Erik Buell’s Newest Project Is an Electric Street Bike

Erik Buell, we have missed thee. It has been almost a year since we last reported on the demise of Erik Buell Racing, but it has been over two years since we talked about the man himself. What has Buell been up to? Well, from the look of things, making a pivot into the electric motorcycle arena, it seems. Teaming up with New York City boutique bike brand, Vanguard Motorcycles, as well as Formula E car supplier, SPARK Racing Technologies, Buell is part of the new VanguardSpark venture. For its debut, VanguardSpark has two machines on offer. The first is an electric motorcycle (above), called the VanguardSpark Commuter. It’s a simple design, which we don’t find terribly appealing, though one should always reserve some judgments when only looking at a concept machine.

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.

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 hurry” SoCal drivers?

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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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Gone Riding: Benelli TnT 135

04/05/2018 @ 5:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We have covered extensively the rise of the small-displacement motorcycle segment here at Asphalt & Rubber, and today we are swinging a leg over a bike that is probably well off your radar, the Benelli TnT 135.

Benelli is better known for its larger sport bikes in the US market, with the Italian brand making an exodus from our two-wheeled lexicon at the turn of the century.

Now under ownership by China’s Qianjiang Group, Benelli is better known for its smaller motorcycles, which sell better in emerging markets than they do in the United States.

American importer SSR Motorsports is hoping to change that, and today we have sent motorcycling’s favorite wild man, Adam Waheed, to go ride the Benelli TnT 135 in SoCal and report back to us on this unique brand and motorcycle.

Per our new review format, Adam will be giving you a live assessment of the Benelli TnT 135 right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there he will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the TnT 135, before even Adam’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Benelli personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #TnT135

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Gear Review: Shoei NEOTEC II Modular Helmet

04/02/2018 @ 3:30 pm, by Andrew KohnADD COMMENTS

So, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat; I’ve always been a full-face helmet guy. The feeling of my cranium ensconced in layers of fiberglass and impact absorbing foam, with a solid chin-bar, has always provided me with a certain level of comfort and confidence while riding.

While some enjoy the wind in their face and bugs in their teeth, I truly prefer the soothing quietness and comfort that only a full-faced cocoon can provide.

Now don’t get me wrong, a full-face helmet is not the most convenient device once the wheels stop and the rest stop starts.

I’ve often envied my friends with their flip-front helmets, chatting easily with each other, having a drink without cramming a straw under their chin bar, and their ability to walk into a gas station, lid still on their head, without causing concerns about a robbery.

But I’ve always questioned the safety of a flip front helmet. I’m not a particularly handsome man, so the idea of the flip-front helmet failing during an accident, allowing my face to slide along the highway, thus making me even less handsome, was always unappealing. So what’s a man to do?

Well, it seems that the folks at Shoei were listening and invited me to the introduction of their NEOTEC II modular helmet.

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Gone Riding: In Morocco with Bridgestone

03/20/2018 @ 11:50 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Apologies if things have been a bit sparse here the last few days, as I’ve been making yet another trans-Atlantic crossing…my third in just seven days.

The trip has been worth it though, as I have been fortunate enough to ride in Morocco with Bridgestone the last few days, testing out the new Battlax A41 adventure-touring tire, and the Battlax T31 sport-touring tire.

Because of the schedule, we are going to have to Tarantino this “Gone Riding” post a little, and do thing in reverse, but there is plenty to talk about.

Our routes have been based out of Ouarzazate (productions like Gladiator and Game of Thrones have been filmed here), and it is a high-desert terrain with red rocks and plenty of sand and wind.

With two different tires, I have been on a host of bikes as well. On the Battlax A41, it was the BMW 1200GS Rallye, KTM 1290 Adventure S, and the Honda Africa Twin; while for the Battlax T31, it was the Suzuki GSX-S1000F, BMW R1200R, and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

Feel free to pick my brain about the new Bridgestone tires, the bikes I have been on, and what it is like to visit Morocco and the Ouarzazate region.

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 #BattlaxA41 & #BattlaxT31

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Gone Riding: MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR

03/13/2018 @ 12:14 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Hello and good morning to a cold but dry Varese, Italy – the home of MV Agusta and just a stone’s throw away from Milan and the Dolomite mountain range.

Today we are riding the Euro4-spec MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR, and our course will be a street ride, around the region’s Lago Maggiore – a large lake not too far from the MV Agusta factory.

The current MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR isn’t exactly a new model, but it is one that has gotten lost in the shuffle with the Italian brand’s lengthy history of financial troubles

Historically one of the best-selling machines in the MV Agusta lineup, the Brutale 800 RR is a bike that I have been looking forward to riding for quite a while now, after I was first impressed with the changes made to the Euro4-spec Brutale 800 a few years ago.

