The Only Motorcycle Statistic That’s Worth a Damn

Every year the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) releases data about motorcycle fatalities in the United States. The results are never that surprising, and despite some fluctuations year-to-year, the basic takeaways are always the same. Motorcyclists are way more likely to die (28x more likely per mile traveled) than automobile drivers and passengers; fatal motorcycle crashes are more likely to involve alcohol than other vehicle fatalities (25% vs. 21% for passenger cars); and motorcycle fatalities closely correlate to new motorcycle sales. The figures are of course important, but reporting the results is an exercise in playing a broken record, over and over again. Except for one statistic that caught our eye this year: motorcycle fatalities as a percentage of overall vehicle fatalities.

Up-Close with the Krämer HKR EVO2 R

If I said that there was an 81hp track bike that weighed less than 280 lbs ready to race, would that be something you’d be interested in? If so, say hello to the Krämer HKR EVO2, a purpose-built track bike from Germany. Built around KTM’s 690cc single-cylinder engine, which is found in KTM 690 Duke and Husqvarna’s 701 series of bikes, the Krämer HKR EVO2 features a bespoke steel-trellis chassis, custom bodywork, and a host of top-shelf components. The real tasty part about the Krämer HKR EVO2 though is the attention to detail and the purposefulness of its design – take for instance the 12-liter XPE plastic fuel tank that doubles as a subframe, which has integrated crash sliders, and a sighting hole for easy adjustment of the rear shock damping.

Motorcycle Sales in Europe Show Strong Growth

Motorcycle sales in the United States might be tanking, but things are looking fairly positive across the pond in Europe, as the ACEM reports a 4.7% increase in motorcycle sales for Q1 2018, for a total of 203,853 units sold in the first three months of this year. The increase in sales is due to key markets like France (+9.1%), Germany (+1.9%), and the UK (+7.4%) showing good growth, compared to Q1 2017. However, not all the European countries are showing increases in motorcycle sales, with the Czech Republic (-17.3%), Poland (-28.7%), and Austria (-18.9%) pulling the sales growth figure down considerably. Not all segments are growing too. While the big bikes are seeing sales increases, European sales for mopeds are down considerably for Q1 2018 (40.2%), to the tune of a 24,996 unit sales decline over last year.

This Week’s Honda V4 Superbike Rumor

I have to admit, this rumor is more than a week old, as Japanese magazine Young Machine breathed new life into the Honda V4 superbike rumor mill about a month ago. And of course, the reality is that this rumor is much, much older than this tiny fraction of time. If you know your motorcycle news history, talk of a Honda V4 replacement for the CBR1000RR line has existed for almost two decades now…but hey, a broken clock is correct twice a day, right? So what is new from the Land of the Rising sun that we haven’t heard before? The big eye-catching component to this story is that Honda has/had a two-stage upgrade path for the CBR1000RR, of which we are about to see the second phase.

Official: Alta Motors Racing at the 2018 Erzberg Rodeo

We broke the story yesterday, but today the news is officially official: Alta Motors will race in the 2018 Ezerberg Rodeo, which is part of the Red Bull Hard Enduro series. The most grueling and difficult single-day event in motorcycle racing, the Erzberg Rodeo sees 1,500 entires whittled down into what is usually a single-digit summation of race-finishers – and not every year sees a racer cross the finish line – that’s how tough this race is. Racing for Alta Motors will be Ty Tremaine and Lyndon Poskitt, two riders with a lot of off-road experience. For those who don’t recognize those names, Tremaine is currently racing with Alta in the 2018 AMA EnduroCross series, meanwhile Poskitt has previously competed in a number of enduro events, including the Ezberg Rodeo, and most notably just soloed the 2018 Dakar Rally to completion. 

