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For the 2019 model year, we say goodbye to the Honda CBR650F, a fine enough machine in its own right, but one that didn’t exactly set the world on fire, and instead we say hello to the Honda CBR650R, which gets a more aggressive styling and a bevy of features, to help it earn that “R” designation at the end of its name.

Easy to sport is that the new bodywork, which draws a direct line to the Honda CBR1000RR superbike, the Honda CBR650R comes also with a sportier riding position, and the electronics and feature package to match.







It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about the actions of Romano Fenati at the San Marino GP, where he reached out and grabbed the front brake lever of a competitor’s bike, while going over 120 mph.

The act saw immediate outrage in the MotoGP paddock. It led to Fenati being sacked by his 2018 squad, the Marinelli Snipers Team, and then booted from his 2019 outfit, the MV Agusta Moto2 team being lead by Forward Racing.

A two-race ban by the FIM Stewards also was handed down to the 22-year-old, which was later turned into a ban from racing for the rest of the year by the FIM. Soon afterwards, Fenati announced his intention to quit motorcycle racing all together, and the matter seemed finally at its conclusion.







Forever has been short-lived however, as rumors from the MotoGP paddock tip that “Naughty Fenati” will be back on the race track next year, returning for the 2019 Moto3 season with the same Marinelli Snipers Team…the same team that fired him earlier this season.







It is not uncommon for manufacturer to merely update a motorcycle’s graphics package for a new model year, even if no other mechanical changes are coming. It helps keep the bike fresh in the consumers’ eyes, and perhaps it is just enough to lure some would-be buyers into a purchase.

This started the marketing phrase “bold new graphics” to be uttered when such visual refreshes occurred, but in the past decade or so, the phrase has taken on more of an ironic meaning to show that no new changes are coming for a particular motorcycle model, leaving only the color change to be touted.

In the case of the MV Agusta F3, however, the phrase “bold new graphics” is quite literal, as the graphics are indeed bold in color and application, and they are a bit of a departure from what we would expect from the Italian brand.













Interesting news today on the business front of the powersports industry, as Tenneco Inc. announced its intention to purchase Öhlins Racing A.B. for $160 million.

The move would see Tenneco own a majority stake in Öhlins, while a minority position in the company would remain with founder and namesake Kenth Öhlin.

The move is an interesting one since Tenneco has been in the suspension business before, owning the Marzocchi suspension brand.













In our round-ups of the EICMA show of Milan, I am not sure if we have saved the best for last, but we certainly have saved the most important for last. There has been no shortage of news from MV Agusta this month already, and the Italian brand ran a skillful guerrilla campaign in Milan this year - a show that takes place in the company's own backyard.

In this month alone, MV Agusta has announced a €40 million investment, a new CEO, a new four-cylinder platform, and a bevy of special edition models. Recently too, the iconic motorcycle brand has entered into the Moto2 World Championship, withdrawn from the World Superbike paddock, and positioned itself as the ultra-premium offering in the two-wheeled space.

So, what does this all mean? Well...we certainly have a lot to talk about.

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If you happen to find yourself desiring the Ducati Panigale V4 R superbike (we can hardly blame you for such thoughts), then you better start figuring out which kidney you like the least, as the 998cc V4 rocket machine will cost quite the pretty penny in the United States.

This is because the Ducati Panigale V4 R is priced at $40,000 MSRP for the 2019 model year, in the pricing details that our Bothan spies have passed along to us.

That figure for the Ducati Panigale V4 R mimics the €39,900 price tag in Europe, which comes right up to the limit of the WorldSBK homologation requirements, which cap bikes at €40,000. In the UK, this pre-Brexit price on the Panigale V4 R will be £34,995.













This video is a bit of marketing piece (a bit might be putting it lightly), but we can’t help but drool over the exhaust that Akrapovič made for the Ducati Panigale V4 R superbike.

Mixed with a race ECU, the serpentine twists of the Akrapovič pipes help coax 231hp from what used to be a 217hp machine in its stock form.

That is a proper WorldSBK level power figure…all from a street bike. It might be a $40,000 street bike sure, but it still runs on pump gas and comes with a two-year warranty and 7,500-mile service intervals.













Yesterday, we brought you photos of the Honda CRF450L Rally concept – a machine that Big Red was quietly debuting at the EICMA show in Milan.

And now today, thanks to our friends at American Honda, we have not only a bunch of new high-resolution photos for you to drool over, as well as a few details on this machine.

Before we get to it though, we want to make an above-the-fold plea to anyone who might be reading in Honda factory back in Japan…







Please Honda, please pretty please, make this motorcycle a production model. Don’t change a thing. Just build it. Thank you.







Sometimes, I wonder why brands debut their machines at the EICMA, or any trade show for that matter, but especially the one in Milan.

Asphalt & Rubber published close to 50 new bike stories from Milan, and we still have a few more minor announcements to get out the door, so imagine for a minute that you are the marketing manager for a brand which  is trying to stand out in that crowd.

This EICMA marked the first year where we really saw some brands abandoning the rat race of EICMA, choosing to release their new models ahead of the show, in order to generate some buzz, and dominate the headlines for a day or two. 

And, no one executed this strategy better than Aprilia.

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Done and dusted, the EICMA show in Milan is the biggest trade event in the motorcycle industry, and each year we see dozens and dozens of machines debut in Italy, with much fanfare.

With the bevy of new model releases that occur though, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. So, we are going to break down the big headlines and moments from this new bike season for you, starting with one of our most talked about brands: Ducati.

Ducati traditionally starts off the EICMA festivities, hosting a pre-event somewhere in Milan days before EICMA. The day of this launch seems to get pushed back further and further each year, as other brands have jockeyed for position, and so this year's pre-event event was held on the Sunday before EICMA.

To its credit, Ducati does EICMA right, and the Italian company has honed to perfection the balance between of hosting a live event for gathered press and VIPs that is also suitable and entertaining enough to be broadcast live on Italian TV and across the internet.

The EICMA show unveiling might be geared now for mainstream consumption, but for those in the industry there are still some valuable inferences to learn from what is said...and what isn't said.

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When the Honda CRF450 Rally debuted for rally raid competitors in 2012, there was a cry for a production model of this Dakar-ready dirt bike. It took a while, but Big Red finally answer…sort of.

The Honda CRF250L Rally wasn’t exactly the bike that we expect to see in 2015, and it took over a year (and many, many teasings) for the concept to become a reality for the 2017 model year.

The 250cc platform was an interesting choice for Honda to make for its race-replica dirt bike, especially with the underwhelming debut of the CRF250L model, and thus the want for a 450cc version continued.







Now with the potent CRF450L on the market, it looks like that idea is starting to take shape…though, you would hardly know it from the Japanese brand’s actions at EICMA.