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.

BMW R90 Interceptor – The Last RAD Bike

01/20/2014 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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For the past week or so I have been stooped over in a depression, because after hearing the news that Radical Ducati would be shutting its doors after 15 years of incredible custom motorcycle building, I am just not sure if life is worth living. That’s a bit of hyperbole of course, but we are, like many, selfishly saddened to see that Pepo and Reyes will be moving onto bigger and better things.

So, it is with some irony that we bring you the last motorcycle to come from Radical Ducati — ironic because the machine is not one of RAD’s mix-matched Ducati’s, which has given the small Spanish firm such notoriety, but instead the motorcycle is a BMW, with the same unique style and flare. Dubbed the BMW R90 Interceptor, the machine is a joint project between Radical Ducati and MaxBOXER.

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Radical Ducati Closes Shop

01/12/2014 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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After 15 years of making unique Ducati street bikes, Radical Ducati has announced the closing of its doors. The Spanish firm has made a name for itself by building custom Ducatis from various pieces of the Ducati parts bin, but now Pepo and Reyes are off for new adventures. We will miss their unique flare for design, but wish the folks at Radical Ducati all the best in their future endeavors.

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Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Hertrampf

12/16/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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As soon as Bologna debuted the Ducati 1199 Panigale, the speculation was rife on if/when the Italian brand would bring streetfighter and supersport-class machines to market. We have already seen the Ducati 899 Panigale, which isn’t quite race-legal, though packs the superbike’s design philosophies into a more affordable package with a smaller engine displacement.

As for the Streetfighter, the debut of the Ducati Monster 1200 seems to confirm suspicions that Ducati has no plans to continue with a performance-based street naked. With the demise of the Streetfighter 1098, one can only wonder how much longer the Streetfighter 848 will remain in Ducati’s lineup. Surely when the smaller displacements of the Monster line move to water-cooled engine, the we will see the removal of the 848, much to our chagrin.

This still leaves us with some “what if’s” though, as some believe the monocoque “frameless” chassis design of the Panigale makes a streetfighter variant all but impossible. We would have to say that when the fairingless photos of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera that came out this year, our eyes searched for ways to tailor the Panigale’s naked body into some sort of Streetfighter, though it looks like some Germans have gone a step further.

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Iron Lung by Icon 1000

12/10/2013 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Oregon’s favorite motorcycle apparel brand has a custom motorcycle build for the holidays, the Icon 1000 “Iron Lung” Sportster. An homage to the bikes that Harley-Davidson used to build in the 1970’s, you know when the Bar & Shield brand did real racing, and was fairly good at it too.

Based around a 1991 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 engine, the Iron Lung sees its lump bored out to 1,200cc, with a Supertrapp exhaust helping things breathe a bit better as well. The front-end has been lowered and widened with wide-glide forks and custom triple clamp. Similarly, the rear features a custom subframe with Progressive 970 shocks.

To make Iron Lung work visually, Icon widened the fairings, which gives the machine a bulldog like stance: low and wide. Fitted with the company’s own variety of Portlandian hipster chic, the Iron Lung sports paint by Garage 31 and a custom seat by New Church Moto — two local outfits in Portland, Oregon.

The design isn’t really our usual fare here at Asphalt & Rubber, but you have to appreciate the honesty in Icon’s retelling of the Iron Lung’s performance assessment:

“Once completed, we headed down to an oval in Southern Oregon and kicked ‘er in the guts to be featured along side of our Spring 2014 ICON 1000 apparel collection – coming soon. Her handling was as questionable as the grandstand snacks, but she bore the brunt of torture with aplomb. It wouldn’t be an ICON 1000 bike without a true trial by fire. In Iron Lung’s case this was literal as she burst into flame after her initial shakedown run just a few weeks prior.”

We find that worryingly appealing. Party on boys and girls.

