Ben Spies Making a Return to Motorcycle Racing?

Could we see the return of Ben Spies to motorcycle racing? That’s the talk of the paddock right now, and the former MotoGP racer is helping fuel the fires with his social media posts. Our sources point to Spies gearing up for a return to domestic racing, as he looks to ride in the MotoAmerica Championship (presumably on a superbike), and possibly also as a team owner as well, fielding his own entry. This should come as a surprising but welcomed bit of news to motorcycle racing fans, as the 33-year-old seemingly retired from motorcycle racing after the 2013 MotoGP Championship season, after extensive damage to his shoulders seemed to rule him out of a future of racing motorcycles.

Ducati Will Stay as a Part of Volkswagen

Reports out of Italy are confirming the news that Ducati will remain as a part of the Volkswagen Group, with the German company ceasing its pursuits of divesting the Italian motorcycle company from its ranks. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Ducati’s business situation, as reports of the divestiture stalling out were circulating this time last month. The news seems to come with a bonus, with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali reportedly confirming the news internally (other reports quote Audi CEO Rupert Stadler doing the same as well). With that, Evercore Partners – the investment bank that was hired to solicit bids on Ducati Motor Holding – will stop pursuing brands that may want to see Ducati within their corporate holdings.

Rumor: Street-Touring Version of the Kawasaki H2 Coming?

I like this rumor. I like what this rumor says. And, I like that this rumor doesn’t seem to go away. The scuttlebutt of the motorcycle industry right now is suggesting that the street-shredding Kawasaki Ninja H2 might be joined by a sport-touring variant. This Kawasaki Ninja H2 GT – as some are calling it – takes the potent supercharged liter-bike, and makes it a little bit better suited for long-distance riding…well, as better suited to touring that a 200hp+ fire-breathing motorcycle can be. It remains to be seen how Kawasaki plans to expand its supercharger lineup of motorcycles: whether these rumored new machines will vary slightly in form-factor to accommodate different kinds of riding (using the current H2 as a platform for new models), or if Kawasaki will debut an all-new chassis design for these rumored motorcycles.

Solid-State Batteries, A Game-Changer for EVs?

This week’s big news is that California is looking at how it can join China, France, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in the banning of internal combustion engines in the coming decade(s), a move that will surely be a shot in the arm for electric vehicles. While the social and political pressures are coming into alignment for electric cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the technology for these next-generation vehicles is still not fully baked, and the biggest rate-limiter for EVs are their batteries. That is about to change, however, with solid-state batteries (a battery that has both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes) looking like the silver bullet that could make electric vehicles comparable in performance and price to their internal combustion counterparts.

Investigator Releases Report on Nicky Hayden Crash

On May 17th, 2017, Nicky Hayden was out training on his bicycle, near the Adriatic Coast, when he was struck by car in an intersection very close to the Misano World Circuit. The incident would prove to be a fateful one, and send ripples through the motorcycle industry, as Hayden died five days later in a hospital outside of Rimini, Italy. Since then, the accident has been under investigation by the local prosecutor, and the results of that forensic investigation have now been released to the public. Reconstructing the incident through statements made by the driver, eyewitnesses, and CCTV video footage, the investigation has found fault on both sides of the crash – assigning 30% of the blame to Nicky Hayden, for running the stop sign, and 70% of the blame to the driver, for excessive speed.

California Considers Killing Internal Combustion

Bloomberg is reporting that California Governor Jerry Brown is considering ways to ban the sale of vehicles that use internal combustion engines – a move that could have massive implications not only for vehicle sales, the environment, but potentially the motorcycle industry as well. Still in the early days of consideration, the news comes from remarks made by Mary Nichols, who is the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and her remarks and relaying of thought from Gov. Brown don’t make it clear if the ban would apply only to passenger vehicles, or if it would include modes of transportation like trucks, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles. However, the move mimics similar bans that we have already seen in places like China, and follows a trend that is catching on in European countries as well.

MV Agusta F4 LH44 Limited Edition Debuts

Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta, and Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton have re-upped their contract for collaboration, and one of the first fruits of that labor is a limited edition MV Agusta F4 superbike. Confirming our story from earlier today, the MV Agusta F4 LH44 picks up where the MV Agusta Dragster RR LH44 left off, adding Hamilton’s “unique” tastes and stylings to MV Agusta’s tapestry of motorcycles. Like with the MV Agusta F4 RC, the exercise is primarily visual, though like on the RC edition, MV Agusta adds its race kit to the package, which is good for a claimed 212hp. The big technical change of note is the titanium race exhaust from SC Project, which does away with the beautiful four-pipe undertail exhaust that Massimo Tamburini made famous.

