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.

2016 Benelli Leoncino Brings Back the Lion Cub

11/18/2015 @ 2:25 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

2016-Benelli-Leoncino

Benelli is not a brand we usually talk about with great reverence, as the Italian company has steadily lost its luster since its acquisition by China’s Qianjiang Group.

Benelli’s motorcycles were never known for being terribly reliable, and unfortunately the artful designs that they exuded have slowly eroded away over time.

The big announcement for Benelli at the 2015 EICMA show is the new Benelli Leoncino, the “lion cub” model that’s rooted in Benelli’s post-WWII history.

This modern take on the classic Benelli Leoncino is an attractive scrambler model, which makes 47hp from its 500cc parallel-twin engine.

This also means that the Benelli Leoncino a well-suited A2 license machine in Europe, and its wire-spoked wheels are 19″ in the front and 17″ in the rear, and should make the Leoncino surprisingly adapt at light off-road use.

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Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 – 400cc of Hipster

11/16/2015 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

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The eagerly awaited 2016 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is the small-displacement machine we have been waiting for from Ducati, and it has finally dropped at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. The Scrambler Sixty2 joins the Scrambler Flat Track Pro as one of the two new Scrambler Ducati models for 2016.

Accordingly, the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 takes the basic Scrambler chassis and re-sleeves the machine’s air-cooled v-twin for 400cc of displacement, with a 72mm x 49mm bore and stroke (compared to the 88mm x 66mm bore and stroke on the 803cc models).

The result is a bike that Ducati says is better suited for new riders with its 41hp and 368 lbs dry weight. That’s only a 7 lbs reduction from the the 803cc models, so the Scrambler Sixty2 is still a bit heavy, but the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 does fit into Europe’s A2 license format, so there’s that.

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Here are the First Photos of the 2016 Honda CB500F

11/09/2015 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Media Advisory: 2016 Honda CB500F Preview Images

Here is your first look at the 2016 Honda CB500F, which like its other Honda brethren, will get a bit of makeover for next year. American Honda is teasing the new model now, but says it won’t release more information until the EICMA show in Milan, on November 17th.

We don’t think Honda will stray too far from the current Honda CB500F, with most of the modifications being cosmetic refinements that enhance the street-standard’s appeal to riders.

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Finally, Here is the Husqvarna 701 Enduro

10/27/2015 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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We already blew the cover on the Husqvarna 701 Enduro last month, but now the Swedish brand is officially showing the big enduro to the general public. As expected, the 701 Enduro will be the off-road compliment to the 701 Supermoto, with the two machines sharing the same 690cc single-cylinder platform.

This means that the Husqvarna 701 Enduro will make 67hp, have dual-spark ignition, and use a SOHC setup. The 701 machines also have ride-by-wire with selectable engine maps, ABS as standard, as is the ATSC slipper clutch.

For bonus points though, it is possible to get the Husqvarna 701 Enduro compliant for A2 licensed riders, which should help some less experienced riders get onto this big bike when it debuts in Europe (yes, it’s coming to the USA and Canada too).

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2016 Honda CB500X…With You Guessed It, Modest Changes

10/22/2015 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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For 2016, we know that Honda will bring its big “adventure-tourer” the US market, known to Europeans as the Honda Crosstourer, and introduced to Americans as the Honda VFR1200X. For the 2016 model year, the Crosstourer gets some minor updates, as does its 700cc sibling the Honda NC700X.

So if you’re keeping score, that leaves one more machine to get a modest update for 2016…yup, Honda CB500X, we are talking about you!

A Goldilocks-busting lineup of street-focused ADV machines, the 2016 Honda CB500X rounds out Honda’s lineup with a lightweight and nimble machine that is also good for the A2 licensing countries.

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2016 Honda CBR500R Debuts with Modest Changes

10/15/2015 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2016 Honda CBR500R

Not quite “bold new graphics” territory, but the Honda CBR500R will get mostly cosmetic changes for the 2016 model year, as the machine made its world debut at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida today, as expected.