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Confederate C2 P-51 Fighter — Pierre Terblanche’s Latest Motorcycling Creation

12/07/2013 @ 8:12 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

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It has been over two years since we saw a new motorcycle from Confederate Motors, but you would be wrong to think that the boutique Southern brand has been sitting idly by all this time.

Earlier this year, Confederate added esteemed motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche to its ranks, and now we get to see the first fruition of the South African’s influence on the American motorcycle company.

Announcing today the Confederate C2 P-51 Fighter, Terblanche has created Confederate’s second-generation model of the Fighter line — no easy feat to build upon, as Terblanche calls the original fighter one of his all-time favorite motorcycle designs.

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Radical Ducati Matador

12/02/2013 @ 3:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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We haven’t seen something from the boys at Radical Ducati in a while, so their timing with Radical Ducati Matador and the holidays seems like an early moto-related present.

For the un-initiated, Radical Ducati is a small shop in Madrid, Spain that specializes in Frankensteining together custom motorcycles from the Ducati parts bin.

Based around the Ducati 1198 Superbike lump, and featuring all the usual Radical Ducati parts, the Radical Ducati Matador is not only typical of the Spanish firm’s gritty design practice, but also makes us nostalgic for the now deceased Ducati Streetfighter 1098 platform, which hit upon the same raw vein during its brief time in Ducati’s lineup.

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BMW R nineT – 90 Years in the Making

10/16/2013 @ 5:04 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

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Officially official now, BMW Motorrad has taken the wraps off its new BMW R nineT cafe racer motorcycle. Helping the German brand celebrate 90 years of building motorcycles, the nineT is an air-cooled homage to BMW’s rich motorcycling past.

Based around the iconic 1,170cc air-cooled boxer engine that BMW has employed in a number of its best selling machines, the BMW R nineT is good for 108hp and 88 lbs•ft of torque.

With styling said to be based off the legandary BMW R32 from 1923, the nineT has more traditional cafe racer lines, mated to some of BMW’s best technology.

BMW hopes that the production model R nineT will be the basis for more custom builds though, citing the company’s collaboration with Roland Sands for the BMW Concept Ninety project as one such project to use the nineT’s roots for inspiration.

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Arete Americana’s Ducati 999 CF

07/03/2013 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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It might not have been the sales disaster that many make it out to have been, but Pierre Terblanche’s Ducati 999  remains one of the most controversial machines ever to come out of Borgo Panigale. However, the more we look at the 999’s staked-headlight and double-sided swingarm design, two of the biggest design elements that Ducatisti took umbrage with at the bike’s launch, the more we think that the Ducati 999 Superbike will become a collector’s classic, and stand as a unique time in the Italian brand’s history.

So, it warms out hearts to see that there are people out there still building off of Terblanche’s work, and one of them is Bryan Petersen at Arete Americana and his Ducati 999 CF. Sporting a tail and tank from Radical Ducati (Arete Americana is the North American distributor for the Spanish firm), along with a singe-sided swingarm conversion from an 848, the Ducati 999 CF is our kind of custom: subtle, yet to the point, and Arete Americana has ensured that all the right go-fast bits were included in the build.

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The Build Film

04/03/2013 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva

03/11/2013 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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It has been a while since we posted about those crazy Spaniards at Radical Ducati, but long-time readers will remember fondly the exquisite custom motorcycles that Pepo and Reyes have created from the various pieces of Ducati’s finest.

It is hard to pick a favorite from machines like the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer, Radical Ducati Café Veloce, Radical Ducati Mikaracer, Radical Ducati Raceric, and Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO, but our moto-lust keeps bringing us back to the Radical Ducati 9½ – a café racer styled motorcycle that uses an ST2 motor, a Monster 900 frame, and a 916 fuel tank and swingarm.

Getting its name from the ST2’s 944cc engine displacement, the 9½’s designation should tip-off where the Spanish firm has gone in its creation with the Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva. Another water-cooled machine, the 7½ Sportiva ups the ante with the Ducati Superbike 749R taking the honor as its donor bike, while still remaining true to its predecessor’s café racer look and feel.

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