Come Drool Over SERT’s All New Endurance Race Bike

The winningest team in the FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team is the standard by which other endurance teams are measured…and that is a measuring stick that has seen a lot of use in recent seasons. This is because the FIM EWC is a hot bed for competition right now, with a bevy of factory-backed teams capable of winning on any race weekend. This has made it tough for SERT, and its riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson, and Gregg Black, who currently sit sixth in the 2018 FIM Endurance World Championship standings. For this season, SERT hopes that a new racing platform will make the difference, as the French team has finally jumped onboard with the current-generation Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Johann Zarco Signs Two-Year Deal with KTM

One of the biggest dominoes of the 2018 MotoGP Silly Season has just fallen into place. Today, KTM announced that they have signed Johann Zarco to a two-year contract for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. That Zarco would leave the Monster Yamaha Tech3 squad had been widely anticipated, the only question being which factory team he would end up in. The Frenchman was an extremely hot property, after displaying blistering speed on the satellite Yamaha M1 in 2017. Zarco had offers from Suzuki, Repsol Honda, and KTM, though only Honda and KTM were in the frame for the Frenchman. Zarco and his management were still unhappy with the way Suzuki had treated the Frenchman, after the Japanese factory failed to honor a pre-contract Zarco had signed ahead of the 2017 season, choosing Alex Rins instead.

The Ducati Panigale V4 Gets Its First Two Recalls

New model teething issues are always a reality, and it seems that the Ducati Panigale V4 is no exception to the rule. Finding not one, but two issues with the Panigale V4’s fueling system, Italy’s newest superbike is being recalled in the United States. Both recalls seem to affect the full-lot of Panigale V4 models that have made it to US soil thus far this year, which means 692 units (base, S, and Special trim levels) are being recalled for two issues related to the bike’s fuel system. As such, the first recall centers around the breathing system valve plug on the Panigale V4, which might have a fuel leak if the O-ring was damaged during production. Accordingly, the second recall involves the fuel tank cap, which can spray gas when opened, because again of breathing issues within the fuel system.

Are BMW’s Heritage Models Finally Done?

Has BMW Motorrad called it quits for its heritage lineup of motorcycles? That is the rumor at least, and there is some good evidence to support the notion. This is because buried on the 60th turn of BMW’s 260-page annual report for 2017 is the headline: “R nineT family now complete” – a nod that the German brand’s lineup of air-cooled retro-styled motorcycles has reached its zenith and logical conclusion. That makes sense, since there isn’t really a category left of the R nineT family to explore. It has a roadster, a standard, a scrambler, an adventure bike, and a café racer model all in the lineup. No hipster stone has been left unturned. The post-authentic styling trend is over. It’s dead. BMW called it, right? Well…Not so fast.

Up-Close with the 2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF LE

At the Grand Prix of the Americas, Aprilia USA debuted a special new superbike for the 2018 model year, the Aprilia RSV4 RF LE. Limited to only 125 units for North America (100 for the USA, 25 for Canada), the big feature of the 2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF LE is the bike’s fairing winglets, which draw from Aprilia Racing’s aerodynamic progress in the MotoGP Championship. Getting a chance to see the new Aprilia RSV4 RF LE in the flesh while in Texas, we grabbed some up-close photos of this limited edition RSV4, for your viewing pleasure, along with some other details. Aprilia’s wings are an interesting development, and a brave new world for production superbike design. For its part too, it seems that Aprilia isn’t quite sure what to make of the development as well, offering us two narratives for the winglets.

Some loyal A&R readers may already disappointingly know that Yamaha Motor USA has blacklisted Asphalt & Rubber from Yamaha events, which is a dumb decision in its own right, but when it comes to press launches, Yamaha Motor USA proved this week that it truly has its head completely up its own ass.

This is because the American subsidiary of the Japanese brand has embargoed reviews for the new Niken three-wheeler until next week – a full seven days after American journalists were in the Austria alps on the leaning multi-wheel vehicle.

This wouldn’t be such a bad thing (worthy of mentioning at least), except the embargo is region by region, and other English-speaking publications have been allowed to post their reviews as they write them (check VisordownMCN…even the horrid MoreBikes has a short review up).

This means you won’t read a review on the Yamaha Niken by us, or any other US publication, until next Monday…if you even bother reading them at that point. It almost makes you wonder why Yamaha Motor USA even bothered sending journalists to Europe in the first place, but I digress.

