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.

One on One: Valentino Rossi & Masao Furusawa

02/06/2011 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Continuing its “ONE on ONE” series, Yamaha has pitted two staples of its MotoGP garage to interview each other: nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and former-Executive of Engineering Operations Masao Furusawa. The video is obviously a bit untimely, as Rossi has already made the switch over to Ducati, but the interview proves relevant as he and Furusawa talk about why Rossi made the jump in the paddock from Honda to Yamaha in 2003. If you supplant the appropriate manufacturers’ names, you could almost hear Rossi talking about his reasoning thus far with the Italian racing brand.

So far the video series is two-parts long, and has some great insights into the relationship that was the driving force for Rossi joining Yamaha, and for his departure (Furusawa’s retirement from Yamaha being one of many factors in Rossi’s decision to leave the Japanese marque).  Over the course of their discussion, fun trivia bits come up, like what Max Biaggi said when Rossi won the opening GP race at South Africa in 2004. Check past the jump to find out what his response was, and to watch the videos in their entirety.

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Fiat Officially Says Ciao to Yamaha

01/03/2011 @ 11:15 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

This weekend, Fiat and Yamaha unsurprisingly and officially ended their four-year relationship. The first non-tobacco title sponsor in the four-stroke MotoGP category, Fiat joined up with Yamaha in 2007, when MotoGP switched to the 800cc format. Originally justifying the sponsorship as a way to reach a car-buying audience that was younger than Formula 1 fans, Fiat has always had its eye on the Italian rider. That relationship has manifested itself in Rossi testing with Ferrari on numerous occasions, and prompted the nine-time World Champion to consider kart racing after his motorcycling career is over.

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Final Quotes from the Rossi/Yamaha Era

11/08/2010 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, tomorrow is the day that Valentino Rossi will officially leave Yamaha, and ride the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 for the first time. In 7 seasons Rossi won 4 Championships and 46 GP’s for the Japanese company, and helped turn the YZR-M1 from MotoGP dud, to the MotoGP stud in that timeframe.

Appropriately, former World Champion Valentino Rossi, along with Executive Officer of Engineering Operations Masao Furusawa and Managing Director of Yamaha Racing Lin Jarvis, have released statements about the past seven years, which shed a great deal of insight into the relationship between Yamaha and Rossi, and the impact that the Italian rider will leave behind on the Japanese company. Quotes and some photos after the jump.

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Goodbye.

11/07/2010 @ 3:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The Motegi Infraction

10/12/2010 @ 6:48 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

While Valentino Rossi may have gotten a slap on the wrist from Yamaha Racing Boss Lin Jarvis for over-zealously racing teammate Jorge Lorenzo at Motegi, the Spanish press and Lorenzo have been less reserved with their words about the final laps of the Japanese GP. This hasn’t stopped some cheekiness from the Italian press though, who put together this fake accident report after Rossi and Lorenzo collided on the Twin Ring Circuit. Watch the video above, and make the call if that assigned fault to the right rider after the jump.

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Clinched.

10/11/2010 @ 5:56 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Teammates.

10/07/2010 @ 12:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Rossi Considers Skipping Last Two MotoGP Races – Fires A Shot Across Yamaha’s Bow

09/20/2010 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Much of the talk about Valentino Rossi and his injuries have centered on the Italian’s leg, which was broken with a compound fracture at Mugello earlier this year. Despite causing Rossi to miss several races, the Italian’s biggest physical concern hasn’t been his leg, but instead his shoulder, which he injured in April while motocross training. The shoulder has been a lingering issue for Rossi ever since his return at Brno, which culminated this weekend with the Fiat-Yamaha team actually having to setup the M1 at Aragon to work around the injury.

With a lackluster performance this weekend, not to mention a disappointing return to GP racing in general, Rossi announced after Sunday’s race that he was considering having his shoulder operated on after the three fly-away races (Motegi, Sepang, and Phillip Island), which would effectively mean that the nine-time World Champion would miss MotoGP’s last two stops at Estoril and Valencia. MotoMatters has once again done a superb job of transcribing Rossi’s interaction with the media on the subject, which adds some context to this development (read the transcript here)

This announcement is a big bombshell for the Yamaha camp, which could see its star rider, if we can still say that, again vacating from the team to heal his injuries. However again reading between the lines of the Italian, Rossi’s revelation this weekend has about as much to do with an injured shoulder as it does with putting pressure on Yamaha to release him from his contract in time to test the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at Valencia.

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Rossi Waiting to Hear if Burgess Will Retire

08/29/2010 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Talking after the Indianapolis GP, Valentino Rossi explained that he is waiting to hear from Jeremy Burgess as to whether the Australian Crew Chief will retire next season. Assured of the fact that Burgess would not stay behind at Yamaha, and would not work with another rider, Rossi stated the buzz around whether Burgess would move with the Italian to Ducati, hinges as to when Burgess plans on retiring from motorcycle racing.

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Ben Spies All But Confirms Factory Announcement

08/26/2010 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Another one of the worst-kept secrets in the MotoGP paddock is the graduation of Ben Spies from the Monster Tech3 Yamaha team to the factory Yamaha squad. With Valentino Rossi now officially out of the Yamaha picture, Spies’ opening in the factory squad is finally vacant.

With Spies testing the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 at Brno two weeks ago, more fuel was added to the fire that an announcement from the Texan was imminent. Dodging an official statements during Thursday’s pre-race conference at Indianapolis GP, Spies still all but confirmed where he would be for next season.

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