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.

2012 KTM 690 Duke – Cheaper, More Powerful, & ABS

11/08/2011 @ 7:04 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

After teasing us with some photos and video of its new Duke, KTM finally unveiled the 2012 KTM 690 Duke at EICMA this morning. With 90% of the bike being completely brand new, KTM says the new 690 Duke brings the Austrian company back to its street-naked roots, with an off-road influence of course. Accordingly, at the heart of the KTM 690 Duke is a 690cc LC4 single-cylinder thumper that puts out a crushing 70hp and 51 lbs•ft of torque, while the whole motorcycle package weighs only 330 lbs (without fuel).

Further refining the LC4 single-cylidner motor, KTM has created a new cylinder head, and added a dual-ignition system & ride-by-wire throttle for the 690 Duke. Anti-lock brakes have also been added to the 2012 KTM 690 Duke, as the Austrian company has tapped Bosch to use the Bosch 9M+ ABS package. Lastly, braking power comes from a Brembo radially-mounted caliper with a single 320mm brake disc, while suspension is handle by KTM subsidiary WP, and consists of fully-adjustable 43mm front forks, and a fully-adjustable rear shock.

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2012 Honda Crosstourer

11/07/2011 @ 4:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Honda teased us last year with the Honda Crosstourer Concept, but for the 2011 EICMA show, the Japanese manufacturer is making good on its promise to bring the GS-lookalike to market. Based off the VFR1200F, the 2012 Honda Crosstourer comes with traction control, combined anti-lock brakes (C-ABS), and of course an optional dual-clutch transmission. While the Crosstourer shares the VFR’s 1,237cc V4 motor, the adventure bike model puts out a significantly lower 127hp @ 7,750 rpm, while a gluttonous 93 lbs•ft torque @ 6,500 rpm remains on-tap.

Clearly a road-focused adventure-tourer model, the Honda Crosstourer may never have the off-road pedigree as the BMW R1200GS it is meant to emulate, but true to Honda fashion, the Crosstourer has plenty of technical prowess built into it. For instance, the idea of using DCT technology for an adventure bike should prove interesting, as it takes the process of having to manage the clutch/motor over unsteady terrain out of the picture.

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2012 MV Agusta Brutale RR 1090

11/07/2011 @ 3:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MV Agusta continues to broaden its Brutale line, debuting the MV Agusta Brutale RR 1090 today for the 2011 EICMA show. The pinnacle of the company’s naked bike offering, the Brutale RR 1090 comes packed with 156hp from its 1,078cc inline-four motor. Though we might take issue with MV Agusta’s statement that the “Brutale RR 1090 is the most important addition to the new Brutale 2012 line-up,” as the stylish and more affordable MV Agusta Brutale 675 deserves that title more, the addition of the Brutale RR 1090 helps make more sense out of MV’s naked bike line-up, while offering an impressive package to Italian motorcycle lovers.

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Ducati Diavel Cromo Adds Bling to the Devil

11/07/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

In addition to the recently unveiled Ducati 1199 Panigale and Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse, the Bologna brand has one more that it is debuting at EICMA this year: the Ducati Diavel Cromo. Similar to the Ducati Diavel AMG Special Edition, the Diavel Cromo is really more of a restyling of the Italian power cruiser than a new model. Adding mirrored finished pieces to the Diavel, we imagine Ducati is trying a little bit harder to go after the blinged cruiser demographic with this one, as the Ducati Diavel Cromo sports a chrome-like fuel tank panel, retro-style seat, and laser-etched air intakes.

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2012 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse Special Edition

11/07/2011 @ 12:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Confirming our earlier report on Ducati releasing a “Corse” version of the Superbike 848 EVO, the 2012 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse Special Edition was unveiled today in Milan. The Corse-kitted Superbike 848 EVO comes with an Öhlins rear shock (same Showa front forks though), upgraded 330mm front brakes, Ducati traction control (DTC), and an electronic quick-shifter (DQS). There is also of course the very attractive Corse paint job, which the special edition derives its name from.

No word yet on pricing for the 2012 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse Special Edition, though we’d expect a one to two thousand dollar premium for the bike, as Ducati is likely keen on unloading some Superbike 848 EVOs in 2012. Though, we couldn’t possibly imagine why that would be the case. More photos of the red, black, and white goodness after the jump.