Of course, everyone is very curious to know how the Yamaha Niken handles on the road.

So far from what I’ve read coming from Europe, the three-wheeler comes across as being a bit complex, and a little vague in the front-end. The bike (if we can call it that) loses grip in the rear too often, possibly because of the adventure-touring tires it has mounted, and suffers in general from a lack of power and braking ability.

The Niken makes up for those negatives though with a front-end that is solidly planted to the ground, a bulk that doesn’t feel like a nearly 600 lbs bike at speed, and which turns into a fun ride when carving at speed. The European price-point seems fairly affordable as well.

Surmising from our colleagues across the pond, the Niken sounds like a intriguing touring option, though it seems to miss the boat when it comes to being a sport-bike platform, which is unfortunately how Yamaha has pitched this unique vehicle.

Of course, what you really want to know is whether the Yamaha Niken can wheelie, like any god-fearing motorcycle should. Thankfully Adam Waheed was in Austria to answer that exact question.

You can read Adam’s in depth review next Monday, along with the rest of the American journalists, but until then you should enjoy his behind-the-scenes videos, if you haven’t already. The answer to your most burning question is in Part III, around the 3:19 mark.

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You are driving down a road with questionable conditions, and as you round a bend, you see a minefield of gravel the path of your motorcycle.

For anyone who has ridden the backroads of America, this scenario should be one that is familiar, and while a certain amount of rider skill can navigate you to safety, if you hit a gravel patch while leaned-over, the physics simply aren’t on the side of the motorcycle.

According to the CNET though, the folks at Bosch want to change that, and it seems that Bosch has a novel concept in the works – straight from NASA and the space program. The idea is both simple and complex. It is compressed gas thrusters.

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Do you bleed neon yellow? Then we have got the Valentino Rossi video for you. A production by the folks at GoPro (who sponsor Rossi), this 11-minute short film tries to capture Rossi’s tumultuous 2017 season.

It’s not really a documentary though…more like a VR46 love-fest, featuring The Doctor, his ranch, and his hometown. Still, if you are a fan of the nine-time world champion, this video will brighten your day.

If you are a MotoGP fanatic who is equally excited for the 2018 season, which is already off to a good start, this video will hit your joy button.

…But if you are part of the Catalan MotoGP Mafia and wear ants on your helmet…well, you might just want to move along. There’s nothing for you to see here.

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Electric motorcycles continue to gain steam, and slowly we are seeing the Japanese brands embrace this powertrain for their two-wheel vehicle designs.

Today, we have the latest installment of that transition, in the form of the Yamaha TY-E electric trials motorcycle.

That may not sound like the most interesting application of this technology, but Yamaha has put together a very interesting design, and they plan on competing with it in the FIM Trial E-Cup.

Of course the biggest feature is the electric motor system and lithium-ion battery, but Yamaha has included a mechanical clutch as well, to help modulate the power, along with a carbon composite monocoque frame (CFRP), which helps lower the overall vehicle weight below 150 lbs (70kg).

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The sad fact is, you likely won’t ever ride a MotoGP bike in your lifetime. Even the best of us, those who become professional motorcycle racers, have such a slim chance of riding these ultralight fire-breathing race bikes, which make north of 250hp.

When you start doing the math on the number of people who have ridden a MotoGP machine, the number is certainly less than the number of people who have been into space (533 have reached Earth’s orbit, by our last count), and this is fairly remarkable.

So with that woeful fact in mind, today we bring you an experience that is likely the closest you will get to riding a MotoGP bike, courtesy of some basic VR technology.

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More on How the Yamaha Niken Three-Wheeler Works

03/07/2018 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I find the Yamaha Niken to be the most intriguing motorcycle (and I use that word loosely) to debut for the 2018 model year. It is probably the model I most look forward to riding this year, from all of those that debuted at this year’s EICMA show (riding the Ducati Panigale V4 S didn’t suck, however).

What Yamaha calls a leaning multi-wheel (LMW) vehicle, this three-wheeler promises more stability than a traditional motorcycle, while still providing the rider the same amount of fun.

