Carbon Fiber BMW HP4 Race Debuts in China

As we predicted, the BMW HP4 Race carbon fiber superbike debuted today in China, at the Auto Shanghai 2017 expo. This is the production version of the prototype that BMW Motorrad teased at last year’s EIMCA show in Milan. Details were scarce in Italy, but now BMW is ready to tell us all about its halo bike. The numbers? Only 750 units of the BMW HP4 Race will be produced. Each one will make 212hp, and weigh 377 lbs when fully fueled and ready to ride – which is lighter than BMW’s WorldSBK-spec S1000RR racing machine. Of course the main feature of the BMW HP4 Race is that it drips in carbon fiber. The bodywork, main frame, and wheels are made of this composite material, with the tail section being a self-supporting carbon fiber unit.

Mmm…Check This Suzuki GSX1100SD Katana Race Bike

I am young enough that most of what I can remember of the 1980s is skewed by the forming mind of a child, thankfully. New Coke, ponytails to the side, Cabbage Patch Kids…Alf – it is all a bad dream as far as I am concerned. The 1980s were a pretty good decade for motorcycles though. Two-strokes still reigned supreme in grand prix racing, and some of America’s best two-wheeled heroes were riding them. The only rider-aids that were available were things like handlebars and footpegs. Even then, racing a motorcycle was a pursuit full of perils. Mirroring this notion on the production side of things, the superbike was just starting to be born in earnest, with consumers able to buy fire-breathing monsters that tested the limits of chassis and tire design. A healthy dose of male bravado was involved in riding a motorcycle like a Katana.

Mega Gallery: 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans

Not only does the FIM EWC showcase several manufacturers, with strong race-winning potential each of the championship’s multiple iconic events, but it the series is the last great venue for a proper battle between the different tire brands. Add to that the fact that the Endurance World Championship is comprised not only of endurance specialists, but also with some of the top names from motorcycle racing, both in factory and satellite teams, and it’s easy to find a reason to cheer for a particular entry. The best part though might be the photography that comes from motorcycle racing, which often spans from daylight and into the darkness of night. This year’s 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans event was no different, and we have a bevy of photos to share with you from France.

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.

Motorcycling’s April Fools Round-Up for 2017

04/03/2017 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Another year, and another April Fools Day is done and dusted. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

My colleague David Emmett had a timely story about the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, which hosted a nearly rained-out Qatar GP a couple weeks ago. As such, his piece focused on improvements Losail could make for inclement weather, namely a radiant heating system below the asphalt. It’s so crazy, it just might work.

If you were confused by our WorldSBK coverage on Saturday, that’s because our man Kent Brockman had some fun with the race results and his debrief report, changing the names of all of the riders to “Jonathan Rea” as a nod to the Northern Irishman’s dominance so far in the Championship. Those results are now correct, by the way.

Of course you know I can’t pass up some love on April Fools, so we ran two stories. The first one was about Ducati’s new “Quattrofromagi” superbike – I owe the idea to my fellow Two Enthusiasts Podcast host Quentin Wilson, so of course it was a pretty cheesy story.

My other story included Aprilia, and how the Italian brand’s bag of well-lettered motorcycles are helping kids to learn and read good. As some noted in the comments, the idea of a motorcycle brand product-placing in a show like Sesame Street isn’t a bad idea. I make no apologies for my Michael Jackson savagery, however.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

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Sumo Wrestlers Rippin’ Dank Whoolies on Motorcycles

02/22/2017 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Get ready, because you are about to win the internet for today. You are about to be the hero of your office email chain. You are about to lose several minutes of your life (and maybe more) that you will never be able to get back again.

For your consideration, we bring you two sumo wrestlers rippin’ dank whoolies on motorcycles. Many thanks to our crazy friends at Bajaj, who think this is a great way of selling the Pulsar motorcycle to the traveling masses.

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HJC Is Coming Out with Star Wars Themed Helmets

10/05/2016 @ 2:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Pardon me while I geek out, just a little bit. It looks like HJC has gotten the rights to make Star Wars themed helmets for their 2017 collection. Right now, HJC is showing two helmets, one that mimic’s Kylo Ren’s helmet in The Force Awakens, and the other that replicates Boba Fett’s iconic lid.

Both of these themed helmets are based off the HJC RPHA 11 helmet, the company’s top-of-the-line helmet, which also serves as a platform for HJC’s other branded, tribute, and special edition helmets.

There will also be a “Death Trooper” helmet, based on the HJC FG-17 helmet, that will debut in time to milk interest from the opening of Rogue One.

It should be noted that rumors about a possible Princess Lela helmet, with side-mounted hair buns, are unfounded and possibly started by this publication.

There is no word on price yet (you’ll probably have to sell your speed for it though), but we would expect something north of $600 or so, judging from the price tags on HJC’s helmets that use designs from the MARVEL comic book universe.

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Motorcycle Dealers Take Note – This Is How You Sell Fun

09/08/2016 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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In writing this story, I probably tried on four or five different approaches to say that exact same thing: here is a video that makes me want to drop off a pile of cash at my local Husqvarna dealership, and brap off into the sunset with a new Husqvarna 701 Supermoto.