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2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Redefines the Word ‘Superbike’

11/07/2011 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler61 COMMENTS

I often get lambasted in the comments section for being pro-Ducati here on Asphalt & Rubber, and that’s fine by me, because I am. It’s hard not to like a company that has basically defined the modern aesthetic for motorcycles, or a company that continues to grow despite being in the worst recession since The Great Depression. It’s also not hard to love a company that continues to release, year-after-year, new compelling motorcycles, as is the case today with the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Teased ad nauseam, the Ducati 1199 Panigale shouldn’t disappoint the discerning sport bike rider with a strong appetite for Italian food, as the latest v-twin from Bologna sets many firsts for the superbike market segment. As we predicted last year, the Ducati 1199 Panigale drops 20lbs off the Superbike 1198’s design (22 lbs actually), while making an extra 20hp over its predecessor. Not only is the 1199 Panigale the lightest production superbike on the market, with its 361 lbs dry weight (414 lbs wet), it’s also one of the most powerful with its 195hp peak power figure, courtesy of the Superquadro motor.

Other firsts include a revolutionary monocoque frame, the first full-LED headlight on a motorcycle (another story we broke), the first electronically adjusted suspension on a sport bike, the first engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle (the DDA+ package is an optional equipment item for the Panigale). While traction control comes standard, ABS brakes will also be an optional item for the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Available in April 2012, as we expected the new Ducati 1199 Panigale has gotten a price increase over the Superbike 1198. Accordingly the base model will cost $17,995, the “S” will cost $22,995, and “S” Tricolore will hit the wallet at $27,995 MSRP.

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Ducati 1199 Panigale Leaks Ahead of EICMA

11/07/2011 @ 4:44 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber is in Milan right now, and in a few hours we’ll headed over for the official launch of the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale. However, we might as well stay in the hotel and do grappa shots until our eyes bleed, as the sport bike of 2012 has already unsurprisingly leaked ahead of its official debut. Not only do we get our first glimpse of the new flagship Ducati, but it looks like the Ducati 1199 Panigale will have optional anti-locking brakes (ABS) and Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES).

While it was only a matter of time before Ducati put ABS on its Superbike line, the electronic suspension package on the Panigale (note the wires going into the top of the fork tubes), which originally made its Ducati debut on the Multistrada 1200, is the first time the technology has made its way onto a sport bike. Expect full-details and photos in a couple hours, until then salivate after the jump.

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Leaked: 2012 Zero Motorcycles Model Range Is Set to Debut Brammo Empulse Killer

11/06/2011 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Our first proper leak ahead of the upcoming EICMA show in Milan is now officially in the bag, as Asphalt & Rubber has gotten word on Zero Motorcycles’ 2012 electric motorcycles. Completely revamping its model range, our sources tell us that the 2012 Zero Motorcycles will have all-new motors, battery packs, and bodywork. Talking in numbers, the battery pack options will be 6kWh & 9kWh, with prices expected to be $11,000 and $13,000 respectively. Perhaps the most compelling news (and there’s plenty to be compelled about with this news) is that Zero Motorcycles plans to have the new models under production in December, and on dealer floors by January.

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Honda Crosstourer Gets Green-Lit for 2012

10/21/2011 @ 4:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

After showing the Honda Crosstourer as a concept model at last year’s EICMA show, the Japanese company has announced that it will bring the V4 adventure-tourer to market for the 2012 model year. Bringing a very polished concept vehicle to Milan, Honda made no secret about the possibility of the Crosstourer becoming a reality. Honda is remaining tight-lipped regarding specifics about the new Crosstourer, saying simply that the bike will have a V4 motor and will have an optional dual-clutch transmission.

This news likely means the 2012 Honda Crosstourer will sport the same 1,237cc motor as the Honda VFR1200F, though Honda UK coyly only says in its press release that the Crosstourer will have a “V4 engine configuration – also found in the VFR1200F.” Honda has already produced some videos explaining the ethos behind the adventure-tourer, but we’ll have to wait until November for all the specifics. Press release from Honda UK after the jump.

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