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.

Husqvarna Two-Strokes Get Fuel-Injection Too

We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Husqvarna will be following suit with its Austrian sibling, and adding fuel-injection to several of its two-strokes enduro motorcycle for the 2018 model year. After a long history of rumors and development, KTM finally debuted fuel injection for a production two-stroke model just a few weeks ago, using the technology on two of its upcoming enduro models, the KTM 250 EXC TPI and KTM 300 EXC TPI. Husqvarna will use the same technology for its own motorcycles in the same segments, announcing today the the all-new 2018 Husqvarna TE 250i and 2018 Husqvarna TE 300i enduro models with transfer port injection.

Opinion: The Danger of Expanding the MotoGP Calendar

It is looking increasingly like the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand will be added to the MotoGP calendar for the 2018 season. I understand from sources that there was a significant hurdle to be overcome: circuit title sponsor Chang is a major beer brand in Thailand, and a rival to the Official MotoGP Beer Singha, also a major beer brand in Thailand and further abroad. The race can only happen if a compromise has been found to accommodate this conflict. This is good news for Thailand, and good news for fans in Asia. The World Superbike round at the circuit is always packed, and MotoGP should be even more popular. It is hard to overstate just how massive MotoGP is in that part of the world.

Video: Developing the KTM Super Duke 1290 R

10/10/2013 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

KTM-Super-Duke-1290-R-Black

In order to develop the KTM Super Duke 1290 R, KTM employed ex-GP racer Jeremy McWilliams to put The Beast through its paces, and make it the asphalt terrorizing machine that it is.

Helping go over those developments with us, McWilliams is aided by Toby Moody (his voice may sound familiar to MotoGP fans of a Eurosport persuasion), as the duo speaks from what looks like Kiska’s design studio.

The six-minute video is a PR piece of course, but it is interesting to hear McWilliams’ thoughts on the machine.

He and Moody spend quite a bit of time going over the Super Duke 1290 R’s electronic systems, with the clear intention of addressing the concerns of motorcycling’s Luddite contingency — we think they succeeded in this regard. KTM, just stop teasing us and take our money already!

Continue Reading

Come Watch the KTM Super Duke 1290 R Do Its Thang

10/03/2013 @ 2:08 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

2014-ktm-super-duke-1290-r-12

Nine months ago, KTM unleashed “The Beast” on the unsuspecting roadways. Devouring turns, chewing tires, and lofting wheelies ever since, The Beast has become the new KTM Super Duke 1290 R — or at least that’s what the marketing folk in Austria would like to have us say for the bike’s genesis story.

At 177hp, 417 lbs dry, aggressively styled, and fitted with ABS and traction, the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R is a potent street-hooning machine, and if the response to its debut earlier this week is any indication, you are going to enjoy the video we have after the jump. So what are you waiting for? Click through already!

Continue Reading

2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R Finally Revealed

10/01/2013 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-Super-Duke-1290-R-15

The countdown clock is at zero, and that means the wait is over for the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R. At EICMA last year, they called it “The Beast” and with 177hp (132 kW) coming from the 1,301cc v-twin engine, we are inclined to agree.

As svelte as it is powerful, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R tips the scales at 417 lbs dry, and comes with a ride-by-wire throttle control system, along with traction control and ABS that can be disengaged, as A&R also predicted.

Continue Reading

Say Hello to the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R

09/26/2013 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-Super-Duke-1290-R-teaser-02

With four days still on the countdown clock, we didn’t expect to see the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R until its October debut, but those crafty Frenchies at Moto-Station have gotten their hands on a couple photos of Austria’s new street hooligan machine.

Giving us a glimpse into “The Beast’s” final lines, we see that the new KTM Super Duke 1290 R retains the headlight shape from the prototype concept (better seen on the Patriot Edition concept), though sadly does not incorporate Kiska’s underslung GP-style system, opting instead for the standard single-can setup that was seen in the various spy photos that we have shown.

Continue Reading

KTM Super Duke 1290 R Debut Coming Very Soon

09/18/2013 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

ktm-super-duke-1290-r-teaser

In just eleven days, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R is going to make its official production debut. We have already seen the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype, which took the 2012 EICMA show by storm.

We have also already seen Jeremy McWilliams take the RC8-powered street-naked up “The World’s Most Famous Driveway” at the Goodwood Festival of speed, which of course only whet our appetite further for “The Beast” that KTM has created.

Just in case we forgot about all that though, KTM has created a teaser website for the Super Duke 1290 R, complete with countdown clock, along with another teaser video.

