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.

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A crash at the Isle of Man TT is not a light affair, and more often than not, a mistake by a rider means grave bodily harm, and even death. The TT course is unforgiving like that, lined with houses, trees, posts, and all other manner of obstacles. This isn’t the Grand Prix, there are no run-offs.

James Cowton got this reminder the hard way, running wide on a turn during the Superstock TT race. In the video, you can see Cowton crashing into the barrier, and taking the sponsor banner with him. Cowton then rolls back into the racing line…right in front of Horst Saiger, who was trailing close behind.

Saiger manages to miss Cowton, only hitting the sprawling banner on the road with his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. This is a crash that with a difference of just millimeters could easily have meant the end for both riders.

Cowton walked away with bumps and bruises, and Horst finished the race in 13th place – his personal best. A very lucky crash, indeed.

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The fastest motorcyclist up Pikes Peak this year, Jeremy Toye upset the Ducati contingency in the “Open” class, with his stellar 9 minute 58.687 second race to the clouds, aboard his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R superbike.

A newcomer to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Toye also laid claim to the “Rookie of the Year” title with his impressive pace. So, sit back and take a ride up Pikes Peak’s 12.42 mile course, with its 156 turns and 4,720 feet of elevation change, courtesy of Toye and Kawasaki. This is probably as close as you’ll get to the event from now on.

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A Lap Around the Isle of Man TT with Michael Dunlop

03/25/2014 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Stop what you’re doing for the next 18 minutes — just stop right now. Take a ride with Michael Dunlop on his Honda CBR600RR during the Isle of Man TT’s second Supersport race.

We enter the race on lap three of four, Michael Dunlop has just finished his pit stop, and is in second place on corrected time — Bruce Anstey is leading. On the course, Michael is behind John McGuinness and Cameron Donald, who serve as his carrot.

At this point in the TT fortnight, Dunlop has already won three races and the nephew of Joey is looking for win number four as he puts the hammer down coming down Bray Hill. This is more than a video of an epic lap around Snaefell Mountain Course, it’s a lap of Michael Dunlop’s determination. There should be no doubt about Michael being a force to be reckond with in 2014.

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If you’re like us, you’re still buzzing over this weekend’s Superprestigio flat track event. Flat track racing is always a great spectacle, but as the name of the site suggests, it’s not something that comes across our radar too often. However, put together a competition amongst some of the best GP and SBK riders in the world, and you have our attention.

While the spotlight this time around was on American Brad “The Bullet” Baker (the current Grand National Champion) and his showdown with MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez (who organized the Superprestigio event), it was easy to forget that another American was a top contender: Kenny Noyes.

A former Moto2 racer, Noyes has perhaps spent too much time in Spain to be recognizable to some American fans, but the young and talented rider not only has some impressive GP results to his name, but he also currently runs the Noyes Camp, a dirt track school at the Motorland Aragon facility.

Finishing third in the Super Final at the Superprestigio event, Noyes brings us some on-track footage from the two-wheeled melee. If you think rubbing is racing, we think you will enjoy this video.

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The Macau GP is just nuts, let’s just get that thought out and up front. A proper road race on, you know, the road…it boggles the mind to think that competitors at Macau share the circuit’s near four-mile course length with each other, unlike the Isle of Man TT’s single-rider time trial format.

This of course means riders are angling for apexes with each other, all the while there is virtually no run-off to be seen. No margin for error, triple-digit speeds, and 200+ horsepower machines — like we said, the Macau GP is just nuts.

Don’t just take our word for it, have a look for yourself with this excellent on-board footage from eighth-place finisher Didier Grams and his gyros-stablized camera. It’s epic to watch the armco go flying by while this talented German rider does his thing.

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On-Board Video of the Ducati 899 Panigale at Imola

10/15/2013 @ 12:21 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber may not have been in Bologna for the international press launch for the Ducati 899 Panigale “super-mid” sport bike, so unfortunately we can’t give you any first-hand experience with Ducati’s newest sport bike (newest for a little while longer, at least).

