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.

The Harley-Davidson “Custom” Is the First Cruiser We Like

In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept. There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over. For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept. Using the 1,250cc version of Harley-Davidson’s new modular engine, the Custom takes a number of cues from Harley-Davidsons of the past and future.

IOMTT: TT Zero Race Results

06/06/2018 @ 5:47 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

After two years of stagnation, 2018 was do or die for the TT Zero electric race in terms of forward progress. Before the race even started, the race saw some drama, with Team Mugen’s three-bike strategy having to be rethinked due to news from John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey.

As such, Mugen ultimately would field a two-man team, with Michael Rutter and Lee Johnston on the helm of the Mugen Shinden Nana.

In total, only seven entries would lineup on Glencrutchery road for the TT Zero race, with all eyes wondering if we would finally see a 120 mph lap from the electric bikes.

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Mugen’s Secret Weapon for the Isle of Man TT

03/29/2018 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Bothan Spy Network is strong this week, as we have learned some more about Mugen’s latest TT Zero entry, the Mugen Shinden Nana.

Unveiled to the public at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show, three riders – McGuinness, Johnston, and Anstey – will compete at the Isle of Man TT onboard the Mugen Shinden Nana.

Mugen was tight-lipped on its spec-sheet for the Mugen Shinden Nana though, with the specs for the Nana mimicking those seen on last year’s bike, the Mugen Shinden Roku. That isn’t exactly the case, however.

Yes, Mugen will run its special aerodynamic fairing for the 2018 Isle of Man TT, which is a piece that has been under development for over a year now. But, the Japanese brand has other tricks up its sleeve as well.

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Mugen Debuts V-Twin Engine Concept

03/27/2018 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Tokyo Motorcycle Show wrapped up this weekend, but the Mugen Shinden Nana isn’t the only surprise that the Japanese brand has in store for us. Mugen also debuted this interesting engine concept.

Mugen is pretty tight on details, but word out of Tokyo is that this is a 1,400cc, four-valve, air-cooled, push-rod motor design that Mugen is considering putting into production as a crate engine for bike builders, with a delivery date somewhere in 2020. 

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Mugen Shinden Nana Debuts with Curious Aeros

03/26/2018 @ 4:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Take a good long look at it, because here is the electric motorcycle that is going to win this year’s TT Zero race at the Isle of Man TT.

That might seem like a presumptuous thing to say, but with Mugen fielding a three-rider lineup, and no real competition coming out of the woodwork, it would be hard to imagine a different result.

The question of course is which riders will be onboard the Mugen Shinden Nana when it takes the #1 position? John McGuinness? Bruce Anstey? Or, Lee Johnston?

Your guess is as good as ours, as all three road-racers are more than capable of putting down a race-winning lap on the Mugen.

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We are still about three weeks away from the official unveiling of the Mugen Shinden Nana, the seventh iteration of the Isle of Man TT winning electric superbike, but news is starting to trickle in about this racing effort.

In case you didn’t know, Mugen is looking to make the 2018 Isle of Man TT its fifth-straight victory at the iconic road race, and the chances are very good of that result happening.

This is because with scant competition coming from the other race teams, Mugen is set to race itself again this year, but for 2018 it will be with not one, not two, but three riders on the grid for this year’s TT Zero race, as the company confirmed via Twitter.

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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 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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