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.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F — A Sporty Sport-Tourer

09/30/2014 @ 5:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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We caught a glimpse of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F yesterday, as it sat on the expo floor at INTERMOT, and we were curious about the machine. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for the details.

Essentially a fully-faired version of the Suzuki GSX-S1000, the Suzuki GSX-S1000F fills the void in Suzuki’s lineup for a 1,000cc sport-tourer that is actually sporty — think of it as a response to the Honda VFR800.

The GSX-S1000F uses the same purpose-built chassis and retuned 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine that the GSX-S1000 uses, though Suzuki obviously wrapped that package in a full-fairing design.

Also carried over is the three-way adjustable traction control system as standard, KYB suspension, and Brembo monoblock brakes. Anti-locking brakes are available as an optional item.

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2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – How To Sell Leftover GSX-R’s

09/30/2014 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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A bike we spotted in Southern California shooting a commercial, we already knew to expect the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 at the INTERMOT show this week. Built around the same inline-four engine that was found in the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000, the GSX-S1000 has been tuned for street use, though Suzuki isn’t exactly talking key figures.

Proving that it’s not selling just a rebadged GSX-R, Suzuki has built an all-new aluminum frame chassis for GSX-S1000, with an eye on making the machine more of a roadster than a streetfighter.

Also of note is the addition of a three-way selectable traction control system, something even the GSX-R1000 doesn’t have. ABS is available, but only on the aptly named Suzuki GSX-S1000.

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2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure – Even with 180hp, Is This the Safest Motorcycle in the World?

09/30/2014 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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KTM wasn’t bashful about wedging the 1301cc lump from the KTM Super Duke R into the company’s ADV offering, as the Austrians were fairly frank about 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure debuting at INTERMOT. There may not be too many surprises about the adventure-tourer then, but it certainly is a stout package from KTM.

Obvious is the massive horsepower that the KTM 1290 Super Adventure is putting down, but KTM has also infused control into the ADV bike. Bosch’s MSC “cornering ABS” system is standard, as is traction control, cruise control, and semi-active suspension from WP. LED cornering headlights are also standard, while an electronic hill hold control (HHC) can be fitted as an option.

Of note is that the 1290 Super Adventure does not use the exact same engine as the 1290 Super Duke R. The two machines use the same cylinders, connecting rods, and pistons, but KTM’s engineers built a special crankshaft and cylinders for the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure, which also has a heavier flywheel than the Super Duke R.

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2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS – Wee-Strom Gets a Beak

09/30/2014 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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The leaks ahead of INTERMOT turned out to be true, as the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT broke cover today in Germany. Taking its cues from its 1,000cc sibling, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is visually very similar to Suzuki’s other ADV bike, though at its center is the same tried-and-true 645cc v-twin engine.

Noticeable differences to the Suzuki V-Strom 1000, beside the engine of course, are the wire-spoked wheeles, side-by-side dual headlight (the V-Strom 1000 has a stacked headlight). Like the V-Strom 1000 though, the V-Strom 650XT comes with a 19″ front wheel (17″ rear).

At 474 lbs at the curb, the V-Strom 650XT ABS is a lighter option to the V-Strom 1000, and gives the Triumph Tiger 800XC & BMW F800GS a good run for their money — expect the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS to be priced aggressive, as such.

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2015 BMW S1000RR – 199hp, New Chassis, & Cruise Control

09/30/2014 @ 2:35 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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Unsurprisingly, BMW Motorrad debuted an updated BMW S1000RR superbike at INTERMOT — building upon the company’s already stout package.

Revising the frame geometry for better handling, massaging the engine for an additional 6hp (peak power is now 199hp, while torque is at 83 lbs•ft), and reducing weight by 9 lbs (449.7 lbs with a full tank of fuel and ABS), the Germans hope that the 2015 BMW S1000RR remains the superbike to beat in the coming years.

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2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS Gets More Power

09/04/2014 @ 1:25 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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It’s hard to fault the current Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, except perhaps the sport bike’s alphabet soup name, which the Italian company seems to grow longer with each passing year and added feature.

That being said, the Tuono V4 R is easily our pick for the best streetfighter on the market — it packs a punch with its V4 engine, has the industry’s best electronics package, and is just downright fun to ride.

Noale, Italy isn’t resting on those laurels though, so accordingly the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS is getting some minor updates: namely a bump in peak power (170hp) and torque (83.3 ft•lbs), thanks to a new exhaust system.

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BMW HP4 Gets ABS-Supported Brakes for Cornering

07/21/2014 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Stability control for motorcycles is the new rage right now, after the Bosch MSC system was announced, and made available for the KTM 1190 Adventure.

It seems BMW Motorrad is the next manufacturer to receive this new anti-locking brakes system that works while leaned over, and the BMW HP4 is the first Bavarian machine to get the upgrade.

BMW Motorrad is calling the Bosch MSC system “ABS Pro”, and it functions by adjusting the inputs to the brake calipers based on the acceleration, roll, and yaw of the motorcycle.

This avoids accidentally tucking the front-end of the motorcycling while trail braking, and also eliminates the bike standing up when the brakes are applied while in a moderate lean.

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2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS 30th Anniversary Edition

07/11/2014 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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In case you didn’t know, this is the 30th anniversary of the Ninja motorcycle line from Kawasaki. To commemorate the occasion, Big Green has already debuted the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 30th Anniversary Edition and 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 30th Anniversary Edition motorcycles, and today the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS 30th Anniversary Edition joins them.

Like its sport bike brethren, this special ZX-14R comes with a special livery, which will be available to only 300 lucky owners (each unit is specially numbered). Finished in a “Firecracker Red” with “Metallic Graystone” paint, along with gold pinstriping and gold brake calipers, you can be certain that the changes are purely skin deep for this special model.

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66,000+ Harley-Davidsons Recalled for Front-Wheel Lockup

07/10/2014 @ 8:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Bad news for 2014 Harley-Davidson Touring and CVO-Touring motorcycles with ABS installed, as the Bar & Shield brand has issued a recall with the NHTSA for 66,421 motorcycles that could potentially see their front-wheel lockup unexpectedly during normal operation.

The problem comes about because the affected motorcycles may have been assembled with the front brake line positioned in such a way that it could be pinched between the fuel tank and frame, causing the front brake fluid pressure to increase. If the fluid pressure does increase, it could cause the front wheel to lockup, and possibly cause a crash. To-date, five such crashes have occurred, with thankfully only minor injuries being reported.

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How Harley-Davidson Got Sued Over ABS Brakes & Why You Can’t Buy an Airbag Leather Suit in the USA

06/30/2014 @ 9:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler57 COMMENTS

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I was reading DealerNews last week when I stumbled across a brief story about how Harley-Davidson was being sued by a couple, because the Bar & Shield brand did not offer the 2012 Electra Glide Classic with an anti-locking brake option.

The lawsuit comes about as a couple was riding two-up on their motorcycle in Texas, when a car suddenly cut in front of them. Locking up the wheels of the Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle fishtailed out of control, and flung the couple quite some distance. They are subsequently suing Harley-Davidson for $75,000 in damages.

I can already foresee the pro-business comments below this article, deriding these motorcyclists for a series events that amount to “their fault” for their medical and financial woes — after all, it was they who chose to buy a motorcycle without ABS, right?

Legal scholars, and those familiar with tort law and product liability in the United States though, will see the case quite differently. And barring specific details and circumstances, the conclusion to this lawsuit will almost certainly side with the complainants, not Harley-Davidson.

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