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.

TVS Akula 310 – Hot, Small, Sporty, & Almost a BMW

02/08/2016 @ 5:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Auto Expo in India isn’t usually an event we would cover, but some interesting machines have turned up in New Delhi. The first one to grab our attention is the TVS Akula 310.

On its own right, the TVS Akula 310 is a sharp looking small-displacement machine, especially when its dripping in carbon fiber (Daddy like). Beneath the skin though, the Akula 310 is exactly the same as the BMW G310R sport bike, which is pretty interesting.

This is because TVS and BMW Motorrad collaborated to bring both models to market; and as such, the Akula 310 gives us an idea of where BMW could be headed next with its 300cc class offering.

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Benelli Tornado 302 – Bringing Sexy Back

11/18/2015 @ 6:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Just like the Benelli Tornado Naked T, the Benelli Tornado 302 treads on one of motorcycling’s iconic names, replacing it with a budget-oriented model that has none of the pizazz of its namesake.

This is what Benelli has been reduced to as a motorcycle brand, and the reason why the West no longer takes Benelli seriously.

That all being said, if we beat our head against the wall long enough to forget the Benelli Tornado, in either its 900c or 1130cc variants, the Benelli Tornado 302 is a fetching small-displacement machine.

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2016 BMW G310R Debuts for New Riders

11/11/2015 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

BMW G 310 R (K03)

When BMW Motorrad showed us the BMW G310R Stunt concept, we knew that a small-displacement model from the German company was just around the corner, and sure enough here is the 2016 BMW G310R street bike – project undertaken by BMW with help from India’s TVS Motors.

A 313cc single-cylinder engine with four valves and a dual-overhead cam, the BMW G310R makes 34hp, and tips the scales at 350 lbs. Of note, the cylinder is racked rearward and has been rotated 180° from normal, with the intake facing forward, and the exhaust ports facing rearward, like some more advanced thumpers on the market.

The frame is made-up of tubular steel, with a long swingarm used for better handling characteristics. Suspension is done by upside down forks, and a linearly mounted rear shock, the latter having an adjustable preload. ABS is of course standard.

All-in-all, the BMW G310R should be ideal for the A1 tiered license structure found in the European Union, and the G310R should slot in well with its small-displacement counterparts for markets like the USA.

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BMW Concept Stunt G 310 Hints at 300cc Models to Come

10/06/2015 @ 12:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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At EICMA this year, BMW Motorrad is expected to unveil its first of many 300cc motorcycles that it is developing with Indian partner TVS. While we have known about this news for some time, the German company is just now giving us the official nod, showing today the BMW Concept Stunt G 310 in Brazil

At the core of the Stunt G 310 concept is a single-cylinder engine, likely punched out to 310cc in capacity, given the name. Making things interesting, the cylinder head has been reclined back towards the rider, and rotated 180 degrees in order to create a super-short wheelbase, with an extra-long swingarm, for the concept.

Also of note is the placement of the exhaust silencer, which is mounted vertically, right next to the rear shock. BMW says this is to protect the exhaust can from getting damaged in a crash, though we imagine it’s at the expense of suspension fade.

We doubt much that BMW will keep much of the Concept Stunt G 310’s colors and styling when the German brand’s small-displacement bikes arrive, but clearly BMW Motorrad has younger riders on its brain with the design. Having Chris Pfeiffer help one last time hock the company’s wares helps too.

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2016 Yamaha MT-03 Gets Confirmed by Japan

08/27/2015 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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In June, Yamaha officially took the wraps off the Yamaha MT-25 — the naked version of the Yamaha YZF-R25 sport bike. While that bike is destined for many markets abroad, it began the strong speculation as to whether Yamaha would punch-out an MT-03 for developed countries.

Today we have that answer, as Yamaha Japan has listed the MT-03, with photos, on its website. Roughly 9lbs lighter than the Yamaha YZF-R3, and good for just over 41hp, there aren’t too many surprises with the new model, though small-displacement bike fans should be rejoicing.