The most noticeable change comes to the fairings, which get a more aggressive design that Honda says improves airflow over the rider. LEDs will replace the incandescent bulbs on the headlights and taillights, which is an interesting upgrade to make, though a welcomed one.

Other changes include a new exhaust can design, an adjustable front brake lever, improved feel through the gearbox, and a larger fuel tank. We saved the best new feature for last though: a wave ignition key, for smoother function. Welcome to Flavor Country, people.

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2014 Honda CB650F — A2 License Optional

11/08/2013 @ 4:44 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Of course where there is a new Honda CBR650F at the 2013 EICMA show, there is a new Honda CB650F as well. Based on its fully-faired sibling, the 2014 Honda CB650F features the same brand new chassis and motor that is found on the 2014 Honda CBR650F sport bike.

Accordingly, peak horsepower is 86hp with the CB650F tipping the scales at 454 lbs at the curb (458 lbs for the ABS-equipped model).

Like the CBR650F, the CB650F is geared for younger riders, and accordingly Honda will have an A2 license machine available that will make 47hp and have ABS as a standard option.

Other features and characteristics are in-line with the 650cc CBR model, making the CB650F a practical street naked, that has some design chops as well. Would you rock it?

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2013 KTM 390 Duke – AYBABTU

11/13/2012 @ 4:48 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Officially official now, there isn’t much about the 2013 KTM 390 Duke that we don’t already know ahead of the opening of the EICMA show. Built in India by KTM minority shareholder Bajaj, the KTM 390 Duke is a 373cc single-cylinder bike that shares the same chassis as the KTM 125 Duke & KTM 200 Duke.

Suitable for Europe’s A2 licensing system, the largest baby Duke competes well against bikes like the Honda CBR500R and Kawasaki Ninja 300, and thus finishes out the Austrian’s bid to control the small-displacement market.

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Leaked: 2013 KTM 390 Duke – 373cc, 43hp, EFI, A2 Ready

11/12/2012 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The Dutch folk at Nieuwsmotor have snuck their way onto the EICMA showroom floor, snapped photos of the KTM 390 Duke kiosk, and posted the images to their blog — giving us the first proper viewing of the Austrian brand’s 373cc street-thumper. Like the 2013 Honda CBR500R, the  2013 KTM 390 Duke is setup for the A2 licensing tier in Europe, and accordingly makes 43hp @ 9.500 rpm and 26 lbs•ft of torque @ 7,250 rpm.

Complete with ABS and built in India by minority shareholder Bajaj, the 2013 KTM 390 Duke is slotted to enter the US market next year, and should be aggressively priced against the competition. For already-motorcyclists and would-be motorcyclists in the market for a cheap, but potent, small-displacement machine, next year is going to be a very good year.

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53 Photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & Z800e

10/02/2012 @ 6:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

We already knew well ahead of the INTERMOT show that Team Green would debut the Kawasaki Ninja Z800, a bike that replaces the best-selling sport-naked in the Europe: the Kawasaki Ninja Z750. Featuring an 806cc inline-four motor, the new Z800 comes in two flavors: the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e. The Kawasaki Ninja Z800 makes 111hp and 61 lbs•ft of torque, while the Kawasaki Ninja Z800e gets a bit more watered down with 94hp and 56 lbs•ft of torque, though it saves 6 lbs over its more burly counterpart.

The two-pronged model approach by Kawasaki is surely being done to better capture a wider audience with the Ninja Z800 line, which also explains why the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e comes with a 47hp A2 license compliant option as well. Designed to be at home on the set of the next Transformers movie, you will either love or hate the lines of the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 — we happen to think it looks rather edgy and mean, which is how we like our street-nakeds to carry themselves.

For its added price and power, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 comes 41mm KYB forks that feature preload and rebound damping only — the same goes for the Z800’s rear shock. The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e, however comes with forks and a rear shock that have only preload adjustment capability, and no damping controls. Both models come with an optional ABS package. We do not expect the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 to come to North America at this point in time. Waiting for you after the jump are 53 photos of the new Kawasaki Ninja Z800.

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