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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #55 – The Aprilia Show

06/19/2017 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast #55 – The Aprilia Show

Episode 55 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is another special show, and it concludes our adventures in Austin, Texas. For this show, we talk a whole lot about some Aprilia motorbikes, as we rode a total of four different machines around the Circuit of the Americas.

In total, we road the new RSV4 RR, RSV4 RF, Tuono V4 1100 RR, and Tuono V4 1100 Factory, and then sat down for a discussion with Piaggio’s head of design, Miguel Galluzzi.

Our talk with Galluzzi covered a host of issues in the motorcycle industry, which we think you will find very interesting, as he provides a unique insight. Similarly, our thoughts on the bikes are also of note, as Aprilia has produced two very potent model ranges with its V4 engine design.

At nearly two hours long, there is a lot to listen to here, but we think you will find our discussion about the new Aprilia models to be pretty interesting, especially if you are in the market for one. 

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.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #54 – The Suzuki Show

06/16/2017 @ 11:40 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast #54 – The Suzuki Show

Episode 54 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is a special, special show, and it continues our adventures in Austin, Texas. For this show, we talk a whole lot about Suzuki, as we were out riding the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Kevin Schwantz…yes, the Kevin Schwantz…also joins us on the show, and we have a lengthy discussion about motorcycles, racing, and of course, Texas.

At nearly two hours long, there is a lot to listen to here, but we think you will find our discussion about the new GSX-R1000 to be pretty interesting, especially if you are in the market for one. 

Both Quentin and I agree that the new GSX-R is pretty potent, especially for being the cheapest superbike on the market. We can’t wait to ride the GSX-R1000R model soon as well.

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.

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The Ducati 1299 Superleggera Lands in the USA

06/16/2017 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on The Ducati 1299 Superleggera Lands in the USA

If you were one of the lucky few to plunk down $80,000 on the new Ducati 1299 Superleggera, your wait for this ultrabike is finally over.

This is because the first Ducati 1299 Superleggera just touched down in the United States, at AMS Ducati Dallas, with more to follow soon at dealers around the United States.

Only 500 units of this carbon-fiber-everything superbike were made available by the folks at Bologna, making the Ducati 1299 Superleggera a very exclusive affair. 

This is because the 1299 Superleggera is the first production motorcycle with an all carbon fiber chassis, and it also happens to boasts 215hp (220hp when you put on the Akrapovic exhaust), while tipping the scales at 344 lbs when it’s bone dry.

The machine also has Ducati’s most advanced electronics package, which features an inertial measurement unit, and thus allows for the traction control system to adjust both the slide rate and spin rate of the rear tire.

We hear if you still want one, there are some dealers that have machines that are no longer spoken for, but you better act fast.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #53 – The Ducati Show

06/06/2017 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast #53 – The Ducati Show

Episode 53 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it continues our adventures in Austin, Texas. For this show, we focus on one of our favorite topics: Ducati motorcycles.

The show revolves around two interviews we recorded at COTA, one with Jason Chinnock, the CEO of Ducati North America; and the other with Julian Thomas, the press manager for the Ducati MotoGP team.

With Chinnock we talk about a number of topics, including Ducati’s new models, the current motorcycle climate, and the rumors about its V4 superbike. The interview ends with a very interesting discussion about ownership structures for motorcycle companies, which is proving to be a timely commentary.

With Thomas, we talk about the current state of the Ducati MotoGP team, the progress that they have seen so far this season, and how the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo has changed the team dynamic.

Both interviews have plenty of interesting insights, which we think even non-Ducatisti will find insightful and enjoyable.

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. Enjoy the show!

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #52 – COTA

05/17/2017 @ 12:24 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast #52 – COTA

Episode 52 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it prefaces our adventures in Austin, Texas. A week-long motorcycle excursion, Quentin and I soaked in some MotoGP racing action, and then on to ride the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and the new Aprilia RSV4 and Tuono V4.

Before we get to riding bikes, we had a chance to ride something a bit different, taking a Polaris Slingshot for a rip around the back roads of Austin. We then got to see how the timing systems work for MotoGP, which is a lot more complicated than you would think.

We also got to talk a bit to Kevin Schwantz, Kenny Roberts Jr., and Randy Mamola. The show then wraps up with a preview of our ride experience on the Suzuki and Aprilia superbikes. Short version: they’re awesome.

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. Enjoy the show!

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At the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show

05/03/2017 @ 5:15 pm, by Andrew Kohn2 COMMENTS

Located on 5th Street in downtown Austin, the Fair Market is a nondescript, 16,000 foot event center. But once a year, as it has for the last four years, the Fair Market is transformed into the home of the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show.

This magical metamorphosis turns a simple, industrial looking building into a playground for motorcyclists and motorcycles of all varieties.

Local builder, Revival Cycles, started the Handbuilt back in 2014. Alan Stulberg and Stefan Hertel are the co-founders of the show, and they have grown this event into one of the premier custom motorcycle shows in the United States.

Held during the same weekend as MotoGP, the Handbuilt takes advantage of the large crowd of motorcyclists that descend on Austin for the weekend of world-class racing.

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At the Grand Prix of the Americas

04/30/2017 @ 2:42 pm, by Andrew KohnComments Off on At the Grand Prix of the Americas

The great state of Texas once again hosted MotoGP and MotoAmerica this past weekend, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

Dorna said that attendance was higher than last year’s number of 56,000 on race day, but did not release an actual figure. Based on my own experience, I would say that attendance was likely up the entire weekend.

Weather played a definite factor in this year’s activities, with Friday being hot and humid, while Saturday was cold, damp, and windy, which led to multiple crashes during practice and qualifying. Thankfully, the weather on Sunday was sunny and breezy, but not too windy, making for a truly beautiful race day.

The MotoGP paddock was the usual beehive of activity this weekend, with scooters darting back and forth, carrying crewmembers, racers, and photographers.

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A Short Review of the 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF

04/28/2017 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

It is a tough gig when you have to ride back-to-back track days at America’s premier MotoGP circuit, but such is the life of a moto-journalist. Our next trip to the Circuit of the Americas sees us on Aprilia’s 2017 lineup for its V4 models, which consists of four machines in total.

This review will focus on the 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR and 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RF, even though the RSV4 provides the basis for Aprilia’s other V4-powered sport bike, the Tuono V4, which we will cover in a separate piece.

In the United States of America, the Aprilia RSV4 is easily one of the most underrated motorcycles on the market, due largely to the brand’s tumultuous past, thin dealer network, and weak brand recognition. That fact borders on criminal, in our opinion.

From our perspective, the RSV4 has long been on our short-list of motorcycles you should have in your garage – and now after riding the 2017 version, we again have the feeling that Italy’s other superbike brand has set a new standard. Hide your wallet from this ride review.

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Alex Rins has had two titanium plates fitted to fix the left wrist he broke in practice in Austin, at the Americas GP. The Suzuki rider will be out for the next six to eight weeks, meaning he will miss at least Jerez, and most likely Le Mans and Mugello as well.

Suzuki test rider Takuya Tsuda, who was scheduled to be in Jerez for the official test on the Monday after the race, will replace Rins for the Spanish test, and most probably for the remaining races.

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The Americas GP in Photos by Daniel Lo

04/26/2017 @ 9:17 am, by Daniel Lo4 COMMENTS