Mmm…Check This Suzuki GSX1100SD Katana Race Bike

I am young enough that most of what I can remember of the 1980s is skewed by the forming mind of a child, thankfully. New Coke, ponytails to the side, Cabbage Patch Kids…Alf – it is all a bad dream as far as I am concerned. The 1980s were a pretty good decade for motorcycles though. Two-strokes still reigned supreme in grand prix racing, and some of America’s best two-wheeled heroes were riding them. The only rider-aids that were available were things like handlebars and footpegs. Even then, racing a motorcycle was a pursuit full of perils. Mirroring this notion on the production side of things, the superbike was just starting to be born in earnest, with consumers able to buy fire-breathing monsters that tested the limits of chassis and tire design. A healthy dose of male bravado was involved in riding a motorcycle like a Katana.

Mega Gallery: 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans

Not only does the FIM EWC showcase several manufacturers, with strong race-winning potential each of the championship’s multiple iconic events, but it the series is the last great venue for a proper battle between the different tire brands. Add to that the fact that the Endurance World Championship is comprised not only of endurance specialists, but also with some of the top names from motorcycle racing, both in factory and satellite teams, and it’s easy to find a reason to cheer for a particular entry. The best part though might be the photography that comes from motorcycle racing, which often spans from daylight and into the darkness of night. This year’s 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans event was no different, and we have a bevy of photos to share with you from France.

At the AMA Supermoto Season-Opener in Bakersfield

It all started with the Superbikers. As a young man growing up in the late 70s, there were only three network TV stations for me to watch, and unlike today, motorsports programs were few and far between. Other than the Indy 500 and the occasional airing of stock car racing, motorsports just weren’t on the air very often. During one serendipitous Saturday, I happened upon ABC’s Wide World of Sports. And on that particular day, they were airing the Superbikers. Looking back, the influence that program had on the rest of my motorcycling life is immeasurable. An unusual combination of road racing, dirt track, and motocross, the Superbikers showcased racers I had only read about in the motorcycle magazines.

The WorldSBK Season So Far: Yamaha & Honda

While it has hardly been surprising to see Ducati and Kawasaki maintain their position as the dominant forces at play in WorldSBK, the battle for best-of-the-rest has been an interesting subplot for 2017. Over the course of the opening three rounds of the campaign, the form of Honda and Yamaha has been marked by their stark contrast in fortunes. Last year, Honda had been a podium and front-row regular as the season moved into the European swing, and Yamaha looked to be clutching at straws and looking for any positives they could find on their return to the series. This year has seen their roles have reversed, with Yamaha consistently the best-of-the-rest and in position to fight for a rostrum finish. Honda on the other hand have had a disastrous start to the campaign with an all-new Fireblade.

Investors Leveraging MotoGP for Sizable Payout

According to several reports in the financial sector, the investors behind Dorna Sports S.L. are readying themselves for another sizable payout from the media rights holder for the MotoGP and WorldSBK Championships. Using a bit of financial finesse, the move would see Bridgepoint Capital and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) – the two major investors in Dorna Sports – taking roughly €889 million off the books of the Spanish media company, according to Reuters. As such, today’s news would make this the third time that Bridgepoint and the CPPIB have raided the piggy bank for motorcycling’s premier racing series, having done similar deals in 2011 (€420 million) and 2014 (€715 million).

Norton Gets £3 Million to Increase V4 Production

If you have had your eye on a Norton V4 superbike recently, you might not have to wait as long for it to arrive, as the British marque has secured £3 million from the Santander Corporate & Commercial bank. The debt investment will allow Norton to triple its production rate on the V4 SS and V4 RR models, and also allow for the company to hire 40 new employees for the job. Additionally, according to Norton this will allow the company to increase its production volume to 1,500 motorcycles per year. “Having developed and pre-sold a huge number of bikes, we needed the funding to be readily available to pay for tooling, stock and people to allow production to move from 40 bikes per month to in excess of 130 bikes with effect from summer 2017,” said Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles.

Is The 2018 BMW HP4 Race About to Debut in China?

After this year’s April Fools hijinks, we have a whole new respect for the cunning that resides at BMW Motorrad, and the Germans seem to be honing that trait even further today. Announcing its plans for the upcoming Auto Shanghai 2017 later this month, BMW lists a number of four-wheeled news items for the Chinese auto show, and then casually slips-in at the end of the press release that we should expect a big unveil from BMW Motorrad. The statement reads that “the highlight of the BMW Motorrad stand is the world premiere of one of the most exclusive models ever offered by BMW Motorrad,” which is terse, though given what we know about the Bavarian brand, it should be easy to guess what they are hinting at.

