WorldSBK Approves the Use of Winglets*

The World Superbike Championship released the latest decision from the SBK Commission today, which clarified a few rules for the 2018 season, most notably the new rev-limiter and parts cost rules, which have been discussed already at great length here on Asphalt & Rubber (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3). There was another interesting rule change of note though, which is likely to get over-looked by the racing community, and that is the World Superbike Championship permitting the use of winglets, although there is a catch. In its rules update, the SBK Commission decreed that teams and manufacturers may fit aerodynamic components (e.g. winglets) to their superbikes so long as the winglets are fitted to the homologated motorcycle.

Crunching the Numbers: Rea vs. MotoGP vs. WorldSBK

The start of December marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in the world of motorcycle racing. After the Jerez test in late November, it is now “Why Is Jonathan Rea Faster Than A MotoGP Bike” season. At Jerez, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10R WorldSBK machine – down 35+ bhp and up 10+ kg – to the fourth fastest overall time of the week, ahead of eleven MotoGP regulars (including two rookies), three MotoGP test riders and Alex Márquez, who the Marc VDS team were using to train up the new crew recruited to look after Tom Luthi’s side of the garage while the Swiss rider is still injured. How is this possible? And what does this mean? Are WorldSBK machines too close to MotoGP bikes?

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX Priced at $19,000 for the USA

Kawasaki’s newest supercharged motorcycle is also its most affordable supercharged motorcycle, with the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX coming to the USA with an MSRP of $19,000. Even the better-equipped 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE is an “affordable” $22,000, when compared to the more sport-focused H2 models. Featuring a 200hp version of Kawasaki’s supercharged, four-cylinder, 998cc engine, the Ninja H2 SX is a fully faired sport-tourer, with an emphasis on the sport side of the equation. The base model comes in any color you want, so long as it’s black, while the Ninja H2 SX SE comes in the traditional Team Green color scheme of Kawasaki.

Oh Yes, The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Is USA Bound

Good news sport bike fans, Kawasaki USA in its infinite wisdom has decided to bring the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE to the United States for the 2018 model year. Debuted at this year’s EICMA show, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE takes the potent superbike and most notably adds Showa’s new semi-active suspension to the package. Other perks include the seven-spoke forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, found already on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, as well as an up/down quickshifter. Like what you hear? Well brace yourself…If you want a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE in your garage, you are going to need to shell out $21,899 MSRP for it. That sticker price represents quite the premium over Team Green’s race homologation machine, the ZX-10RR, which goes for $18,899.

PJ Jacobsen Racing in WorldSBK for 2018

Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen will be stepping up to the big show for the 2018 season, with today’s announcement that the American will be riding with the TripleM Honda WSBK Team. Moving off of the World Supersport grid and into the World Superbike Championship, Jacobsen will be riding the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 with the satellite Honda team effort that TripleM has put together. “I’m very excited to be making my World Superbike debut with TripleM Honda WSBK Team,” said PJ. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be finally racing in this class and I want to thank the team and Honda for making this possible. Both the team and I will be rookies in the WorldSBK championship so there’ll surely be a lot to learn, but it’s a challenge that stimulates me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Yamaha Selling Shares in Yamaha Motor to Raise Money

The Yamaha Corporation announced today that it will be selling 8 million shares of its holdings in Yamaha Motor Co., a movement of shares that will see roughly 2.3% of the voting power in the powersports company changing hands. This deal is expected to close on December 4th, and the Yamaha Corporation says that it will be selling its position to various unnamed securities companies, presumably to then be sold on the open market. At the current market price for Yamaha Motor stock, this deal should be worth close to ¥26 billion, and ¥18 billion after tax expenses have been factored. The news means that while the Yamaha Corporation will remain the single largest shareholder in Yamaha Motor Co., its ownership position as a shareholder will drop from 12.22% to 9.93%, as a result of the divestiture.

Valentino Rossi’s Winter Test Helmet Gets Mexican Flair

It is another winter testing period for the MotoGP riders, and that means that Valentino Rossi has another special “Winter Test” AGV helmet design for us. This year, The Doctor takes his inspiration from Huichol bead art, after he visited the region on a recent vacation to Mexico. As such, Rossi’s winter test AGV Pista GP R helmet features a hand-painted bead design that plays on the winter motif, with the Italian’s usual affinity for symbols. “Huichol art immediately intrigued me, because it uses many of my symbols, like the sun and moon or the turtle,” explained Valentino Rossi. “We have tried to recreate the effect of the beads that the Mexicans use to bring color and shape to these objects, but to do so with a Valentino Rossi twist.”

