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.

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 701 Café Racer Spied

08/27/2015 @ 12:30 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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The spy photographer who sent us these photos calls this mystery motorcycle a “Husqvarna 701 café racer” which honestly is as good of a guess as any when it comes to figuring out what the Swedish brand is doing with this machine, and its 2016 motorcycle lineup.

Based off the KTM 690 Duke, as is the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, this machine promises to have a 70hp thumper at its heart, mixed with a short seat-height, clip-on handlebars, underslung exhaust, and an attractive trellis swingarm.

To our eye, the motorcycle in question looks like Husky’s take on the KTM 690 Duke – a naked street bike that’s equally at home in the city as it is in the twisties – more than it does a café racer.

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More Modern Streamliners by Mehmet Doruk Erdem

06/30/2015 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Continuing our thoughts from last week about streamliner designs, there are a few more concepts from Mehmet Doruk Erdem that are worth sharing.

While the Turksih designer’s BMW “Apollo” streamliner is a more stylized version of the designs we are accustomed to, his Eternity, Alpha, and Spirito concepts tread more into the futuristic realm, and are our subjects for today.

Before we get to the renders themselves though, it is of note that Erdem’s concepts relate to car manufacturers, thus leading us to the idea that at some point the quest by automakers to make small and efficient vehicles will lead them eventually down a two-wheeled road.

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BMW Apollo Streamliner Concept by Mehmet Doruk Erdem

06/26/2015 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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I have had dustbin fairings on the brain lately, and yesterday’s story about golf ball dimples on motorcycle helmets isn’t helping things.

From a pure design perspective, there is something I enjoy immensely about streamlining — I think its the sleek lines and low-slung bodywork that hugs the asphalt, looking for any edge over the wind. Despite being something of motorcycling’s past, there is something futuristic about a well-designed dustbin.

That’s an interesting thought, because from a practical point-of-view, I’m rather indifferent to the whole idea.

The two-wheeled examples I’ve seen of extreme aerodynamic efficiency are not machines I would want to ride, let alone own…sans maybe the 2012 MotoCzysz E1pc — that bike was downright fun to ride, but I don’t think that was because of Michael Czysz’s aerodynamic work. I digress.

The streamlining designs that have been catching my fancy lately though are modern takes on an old-school aesthetic and method for cutting through the wind.

It doesn’t take much to find modern builders who are recreating old dustbin designs into their modern-day builds, but I’m more interested in how the aerodynamic principle of streamlining can evolve as alternate to today’s aerodynamic compromises, in the same way steampunk explores a worldly evolution that never happened.

The first concept to catch my fancy, as such, is the BMW Apollo Streamliner by Turkish designer Mehmet Doruk Erdem.

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Monty by XTR Pepo

06/22/2015 @ 1:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The “Monty” is the latest build from XTR Pepo, and as you can tell from the styling, this is the work of the same mind that brought us the Radical Ducati.

Pepo has since branched out from Ducatis though, taking on other brands, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the Monty started life as a 1978 Laverda 500 Alpino — the name being a nod to the Laverda Montjuic, which was based off the Alpino, and affectionately called “Monty” in-short by its owners.

While there are a number of Laverda parts in the build, if you look closely at XTR Pepo’s Monty, you will see the swingarm from a Suzuki Bandit, front forks from a Ducati Monster, a GSX-R600 clutch lever, and Honda CBR600RR footpegs — all in the name of continuing of XTR Pepo’s motorcycle pick-and-pull build style.

There is something to be said about the recycling of parts that normally would have little value to most riders, yet can be integral in making Pepo’s imagination come to fruition. Of course, there are also a number of XTR Pepo’s bespoke parts on Monty as well.

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Ducati Scrambler Hero 01 by Holographic Hammer

06/11/2015 @ 1:53 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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We’ve been big fans of the work done by Holographic Hammer for a long, though we have only curious featured their work once before — and that’s a shame, since the French outfit is making some interesting concepts, both digitally and physically.