Continue Reading

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype Rides at Goodwood — There’s a Reason Why They Call It ‘The Beast’

07/19/2013 @ 7:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

KTM-1290-SuperDuke-Prototype

Set to debut at the 2013 EICMA show, we best know the KTM 1290 Super Duke from the prototype concept that zie Austrians showed at the Milan trade show last year, though the bevy of spy photos that have cropped up on the internet also hels to form the bike in our minds. While much will be said about KTM’s RC8-powered streetfighter later this year, the buzz on the 1290cc v-twin machine is just how much of a beast it is in real life.

Taking to the world’s most famous driveway for the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the “Beast” was put through its paces by none other than Jeremy McWilliams — and the former MotoGP racer certainly had his work cutout for him. Really more of an exhibition than a race, McWilliams still showed how fast the new Super Duke will be…in every direction.

We have been really looking forward to riding the KTM 1290 Super Duke R when it comes out, but after watching this video…well…we’ll takeout a bit more life insurance, that’s for sure. Watch the bucking, sliding, dragging, wheelieing machine at Goodwood after the jump.

Continue Reading

Moar Photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition

07/01/2013 @ 12:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

KTM-1290-Super-Duke-R-Patriot-Edition-derestricted-Piers-SP-03

Greeting American KTM dealers this past week, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition is a Stars & Stripes hat-tip to the soon-to-be-released KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Expected to be in dealerships by December of this year, “The Beast” will make its official public debut at the 2013 EICMA show.

However, we might get a glimpse of the bike before then, as KTM will be hosting moto-journalists this autumn for a road and track test, but until then, these are the best photos of the machine to-date.

Looking past the paint, which is a bit too ‘merican for our eyes, the lines to the new Super Duke R seem to be taking shape, as the exhaust here matches what we have seen in spy photos. What is most interesting is the headlight, which you will either love or hate, but we hope it’ll make it to final production (the one on the test mule is so ‘meh’).

Continue Reading

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition – Meanwhile, Super Duke R Confirmed for December Arrival

06/28/2013 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

ktm-1290-super-duke-r-patriot-edition

American KTM dealers are in Austria this week visiting the mothership in Mattighofen, and to help greet them is the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype. Dressed for the occasion though, KTM is calling this one-off Stars & Stripes adorned hooligan machine the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition — ’cause you know, ‘merica!

The name might be a little over the top, but the bike is the visual centerpiece to some good news on the Super Duke front. Debuting a prototype of “The Beast” at last year’s EICMA show, KTM will unveil the final production model at the 2013 EICMA show in Milan, and says that the bike will be on dealer showroom floors in December.

Continue Reading

The KTM 1290 Super Duke Caught in the Wild

04/20/2013 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

ktm-1290-super-duke-prototype-spy-photo

Spy photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke are nothing new, and the Austrian company has even gone as far as to tease us with a heavily massaged KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype at the 2012 EICMA show. With the final version of the superbike-powered streetfighter expected to be decidedly less edgy, the photo brought to us today (one can only guess when it was taken), if anything else, is a reminder to be reluctant our expectations.

The ever elusive “spy” photo, what we have here looks to be a near production prototype of the KTM 1290 Super Duke that has been caught in the wild. Easily the clearest photo we have seen of the road-going bike, it clearly holds KTM’s LC8 motor as well as the same trellis frame found on the “beast” prototype.

Continue Reading

KTM Super Duke 1290R Concept by Mirco Sapio

04/10/2013 @ 3:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

KTM-Super-Duke-1290R-Concept-Mirco-Sapio-12

One of the most eye-catching machines at the 2012 EICMA show in Milan, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R shows the Austrian brand’s return to making beastly asphalt-churning street-nakeds. Edgy in design, and featuring a bored-out version of the KTM 1190 RC8 R’s v-twin engine at its core, we are counting down the days until the Maestros at Mattighofen release the new Super Duke upon us.

Helping tide us over until that day is this very interesting re-imagining, Micro Sapio’s KTM Super Duke 1290R concept. We have featured Sapio’s work here on A&R before, though we have to say we are more smitten with his more recent take on the Super Duke than his last.

Taking some cues from KTM’s concept design, the highlights of Sapio’s concept are its gorgeous tail section and exhaust, as well as the unique front-end fork and air-intake design. We wouldn’t mind seeing some of these ideas incorporated into KTM’s final work, though we think the LED headlight and some other details are going to put off some enthusiasts. More photos after the jump.

Continue Reading