Valentino Rossi’s Special Yamaha XJR1300 Flat Tracker

It is good to be Valentino Rossi. Not only do you have nine world championships to your name, legions of yellow-crazy fans, but you also get pretty nice gifts from your friends. Take “Mya” for example – a special Yamaha XJR1300 custom flat tracker that the folks at VR|46 built for their fearless leader. Now, when you think about bikes that should be the basis for a custom project, the Yamaha XJR1300 doesn’t exactly come to mind. It probably doesn’t help that this decades-old model is only Euro3 compliant, and set to sunset at the end of this year. The XJ1300 certainly doesn’t strike us as the appropriate starting point for a flat track bike either, especially with its 530 lbs weight figure. That all being said, the VR|46 crew have done a pretty good job of spiffing up the old girl.

That Suzuki Katana 3.0 Concept Though…

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.

The KTM 790 Duke’s Killer Feature? Its Price Tag

The KTM 790 Duke launches a new platform for the Austrian brand, based around an 800cc parallel-twin engine. As such, we already know that we can expect the twin-cylinder platform to spawn an adventure version of the bike, with the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype debuting at EICMA as well. We can also expect other “790” models in the coming years, both from KTM and likely from Husqvarna as well. That is a good thing, because the KTM 790 Duke is a potent bike, rich with features. The real kicker though – if early indications about the pricing can be believed – is the KTM 790 Duke’s price tag, as KTM has been quoted as pricing the 790 Duke at below €10,000. This would put US pricing around the $11,000 mark, if not cheaper.

The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year’s work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season. Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA. So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week’s big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry. For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences.

ARCH Motorcycle’s Next Bike Won’t Be a Cruiser

ARCH Motorcycle is in Italy right now, and they just took the wraps off three bikes, one of which isn’t so much a cruiser, as it is a naked roadster model. Built using carbon fiber MonoCell chassis technology, a building technique usually reserved for ultra high-end sport cars and Formula 1 racing chassis, the ARCH Method143 features a potent 143ci (2,343) v-twin engine. Though, instead of the performance cruiser layout the company is better known for, the ARCH Method143 will have mid-body rearsets for the feet, and clip-on handlebars for the hands, making for a very sporty riding position. Backing up that notion is the use of Öhlins suspension, which includes a proprietary Öhlins FGRT series front fork with carbon fiber airfoil covers.

No One Seemed to Notice that the MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Is New for the 2018 Model Year

We had to search high and low for information about the 2018 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR – it doesn’t help that MV Agusta’s press site is offline right now – but it seems just about every news publication missed the fact that this attractive roadster got some serious changes for the 2018 model year. These unnoticed changes certainly are partially due to the fact that MV Agusta went without a press introduction at this year’s EICMA show, but it is also due to the company’s never-ending line of “bold new graphics” changes, one-off customs, and special livery designs, which only muddy the waters for when actual changes occur.

Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe Brings Modern to Retro

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. Mostly a visual exercise, the basic stats of the Z900RS Cafe don’t stray too far from the donor bike from whence it came.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Debuts with Track Goodies

For the 2018 model year, Kawasaki continues to develop its superbike package. As such, the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE brings some special new features, to earn those extra letters after its name. The big addition is the new Showa electronic suspension, which is the only semi-active suspension system on motorcycles that includes built-in stroke sensors. These stroke sensors are able to measure the movement of the fork and shock internals, allowing Showa’s suspension to measure and change its damping settings on the fly, as you ride. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE also gets the forged aluminum wheels found on Kawasaki’s homologation-spec superbike, the Ninja ZX-10RR, which should help the Ninja ZX-10R SE feel more nimble on the race track, despite its 459 lbs wet weight.

So Many Photos of the New KTM 790 Duke to Drool Over

We are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the new KTM 790 Duke is the bike of this year’s EICMA show. Making a potent 105hp from its 799cc parallel-twin engine, packed into a 418 lbs (wet)steel trellis body, the 2018 KTM 790 Duke brings a host of features to the middleweight sport bike category. In typical KTM fashion, the 790 Duke left no angle behind in its high school honors geometry course, and the LED headlight builds upon the common design features that KTM has been putting together on its street-going machines. Not quite the vision that was the KTM 790 Duke prototype, the production model still evokes the same emotions, and is handsome in its own right – allaying our fears when seeing spy shots of the machine.

Mega Gallery: Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

We have had to wait two years to see it come into production, but the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 will finally be available to motorcyclists in March 2018. As an added bonus, the street-going machine stays true to its concept design, which wowed the crowd at last year’s EICMA show. This year in Milan, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 is all the talk of EICMA, and while “Best in Show” at EICMA almost exclusively goes to an Italian marque, the real winners are surely coming from Austria, as both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 and KTM 790 Duke look like winners. A duality from Mattighofen, KTM and Husqvarna approach motorcycles from two opposite spectrums. KTM lives in the extreme, with an edgy focus on its “Ready to Race” mentality. Conversely, Husqvarna is subtle and sophisticated…maybe even understated.

If the Yamaha Star Venture wasn’t enough motorcycle for you, then you will be happy to hear that Yamaha is doubling down on its massive touring lineup, with the 2018 Yamaha Star Eluder.

The concept behind the Yamaha Star Eluder is pretty simple. It takes the massive Star Venture, does away with the big touring seats, and leaves a bagger in its place.

If this kind of transformation sounds familiar, it should, as it is a page taken straight out of Honda’s playbook, which lead to the creation of the Honda Gold Wing F6B and CTX1300 bagger models.

