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.

Nissin ABS Brake Defect Creates Waves of Recalls for OEMs

07/31/2013 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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A wave of recalls are reaching the shores of motorcycle manufacturers, as brake maker Nissin has had to recall a number of its ABS units for a misaligned inlet valve, which could allow foregin particles into the fluid of the braking system, which could cause the ABS functionality to fail.

Triumph first discovered the defect, and reported it to Nissin, which in-turn notified its other affected OEMs. So far  5,766 motorcycles have been affected by the recall, comprising a total of four manufacturers (a list of the models is after the jump, with a link to the appropriate NHTSA posting). We will update this list if/when more model recalls are announced.

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2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS – Now with Bosch 9MP ABS, 167 Horsepower, & More Letters in Its Name

07/17/2013 @ 6:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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Now 167 hp strong, those crazy Italians in Noale are upgrading there already stout Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC for the 2014 model year, and for bonus points are adding an ABS package along with those extra ponies on the streetfighter’s peak horsepower figure.

Integrating the Bosch 9MP dual-channel ABS package, which is mated to Brembo M432 brake calipers up-front, Aprilia has made the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R  a bit more stable while braking on questionable road conditions — keeping the bike inline with its competitors.

With a bevy of changes coming to the Tuono’s 999.6cc V4 power plant to boost power, we also see that Aprilia has included its second-generation APRC electronics package to the motorcycle, making it easily the most tech-savvy machine in its category.

Other changes include also a larger fuel tank (4.9 gallons), and a new seat for better street performance and ergonomics. It’s not clear if Aprilia USA will price the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R at its previous $14,999 MSRP, or will continue its aggressive pricing at $13,999, like the company has done with the 2013 models.

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2013 BMW F700GS Breaks Cover

07/02/2012 @ 12:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

BMW has updated its 800cc GS line, starting with the new 2013 BMW F700GS. An adventure bike with the road more in mind, BMW is differentiating the 2012 BMW F700GS from the 2103 BMW F800GS by using lower-spec suspension, cast wheels, a 19″ front wheel, lower seat height, and lower horsepower output.

Using the same 798cc four-valve parallel-twin liquid-coooled motor, the BMW F700GS gets a modest power increase over the BMW F650GS it is replacing, as peak power has been pushed to 75hp, up from the 71hp the F650GS made. Peak torque has also been boosted to 56.8 lbs•ft, while the curb weight is 209 kg (460 lbs).

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2012 KTM 690 Duke – Cheaper, More Powerful, & ABS

11/08/2011 @ 7:04 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

After teasing us with some photos and video of its new Duke, KTM finally unveiled the 2012 KTM 690 Duke at EICMA this morning. With 90% of the bike being completely brand new, KTM says the new 690 Duke brings the Austrian company back to its street-naked roots, with an off-road influence of course. Accordingly, at the heart of the KTM 690 Duke is a 690cc LC4 single-cylinder thumper that puts out a crushing 70hp and 51 lbs•ft of torque, while the whole motorcycle package weighs only 330 lbs (without fuel).

Further refining the LC4 single-cylidner motor, KTM has created a new cylinder head, and added a dual-ignition system & ride-by-wire throttle for the 690 Duke. Anti-lock brakes have also been added to the 2012 KTM 690 Duke, as the Austrian company has tapped Bosch to use the Bosch 9M+ ABS package. Lastly, braking power comes from a Brembo radially-mounted caliper with a single 320mm brake disc, while suspension is handle by KTM subsidiary WP, and consists of fully-adjustable 43mm front forks, and a fully-adjustable rear shock.

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2012 Honda Crosstourer

11/07/2011 @ 4:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Honda teased us last year with the Honda Crosstourer Concept, but for the 2011 EICMA show, the Japanese manufacturer is making good on its promise to bring the GS-lookalike to market. Based off the VFR1200F, the 2012 Honda Crosstourer comes with traction control, combined anti-lock brakes (C-ABS), and of course an optional dual-clutch transmission. While the Crosstourer shares the VFR’s 1,237cc V4 motor, the adventure bike model puts out a significantly lower 127hp @ 7,750 rpm, while a gluttonous 93 lbs•ft torque @ 6,500 rpm remains on-tap.

Clearly a road-focused adventure-tourer model, the Honda Crosstourer may never have the off-road pedigree as the BMW R1200GS it is meant to emulate, but true to Honda fashion, the Crosstourer has plenty of technical prowess built into it. For instance, the idea of using DCT technology for an adventure bike should prove interesting, as it takes the process of having to manage the clutch/motor over unsteady terrain out of the picture.

