, as the Manxman has overseen the revival of the TT to the biggest fortnight of the British biking calendar.

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