This Week’s “Ducati for Sale” Rumor

The Volkswagen Group got a new CEO last week, and in less than seven days, that news has already sparked renewed rumors in the German automobile conglomerate divesting itself of Ducati Motor Holdings. For those who have been following Ducati’s saga, there was much talk last year of Volkswagen selling off a number of its other brands, all under the reasoning that the German company would need to raise capital to cover its mounting Dieselgate liabilities. The logic for that reasoning wasn’t sound, but the actions were certainly there, with Volkswagen tendering offers from a number of would-be suitors. There was a fly in the ointment though: Volkswagen’s labor unions, who control half of the VW Group’s board seats, and were vehemently opposed to any brand divestitures.

Battery “Thermal Events” Lead to Zero Recall & Buy-Back

Zero Motorcycles is reporting a very serious defect with its 2012 model year bikes, specifically affecting the Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DSP (Police) models. The recall concerns Zero’s battery architecture for the 2012 model year, which may cause cells to fail, and thus create a runaway “thermal event” (read: catches on fire) within the battery pack. In total, this recall affects 218 motorcycle units – the entire volume of Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DPS motorcycles that were sold for the 2012 model year. In its recall documents, Zero cites three instances (one in Hong Kong, and two in the USA) where the battery packs on the affected 2012 model bikes have failed and lead to a thermal event.

Benelli’s Grom-Killer Debuts for the US Market, A Review

For years, Benelli has lain dormant, at least in the US market. That changes with the Chinese owned, but Italian-run, firm releasing the first of many street bikes for American consumption. It kicks things off with the 2018 Benelli TnT 135 ($2,499). US importer, SSR Motorsports, hosted a quick day ride that began atop Southern California’s Ortega Highway, and concluded in Newport Beach. Renowned for its twists and turns, Ortega Highway is an amusing, but also very high-traveled ribbon of blacktop that links the bustling inland and beach communities. This stretch of roadway is known for accidents as well – would the tiny TnT be able to keep up with “always in a hur

UK Salary Data Shows Gender Gap at Triumph

The United Kingdom has a new law, requiring companies with 250 or more employees to report to the authorities the earnings of its workers, by gender. The topic has been a sticking point in the British news cycle right now, with woman across the company showing median earnings that are 12% lower than men, which is a sizable gap in income equality. Where does the British motorcycle industry falls into place in all this? Well as Visordown initially reported, that is more difficult to say, as it appears that only Triumph Motorcycles meets the reporting criteria, amongst motorcycle manufacturers. Technically, it is two brands that meet reporting criteria for gender pay gap, as Triumph Motorcycles Limited and Triumph Designs Limited split their duties for the British marque.

What Caused Jorge Lorenzo’s Crash at the Qatar GP?

After a poor start, which saw him drop from ninth on the grid to thirteenth at the end of the first lap, Jorge Lorenzo was making steady progress through the field at Qatar. His lap times were starting to come down to match, and on some laps even beat, the pace the leaders were running. As the halfway mark approached, and less than four seconds behind the leaders, Lorenzo started to believe he was capable of salvaging a decent result from a difficult start. That all ended on Lap 13. The Spaniard crashed out of the race at Turn 4, when his front brake failed and he had to drop the bike in the gravel. “I just felt that the level of the front brake was getting closer to my fingers and I didn’t have brake,” Lorenzo described the incident afterwards.

The Ducati Panigale V4 Looks Good Wearing Termignoni

For a long time, the name “Termignoni” was synonymous with “Ducati exhaust”, with the popular scarico-maker being a constant fixture in the Ducati Performance parts catalog. So prevalent was the brand, that if you see a turn-of-the-century (21st century, that is) Ducati clacking down the street with its dry clutch, chances are the exhaust you are also hearing was made by Termignoni. But that has changed in recent years, with Slovenian marque Akrapovič supplanting Termignoni in Ducati’s good graces. To find out why, all one had to do was examine the products themselves – where Termignoni’s pieces were poorly fabricated and over-priced, Akrapovič was infinitely better built and often cheaper.

Honda CBR1000RRW Debuts for Endurance Duty

What you are looking at here is the bike that Honda hopes will win the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race this year. It is called the Honda CBR1000RRW. It is not all that different from the WorldSBK-spec model, the one that Leon Camier and Jake Gange are competing with currently (and that PJ Jacobsen is helping develop), save for some interesting changes. For starters, the Honda CBR1000RRW dumps its Cosworth boxes, and instead runs the Magneti Marelli electronics package that Jacobsen is using in WorldSBK. Also, there are some obvious bodywork changes, namely where the exposed front spars of the frame would be, which are now covered by a silver painted panel.Then of course, there are the mechanical changes for endurance duty, like quick-change wheel pieces and functional lights.

