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.

US Pricing Released for the Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L

09/02/2015 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2016-Honda-Africa-Twin-CRF1000L-price

American Honda has released pricing details on the 2016 Honda Africa Twin today, an eagerly awaited nugget of information for many adventure-touring riders who are interested in the CRF1000L.

We won’t waste your time with hyperbole, if you want a Honda Africa Twin, you’ll need $12,999. If the dual-clutch transmission model is your cup of ADV, then you’ll need some extra coin, as its MSRP is $13,699.

Continue Reading

Official Details & Photos of the 2016 Honda Africa Twin

07/24/2015 @ 3:11 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

2016 Honda Africa Twin DCT

After leaking twice yesterday, Honda has officially dropped details and photos on its highly anticipated adventure-tourer, the 2016 Honda Africa Twin. A continuation of the legacy by the same name, the new Honda Africa Twin is an off-road focused machine that will go head-to-head with the big ADV bikes already on the market.

Built around a 998cc parallel-twin engine, which makes 94hp and 72 lbs•ft of torque, the Africa Twin tips the scales at the curb at 503 lbs (standard model, first photos after the jump) / 534 lbs (DCT/ABS models, shown above).

Spec-sheet off-road racers are likely not going to be happy with these numbers, though they measure well against the KTM 1190 Adventure R and BMW R1200GS Adventure.

What we think ADV riders will come around to is Honda’s off-road built dual-clutch transmission, which will have the benefit of making shifts while out of the saddle much easier, and giving clutch-free operation, much like a Rekluse clutch.

Continue Reading

Honda Africa Twin Confirmed – CRF1000L Coming for 2016

05/12/2015 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Honda-CRF1000L-Africa-Twin-01

American Honda dropped a bombshell today, confirming that the teased “True Adventure” ADV model will enter production, and be named the “Africa Twin”, as expected.

Officially designated at the Honda CRF1000L, the Africa Twin will be a 2016 model (in dealerships early next year), and best of all, it will be coming to the USA.

The 2016 Honda Africa Twin draws upon a legacy of rugged off-road race-proven machines that also wore its name, a sign that Honda intends the CRF1000L to be very capable off-road, and thus not follow the road-going adventure-sport trend.

Continue Reading

Ariel Ace – A Very Expensive Honda from England

06/25/2014 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Ariel-Ace-35

The wait is over to see the return to two-wheels by British marque Ariel, as the firm has debuted its very exclusive Ariel Ace motorcycle. Built around a clever modular design, something we have talked about at length here, the Ace is really more than just one motorcycle, and Ariel plans on making each bike bespoke to its customer’s wishes.

At the center of every machine is the 1,237cc V4 engine from the Honda VFR1200F, which is good for 170hp, with 95 lbs•ft of peak torque. Because the VFR’s engine is being utilized by Ariel, the British brand offers a dual-clutch transmission as one of the Ace’s many available options.

Would-be owners will have to decide a number of other options as well, most importantly what kind front-end suspension they wish to run. Ariel offers a traditional upside down Öhlins fork setup, but to be truly unique on the road, the Ariel Ace has an available custom girder suspension setup with an Öhlins TTX at its core. Rear suspension is supplied by Öhlins as well.

Holding everything together is a beautiful aluminum trellis frame, comprised of six sections that are machined to life from billet. Anodized to fit a customer’s tastes, the modular chassis design also has mounting points for a variety of options and accessories, such as different bodywork, fenders, fuel tanks, handlebars, rearsets, seats, and wheels.

Continue Reading

2014 Honda CTX700 & CTX700N Coming Soon

02/08/2013 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

2014-Honda-CTX700

Continuing to blur the lines between established motorcycle segments, Honda has teased out another pair of unique motorcycles, which will formally go-down as 2014 model year machines. Available in Spring 2013. The 2014 Honda CTX700 & 2014 Honda CTX700N use the same 670cc parallel-twin engine found in the NC700 series, which was an engine designed to be a sensible and practical urban power plant for city bikers.