I had trouble articulating this thought though, not because I was at a loss of words for my inner-hooligan, but because what impressed me more was the fact that this high-octane video clip comes not from Husqvarna, but instead from one of the company’s Czech dealers: Dypree.

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Video: MotoGP’s Universal Sign Language

05/05/2016 @ 6:57 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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MotoGP is in Le Mans, France this weekend and if you watch the TV feed long enough, you will invariably see a candid moment where a rider is in the pit box, trying to explain a technical item with his team. In these moments it goes, almost without saying, that he will be doing most of the explaining with his hands.

There is something about the dynamic movements of a motorcycle at speed that defies mere words – gestures and sounds seem to be an integral process of getting one’s point across in a clear manner. It’s two-wheeled pantomime.

The folks at Alpinestars have picked up on this, and made a quick video with its sponsored riders in the MotoGP race class. What’s interesting to see is how many of the gestures at the same for explaining the same act. Call it Universal Rider Sign Language, perhaps?

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The Motorcycle Industry’s Very Best April Fools Jokes

04/04/2016 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Another year, and another April Fools Day is in the bag. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

As usual, David had a timely piece on MotoGP adopting regulations that govern aerodynamics, namely that a spec-winglet shape would be entering into racing starting in 2017. The Grand Prix Commission has already banned winglets in Moto2 and Moto3 for next season, so there was some precedent already for this story.

Less of a product review, and more of a satirical rant that focused on that guy at your next track day, we ran a story about the Dainese “D-Bag” luggage. The bags are made by Ogio, and are actually very good. I have two Ogio Rig 9800 bags, for some reason, and would highly recommend them or Dainese’s branded version.

Our last April Fools story was about Honda patenting a three-stroke engine design, which seemed to be very popular and catch more than a couple readers unaware. There is such a thing as a three-stroke engine…sort of…you can read its description here, but don’t expect Big Red to adopt the design any time soon.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

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Help Make Two-Stroke Scented Cologne A Thing

12/09/2015 @ 11:21 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Do you ever go for a ride in the woods, come home smelling like pre-mix, only to lose that sweet scent once you finally take a shower? Has the move to four-stroke machinery greatly reduced your ability to woo a worthy partner to make “brap brap” noises with throughout the night?

Never fear dear reader, we understand your plight. Behold, 2 Stroke – a manly cologne that has been scented from the smell of two-stroke machinery, with hints of pine and spruce. Your braplife needs this.

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“Due Process??! Do Wheelies!!!” – The Texas Law Hawk

11/03/2015 @ 11:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Things have been pretty heavy here lately at Asphalt & Rubber, especially with the “Sepang Clash” nonsense continuing to collapse the sport in like a dying star. The Tokyo Motor Show had a lot of hard news too, with a bevy of models and concepts making an appearance.

So much has been going on, we nearly forgot the number one reason we ride motorcycles: they’re fun! Never fear, we have our eyes on the prize here at A&R HQ, so here’s a little something to brighten your day.

If you ever need a lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas area, we know a guy…Bryan Wilson, the Texas Law Hawk. Click past the jump for so much internet win.

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Yamaha Is Seriously Using LOLcats to Promote Its New Bikes

10/01/2015 @ 11:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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We couldn’t make this story up if we tried, but Yamaha Motor Corporation is using the internet meme “LOLcats” to promote its product launches at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, complete with a kitten-written speech and internet-generated cat-meme photos.

Apparently this all started because in Japan, cats say “nya” instead of “meow” – this of course lead to the name “NYA-maha”…a ham-fisted bit of word play that should have never evolved beyond witty water cooler banter, or the best scene from stoner-favorite Supertroopers.

We seriously don’t know who pitched this idea, or how they fit their giant cojones in that conference room, but they must have been the voodoo master of marketing pitches, because here we are. You win Yamaha. You’ve robbed us of our innocence, but you win.

You cannot un-see this dedicated website, which has a prominent link on Yamaha’s global website. You also can’t un-read this “President’s Address”, or un-see the “product descriptions” for the Tokyo Motor Show, shown after the jump.

It’s all like looking at a solar eclipse of catnip, while getting Rickrolled by a giant multi-national motorcycle corporation that also happens to sell pianos.

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Unfold Honda’s “Power of Dreams” in Paper

09/22/2015 @ 4:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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It’s easy to focus on what is right in front of us, but every now and then you have to stop and think about the past – and a company like Honda certainly has a storied past.

Honda helped contribute to the rise of a post-WWII Japanese economy. It has built some of the most iconic vehicles in modern time, some of them two-wheeled, some of them not.

And for as much grief we give Big Red sometimes, it is one of the few brands in the motorcycle industry that truly sets the tone for everyone else. When Honda talks, everyone listens.

Maybe that’s what makes this short video from Honda, which debuted on Sunday during primetime football, so appealing to us – both as lovers of motorcycles, but also good branding.

The commercial is clever and well executed, and in less than two minutes it not only reminds us of the pedigree that is the Honda brand, but also of all the milestones the company has achieved in what will be 67 years at the end of this week. Pretty impressive stuff.

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