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.

For the 2018 model year, we see one of our favorite bikes in the Ducati lineup getting the 1260 update. We are of course talking about the 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak.

The Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak takes its name from one of America’s oldest racing venues, and as a result it is the sportiest version of Ducati’s adventure-touring machines.

Now fitted with Ducati’s Testastretta DVT 1262 engine, the Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak makes 85% of its torque below 3,500 rpm on the v-twin engine. That is a good thing, because Ducati says the bulk of Multistrada owners rarely get above 6,000 rpm on their machines.

This makes the 1,262cc engine the perfect candidate for low-revving excursions, like the ones you would take down a dusty fire road. For the sports-focused Pikes Peak model, the choice is a little bit more curious, but we won’t scuff at the 158hp on tap.

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Woolie’s Pikes Peak Hypermotard by Deus Ex Machina

08/16/2017 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Woolie’s Pikes Peak Hypermotard by Deus Ex Machina

If you are going to race at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, you might want to bring something a little bit more peppy than a stock Ducati Hypermotard – not that the Italian street bike isn’t tons of fun, but its now-rated 110hp is going to be robbed blind at it approaches the 14,000+ foot summit.

That is where Michael Woolaway’s latest project for Deus Ex Machina comes into play, as Woolie has taken the Hypermotard, dropped massive amounts of power into its chassis, and then stripped every last bit of unnecessary weight off the machine.

With 200hp on tap, and a paltry 345 lbs measured when fully fueled and on the scales, Woolie’s Pikes Peak Hypermotard is the ultimate in function before form. Of course, the minimalist technical requirements play into Woolie’s bare-bones design as well.

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Watch The Fastest Kangaroo Up Pikes Peak

07/03/2017 @ 10:36 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Watch The Fastest Kangaroo Up Pikes Peak

The old adage in racing is that you get slower once you have a child. Being from Australia and all, I don’t think our friend Rennie Scaysbrook (of Cycle News fame) got that memo.

Just days before he would head off to Colorado for the 95th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Rennie and his wife Annabelle gave birth to their first child, Harvey James Scaysbrook.

Having just joined the noble ranks of fatherhood, it would be a short introduction, as Rennie would have to leave Baby Harvey right away and compete in the 95th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

For his work on the mountain, Rennie joined an exclusive club of a different kind, posting a solid 9:57.712 time on his 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R – thus becoming one of just a few motorcyclists who have broken the 10-minute barrier at the Race to the Clouds.

With that time, Rennie was the second-fastest man on a motorcycle at Pikes Peak this year *cough* first loser! *cough*, as his teammate and Pikes Peak rookie, Chris Fillmore, would go on to break the standing motorcycle record with an even more impressive 9:49.625 time.

We already showed you Fillmore’s lap, but we think Rennie’s give a better perspective of what it is like to race up the 156 turns of Pikes Peak.

As an aside, we were pretty stoked to see Rennie break the 10-minute mark at Pikes Peak this year, and of course the A&R team gives a big congratulations to the Scaysbrooks for their bouncing baby boy. Let’s hope he gets his racing skills from Dad, but his looks from Mom!

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Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Will Be Live-Streamed

06/21/2017 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Will Be Live-Streamed

Traditionally if you wanted to watch the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, you would have to wake up around 3am in the morning, freeze your butt off in your car for a couple hours while you waited in line at the gates, and then jockey for position somewhere reasonably unsafe on the race course to watch the cars and bikes fly past.

With poor cellphone reception, spotty video coverage, and no strong media deals, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has floundered when it comes to engaging race fans in the digital age. Add into it more restrictive fan zones, and the viewing experience has certainly diminished, thus taking away from this once iconic race.

However for the 95th running of the “Race to the Clouds”, America’s only true road race has a new media partner, Matchsports, who will live-stream the event with 22 cameras, for racing fans. This has the potential to be a huge win for the struggling series…assuming it works this time.

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Pikes Peak Gets EMT Motorcycles from Ducati

06/14/2017 @ 11:22 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pikes Peak Gets EMT Motorcycles from Ducati

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is rapidly approaching, and the iconic “Race to the Clouds” continues to mature, despite this year being its 95th running.

Helping mitigate the safety issues that come with racing on the mountain’s 156 turns is Ducati North America, which already supports racer mentoring with the Squadra Alpina program. Now, Pikes Peak is taking another step forward.

Again with the help of Ducati North America, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will have emergency first-responders on motorcycles.