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BMW Getting Closer to a Single-Cylinder 300cc Bike

05/20/2015 @ 9:39 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Continued reports suggest that BMW is getting closer and closer to releasing a small-displacement motorcycle single-cylinder motorcycle (codenamed the K03), which is being co-developed with Indian brand TVS.

The machine is expected to be in the 250cc to 300cc range, be engineered by BMW Motorrad in Germany, but built by TVS in India.

Pictures of the test mule have been on the internet (see above), but the final design is said to be similar to the TVS Draken concept that we saw this time last year.

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A Naked Yamaha YZF-R25 Is Coming Soon?

03/18/2015 @ 4:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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If you believe the reports coming out of India and Southeast Asia, Yamaha is working on a naked version of its YZF-R25 sport bike.

Presumably to be call the Yamaha MT-25, the naked bike would continue Yamaha’s trend of making naked version of its fully faired sport bikes, similar to the recently released Yamaha MT-125 that is available for the European market.

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World Superbike Considers 300cc Class & More

12/24/2014 @ 11:56 am, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

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At the last meeting of the Superbike Commission, the body which makes the rules for the World Superbike series, representatives of Dorna, the FIM and the factories agreed a number of measures which provide yet another step on the path to the future of the series.

There were a couple of minor technical updates, and two changes which point the way to the series’ long term future.

The changes to the technical regulations were relatively simple. The balancing rules, aimed at allowing different engine designs to be competitive against each other, received a number of minor tweaks resulting from the fact that those rules will now be carried on from one season to the next.

In practice, this means that results for either twins or fours will be carried over between seasons, creating a rolling balancing scoreboard, which should create a better balance between fours and twins.

The other change to the technical rules allow a manufacturer to revert to their 2014 electronics for the first two races of 2015, should the 2015 electronics cause them problems.

Basically, this will give the teams a fallback position and give them a little more time to develop the electronics. As the first two rounds are in Australia and Thailand, the risk of struggling with a system which is not completely ready to race during a period when it is impossible to test has been reduced.

The changes to the sporting regulations are more interesting, and point the way to the future of the series.

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Up-Close with the Yamaha YZF-R3

10/18/2014 @ 9:16 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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This week we not only go a chance to see the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3 unveiled at the AIMExpo, but also we had the chance to see the R3 up-close in the flesh. The budget-minded sport bike shows the obvious signs of more cost-effecient construction and fitted components, yet retains the fit-and-finish you would expect from a Yamaha motorcycle.

This makes the R3 a prime candidate for aspirational riders, who want an affordable first motorcycle that looks the part of a proper sport bike. Track enthusiasts and veteran riders though will be disappointed with the Yamaha YZF-R3’s non-adjustable KYB suspension, box swingarm design, and bulky chassis — this is still a 368lbs (wet) motorcycle.

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Here’s the Honda CB300F & Yes, It’s Coming to America

07/10/2014 @ 2:28 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2015-honda-cb300f

We first caught wind of the 2015 Honda CB300F back in March, and at the time we didn’t expect to see the naked small-displacement machine until the autumn trade shows. Well, Honda has proven itself full of surprises, because not only has Big Red debuted the Honda CB300F to the world, but American Honda has also confirmed the model for the United States.

Basically a Honda CBR300R without all of its fairings, the Honda CB300F offers a more upright sitting position, and a little bit less racer flair. At the heart of the CB300F is the same fuel-injected 286cc single-cylinder thumper, which has a longer 8mm stroke than the venerable Honda CBR250R, and thus accounts for its 37cc advantage in displacement.

Perhaps the best part about the 2015 Honda CB300F though is the price tag, which is downright affordable at $3,999 MSRP ($400 less than the CBR300R).

American Honda hasn’t locked down a delivery date for the USA, simply saying that the new model will be hitting Honda dealers in the fall of this year. From what we understand, that’s when you can expect to see the Honda CBR300R as well.

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