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.

Video: Ducati Superbike 1199 Panigale Teaser

09/21/2011 @ 3:29 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

True to his word, Troy Bayliss was right about Ducati teasing some new information on Wednesday. With its first official video of the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, we get a glimpse not only of the Italian company’s flagship motorcycle, but also its full-designation: the Ducati Superbike 1199 Panigale — taking an obvious cue from the Borgo Panigale manufacturing district where Ducati Motor Holdings is located in Bologna, Italy. While we don’t get any super clear shots of the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 Panigale, we’re sure the video is ruining the trousers for Ducatisti all-over the globe. Check it out after the jump.

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Troy Bayliss Teases Ducati Announcement

09/16/2011 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

This Friday is looking to be full of videos and teasers, as Ducati has its own announcement that will be coming forthwith on Wednesday next week. Enlisting the help of three-time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss, the Australian motorcycle racer teased on YouTube today that he’s seen some interesting things at the Ducati factory, with promises of more to be revealed on the company’s video channel in the coming days. What those interesting things could be however is up for speculation.

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Ducati Superbike 1199 to Get Significant Price Increase

09/14/2011 @ 6:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler69 COMMENTS

If you’re one of the many Ducatisti that are salivating for the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, you better start unloading your IRA, cashing-out your savings, and raiding your kids’ piggy banks, because Ducati is set to increase its flagship’s base price for the 2012 model year. With the base model Superbike 1198 sporting a $16,500 price tag here in the United States, and selling for just shy of €18,000 in Italy, Asphalt & Rubber has gotten confirmation that Ducati will bump the upcoming Superbike 1199’s price tag by several thousand euros/dollars when it debuts later this year.

Expected to be a €20,000+ bike in Europe, we can only imagine what that price tag on the base model 1199 will amount to here in the North American market, though we wouldn’t be surprised with a figure in the $19,000 range (or just shy of it). With two higher-spec versions expected as well, an “S” and a race variant, A&R has also heard rumors that the pricier models will see an even larger price increase over the 1198’s figures, making owning a Superbike 1199 a very pricy commitment to one’s garage.

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WSBK-Spec Ducati Superbike 1199 Spied Testing…Again

09/10/2011 @ 1:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

In yet another glimpse of the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, we see the World Superbike-spec version of the v-twin machine testing on the track with a Ducati test rider at the helm. Clearly seen are the Öhlins FGR forks and horizontally-placed rear shock, and also apparent is the dual-underslung exhaust cans that the belly pan accents (we like this touch a lot). Beyond the blacked-out race bodywork, there isn’t anything terribly new to glean from the photo, but what is interesting is that for an OEM that is rumored to have no plans for a factory-backed team in WSBK for 2012, it sure is testing its WSBK-spec racer quite a bit. Make of that as you will.

Source: Ducati.org via Ducati News Today

Ducati Superbike 1199 Will Have Gear-Driven Cams

08/22/2011 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Our sources close to the development of the Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata have confirmed the rumors that the new Bologna bullet will do away with the tradition belt-driven camshaft and instead feature a gear-driven cam configuration. The same type of technology that Aprilia used to cheat win the 2010 World Superbike Championship title, a gear-driven camshaft configuration should help increase power by 3-5hp throughout the rev range on the Superquadrata motor, as compared to Ducati’s traditional belt configuration.

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Ducati Superbike 1199 Spotted Again

08/01/2011 @ 9:34 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 is shaping up to be the school yard tease, giving us a glimpse of its still unfinished form seemingly on a regular basis now. Spotted with another cameraphone “spy photo” somewhere on the streets of Italy, we get a fairly clear side profile of the new 1199. The underslung exhaust is perhaps the focal point of this unofficial teaser shot, which is interesting as we hear Bologna has recently been having internal meetings about its final design.

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Best Shots of the Ducati Superbike 1199 So Far

07/22/2011 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Though still small in resoltuion, these are the best shots of the upcoming 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 that we’ve seen to-date. Testing at the Mugello circuit in Italy a few months ago (alongside Ducati Corse and the Ducati Desmosedici GP12), Ducati is slowly progressing on the Superbike 1199‘s final design, which sees the flagship motorcycle ditching its trellis frame for a MotoGP-inspired stressed airbox front end.

The Superquadrata v-twin motor is built overly-square, and should produce nearly 200hp in its max trim. Other features are the LED headlight system, a horizontally-mounted rear shock, and a unicorn tears lubrication system (we’re not so sure about one of these three features). Expect more photos and info to “leak” out of Ducati as we get closer to EICMA, where the Ducati Superbike 1199 will debut. Thanks for the tip Geoffry!

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First Shots: 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199

07/02/2011 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

In this new age of motorcycle marketing, it’s clear that Italian magazine Motociclismo has been given Bologna’s blessing as its favored child of motorcycle media. Accordingly, the publication has been at the forefront of information and photos of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, and just recently teased this photo of the Ducati Superbike 1199’s headlight, which we know to be the first LED headlight to come on a production motorcycle.

Obviously having some time with the new Superbike 1199 (or at least having one very gracious friend in the Ducati factory), Motociclismo has a bevy of detail shots of the 1199 (we refuse to buy into the Xtreme naming rumors and hype). In the photos, we not only get a better glimpse at the LED headlights, but also the enlarged gilled air intake that surrounds the headlight unit. Also readily seen is the horizontally mounted rear shock, and near it is what Motociclismo is saying is the plastic-guarded collector pipe for the underslung exhaust, however our sources tell us it connects to a second exhaust which exits out the rear of the tail section, as seen on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12.

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Ducati Superbike 1199 Will Have LED Headlight

06/30/2011 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

After seeing the front fairing of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 last week, we idly speculated that the design included an LED (light-emitting diode) headlamp, as no bulbs or projector assemblies could be seen in the housing. Another tip-off were the slats in the headlight housing, which can readily be seen, and look very similar to the setup used by Audi on its R18 TDI Le Mans race car. Getting a few tips from our loyal readers, and following up with several of our sources, we can confirm that the new Ducati Superbike 1199 will use a completely LED-based headlight system — the first production motorcycle to use such an assembly.

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Photo: 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199’s Headlights

06/27/2011 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Motociclismo.it continues to be Ducati’s favorite channel to leak teasers of its upcoming Superbike, the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199. Promising to be a revolutionary design for the Italian brand, we know already that the bike will shed roughly 20 lbs from the 1198 model, while adding 20hp to its peak horsepower figure. This astonishing power increase comes from the “Superquadrata” v-twin motor, which features an overly-square cylinder design, that should rev to peaky power delivery delight (if you’re into that sort of thing).

From this latest photo we see that the new 1199 (we’ve been enjoying the rumors that the new Superbike would be called the Xtreme) borrows from the 916’s squinty highlight design, while adding the 1098/1198’s more pronounced air intake structure. The Ducati Superbike 1199 will be fed that healthy dose of oxygen through a stressed aluminum airbox/headtube design, à la its MotoGP frameless technology, and for which we’ve already seen patents of the design.

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