Ben Spies Making a Return to Motorcycle Racing?

Could we see the return of Ben Spies to motorcycle racing? That’s the talk of the paddock right now, and the former MotoGP racer is helping fuel the fires with his social media posts. Our sources point to Spies gearing up for a return to domestic racing, as he looks to ride in the MotoAmerica Championship (presumably on a superbike), and possibly also as a team owner as well, fielding his own entry. This should come as a surprising but welcomed bit of news to motorcycle racing fans, as the 33-year-old seemingly retired from motorcycle racing after the 2013 MotoGP Championship season, after extensive damage to his shoulders seemed to rule him out of a future of racing motorcycles.

Ducati Will Stay as a Part of Volkswagen

Reports out of Italy are confirming the news that Ducati will remain as a part of the Volkswagen Group, with the German company ceasing its pursuits of divesting the Italian motorcycle company from its ranks. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Ducati’s business situation, as reports of the divestiture stalling out were circulating this time last month. The news seems to come with a bonus, with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali reportedly confirming the news internally (other reports quote Audi CEO Rupert Stadler doing the same as well). With that, Evercore Partners – the investment bank that was hired to solicit bids on Ducati Motor Holding – will stop pursuing brands that may want to see Ducati within their corporate holdings.

Rumor: Street-Touring Version of the Kawasaki H2 Coming?

I like this rumor. I like what this rumor says. And, I like that this rumor doesn’t seem to go away. The scuttlebutt of the motorcycle industry right now is suggesting that the street-shredding Kawasaki Ninja H2 might be joined by a sport-touring variant. This Kawasaki Ninja H2 GT – as some are calling it – takes the potent supercharged liter-bike, and makes it a little bit better suited for long-distance riding…well, as better suited to touring that a 200hp+ fire-breathing motorcycle can be. It remains to be seen how Kawasaki plans to expand its supercharger lineup of motorcycles: whether these rumored new machines will vary slightly in form-factor to accommodate different kinds of riding (using the current H2 as a platform for new models), or if Kawasaki will debut an all-new chassis design for these rumored motorcycles.

Solid-State Batteries, A Game-Changer for EVs?

This week’s big news is that California is looking at how it can join China, France, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in the banning of internal combustion engines in the coming decade(s), a move that will surely be a shot in the arm for electric vehicles. While the social and political pressures are coming into alignment for electric cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the technology for these next-generation vehicles is still not fully baked, and the biggest rate-limiter for EVs are their batteries. That is about to change, however, with solid-state batteries (a battery that has both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes) looking like the silver bullet that could make electric vehicles comparable in performance and price to their internal combustion counterparts.

Investigator Releases Report on Nicky Hayden Crash

On May 17th, 2017, Nicky Hayden was out training on his bicycle, near the Adriatic Coast, when he was struck by car in an intersection very close to the Misano World Circuit. The incident would prove to be a fateful one, and send ripples through the motorcycle industry, as Hayden died five days later in a hospital outside of Rimini, Italy. Since then, the accident has been under investigation by the local prosecutor, and the results of that forensic investigation have now been released to the public. Reconstructing the incident through statements made by the driver, eyewitnesses, and CCTV video footage, the investigation has found fault on both sides of the crash – assigning 30% of the blame to Nicky Hayden, for running the stop sign, and 70% of the blame to the driver, for excessive speed.

California Considers Killing Internal Combustion

Bloomberg is reporting that California Governor Jerry Brown is considering ways to ban the sale of vehicles that use internal combustion engines – a move that could have massive implications not only for vehicle sales, the environment, but potentially the motorcycle industry as well. Still in the early days of consideration, the news comes from remarks made by Mary Nichols, who is the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and her remarks and relaying of thought from Gov. Brown don’t make it clear if the ban would apply only to passenger vehicles, or if it would include modes of transportation like trucks, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles. However, the move mimics similar bans that we have already seen in places like China, and follows a trend that is catching on in European countries as well.

MV Agusta F4 LH44 Limited Edition Debuts

Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta, and Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton have re-upped their contract for collaboration, and one of the first fruits of that labor is a limited edition MV Agusta F4 superbike. Confirming our story from earlier today, the MV Agusta F4 LH44 picks up where the MV Agusta Dragster RR LH44 left off, adding Hamilton’s “unique” tastes and stylings to MV Agusta’s tapestry of motorcycles. Like with the MV Agusta F4 RC, the exercise is primarily visual, though like on the RC edition, MV Agusta adds its race kit to the package, which is good for a claimed 212hp. The big technical change of note is the titanium race exhaust from SC Project, which does away with the beautiful four-pipe undertail exhaust that Massimo Tamburini made famous.