The big difference between the Brutale 800 RR and the Brutale 800 is the engine, with the RR making 140hp from its three-cylinder power plant, an increase of roughly 30hp over the base model.

As you can imagine, the torque curve is considerably further up the rev range on the RR as well, which should make for a sportier ride. It’s not all roses though, and hopefully MV Agusta has been tackling my list of complaints to an otherwise awesome machine.

Will the Brutale 800 RR be just as fun to ride as the Brutale 800? That’s what we are hear to find out…well, that and whether its worth the $3,800 price difference ($18,498 MSRP here in the USA) over the base model.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Brutale 800 RR, before even my own proper review is posted (Italian cell service permitting). As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the MV Agusta personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #MVAgusta & #Brutale800RR

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I always joke with industry folk that “it’s called Asphalt & Rubber for a reason,” as I am a dyed in the wool street bike guy. So when Alta Motors invited A&R to ride the new Alta Redshift MXR, I knew there were better people for the job than I.

This is where heterosexual life partner Carlin Dunne comes into the mix. On top of being one of the fastest men ever up Pikes Peak on two wheels, as well as the fastest electric motorcycle to compete in The Race to the Clouds, Carlin is an accomplished off-road racer – both with and without a motor between his legs.

So, we sent Carlin down to Southern California to ride Alta’s newest machines, and with already a bevy of time in the saddle on electric motorcycles, I can’t think of a better person’s opinion for these electron-powered off-road racers. I think you will find his insights very interesting. -JB

It was a crisp mid-week morning as we pulled into Perris Raceway for the 2018 Alta Motors product launch. Backed up against a boulder strewn hillside, opening up into a open valley, Perris MX offered a unique backdrop for the unveiling of a uncommon motorcycle.

The weird new kid usually gets picked last for dodge ball, so in its sophomore year, Alta hopes its 2018 offerings and their undeniable performance numbers will get them on the court in the brutally competitive MX bike market.

And here we are today at Perris raceway, being presented with two models from their 2018 range, the competitively priced Redshift MX and the new Redshift MXR.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #72 – The Lost Episode

02/28/2018 @ 5:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Have you ever lost the key to your bike? Forgotten where you parked? Can’t remember your last dank whoolie? Episode 72 is kinda of like that for us.

What should have been something like the 68th episode in our queue, comes to us today as the great Lost Episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast. It’s a good one too.

In it, we talk about what it’s like to ride the new Honda Gold Wing, as well as the new Ducati Panigale V4. Quentin also gets a few good kickstand jokes in there, and my asshole cat even makes an appearance.

All in all, pretty standard podcasting fodder from your favorite enthusiasts podcast.

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. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Gone Riding: Alta Motors Redshift MXR

02/28/2018 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

One of my more favorite phrases to tell people is that it is called Asphalt & Rubber for reason, as I am very much a sport bike / street bike sort of guy. That is why I sent hot-shoe Carlin Dunne down to SoCal today to ride the brand new Alta Motors Redshift MXR motocross bike.

Revised with a bevy of improvements over Alta’s original Redshift MX model, the MXR is designed to be a proper race bike. So, we had Carlin pack some extra postage stamps, with explicit instructions go send it.

With 50hp packed into a 259 lbs body, the Redshift MXR has some promising specs, but beyond the spec-sheet, the electric dirt bike brings a new twist to riding an MX course, namely with promises for better hookup and more traction.

How does it work in the wild though? Well, we are going to ride it and find out.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Alta Redshift MXR right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Redshift MXR, before even Carlin’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Alta personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #RedshiftMXR

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Gone Riding: Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

02/25/2018 @ 9:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Riding bikes is what we do, and the dude abides, so I am out here in Moab, Utah swinging a leg over the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa – the British brand’s fully loaded middleweight off-road focused adventure-touring bike.

Kitted with extra goodness, the XCa is the more premium counterpart to Triumph’s other off-road 800cc model, the Tiger 800 XRx…and if you are confused by Hinckley’s alphabet soup, don’t worry, you are not alone.

To be clear, the Tiger 800 XCa is the fully-loaded off-road model, complete with a 21″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel. It includes also things like a heated seat and grips, an aluminum radiator guard, and LED lighting, 

New for the 2018 model year is a bevy of updates, namely a revised dash and smoother three-cylinder engine. Triumph says that there are over 200 changes to the Tiger 800, though you would have a hard time seeing them. This truly a model refresh, not a new machine.

Still, these are welcomed updates to the class-leader, and I have high hopes for riding the XCa on Moab’s dusty and dirty trails – the previous edition was a very capable off-roader, after all.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Triumph personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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