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Yamaha Star Venture Production Delayed

09/03/2017 @ 12:48 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you were in the market for a motorcycle that’s the size of a medium-sized car, we have bad news for you, as the recently debuted Yamaha Star Venture will be delayed in its coming to market.

Yamaha strategically made this announcement at the start of a three-day weekend, assuring the news would be buried once the American market returned from the Labor Day holiday on Tuesday.

It is not clear why Yamaha will delay the production of the Star Venture – Yamaha only offers an explanation in its press release that it “needed modification to the production process” at the factory in Japan – but the delay will mostly affect customers who purchased the bike through Yamaha’s “Priority Delivery Program”.

As such, Yamaha is offering those early purchasers a $1,000 credit towards Yamaha-brand parts and accessories. We’ll update you when we have more information surrounding the production delays for the Star Venture.

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Successful Surgery for Valentino Rossi

09/01/2017 @ 1:57 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Movistar Yamaha team has updated us on Valentino Rossi’s condition, as the MotoGP underwent surgery on his right leg earlier today.

Rossi was first examined at the Ospedale Civile di Urbino, where he was initially diagnosed, then he was transferred to the Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona, where the surgery was performed.

The team reports that the operation was a success, and that the doctors implanted metal pins (locking intramedullary nails, to be precise) into Rossi’s leg to hold the bones together.

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Movistar Yamaha has issued another press release about the condition of MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi, confirming that the nine-time World Champion has broken the tibia and fibula bones on his right leg.

As such, Valentino Rossi will undergo immediate surgery to correct the fractures. The condition of the 38-year-old racer will be updated Friday morning, but it seems likely that this news dashes Rossi’s MotoGP Championship hunt for this season.

This is because a displaced fracture is a serious injury, as it means that Rossi has broken his bones in several places, and the pieces of the those fractured bones are not set correctly to heal on their own.

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Movistar Yamaha Confirms Valentino Rossi Injury

08/31/2017 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

After reports from Italy told of Valentino Rossi breaking his leg in an enduro training accident, we have been waiting for confirmation of that news from an official source.

Now getting on top of this evolving story, the Movistar Yamaha team has confirmed that the nine-time World Champion has been involved in a training accident, and that he was taken to the Ospedale Civile di Urbino for a medical check-up.

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Yamaha Begins Teasing T7 Adventure Bike

08/17/2017 @ 2:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Yamaha Begins Teasing T7 Adventure Bike

Yamaha Motor Europe has begun its teaser campaign for what we expect to be a new adventure bike in the company’s lineup.

Debuting the Yamaha T7 Concept at the 2016 EIMCA Show, the 689cc, twin-cylinder, ADV motorcycle is the prime suspect for the unseen motorcycle in this teaser video.

Yamaha hasn’t been bashful about the T7 Concept either, with prototype versions of the bike being caught out testing, and even loaned out the bike for a special photo shoot with Italian publication DueRoute.

Even in Milan, it was widely known that the concept on stage would be headed into production. So, here we are.

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Alex Lowes Re-Signs with Pata Yamaha for WorldSBK 2018

08/08/2017 @ 4:33 pm, by Kent BrockmanComments Off on Alex Lowes Re-Signs with Pata Yamaha for WorldSBK 2018

Yamaha confirmed today its rider line-up for 2018, with Alex Lowes re-signed to the Japanese manufacturer.

Despite having consistently been the man most likely to break the Kawasaki and Ducati monopoly, Lowes’ future had been uncertain until his Suzuka 8-Hours success.

Having stood on the WorldSBK rostrum twice for Yamaha this year, it looked like a foregone conclusion that a new contract would be signed, sealed, and delivered early in the summer.

As it was, patience was key for Lowes, but in the end he got the deal that he had been chasing.

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Yamaha Motorcycle Sales Up Overall, Down in USA

08/08/2017 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Yamaha Motorcycle Sales Up Overall, Down in USA

Yamaha Motor has cause for celebration…just not in the United States, as the Tuning Fork brand posted a 6.6% increase in revenue during the first six months of this year, coupled to a 86.8% increase in net income.

These strong financial figures are due to strong unit sales in emerging markets, like Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan. But, they come with the caveat that sales are flat in Europe, and down in the United States.

Yamaha has some good excuses for its performance in these developed markets: blaming environmental regulations for the lackluster sales in Europe (we assume they are referring to the Euro4 emission requirements), and a weak overall demand for motorcycles in the United States.

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Welcome to the A&R Superbike Deathmatch

08/04/2017 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Welcome to the A&R Superbike Deathmatch

Hello and welcome to 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 A&R’s Superbike of 2017. Booyah!

What makes the Superbike Deathmatch different from other shootouts, you might ask? Well for starters, instead of renting a track out for a day, and spending only a limited amount of time on the plethora of machines available, we decided instead to take a lesson from college basketball’s very own March Madness.

That’s right, we are using a single-elimination head-to-head bracket system to find out which superbike is the best of the best, and thus worthy of being our Superbike of 2017. Think of it like a two-wheeled Thunderdome: two bikes enter, one bike leaves.

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Speed vs. Stamina, For 220 Laps at the Suzuka 8-Hours

07/31/2017 @ 5:58 pm, by Steve EnglishComments Off on Speed vs. Stamina, For 220 Laps at the Suzuka 8-Hours

The day is done and the battle is won. Yamaha claimed its third-consecutive Suzuka 8-Hours on Sunday.

The victory put a stamp on their dominance of the one race each year that the Japanese manufacturers place more emphasis on than any other. As such, Asphalt & Rubber takes a look at the winning machine, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s YZF-R1.

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