Building something that looks the cross between a street-standard and a cruiser, Honda is offering ABS brakes and an automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT) as an available $1,000 option. The hope is clearly that the Honda CTX700N & Honda CTX700 will be an approachable and affordable motorcycle for new motorcyclists, and with prices at $6,999 & $7,799 respectively ($7,999 & $8,799 with DCT and ABS), Honda seems to have achieved that goal.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

700cc Honda Integra Motor for Mid-Sized Motorcycles

09/26/2011 @ 4:27 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Someone at Honda must have forgotten that the company has already used the Integra name, as Honda Motor Co. has released details on its new mid-sized motorcycle motor. A two-cylinder 700cc four-stroke lump, the Integra motor promises to be a class leader in fuel-economy for the Japanese brand.

Boasting 40% greater fuel efficiency from other “sport” motors in the 500cc-700cc class, the Integra motor can do 63 mpg (US) according to our rough calculations of Honda’s consumption figure of 27km/L. Perhaps more interesting than its fuel economy, Honda has also stated that the new motor can be coupled to the company’s second generation dual-clutch transmission, the first generation of which can be seen on the Honda VFR1200F.

Continue Reading

MotoGP: Ducati Racing with 2012 Chassis Starting at Assen

06/20/2011 @ 6:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Ducati Corse continues to battle a war on two-fronts: both by trying to market itself out of an otherwise disastorous MotoGP season, and also to rapidly develop and search for answers to the lackluster Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The latest news out of Bologna now leans more towards this latter effort (or is it the prior?), as Ducati Corse has announced that it will bring a version of its 2012 chassis to Assen for Valentino Rossi to use in the Dutch TT.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, as they’re calling it, features a modified motor, and will debut Ducati’s next-generation gearbox: the Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST). Ducati hopes bringing out the new chassis, which has already been given the nod by both Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden, will not only help turn around the season’s results, but also expedite development for the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Along with a new carbon chassis, the GP11.1 features an inverted swingarm design, which sees the rear shock mounted higher-up with a special rear-subframe assembly.

Continue Reading

Honda Denies Using DCT in MotoGP – Admits to Having New Faster Shifting Transmission

02/28/2011 @ 2:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The Honda RC212Vs are fast this year, there’s no denying the point. The top four overall testing times at the second Sepang test were each slotted to one of the four factory Honda riders. The Japanese company is hungry for another World Championship in the premier class, something it hasn’t seen since Nicky Hayden took the honor in 2006, and its fielding of three very capable riders in the Repsol Honda squad is just one of the measures Honda is willing to go to in order to better its chances for victory.

While all of the 2011 MotoGP race bikes are basically improvements upon the 2010 designs, Honda has spent the long winter months developing technology that will trickle down through the coming seasons, as MotoGP heads back to a 1,000cc format.

Accused of developing and using a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) by the Italian press, Honda has come under scrutiny for using a technology that is banned in GP racing. While it’s true that Honda was the first to develop a DCT for a production motorcycle (the VFR1200F), the Japanese company has come clean in order to dispel any rumors that it is cheating in the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. While not using a DCT, Honda says it has developed a new transmission that is in compliance with MotoGP regulations, and produces extremely quick gear changes, like a dual-clutch transmission.

Continue Reading

Xtrac Instantaneous Gearchange System – The DCT Killer?

01/05/2011 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

British transmission gurus Xtrac is better known for its history in Group A rally racing, and more recently for its work with the Lotus, Virgin, and HRT Forumla 1 teams (resume clients also include teams from IndyCar, Touring Car, Rally, GRAND-AM, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans); but with its latest announcement, Xtrac could add a new bullet point to its laundry list of achievements.

Recently pulling out of stealth mode its newest piece of gearbox madness: the Instantaneous Gearchange System (IGS), Xtrac’s race-bred driveline technology promises to be a lighter, cheaper, and less complex alternative to dual-clutch transmissions (DCT), which have popped up on the Honda VFR1200F & Honda Crosstourer Concept, and is rumored to hit the Honda CBR1000RR and Yamaha R1 in the coming models years. The key to IGS resides in the fact that the gearbox can simultaneously select and engage two gears at the same time, while employing only one set of drive gears, thus resulting in gear changes that have zero power loss to the wheels.

Continue Reading