KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Gets Closer to Production Form

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

MV Agusta’s Moto2 Race Bike Predictably Looks Awesome

After a 42-year hiatus, MV Agusta is returning to the Grand Prix Championship. This iconic Italian motorcycle brand will not be competing in MotoGP however, and instead MV Agusta will make its return in the Moto2 category. Partnering with the Forward Racing team, MV Agusta aims to take advantage of the rule changes for the 2019 season, which will see a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine replacing the 600cc Honda four-cylinder engine that is currently in use. This change in the spec-engine rule will likely upheave the Moto2 Championship, and MV Agusta wants to be part of that sea change. As such, the bike you see in the photos here will be the machine that launches MV Agusta’s assault on the GP paddock.

The Harley-Davidson “Custom” Is the First Cruiser We Like

In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept. There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over. For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept. Using the 1,250cc version of Harley-Davidson’s new modular engine, the Custom takes a number of cues from Harley-Davidsons of the past and future.

Moto2 Builders Out Testing the Triumph Triple

07/02/2018 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 2019 Moto2 Championship is rapidly approaching, and next year’s season sees the introduction of a new spec-engine platform. Using a 765cc three-cylinder engine from Triumph, Moto2 competitors have begun testing their new chassis designs for the British triple.

Out in Aragon, we get our first glimpse of the front-running race bike providers: Kalex, KTM, and NTS, as well as Triumph’s own test mule, which uses a Daytona 675 chassis.

Shaking down their machines ahead of the start of next season, bike manufacturers focused on learning the new race engine and its accompanying spec-ECU.

The Kalex was ridden by Moto2 racer Alex Marquez and test rider Jesko Raffin; on the KTM was Julian Simon (2009 125cc World Champion and Moto2 runner-up) and test rider Ricky Cardús; and on the NTS was Moto2/MotoGP veteran Alex de Angelis.

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The MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 sits in a precarious place on the motorcycle continuum. It is what we would call an adventure-sport motorcycle, a sub-category of bikes that has sprung out of the ADV movement, but with a complete on-road bias.

The ADV segment has been the death of sport-tourers, with the upright seating positions proving to be more comfortable for long-range riding, while the large-displacement engines provide the power that sport riders are looking for.

While ADV bikes are designed to take the road (or trail) less traveled, adventure-sports began showing up for riders who wanted to stay firmly on the tarmac (as was the reality for many adventure-touring machines).

This gave rise to machines like the Ducati Multistrada 1200, BMW S1000XR, several KTM bikes, and Triumph’s fractured Tiger lineup.

The big 1200cc+ bikes have now given way to smaller bikes in the adventure-sport category, the first proper example being the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800, which first debuted in 2013.

Now Euro4 compliant, and coming in a variety of trim levels, we recently swung a leg over the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso SCS (read our review here).

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The only motorcycle in MV Agusta’s lineup with a tall windscreen, bags, and a passenger seat designed for a human, it would be easy to call the Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso a sport-tourer or an adventure-sport, and indeed we do.

But for the Italian brand, the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso is treated like a sport bike…a sport bike that one can ride all day, with bags and a pillion, if you so choose. 

It seems like a fine distinction, or perhaps even splitting hairs, but in reality it is a subtle nuance that shows how MV Agusta thinks of its business, what sort of motorcycles it wants to produce, and for which riders it has in mind when it produces them.

Riding the Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso near MV Agusta’s factory in Varese, Italy, Asphalt & Rubber got to see first-hand how this “sport bike with bags” works in the real world. 

And while the motorcycle looks no different from the last time we saw it, at the base model’s press launch in the South of France, there have been subtle changes to refine the Turismo Veloce, and to make it compliant with Euro4 regulations.

Getting now to see the premium “Lusso” trim level, as well as MV Agusta’s new “Smart Clutch System”, there was plenty to try on this motorcycle, and while we have a few criticisms, the result with the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso is an ideal machine, if you could only own one motorcycle in your garage. Let me explain.

