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: Kawasaki Ninja H2R’s Electronic Controls

10/17/2014 @ 9:38 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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With great power, comes great responsibility…I’m fairly certain I read that in a comic book somewhere. The adage carries over to the Kawasaki Ninja H2R though, as any 300hp supercharged machine needs some snappy electronics to keep all that power in line. It’s something we talked about yesterday, when we got up-close with the H2R at the AIMExpo.

Seemingly reading our thoughts on that matter, Kawasaki has released a terse video on the H2R’s electronic controls. The video essentially confirms that the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, and presumably the Kawasaki Ninja H2 street bike, will come with anti-locking brakes (KIBS), traction control (KTRC), launch control (KLCM), quick shifter (KQS), engine braking control (KEBC), and an electronic steering damper (ESD).

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Officially Official: Ducati 1199 Superleggera

10/22/2013 @ 2:18 am, by Jensen Beeler57 COMMENTS

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Well it looks like all the leaks and speculation are now over, as Ducati has finally released photos and information about the 2014 Ducati 1199 Superleggera — the company’s “super light” limited edition superbike. A halo bike for Borgo Panigale, the new Superleggera slots into Ducati’s lineup above the homologation-purposed Ducati 1199 Panigale R.

Only 500 Ducatisti worldwide will have the chance to own a Ducati 1199 Superleggera, and that ownership will mean having a superbike with a dry weight of only 155kg (341.7lbs) — 177kg (390.2lb) at the curb with at least a tank that is 90% full. Ducati officially rates the power at “over 200hp” as the Superleggera revs an extra 500 rpm’s off its modified motor.

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2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Breaks Cover

09/09/2013 @ 9:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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Confirming rumors that Borgo Panigale has been working on a smaller-displacement version of its namesake superbike, and that the machine would have a double-sided swingarm, Ducati debuted today its new “supermid” superbike, the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale.

Showcased ahead of the IAA International Motor Show, where Ducati will preview its 2014 motorcycle line, the Ducati 899 Panigale features an 898cc Superquadro motor that produces 148hp (73 lbs•ft of torque), a monocoque “frameless” chassis design (372.5 lbs dry), and a bevy of electronics (DQS, DTC, RbW, EBC, & ABS).

Priced at $14,995 (red model) & $15,295 (white model), Ducati hopes that the 899 Panigale will create a more affordable entry for motorcyclists that want to own a Ducati superbike.

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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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