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.

Garry McCoy Leaves FB Corse

06/07/2010 @ 7:42 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Garry McCoy announced this weekend that he has left FB Corse, presumably after the MotoGP team failed to develop its racing effort in any meaningful way. Beleagured from the start with lofty goals and un-true press releases, FB Corse has struggle both technically and financially to get on the MotoGP grid. After suffering a setback of not being given the green light to race while testing  at Valencia, FB Corse seemed determined to make at least a few wild card appearances this season.

Now with McCoy resigning from the team, the MotoGP paddock expects this to be the end of the Italian racing project (editor’s note: FB Corse has already removed its photos from its flickr stream). Of course knowing Franco Uncini and the FB Corse spin machine, we may still see another press release or two in the future from the Italian racing effort. McCoy’s official statement after the jump, best of luck to you Garry.

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Video: FB Corse FB01 Triple at the Valencian Pit

03/20/2010 @ 1:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Despite not making the entry list into the 2010 MotoGP season (yet?), we have to admit it’s a welcomed sound to hear a triple taking off from the pits at Valencia. We here at Asphalt & Rubber were big fans of the Aprilia RS3 Cube, despite its propensity to catch fire. And while FB Corse may have drawn our ire for less than truthful media communications, their Oral Engineering designed three cylinder motor leaves us hoping the team can get their act together and make it into MotoGP so we can continue to hear its throaty tune. Check out the video after the jump for a sweet taste of triple goodness.

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Dorna Slaps FB Corse on the Wrist for Overstatement

03/18/2010 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

It’s refreshing to see that the Dorna is about as amused as we are here at Asphalt & Rubber over FB Corse’s “extremely positive” press release after the Italian MotoGP-hopeful team was denied entry into the premiere motorcycle prototype racing class. At the request of Dorna delegates, FB Corse has issued a second press release that rescinds their previous statement of being admitted into MotoGP, and now clarifies the situation with some prose that’s a little bit closer to the reality and truth of the matter.

The big takeaway from the situation is that FB Corse must now prove the FB01 in a race simulation test, which would have the race bike complete a race distance at race pace to show not only the bike’s competitiveness, but also its reliability. FB Corse’s new press release follows after the jump.

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FB Corse Denied Entry into MotoGP

03/17/2010 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hopes were dashed in Valencia today as FB Corse was denied the opportunity to enter the 2010 MotoGP series with the rest of the field at Qatar on April 11th. The FB Corse team was at the Spanish track the past few days testing their FB01 race bike with Garry McCoy at the helm. Today being the final day of testing, representatives from Dorna and the IRTA were on hand to assess the condition of the FB Corse team and bike, and to make a determination as to whether they would be included in the 2010 series. Despite all of the media hype, Dorna’s Franco Uncini’s determined the team was not ready for MotoGP, but could maybe enter the series midway through if they where then ready.

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FB Corse To Prove Its Mettle at Valencia Test

03/08/2010 @ 6:52 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The day has come for FB Corse to make its big track debut, and also to prove to Dorna and the IRTA that they have what it takes to race in MotoGP. This March 15th thru 17th will see the Italian team take to the track at Valencia, where they will have their first track shakedown.

In attendance March 17th will be Dorna’s Franco Uncini and an IRTA representative. The purpose of these men is to assess the FB01’s competitive ability, during what is being called a “timing test’. Intially this has been reported to mean that Dorna and the IRTA are interested in seeing as to whether or not Garry McCoy can take the FB01 around the course within three seconds of last season’s slowest qualifying MotoGP lap time. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case now.

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FB Corse FB01 Launch Video from Milan

02/15/2010 @ 8:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Fresh from it’s unveiling in Milan, DailyMotos has posted a video to YouTube on the Official presentation of the FB Corse MotoGP team and FB01 race bike. Garry McCoy was on hand to help take the wraps off the MotoGP contender, which has a three-cylinder 800cc motor that was originally intended for a BMW MotoGP entry. Check the unveiling after the jump.

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