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.

First Glimpse: Brammo Empulse RR

07/23/2010 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

This is what we believe is the first shot of the Brammo Empulse RR race bike that was slated to race in the e-Power Championship round at Laguna Seca this weekend. Unfortunately for fans, and for Brammo, the Empulse RR race bike suffered a critical component failure, and will have to be a scratch on Sunday…but fortunately for Brammo fans (and Brammofan) Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher said on twitter today that the team would race this year.

Continue Reading

Officially Official: Brammo Racing at Laguna Seca

07/15/2010 @ 7:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Officially Official: Brammo Racing at Laguna Seca

Confirming what we already knew, Brammo has officially announced that it will be racing at Laguna Seca in the e-Power Championship in two weeks’ time. Taking to the track with its new Empulse RR race bike that’s based off the new Brammo Empulse, Brammo will be reunited with racing rivals MotoCzysz and Team Agni (the latter has not been independently confirmed).

With the addition of Brammo to the line-up, the FIM’s e-Power Championship race at Laguna Seca is looking like the electric race of the year, as the “Flying Banana” of Lightning Motors, which is currently leading the TTXGP points standings in the US, will race at the event, along with Betti Motors who have been dominating the European rounds of the e-Power Championship.

Continue Reading

Outed by Partner Press Release – Brammo Racing at Laguna Seca

07/13/2010 @ 11:31 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Confirming what we already knew, Brammo’s plans to race at Laguna Seca just got outed by a press release issued by their partner ESX Motorsports. Discussing the company’s partnership with Brammo, ESX motorsports let it slip that it will be the promoter behind Brammo’s presence at Laguna Seca…as Brammo races at the e-Power Championship race. As a marketing company, you’d think they’d know better than to pre-empt their client’s own press releases.

Continue Reading

Brammo TTR-based Sportbike Coming

07/09/2010 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber took a lot of flak last month when we speculated about Brammo working on an electric sportbike. Armed with more than a hunch at the time, we have been told from multiple sources that Brammo is set to debut a TTR-based electric sportbike. For added measure, we’ve also been told that Brammo intends to race the bike, which we’d expect will have various configurations, at the e-Power Championship round at Laguna Seca later this month.

Continue Reading

e-Power Could Rival MotoGP for Grid Size at Seca

07/07/2010 @ 3:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

With the US round of the e-Power Championship closing in upon us in two weeks, news of the grid size has begun to form. We had earlier predicted that the California rounds of the TTXGP and e-Power series would attract the largest field of competitors, when compared to the other races, and we were right. Set to go off on July 25th, with the MotoGP racing weekend at Laguna Seca, the e-Power Championship race at Seca is set to have 15 electric motorcycles or more on its starting line.

Continue Reading

MotoCzysz Confirmed For e-Power Race at Seca

05/17/2010 @ 2:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

While attending the Skip Barber Superbike School, A&R Editor Jensen Beeler overheard a conversation between Lead Instructor Michael Czysz and a couple of students. As the students asked Czysz if he’d be at Seca to watch the Red Bull US GP, Czysz lamented that he would not be able to watch MotoGP at Laguna Seca because MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend. As some may remember the FIM’s e-Power Championship series has a round that is occurring at Laguna Seca in coordination with Dorna and the AMA. Czysz went on to pique out ears, confirming that MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend in the FIM e-Power Championship, with the rider yet to be determined.

Continue Reading

FIM Releases e-Power Entry List for Le Mans

04/14/2010 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The electric sportbike season is rapidly approaching us, and the first event is the FIM’s e-Power Championship race at Le Mans. With six bikes and five teams on the entry list, the race will be sparse with entrants and could see the field shrink further if rumors are right that suggest one bike might be jumping ship to the Italian TTXGP series. Despite all this, the FIM’s first race has a great venue. Set to take place April 16th, the e-Power Championship launches just ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans World Endurance Championship race in Sarthe, France.

Continue Reading

Vito Ippolito Speaks on The Future of Motorcycling and the FIM’s e-Power Championship

03/25/2010 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

During at stop in Utrecht, Netherlands, David Emmett over at MotoMatters was able to have a sit down discussion with FIM bossman Vito Ippolito. In their conversation, Emmett gets a rare chance to ask Ippolito a variety of questions regarding the latest MotoGP rule changes, and inner-workings of the FIM, and its involvement in roadracing events.

The interview sheds terrific insight into how manufacturers, sponsorships, national and internationa pressures, and rule making shape the sport we all enjoy, and as the interview winds down, Emmett asks Ippolito about the role the FIM is taking in electric motorcycle racing, and how the FIM sees the future of motorcycling. With permission from MotoMatters we’ve reproduced this section of the interview after the jump, but recommend everyone to read the full interview transcript on MotoMatters.com. It’s well worth the read, and one of the best interviews we’ve seen in a while in the racing space.

Continue Reading

e-Power Coming to Laguna Seca During MotoGP

03/25/2010 @ 6:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

UPDATE 2: The Laguna Seca round is now officially added to the e-Power Championship.

UPDATE: It would seem the folks at Laguna Seca are still negotiating with the FIM, and nothing has been signed yet. This statement does confirm however that Seca is the targeted venue for the e-Power Championship.

The FIM isn’t saying it outright, but it looks as if the e-Power Championship is slated to occur during MotoGP’s stop at Laguna Seca on July 25th. Listed as “TBA,” the FIM’s new venue is listed as being organized by the AMA, and of course the race falls on the same date as the US GP, so putting two and two together on this one isn’t too hard. This addition to the schedule comes after the FIM cancelled the e-Power Championship’s stop at the Doha endurance race, and the Dutch GP at Assen. More after the jump.

Continue Reading

FIM Cuts Two Races From e-Power Championship

02/19/2010 @ 1:47 pm, by John Adamo3 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz e1pc three motor electric drive

The FIM has cut Doha and Assen from it’s e-Power electric motorcycle racing program’s list of 6 race venues. Keeping with e-Power tradition, FIM gave no reason for the decision. FIM claims interest from teams is high but it appears it’s not high enough to support six races in 2010.

In only about 6 months, the electric motorcycle racing world went from one high profile race in 2009 at the Isle Of Man, to three competing organizations and an abundance of high profile of venues. Three crowns are up for the taking and it appears there is not enough incentive or teams to fight for all of them. In racing, the value of the crown is usually measured by the caliber of teams fighting for it.

Continue Reading