VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

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.

HJC Is Coming Out with Star Wars Themed Helmets

10/05/2016 @ 2:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Pardon me while I geek out, just a little bit. It looks like HJC has gotten the rights to make Star Wars themed helmets for their 2017 collection. Right now, HJC is showing two helmets, one that mimic’s Kylo Ren’s helmet in The Force Awakens, and the other that replicates Boba Fett’s iconic lid.

Both of these themed helmets are based off the HJC RPHA 11 helmet, the company’s top-of-the-line helmet, which also serves as a platform for HJC’s other branded, tribute, and special edition helmets.

There will also be a “Death Trooper” helmet, based on the HJC FG-17 helmet, that will debut in time to milk interest from the opening of Rogue One.

It should be noted that rumors about a possible Princess Lela helmet, with side-mounted hair buns, are unfounded and possibly started by this publication.

There is no word on price yet (you’ll probably have to sell your speed for it though), but we would expect something north of $600 or so, judging from the price tags on HJC’s helmets that use designs from the MARVEL comic book universe.

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Where Do Internet Trolls Go When They Get Banned?

02/09/2016 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler77 COMMENTS

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Managing the community aspect of a website like Asphalt & Rubber is no easy feat, especially considering the online personalities some people take on while behind the keyboard.

The history of the internet troll is as rich and long as the internet itself, as anonymity (or at least the appearance thereof) allows a cultivation of personality traits that would otherwise not manifest themselves in public.

In essence, what I’m trying to say is that people online can be dicks.

We are fairly lenient in the comments section, but that doesn’t mean that our ban hammer is sitting in the corner collecting dust – every once and a while, we have to banish a user from the pages of A&R. But once gone, where do they go? Alas, we finally have the answer.

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What’s Bigger: Indy Motor Speedway or Star Wars?

08/10/2014 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Since we are a bunch of stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herders, it seems only appropriate that we conclude this already slightly absurd string of articles about the size of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the only way we really know how: using equally absurd Star Wars references.

So, in the narrow overlap that occurs in the Venn diagram of MotoGP factoids and outright nerdiness, we ask you to ponder which is bigger: the IMS oval or the Star Wars universe’s iconic spaceship, the Imperial Star Destroyer?Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.

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The Most Awesome Thing You Will See Today

07/22/2013 @ 8:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Regular readers will know that Asphalt & Rubber is littered with Star Wars references — we are a bit dorky like that. Speaking for myself, I am an equal opportunity sci-fi nerd, giving healthy viewing times to the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5 franchises, just to name a few (David for some reason enjoys Farscape…no one is perfect).

If you read enough of our articles, a Boba Fett, Deathstar, or Bothan Spy reference is more than likely to crop up (dear I say, they are even expected??!) — so for the kids who were cool in high school: deal with it.

With that disclaimer being said, we bring to you the most awesome thing you will see this Monday: Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi photoshopped into the iconic movie frame of Yoda mentoring Luke Skywalker in the swampy forests of Dagobah. Thanks for the tip Gigi!

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We probably would have posted this video out of sheer Star Wars geekdom, but a 7min 10sec lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife (BTG) is also nothing to scuff at as well. Such is the accomplishment of Andy Carlile, a 33-year-old Englishman living in Germany who was on a mission to be the fastest on two-wheels around the ‘Ring.

Setting the record on street-legal Dunlop rubber, perhaps the only thing more impressive than Carlile’s lap time is his feat of keeping the squirrely but otherwise mostly stock and street-legal 2005 Yamaha YZF-R1 at bay, as the video shows the massive movement of the bike on braking and acceleration. Jedi mind trick for sure.

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BMW is Developing a Laser-Powered Headlight

09/01/2011 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Yes, you read that right — frickin’ laser beams. Prompting too many mainstream sci-fi culture references for our overly-geekish selves, our heads here at A&R are literally exploding like Alderaan right now over the idea of sharks or ill-tempered sea bass motorcycles using lasers as a headlight replacement.

Setting its BMW phasers to stun today, our favorite Bavarian company is already exploring ways to replace the brand-spanking-new LED headlight technology that is just now making its way onto premium automobiles.

BMW hopes that laser technology will not only make for a more advanced headlight in terms of features, but also one that is more energy efficient.

Admittedly the company is only exploring the technology initially for its automobiles, but we can only imagine the laser headlights will trickle down to motorcycles before we have to travel 88 mph and go back to the future.

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We just got an update from Richard Hatfield at Lightning Motors about his team’s progress on the 2011 “Flying Banana” (there’s no escaping that name Richard), and without having seen all the bikes for this racing season, we would peg Lightning’s as the one to beat.

When we talked to Lightning at the end of last season, the stated goal for the 2011 bike was to remove 150 lbs, and add 150hp to the machine. With the parts coming together, Hatfield informs us that the team is on-track to achieve that goal – translation: this bike is going to be wicked fast and agile…and of course, yellow.

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Mission Motors Racing at Infineon with Steve Rapp*

05/03/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

More news from the Asphalt & Rubber Bothan Spy network (that’d be a great spin-off site by the way…if George Lucas wouldn’t bullseye us like womp rats from a T-16 for our copious use of Star Wars references in our posts), as we’ve gotten word that Mission Motors is gearing up to go racing at the TTXGP season-opener at Infineon Raceway in two weeks’ time. At the helm of the gorgeous Mission R electric superbike will be AMA Pro Racing’s Steve Rapp.

The caveat to this news is that it all is contingent on Mission Motors getting its race bike ready to race in time for the event. The Bothans go on to tell us that the bike’s battery pack still needs to come together, which is something we’ve heard for some time now, but could suggest that the team has advanced its tech further and is upgrading the Mission R for even more on-board energy/power. As always, time will tell.

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Erik Buell Racing has quietly been “tipping” sites off to the fact that Buell’s record label, Rat Pak Records, is selling t-shirts for a Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycle. What is the 1190RS you ask? “The 1190RS will be the new street bike from Erik Buell Racing! The design is currently in the pre-production / testing stage and is not yet available for public sale,” says the website (Asphalt & Rubber brought you the first teaser of the 1190RS way back in July). However, a video of the pre-pre-production 1190RS will be up on September 14th, officially making this a teasing of a teaser video (are you still with us?).

Before you Buell fans start getting all in a tizzy, we have to break the news that the hype being generated about the EBR 1190RS is more about raising money for Erik Buell Racing, than announcing an upcoming motorcycle. Erik Buell & Co. have been making the rounds to investors looking for capital to build-out its production line, reportedly with little success. With a company built around a “never say die” attitude, Erik Buell hasn’t given up looking for cash (buy more t-shirts people!), and the 1190RS announcement is a way for EBR to show that there is a market demand for its motorcycles. Once the market is proven to exist, EBR is hoping investors will then open up their wallets.

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