Eugene Laverty Explains His 2017 WorldSBK Season

A return to World Superbike, with the bike that he came so close to winning the championship on – it all appeared like a dream opportunity for Eugene Laverty, to put himself into a position to win the title. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare, and from the start of winter testing it was clear that major work needed to be done to return the RSV4 to the front. Moving to the Milwaukee Aprilia squad understandably led to heightened expectations. In their second year in WorldSBK, the former British Superbike champions were expected to make a leap forward. Teething problems were expected with the switch from BMW to Aprilia, but not the struggles that lay ahead. “During the winter you can go in the wrong direction with the bike,” commented Laverty. “Unfortunately, that was the case for us.”

Superbike Deathmatch Round #1: Aprilia vs. Ducati

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Asphalt & Rubber’s 2017 Superbike Deathmatch – our take on the motorcycle media’s superbike shootout review format, and the solitary path for a motorcycle to become the A&R Superbike of 2017. For those just tuning into the Superbike Deathmatch, the rules are easy. In each round, two bikes enter the race track, but only one bike leaves. We have six motorcycles from the eight superbike manufacturers on the market. For our first round, we have started things off with a special treat, and a battle for the right to call a bike the “Best Italian Superbike” on the market. That’s right, we are going to pit the Ducati 1299 Panigale S against the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Leak Online

What you see here are early leaked photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing – one of the most successful and important motorcycles for the Western markets. Honda is expected to debut this new model at a media event in October, but our friends at MaxxMoto and Oliepeil managed to get their dirty Dutch-speaking mits on these low-res gems, ahead of time. Beyond the styling refresh, the most obvious change that we can see for the Honda Goldwing is the new front-end, which appears to be a Hossack-styled design – similar to what BMW uses on its K-series motorcycles. The engine continues to be a flat-six, from the view in the photos, though we can expect some changes to the massive block – likely with fewer emissions, maybe with more torque/power.

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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John McGuinness & Guy Martin Give Their First Impressions on Riding the Mugen Shinden Roku Electric Superbike

05/08/2017 @ 9:47 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on John McGuinness & Guy Martin Give Their First Impressions on Riding the Mugen Shinden Roku Electric Superbike

The Isle of Man TT is rapidly approaching us, and the top road racing teams are doing their final days of testing before they cross the Irish Sea. One of those outfits is Team Mugen, which has been readying the sixth iteration of its electric superbike, the Mugen Shinden Roku.

This year, John McGuinness and Guy Martin will fight for the top honors in the TT Zero race, with both riders looking to be the first man to do a 120 map lap at the Isle of Man TT onboard an electric motorcycle.

A 125 mph lap isn’t out of the question as well, and Team Mugen is the heavy favorite (no pun intended) to take the top honors in the TT Zero race.

Helping them to that goal is an updated Shinden motorcycle, which as we have pointed out already, comes equipped with some interesting aerodynamic touches that are inspired by nature.

As battery technology slows down though, will we see a rise in the importance of aerodynamic touches, like the ones Mugen is displaying (note the chevron cutouts on the fairing edges)? Only time can tell.

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Lost in a story about testing for this year's TT Zero, the all electric motorcycle race on the Isle of Man, was an image that portends great things for the future of long-range, high-speed battery-powered biking.

A trick learned from two giants: the Boeing 787 and the Humpback whale.

2009 was a watershed year for motorcycling. Globally sales of new bikes vaporized, forcing the giants to shut plants and kill brands.

The major brands, like Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki all pared down to the bare minimum, while European brands clung to life by their fingernails. In America, Harley-Davidson quietly asked for a loan.

But 2009 was also a touch-point for the modern electric vehicle. Tesla unveiled its first car; governments invested billions to support EV development; and the TTXGP, the world's first all-electric motorsport event was held at the historic Isle of Man TT.

Within five years, street-legal electric motorcycles were commercially available and the annual TT Zero race (as it was called after 2010) became the place to watch the amazing potential of battery-powered vehicle technology.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #50 – Pity the Fool

04/14/2017 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Episode 50 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast celebrates our favorite day of the year, April Fools Day. As such, we start off the show with a re-cap on some of the best pranks that the industry had to offer this year.

We then turn our attention to two events we attended in the past few weeks, as we visited the World of Speed in Wilsonville, Oregon and Quentin was at the Desert 100 race in Eastern Washington. Both are items you should mark on your calendar, and it is great to see them showcasing motorsport in the Pacific Northwest.

We then turn our attention in the show to MotoAmerica’s call for volunteers, to help shoulder the workload at the track during this year’s racing events. We also discuss the very interesting Mugen E.Rex electric dirt bike, which has to be seen to be believed.

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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Mugen Shinden Roku Electric Superbike Breaks Cover

03/24/2017 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

In Japanese, “roku” is how you say the sixth ordinal, which means the electric superbike you see above, the Mugen Shinden Roku, is the Japanese firm’s sixth entry into the Isle of Man TT.