We’re therefore happy to share with you their latest work, the Ducati Scrambler “Hero 01”.

Holographic Hammer tells us that they wanted to keep the purpose of the Scrambler at the Hero 01’s core, namely a bike that you actually used on a day-to-day basis. It would get dirty, it would get scratched, it would tip over…therefore a bunch of intricate and expensive kit wouldn’t do.

The changes therefore are practical and affordable, sans maybe the $3,000 carbon fiber Rotobox wheels…after all though, one has to live. Right?

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BMW R nineT Concepts by Iban Domigo & Xavier Vairai

05/22/2015 @ 8:01 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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We have already talked about how important, from a customizer’s perspective, the BMW R nineT is with its modular design. The tragically named, yet intelligently built motorcycle can be the foundation for a multitude of different ideas, styles, and trends.

Nothing illustrates that more than the concepts put together by Iban Domigo (of Ruleshaker) and Xavier Vairai (of Dream Machines), as they take the German café racer and apply streamline moderne and art deco lines to them.

The result is beautifully smooth machines that give the impression that motorcycle design evolved purely from a baseline rooted in the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. There is something distinctly modern about the bikes, but the air-cooled heads and aerodynamic fairings tell another older story.

There’s something very visually pleasing here, and so we thought we would share it. More examples await you, after the jump.

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A BMW Scrambler Cometh?

04/20/2015 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It appears that BMW Motorrad wants in on the retro-styled scrambler game that Ducati and Triumph are playing, and is looking to use its R nineT platform to do the job.

The scrambler model, which has already been previewed to BMW’s European dealers, would be just the first of several budget-oriented models to come from BMW, all of which would be based off the BMW R nineT.

The scrambler is expected to debut later this year with its 100hp air-cooled engine, while the other models, namely a café racer model, will come in 2016.

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“Scrambler Café Racer” Ducati Scrambler by Mr. Martini

01/29/2015 @ 5:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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The third, and last, Ducati Scrambler concept from the Verona Motor Bike Expo, the “Scrambler Café Racer” by Mr. Martini is exactly what the name implies: a cafe racer styled scrambler motorcycle.

Mr. Martini appropriately added a high-mount exhaust to his “scrambler” and retained the Scrambler’s Pirelli knobby tires. The addition of a cafe racer fairing though is an interesting choice, and leaves this concept straddling the two staples of hipster motorbiking in the custom scene.

We’ll let you decided whether this doubles the “post-authentic” nature of the Scrambler, or if the work is just an overload of the self-ironic.

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Husqvarna 401 Concepts Will Be 2017 Production Models

01/12/2015 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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One of the more intriguing things to come out of the 2014 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan were Husqvarna’s two “401” concepts, the Vitpilen and Svartpilen. The café-styled bikes are based off the KTM 390 Duke platform, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at them.

Husqvarna said at EICMA that if there was sufficient interest, the Vitpilen and Svartpilen could go into production. With an overwhelming critical response from the press and fans, it should come no surprise then that our friends at Bike.se are reporting that Husqvarna intends to make the small-displacement machines a part of its 2017 model lineup.

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2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer — Japan’s Cafe Racer

09/29/2014 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Yamaha has debuted three machines ahead of the INTERMOT show, and the first two birds of the same feather: the Yamaha XJR1300 and Yamaha XJR1300 Racer. Based around Yamaha’s 1,300cc air-cooled inline-four engine (98hp / 80 lbs•ft), the XJR1300 and XJR1300 Racer take on the lines of the classic “naked bike” aesthetic — building upon Yamaha’s previous offering.

Yamaha says that it has worked closely with motorcycle customizers to update the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300, and the result is an addition to its “Sport Heritage” line, with a decidedly sporty twist coming from the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer, which has carbon fiber bodywork and clip-on handlebars.

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