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After a substantial hiatus, MV Agusta is headed back to the Grand Prix paddock – though the Italian brand’s return isn’t into the MotoGP class. Instead, MV Agusta will take a more measured, and a more curious, entry with a Moto2 team.

Set to use a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine in the class from 2019 onward, it is a little curious to see MV Agusta racing in the Moto2 series, but the similarities between the British engine and what MV Agusta itself produces in Italy, is perhaps close enough.

While we don’t expect to see the MV Agusta Moto2 bike on the track until next month, today we get our first glimpse at what the race bike will look like. Unsurprisingly, the machine looks very much like the three-cylinder MV Agusta F3 supersport.

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MV Agusta Will Race in the Moto2 Championship

05/17/2018 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

MV Agusta will make a historic return to grand prix racing, announcing its plans today to race in the Moto2 Championship with Forward Racing. The news has been rumored and talked about for quite some time, in some form or another, but now the ink has dried on the deal, and it is officially official.

As such, MV Agusta will build a custom chassis around the Triumph 765 three-cylinder engine and provide factory technical assistance to the team, while Forward Racing handles the day-to-day items running the Moto2 squad.

The new race bike is expected to make its debut in July of this year, and be on the grid for the 2019 season – when Moto2 switches from Honda to Triumph spec-engines.

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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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BMW S675RR Concept by Nicolas Petit

02/23/2018 @ 3:43 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I really like the idea of BMW making a supersport model, to compliment the already potent BMW S1000RR. The category is a tough one though, and it is dominated by the Japanese brands. Maybe, this is why BMW Motorrad is the perfect brand to disrupt the supersport segment.

The S1000RR made a killing in the liter-bike space, because it brought European features and performance, at a Japanese price-point. Because of the success that resulted from that formula, maybe the Germans can do the same in the 600cc segment.

Putting some pen and paper to this thought, Nicolas Petit has inked together a render of a proposed BMW supersport machine, which he dubs the BMW S675RR.

As the name suggests, the bike is powered by a 675cc three-cylinder engine, and visually it makes a strong connection to the next BMW S1000RR, which we have already seen leaked in spy photos.

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The 2018 season will be the last year that Honda powers the Moto2 World Championship, with the intermediate grand prix series set to use Triumph’s 765cc three-cylinder engine from 2019 onward.

This should be cause for quite a shakeup in Moto2, with the British brand making a stronger effort in recent time to be part of the racing scene. That effort will be ancillary though, because the real magic in the Moto2 class comes from the various chassis-builders.

As such today, we get to see the first completed Moto2 machine for 2019, and it shouldn’t surprise us to see that it is a Kalex.

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We have already seen the Yamaha Niken at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tuning Fork brand putting a name to its leaning three-wheeler, but little was said about this radical machine.

Now ready to talk about the future of sport riding at the EICMA show in Milan, Yamaha sees a future where riders will want the added stability and handling that comes from a leaning multi-wheeled vehicle.

At the core of the Yamaha Niken is an Ackerman steering design, which uses two sets of upside down front forks, held along a parallelogram brace that attaches to the front of the motorcycle.

This allows the Yamaha Niken to corner with serious lean angle, up to 45° degrees according to the Japanese brand. Of course, with the two 15″ wheels at the front, this cornering is done with a lot more confidence that a normal motorcycle at such a lean.

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Triumph wants you to know that it’s getting ready for the 2019 Moto2 Championship, where the British company’s three-cylinder engine will power the intermediate grand prix racing class.

Testing the engine, Triumph has mated the 765cc lump to its supersport machine, making it a Triumph Daytona 765. Getting some help from Moto2 rider Julian Simon, Triumph has been testing at Aragon, looking to evaluate the performance and durability of its middleweight engine.

“At this stage of the development program we are in a good place,” said Steve Sargent, Chief Product Officer for Triumph Motorcycles.

“We are very pleased with the pace that Julian is showing with the latest engine and his feedback has been very positive. We have confidence that we will deliver an engine that the teams will enjoy racing with and a spectacle and sound that will excite the fans.”

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