Valentino Rossi’s Special Yamaha XJR1300 Flat Tracker

It is good to be Valentino Rossi. Not only do you have nine world championships to your name, legions of yellow-crazy fans, but you also get pretty nice gifts from your friends. Take “Mya” for example – a special Yamaha XJR1300 custom flat tracker that the folks at VR|46 built for their fearless leader. Now, when you think about bikes that should be the basis for a custom project, the Yamaha XJR1300 doesn’t exactly come to mind. It probably doesn’t help that this decades-old model is only Euro3 compliant, and set to sunset at the end of this year. The XJ1300 certainly doesn’t strike us as the appropriate starting point for a flat track bike either, especially with its 530 lbs weight figure. That all being said, the VR|46 crew have done a pretty good job of spiffing up the old girl.

That Suzuki Katana 3.0 Concept Though…

One of the less-publicized motorcycles on display at this year’s EICMA show was this Suzuki Katana concept, which has since been making the rounds on social media. Rightfully so, we would say, as the “Katana 3.0” is a very intriguing idea into how Suzuki can revitalize one of its most iconic names. A creation by the folks at Motociclismo, with the help of designer Rodolfo Frascoli and Engines Engineering, the Katana 3.0 concept isn’t the “official” concept that many had hoped for from Suzuki. However, the fact that Suzuki hosted the concept inside its EICMA display is a sign that the Japanese manufacturer is certainly listening to the feeback the bike generates.

The KTM 790 Duke’s Killer Feature? Its Price Tag

The KTM 790 Duke launches a new platform for the Austrian brand, based around an 800cc parallel-twin engine. As such, we already know that we can expect the twin-cylinder platform to spawn an adventure version of the bike, with the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype debuting at EICMA as well. We can also expect other “790” models in the coming years, both from KTM and likely from Husqvarna as well. That is a good thing, because the KTM 790 Duke is a potent bike, rich with features. The real kicker though – if early indications about the pricing can be believed – is the KTM 790 Duke’s price tag, as KTM has been quoted as pricing the 790 Duke at below €10,000. This would put US pricing around the $11,000 mark, if not cheaper.

The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year’s work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season. Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA. So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week’s big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry. For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences.

ARCH Motorcycle’s Next Bike Won’t Be a Cruiser

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. Backing up that notion is the use of Öhlins suspension, which includes a proprietary Öhlins FGRT series front fork with carbon fiber airfoil covers.

No One Seemed to Notice that the MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Is New for the 2018 Model Year

We had to search high and low for information about the 2018 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR – it doesn’t help that MV Agusta’s press site is offline right now – but it seems just about every news publication missed the fact that this attractive roadster got some serious changes for the 2018 model year. These unnoticed changes certainly are partially due to the fact that MV Agusta went without a press introduction at this year’s EICMA show, but it is also due to the company’s never-ending line of “bold new graphics” changes, one-off customs, and special livery designs, which only muddy the waters for when actual changes occur.

Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe Brings Modern to Retro

Kawasaki made an impression at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, debuting the new Z900RS standard. The premise was simple there: take the potent Kawasaki Z900 street bike, and dress it in retro clothing. The effect was something that looked incredibly like the Kawasaki Zephyr of old, but with modern brakes, suspension, traction control, and even a slipper-assist clutch. Now we see that Team Green plans on already expanding the line, debuting today the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe. Basically the Z900RS with a bikini fairing, this modern café racer should be a perfect fit for those riders that want an older looking motorcycle that doesn’t run like an older looking motorcycle. Mostly a visual exercise, the basic stats of the Z900RS Cafe don’t stray too far from the donor bike from whence it came.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Debuts with Track Goodies

For the 2018 model year, Kawasaki continues to develop its superbike package. As such, the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE brings some special new features, to earn those extra letters after its name. The big addition is the new Showa electronic suspension, which is the only semi-active suspension system on motorcycles that includes built-in stroke sensors. These stroke sensors are able to measure the movement of the fork and shock internals, allowing Showa’s suspension to measure and change its damping settings on the fly, as you ride. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE also gets the forged aluminum wheels found on Kawasaki’s homologation-spec superbike, the Ninja ZX-10RR, which should help the Ninja ZX-10R SE feel more nimble on the race track, despite its 459 lbs wet weight.

So Many Photos of the New KTM 790 Duke to Drool Over

We are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the new KTM 790 Duke is the bike of this year’s EICMA show. Making a potent 105hp from its 799cc parallel-twin engine, packed into a 418 lbs (wet)steel trellis body, the 2018 KTM 790 Duke brings a host of features to the middleweight sport bike category. In typical KTM fashion, the 790 Duke left no angle behind in its high school honors geometry course, and the LED headlight builds upon the common design features that KTM has been putting together on its street-going machines. Not quite the vision that was the KTM 790 Duke prototype, the production model still evokes the same emotions, and is handsome in its own right – allaying our fears when seeing spy shots of the machine.

