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.

Triumph Set to Become the Official Moto2 Engine Supplier

01/08/2017 @ 12:26 am, by David Emmett27 COMMENTS

The future of the Moto2 class looks secure. Reports from the UK and Austria are suggesting that Triumph has finalized a deal to supply the Moto2 class when the current deal with Honda concludes at the end of 2018.

From 2019, Triumph will supply a new three-cylinder engine, probably based on the new, larger sports triple they are building for release in 2017.

There had been uncertainty over the future of the Moto2 engine supplier since the beginning of this year.

Honda had extended the deal to supply CBR600RR engines until the end of the 2018 season, but as the Japanese manufacturer was stopping production of its middleweight sports bike, it was clear that a replacement would have to be found. 

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Rumors Peg 2017 Triumph Street Triple to Be 800cc

12/24/2016 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

The rumor mill says that this video from Triumph is teasing us an “all new” Triumph Street Triple for the 2017 model year, which will see a displacement increase to 800cc.

The new bike is set to drop on January 10th, and promises to set “a new benchmark” in the streetfighter category. That is tough talk from a British brand that has let its modern sport bike offering languish over the past decade. But, we’re intrigued.

We have seen a revival in the streetfighter category as of late though, so hopefully the folks at Hinckley are wise to that trend and not keen on seeing the iconic Street Triple and Speed Triple models slip further from the riding consciousness.

Like you, we look forward to seeing what debuts in a couple weeks’ time. Hopefully it lives up to the hype — we’re suckers for nakeds.

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Up-Close with the KTM 790 Duke Prototype

11/09/2016 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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One of the machines that caught our eye at this year’s EICMA show in Milan is the KTM 790 Duke Prototype. Powered by an all-new 800cc parallel-twin engine that’s being developed by the Austrian brand, the KTM 790 Duke adds an interesting dimension to the Duke line of street bikes.

Fitting in between the single-cylinder KTM 690 Duke and the v-twin powered KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the KTM 790 Duke with its parallel-twin engine will hopefully provide riders with something neither of the other two machines provides.

Still, we are curious to see how KTM handles such an impacted lineup of street-hooning machines, especially as the 800cc market moves more towards a 900cc format, something the Husqvarna Nuda 900R designers understood. As with the Nuda, thinking outside of the 270° crankshaft angle might be of benefit for KTM.

Looking at the photos from EICMA, the design of the KTM 790 Duke prototype is striking, though we should expect as much from the folks at KISKA, especially after seeing the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype from a few years ago.

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KTM 790 Duke Prototype Debuts with Parallel-Twin Engine

11/08/2016 @ 5:21 am, by Jensen Beeler46 COMMENTS

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For KTM, the 2016 EICMA show is all about the Duke line of streetfighters. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R got a pretty sizable upgrade for 2017, the KTM 690 Duke received a facelift, and the KTM 390 Duke is now easily the best bike in its class.

The Austrians didn’t stop there though, they also gave us a taste of what is still to come for the Duke brand, teasing us with the KTM 790 Duke prototype.

Rumored heavily before the new bike season, this “KTM 800 Duke” features an 800cc parallel-twin engine, slapped into an upright motard-esque chassis.

The Kendo-styled LED headlight that’s finding its way into the entire KTM range features here as well, though that is hardly the most radical part of the 790 Duke’s design – checkout the undertail exhaust, which probably spit plums of fire before the lawyers got ahold of it.

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Air-Cooled Engines Returning to the Ducati Monster Line

08/24/2016 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Ducati’s 2017 line seems to be getting the full monty this week, with yet again more spy photos emerging of the Italian company’s upcoming motorcycles. Today’s installment sees us looking at the Ducati Monster line, which appears to be getting a third variant for 2017.

As you can see from the photo above, the Ducati Monster lineup will see the addition of an air-cooled model, likely one that shares the same 803cc lump that is found in the Ducati Scrambler.

This so-called Ducati Monster 803 will slot in below the other Monster models, which will likely include a Ducati Monster 939 and an updated Ducati Monster 1200.

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KTM Drops Hint of “Revolutionary” New Engine Platform

03/31/2016 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Aside from Husqvarna bringing the Vitpilen & Svartpilen concepts into production, another gem to come from KTM’s investor report for 2015 is that the Austrian company is working on what it calls a revolutionary two-cylinder engine design.

