Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST. The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away. While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

Americas Top Öhlins Dealer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Daniel Laine Kyle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – known best for his speed shop, Kyle Racing – pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government earlier this week, after it was found that Kyle had been hiding cash-based purchases made at this business. Dan Kyle Racing is known best for being the largest Öhlins suspension dealership in the United States (if not the world), as the company offered aggressive pricing on the Swedish-born suspension, and was one of the first Öhlins dealers with an online presence in the early days of the internet. According to the plea agreement made between Kyle and the US Attorney’s Office, Kyle pleaded guilty to tax fraud and structuring currency transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements in the US Tax Code.

The 2017 Saroléa SP7 Is Ready for the Isle of Man TT

The focus for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT may center around Team Mugen’s dual entry with John McGuinness and Guy Martin, but one should not overlook this very attractive entry from Belgium. Saroléa is back for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, continuing with its state-of-the-art carbon fiber chassis goodness and retro fairing design. On board will once again be Dean Harrison, who will be gunning for a podium-finish on the 2017 Saroléa SP7. If looks alone could get you across the finish line, then Saroléa would have our vote. The Belgians have always been in the running for a strong result though, finishing 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. Maybe this year will be “their year” at the TT.

India Is Now the World’s Biggest Motorcycle Market

Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Motorcycle Patents

I am really excited about the Suzuki brand right now. Out of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the recession affected Suzuki the most, probably more than many people realize, but the Hamamatsu brand is poised to bring out some exciting machines in the coming few years. Could we finally see a turbocharged Suzuki this year though? The rumor mill is pointing to yes…but just pointing, and the reason is because of patents. Much of this internet rumors stems from a flood of patents that have been found, where Suzuki is patenting technology related to turbo-powered engines in motorcycles, or because of other patents that make reference or inference to being part of a turbocharged motorcycle.

No, Royal Enfield Isn’t Buying Ducati

I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

Spy photos from Austria have caught KTM testing a rather interesting motorcycle – one that does not run on a petroleum-based fuel, but rather it has an electric drivetrain at its core. This isn’t the first time that KTM has experimented with an electric motorcycle, of course, with the KTM Freeride E being available in select markets. However, the machine seen here is a pretty big step forward for the Austrian brand, from its modest electric dirt bike. Using the chassis of a KTM 390 Duke to house the battery, inverter, and motor, KTM’s electric street bike (we’ll call it the KTM E-Duke for now) looks like a rolling mess, but is what you would expect from a project in its early stages of development.

For the Geeks, Your Luke Skywalker HJC Helmet Is Here

I am a solid Star Wars geek, but not in the dress-up and go to a convention sort of way – if you know what I mean. But, this new lid from HJC might have me singing a different tune, as it mimics Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing “Red 5” fighter helmet, in a DOT legal ¾ helmet format. That’s just cool…in a really un-cool sort of way. Based off the budget-friendly HJC IS-5 helmet, this Luke Skywalker replica will cost roughly $180 when it comes out (at a date still to be determined). Additionally, 10 versions of the lid will be signed by Mark Hamill, and auctioned for charity (UNICEF and the Starlight Children’s Foundation), if your geekdom takes you in such a direction (and you have a four-figure wallet).

Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

The Rise and Fall of Danny Kent

“Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with,” Peter Bom, Danny Kent’s former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent. Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom’s three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.

Honda CBR250RR To Debut Next Week?

07/19/2016 @ 5:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

Honda-Light-Weight-Super-Sports-Concept

The reliable Indonesian news source TMC Blog is reporting that the 2017 Honda CBR250RR could debut next Monday. The news stems from Astra Honda Motor, the importer for Honda motorcycles in Indonesia, which sent out a press invite for a new Honda model that is to debut.

While an announcement like that could mean almost anything, the fact that Astra Honda Motor posted a teaser video of the Honda CBR250RR last week though gives us a pretty good hint as what to expect next week from Big Red.

TMC Blog reports that the Honda CBR250RR will sell for 60 million Indonesian rupiah, which at the current exchange rate is roughly $4,500 USD.

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Harley-Davidson Takeover Rumors Spur Wall Street, Again

07/07/2016 @ 9:59 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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If you believed the reports from the financial sector, Harley-Davidson is a prime candidate right now for a hostile takeover by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), a global private equity firm.

The news sent shockwaves through Wall Street, with Harley-Davidson’s stock gaining 20% in value in a single day, as investors tried to capitalize on the news.

You are just hearing about this news on Asphalt & Rubber though for two reasons, 1) I’ve been on either a motorcycle, plane, trolley, or car for the past few days (just getting back from Italy), and 2) we have seen this all this before, and it wasn’t pretty.

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Could a New Yamaha YZF-R6 Be Coming for 2017?

05/24/2016 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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It makes sense that Yamaha would be readying a new version of the venerable R6 supersport for us…finally. The current iteration has been essentially the same bike that originally debuted in 2008, though it saw mild updates in 2010 that sacrificed top-end for midrange power.

