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.

Dakar Rally – Stage 6: Yamaha Leads KTM into Chile

01/10/2013 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Olivier-Pain-Yamaha-Dakar-Rally

It has been four stages since we checked in with the 2013 Dakar Rally, and a bit has happened since Cyril Despres’s eight-minute gaffe in the rally race’s second stage. Reclaiming the lead the very next day, Despres seemed back on his form, and ready to blow away the competition — Stage Four would say otherwise however.

Shaking up the leader board, it was Yamaha’s Olivier Pain who finished the fourth day of racing roughly three minutes ahead of his teammate David Casteu and KTM’s Cyril Despres, respectively. The fifth and sixth stages had the competitors leave Peru, and make their first crossing into Chile (the 2013 Dakar will leave Chile for Argentina tomorrow during Stage Seven and then re-enter Chile at Stage Twelve through to the finish).

The change of locale proved advantageous for Despres, who gained timed on the Yamahas in front of him, and finally overtook Casteu on today’s Stage Six. Frenchman Olivier Pain remained in the lead through today though, with a 2:22 lead over Despres, and nearly five minutes over Casteu, who is running in danger of being caught by KTM’s Chaleco Lopez and Ruben Faria.

There are two more days of racing in Chile, before the riders will have their one and only rest day, which serves as the halfway mark for the Dakar Rally. Commence onward for full standings and some photos of the top competitors.

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Dakar Rally – Stage 2: Wrong Turn Costs Despres 8 Minutes

01/06/2013 @ 4:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

cyril-despres-ktm-dakar-rally

Sunday marks the second day of the Dakar Rally, and the first real day of racing. Despite completing only two stages thus far of the 2013 Dakar Rally, the racing has gotten interesting, as race-win favorite Cyril Despres has lost eight minutes to the overall leader, Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda.

Fifth fastest overall thus far, Despres’s lost time was due to navigating around a massive dune, a move that caught several other riders out as well. With Monday’s Stage Three expected to be an even more difficult day, Despres said he was happy to start from behind, and let the other riders tackle the course ahead of him, where he could learn from their mistakes.

The Dakar Rally has been settled by less than the eight minute gap that Despres currently faces, though the Frenchman’s navigational error would have been more critical if rival and teammate Marc Coma was entered in the race this year, instead of sidelined with injury.

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Video: Cyril Despres Talks Dakar

11/27/2012 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Carrying the #1 plate this year, Cyril Despres is one of the winningest motorcycle racers in the Dakar Rally’s history, having won the rally four times now (fellow Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel is the outright winningest motorcycle racer at Dakar, with six career wins).

Looking for his fifth win in 2013, the KTM rider has stiff competition, namely in the form of his teammate Marc Coma, who has won Dakar three times in his career. Separated by only seconds after thousands of miles of racing, the 2013 Dakar Rally is expected to be just as close between the two factory KTM riders.

With only a few more weeks until the green flag drops in Peru, we have already seen the official unveiling of the 2012 KTM Rally team, and now title sponsor Red Bull is doing its pre-game promotions as well, with a short video that features the Frenchman Despres. Visually stunning, here is a good five-minute distraction from your cubicle drone routine.

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Photos: 2013 KTM Rally Team

11/26/2012 @ 5:26 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Gearing up for the Dakar Rally, and the start of the adventure rally season, KTM has debuted its 2013 rally team with Cyril Despres, Marc Coma, and Ruben Faria. Riding the KTM 450 Rally race bike, the three KTM riders are tipped to be the favorites at the 2013 Dakar Rally, with Despres looking for his fifth win, while Coma races for his fourth victory against his teammate and rival.

The Dakar will once again be held in South America, making 2013 the fifth time that the race has been held outside of its namesake territory. A bit of branding yoga, the famous adventure race has been right at home in the varied terrains of Peru, Argentina, and Chilé, and for 2013, the Dakar will visit those countries in that order. New to the Dakar, Honda’s factory team will be on the roster, as well factory teams from Husqvarna and Aprilia.

Because we know how much you enjoy them, high-resolution photos of the factory KTM riders doing their thing, after the jump (HD display owners will also note that A&R has gone “retina” with our post images, woot).

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Sorry for Partying: Cyril Despres Faces Fines for KTM Video

01/31/2012 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

We published some KTM Freeride videos a few months back as an example of what great motorcycle video promotion looks like. When it comes to producing outstanding promotional clips and photos, the Austrian manufacturer’s creative arms easily wrestle down consistently choice material…however their paperwork apparently leaves a little to be desired.

