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.

Today we get another look at Norton’s 650cc project, now named the Norton Atlas. We have already seen concept sketches for this British scrambler, and now Norton is showing us some engineering renders. This is because the physical machine should debut later this year, at the NEC bike show in November.

Details are still vague and light, but we do know that the 650cc parallel-twin engine will piggyback off the work done for Norton’s V4 superbike. Essentially the using the V4 engine with its rear cylinders lopped off, the parallel-twin engine shares the same head, pistons, valves, etc as the V4 bike.

Several flavors of the Atlas are expected to come to market, with 70hp and 100hp naturally aspirated versions already planned, as well as a supercharged version that is said to clear 175hp.

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Preview of the 2018 Isle of Man TT

05/30/2018 @ 7:12 pm, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

The 2018 Isle of Man TT is underway and Asphalt & Rubber has you covered to get up to date with some of the biggest names at the Isle of Man TT.

The road racing capital of the world is rarely called a paradise, but it is hard to look past that word when the sun shines on this 200 square miles of rock in the Irish Sea.

This week the sun is certainly shining, and practice week has already been one to remember. Lap records look set to be shattered as this past winter is banished from memory by the burning sun.

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McGuinness To Miss the 2018 Isle of Man TT?

04/27/2018 @ 12:56 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A lot of action has occurred for this year’s Isle of Man TT, and yet not a single bike has circulated the Mountain Course in anger yet.

We saw the unfortunate news that Bruce Anstey would sit out this year of racing, as he starts a new battle with cancer. We also saw John McGuinness jump ship from Honda to Norton, and then join forces with rival Michael Dunlop in the supersport class.

Adding to the news, Team Mugen announced an unheard of three-rider lineup for the TT Zero race, though today we learn that those plans have had to change, with now Lee Johnston and Michael Rutter headlining a two-man team for Mugen.

The cause for this change? John McGuinness re-fracturing his healing leg (14 months after initially breaking it), and thus unable to compete on the electric superbike.

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Check the weather, because hell might have frozen over. Confirming rumors from late last year, John McGuinness has switched from Honda to Norton for his 2018 Isle of Man TT campaign.

The move is a bit of a surprise, as McGuinness has made his career as a diehard Honda rider, which has lead to 23 TT race wins at the Isle of Man.

But, things started to get interesting last year, when in December McGuinness wasn’t named as one of Honda’s road racing riders. To further fuel the fire, McPint was seen on social media checking out the Norton SG7.

Now officially official, John McGuinness will campaign on the Norton in the Superbike TT and Senior TT races at the 2018 Isle of Man TT. Boom goes the dynamite.

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Norton Teases Future 650cc Street Bike

11/15/2017 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Norton is getting closer to releasing its next motorcycle, this one being a 650cc twin-cylinder street bike. As you can see above in the photo, courtesy of our friends at MotoFire, the Norton 650 will take a roadster form, with a positively vintage vibe.

The bike will serve as a platform though, for several 650cc motorcycles, one of which will be the basis for an Isle of Man TT race bike.

Said to make around 100hp, the Norton 650 would be a potent weapon in the Lightweight TT race class. It would also serve as a good counterpoint to Norton’s 1200cc superbike project.

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At the 9th Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

05/11/2017 @ 2:25 pm, by Andrew KohnADD COMMENTS

Come to Carmel, they said. It’ll be warm, they said. Well, maybe not so much. Last weekend’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering was a chilly affair with cloudy skies, blustery winds, and temperatures in the 50s.

The lines for ice cream were non-existent, while the line for the Espresso cart was 50 people deep. Though the weather wasn’t perfect, the event itself was awfully close.

As always, the Quail offered a great collection of vintage and custom motorcycles. This year’s show celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Norton Commando.

The marque was well represented with a large variety of Nortons on hand and also included a replica of the Norton display at the 1967 Earls Court Motorcycle Show in London.

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Norton Gets £3 Million to Increase V4 Production

04/12/2017 @ 11:27 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

If you have had your eye on a Norton V4 superbike recently, you might not have to wait as long for it to arrive, as the British marque has secured £3 million from the Santander Corporate & Commercial bank.

The debt investment will allow Norton to triple its production rate on the V4 SS and V4 RR models, and also allow for the company to hire 40 new employees for the job. Additionally, according to Norton this will allow the company to increase its production volume to 1,500 motorcycles per year.

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Here It Is, The Norton V4 RR Superbike

11/16/2016 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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It has been a long time coming for the Norton V4 RR, but the British firm has finally debuted its 1,200cc, 72° V4-powered, 200hp superbike. The actual machine looks pretty close to its concept sketches, which in turn are based closely to Norton’s TT race bike.

Norton has made a pretty stout machine, with the V4 RR coming with a robust electronics package that was developed in-house, which includes traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and cruise control, augmented by a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU); a 7″ high-definition display that includes a rear-facing camera; and a up-and-down quickshifter and datalogger.

Key chassis components include the twin-tube “shotgun” frame, and a single-sided swingarm with a fully adjustable pivot point (the steering head angle is also adjustable). The fairings, no matter which finish you choose them in (mirrored chrome fairings are available as an option), are made from carbon fiber.

Suspension is handled by Öhlins NIX30 forks and an Öhlins TTXGP rear shock. That being said, the Norton V4 RR is a bit on the heavier side, with the Brits claiming a dry weight of 394 lbs.

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It seems like we have been talking about the Norton V4 superbike for ages, with not much to go on beyond concept sketches and vague promises. Well, this unicorn of a machine seems closer to reality now, with Norton giving us another teaser that we can sink our teeth into.

Debuting in three weeks’ time, it seems that we will finally get to see this 1,200cc V4-powered machine. The British brand says it has already sold out of the Norton V4 SS model (~£40,000), while you can still get your hands on one of the 250 units of the Norton V4 RR, which will cost £28,000.

Details on the bikes are still very much in short supply, which makes it hard to believe Norton has found already 200 individuals who are willing to buy the sold out SS model, sight unseen. Stay tuned though, the Brits are supposed to give us the full monty on November 19th.

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It looks like Norton wisely waited until after the bevy of press releases from the INTERMOT show, before teasing its V4 superbike again. Actually, it looks like we will have to wait until after the EICMA show as well, since Norton’s new teaser video promises a November 19th debut.

Norton’s V4 superbike has been coming for a long time, so the unveiling should be something interesting to finally see. The British firm has been targeting 200hp from its 1,200cc V4 engine.

The Brits over at MCN say that there will be two versions of the machine, a base model that costs roughly £28,000, and a higher spec version that will be limited to 200 units and cost closer to £40,000.

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