Take one look at the Niken though, and you can tell that the Yamaha engineers were quite busy in making it all work as planned. An elegant solution, this is not. But, the Niken is still fascinating from an engineering perspective.

Thankfully, Yamaha has taken the time to explain more clearly just all the technology that has gone into making the Niken lean, steer, and move like a motorcycle…despite having an extra wheel on the front-end.

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I can tell you from personal experience that Casey Stoner is not one to mince words.

The two-time World Champion’s direct and sometimes confrontational approach to interpersonal conversations was at times difficult for MotoGP fans to get behind, but on the brightside, one always knew exactly were they stood in Stoner’s opinions.

Maybe that is why it is interesting to hear Stoner talking about the latest superbike from Ducati, the Panigale V4. Riding it around Valencia, the same venue where we tested the Ducati Panigale V4 S earlier this year, Stoner gives his fairly insightful thoughts on the 1,100cc machine.

The short version? The Australian was quite impressed with the new V4, though admittedly it still wasn’t up to the standards of his former MotoGP ride.

One can hardly blame Casey though, he does have a slightly different perspective than most, which is why he is one of our favorite GP riders of all time. Though, we should point out, he is technically a Ducati employee, so maybe that skews the perspective as well…

On a side note and for those keeping track, photos of this pre-launch test were “leaked” ahead of the Panigale V4’s debut at EICMA.

Looking at this video now, it seemingly confirms our suspicion that Ducati leaked the photos itself, as they are exact image captures from the video footage used here. Such is how the sausage gets made.

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This Is the Luckiest Crash I Have Ever Seen

02/27/2018 @ 9:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I have seen a few nasty crashes in my day, and not all of them have had positive outcomes. So, when I say that this is the luckiest crash that I have seen in motorcycle riding, it should carry some weight.

This video comes from motorcycle vlogger Hammy Moto, and it is taken as he rides down a Southern California freeway. For reasons that aren’t clear from our point-of-view in the video, Hammy Moto’s Kawasaki Z1000 begins to have a violent headshake, before finally crashing while near a tractor-trailer.

What happens next is where things get crazy, as Hammy Moto and his bike go sliding across the asphalt, right under the trailer. Popping out the other side, Hammy Moto narrowly misses all the wheels on the trailer, and walks away with just a little road rash to show for the experience.

It is a one-in-a-million occurrence to miss being run-over by the semi in a situation like the one shown. Dudeman is lucky to be alive. Always wear you gear.

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The Miracle That Is Cornering ABS, Explained

02/15/2018 @ 11:27 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Cornering ABS, it’s the hot new thing on motorcycles rights now. So important is this braking technology, one industry CEO explained it to me in the following terms: in terms of safety, it does to the front wheel what traction control has done for the rear wheel.

I won’t make the bold statement that IMU-powered (that’s inertial measurement units for the uninitiated) braking systems make it impossible to tuck the front wheel of a motorcycle, but they do make it exceedingly difficult to do so, especially by use of the brakes.

Not surprisingly then, we see a number of motorcycle brands offering this technology now, usually on their more premium models. KTM was the first do so, getting an exclusive from Bosch, one of the leaders in this space.

Since then though, cornering ABS has come to virtually every brand (strangely, none of the American motorcycle brands offer a motorcycle with cornering ABS right now), and we see several players offering systems to these OEMs, with Bosch and Continental leading the pack.

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Triumph All But Shows Us the New Speed Triple RS

02/01/2018 @ 3:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We continue our wait for the updated Triumph Speed Triple, which our sources say will be getting a mild refresh (more power, less weight, electronics, etc), similar to what we’ve seen with the rest of Triumph’s modern sport bike lineup (Street Triple, Tiger 800, and Tiger 1200).

To help tease us into this “new” model, Triumph has enlisted the help of two pretty famous blokes: Carl Fogarty and Gary Johnson.

In their teaser video, the two racers duke it out in some sort of race through an airfield, which is fine and all, but in the process of it, Triumph gives a pretty good glimpse of the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS.

The overall design of the new RS model is pretty close to the 2017 edition, though a couple subtle changes are noticeable. We will get full details next week. Until then…

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