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.

Within the motorcycle industry, Asphalt & Rubber has earned itself a reputation for breaking stories from our so-called “Bothan spies”, as insiders often tip us off to intriguing stories and happenings in the two-wheeled realm.

Just a few weeks ago, we got one of those interesting tips, one that said that Dainese was being put up for sale. So, we called the bossman himself, Dainese CEO Cristiano Silei (an announcement too that A&R was able to break because of our Bothan spies), to see what the story was all about, and indeed if the rumors were true.

The call resulted in a terse answer, and perhaps an expected response, but Silei also provided an interesting explanation of Dainese’s current investment position, and what results the company has seen since its purchase three years ago (another story that our Bothans were first to get the word on).

Continue Reading

More Rumors About Suzuki’s Turbo Project

12/11/2017 @ 1:18 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I had to go back through the Asphalt & Rubber pages to see when we first heard about Suzuki’s turbocharged motorcycle musings. For the record it was, just over four years ago when the Suzuki Recursion concept was teased at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Since then, we have seen a slow trickling of information about Suzuki’s turbocharged project, especially in the time since we got out first glimpse of the twin-cylinder 588cc concept engine.

When will the folks at Hamamatsu release this turbo bike? What form will it take? Is it the start of more forced-induction models from the Japanese brand? Or, will it be a one-off model? Does it wheelie?

These are all good questions, and if you believe the latest rumors, we have some answers for you.

Continue Reading

Is a Baby Africa Twin Coming from Honda?

12/08/2017 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Brits over at MCN have an interesting story right now, whereby Honda is considering making a middleweight version of its Africa Twin adventure-tourer.

Really, that thought isn’t so shocking, and if this year’s EICMA show was any indication of things, it’s that the middleweight ADV segment is of particular interest to motorcycle manufacturers right now.

One look at Honda’s lineup, and it is obvious that Big Red is missing something that can go head-to-head with bikes like the BMW F850GS and Triumph Tiger 800 (I’m willfully excluding the Japanese brands here), and the soon-to-come KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha Ténéré 700.

Continue Reading

Return of the Honda V4 Superbike Rumor

12/06/2017 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Call it the rumor the refuses to quit. I say this because there has been some form of “Honda V4 Superbike Coming Soon” speculation in the mix for about as long as I can remember.

Mind you, this is something that has been in the ether well before Asphalt & Rubber took form, and news of a Honda V4 superbike seems to pop-up just about every year, usually fuel by some “inside source” at Honda being quoted by a European magazine.

So, it seemed that the debut of the Honda RC213V-S would finally satiate this desire for a proper V4 liter-bike, but the disappoint of the “new” Honda CBR1000RR re-ignited the interest in there being a worthy successor of the Honda RC45.

Since then, there have been rumors and promises of a more affordable version of the Honda RC213V-S offered on the alter of moto-journalism, usually by the same offending sources. If only we could will this story to be true.

Cropping up yet again, this bout of the V4 rumor finds its beginnings in Japan now, with the popular Japanese publication Young Machine, tipping the idea.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Lewis Hamilton Edition MV Agusta F4 About to Debut

09/28/2017 @ 12:32 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Our friends at Motor.nl have a good scoop for Italian motorcycle fans, as MV Agusta is about to release later today a Lewis Hamilton edition of its iconic MV Agusta F4 motorcycle.

Like the MV Agusta Dragster RR that also brandishes the F1 stars name, this F4 is expected 1) to be mostly a visual exercise, and 2) show the furthering bond between the Italian marque and the British driver, which just renewed their contract with each other.

Meanwhile, rumors that Lewis Hamilton would wild card alongside Leon Camier at the next WorldSBK round appear to be unfounded, though profoundly intriguing to consider.

Continue Reading

Successful Surgery for Valentino Rossi

09/01/2017 @ 1:57 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Movistar Yamaha team has updated us on Valentino Rossi’s condition, as the MotoGP underwent surgery on his right leg earlier today.

Rossi was first examined at the Ospedale Civile di Urbino, where he was initially diagnosed, then he was transferred to the Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona, where the surgery was performed.

The team reports that the operation was a success, and that the doctors implanted metal pins (locking intramedullary nails, to be precise) into Rossi’s leg to hold the bones together.

Continue Reading

Movistar Yamaha has issued another press release about the condition of MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi, confirming that the nine-time World Champion has broken the tibia and fibula bones on his right leg.

As such, Valentino Rossi will undergo immediate surgery to correct the fractures. The condition of the 38-year-old racer will be updated Friday morning, but it seems likely that this news dashes Rossi’s MotoGP Championship hunt for this season.

This is because a displaced fracture is a serious injury, as it means that Rossi has broken his bones in several places, and the pieces of the those fractured bones are not set correctly to heal on their own.

Continue Reading

Movistar Yamaha Confirms Valentino Rossi Injury

08/31/2017 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

After reports from Italy told of Valentino Rossi breaking his leg in an enduro training accident, we have been waiting for confirmation of that news from an official source.

Now getting on top of this evolving story, the Movistar Yamaha team has confirmed that the nine-time World Champion has been involved in a training accident, and that he was taken to the Ospedale Civile di Urbino for a medical check-up.

Continue Reading

Valentino Rossi Fractures Leg in Training Accident

08/31/2017 @ 12:59 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Reports from Europe are saying that Valentino Rossi has broken his leg while training on an enduro bike.

Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport, says that the nine-time World Champion has sustained a “suspected fracture of the tibia and fibula” and that Rossi is expected to go into surgery tonight to repair the injury.

We should caution that these reports have not yet been confirmed, with Yamaha yet to comment on the injury, but if true they could have dire consequences for Rossi’s bid to be the 2017 MotoGP World Champion.

Continue Reading