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.

Suzuki Patents Hybrid 2WD Scooter with Goofy Front-End

04/18/2017 @ 10:08 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

An interesting find from the folks at Motorcycle.com, it looks like Suzuki is getting crazy with its scooter designs, as a patent for a two-wheel drive scooter has popped-up at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and that is not the only item of interest when looking at the front-end of the motorcycle.

The 2WD system features an electric hub motor on the front wheel, which assists the gas-powered rear wheel, making this a hybrid-powered motorcycle. The patent also shows a a non-conventional front-end suspension setup, on what looks like Burgman scooter design.

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Christini II-Track AWD Snow Bike Is Ready to Hit the Slopes

12/20/2016 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

The snow from Portland’s Snowpocalypse is melting right now, and the rebuilding has begun. Jokes aside, we could have had some serious fun last week with Christini’s latest AWD motorcycle, the Christini II-Track.

Taking the snow bike concept to the next logical Christini progression, the Christini II-Track features not one, but two, power-giving snow tracks, and the machine is now available for purchase from this plucky boutique American brand.

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Christini Working on “2WD” Snow Bike

04/11/2016 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Christini Working on “2WD” Snow Bike

Christini-AWD-II-Track

A photoshopped image, along with suspicious timing, got us on the wrong track (pun intended) with Christini Technologies, but indeed the American outfit is working to bring its two-wheeled drive dirt bike technology to the snow bike market.

The idea seems fairly obvious, which of course is why we thought it was the perfect April Fools story, since all it requires is Christini to attach a Timbersled track to the rear of its chassis design, and develop a front track and ski that can be powered by the Christini 2WD drivetrain.

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Armotia Due R – An Electric 2WD Supermoto

03/02/2016 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Armotia-DueR-electric-2WD-supermoto-03

The electric side of the motorcycle industry is slowly showing life again, as we first got the flash in the pan, and now we are getting the sizzle. Some of that sizzle is coming from projects that have been in the works for quite some time, like the Alta Motors Redshift.

However, some of that sizzle is coming from new players, like Armotia. The Italian-based outfit has two interesting offerings to show us, the Armotia Due R and the Armotia Due X.

The Due R is Armotia’s electric supermoto, while the Due X is the company’s electric enduro model. Both bikes feature a two-wheel drive setup that makes 15hp, 5.1 kWh battery pack, and a smartphone dash.

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Wunderlich Hybrid BMW R1200GS LC with Electric 2WD

11/19/2015 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Wunderlich-X2-Electric-2WD-BMW-R1200GS-03

BMW aftermarket parts specialist Wunderlich really knows how to promote itself. The German company is known for its one-off machines and concepts, some which have tipped BMW’s hand when it comes to new models. For a boutique German brand, it is impressive that it is known around the world.

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that Wunderlich is grabbing headlines once again, this time with an intriguing concept: a two-wheel drive BMW R1200GS that uses a hybrid drivetrain with an electric front-end that was developed with Italy’s electric specialist Evolt.

Wunderlich calls its creation the BMW R1200GS LC, and it features a 10 kW hub motor on its front wheel, in addition to the GS’s boxer-twin gas engine. The electric motor has regenerative braking, which helps charge its modest battery pack (located under the front beak, to our eye).

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Yamaha PES2 Electric 2WD Concept to Debut in Tokyo

10/16/2015 @ 11:37 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

yamaha-pes2-concept

Back in 2013, Yamaha debuted two electric motorcycle concepts: the Yamaha PES1 street bike and the Yamaha PED1 dirt bike. This was a big deal, because Yamaha said it planned to bring an electric motorcycle to market by 2016.

Well, here we are just a few weeks from the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, where 2016 models from the Japanese manufacturers would typically debut…and it seems Yamaha has more electric motorcycle concepts for us.

The Yamaha PES2, as the name suggests, is an evolution of the PES1, though it does look slightly more ready for production than its predecessor.

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Watch These Urals Ford the River, Oregon Trail Style

08/19/2015 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

ural-ford-the-river

I don’t really get the people who obsess about riding a Ural – a Russian knock-off of a German sidecar just doesn’t strike me as an enjoyable time on a motorcycle.

Of course, my saddle time on a Ural has been relegated to around-town and highway riding, which isn’t really the Ural’s domain of choice. These Cossack bikes really shine off-road, where their funky WWII-era 2WD design becomes an asset, not a hinderance.

Add to the fact that Urals are bone-simple to work on — owning a Ural means you will be wrenching on it, a lot, by the way — and you’ve got a motorcycle that’s well-suited to the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of where the road ends…especially when the road ends in a river.

Attempting to ford the river, Oregon Trail style, these Ural owners are experiencing all that the Russian marque has to offer. Seeing is believing, after the jump.

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A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

04/10/2014 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

brd-redshift-mx-electric-dirt-bike

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

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Big Sur and a Ural T Sidecar

04/05/2013 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

ural-t-sidecar

Riding a Ural is an interesting experience. For starters, the Russian-made sidecar can trace its origins back to BMW’s WWII-era three-wheeler, and includes a near facsimile of the German company’s now iconic boxer-twin motor as its power plant. While BMW Motorrad has changed significantly in the decades since the Second World War, IMZ-Ural remains sort of stuck in time.

One could use pejorative comparisons to farm equipment while riding the Cossack motorcycle, and they would not be inaccurate. In our modern time of silky smooth gearboxes, stout motors, and powerful brakes, the Ural T sidecar lacks just about all of these superlatives — and yet, the brand has been booming.

Maybe it is the two-wheel drive off-raodability of the Ural’s design, which has struck a chord with the ADV crowd. Maybe its the machine’s “authentic” and low-tech pedigree, which appeals to motorcycle enthusiasts who feel constantly corned by the growth of rider aids like slipper clutches, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and their progeny.

Or, maybe it is the company’s obscure brand and its Soviet heritage, which resonates enough counterculture “fuck the man” goodness to lure in the skinny-jean espresso-sipping crowd. The answer is probably “all of the above” to be honest.

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KTM Files Patent For 2WD

11/17/2008 @ 10:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

KTM has filed with the German Patent Office a number of patents that cover the used of a two-wheel drive system of off-road vehicles. The patents hold claims for a two-wheel drive system that can be fitted to either an enduro or motocross type of motorcycle. KTM’s patent centers around having a conventional motor to drive the read wheel, and an electric motor for the front wheel.

This would be a different method than the hydraulic method for powering the front wheel that Yamaha has been prototyping for over a year now.

Source: visordown

I’m still waiting for the 2WD Akira bike.