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.

2014 Ducati Monster 1200 – Water-Cooling an Icon

11/04/2013 @ 8:20 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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With the Ducati 1199 Superleggera already shown ahead of the 2013 EICMA show, the big news from Milan for Ducati is the long-rumored 2014 Ducati Monster 1200.

Saying goodbye to the Monster’s air-cooled v-twin, the Monster 1200 takes a page of history from the Ducati S4/S4R, and uses Ducati’s water-cooled Testastretta 11° motor (as seen on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 and Ducati Diavel) for its locomotion.

Surely to ruffle a few feathers with the hardcore Ducatisti, the water-cooled engine isn’t the only big innovation for the Ducati Monster 1200, as the motorcycle is the continuation of Ducati’s chassis philosophy, as seen on the Ducati 1199 Panigale. As such, both the steel trellis main frame, and steel subframe, attach directly to the Testastretta 11° engine’s cylinder heads.

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Are You The Ducati Monster 1200?

10/07/2013 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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At the German Auto Show, the Boys from Bologna debuted the Ducati 899 Panigale, a “super-mid” version of the Italian company’s superbike platform. A bit too big to be a supersport class machine, the 899 Panigale should however be fun on the track, in a vein that is similar to the Suzuki GSX-R750 and MV Agusta F3 800.

That premise will have to remain as conjecture for us though, as while Ducati’s chosen few are currently gathered in Bologna right now for the press launch of the 2013 Ducati 899 Panigale, Asphalt & Rubber was not among those who crossed the pond for the launch and test ride. Not to worry though, we should start hearing the initial impressions from journalists shortly.

Meanwhile, we can turn our attention to the machines that Ducati has yet to debut to the public, though will be shortly. A&R broke the news last week about the upcoming Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera, and we have already seen spy photos of the Ducati Scrambler (said to be a 2015 model, if it gets the production nod), and a liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

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Spy Shots: A New Water-Cooled 1198cc Ducati Monster?

06/26/2013 @ 7:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Oh the ever *cough* elusive motorcycle spy photo, how we love to hate thee. No brand has been a greater “victim” of its pre-production motorcycle being caught by eagle-eyed photographers than Ducati, so it should come as no surprise then that first machine on the pre-EICMA buzz machine should be one from the Bologna brand — though cynicism, it is an interesting machine that has been spied.

Having the clear lines of the Ducati Monster line, our subject today has the curious oddity of being equipped with what appears to be a water-cooled Testastretta 11° motor, which is fitted with an exhaust that looks suspiciously like the lump found in the Ducati Diavel.

If the interwebs are correct, and this new Monster is indeed a 1198cc beast, then that means that we likely have a modern take on the Ducati Monster S4 on our hands, which should good for 150 hp of street terror.

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Ducati Monster S4R Concept by Paolo Tesio

04/25/2012 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

While the Ducati Monster S4R is a special machine in its own right, using a water-cooled four-valve superbike-derived motor, this custom by Paolo Tesio caught our eye as something singularly different from the Italian brand’s fine work. First creating a custom subframe, tail section, and fork guards in CAD, Tesio’s finished motorcycle compliments the original design of the Monster S4R quite well, in a balanced “evolution, not revolution” sort of way.

Complete with an underslung box-style exhaust, the look is clean, different, but still very true to the Monster’s café roots. Our favorite part is perhaps the least functional, as the fork guards give a girder front-end feel, and are tastefully emblazoned with the retro Ducati logo. If there is enough interest, Tesio says he will make a kit available to S4R owners. More tragically small and horribly cropped photos after the jump.

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Ducati Monster Diesel

03/15/2012 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

In case you hadn’t noticed, Ducati made a bunch of friends last year, and entered into partnership agreements with companies like AMG, Diesel, and Cigarette Racing. With the first two companies footing a larger bill and sponsoring Ducati Corse’s MotoGP effort, it stands to reason that AMG and Diesel’s involvement with the iconic motorcycle brand would be a bit more extensive than just some logos on a bike and team livery.

With Mercedes-Benz and Ducati intertwined in acquisition talks, it was not too surprising to see the Ducati Diavel AMG Special Edition break cover, though we have to admit we were a bit shocked to see today’s news about the Ducati Monster Diesel — we didn’t see this bike coming.

