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.

Spotted: 2013 Triumph Daytona 675

10/19/2012 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Expected only to get a modest makeover for the new model year, we now have proof that the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675 will bring us mostly only cosmetic upgrades in its new revision. Featuring a frame and updated bodywork, perhaps the most noticeable change to the Triumph Daytona 675 is the absence of an undertail exhaust on the three-cylinder supersport, which has been replaced with a GP-style side exhaust can and routing.

Anticipated to be receiving the same update as we saw with the 2013 Triumph Street Triple, the Daytona 675’s motor has likely been untouched, while the new frame and subframe assemblies benefit from a weight reduction (13 lbs on the Street Triple), and improved handling characteristics. We can likely expect similar gains on the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675, with the GP-style exhaust helping Triumph get past stricter European emissions standards.

Expect to see the official unveiling of the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675 at the EICMA show on November 12th. Two more photos are after the jump.

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2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory Gets ABS & Other Refinements

10/02/2012 @ 4:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

While the 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC may look like the same dominant superbike that has been blowing the doors off at bike shootouts, but the company from Noale has made some subtle changes to its V4 street weapon, the most noticeable of which is a three-level dual-channel ABS system from Bosch. The ABS unit can be completely disengaged, should a rider feel it necessary to retain the ability to lock-up the newly added Brembo M430/M50 calipers (the same brake calipers as the Ducati 1199 Panigale), and brings the Aprilia RSV4 in-line with its other liter-bike competitors.

While Aprilia could have stopped there and called things a day, the Italian brand has made further changes to the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC’s stock engine placement in the chassis, as well as other refinements in the RSV4’s exhaust and ECU. The result is a lower center of gravity, and a mild boost in peak horsepower and mid-range torque, which brings the revised RSV4 Factory up to 181.4hp at the crank and 86.3 lbs•ft of peak torque @ 10,500 rpm.

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2013 Triumph Street Triple R – Loses Weight, Looks Hotter

10/02/2012 @ 5:07 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Speaking of triples at INTERMOT, Triumph is debuting the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R at the international bike show in Cologne. Using the same 105hp 675cc three-cylinder motor that we know and love, Triumph has revised the Street Triple’s chassis for better handling, and in the process dropped up to 13 lbs off the machine (403 lbs, fueled up and ready to ride).

While the motor remains untouched, Triumph did re-work the exhaust system, reportedly to help meet noise and emissions standard, but the design also helps the Triumph Speed Triple with its mass-centralization. Besides looking the business, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R comes with switchable ABS as a standard item, as well as an engine immobilizer (also standard). Rounding out the package is a two-year unlimited mileage warranty.

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Sorry, The Japanese-Spec Panigale is Not a Hoax

08/30/2012 @ 5:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

Never underestimate the power of denial. When we first published photos of the Japanese-spec Ducati 1199 Panigale, the immediate reaction from readers was that the machine had to be a hoax. Oh no dear Ducatisti, Japan’s v-twin abomination of Italy’s latest superbike is very real.

With Japanese journalists now getting a chance to swing a leg over the machine, we get our first glimpse of the bike in motion. Noticeably quieter than our American-spec version, we still don’t understand the need for such a butchering of Ducati’s design. But then again, we’re bloggers, not engineers.

Featuring a single right-hand-side-mounted exhaust that taps into the under-slung units we are more familiar with, the Japanese-spec Ducati 1199 Panigale also features an enlarged plastic clutch cover, and a re-worked engine map (the S model also features the base model’s wheels). Check the video out after the jump. If any of our Japanese speakers hear something interesting in the video, post it up in the comments.

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Too Loud for Japan – The Ducati 1199 Panigale Gets Ruined for the Japanese Market

08/14/2012 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler51 COMMENTS

We have to feel sorry for our Japanese readers today, as a crime against motorcycling has occurred in the Japanese motorcycle market. The bike of 2012, and arguably one of the more beautiful designs to come out of Bologna (don’t worry 916 fans, we still like the Tamburini classic more), it turns out that the Ducati 1199 Panigale was a touch too loud for the Japanese market, and modifications had to be made before it is released to the island nation next month. Some extra baffle, maybe some tuning to the ECU, and no big deal right? Well…no, not quite.

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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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Akrapovič Morsus Custom Motorcycle

05/09/2011 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Akrapovič is known for making some of the finest sport bike exhausts on the market, with its carbon and titanium artistry gracing many a bike in the AMA, World Superbike, and MotoGP paddocks. Now we learn from our friends at OmniMoto.it that our favorite Slovenian motorcycle exhaust maker is getting into the custom chopper scene, and helping promote the company’s launch of cruiser-styled exhausts is the modern-styled Akrapovič Morsus custom show bike.

Built in collaboration with Dreamachine Motorcycles, the Akrapovič Morsus features an S&S 113 CI (that’s 1,852cc for the mertic-inclined) motor that pumps out 114hp through its modified Akrapovič exhaust pipe. The Morsus design appeases our modern-leaning design sensibilities, but true to its ethos, it’s the Akrapovič exhaust that really makes us drool over this bike. There’s something about an underslung side-venting pipe that makes us happy, and the Akrapovič Morsus is no exception to the rule. Photos and more after the jump.

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Vyrus 986 M2 Gets Race Partnership from MIVV Exhaust

04/14/2011 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The Vyrus 986 M2 has to be one of the most gorgeous motorcycles we’ve ever seen grace our pages here at Asphalt & Rubber. It’s edgy and doesn’t conform to many of the elements we’d expect from a motorcycle design, and best of all Vyrus intends to race the hub-center steering bike (well maybe the fact you can buy one/build your own is the best thing of all).

With the Moto2 World Championship perhaps out of reach for the small Italian company, we instead see the Vyrus 986 M2 making an entry in the Spanish CEV Moto2 Championship, a national-level series that uses the same rules as the World Championship. Helping Vyrus enter that series is exhaust manufacturer MIVV, which has some experience in the CEV series, having partnered with FTR in past years.

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Photo of the Week: Blue Fire for the Land of the Rising Sun

04/04/2011 @ 9:31 am, by Scott Jones6 COMMENTS

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen a similar image a few weeks ago, and read the story about how many tries it took to get an instance of the blue fire. Here it is again for those who missed it.

On Saturday night of the 2011 season opener, I was working in the pit lane when I noticed something visually striking. When some bikes were revved up by the mechanics in front of the pit boxes, every now and then some blue flame would appear deep within the exhaust pipe. This blue fire was visible for a tiny fraction of a second, but I thought if I could capture one appearance it would be an interesting image. We often see unburned fuel escape from engines and flame out from exhaust pipes, but during the day this fire is orange. But there is something about the night lighting in Qatar that makes it this distinctive blue.

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Buell Swingarm Exhaust: Still Owned by Harley-Davidson

11/24/2010 @ 6:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Math can be tough sometimes, especially when it comes to counting, so we can understand the confusion surrounding the news that Erik Buell has recently been awarded a patent for a design that incorporates a motorcycle exhaust system inside the swingarm of the bike (now that’s some engineering). However we have the unpleasant responsibility of saying that this patent is not in fact owned by Erik Buell and Erik Buell Racing, as the filing date and patent assignee information were clearly over-looked by early reports on Buell’s patent.

While the patent was published on October 28, 2010, its was filed by Buell last year (April 24, 2010), well before Harley-Davidson closed the company, and while Erik Buell still worked as a Harley-Davidson employee. As such, the patent is assigned to the Buell Motorcycle Company, whose intellectual property is still owned by Harley-Davidson.

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