The Japanese OEMs are slowly getting back to their old selves though, when it comes to product design and new model debuts, and last year saw the Yamaha YZF-R1 get a major overhaul. It’s time for its 600cc sibling to do that same.

And, that seems to be the case, as rumors out of Japan and Europe are swirling about an all-new Yamaha YZF-R6 debuting later this year, as a 2017 model year machine.

The bulk of the rumors come from Japanese magazine Young Machine, which is famous for the new model concept renders that it publishes, but not so famous for their accuracy.

A&R has heard plenty of chatter about this bike outside of other reports though, so where there’s smoke…

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Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

04/21/2016 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

BMW-XDiavel-killer

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own.

This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic.

Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction.

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Yamaha MWT-9 Headed to Production?

02/22/2016 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Yamaha-MWT-9-concept

For most motorcyclists, the Yamaha MWT-9 isn’t exactly their cup of tea, as the three-wheeler has too many wheels, and it looks like it wandered off the set of next Predators movie. For a select few though, the Yamaha MWT-9 looks like a good time with the wind in your face.

Leaning multi-wheel vehicles have been heating up from the OEMs, especially from the Japanese manufacturers. The whole point behind them is to tap into a demographic that isn’t looking for something that resembles your typical motorcycle fare.

According to Britain’s Visordown publication, the Yamaha MWT-9 is headed into production, likely to debut within a year or two.

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More Rumors Swirl About a 2017 Suzuki GSX-R250

02/11/2016 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Suzuki is the last Japanese holdout when it comes to a proper small-displacement sport bike, something in the 250cc to 300cc range. Never fear though, there have been strong rumors that a Suzuki GSX-250 is in the works.

The name and displacement have been something of a matter of debate amongst varying sources, likely because it would be hard to imagine Suzuki bringing a 250cc machine to market, when its closest competitors keeping increasing their offerings beyond 250cc.

Similarly, we would expect to see Suzuki coming out with a two-cylinder machine, rather than a single-cylinder bike. Both Kawasaki and Yamaha have twin-cylidner bikes on the market, and Honda is expected to debut one of its own soon as well in the coming months.

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Here We Go Again, Honda V4 Superbike Rumors Abound

12/10/2015 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

RC213V-S

For the past decade or so, we have been promised a V4 superbike from Honda – one that’s been based off the Japanese manufacturer’s MotoGP program. The Honda RC213V-S is perhaps our closest realization of that promise, though the $184,000 price tag was considerably more than many envisioned.

Now the rumors are rife again, with a V4-powered superbike said to be coming our way for the 2017 model year, in parallel of course with a new inline-four powered CBR1000RR as well.

Like the rumors of old, this current excitement comes from the insatiably minds at MCN, and while there is certainly evidence for the rumor, when you drill down into the facts, Honda’s plan is far from certain.

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More Supercharged Motorcycles Coming from Kawasaki?

10/13/2015 @ 12:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The internet motosphere is buzzing right now with the idea that we will see some more supercharged models from Kawasaki for the 2016 model year.

The wave of news is really just the parroting of a report from Japanese publication Young Machine, which has a hit-or-miss record with predicting new models from the Japanese OEMs.

And as usual, some publications are mistakenly taking Young Machine’s photoshop renders as the genuine article, so we should dismiss this tom foolery out of hand, right? Not so fast.

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Ducati CEO Quashes Four-Cylinder Superbike Rumor

09/24/2015 @ 9:52 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

ducati-superquadro-engine

Well, the fun is over. Talking to MCN, Claudio Domenicali has laid to rest any rumors about the Ducati building a four-cylinder superbike to replace the Panigale.

The news confirms what everyone already expected to be the case, as it is hard to imagine a Ducati superbike model being anything other than a v-twin, World Superbike rules be damned.

“I can confirm there is no officially confirmed project at Ducati for a four-cylinder engine to replace the Panigale V-twin,” Domenicali confirmed to MCN. “There is no Ducati four-cylinder superbike planned.”

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Could Ducati’s New Model Be an Updated 899 Panigale?

08/05/2015 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Ducati-899-Panigale-sketch

When it comes to Ducati’s new model rumors, the only thing we know for certain is that in roughly two months’ time, the Bologna Brand will to debut, at a track in Spain, a new motorcycle.

Early speculation pegged that new model as a 1299-based Streetfighter – a model that we concluded we were unlikely to see in Spain, if for no other reason than it us a very “un-Ducati” way of launching an entirely new model motorcycle.

Taking a longer look at Ducati’s lineup, and having a few other rumors float our way, a more likely supposition would be an update/addition to the Ducati 899 Panigale, likely something along the lines of an “S” model.

The logic here is simple: 1) it isn’t crazy to see the two-year-old 899 Panigale get a refresh, 2) the model certainly fits the bill for an on-track debut, and the real kicker, 3) there is a $4,300 gap to bridge between the 899 ($14,995) and base model 1299 ($19,295).

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