Piloted this year by John McGuinness and Guy Martin, the expectation is that the Mugen Shinden Roku will be the first electic motorcycle to do a 120 mph lap (from a standing start, no less) at the TT – a barrier that was nearly broken last year.

Team Mugen has progressed rapidly each year it enters the TT Zero class at the Isle of Man, and for 2017 they once again are bringing a new machine to the starting line at Glencrutchery Road.

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Mugen Debuts an Electric Motocross Race Bike

03/24/2017 @ 3:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

At the Isle of Man TT, Mugen is the team to beat, with the company’s Shinden electric superbike showing the state of the art, when it comes to electric motorcycles.

The asphalt is apparently not enough for Mugen though, as the Japanese tuning house has “partnered” with Honda to build an electric motocross dirt bike.

What you are look at here is the Mugen E.Rex, and don’t let the horrid dinosaur theme put you off, there is some seriously bad to the bone (sorry, couldn’t resist) pieces on this roost-maker.

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Guy Martin’s return to the road racing at the Isle of Man TT continues to draw big headlines, and while we already know that the Lincolnshire man would partner with John McGuinness on the factory Honda Racing team of this year’s TT, that’s not all.

Today, we learn that Guy Martin will partner with John McGuinness on another team as well, and he will once again take the seat on an electric bike for the TT Zero class in the process. As such, Martin has been confirmed as Team Mugen’s second rider, replacing Bruce Anstey in the squad.

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IOMTT: SES TT Zero Race Results

06/09/2016 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The pace of development on the electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT has been astonishing, with each year seeing more and more progress on the lap times from the top teams.

This year, Team Mugen once again is the paddock favorite, with expectations of a 120+ mph lap resting on their shoulders. With two riders capable of such a lap, John McGhinness and Bruce Anstey, a lot of pressure has been on the Mugen squad to continue to raise the bar.

While Mugen has been the paddock favorites, we’ve seen strong showings from the Saroléa bike from Beligum, and Victory’s entry from the USA. Saroléa is in the hunt for a 120 mph lap, while Victory’s goal sees to get past the 115 mph lap marker.

While many thought the podium was set before the TT Zero race was even away, competitors found out the hard way that there is a reason we lineup to go racing, because anything can happen.

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Are You Ready for This Year’s Isle of Man TT?

06/01/2016 @ 1:26 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Supersport-TT-Race-2-Isle-of-Man-TT-Tony-Goldsmith-2419

This year marks the 97th running of the Isle of Man TT, and the two weeks of practice and racing sessions should be considered a “must attend” item on any motorcyclist’s bucket list.

The TT is a special event to attend, and I can tell you as a journalist that it is one of the more surreal motorcycle races to cover. First, there is the serenity in watching machines race on public roads, just inches sometimes from where you are sitting. There is no where else that gets you that close to the action.

And then, there is the pound of flesh that comes with the spectacle: the knowledge that statistically speaking, two racers will lose their lives over the course of the fortnight. It is sobering to know going into an event that you will likely report the death of an athlete.

Whether you are a fan of road racing or one of its detractors, I still feel that it should be compulsory to attend an Isle of Man TT before one can make comment one way or another on its continuance.

This isn’t just another motorcycle race, and this isn’t just another extreme sport; this isn’t life in the sand of the coliseum, but it’s also not going through life in the passenger seat.

There is something truly special about the Isle of Man TT, and until you experience it from beyond these words, they will just continue to seem hyperbolic.

It is easy to wax poetic about the TT – you will just have to attend one yourself to understand that. Until you do though, we aim to bring you the best Isle of Man TT coverage available over the next two weeks. So, here’s a primer of information, before we start cluttering your A&R news feed with TT postings.

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Mugen Shinden Go Debuts in Japan with More Power

03/25/2016 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The Mugen Shinden Go has officially dropped in Japan, showing us the Japanese outfit’s fifth evolution of the Isle of Man TT electric superbike.

As we reported earlier, the Shinden Go comes with obvious changes to the fairing design, though likely there are further enhancements underneath its skin.

To our eye, the Shinden Go looks to have smaller frontal cross-section than bikes of the past, and there are noticeable changes to the race bike’s carbon fiber chassis, which now looks to be of a monocoque design. The carbon fiber swingarm design has also been changed.

Additionally, Mugen says that the rear suspension is a “cross link rocker” design, which has been developed specifically for the Shinden Go.

Of course, the biggest change people will be talking about is the 10kW power increase, which brings the Mugen Shinden Go’s peak horsepower figure up to 161hp. Weight remains at 550 lbs, with peak torque down to 154 lbs•ft (from 162.24 lbs•ft).

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