Honda CB300R Coming to USA with Retro-Modern Looks

One of the surprise pleasures at last year’s EICMA show was Honda’s family of “Neo-Sports Café” street bikes, which brought a retro-modern look to Big Red’s approach road bikes. While the new Honda CB1000R tickled our fancy the most, we were delighted to see that the theme extended all the way to the Japanese brand’s small-displacement platform, the Honda CB300R. An attractive and affordable entry-level bike, the Honda CB300R looks like it was designed in Europe, rather than Nippon, which is probably why the 286cc commuter is doing so well in the European market. Seeing that success, American Honda has confirmed the CB300R as an early 2019 model for the US market – available in July 2018.

Motorcycling’s April Fools Round-Up for 2018

Another year, and another April Fools Day is done and dusted. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news they wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint. My colleague David Emmett had a nicely done story about the MotoGP World Championship. For my own part, I took advantage of the long-con approach, and fit a story into our ongoing series about the upcoming Suzuki Hayabusa, which seems to have no shortage of weekly rumors about this bike’s supposed features and technical specifications. How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

This Week’s Suzuki Hayabusa Rumor, Part 3

We know to expect a Suzuki Hayabusa reboot in the coming months, and in a way, that is all that we know. The iconic superbike is in its 20th year of production right now, and an all-new machine is set to take its place, for the 2019 model year. Will it be turbocharged? Will it have a larger displacement? How about a dual-clutch transmission? That remains to be seen. Safe bets are that the 2019 Suzuki Hayabusa will have updated electronics, likely powered by an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Euro4 emissions homologation is a must, and Suzuki will presumably be building the new Hayabusa with the Euro5 standard in mind as well. Beyond these givens though, it seems that every week there is a new rumor regarding the next Hayabusa generation, and this week is no different.

Gone Riding: In South Africa with Pirelli

04/10/2018 @ 9:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Another day, another trip to Africa – the Asphalt & Rubber frequent flyer miles account is strong this year. As such, we are coming to you from South Africa, were we will be among the first to ride the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tire – the Italian company’s new high-performance street/track tire.

Replacing the original Diablo Rosso Corsa tire that debuted in 2010, the DRCII is a tire that is designed for modern high-performance motorcycles, many of which have advanced technologies like cornering ABS and IMU-powered traction control.

Pirelli says that the DRCII is the first multi-zone compound tire for the Italian brand, with two compounds and three zones on the front tire, and 3 compounds and five zones on the rear tire.

To take these tires for a spin (pardon the pun), Pirelli has two rides planned for us. For our street ride, we will be riding the roads near Kruger National Park (including the famous “Road 22”), which is the largest game reserve in Africa, and features perhaps the best riding in the country.

For the track portion, we will head to the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, which once was a stop on the World Superbike calendar. Recently renovated, riding this famous track should be a real treat, and a great place to showcase the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires.

So with that said, feel free to pick my brain about the new Pirelli tires, the bikes I’ll be riding (check posts on social media), and what it is like to visit South Africa, Kruger National Park, and the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.

As always, you can follow our thoughts on the tires via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #PirelliNation, #PirelliMoto, #PirelliDiabloRossoCorsaII, & #RossoCorsa2.

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For the 2018 WorldSBK season, we are changing up our coverage format a little bit from last year, in order to provide more useful content for our racing fans.

First up, we are pleased to have Steve English providing coverage from the World Superbike paddock. Regular Asphalt & Rubber readers will recognize Steve’s name from a number of stories here on A&R, and he is also a regular host of our Paddock Pass Podcast.

With his day job being the voice of WorldSBK on the commentary feed, Steve’s expert insight will provide for us a preview of each WorldSBK round, as well as a debrief at the end of each race weekend, which will highlight the major takeaways from the racing action.

Additionally for our A&R Pro readers, Steve will be providing us with added racing analysis, as well as interviews with the WorldSBK riders, team members, and paddock fixtures, which you won’t want to miss. -JB

With that out of the way, let’s get to the opening round of the 2018 WorldSBK season, which is now in the books and certainly provided us with plenty of excitement and plenty to talk about. 

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Because of tire wear issues during Race 1, at the World Superbike season-opener at Phillip Island, Sunday’s Race 2 will include a mandatory pit stop, where riders can come in and change machines.

Due to the extra-abrasive conditions found at Phillip Island this year, these race change will also affect Sunday’s World Supersport race, as well.

Similar to the tire issues we saw in the MotoGP Championship at Phillip Island, back in 2013, Sunday’s race will include a mandatory pitstop before the end of the 12th lap for WorldSBK riders (after nine laps for WorldSSP riders), which will operate under the series’ flag-to-flag rules.

This means that riders will dismount their machine, and mount a new bike, fitted with fresh Pirelli race tires, in order to avoid the tire-wear issues found during Saturday’s race.

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Asphalt & Rubber is in New York right now, attending the unveiling of the 2018 Pirelli Calendar. It might seem strange that a tire manufacturer from Italy would become so famous for producing something as benign as a calendar, but the Pirelli Calendar is an institution in its own right.

