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.

Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Coming to the USA, After All

05/14/2018 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When we first saw the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe, we had no word that the retro-modern machine was coming to the USA, though it seemed far-fetched that the repurposed Z900 wouldn’t see the shores of North America.

Sure enough, Kawasaki USA just sent us word that the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe will be coming to the United States in limited numbers, as a 2018 machine.

Sharing the same 948cc inline-four engine as the Kawasaki Z900, the Cafe model takes the venerable streetfighter and adds a retro look to it. The Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe is part of a two-pronged retro approach, with the Kawasaki Z900RS already seeing a strong response from enthusiasts.

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At the 10th Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

05/14/2018 @ 7:36 am, by Andrew KohnADD COMMENTS

Ten years of doing anything is typically a reason to celebrate. Whether it’s ten years of marriage, a birthday, or the tenth year of a company being in business, ten years is a seminal anniversary.

Recently, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering celebrated its 10th anniversary in Carmel, California. Over 3,000 attendees had the opportunity to ogle over 350 amazing motorcycles from many different genres.

Unlike last year, there was no need for beanies or puffy jackets, as the weather was significantly warmer and the crowd was a lot more comfortable.

And though this was the 10th anniversary of the event, there wasn’t a lot of fanfare around the milestone. But maybe that’s what makes the Quail special. Amazing, while remaining low-keyed. Dazzling, without making a spectacle of itself. In a word, elegant.

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Are BMW’s Heritage Models Finally Done?

04/30/2018 @ 1:54 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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.

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Norton Teases Future 650cc Street Bike

11/15/2017 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Norton is getting closer to releasing its next motorcycle, this one being a 650cc twin-cylinder street bike. As you can see above in the photo, courtesy of our friends at MotoFire, the Norton 650 will take a roadster form, with a positively vintage vibe.

The bike will serve as a platform though, for several 650cc motorcycles, one of which will be the basis for an Isle of Man TT race bike.

Said to make around 100hp, the Norton 650 would be a potent weapon in the Lightweight TT race class. It would also serve as a good counterpoint to Norton’s 1200cc superbike project.

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That Suzuki Katana 3.0 Concept Though…

11/15/2017 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

One of the less-publicized motorcycles on display at this year’s EICMA show was this Suzuki Katana concept, which has since been making the rounds on social media.

Rightfully so, we would say, as the “Katana 3.0” is a very intriguing idea into how Suzuki can revitalize one of its most iconic names.

A creation by the folks at Motociclismo, with the help of designer Rodolfo Frascoli and Engines Engineering, the Katana 3.0 concept isn’t the “official” concept that many had hoped for from Suzuki.

However, the fact that Suzuki hosted the concept inside its EICMA display is a sign that the Japanese manufacturer is certainly listening to the feeback the bike generates.

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Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe Brings Modern to Retro

11/07/2017 @ 4:17 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Kawasaki made an impression at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, debuting the new Z900RS standard. The premise was simple there: take the potent Kawasaki Z900 street bike, and dress it in retro clothing.

The effect was something that looked incredibly like the Kawasaki Zephyr of old, but with modern brakes, suspension, traction control, and even a slipper-assist clutch. Now we see that Team Green plans on already expanding the line, debuting today the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe.

Basically the Z900RS with a bikini fairing, this modern café racer should be a perfect fit for those riders that want an older looking motorcycle that doesn’t run like an older looking motorcycle.

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For the 2018 model year, Ducati is updating the Scrambler Desert Sled with another color option, one that the Italian brand calls “Shining Black”. As boring as that name sounds, it might be the best retro Scrambler paint job that we have ever seen from Borgo Panigale.

We know that up until this point, the Scrambler Ducati brand has been all about its bright green AstroTurf faux lawns, pristine giant yellow container boxes, and post-authentic marketing calls with skateboards, wide-brim hates, and semi-homeless millennials.

But, the new Desert Sled color scheme (we would have called the color “Shag Carpet Sexy” or “Dr. McNasty”) screams back to another part of the 1970s – a time when souping up passenger vans and living in them was an acceptable thing for non-creepy men to do.

Still, we love the effect that is done with the all-black paint, contrasted with the warm red/orange/yellow rainbow colors. It gets us excited about the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled all over again.

Now, the only question is how hard would it be to wedge the Scrambler 1100’s engine in this off-road chassis? Not too hard, we think.

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Ducati Scrambler 1100 Set to Debut at EICMA

10/27/2017 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati says that it has five new models for us at this year’s EICMA show. Yesterday we broke the news that there would be a Multistrada 950 Enduro, as well as the Ducati Multistrada 1260 (powered by the XDiavel’s Testastretta DVT 1262 engine).

We also know from CARB filings that there is a Ducati 959 Panigale Corse in the works; the Italian brand has already shown us the revamped Monster 821; and of course, we know that there will be the not-so-secret Ducati Panigale V4 showing in Milan.

But what about the Scrambler Ducati sub-brand? Well, it too will be seeing an addition to the family, in the guise of a larger machine. Get ready to say hello to the Ducati Scrambler 1100.

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This Is Surely the Suzuki SV650X, A Café Racer

10/26/2017 @ 6:19 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We are pretty confident that Suzuki has some interesting motorcycles for us at this year’s EICMA show. This is not one of them.

Part of the “me too” movement that the Japanese manufacturers are going through in order to have heritage motorcycles in their lineup, the 2018 Suzuki SV650X is exactly what you think it is: the company’s popular street bike, dressed in a vintage aesthetic.

There isn’t anything wrong with that, per se, as we have seen some great builds using the same formula, like the Yamaha XSR900 and more recently the Kawasaki Z900RS and Honda Neo Sports Café concept.

However, we know exactly what we are getting with the Suzuki SV650X, and it’s not pretty. With the concept already getting unveiled at the Tokyo Motor, we expect its debut for the Western markets to happen in Milan, Italy. Look for it next week.

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After much teasing, Honda quietly debuted its Neo Sports Café concept at the Tokyo Motor Show today. Releasing nary a detail about the simple but modern motorcycle design, we are left to draw our own conclusions about the machine.

We had hoped that the Honda Neo Sports Café would lead to a retro-styled version of the Honda CB1000R, much in the same vein that the new Kawasaki Z900S is a hipsterfied version of the popular Z900 street bike.

It’s not clear if Honda intends to produce the Neo Sports Café concept, but its design is intriguing, especially when you consider the now ancient four-cylinder engine that resides in its chassis, which is of course derived from the previous generation Honda CBR1000RR.

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