Eugene Laverty Explains His 2017 WorldSBK Season

A return to World Superbike, with the bike that he came so close to winning the championship on – it all appeared like a dream opportunity for Eugene Laverty, to put himself into a position to win the title. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare, and from the start of winter testing it was clear that major work needed to be done to return the RSV4 to the front. Moving to the Milwaukee Aprilia squad understandably led to heightened expectations. In their second year in WorldSBK, the former British Superbike champions were expected to make a leap forward. Teething problems were expected with the switch from BMW to Aprilia, but not the struggles that lay ahead. “During the winter you can go in the wrong direction with the bike,” commented Laverty. “Unfortunately, that was the case for us.”

Superbike Deathmatch Round #1: Aprilia vs. Ducati

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Asphalt & Rubber’s 2017 Superbike Deathmatch – our take on the motorcycle media’s superbike shootout review format, and the solitary path for a motorcycle to become the A&R Superbike of 2017. For those just tuning into the Superbike Deathmatch, the rules are easy. In each round, two bikes enter the race track, but only one bike leaves. We have six motorcycles from the eight superbike manufacturers on the market. For our first round, we have started things off with a special treat, and a battle for the right to call a bike the “Best Italian Superbike” on the market. That’s right, we are going to pit the Ducati 1299 Panigale S against the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Leak Online

What you see here are early leaked photos of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing – one of the most successful and important motorcycles for the Western markets. Honda is expected to debut this new model at a media event in October, but our friends at MaxxMoto and Oliepeil managed to get their dirty Dutch-speaking mits on these low-res gems, ahead of time. Beyond the styling refresh, the most obvious change that we can see for the Honda Goldwing is the new front-end, which appears to be a Hossack-styled design – similar to what BMW uses on its K-series motorcycles. The engine continues to be a flat-six, from the view in the photos, though we can expect some changes to the massive block – likely with fewer emissions, maybe with more torque/power.

Recall: BMW R nineT

08/29/2017 @ 10:51 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Today we have news of the fifth (#1, #2, #3, & #4 here) BMW Motorrad recall in roughly a month’s time, as 3,368 units of the BMW R nineT (2014-2017 model years) are being recalled for swingarm pivot pin bolt that may loosen itself.

The issue stems from a supplier production process error, where one or more bolts that connect the right-side pivot pin to the frame may loosen as a result of an improper specification of the chamfer cutting process in the frame. 

As a result, proper clamp force may not have been achieved during final torqueing process. If the right-hand side pivot pin to the frame loosens itself, it can affect the handling and stability of the motorcycle, which increases the chances of a crash.

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Our Bothan Spies came through once again this EICMA season, bringing us news that the BMW Lac Rose Concept would enter production as the 2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S motorcycle.

As the name implies, the Urban G/S is based off the BMW R nineT platform, which means that it uses the iconic 1,170cc, 110hp, air-cooled, boxer-twin engine as its base, and then builds out from there.

As such, the chassis is the same modular frame that powers the rest of the R nineT line, complete with telescoping fork suspension at the front, along with a 19″ wheel wire-spoked wheel in the front, and a 17″ wire-spoked wheel in the rear.

All of this means that the BMW R nineT is mostly an aesthetic exercise – but it is quite the exercise, if you want our opinion.

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In addition to updating the BMW R1200GS for the 2017 model year, our sources tell us that the BMW Lac Rose concept will debut as a production model at the EICMA show next month in Milan, Italy.

Based off the BMW R nineT platform, the Lac Rose (not the name that BMW will use once it debuts) will serve as the Bavarian brand’s heritage ADV bike, keeping its obvious themes to the Dakar Rally in place, with the proper amount of nostalgia for the category.

This should give O.G. airheads a proper air-cooled throwback ADV bike option (say that three times fast), which will serve as a counterpoint to the updates we can expect from the 2017 BMW R1200GS and the revisions we have already seen for the 2017 BMW S1000XR.

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Pure & Simple, Here is the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure

10/04/2016 @ 2:36 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Ever since we saw its name published in the California Air Resources Board documents, we have been speculating what could be “pure” about the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure motorcycle. Today, at INTERMOT, we get that answer.

We might be mildly disappointed that the BMW Lac Rose Concept is not one of the two new models for the trade show in Germany, though it shouldn’t surprise us to see that BMW is taking another styling exercise with its R nineT platform – albeit a more simple one, this time around.