Mega Gallery: Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

We have had to wait two years to see it come into production, but the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 will finally be available to motorcyclists in March 2018. As an added bonus, the street-going machine stays true to its concept design, which wowed the crowd at last year’s EICMA show. This year in Milan, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 is all the talk of EICMA, and while “Best in Show” at EICMA almost exclusively goes to an Italian marque, the real winners are surely coming from Austria, as both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 and KTM 790 Duke look like winners. A duality from Mattighofen, KTM and Husqvarna approach motorcycles from two opposite spectrums. KTM lives in the extreme, with an edgy focus on its “Ready to Race” mentality. Conversely, Husqvarna is subtle and sophisticated…maybe even understated.

Investigator Releases Report on Nicky Hayden Crash

09/29/2017 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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.

Continue Reading

A Tale of Two Americans from Laguna Seca

07/16/2017 @ 7:41 pm, by Andrew KohnComments Off on A Tale of Two Americans from Laguna Seca

Last weekend’s World Superbike race at Laguna Seca was one of mixed emotions for American race fans. On one hand, it was an opportunity to say goodbye to Nicky Hayden, a man who left this life too soon and was revered at this iconic race track.

On the other hand, it was a chance to see another American, Jake Gagne, make his debut in World Superbike as part of the same team of which Hayden was a member.

As I walked around the track, there were tributes to Nicky everywhere. The number 69 was ubiquitous throughout the weekend, with flags, banners, t-shirts, and stickers displayed by proud fans who now miss him so much.

Both Chaz Davies and Toni Elias flew Hayden flags on their respective victory laps; a moving tribute to a man they held in such high esteem.

Additionally, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca sponsored a track walk in memory of Nicky. Hundreds of fans lined up to remember Nicky and support the memorial fund that bears his name.

Both American Honda and Laguna Seca had murals, on which fans could leave messages of remembrance for Nicky and words of support for those he left behind. Nicky’s impact on road racing, and American road racing in particular, was obvious throughout the event.

While the memories of Nicky Hayden were palpable throughout the weekend, Jake Gagne quietly went about the business of adapting to a new team, learning a new motorcycle, and racing in a new series.

Continue Reading

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #56 – Nicky Bobby

06/29/2017 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast #56 – Nicky Bobby

Episode 56 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast gets us back into our normal format of talking about motorcycles, and whatever rabbit holes present themselves along the way.

Before we get to that part though, we take a somber moment to remember Nicky Hayden, who passed away just a couple weeks before the recording of this episode.

We had recorded a special episode just about Nicky, the day that he passed, but it didn’t feel right to publish it. Our emotions were too raw.

Modestly philosophical during the show now, we also discuss the passing of Davey Lambert, who on the day of this recording succumbed to his injuries sustained at the Isle of Man TT. Two more racers would later die at the TT, Jochem van den Hoek and Alan Bonner. We hold all these racers in our thoughts.

Getting back to our normal selves, we discuss a bit of news, namely Harley-Davidson’s new factory in Thailand, and what that says about the state of the motorcycle industry. We also talk some racing action, as Andrea Dovizioso had just won the Italian GP at Mugello.

The show wraps up with some discussion about supermoto racing, as I participated in the Cascadia Supermoto round held here in Oregon, near Portland.

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.

Continue Reading

Valentino Rossi’s Special Mugello Helmet Explained

06/05/2017 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Valentino Rossi’s Special Mugello Helmet Explained

You may have noticed during the Italian GP at Mugello, that Valentino Rossi was once again wearing a special AGV Pista GP R helmet for the event. Created by designer Aldo Drudi, this year’s Mugello’s helmet pays homage to Nicky Hayden and Francesco Totti.

To remember the American motorcycle racer, Rossi’s #46 morphs into the shape and colors of Hayden’s #69, complete with the star that precedes Hayden’s number.

The top of Rossi’s helmet also portrays a soccer pitch, where the nine-time world champion is wearing the blue jersey of the Italian national team, and saying “Mo’ je faccio er cucchiaio” which translates (with a Roman accent) to “I made it spoon” – the spoon referring to a type of penalty kick that sees the ball arching into the goal.

This scene too pays tribute to another athlete – Francesco Totti, who played his last match with the A.S. Roma team last week. On the back of the helmet are “Un capitano…C’è solo un capitano!”, which translates to: “One captain… There’s only one captain!” 

This is another nod to Totti, as the chant is something his fans would yell to him while he was playing.

Continue Reading

WorldSBK: Donington Park’s Ups and Downs

05/31/2017 @ 1:12 pm, by Kent BrockmanComments Off on WorldSBK: Donington Park’s Ups and Downs

The World Superbike paddock and the racing community came together at Donington Park, to pay tribute to Nicky Hayden.

But after two great races in the superbike class; a supersport race that saw great battles; and a Supersport 300 race that saw a three rider scrap for the win, it was the racing that paid the biggest tribute to The Kentucky Kid.

Continue Reading

Remembering Nicky Hayden – Becoming A Champion

05/30/2017 @ 10:22 am, by Steve EnglishComments Off on Remembering Nicky Hayden – Becoming A Champion

Like the article that preceded it, there is a backstory to this story and the photos that go along with, which I wanted to share with our readers.

As some of you already know, Steve sat down with Nicky at the Assen round for the World Superbike Championship, with them having a long conversation about his earlier racing career. 