Jonathan Rea Talks About New WorldSBK Rules

Three years of unparalleled success has seen Jonathan Rea notch up 39 victories, 70 podiums, and 3 WorldSBK titles. To put those numbers into context, only Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, and Noriyuki Haga have won more races in their WorldSBK careers. It truly has been a historic run of form for Rea and Kawasaki. For WorldSBK though the achievements have been outweighed by the reaction of fans to these results. Feeling that significant changes were needed to ensure a more competitive balance for the field, WorldSBK has introduced a wide range of new regulations to curtail the Kawasaki dominance. The goal isn’t to stop Rea and Kawasaki winning but simply to allow other manufacturers to get on an even keel.

The “Smart” Approach to Writing the WorldSBK Rulebook

Scott Smart has been tasked with writing and rewriting the rule book for Superbikes around the planet. The FIM Superbike Technical Director has been instrumental in bringing about the recent regulation changes for WorldSBK, and speaking at the season ending Qatar round he explained the philosophy behind the changes. “There’s a lot of benefits to these changes, but the biggest factor is that we want to find a way to have more exciting racing in WorldSBK,” explained Smart. “With the new regulations each team on the grid has the chance to run the same specification as the factory teams or to develop their own parts. This gives a private team the chance to have a bike with development work already having been completed by simply buying the relevant parts for their bike.”

Ben Spies Returns to Motorcycle Racing…On Dirt Bikes

Ben Spies fans will be happy to hear that the Texan is returning to racing motorcycles, announcing the news while talking to Matthew Miles at Cycle World. However, the news might not be as expected, as Spies isn’t returning to the superbike paddock, but instead will compete in the AMA National Enduro series next season. As such, Spies will take part in several rounds on the Full Gas Sprint Enduro calendar, in the mid-level “Pro2” class; as well as an ISDE qualifier, with an eye on making the squad for Team USA. Certainly not the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship bid that was reported earlier, though Spies confirmed that he had been in talks with Ducati about racing a Panigale, and had also spun some laps on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R at a track day in Texas.

A Few Photos of the ARCH Method143

11/14/2017 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Color us intrigued by ARCH Motorcycle’s third installment to its lineup, the very exclusive ARCH Method143.

Powered by an air-cooled 143ci (2,343cc) v-twin engine, the Method143 varies from ARCH’s usual fare of power cruisers, as it is more of an upright roadster in format.

Of course, it has only the best components, including Öhlins suspension (FGRT series front forks and TTX rear shock) and carbon fiber BST wheels. Also, the chassis is made from a carbon fiber MonoCell frame, with other parts made from CNC’d aluminum.

Only 23 units will be made of the ARCH Method143, and as you can see from these detail photos, those will be a lucky 23 individuals.

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Yamaha MT-09 SP Brings Some European Bling

11/08/2017 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Yamaha FZ-09…pardon us…the Yamaha MT-09 is a top-seller for the Japanese brand, mixing a solid motorcycle, with decent features, all for a reasonable price.

Hoping to appeal to riders more “up-market” though, Yamaha has a conundrum, and the hope is that the Yamaha MT-09 SP is the solution.

Taking its potent three-cylinder street bike, Yamaha has taken the MT-09 and added an Öhlins rear shock and fully adjustable front forks to the package – which are not from Öhlins, I might add.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The Yamaha MT-09 SP follows in the same vein as the Yamaha MT-10 SP.

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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.

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If you think that the 2018 Honda CB1000R is a fetching motorcycle, then we’ve got some more good news for you, because Honda Motor Europe has debuted at EICMA two more bikes with its “Neo Sports Café” aesthetic: the Honda CB125R and the Honda CB300R.

As you can discern from the names, the Honda CB125R and Honda CB300R are street bikes that shares a lineage with the Honda CB1000R, albeit in 125cc and 300cc packages, respectively.

As such, the 2018 Honda CB125R is basically a redesigned CBR125R (a model not available in the US market), while the 2018 Honda CB300R is a repurposed to create the Honda CBR300R.

