Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST. The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away. While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

Americas Top Öhlins Dealer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Daniel Laine Kyle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – known best for his speed shop, Kyle Racing – pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government earlier this week, after it was found that Kyle had been hiding cash-based purchases made at this business. Dan Kyle Racing is known best for being the largest Öhlins suspension dealership in the United States (if not the world), as the company offered aggressive pricing on the Swedish-born suspension, and was one of the first Öhlins dealers with an online presence in the early days of the internet. According to the plea agreement made between Kyle and the US Attorney’s Office, Kyle pleaded guilty to tax fraud and structuring currency transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements in the US Tax Code.

The 2017 Saroléa SP7 Is Ready for the Isle of Man TT

The focus for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT may center around Team Mugen’s dual entry with John McGuinness and Guy Martin, but one should not overlook this very attractive entry from Belgium. Saroléa is back for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, continuing with its state-of-the-art carbon fiber chassis goodness and retro fairing design. On board will once again be Dean Harrison, who will be gunning for a podium-finish on the 2017 Saroléa SP7. If looks alone could get you across the finish line, then Saroléa would have our vote. The Belgians have always been in the running for a strong result though, finishing 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. Maybe this year will be “their year” at the TT.

India Is Now the World’s Biggest Motorcycle Market

Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Motorcycle Patents

I am really excited about the Suzuki brand right now. Out of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the recession affected Suzuki the most, probably more than many people realize, but the Hamamatsu brand is poised to bring out some exciting machines in the coming few years. Could we finally see a turbocharged Suzuki this year though? The rumor mill is pointing to yes…but just pointing, and the reason is because of patents. Much of this internet rumors stems from a flood of patents that have been found, where Suzuki is patenting technology related to turbo-powered engines in motorcycles, or because of other patents that make reference or inference to being part of a turbocharged motorcycle.

No, Royal Enfield Isn’t Buying Ducati

I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

Spy photos from Austria have caught KTM testing a rather interesting motorcycle – one that does not run on a petroleum-based fuel, but rather it has an electric drivetrain at its core. This isn’t the first time that KTM has experimented with an electric motorcycle, of course, with the KTM Freeride E being available in select markets. However, the machine seen here is a pretty big step forward for the Austrian brand, from its modest electric dirt bike. Using the chassis of a KTM 390 Duke to house the battery, inverter, and motor, KTM’s electric street bike (we’ll call it the KTM E-Duke for now) looks like a rolling mess, but is what you would expect from a project in its early stages of development.

For the Geeks, Your Luke Skywalker HJC Helmet Is Here

I am a solid Star Wars geek, but not in the dress-up and go to a convention sort of way – if you know what I mean. But, this new lid from HJC might have me singing a different tune, as it mimics Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing “Red 5” fighter helmet, in a DOT legal ¾ helmet format. That’s just cool…in a really un-cool sort of way. Based off the budget-friendly HJC IS-5 helmet, this Luke Skywalker replica will cost roughly $180 when it comes out (at a date still to be determined). Additionally, 10 versions of the lid will be signed by Mark Hamill, and auctioned for charity (UNICEF and the Starlight Children’s Foundation), if your geekdom takes you in such a direction (and you have a four-figure wallet).

Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

The Rise and Fall of Danny Kent

“Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with,” Peter Bom, Danny Kent’s former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent. Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom’s three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.

Officially Official: Laguna Seca Off the 2014 MotoGP Championship Calendar

09/30/2013 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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Confirming one of the worst-kept secrets last weekend, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has made an official statement that says that the coastal Californian track will not host the MotoGP Championship in 2014. The track cites the two other US rounds, and the circuit’s not-for-profit status as reasons why the US GP could not continue at Laguna Seca.

Boiling down the reasons we already laid out yesterday, the simple truth is that Laguna Seca was unable to meet the demands and needs of Dorna, nor was the circuit able to compete against the purpose-built Circuit of the Americas; as well as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the motorsport capital of the world, which our sources say was “willing to do whatever it takes” circuit-wise to keep the premier-class of motorcycle racing at IMS.

To its credit, Laguna Seca hopes to return the MotoGP Championship to its facilities in the near future. We have heard talk of the California track alternating years on the MotoGP calendar, though it is too early to tell if that plan is what Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is referencing in its release.

The press release from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca can be found after the jump.

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WSBK: Sunday at Laguna Seca with Daniel Lo

09/30/2013 @ 7:15 am, by Daniel Lo2 COMMENTS

Say Goodbye to MotoGP Racing at Laguna Seca

09/29/2013 @ 6:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler46 COMMENTS

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Ever since Indianapolis Motor Speedway re-signed to host the MotoGP Championship, the writing has been on the wall for GP racing at Laguna Seca. The tiny coastal track in California is a favorite amongst the riders, mostly for how different it is compared to the computer-designed Grand Prix circuits in Europe, but that distinction has also always been the Achilles heel of Laguna Seca.

While the circuit provides fans with the unique ability to get close to the racers in the paddock, as well as great general admission vantage points for watching the racing action on the track, Laguna Seca is only able to do so because of its low attendance figures, and generally campy approach to hosting motorcycle racing.

Looking for a more polished GP experience, one which would be more consistent with how MotoGP operates in Europe and other venues, Dorna has always viewed Laguna Seca as the black sheep of GP racing circuits. Looking now to push MotoGP more into developing regions, Dorna’s current holding of three American GP rounds seems to make less sense, and thus something has to give.

With drafts of the 2014 MotoGP Championship calendar circulating at the Aragon GP, and with World Superbike meeting this weekend in Laguna Seca, all but the official announcement itself has made its way through the two camps. As such, multiple confidential sources have reported to Asphalt & Rubber that MotoGP will not return to Laguna Seca, despite the track’s contract with Dorna for next season.

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WSBK: Race Results for Race 2 at Laguna Seca

09/29/2013 @ 4:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

WSBK: Saturday at Laguna Seca with Daniel Lo

09/28/2013 @ 10:43 pm, by Daniel Lo4 COMMENTS

WSBK: Race Results for Race 1 at Laguna Seca

09/28/2013 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race Results for Race 1 at Laguna Seca

WSBK: Qualifying Results from Laguna Seca

09/28/2013 @ 12:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Friday at Laguna Seca with Daniel Lo

09/27/2013 @ 9:08 pm, by Daniel Lo3 COMMENTS

2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS Coming to the USA

09/27/2013 @ 6:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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While David is in Aragon, I am down in Laguna Seca for the World Superbike races (apparently AMA Pro Racing is here too, though you wouldn’t know it from their TV contract), and Aprilia USA just debuted and confirmed that the alphabet soup that is the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS will be landing on US soil starting in October 2013.

The naked version of the venerable Aprilia RSV4 R APRC ABS superbike, the Tuono V4 R is our hands-down favorite liter-class streetfighter, with its burly, yet smooth, power delivery, and industry-leading electronics package.

Keeping the machine inline with its competitors, Aprilia is now adding ABS for the 2014 model year , and thus has raised the bar a little higher with its next iteration of the Tuono V4 R. Helping seal the deal is the $14,499 price tag, which is $500 less than last year’s MSRP.

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WSBK: Blake Young Replacing Leon Camier at Laguna Seca

09/20/2013 @ 12:17 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

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The Istanbul Park round of World Superbikes proved to be particularly punishing. Carlos Checa fractured a hip, Ayrton Badovini hurt his ankle, and Leon Camier broke the bones in his right foot in seven places. Crescent Suzuki has announced that they would be replacing the injured Camier with American rider Blake Young for the US round of World Superbikes at Laguna Seca.

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