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.

Watch Ducati Launch Its 2016 Motorcycle, Right Here

11/16/2015 @ 5:50 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The EICMA week is officially upon us, and the first manufacturer to kick off the action is Ducati, with its pre-event press conference. Ducati typically uses this opportunity to launch its new models for the upcoming model year, and for 2016 it is no different.

Technology has progressed though, and for the second year in a row, Ducati has made its lineup’s world premiere available via online streaming.

This means you can see the unveiling of Ducati’s off-road Multistrada, “X” Diavel, Scrambler 400, 959 Panigale, Hypermotard 939, and many others…all from the comfort of your home/office, and on your favorite motorcycle blog, Asphalt & Rubber.

Click after the jump to bring up the live stream. It should start automatically when things get rolling in Milan, Italy at 4:30pm CET, which is 10:30am EST and 7:30am PST.

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Ducati Reaches 50,000 Units Sales Mark for First Time Ever, And Other Red Herrings

11/11/2015 @ 3:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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Ducati Motor Holding is reporting that it has sold over 50,000 units to customers, for the first time ever. This is a substantial improvement over the 40,650 units that Ducati delivered at this time last year, and the 45,100 units the company sold to customers in 2015.

This news is a bit of a red herring though, as the sales increase comes due almost solely because of the addition of the Ducati Scrambler line, which in the first three quarters of the year was at 13,609 units sold.

As we have reported before on Asphalt & Rubber, the sales increase being posted by Ducati is a bit of red herring with the brand. While the Scrambler line has shown strong growth for Ducati, the rest of the model lines have been weak for the year.

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Recall: Ducati Multistrada 1200 & Multistrada 1200 S

10/21/2015 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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A teething issue for a new model, Ducati North America is recalling a total of 869 units of its Multistrada 1200 & Multistrada 1200 S motorcycles for the 2015 and 2016 model years.

The bikes in question were built between December 1, 2014 and June 11, 2015, and have a kickstand that may break because of an incorrect length on the kickstand support tube.

Since a motorcycle falling over is a safety hazard, Ducati North America has filed a recall with the NHTSA, which will begin on November 16, 2015.

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Ducati North America Sales Up 12% for First-Half 2015

07/09/2015 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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With global Ducati sales up 22% in the first six months of the year, it comes with no surprise then that Ducati North America has some sales growth to report as well.

Selling 6,961 motorcycles in the first-half of the year, Ducati North America is up 12% over last year’s same time period. Helping fuel that increase was an incredibly strong June, where 1,981 motorcycles sold — for a 106% growth over June 2014.

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Ducati Sales Up 22% in First Half of 2015, With an Asterisk

07/03/2015 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Ducati Motor Holdings is happy to report that its 2015 sales are off to a great start: up 22% over the first half of 2014. In total, 32,600 motorcycles have been sold by Ducati since January, the most ever sold by Ducati during that time period.

Ducati is also saying that 9,000 of the machines sold were Scrambler models, making the model the most popular in Ducati’s lineup by a strong margin.

For reference, the sales of the other models are as follow: Multistrada 1200 (4,700), Monster 821 (3,700), 1299 Panigale (3,000), the remaining 12,000 units come from the Diavel, 899 Panigale, Hypermotard, and Monster 1200

Ducati says it grew across all of its sales territories, with the USA still the company’s #1 market, and sporting a 10% growth figure so far this year. The USA didn’t post the biggest numbers though, with following countries showing strong sales growth: Italy (+51%), Spain (+38%), the UK (+36%), Germany (+24%), and France (+23%).

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Recall: Ducati Multistrada 1200, Circa 2010-2014

04/06/2015 @ 10:36 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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If you’re an first-generation Ducati Multistrada 1200 owner (20102014), then this recall is for you.

Ducati North America is recalling 5,962 units of the adventure-sport machine, all because the inner sleeve of the opening throttle cable may move and prevent the full closing of the throttle.

A particularly dangerous potential event, if the throttle can’t be fully closed, there is risk that the rider could lose control of the motorcycle and possibly crash.

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Watch Ducati Assemble the New Multistrada 1200

03/05/2015 @ 3:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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When you think about the assembly process involved in making a motorcycle, it is pretty staggering. Not only do Ducati engineers have the task of making the best motorcycle possible, but they also need to design the machine to be easily built by the factory workers at Borgo Panigale.

Which parts should go on before the next? where a cable should be routed through the frame and bodywork? The planning that must go into building out an assembly line is certainly an undertaking I would not want to have.

So while the latest video from Ducati is perhaps not the most ouvertly entertaining, it is certainly impressive nonetheless to watch Italy’s finest assemblying a 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200.

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2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Mega Gallery

03/04/2015 @ 2:29 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Mega Gallery

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The international press launch for the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 is underway, and accordingly we have a mega gallery of high-resolution photos for you to ogle over. While the 2015 model looks much like its predecessor, Ducati says the adventure-sport machine is all new, from the ground up.

The chassis is new. The engine is the new 160hp Testastretta DVT motor, which has Desmodromic Variable Timing on both the intake and exhaust valves. And while the large-stroke of the styling cues are obviously similar, Ducati has changed the subtle strokes of the Multistrada’s design.

Like the Ducati 1299 Panigale, the new Multistrada comes equipped with an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which aids the motorcycle in applying traction and stability control electronic systems.

Also, the Bosch MSC “cornering ABS” package is also standard on the new Multistrada, while other options include the LED “cornering” headlight, the Ducati Multimedia System, and other electric tidbits.

The ADV bike also comes in a variety of flavors, first base and “S” trim. The Ducati Multistrada 1200 then comes with five different flavors: Sport, Touring, Enduro, Urban, and D-Air — the latter of course being a collaboration with Dainese and its airbag equipped apparel, which is only available in Europe.

The base model starts at $17,700 while the “S” model has an MSRP of $19,700.

We have 111 high-resolution photos for you to peruse, download, and generally lust over — after the jump of course. Enjoy!

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Newspeak: The Advent of the “Adventure-Sport”

01/14/2015 @ 4:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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In the past decade the ADV segment has been a confusing amalgamation of differing interests, and over that time-period, two distinct groups have boiled to the surface.

First there are the “Long Way Round” hopefuls, who invariably own a BMW R1200GS/A, and seem to be on some sort of perpetual preparation for an African safari, regardless of how much dual-sport experience they actually have.

And more recently, a second group has appeared: those riders who look to these big ADV bikes as more versatile Sport-Touring machines, that have at least some credibility in continuing the trip beyond where the sidewalk ends.

All these riders, and their bikes, have been wedged into a single “Adventure” category, and it has created a bit of confusion for the segment. So, I want to introduce the concept of the “Adventure-Sport” and how it differentiates from the previous “Adventure-Touring” category.

First, let us make some definitions. Adventure-Sport bikes are “middleweight” and “heavyweight” motorcycles, with longer off-road styled suspension. They have an on-road bias, with their 17″ front wheels, and they make sport bike horsepower from their lightweight engines.

Adventure-Sports usually have an abundance of rider aids, which are typically aimed at taming these bikes’ powerful and peaky engines for mixed road conditions.

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BMW S1000XR Priced at $16,350 Base

12/20/2014 @ 10:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Perhaps the most intriguing motorcycle to come from the Bavarian brand this year, the BMW S1000XR is the German company’s response to the rapidly growing “Adventure-Sport” segment.

Going head-to-head with the Ducati Multistrada 1200, we have been eagerly waiting to see how the BMW staked up against the Italian machine on pricing, and now we have our answer.

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