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2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Redefines the Word ‘Superbike’

11/07/2011 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler61 COMMENTS

I often get lambasted in the comments section for being pro-Ducati here on Asphalt & Rubber, and that’s fine by me, because I am. It’s hard not to like a company that has basically defined the modern aesthetic for motorcycles, or a company that continues to grow despite being in the worst recession since The Great Depression. It’s also not hard to love a company that continues to release, year-after-year, new compelling motorcycles, as is the case today with the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Teased ad nauseam, the Ducati 1199 Panigale shouldn’t disappoint the discerning sport bike rider with a strong appetite for Italian food, as the latest v-twin from Bologna sets many firsts for the superbike market segment. As we predicted last year, the Ducati 1199 Panigale drops 20lbs off the Superbike 1198’s design (22 lbs actually), while making an extra 20hp over its predecessor. Not only is the 1199 Panigale the lightest production superbike on the market, with its 361 lbs dry weight (414 lbs wet), it’s also one of the most powerful with its 195hp peak power figure, courtesy of the Superquadro motor.

Other firsts include a revolutionary monocoque frame, the first full-LED headlight on a motorcycle (another story we broke), the first electronically adjusted suspension on a sport bike, the first engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle (the DDA+ package is an optional equipment item for the Panigale). While traction control comes standard, ABS brakes will also be an optional item for the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Available in April 2012, as we expected the new Ducati 1199 Panigale has gotten a price increase over the Superbike 1198. Accordingly the base model will cost $17,995, the “S” will cost $22,995, and “S” Tricolore will hit the wallet at $27,995 MSRP.

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Husqvarna Debuts Off-Road Anti-Lock Braking System

11/04/2011 @ 7:13 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Taking the “anti-lock brakes don’t work off-road” mentality head-on, Husqvarna has debuted an anti-lock braking system (ABS) package designed specifically for off-road use. Derived from BMW’s extensive experience with the technology (BMW Motorrad was the first OEM to fit ABS to a production motorcycle), Husqvarna has taken the lessons learned by its German parent company, specifically BMW’s Race ABS from the S1000RR superbike, and adapted the technology for its dirt models for off-road racing.

Continuing to prove our “electronics are the new horsepower” hypothesis and fitting the flagship Husqvarna TE 449 with the new off-road ABS technology, Husqvarna hopes to make a statement not only about the use of ABS in off-street conditions, but is taking things a step further by putting anti-lock brakes on a race-bred dirt bike. The key to the off-road ABS technology from Husqvarna is two-fold. First, Husqvarna’s dual-channel ABS still allows for the rear tire to be locked-up while under heavy braking (this can also be achieved on the S1000RR’s ABS package under the “slick” mode setting). Second, the system, like its road-going counterpart, is extremely light, and only adds 1.5kg (3.3 lbs) of weight to the bike.

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BMW Makes ABS Standard on All 2012 Models

04/19/2011 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Another cog in the wheel has turned, bringing us closer to complete adoption of anti-lock brakes as standard equipment on motorcycles, as BMW Motorrad USA has announced that all 2012 BMW motorcycles will come standard with ABS. It was 23 years ago that BMW brought the technology to motorcycles, so it seems only fitting that the company would be the first to implement the technology across its full line-up.

To the chagrin of some motorcycle enthusiasts, ABS has slowly seen its way onto a variety of motorcycles over the years, including the sportbike segment. It seems only a matter of time before it becomes standard across all manufacturers, not just BMW Motorrad.

“Plain and simple, being able to stop a motorcycle faster and more predictably helps prevent a rider from becoming a statistic,” said Pieter de Waal, Vice President, BMW Motorrad USA. “It’s time for all of us in the motorcycle industry to embrace the benefits of ABS. Extensive testing by safety experts, law enforcement authorities and journalists around the world consistently demonstrates that ABS reduces overall crashes and saves lives.”

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Are Electronics the New Horsepower?

03/01/2011 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The news of the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC got me thinking today about where the sport bike market is headed from a big picture perspective.

The sport bike market has been dominated the constant need to develop motorcycles with more power, less weight, and new performance enhancing technologies, and you’d be hard pressed to find a year where the bike with the most horsepower wasn’t the top-seller in this category (case in point: the complete sales domination of the BMW S1000RR during 2010).

For years the motorcycle manufacturers, especially the Japanese, have been painting themselves into a corner by constantly having to one-up each other with horsepower figures in order to sell motorcycles in this segment.

With bikes like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R approaching the 200hp barrier, the question about “how much power is enough?” has been cropping up, and it certainly could be that we’re approaching the point in time where the relevancy of this metric is losing it’s power (pun moderately intended).

So what will be the new kingmaker for sport bikes? The electronics package.

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2011 Triumph Speed Triple Gets ABS

09/29/2010 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

One of our astute readers here at Asphalt & Rubber pointed out in the comments section that hidden in the accessory photos on Triumph’s website, was a single shot that exposed the rear-wheel ABS pick-up on the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple. It’s no secret now that anti-lock braking systems are all the rage for street bikes, so it seems logical that Triumph would follow suit.

Now the real question remains whether the British brand will also field a traction control package, since TC systems often use these kind of sensors as well. Time will tell. Good eye Krylov!