VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

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.

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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Yamaha NIKEN Priced at $5,333 per Wheel

07/11/2018 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Yamaha NIKEN is trying to make a three-wheeled revolution, and it is coming to the United States starting in September. As such, we finally have pricing information on the NIKEN, and the American MSRP is set at a stout $15,999.

For those who don’t want to do the math, this price tag represents a $7,000 markup over the Yamaha MT-09, which the NIKEN is loosely based off of, from the headstock back.

Yamaha USA will be doing a special “online reservation system” only sort of deal when it comes to selling the NIKEN here, which means that all bikes will have to be ordered through your local Yamaha dealership before they are shipped.

Yamaha faithful should recognize that online ordering scheme is the same system that Yamaha USA used for the VMAX power cruiser and YZF-R1M superbike.

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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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“Ride the Revolution.” That’s Yamaha’s tag line for its latest sci-fi powersport creation— the three-wheel equipped NIKEN.

But the NIKEN is more than just a Transformer-esque motorcycle equipped with an extra wheel, instead, its engineered specifically to increase cornering grip, while maintaining an authentic leaning experience that only a motorcycle can provide.

Easier said than done, right? Well, after spending a day riding high in the Austrian Alps, we can see merit in Yamaha’s latest production concept.

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Some loyal A&R readers may already disappointingly know that Yamaha Motor USA has blacklisted Asphalt & Rubber from Yamaha events, which is a dumb decision in its own right, but when it comes to press launches, Yamaha Motor USA proved this week that it truly has its head completely up its own ass.

This is because the American subsidiary of the Japanese brand has embargoed reviews for the new Niken three-wheeler until next week – a full seven days after American journalists were in the Austria alps on the leaning multi-wheel vehicle.

This wouldn’t be such a bad thing (worthy of mentioning at least), except the embargo is region by region, and other English-speaking publications have been allowed to post their reviews as they write them (check VisordownMCN…even the horrid MoreBikes has a short review up).

This means you won’t read a review on the Yamaha Niken by us, or any other US publication, until next Monday…if you even bother reading them at that point. It almost makes you wonder why Yamaha Motor USA even bothered sending journalists to Europe in the first place, but I digress.

Of course, everyone is very curious to know how the Yamaha Niken handles on the road.

So far from what I’ve read coming from Europe, the three-wheeler comes across as being a bit complex, and a little vague in the front-end. The bike (if we can call it that) loses grip in the rear too often, possibly because of the adventure-touring tires it has mounted, and suffers in general from a lack of power and braking ability.

The Niken makes up for those negatives though with a front-end that is solidly planted to the ground, a bulk that doesn’t feel like a nearly 600 lbs bike at speed, and which turns into a fun ride when carving at speed. The European price-point seems fairly affordable as well.

Surmising from our colleagues across the pond, the Niken sounds like a intriguing touring option, though it seems to miss the boat when it comes to being a sport-bike platform, which is unfortunately how Yamaha has pitched this unique vehicle.

Of course, what you really want to know is whether the Yamaha Niken can wheelie, like any god-fearing motorcycle should. Thankfully Adam Waheed was in Austria to answer that exact question.

You can read Adam’s in depth review next Monday, along with the rest of the American journalists, but until then you should enjoy his behind-the-scenes videos, if you haven’t already. The answer to your most burning question is in Part III, around the 3:19 mark.

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Gone Riding: Yamaha Niken

05/21/2018 @ 7:13 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Today, we get ready to ride one of the most intriguing motorcycles that has ever been released – the Yamaha Niken. This leaning three-wheeler caught our attention last year, not only for its crazy looks, but also for its interesting tech.

It seems that all the manufacturers are exploring what the future holds for motorcycles, and some of that future involves a move away from the traditional two-wheeled format. As such, bikes like the Niken are an exploration of what is possible when you eschew established norms.

Using an advanced parallelogram front-end for its two forward wheels, the Niken is basically a Yamaha MT-09 from the headstock back, with the peppy three cylinder engine providing a familiar power plant to an otherwise unfamiliar machine.

To give us a sense of this radically new machine, we have sent motorcycling’s favorite wild man, Adam Waheed, to go ride the Yamaha Niken in Austria and report back to us.

Per our new review format, Adam will be giving you a live assessment of the Yamaha Niken right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there he will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Niken, before even Adam’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Yamaha personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #Yamaha #Niken

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Yamaha has already doubled-down on its leaning multi-wheeler (LMW) concept, bringing us both the Yamaha Tricity scooter and the Yamaha Niken.

Now it seems that the Japanese brand is ready to bring us a hat trick of these machines, with Yamaha CEO/President Yoshihiro Hidaka tipping that the folks from Iwata have more multi-wheel leaners coming down the pipe.

To give us more insight though, a slide accompanying Hidaka-san’s speach should a blurred out model, sitting in-between the Tricity and Niken model, perhaps indicating that a mid-sized LMW is coming to us soon from Yamaha.

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Those bastards at Yamaha actually did it, they actually did it…the Yamaha MWT-9 leaning trike concept has been made into a production model. As such, say hello to the new 2018 Yamaha Niken.

Powered by the familiar 900cc three-cylinder engine found on the Yamaha FZ-09, that is all that is familiar about Yamaha Niken, as this isn’t your ordinary motorcycle.

This is because the Niken is based on a leaning-chassis design with three wheels, as it explores a different type of motorcycling fun.

Yamaha isn’t saying too much about the model, though it does appear to be coming to the United States. What the tuning fork brand has relayed to us is that the Yamaha Niken will use 15″ wheels up front, with dual-tube upside down forks.

The Niken is long too, just a touch over 7 ft. long (2,150mm), while staying just under 3 ft. wide (885mm). Debuting today at the Tokyo Motor Show, we expect more details on the 2018 Yamaha Niken to emerge at the EICMA show in Milan, in two weeks’ time.

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Video: The Lazareth LM 847 Is A Runner

09/09/2016 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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We have never seen something quite like the Lazareth LM 847, a Maserati-powered leaning four-wheeler that was imagined by some of the craziest minds in France right now.

Making a modest 470hp from its 4.7-liter V8 engine, and tipping the scales are roughly 880 lbs, as you can imagine, there is a lot going on with this unique machine.

Interestingly enough though, there seems to be a strong future for machines like the Lazareth LM 847, with HondaKawasaki, and Yamaha also looking at leaning multi-wheel vehicles.

We doubt that the Japanese brands will produce something as ostentatious as Lazareth did here, but that’s part of what makes the LM 847 so intriguing…isn’t it?

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The minds at French builder Lazareth are truly mad as a hatter, and Asphalt & Rubber has published several of their more eccentric designs here on our pages. Lazareth’s latest build takes the cake though.

The Lazareth LM 847, which debuted today in Geneva, features the 4.7-liter, 470hp, V8 engine out of a Maserati automobile, with a leaning quad chassis built around it.

We generally loath making comparisons of a manufacturer’s design to another’s, but here Lazareth does seem to be stealing from the best.

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