As the name implies, the special edition motorcycle is based off the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO, with styling cues that evoke the Diesel brand. The Italians are calling this “an ‘urban military chic’ interpretation of Ducati’s iconic naked motorcycle,” which is one way of saying it features olive green paint and matte black accents.

It’s an interesting effect to say the least, though it will probably only resonate with a select group of Ducatisti. Ducati says the Monster Diesel will be available in dealerships from late-July onwards, with pricing in the US set at $13,795. If you came here thinking Ducati had abandoned the gasoline engine, we apologize. We didn’t pick the name.

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Another Ducati Monster? Bologna Teases Sepang Unveiling

10/04/2011 @ 7:54 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

It’s hard to imagine how Ducati could cram another Monster into its air-cooled street-naked line-up, let alone update the fairly fresh models already in the brand’s arsenal, yet monster.ducati.com is teasing some sort of unveiling, due out in two weeks’ time. There is not a terrible amount of information that we can glean from the tight-stretched cover over the photo Ducati is using (the exhaust can appears to be high-mounted like the 696/796, unlike the 1100 EVO), and the timing and the location for the unveil are interesting to say the least.

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Radical Ducati Il Mostro Kit

04/21/2011 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

It should be apparent by now that we loves us some Radical Ducati here at Asphalt & Rubber. And why shouldn’t we be? Those Spanish desmoholics have put out some really impressive motorcycles the past few years, not only putting their small shop on the map, but Spain as a whole as a budding venue of custom motorcycles (check out the work fro Sbay for more Spanish goodness for instance). The process at Radical Ducati is pretty simple, take parts collected from various Bologna motorcycles, mash them up with some creative flare, add-in some custom fabrication, and presto: you have some unique motorcycles that embody the best of Ducati’s designs.

Now typically if you wanted your own Radical Ducati you’d have to fork over a hefty amount of money, and the figure out how to get your masterpiece back to respective your country of origin. While this technically remains true, you can now at least give your Ducati Monster the Radical treatment, as those crazy Spaniards have come out with the Il Mostro customization kit for the Ducati Monster 696, 796, & 1100.

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Ducati Monster 1100 EVO Photos and Video

04/11/2011 @ 5:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Launched at the 2010 EICMA show, Ducati has updated its top-of-the-line Monster for 2011, creating the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO. Distinguishing itself with the return of the shotgun style exhaust, the 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO takes an aesthetic revision to the iconic two-valve v-twin motorcycle. With an even 100hp on tap, the 373 lbs machine should be a fun city romper, and comes packed with features like Ducati’s ABS, traction control, and data acquisition system.

We’ll have to wait until the Monster 1100 EVO makes it stateside to get our first glimpses of the street naked, and see how it compares to its predecessors. Until then though, feast your eyes on 15 images of the new Monster, along with a promotional video.

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New Ducati Learner Model Coming to Australia?

03/18/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

News coming from our good friends at Ducati News Today, tell us that according to one Australian dealer, Ducati is set to debut a small-displacement learner motorcycle that would adhere to Australia’s Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS). Fraiser Motorcycles is stating that Australia will get the new model in the coming months, and good money says that the bike is a modified Monster 696.

Whether that machine will have a smaller bore or shorter stroke is up for debate, but we imagine whichever is cheapest to produce will likely dictate the answer. Also expect to see some sort of deliberate power reduction used in the design, as Australia’s LAMS calls for a 201hp/metric ton horsepower-to-weight ratio.

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Ducati’s First Valentino Rossi Branded Motorcycle

03/03/2011 @ 7:18 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Helping send off Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden on their 2011 MotoGP Championship season, Ducati is holding a big event in downtown Bologna on Friday night. Naturally of course the two MotoGP riders will need something to make an entrance with, and Ducati thought this would be the perfect time to tap its Monster Art program for some Rossi/Hayden GP replica paint schemes that take their cues from the duo’s Ducati Desmosedici GP11 race bikes.

The first of what is surely to be many Ducati motorcycles to have the yellow “46” on them, we’re still having some trouble getting used to the neon yellow/Rosso Corsa combo, but we’re this will be the best selling livery in Ducati Monster Art personalization package. Wake us up when the Ducati Superbike 1198 Rossi Rep comes out.

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