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.

Ducati Panigale V4 Spotted in Photo

09/04/2017 @ 6:42 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Later this week, Ducati will debut its Desmosedici Stradale engine, the new 90° V4 engine that will power Ducati’s next superbike (amongst other models). To see Ducati’s next superbike though, we’ll have to wait until November’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy…or will we?

This photo is going around the internet, purporting to show the new “Panigale V4” superbike. The photo looks legit, and looks very similar to the spy photos that we have seen of the Ducati’s new superbike machine.

Continue Reading

Come Listen to the Ducati V4 Superbike Sing

08/23/2017 @ 11:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Our Belgian friends at MaxxMoto continue to have the pulse on the upcoming Ducati V4 Superbike, posting today what appears to be th first sounds of the four-cylinder machine as it’s being ridden around a test track.

The sound of the V4 engine can be clearly distinguished from that of Ducati’s v-twin platform, with the bike sounding very similar to the Aprilia RSV4 – a nod that Ducati will be using a “big bang” or “long bang” cylinder firing order, rather than a “screamer” or “twin pulse” arrangement.

We do know that Ducati’s V4 will be a hybrid design of Superquadro and Desmosedici engine designs, and it will of course feature desmodromic valve technology

We expect to get more details about the V4 superbike’s engine technology at a media event in two weeks’ time (the Thursday before the San Marino GP at the Misano World Circuit), and of course we expect the bike itself to debut at this year’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

Until then, keep checking back to Asphalt & Rubber for the latest news on Ducati’s V4 superbike project.

Continue Reading

Ducati V4 Superbike Spotted Again, More Details Revealed

06/28/2017 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Ducati V4 Superbike Spotted Again, More Details Revealed

For the second time in a week, we have spy photos of the Ducati V4 superbike. Like before, the new superbike model is still in its unfinished state, with testing equipment strapped to its frame and bodywork.

Even in its pre-production state though, the new V4 machine reveals some of its secrets, the most notable of which is its frame/chassis design. It also teases us that the V4 model will look very similar to its predecessor.

Continue Reading

First Images of the Ducati V4 Superbike Appear

06/23/2017 @ 12:27 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on First Images of the Ducati V4 Superbike Appear

We should have officially named this week Ducati Week, because the Italian brand can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. First, it was the announcement that the “Final Edition” of the Ducati 1299 Panigale would debut at Laguna Seca (the details of which leaked yesterday, too).

Then, it was news that Harley-Davidson might become the owner of Ducati Motor Holding, after news of Ducati’s possible divestiture from the Volkswagen Group has been swirling in business circles for the better part of the past few months.

And now, we have what look like the first photos of Ducati’s V4 superbike project, courtesy of our Belgian friends at MaxxMoto.

Continue Reading

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

05/03/2017 @ 11:20 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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.

Continue Reading

More Photos of the New Ducati Multistrada 939

10/13/2016 @ 6:00 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2017-ducati-multistrada-939-spy-photo-01

For the 2017 model year, Ducati will release a smaller version of its popular adventure-tourer, dubbed the Ducati Multistrada 939. As the name suggests, this new Multistrada will use the 937cc v-twin engine that is found on the current Ducati Hypermotard, and recently released Ducati SuperSport.

Photos reveal that the 2017 Ducati Multistrada 939 will have a double-sided swingarm, helping to distinguish it from the Multistrada 1200, which uses a single-sided swingarm.

What is harder to glean from the photos though is that Ducati is said to have made the Multistrada 939 physically smaller than the Multistrada 1200, offering a lower seat height and overall lower riding height than its larger sibling.

Continue Reading

BMW G310GS Spied, Again

10/10/2016 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

2017-bmw-g310gs-spy-photo

BMW Motorrad’s pint-sized adventure, the BMW G310GS, has been spied again, this time in motion on a public road. Looking ready in production trim, we surely will see the small-displacement model debut next month at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

This is the second time that the 2017 BMW G310GS has been spied in recent days, giving us a good idea of what to expect from this ~300cc ADV machine.

The styling takes a strong resemblance to the BMW R1200GS, likely to help forge a relation between the iconic adventure bike with its new smaller sibling.

At the core of course is the same 313cc single-cylinder engine that powers the BMW G310R street bike. This should give the BMW G310GS roughly 34hp at the crank, and a mass that is around the 350 lbs mark, wet and fully fueled.

Continue Reading

A Pint-Sized ADV Bike Spotted, The BMW G310GS

10/03/2016 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2017-bmw-g310gs-spy-photo

When the BMW G310R debuted, we knew that the Germans would use its small-displacement machine as a platform for other models.

There have been hints that one of those models could be a 300cc-ish adventure bike, and now we get out first glimpse of the so-called BMW G310GS, thanks to Italian magazine Motociclismo.

It’s not clear if we’ll see the 2017 BMW G310GS at this week’s INTERMOT show, or if BMW Motorrad will save the bike for November’s EICMA show, in Italy. Either scenario is equally plausible, and this is something we’ve already covered here at Asphalt & Rubber.

Continue Reading

A Baby Version of the Ducati Multistrada Cometh?

09/20/2016 @ 4:22 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

2017-ducati-multistrada-939-spy-photo

The above photo was sent to the Italian website Moto.it by one of its readers, and it is supposedly a photo of an upcoming new version of the Ducati Multistrada, which is physically smaller than the current 1200cc model.

Presumably, this would make the machine in question then the Ducati Multistrada 939, thus adding to the Euro4 compliant engine’s call to action for the 2017 model year.

We say this all hypothetically however, because it is hard to verify anything from this photo…beyond the very obvious double-sided swingarm setup.

Continue Reading

Hi, Are You the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR?

09/13/2016 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler85 COMMENTS

2017-honda-cbr1000rr-similarities

If you were hoping that the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR would be a completely new machine for sport bike enthusiasts, the following might disappoint you.

This is because photos published on Twitter seem to suggest that the 2017 Honda Fireblade will get mostly cosmetic changes for the upcoming model year.

As you can see after the jump, what looks like the new CBR1000RR was caught lapping for what appears to be a PR video spot for the Japanese OEM.

While it is clear from these shots that the pictured Honda CBR1000RR has a radically new fairing design, a closer comparison to the chassis (see above) suggests that the machine is simply the current generation machine, with new clothing.

Continue Reading