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.

2017 Montesa Trials Bikes Available in the USA

09/16/2016 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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American Honda will once again be importing a range of Honda-powered Montesa trials bikes into the USA, which is music to our ears. As such, both the  and the 2017 2017 Montesa Cota 300RR will be available for order at Honda dealerships.

For the 2017 model year, the Montesa Cota 4RT260 gets mostly bold new graphics, though it does have a longer kickstarter lever, for easier starts. The Montesa Cota 300RR (above), however, gets more substantial changes for this coming model year

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2017 Montesa Cota 4RT260 Gets “BNG” – Still Awesome

07/08/2016 @ 10:59 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Normally, we would roast a brand for bringing a “bold new graphics” model to market, but in the case of the 2017 Montesa Cota 4RT260, we will give the Spanish firm a pass…purely because we think trials riding is AWESOME.

So, yup…for the 2017 model year, Montessa is brining basically the same machine to market, with the big changes being the red, white, and blue HRC-inspired color scheme, along with the chromed fork tubes that have black-painted lowers.

If it counts as a technical change, the kickstarter lever has been made longer than on what is found on the 2016 model, and of course there is a “race replica” version, which drips in carbon fiber, Showa suspension pieces, and has the traditional Repsol livery.

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2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 Shows Proof of Life

02/29/2016 @ 3:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Gas Gas has been saved from what seemed like certain death, and to give us a proof of life, the Spanish off-road company is showing off the 2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 trials model.

Production on the 2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 will start in March, with units arriving at dealers later in the year. And yes, the 2017 Gas Gas TXT Racing 300 will be coming to US soil, for all you two-stroke trials fans.

Visually and technically not much has changed for the 2017 model, but given how highly regarded the TXT Racing 300 is in the trials community, that’s perhaps not that surprising.

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Gas Gas Rescued by Spanish Firm Torrot

02/16/2016 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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In case you missed the initial reports, those in the off-road world will be especially happy to hear that Spanish motorcycle maker Gas Gas has been saved from the deadpool. Infusing €13 million into the failing motorcycle brand, Torrot is our unlikely hero, the Spanish firm a producer of electric bicycles and urban mobile two-wheelers.

The cash infusion will come into Gas Gas over the next three years, with a focus on updating the company’s product lineup. This will include bringing Gas Gas back to the trials market in a big way, as well as developing new enduro models. Even electric models in the works.

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Gas Gas Employees: “KTM, This is Not Your House”

07/30/2015 @ 1:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber regulars should be aware by now that Spanish trails/enduro manufacturer Gas Gas is in a bit of financial trouble, and is now up for liquidation. One of the suitors of Gas Gas is of course KTM, as the Austrian company is likely eager to add a robust trials machine to its lineup.

There’s a slight problem with that thought though: the Gas Gas employees are well aware of what happened to Husqvarna and its Italian employees, after KTM purchased the Swedish brand from BMW Motorrad, and moved Husky’s Italian operations to Austria.

We don’t think we need to parse too many words explaining the position of some Gas Gas employees, this video says it quite well enough. Watch it, after the jump.

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2016 Montesa Cota 300RR Trials Motorcycle

07/01/2015 @ 4:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Do you enjoy jumping rocks, crossing logs, and generally being a two-wheeled bad ass on a motorcycle? If you responded with a “hell yes!”, then trials might be the sport for you.

We’ll be the first to say, we’re not experts on riding trials motorcycles — the site is called Asphalt & Rubber for a reason. That being said, the 2016 Montesa Cota 300RR looks like silly fun, as well as some serious motorcycle porn…even if you’re not a true trials competitor

The Cota is bred for competition though, and it is the same machine that Cody Webb is competing on in the AMA NATC MotoTrials USA National Trials Championship, and it also is based off the Montesa Cota 4RT260 that Toni Bou uses to dominate the international trials scene.

Accordingly, the Montesa Cota 300RR has a 288cc Honda single-cylinder engine, which has a longer stroke and larger bore than the Cota 4RT260. The ECU is programmable for fine-tuning the bike for conditions, with two selectable maps controllable from the handlebars.

Other tasty features include a titanium header pipe, aluminum forks, a monoblock four-piston front brake caliper, and aluminum D.I.D. wheels. All of this means 4 lbs have been dropped from the 2015 design, making the 2016 model a paltry 159 lbs dry.

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Dorna Will Manage TV Rights for Other FIM Championships

01/20/2015 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Dorna Sports is starting to consolidate its position as the TV right holder for all international motorcycle championships, as the Spanish media giant has signed an agreement with the FIM to manage the television rights for a number of less-popular FIM Championships.

Starting this year, Dorna will handle the TV rights for Championships that the FIM manages, namely the the FIM Trial, X-Trial, MOTUL Ice Speedway, Speedway GP Challenge, Sidecar and Cross-Country Rallies World Championships, and the FIM International Six Days Enduro.

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2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 – Honda Give Trials a Try

08/01/2014 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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This isn’t the first year where the Honda COTA 4RT 260 has been available in the United States, but until now only a limited number of these trials bikes have been available to American riders. Thankfully Honda America is changing that though, officially announcing the 2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 & 2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 Race Replica for the US market.

Essentially rebadged Montesa machines that come from Honda’s partnership with the Spanish marque, Honda’s COTA 4RT 260 models represent Big Red’s attempt to offer a competition-grade trials bike (2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 Race Replica, shown above) as well as an entry-level trials bike (2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260) to American motorcyclists.

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Gas Gas and Ossa Merge

01/24/2014 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you thought the times are tough here in the United States, be thankful that you don’t live in Spain right now, as the Iberian country hovers around 20% unemployment for the general population, with 50% unemployment for the country’s 20-something crowd. Indeed, all the Mediterranean states, save for France, are on the verge of economic collapse. It’s a scary time.

Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to hear last year that the rebirth of the Ossa brand saw the Spanish dirt bike company using the available production capacity in the struggling Gas Gas factory. It seems that manufacturing partnership has now gone a step further, with Gas Gas and Ossa formerly merging, so as to better take on the rough economic landscape.

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Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa Go Trials Riding with Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami

01/23/2014 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa might be living gods when it comes to riding a MotoGP bike, but when it comes to the ultimate in two-wheeled prowess, we leave it to the trials riders, and two of the best in the biz are Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami.

Thankfully, all four riders are under the Repsol banner, which makes for an interesting opportunity to have these very talented competitors riding together. Maybe next time Bou and Fujinami can take the RC213V for spin — it seems only fair, right?

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