One of two new bikes based off the air-cooled BMW R nineT platform for 2017, the BMW R nineT Pure is supposed to harken back to a more classic time for motorcycles.

An extension of the heritage line that BMW is creating with the R nineT, the Pure and Racer two sides of an older coin.

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Recall: BMW R nineT

09/21/2016 @ 1:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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A recall has been issued for the BMW R nineT, affecting bikes from both the 2014 and 2015 model years. The recall is being issued because the design for the rear turn signals may be obscured, for drivers following behind the motorcycle.

Since the light assembly does not comply with the provisions of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment,” this recall was issued through NHTSA.

All said, the recall affects 1,792 machines, those manufactured between November 27, 2013, through January 26, 2015.

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Two New BMW Models Debuting a INTERMOT

09/12/2016 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Every other year, the motorcycle industry gathers in Cologne, Germany in October, for the INTERMOT trade expo. The show provides a good alternative for the Germanic brands to launch new machines, with BMW and KTM often showcasing new models at the show. This year will be no different.

To that end, BMW Motorrad is already getting its hype machine warmed up, telling us that several models will debut updates in Cologne. More importantly, zie Germans tell us that two new motorcycles will also debut at the INTERMOT show.

What those models will be is certainly the conjecture du jour, since there are several possibilities that BMW Motorrad could be working on.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that BMW often leaves something interesting for the yearly EICMA show in Milan, Italy, which happens a month later, in the first week of November. This might make decoding BMW’s game plan all but impossible, but we can still give it a try.

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Two New BMW R nineT Models Coming

08/16/2016 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) suggest that BMW Motorrad has two more variations of its retro-styled motorcycle line coming to the USA: the BMW R nineT Pure and the BMW R nineT Racer.

These two bikes would join the other two air-cooled models we have already seen from the Germans, the base model BMW R nineT and the recently released BMW R nineT Scrambler, which debuted at EICMA last year.

Our friends at Motorcycle.com spotted the CARB filings, and believe one of the machines will be based off the BMW Lac Rose concept – an ADV throw-back to when the Dakar Rally actually raced to Dakar.

The other model though, could be anyone’s guess, as BMW hasn’t dropped any other concepts or hints in the past months.

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BMW Motorrad On Track For Another Record Sales Year

07/07/2016 @ 6:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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BMW Motorrad has tallied the sales results for the first half of 2016, and the German manufacturer is on track for another record sales year. BMW says that over 80,000 motorcycles have been sold in the first six months of this year, which is itself a record for the marque.

To be precise, 80,754 BMW motorcycles were sold so far in 2016, a 3% increase over this time last year. Unsurprisingly, Germany remains the strongest market for BMW Motorrad, with 13,792 units sold thus far this year (17% of BMW’s total production).

However, BMW Motorrad saw strong results as well in Spain (+22.6%), Italy (+6.9%) and France (+5.6%). BMW Motorrad also leads the 500cc+ market in Spain, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Russia, Brazil, and South Africa.

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BMW R nineT Scrambler Mega Gallery

11/17/2015 @ 3:12 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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BMW Motorrad says that the BMW R nineT Scrambler model revives a chapter in the German brand’s storybook, where BMWs of the 1960’s and 1970’s were fitted with knobby tires and high-mount exhaust, and were prominent on both road and trail.

The scrambler heritage model is a popular one nowadays, and BMW Motorrad is using one of its few remaining 110hp, 1,1700c, air-cooled engines to power the retro-styled BWM R nineT, and now the BMW R nineT Scrambler.

In an unusual move for BMW, the R nineT Scrambler features telescope forks, which are mounted right-side up. The front wheel is a cast 19″ unit stock, while the rear is 17″ hoop. Both wheels are stopped with ABS brakes that are axially mounted, and can be replaced with laced wheels.

The bike is Euro4 compliant, but we think would-be owners are going to be more concerned with the accessories packages available for the BMW R nineT Scrambler, which take the Scrambler from road bike to trail machine.

We’ve got 90 high-resolution photos of the BMW R nineT Scrambler after the jump, for your viewing pleasure.

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BMW R nine T Scrambler Will Come in Two Models?

11/15/2015 @ 1:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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An Asphalt & Rubber reader dropped off these two photos, showing the 2016 BMW R nineT Scrambler in its two trim levels.

Our reader goes on to say that the base model will be the road-going model we have already seen in a leaked video, while a pricer “off-road” model will include knobby tires, wire wheels, and ADV farkles.

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