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.

New Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster Teased for 2018

09/18/2017 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Are you ready for another flavor of Triumph Bonneville? We hope so, because the British marque is teasing a new model: the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster.

Set to debut on October 3rd, Triumph’s social media channels are boasting that the new Speedmaster will have “classic custom style” and “class leading capability” – along with “British attitude” which either means a stiff upper lip, or passive-aggressive social graces…we can’t be sure.

In seriousness though, we can assume from the name and attributes that the new Speadmaster will be getting the same liquid-cooled upgrades that we have seen come to the Bonneville line in past few model years, following in the footsteps of the Thruxton and Bobber.

Continue Reading

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.”

Continue Reading

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #60 – Diet Pepsi & Milk

08/24/2017 @ 7:53 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 60 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we cover some of the newsy items from the motorcycle industry that have caught our eyes recently.

But before we get to the news, Quentin and I break a pretty big story concerning a certain turbocharged motorcycle, which you won’t want to miss.

We then turn our attention to the plethora of recalls that have beseeched BMW Motorrad, and we also talk about the company’s halo bike, the BMW HP4 Race, and its 3,100-mile engine life.

We also talk about Triumph’s partnership with Bajaj, and how that will affect both brands’ futures, before we talk about Ducati’s software performance upgrade for the 2015/2016 Ducati 1299 Panigale owners.

Before the show ends, Quentin also gives a really insightful talk about plug chops, which unless you have ridden an older two-stroke machine, you have probably never heard of, until now.

There is a lot going on in this episode of the podcast, so you don’t want to miss it. And, if we have and Diet Pepsi and milk drinkers in the audience, please identify yourselves and explain this madness.

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.

Continue Reading

Triumph’s Bid to Take Over the World with Bajaj

08/09/2017 @ 11:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I'm not sure that the news of Triumph partnering with Bajaj quite made the impact on the motorcycle industry that it deserves.

Maybe it is because we have seen Triumph misstep with smaller displacement machines in the past (with an Indian partner, no less), or perhaps it is because the press release penned by Triumph CEO Nick Bloor was utterly incomprehensible, and devoid of any concrete facts.

Either way, the news is worth spilling some more pixels over, because there is a bit at stake in the coming years for the motorcycle OEMs, and Triumph just made a bid for sizable land grab for it.

To continue reading this story, you need to have an A&R Pro subscriber account. If you have an A&R Pro account, you can login here.

Triumph & Bajaj Partner on Middleweight Motorcycles

08/08/2017 @ 11:10 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

There is some big news coming out of the motorcycle industry today, as Triumph and Bajaj have just announced a new global partnership that will see the two brands collaborating on new middleweight motorcycles for the global market.

It is still not clear what the fine-print of the deal looks like, but an obvious guess would be that Triumph and Bajaj will co-develop middleweight motorcycles for both emerging and developed markets, with both brands taking advantage of the other’s distribution to reach new untapped customers.

Continue Reading

Triumph’s Three-Cylinder Engine Will Power the Moto2 Championship, For 2019 Onwards

06/03/2017 @ 9:02 am, by David EmmettComments Off on Triumph’s Three-Cylinder Engine Will Power the Moto2 Championship, For 2019 Onwards

As had been trailed since the start of this year, Triumph have finally been announced as the official engine supplier to the Moto2 class from 2019 onwards.

The deal with Dorna will see Triumph supply a specially modified version of the 765cc triple, which powers their new Street Triple range of production bikes.

The engine has been modified to produce more power and torque, and to be a little narrower. A modified cylinder head and inlet and exhaust ports provide better breathing, titanium valves and stiffer springs allow the engine to rev more freely, and make it more reliable under braking.

A higher first gear replaces the normal street ratio, and the use of a race alternator and racing clutch make the covers narrower. The engine will produce 133hp and 59 lbs•ft of torque in the first instance.

Continue Reading

Triumph Boasts Big Sales Increases for Q1 2017

04/07/2017 @ 1:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

Triumph Motorcycles America is reporting today a healthy 15% gain in its sales over Q1 2017, compared to the same time period from last year.

Triumph doesn’t breakout its sales figures by model, but we can expect that most of those gains come from the company’s “heritage” lineup, which has seen the addition of five new post-authentic motorcycles for the 2017 model year.

Of course, anyone who has followed the Triumph brand in the United States will greet this news with an ounce of skepticism, as the British marque has earned itself a reputation for being less than forthright with its sales figures.

Continue Reading

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #44 – Michael Lock

02/20/2017 @ 10:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Episode 44 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is very special, because we have our very first guest on the show, Michael Lock from AMA Pro Racing.

Some of you might know Lock as the man behind the freshly rebranded American Flat Track series, and he has deep roots in the motorcycle industry, leading the US efforts for Ducati and Triumph, as well as working for Honda in the UK and across Europe.

As such, we had a very interesting time picking Lock’s brain about the current state of the US motorcycle industry, what is wrong with road racing, and what he is doing with flat track (with a bevy of side topics along the way, of course).

You will want to grab some provisions before hitting the play button on this show, because this one is super long (two hours) – we just didn’t want to cut out any of Lock’s insights.

Duration aside, we think you will find Lock’s comments and perspective to be very insightful, especially during these uncertain times for the motorcycle industry. 

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!

Continue Reading

Recall: Triumph Bonneville T120

01/30/2017 @ 11:22 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

If you own a Triumph Bonneville T120, and have heated grips, this recall from Triumph Motorcycles America should be on your radar.

The British marque is recalling 1,390 units from the 2016 and 2017 model years because the heated grips might expand, which can then cause the throttle to stick open.

Obviously, being unable to close the throttle can create a serious safety issue, so it is not surprising to see the motorcycles recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Continue Reading

Triumph Motorcycles is celebrating what it is calling its best sales year ever in North America, boasting a 21% gain on sales in 2016 over the previous year, and for the first time ever, clearing over 13,000 units sold.

“There is no greater testament to the tireless work and outstanding Brand representation of our dealer partners than seeing this kind of success on the sales floor,” said Matt Sheahan, COO of Triumph Motorcycles America.

“We want to thank our dealers for their efforts and our new customers for joining the Triumph Family. We are looking forward to riding with you in 2017!”

Continue Reading