This is a page taken straight out of the Isle of Man TT, where traveling marshals move by sport bike between checkpoints, and are often the first medical personnel on the scene of a crash.

Accordingly, the two Ducati Multistrada 950 EMT motorcycles will be ridden by Dr. Gary Klein, a long-time race physician and safety team lead for the PPIHC, and Duxton Milam, a 20-year EMT and veteran flight medic with the National Guard.

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Dirt Bikes Persona Non Grata at Pikes Peak

03/07/2017 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

Dirt-focused machines will no longer be welcomed at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), says the race organizers.

With the change in the road surface and race course, the 2017 running of the “Race to the Clouds” will be the last one where competitors can use machinery that was originally intended to operate off-road.

How PPHIC will determine what is a prohibited machine is not really clear, with the press release stating only that “vehicles that were originally designed with the intention of competing on Pikes Peak’s traditional dirt surface” would no longer be allowed to race, after this year’s event.

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2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak

11/16/2015 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak

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I have a soft spot for the Pikes Peak models to the Ducati Multistrada 1200 line. Perhaps it’s because I have spent many a cold morning on Pikes Peak, photographing the race version of these machines. Or perhaps it’s that I’m drawn to the Ducati Corse livery, which drips carbon fiber and Rosso Corsa.

Either way, here we are, talking about the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak motorcycle – the latest model from Ducati to get the special livery from “The Race to the Clouds”, which also comes with Öhlins suspension, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and a Termignoni exhaust.

If you have seen the previous Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak models, this is perhaps not something that moves the dial on your rev-limiter too far, but the newly updated Ducati Multistrada 1200 certainly looks good with the Pike Peak package.

It seems that the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak will be available in both Europe and North America, thus bringing more awareness to Ducati’s racing efforts on the 14,000+ foot mountain.

More photos are after the jump. Bring your drool-rag with you.

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The 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is in the bag, with thankfully no further major incidents after the loss of Carl Sorensen during Thursday’s practice session. That doesn’t mean this year’s Race to the Clouds was without drama though, as the weather played a major factor.

A hail storm hit the 14,000 foot peak during today’s racing, which meant some competitors were not able to race all the way to the official finish line at the summit. Instead, they had to stop lower finishing point on the mountain.

While this issue mostly affected the car classes, it did mean that the sidecars and ATVs did not finish the full course as well. In our results table, their times reflect the course to its second checkpoint. Please keep that in mind when looking at the race results, after the jump.

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Carl Sorensen Has Died While Practicing at Pikes Peak

06/25/2015 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

carl-sorensen-217-pikes-peak-ppihc-sam-christmas

Tragic news comes to us today from Colorado, as racer Carl Sorensen died during today’s practice session for the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

With the motorcycles on the top section of the mountain, Carl crashed in a fast left-hand turn, known to have a bump on the racing line, near the summit.

Carl’s last run would have been one of the final runs up the course for the day, as the bikes were closing-in on their end time. Conditions reported to Asphalt & Rubber were that it was very cold at the Devil’s Playground staging area, with the road thawing from a measured 32°F to 42°F by the end of the sessions.

Thursday marks the third day of sanctioned practice for the motorcycles entered in Sunday’s racing event, with qualifying being tomorrow, on the lower section of the course (Pikes Peak practice sessions are divided into three course segments, with one motorcycle group and two car groups rotating through the course during practice week.

Familiar with the PPIHC race course, Carl finished last year’s hillclimb an impressive 16th overall, and 10th in the competitive “Open” class on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. For this year’s race, he made his move into the middleweight class, riding on a Ducati 848 Superbike.

A loyal A&R reader, and an avid motorcycle racer, Carl is survived by his wife and son, and will be sorely missed by all his family, friends, and racing compatriots. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by Carl’s passing.

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Ronin-Oishi-Yoshio-Travis Newbold-05

When we first saw Magpul’s custom Buell motorcycle, called the Magpul Ronin, we were smitten. Thankfully, the Colorado gun accessory firm spun the project into its own company, with 47 Ronin motorcycles to be produced.

You may have seen the Ronin on our pages here at Asphalt & Rubber, or in person at shows like The One Show in Portland or The Handbuilt Show in Austin, and if you did, you probably noticed the supreme workmanship that’s gone into these bikes.

So maybe it’s a bit worrying that a Ronin plans to partake in the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which is being held June 28th. The bike question is a special machine too, it is Ronin #1 — named Oishi Yoshio, after the samurai leader of the same name from the “47 Ronin” story in Japanese history.

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