KTM is surely referencing the parallel-twin project that has been spotted a few times by spy photographers (shown above, and featured after the jump), which is rumored to feature an 800cc lump.

We are not too sure what is so revolutionary about a parallel-twin power plant – my Two Enthusiasts Podcast co-host Quentin loves to go on rants about how much he hates the engine design – but what is interesting is to hear that KTM plans on using the engine as a platform for multiple models.

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Ride Review: 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800

01/27/2016 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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There is a tongue-in-cheek joke amongst moto-journalists when it comes to new MV Agusta models: that each new machine is “the best motorcycle yet” from the Italian brand. The unspoken punchline of course is that each new model has such an incredibly low bar to surpass, that it is a relatively easy to be the next “best” motorcycle in the lineup, and thus it’s easy to lead a bike review with such a hyperbolic statement.

That joke has been slowly fading away though, and it is becoming more of an honest reality, as MV Agusta’s motorcycle lineup has evolved from a family of luridly appealing motorcycles that unfortunately are also deeply flawed, to a brand of machine that can boast the competence to match its striking beauty.

Nothing better proves this point than MV Agusta’s three-cylinder platform, which was mired by half-baked electronics and fueling at its debut in 2013, and now survives as a supersport/middleweight platform that should be on every rider’s short-list of must-ride motorcycles.

It is this trend that sees MV Agusta now updating its 800cc platform for 2016 (the 675cc machines will see an update soon enough), notably with Euro4 emission controls in full-effect.

It seemed when MV Agusta debuted only a solitary machine at the 2015 EICMA show, the MV Agusta Brutale 800, with less power, more weight, and subtle design revision, that the Varese-based company had taken a step backwards from its forward progress. Now that we have had the opportunity to ride the machine in Málaga, Spain – we can see that is not the case.

The new Brutale 800 signals an elevation of MV Agusta, from a brand with a shiny veneer and little beneath the surface, to a motorcycle company that can not only tug on the heartstrings of our moto-lust, but can also pique our more reasonable senses into seeing the substance beyond the glossy paint and subtle lines.

Quite simply put, the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is the best machine to come from Varese.

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Gone Riding: 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800

01/25/2016 @ 12:45 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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It’s a busy time in the Asphalt & Rubber office, with the entire motorcycle industry deciding that January/February is the perfect time to host events. As such, we should have a flurry of reviews, interviews, and other articles from these events posting to the site over the next few weeks.

For me, this starts two weeks on the road, with my first top near Malaga, Spain for the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 launch – the day’s route see us riding the new Brutale 800 near the Mediterranean Sea today, putting about 150km on the bike.

Things are already off to an interesting start, as we woke up to a sizable earthquake, whose epicenter was just on the other side of the sea, 11km off the coast of Morocco. Hopefully that’s not a bad omen for my fellow riders, though for me it felt like being back in California.

Enough of all that, the purpose of this post is to field questions about the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 from A&R readers, which I can answer in the comments section. If I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the MV Agusta personnel that are here with me in Spain.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #Brutale800 for the thoughts of our colleagues as well.

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2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 – Comes with Less Power, More Weight, & A Different Look Thanks to Euro4

11/17/2015 @ 3:59 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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For the 2016 model year, the MV Agusta Brutale 800 gets an obvious makeover, with changes coming to the tail section, fuel tank, exhaust, taillight, and LED headlight.

What is less obvious though, are the effects of having to be Euro4 emissions compliant, which drop the Brutale 800’s peak power from 125hp to 116hp, though there is an increase in peak torque, from 59 lbs•ft to 61 lbs•ft.

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MV Agusta Brutale 800 Gets a Visual Overhaul for 2016

11/12/2015 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The crafty folks at Moto.it have gotten their hands on a video that shows the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800, which will be getting a modest facelift for the upcoming model year. Details on the model are non-existent at this point, but we can spot obvious style changes on this bike  when compared to the 2015 model.

As such, the tail-section has been replaced with one that uses negative space, like on the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce. Similarly, the fuel tank, exhaust, taillight, and headlight have all been swept backwards, while the intake ducts, and radiator fairings have all been changed.

The chassis and three-cylinder engine seem to be unchanged for 2016, but we’ll have to wait for official word from MV Agusta on that front. Expect to see the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 officially drop on Monday, and be on display at the EICMA show in Milan.

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