However, we are in luck because Ducati test rider Alessandro Valia was on-hand for the event, and did some hot laps for the camera. A super nice guy and a very talented rider, we met Valia earlier this year at the Ducati 1199 Panigale R press launch, where he helped us find the right lines around the very technical Circuit of the Americas.

Now, Valia takes us for a spin around one of Italy’s most iconic circuits, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari — or as it is better know, Imola. No music, to fast-cuts, just a bike being ridden hard on a sunny afternoon. Enjoy!

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We’ve just about wrapped up our coverage of the 2013 Isle of Man TT, but I wanted to leave you with this final video. On-board with Joey Dunlop during the Formula 1 practice session for the 1983 Isle of Man TT, you can hear the roar of Joey’s Honda V4 RS850R production racer, and watch one of the greatest riders ever on the Mountain Course.

With its ultra-short stroke, titanium valves, magnesium case covers, and a reported 135hp at the rear wheel, the RS850R is the machine that Joey took to his first win with the Japanese brand — a landmark occasion, which HRC just celebrated the 30th anniversary of at this year’s TT, with John McGuinness wearing Joey’s old livery.

We can’t think of a better way to end the TT season, nor can we think of a better way to remember Joey. Listen carefully as he narrates the course, you are listening to a true legend of the sport.

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Video: Still Think Electric Motorcycles Are Slow?

06/10/2013 @ 3:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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The progress in the last five years on electric motorcycles has been astounding. Taking their first laps around the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course, a 87.434 mph pace was the best an electric motorcycle could do at the prestigious road race in 2009 — a pace that was on par with the 50cc record set in 1971. Since that time though, the development of these machines has grown by leaps and bounds.

In just five years after the first laps were taken by electric motorcycles at Snaefell, these machines have grown their average lap speeds by over 20 mph at the TT Zero race, setting a new record of 109.675 mph in 2013, and boasting a rate of improvement of roughly 5 mph each year since 2009.

If hitting 142.2 mph down the Sulby Straight speed trap wasn’t further proof of the speeds these bikes are achieving, maybe some visual evidence will help support the notion. Checkout the on-board videos of Michael Rutter (on the 2013 MotoCzysz E1pc) and John McGuinness (on the 2013 Mugen Shinden Ni) after the jump.

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Lap COTA with Stefan Bradl on the Honda RC213V

04/03/2013 @ 1:22 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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UPDATE: Dani Pedrosa’s and Marc Marquez’s on-board laps have been added to this post.

Ask and yee shall receive, here is some more movie magic from HRC’s private test at the Circuit of the Americas. For this go-around, we feature LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, as he takes the factory-spec Honda RC213V for a quick lap around the new Texan GP circuit.

Honestly, I was all set to drop some mega-hyperbole on the whole situation, and maybe even get a few digs in about MotoGP’s media policies along the way, but I am too depressed at the moment to make that happen.

You see, having just ridden COTA only a couple weeks ago, I was fairly pleased with my lap times, especially after having only spent an hour on the circuit. Now, I wasn’t the fastest guy out there by any stretch, but my times were dropping with each lap and session, and I certainly wasn’t the slowest at the end of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R bike launch, so I call that a win for a Thursday afternoon.

But no, Mr. Bradl had to go and show me up. Close to 15 seconds quicker on his out-lap than my best hot-lap, I guess we see why he races motorcycles for a living, while I blog from my mother’s basement, wearing nothing but a bathrobe and bunny-shaped slippers. Le sigh.

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Still fairly new to the road racing scene, Brandon Cretu is a three-time Isle of Man TT racer, and for 2012 the young racer was one of only two Americans on the Macau GP grid.

Coming off a big crash at the TT during the fourth lap of the Superbike race, we are still pretty amazed that Cretu made the trek down to Macau, let alone got back in the saddle for another road race this season. Road racers, they’re a special breed apparently.

Slapping some GoPros to his Hel Performance Honda CBR1000RR, Cretu gives another perspective of what a lap around Macau is like (read his race report here).

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