We originally planned to publish this story later in the year (maybe around the Laguna round), to showcase how Nicky came to be a World Champion, as he hunted for wins in the WorldSBK paddock, but with his untimely passing we wanted to share it with you now, as our last feature about the life of Nicky Hayden.

The photos are my own, shot at the 2013 MotoGP rounds held in the US, where at Laguna Seca, Nicky debuted his “Born to Ride” Arai helmet. While not the most recent photos of Nicky Hayden, the shots seemed like fitting photos to include of The Kentucky Kid, as the world continues to share the #RideOnKentuckyKid hashtag on social media. -JB

The choices we make can have consequences for years. Nicky Hayden’s choices as a teenager led him on a path to a world championship

In all walks of life, the decisions that you make at an early age can have untold consequences in later life. Whether it is the college you decide to attend, or your first job, there are certain moments that become cornerstones of your life.

For most people, the choices can be corrected over the passing of time, but for a motorcycle racer with a short career they can have huge consequences.

The pressure on young shoulders, once racing transitions from a hobby to a career, are huge. Families stake their financial future on a child in the hope rather than expectation that it will all work out.

In the current economic climate, this risk is huge, but it has always been the case. The Hayden family rolled the dice on their sons’ racing careers, and with a world title on the mantle back home in Owensboro, Kentucky it has worked out well for Nicky Hayden.

Continue Reading

Remembering Nicky Hayden – Growing Up a Racer

05/29/2017 @ 11:38 am, by Steve EnglishComments Off on Remembering Nicky Hayden – Growing Up a Racer

There is a backstory to this article that I wanted to share with our readers, as we originally planned to publish this piece a couple weeks ago, as something for our A&R Pro readers, to showcase the upbringing of Nicky Hayden, and his early racing career.

Steve and Nicky had been working together on several pieces – we will share the another with you later today/tomorrow – about his career, and we delayed this one because Nicky said that he had a bunch of old photos we could use with the story.

Getting the photos and finally ready to click “publish” on A&R, I woke up on the morning of Wednesday, May 17th with plans to start the day with this great story by Steve, only to read first the horrible news about Nicky’s accident.

Throughout the week that followed, it seemed inappropriate to share this retrospective with our readers, as Nicky clung onto life. Now today, as his family and friends remember him in Owensboro, we wanted to share Nicky’s story with all of our readers, as we say goodbye to The Kentucky Kid. -JB

Growing up in Kentucky, Nicky Hayden was a motorcycle racing protégé from an early age, but winning hasn’t come easy to the Hayden family.

Over the last 15 years, Nicky Hayden has become one of the most recognisable faces in the motorcycle racing world. He’s morphed from the Kentucky Kid to an old hand of the paddock, and now the Kentucky Legend.

But where did that legendary status come from? Hard work, dedication and an insatiable love of racing are the traits that have made Hayden famous, but the cornerstone has always been family and loyalty.

Continue Reading

Remembering Nicky Hayden – Photos by Brian Nitto

05/25/2017 @ 9:33 am, by Brian NittoComments Off on Remembering Nicky Hayden – Photos by Brian Nitto

The untimely passing of Nicky Hayden affected motorcycle fans around the world, the team at Asphalt & Rubber included. To work through the grief, we are going to take this week to celebrate the life of The Kentucky Kid, sharing with you our thoughts and images from the years we worked with Nicky. So, we hope you will enjoy these photos by photographer Brian Nitto, as we all continue to hold Nicky in our thoughts and remember him. – JB

Continue Reading

Remembering Nicky – Words by Steve English

05/24/2017 @ 12:09 pm, by Steve EnglishComments Off on Remembering Nicky – Words by Steve English

I have always been a fan of racing, and from my earliest memories all I can remember is watching racing and loving it. From when I started watching motorcycle racing, I was drawn towards flat track racers from the United States.

Perhaps, it was because the risks they take are so similar to road racing in Ireland, or just their style on a bike. There was always an attraction for me towards flat trackers, and as a child the riders I admired were Americans who grew up on the dirt.

Whether it was hearing stories of Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer, or watching Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz, the Americans held a certain mystique for me.

Nicky Hayden was the next of that lineage and coming into MotoGP as a 21-year-old rookie — as well as being paired with Valentino Rossi, no less — I couldn’t help but root for the underdog.

Having been to Laguna Seca, to see Nicky pick up a MotoGP win, I was firmly a fan of his by the time he claimed his MotoGP title in 2006. Like so many others around the world, it was impossible not to like the rider and the man.

Continue Reading

Remembering Nicky Hayden – Photos by Daniel Lo

05/23/2017 @ 11:35 am, by Daniel LoComments Off on Remembering Nicky Hayden – Photos by Daniel Lo

The untimely passing of Nicky Hayden affected motorcycle fans around the world, the team at Asphalt & Rubber included. To work through the grief, we are going to take this week to celebrate the life of The Kentucky Kid, sharing with you our thoughts and images from the years we worked with Nicky. So, we hope you will enjoy these photos by photographer Daniel Lo, as we all continue to hold Nicky in our thoughts and remember him. – JB

Continue Reading