Valentino Rossi’s Special Yamaha XJR1300 Flat Tracker

It is good to be Valentino Rossi. Not only do you have nine world championships to your name, legions of yellow-crazy fans, but you also get pretty nice gifts from your friends. Take “Mya” for example – a special Yamaha XJR1300 custom flat tracker that the folks at VR|46 built for their fearless leader. Now, when you think about bikes that should be the basis for a custom project, the Yamaha XJR1300 doesn’t exactly come to mind. It probably doesn’t help that this decades-old model is only Euro3 compliant, and set to sunset at the end of this year. The XJ1300 certainly doesn’t strike us as the appropriate starting point for a flat track bike either, especially with its 530 lbs weight figure. That all being said, the VR|46 crew have done a pretty good job of spiffing up the old girl.

That Suzuki Katana 3.0 Concept Though…

One of the less-publicized motorcycles on display at this year’s EICMA show was this Suzuki Katana concept, which has since been making the rounds on social media. Rightfully so, we would say, as the “Katana 3.0” is a very intriguing idea into how Suzuki can revitalize one of its most iconic names. A creation by the folks at Motociclismo, with the help of designer Rodolfo Frascoli and Engines Engineering, the Katana 3.0 concept isn’t the “official” concept that many had hoped for from Suzuki. However, the fact that Suzuki hosted the concept inside its EICMA display is a sign that the Japanese manufacturer is certainly listening to the feeback the bike generates.

The KTM 790 Duke’s Killer Feature? Its Price Tag

The KTM 790 Duke launches a new platform for the Austrian brand, based around an 800cc parallel-twin engine. As such, we already know that we can expect the twin-cylinder platform to spawn an adventure version of the bike, with the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype debuting at EICMA as well. We can also expect other “790” models in the coming years, both from KTM and likely from Husqvarna as well. That is a good thing, because the KTM 790 Duke is a potent bike, rich with features. The real kicker though – if early indications about the pricing can be believed – is the KTM 790 Duke’s price tag, as KTM has been quoted as pricing the 790 Duke at below €10,000. This would put US pricing around the $11,000 mark, if not cheaper.

The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year’s work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season. Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA. So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week’s big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry. For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences.

ARCH Motorcycle’s Next Bike Won’t Be a Cruiser

ARCH Motorcycle is in Italy right now, and they just took the wraps off three bikes, one of which isn’t so much a cruiser, as it is a naked roadster model. Built using carbon fiber MonoCell chassis technology, a building technique usually reserved for ultra high-end sport cars and Formula 1 racing chassis, the ARCH Method143 features a potent 143ci (2,343) v-twin engine. Though, instead of the performance cruiser layout the company is better known for, the ARCH Method143 will have mid-body rearsets for the feet, and clip-on handlebars for the hands, making for a very sporty riding position. Backing up that notion is the use of Öhlins suspension, which includes a proprietary Öhlins FGRT series front fork with carbon fiber airfoil covers.

No One Seemed to Notice that the MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Is New for the 2018 Model Year

We had to search high and low for information about the 2018 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR – it doesn’t help that MV Agusta’s press site is offline right now – but it seems just about every news publication missed the fact that this attractive roadster got some serious changes for the 2018 model year. These unnoticed changes certainly are partially due to the fact that MV Agusta went without a press introduction at this year’s EICMA show, but it is also due to the company’s never-ending line of “bold new graphics” changes, one-off customs, and special livery designs, which only muddy the waters for when actual changes occur.

Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe Brings Modern to Retro

Kawasaki made an impression at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, debuting the new Z900RS standard. The premise was simple there: take the potent Kawasaki Z900 street bike, and dress it in retro clothing. The effect was something that looked incredibly like the Kawasaki Zephyr of old, but with modern brakes, suspension, traction control, and even a slipper-assist clutch. Now we see that Team Green plans on already expanding the line, debuting today the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe. Basically the Z900RS with a bikini fairing, this modern café racer should be a perfect fit for those riders that want an older looking motorcycle that doesn’t run like an older looking motorcycle. Mostly a visual exercise, the basic stats of the Z900RS Cafe don’t stray too far from the donor bike from whence it came.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Debuts with Track Goodies

For the 2018 model year, Kawasaki continues to develop its superbike package. As such, the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE brings some special new features, to earn those extra letters after its name. The big addition is the new Showa electronic suspension, which is the only semi-active suspension system on motorcycles that includes built-in stroke sensors. These stroke sensors are able to measure the movement of the fork and shock internals, allowing Showa’s suspension to measure and change its damping settings on the fly, as you ride. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE also gets the forged aluminum wheels found on Kawasaki’s homologation-spec superbike, the Ninja ZX-10RR, which should help the Ninja ZX-10R SE feel more nimble on the race track, despite its 459 lbs wet weight.

So Many Photos of the New KTM 790 Duke to Drool Over

We are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the new KTM 790 Duke is the bike of this year’s EICMA show. Making a potent 105hp from its 799cc parallel-twin engine, packed into a 418 lbs (wet)steel trellis body, the 2018 KTM 790 Duke brings a host of features to the middleweight sport bike category. In typical KTM fashion, the 790 Duke left no angle behind in its high school honors geometry course, and the LED headlight builds upon the common design features that KTM has been putting together on its street-going machines. Not quite the vision that was the KTM 790 Duke prototype, the production model still evokes the same emotions, and is handsome in its own right – allaying our fears when seeing spy shots of the machine.

Mega Gallery: Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

We have had to wait two years to see it come into production, but the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 will finally be available to motorcyclists in March 2018. As an added bonus, the street-going machine stays true to its concept design, which wowed the crowd at last year’s EICMA show. This year in Milan, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 is all the talk of EICMA, and while “Best in Show” at EICMA almost exclusively goes to an Italian marque, the real winners are surely coming from Austria, as both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 and KTM 790 Duke look like winners. A duality from Mattighofen, KTM and Husqvarna approach motorcycles from two opposite spectrums. KTM lives in the extreme, with an edgy focus on its “Ready to Race” mentality. Conversely, Husqvarna is subtle and sophisticated…maybe even understated.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #56 – Nicky Bobby

06/29/2017 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast #56 – Nicky Bobby

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

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 EnglishComments Off on Peter Hickman, The Makings of a Future TT Star

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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James Hillier Finds Out Why They Call It “Balla-Scary”

06/14/2017 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on James Hillier Finds Out Why They Call It “Balla-Scary”

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 BeelerComments Off on Watch Ian Hutchinson’s Terrifying Crash at the TT

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 GoldsmithComments Off on IOMTT: The Final TT Race Day with Tony Goldsmith

IOMTT: Pokerstars Senior TT Results

06/09/2017 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Pokerstars Senior TT Results

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 BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: SES TT Zero Results

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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Paul Phillips Talks About The Isle of Man TT Revival

06/09/2017 @ 12:16 am, by Steve EnglishComments Off on Paul Phillips Talks About The Isle of Man TT Revival

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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Superstock TT & Lightweight TT with Tony Goldsmith

06/08/2017 @ 10:55 pm, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on Superstock TT & Lightweight TT with Tony Goldsmith