Vyrus 986 M2 Street Bike Now Priced at €38,000

It is apparently more difficult to sell a kidney than I had previously thought (type o- / non-smoker / non-drinker…if you happen to be in the market), which isn’t good news when you are trying to get together some scratch for a Vyrus 986 M2 – the hottest supersport we have ever seen. Making matters worse is that Vyrus got in touch with A&R, updating us with their latest pricing structure for their Honda-powered hub-center steering masterpiece, which now comes with a price tag of €37,940 for the street bike, and €27,930 for the street bike kit. That is quite the change from the originally quoted €25,000 street bike model and €16,000 kit, and there is good reason for that, say the folks at Vyrus.

You Didn’t Know You Missed It, But the Honda NM4 Is Back

You probably didn’t even realize that the Honda NM4 was missing from Honda America’s model list for 2017, but the polarizing motorcycle is back for the 2018 model year. The first 2018 motorcycle to be announced so far this year from Honda, it probably helps that the Honda NM4 is featured in the Ghost in the Shell movie, which stars Scarlett Johansson. Laugh if you want, but the NM4 is a surprisingly pleasant to ride, even if you aren’t dressed like the Caped Crusader. As such, the Honda NM4 represents a tradition of motorcycles from Big Red that have pushed that boundaries of not only what we visually accept a motorcycle to look like, but it also blurs the distinctions we make between different motorcycle segments.

US Senate Establishes Motorcycle Caucus

The motorcycle industry has found more allies on Capital Hill this week, with the creation of the first “motorcycle caucus” in the United States Senate. Established so motorcycle manufacturers and motorcyclists would have a greater voice in the upper chamber of the American legislature, the Senate Motorcycle Caucus is the work of Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan). Motorcyclists typically aren’t single-issue voter – not for issues pertaining to motorcycles, at least – but with several important political issues currently affecting the motorcycle industry, the formation of the Senate Motorcycle Caucus comes at an advantageous time.

The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

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Video: 7min 50sec Around The Nürburgring on a Kawasaki

09/06/2011 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

One of the relatively newer trends in automobile promotion is the timed-lap video footage around the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. With Porsche, Ferrari, Chevrolet, et al battling for four-wheeled supremacy on one of the most famous road courses in Germany, the Lexus LFA currently stands as the quickest of the productions cars with its 7min 14sec lap time. While the motorcycle industry has been relatively mum to respond to such feats, some intrepid souls have taken arms up for the cause.

In what we’re sure will re-ignite the ongoing car vs. bike debate, Bridgestone test rider Tim Röthig set out with a 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, a set of of Battalax R10 race tires, and a handful of blitzkrieg riding moves to race against the clock on the German course. With an entirely respectable 7min 50sec lap time, Röthig lapped the 12.8 mile track just over half a minute off the carbon-chassised LFA’s time. Though perhaps not the King of the Nordschleife, with that run Röthig still manages to embarrass a number of drool-worthy cars we’d like to have in our fantasy garage.

Considering the Lexus LFA carries with it a $375,000 price tag and a 500 unit production run, we think the $13,799 Kawasaki ZX-10R is still a pretty good bargain, though riding at the pace Röthig goes makes a feel a bit squeamish while watching the video. Check it out after the jump.

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Recall: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R

07/29/2011 @ 10:42 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Recall: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R

Kawasaki is recalling 2,480 units of its 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R motorcycles for a faulty wiring harness. Affecting both the base and ABS versions of the motorcycle, it is possible that the wiring harness can become pinched between the rear subframe and either the rear fender or the bolt holding the seat cover. If the wiring harness does become pinched, it could damage the harness and cause an electrical short in the system, which could stop the engine suddenly.

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FTR Entering MotoGP with a Kawasaki ZX-10R Based CRT Machine – Also Helping Norton’s MotoGP Effort?

06/21/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

FTR, the Moto2 chassis manufacturer, has released a Q&A with its Moto Director Steve Bones. In the exchange, Bones talks about FTR’s involvement in making a claim-rule team chassis for the Spanish BQR team, who will use the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R motor as the basis for its CRT entry.

FTR’s racing ambitions don’t end there though, as FTR plans to mimic its success in Moto2 by building a Moto3 offering that will likely use the Honda NSF250R four-stroke 250cc motor. Lastly, FTR has been linked to Norton’s MotoGP V4 race bike, with the engineering firm developing the chassis, while Pr1mo handles building the engine for that machine. But some doubt is starting to be generated around that project.

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Kawasaki Releases More Information on the ZX-10R’s Technical Hold – Sales to Resume Late January

12/29/2010 @ 6:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The launch of the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has been a rocky one for Team Green. First there was the new that the ZX-10R’s class leading power figures wouldn’t be making it to the American market, as the Japanese manufacturer was honoring new EPA noise standards, which necessitated the Kawasaki ZX-10R getting its wings clipped by 750RPM and approximately 20hp. With this sort of impediment soon to become a common occurrence in the North American markets, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R is just the first of many bikes likely coming to the Land of the Free with less power than its European counterparts.

