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.

Stoner & Rossi’s Ducati MotoGP Bikes up for Auction

03/12/2012 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

It is pretty rare that a mere mortal can buy an actual MotoGP race bike, since at best machines of this caliber end up under lock & key in a museum somewhere, or at worse, in various pieces in the race department’s dumpster. But available directly from Ducati Corse at RM Auction’s Monaco event, lucky bidders will have a chance at buyingCasey Stoner’s race-winning Ducati Desmosedici GP10 and Valentino Rossi’s ill-fated Ducati Desmosedici GP11.

Offered under reserve, any potential bidder will also have to agree to a non-disclose agreement before Ducati will sign off on the purchase, but that seems like a small formality to undertake considering what is being offered. While we wouldn’t mind either Desmosedici decorating the A&R office space, the real question is which bike will command the higher price? Full-credit to The Doctor, but we think that the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 “CS1” would be the better investment piece.

Continue Reading

“Maybe If It Snow, I Can Win” – Valentino Rossi, July 2011

01/12/2012 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

About the only time the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 was competitive last year was during wet sessions and races. This trend lead to one of Valentino Rossi’s more humorous sayings of the season: that in order to win a race on the GP11, it would have to snow. Well Rossi and his teammate Nicky Hayden may have finally gotten the break they needed, as the Ducati Corse crew has outfitted the two-up Desmosedici with studded tires for the Wrooom media event taking place this week at Madonna di Campiglio ski resort.

Continue Reading

The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

Continue Reading

Ducati Corse Running Parallel MotoGP Project with Aluminum Twin-Spar Chassis

08/18/2011 @ 3:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

While Ducati might not be getting a two-wheel drive system in MotoGP anytime soon, the Italians are apparently in the process of running a parallel program to its MotoGP racing effort that explores the concept of Ducati Corse switching to an aluminum twin-spar frame. Uncovered by French journalist Thomas Baujard of the French magazine Moto Journal (yes, we really wanted to make sure you knew the French were involved with this), Ducati Corse has apparently enlisted the help of a third-party chassis manufacturing and engineering firm to construct a prototype aluminum chassis.

This news plays into the fact that Ducati has absolutely no experience in making an aluminum twin-spar frame, having dropped the steel trellis design for an all carbon fiber version back in 2009. Not wanting to start from zero, like Corse did with the carbon chassis in 2009, and with the “frameless” chassis in 2010, Ducati hopes that with aid from a third party, the Italian company can come up to speed on the twin-spar design, and begin to make improvements for the GP11/GP12 for Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden.

Continue Reading

Rossi Tests Shoulder Riding on a Ducati 1198 at Misano

01/26/2011 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi was back in the saddle today, testing his shoulder at the Italian Misano track ahead of the official MotoGP test scheduled at Sepang next month. Barred from turning a wheel on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 because of the MotoGP winter testing ban, Rossi had to make do with a WSBK-spec 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP to test his fitness levels.

Rossi’s fitness for the upcoming season is a large variable for Ducati, as the race team will need Rossi’s input at Sepang to not only further setup the GP11 for the nine-time World Champion, but his input is likely to find its way into all the Desmosedici’s on the MotoGP grid (Hector Barbera was just recently quoted as saying as much).

If his shoulder is still not up to racing levels, Rossi may not be able to fully diagnose what he needs from the GP11, setting Ducati Corse back a few steps from the rest of the competition. A statement from Rossi and a slew of hi-res photos await you after the jump.

Continue Reading

Behind the Scenes with Rossi and the GP11

01/13/2011 @ 8:42 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Ducati Chilé posted a link to these photos on our Facebook page, and we’d thought we’d share them with the 10 people who read A&R, but aren’t friends with us on Facebook (do you see what we’re doing there with the links?). Showing a glimpse of the nine-time World Champion getting ready to pose with his new Ducati Corse leathers and the Desmosedici GP11, we like the trend we’re seeing of images and video of Rossi’s quasi-personal life coming to the surface — they add an element to the story that fans normally don’t get to see. We’re not sure on the photo credits, but we have a feeling it might be the work of Gigi Soldano.

Continue Reading

Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – Christmas Comes Late in Italy

01/12/2011 @ 4:57 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

If you are a Ducati owner, Valentino Rossi Fan, Italian, or have more than a passing interest in MotoGP, then today is the day you’ve had marked on your 2011 calendar (with perhaps the Valencia test being the date of 2010). Finally released from his contractual obligations with Yamaha, Valentino Rossi can officially begin his duties working for Ducati Corse this week, and Ducati has already capitalized on the moment by showing off Rossi’s new leathers to great fanfare. Now the pièce de résistance and the end to our torment, Ducati has finally debuted the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at the 2011 Wrooom media event, a joint launch event between Ferrari and Ducati held in the Dolomite Mountains.

Continue Reading

First Glimpse of the Ducati Desmosedici GP11

01/12/2011 @ 3:59 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Remember the good old days when the print saturated media that cover MotoGP would take months to show us the first photos of the new season’s race bikes? If a magazine wasn’t on its game, there used to be a good chance you’d get your first glimpse of a team’s new race livery at the season opener before you’d see it in your next issue of (insert publication name here).

Well the internet is changing all that, and now do we not only get near-live coverage of Ducati & Ferrari’s Wrooom event with press releases and media photos, but tools like Facebook and Twitter are adding a dimension to the experience that not only brings us information and media faster, but adds an element of depth to the single-perspective reports we’d normally receive.

Such is the case with Valentino Rossi’s Ducati Desmosedici GP11 race bike (first teased here), as MotoGP commentator Toby Moody snapped this camera phone photo of the bike as it was being carted around at Wrooom. Neon seems to be the name of the game, which is probably due to a combination of making the bike TV ready (there’s an interesting discussion on Wikipedia about how the standard Rosso Corsa red color scheme has changed over the years because of TV quality and saturation), and integrating Valentino Rossi’ unhealthy obsession with the color neon yellow into the Ducati Corse style. A shot of Nicky’s bike awaits you in the gallery after the jump.

Continue Reading

Teaser: 2011 Ducati Desmosedici GP11

01/12/2011 @ 2:38 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

UPDATE: It looks like we can thank Valentino Rossi himself, as the photo comes directly off his personal website.

Somewhere in a locked room, a select number of photographers are snapping photos of the Ducati Desmosedici GP11, the V4 MotoGP racing machine that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will ride in the upcoming GP season. Leaked ahead of its unveiling, this photo has made it onto the interwebs showing a glimpse of the GP11 with some frustrating cropping (aww…nuts!). We’ll have to wait a few more hours before we can unveil the new D16 race bike, so this photo will have to suffice until then, but is that a black and yellow tail we see? Interesting, very interesting.

Source: Valentino Rossi (Personal Website) via MotoBlog.it

Strategic Meeting for Ducati Corse This Week

12/06/2010 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Jeremy Burgess and crew are reportedly having a meeting with Ducati Corse in Bologna this week in order to discuss and finalize the basic outline for the Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The biggest question on the agenda is whether to use the “Screamer” or “Big Bang” motor for next year.

Other items likely to be discussed include the weight balance of the GP11 (something we already saw Burgess and Rossi working on in Valencia), and the forward fairing design. Tweets from Rossi’s Mechanic Alex Briggs confirm that he and Burgess were at least headed into Rome from Australia this weekend, seemingly confirming this report.

Continue Reading