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We Are in Love with the New Honda CB1000R

11/06/2017 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When we first saw Honda’s Neo Sports Café concept, it was a bittersweet moment. We loved the design. It was bold, but understated. It was a clean and modern take on a motorcycle that each year fades further and further from our attention.

The design was so good, we were sure that the Honda Neo Sports Café concept would never see the light of day, and surely not as the new Honda CB1000R.

It is good to be wrong sometimes, because say hello to the very attractive 2018 Honda CB1000R, which brings the Honda Neo Sports Café concept to life, with very few changes.

If it feels like Honda is zigging while others zag, then you would be correct. While the streetfighter segment continues to be filled with uber-aggressive performance machines, Honda is looking to  take a more sophisticated approach with the new Honda CBR1000R, which plays to the bike’s strengths.

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XXX: The Ducati Panigale V4 with Its Clothes Off

11/05/2017 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

While on the exterior, there might seem to be a great deal of similarities between the Ducati Panigale V4 and its predecessor the Ducati 1299 Panigale, stripping away the bodywork shows that the relation is mostly skin deep.

Yes, the “frameless” chassis design remains, and yes the exhaust routing for the four-cylinder machine mimics that on the twin-cylinder bike, but there are noticeable, even critical differences between Ducati’s superbikes, which should translate to meaningful differences on the race track.

The most obvious is how raked back the Desmosedici Stradale engine sits within the Panigale V4 chassis, which measures at 42° from parallel – the same as the Italian company’s V4-powered MotoGP race bike. No coincidence there.

This allows for the “front frame” to become a much longer lever, and attach to the motorcycle in more conventional mounting points. Both of these factors can contribute to making the Panigale V4 handle better on the race track, and provide better rider feedback – a common complaint of the old design.

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Motus Motorcycles looks to be working on its second motorcycle model, as a naked prototype of the Motus MST has been making appearances on the American brand’s social media channels, including a very tasty video of the bike testing a 4-2-1 Akrapovic exhaust on the dyno (watch it, after the jump).

We reached out to Motus about its latest project, and the company confirmed its interest in making a naked version of the Motus MST sport-tourer, though it is waiting to see the feedback from other Motus owners and potential customers before committing to make the machine.

Still, Motus is teasing some very intriguing performance specs and design elements, which is more than whetting our appetite.

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If we had to guess at a unifying theme for this year’s new bike launches, it would have to be “what is old is new again” as several brands are working on modern-engineered retro-styled motorcycles for the Tokyo and Milan expos.

Big Red is throwing its hat into the ring for this game as well, teasing what it calls the “Neo-Sport Café” on its YouTube channel. The videos center around Honda’s design and engineering team working on a new motorcycle, which will debut next month at the EICMA show in Milan.

In the teaser videos, we see a retro-looking motorcycle, with modern flares, such as an LED headlight, single-sided swingarm, and bazooka shaped exhaust can.

And then of course, there is the name” Neo-Sport Café and Honda’s description that it is true to “the spirt of the café racer.

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Ducati Monster 821 Gets Updated for 2018

10/17/2017 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati is set to release five new models at this year’s EICMA show, and it is giving us a sneak peak at one of the first of those machines: the 2018 Ducati Monster 821.

The basic mechanics of the previous Monster 821 remain the same, but for the new year, the Italian brand has revised the Ducati Monster 821 to look more like its bigger sibling, the Ducati Monster 1200.

As such, the fuel tank and tail of the Monster 821 have been changed, along with the bike’s exhaust and headlight. Ducati has also added a full color TFT display to the Monster 821, which shows selected gears and fuel status.

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A Short Review of the 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900

10/08/2017 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

For the 2018 model year, Aprilia is updating two long-time members of its lineup, creating in the process the Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900 motorcycles.

Today we will focus on what it is like to ride the Shiver 900, though many of our thoughts about this updated roadster are similar to those we published about the Dorsoduro 900 yesterday – you can read those here.

While previous iterations of the Aprilia Shiver 750 were fairly forgettable, the overhaul that has been given to the Aprilia Shiver 900 makes the peppy roadster one worth considering. Dare we say, it surprised us.

The engine is of course revised, and is now Euro4 compliant, but Aprilia has added a more robust electronics suite, as well as new hardware pieces and chassis updates.

As with the Dorsoduro though, the real strength of the 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 is its pricing, which at $9,399 MSRP is very competitive against the other European middleweights. Good news too, the Shiver 900 is a potent motorcycle to ride.

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