A product of the fashion elite – mixing the world’s top models and celebrities with some of the most renowned photographers, at some of the most beautiful locations – the Pirelli Calendar is available only to a select few of Pirelli’s best customers, as well as the most famous of people.

For a long time, the Pirelli Calendar grew from the intersection of garage pin-up photography and high-fashion aesthetic and production, but in 2016 “The Cal” switched its tone to something more reflective of the time, and with a larger social message. Gone were the naked supermodels.

For the 2018 edition, the Pirelli Calendar continues this trend, and for the second time ever, it features an all-black cast of models, actors, celebrities, and social figures.

Relying on the talents of British photographer Tim Walker, the 2018 Pirelli Calendar retells the story of Alice in Wonderland by ‎Lewis Carroll.

It features the following models: Adwoa Aboah, Sasha Lane, , Thando Hopa, Slick Woods, Zoe Bedeaux, Alpha Dia, King Owusu, Wilson Oryema, Adut Akech, and Duckie Thot as Alice – with celebrity appearances by Jaha DukurehWhoopi Goldberg, RuPaul, Djimon Hounsou, Puff DaddyNaomi CampbellLupita Nyong, and Lil Yachty

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Pirelli will continue to supply tires to all classes in the World Superbike Championship for the foreseeable future. The Italian tire manufacturer has extended its current contract with Dorna, through the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Pirelli first took on the role of single tire supplier in 2004, and sparked a revolution in motorcycle racing.

With the favoritism of competing tire factories for sponsored teams removed, and a much more level playing field for privateer teams, the World Superbike model would come to be replicated in many different road racing championships, with MotoGP eventually following suit in 2009.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #58 – California Dream

07/19/2017 @ 12:36 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 58 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast chronicles a busy week in California, as we head down to Laguna Seca for the World Superbike and MotoAmerica racing rounds.

The weekend involved getting the first glimpse of the Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition, the last v-twin superbike from the Italian brand. We also got to talk to Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali about the company’s new V4 superbike, with more than a few surprises being told about the new machine.

Of course there was the on-track action, which includes yours truly getting a some seat time the Monday after the races, riding at a no noise restriction track day (something that almost never happens) with the good folk at Pirelli tires.

While there, we sat down with Giorgio Barbier, the Director of Pirelli’s Motorcycle Racing program. We talked a bit of shop while at the track day, and have included that conversation towards the end of the show, for your listening pleasure.

The audio isn’t perfect, since we’re right on the track – did I mention there was no noise restriction for the bikes? – but you should be able to hear Giorgio with no problems.

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.

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The Misano round of WorldSBK was dominated by talk of tires. As such, following a weekend fraught with failures, Pirelli will revert to an older specification of tire for the Laguna Seca round. The move sees Pirelli at a crossroads, after a series of high profile incidents during the scorching weekend in Italy.

This includes Michael van der Mark’s crash from the lead of Saturday’s race, after a tire failure saw the Dutch rider robbed of his chance to claim his first podium for Yamaha.

One has to remember too, Jonathan Rea also crashed out of the lead at the previous round in Donington Park, as it was a shock to see the previously robust Pirelli fail once again.

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Michael van der Mark suffered a rear tire failure during the closing stages of Race 1 at the Misano WorldSBK round.

The Dutch rider was leading the race at the time, and had a firm chance to claim a first career victory in the class, when his rear tire suddenly failed and pitched him off the bike through the series of fast right-handers at the end of the lap.

For Pirelli, it is the second round in a row where they have seen a tire failure affect the outcome of a race, after Jonathan Rea suffered the same fate at Donington Park.

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Donington Park WorldSBK Debrief – Saturday

05/28/2017 @ 12:31 am, by Kent BrockmanADD COMMENTS

On a day when Nicky Hayden wasn’t far from anyone’s mind, the WorldSBK paddock paid tribute to The Kentucky Kid. With a minute’s silence, tribute videos, and the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the breeze as fans lined Donington Park, it was the racing that truly honored Hayden.

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Praëm BMW S1000RR – Getting Modern with Retros

04/29/2016 @ 2:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Praem-BMW-S1000RR-vintage-race-bike-02

We really like what we’ve seen so far from the guys at Praëm. Their first proper build, based off a Honda RC-51, was waaaay outside the box, and featured some really interesting design elements for us to chew on. Their follow-up to that work is no different.

The Praëm BMW S1000RR is a modern riff on the classic superbike design – think of it as a 21st century take on late-20th century racing.

As the name suggests, the donor bike is a BMW S1000RR, but the styling comes from something you would see in the 1980s – perhaps at the Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race, as Praëm suggests in their text.

The “Optimus Praëm” build is a logical, yet a highly more functional, response to what we have seen in the café racer scene as of late, and it bodes well for the future of the custom motorcycle community if more of the same is to come from other builders. Fingers crossed.

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