According to reports, KTM failed to let city officials know that it would be riding around in the Andorran Pyrenees, and subsequently did not receive the necessary permits to make its two-wheeled goodness. Because of this oversight, KTM rider and Andorran resident Cyril Despres (along with cohort Cédric Gracia) to face some fines for their galavanting. Despres and Gracia could be levied €50 to €500, which isn’t exactly going to break the bank.

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Cyril Despres Wins Fourth Dakar Rally Title

01/16/2012 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After battling with KTM teammate Marc Coma for the entire duration of the 2012 Dakar Rally, Cyril Despres bested the Catalan rider on the final stage, and claimed his fourth Dakar title. Despres won only four stages of the Rally (compared to Coma’s five stages), but the Frenchman was able to cling to his overall lead, despite finishing behind Coma on the last stage. With The Dakar concluding in Lima for the first time in history, Despres’ triumph brought KTM its eleventh consecutive Dakar win. After a critical time penalty was levied against Marc Coma, Cyril Despres won the rally with a 53 minute margin, though the racing was decidedly closer than that number implies.

Sunday’s final stage was only 23km long (14.29 miles) and largely ceremonial, with Saturday’s penultimate round truly deciding who would win the 2012 Dakar Rally. With only several minutes of time separating the two riders as they entered the last true round of racing, Coma unfortunately damaged his gearbox after a big jump. Getting lost in the process, Coma was able to nurse his KTM back through the stage, though he had a 45 minute time penalty levied upon him for swapping-in his third motor, which cost the Catalan his chance of a fourth Dakar win, and allowed Despres to coast to victory during Sunday’s final round.

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How Do You Get Halfway Through The Dakar?

01/12/2012 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The Dakar Rally might be one of the most grueling things you can do on two wheels, and for motorcyclists, it embodies the ultimate expression of adventure motorcycling. As if traversing thousands of miles while going full-tilt wasn’t hard enough, a proper Dakar Rally bid requires an enormous amount of resources to undertake. Crossing the halfway point this week, Marc Coma’s team released a nice infographic explaining the various resources the team has used in getting only half of the way through the rally.

With three more days of hard riding, Coma currently sits two minutes and twenty-two seconds behind his rival and fellow KTM rider Cyril Despres (the Frenchman explains his riding style in a video found after the jump). The KTM duo is now in the home-strech of the rally, and will be battling down to the wire for each rider’s fourth Dakar victory. Speaking after today’s stage, Coma is not optimistic about his abilities to catch Despres, but wisely warns that anything can happen during The Dakar.

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Marc Coma Edges Out Despres for His 3rd Dakar Rally – Brings Home KTM’s 10th Consecutive Dakar Victory

01/16/2011 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Because KTM employs some of the best adventure racers in the world, there was little debate that the Austrian manufacturer would win its 10th consecutive Dakar Rally, on this the 33rd running of the race. However which of KTM’s top riders, Coma or Despres, would take the checkered flag this weekend at Buenos Aires was a question of some contention among adventure racing fans, as going into the latter stages of the event, it was either rider’s race to win.

That debate can finally come to a conclusion thought, as after racing over more than 3,000 miles on one of the most grueling Dakars to-date, Spaniard Marc Coma edged out Frenchman Cyril Despres for the overall rally win by a mere 15 minutes, which included a 10 minute penalty that Despres incurred earlier in the racing week. Photos, results, and more after the jump.

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Dakar Stage 5: Race Officials Give Marc Coma Time Back After Stopping for Injured Rider

01/07/2011 @ 5:45 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

To call the Dakar dangerous is probably an understatement, as the rally has been fraught with stories of peril from its very inception. Often alone in some of the most remote terrain in the world, riders rely primarily on themselves for their safety, but the sport is marked with moments where participants put aside competition to help each other.

Stage 5 of the 2011 Dakar Rally had one of those stories yesterday, as KTM rider, and overall race leader Marc Coma found himself as the first person to come across an unconscious Olivier Pain on the race course. Coma, who himself had sustained a fall earlier in the day, stopped at Pain’s crash site and activated the unconscious rider’s emergency beacon. Coma stayed with with the fallen rider until his water carrier, Joan Pedrero, arrived on the scene.

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Cyril Despres Wins 2010 Dakar Rally – Aprilia’s Francisco Lopez Finishes 3rd – Marc Coma 18th

01/18/2010 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

It doesn’t seem to matter where the Dakar Rally is located, or what restrictions race officials place on the motorcycle class, KTM continues its dominance of motorcycling’s most grueling and infamous race. After battling with Marc Coma and Aprilia’s Chilean secret weapon Francisco Lopez for stage wins and overall supremacy, Despres took his third Dakar victory, and continued a KTM tradition.

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