The next big blow for the ZX-10R occurred just a few weeks ago when Kawasaki put a worldwide technical hold on the model, and asked for units already sold in the United States to be returned to the manufacturer. Kawasaki was tight-lipped on the actual reason for the technical hold, but rumors that a piston problem was the cause quickly emerged. Now releasing more information about the technical hold, Kawasaki says that its engine issue was not in the pistons, but instead was due to an intake valve seating issue was the cause of the non-recall.

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2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Tops November Sales in the UK

12/17/2010 @ 11:11 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The British Motorcycle Industry Association is reporting that the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R was the best selling 651cc-1000cc motorcycle on the island nation for the month of November (with a whopping 17 sales!), despite the fact that the 10R has been put on a technical hold by Kawasaki, and not a single machine has made it to a British customer. Leaving aside the obvious problems of counting your chickens before they’ve hatched, and the validity of the MIA’s statistics just generally, it will be interesting to see how this “technical hold” affects Kawasaki’s sales for the superbike-derived ZX-10R as we get closer to the prime sportbike selling season.

Already under some controversy for coming to the United States sans about 20hp, the technical hold on what many believe is a piston wear issue is another blow to Team Green. While A&R‘s ZX-10R launch invite must have gotten lost in the mail (that’s what you get for being one of the first to break Kawasaki’s lowered RPM news), it would appear from one owner’s video that the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is more than capable of ludicrious speed in street form (not that we condone such a thing). Video of a 300+ km/h top speed run after the jump.

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Don’t Call It a Recall: 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Goes on Technical Hold – Engine Problems Suspected

12/13/2010 @ 6:47 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. issued a statement this weekend saying that the company was placing a technical hold on all 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R sportbikes because of an undisclosed problem found to exist with the current design. While Kawasaki has been tight-lipped on what exactly is the issue with the new ZX-10R early indications seem to suggest a problem with the engine, which is an equally nebulous reason. As a part of the technical hold, Kawasaki dealers will be returning all unsold ZX-10R sportbikes to Kawasaki’s warehouses, and all sold units to customers will be bought back with a full refund.

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Official: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Gets 750 RPM Redline Reduction Because of EPA Noise Laws

10/08/2010 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We just got off the phone with Kawasaki HQ, and it’s official: the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will inadvertently get a power decrease when it comes to the United States because of the EPA’s regulation of noise pollution, confirming earlier rumors from this week. The issue surrounds the EPA’s new methodology for measuring exhaust noise levels, which now involves taking the measurement at a percentage of the total rev range, instead of a specific rpm value.

The result is that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R passes the Euro III standards, but fails the EPA standards in its unadulterated form. To come into compliance with the EPA’s Noise Control Act, Kawasaki has lowered the rev-limit on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R by 750 rpm in order to meet the new criteria. The byproduct of lowering the rev-limiter will reduce the new ZX-10R’s maximum power output, but Kawasaki isn’t saying by how much.

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Rumor: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Getting Horsepower Reduction for the American Market

10/07/2010 @ 6:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Immediately after the launch of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, which claimed a 207hp figure at the crank with ram-air (197hp sans the air), rumors began to swell that the new ZX-10R’s peak performance figure would be drastically less in the American market. Apparently and supposedly due to federal regulations by the EPA, Kawasaki will be lowering the rev-limiter on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R in order to comply with US government provisions.

Whether those rumors are in regards to the ZX-10R’s emissions or noise levels at that rev range is unclear at this time, but speculation that the power decrease is due to the new 10R’s peak power figure being north of 200hp are completely unfounded (Editor’s note: the United States has no provisions, at both the state and federal level, that cap motorcycle horsepower performance levels from the factory). We’ve reached out to Kawasaki for an official response on the issue, more as we get it.

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2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Becomes Officially Official

10/06/2010 @ 1:50 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Finally breaking cover officially, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R made its official debut at Intermot this week. For 2011, Kawasaki has taken a ground-up approach to building its liter-bike offering, and the Japanese company has its eye squarely on racing in World Superbike for 2011. Developing the race bike ahead of the street model, the new ZX-10R should prove to be a monster of a machine with its 197hp at the crank power figure (207hp with ram air) and 436.6lbs curb weight (+12lbs for ABS). However, for the US market the bike will get watered down by 10hp or so for emissions, which Kawasaki is quietly trying to downplay.

As we reported earlier when the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R leaked, Kawasaki like many other brands is bringing an optional ABS system to the sportbike genre, but Japanese firm has also brought a very sophisticated traction control system to the party, which will be a standard option. Taking measurements every 5 milliseconds from the front and rear tire pickups, throttle position sensor, engine speed, and other inputs, Kawasaki’s S-KTRC, according to the company, is the most advanced traction control system to-date in the consumer market. With pricing starting at $13,799 MSRP (+$1000 for ABS), we’d certainly hope it’s the most advanced sport bike on the market.

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