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.

Honda’s Forgotten “Frameless” Chassis Design Patent

03/27/2014 @ 5:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Before Ducati’s monocoque chassis design was all the rage in superbike design, the folks at Honda were busy toying with the same idea.

Outlining a patent in 2006 for a motorcycle whose engine would be fully utilized as a part of the chassis, Honda’s design, which differs in minutiae, predates Ducati’s patent by almost a year and a half.

A noticeable departure from Honda’s MotoGP design, one can argue whether Honda’s monocoque chassis was destined for the next iteration of the CBR1000RR or the next generation VFR at the time of its conception.

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Pierobon’s Trellis Frame for the Ducati 1199 Panigale – Ducatisti Purists, Your Prayers Have Been Answered

10/17/2013 @ 2:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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We have featured the work of Peirobon on Asphalt & Rubber before, as the boutique firm from Bologna makes some intriguing air-cooled Ducati-powered sport bikes for discerning buyers, among other things.

Pierobon is also one of the companies we are looking forward to seeing at this year’s EICMA show, as the firm has something special this year for its booth display: a trellis frame kit for the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

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How the Honda RC213V 90° V4 Engine Makes Us Rethink the Problems with the Ducati Desmosedici

02/19/2013 @ 3:59 pm, by David Emmett44 COMMENTS

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Just over 18 months ago, I wrote a long analysis of what I believed at the time was the main problem with Ducati’s Desmosedici MotoGP machine. In that analysis, I attributed most of the problems with the Desmosedici to the chosen angle of the V, the angle between the front and rear cylinder banks.

By sticking with the 90° V, I argued, Ducati were creating problems with packaging and mass centralization, which made it almost impossible to get the balance of the Desmosedici right. The engine was taking up too much space, and limiting their ability to adjust the weight balance by moving the engine around.

Though there was a certain logic to my analysis, it appears that the engine angle was not the problem. Yesterday, in their biweekly print edition, the Spanish magazine Solo Moto published an article by Neil Spalding, who had finally obtained photographic evidence that the Honda RC213V uses a 90° V, the same engine angle employed by the Ducati Desmosedici. Given the clear success of the Honda RC213V, there can no longer be any doubt that using a 90° V is no impediment to building a competitive MotoGP machine.

The photographic proof comes as confirmation of rumors which had been doing the rounds in the MotoGP paddock throughout the second half of the 2012 season. Several people suggested that the Honda may use a 90° angle, including Ducati team manager Vitto Guareschi, speaking to GPOne.com back in November.

I had personally been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a naked RC213V engine at one rain-soaked race track in September, but while the glimpse through the window may have been good enough to form the impression of an engine that looked like it may have been a 90°V, it was a very long way from being anything resembling conclusive, and nowhere near enough to base a news story on.

Spalding’s persistence has paid off, however. The British photographer and journalist is a common sight wandering among the garages, either first thing in the morning, as the bikes are being warmed up, or late at night, while the mechanics prepare the machines for the following day.

At some point, the Honda mechanics and engineers – protective to the point of prudishness of displaying any part of their machine to the outside world – would let their guard slip. When they did, Spalding pounced.

So why did Honda elect to use an engine layout which is blamed for causing Ducati so much trouble? And how does Honda make the layout work where Ducati have continued to fail? The first question is relatively simple to answer; the second is a good deal more tricky.

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Yamaha YZR-M1: 2013 vs. 2006

02/13/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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It is hard to believe, but it has been eight years since Valentino Rossi raced a Yamaha in liter capacity in MotoGP. Without even getting into the 800cc era that started in 2007 and ended in 2011, it is safe to say that a lot has changed since Rossi’s 2006 Yamaha YZR-M1 and the still unofficially debuted 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1.

While we already have a pretty good idea what was under the fairings of Rossi’s 2006 M1, since Yamaha Racing made detailed high-resolution pictures of the machine publicly available, what lies beneath the fairings of MotoGP’s current crop of prototypes is a closely guarded secret.

That secret must not have been guarded closely enough though, because the eagle eyes at GPone have gotten a photo of the Jorge Lorenzo’s M1 in the buff, and the Pride of Iwata has some interesting secrets to share with us.

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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 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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XXX: Ducati 1199 Panigale Naked

12/27/2011 @ 12:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

The 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale represents a huge step in motorcycle design, mostly due to its frameless chassis or monocoque design. Using the engine as an integral component to the Panigale’s chassis, Ducati’s hallmark achievement was building an integrated headstock/airbox off the front cylinder. With the seat and subframe built off the rear cylinder, and the swingarm bolting directly to the motor, the Ducati 1199 Panigale was able to not only shed 22 lbs of its predecessor’s design, but also continues the Italian company’s new design trend of having components that take on multiple functional roles.

Being sure to keep the fairings on the Ducati 1199 Panigale fastened at all times, we have very little insight as to what Ducati’s new chassis looks like underneath its clothing, and after hounding Bologna for the past few weeks over the issue, these four renders of the Panigale’s frame are the best we can muster for our readers. The black background makes the black frame components hard to see, but the CAD drawings do provide at least some insight as to how the 1199 comes together. If the Panigale goes as well on the track as it does on the spec sheet, you very well could be looking at the future of production motorcycle chassis design.

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Rossi Rides with an Aluminum Perimeter Frame at Valencia While Hayden Sits Out the Test with a Broken Wrist

11/09/2011 @ 3:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

With the 2011 MotoGP season concluding in Valencia this weekend, the 2012 MotoGP season got underway with its first testing session, also held at the Spanish track. A glimpse into the re-established 1,000cc era, perhaps the most anticipated unveiling was Ducati Corse’s aluminum perimeter-style frame, dubbed the GP0. Just one step in the long process of addressing the Ducati Desmosedici’s front-end feeling problem, Ducati Corse’s latest incarnation of a MotoGP chassis has been rumored for some time now.

With all eyes in the GP paddock looking to see if a the conventional frame design would be the silver bullet to Ducati’s woes, the testing sessions in Valencia have been interesting to say the least. With everyone playing Monday Morning Pit Boss over Ducati Corse’s issues, the past two days of tests have been important for Ducati Corse to understand the issues inherent in their design, as well as establishing what the teams does, and does not, know.

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2012 BMW S1000RR – Tweaks Come to the Liter Bike King

10/21/2011 @ 3:07 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

BMW did an amazing thing two years ago. Not really known for its performance street motorcycles, BMW took the competitive superbike market head-on, bringing out a motorcycle that not only had class-leading performance figures, but was also priced extremely competitively against its Japanese competitors. That lethal combination of price, quality, and performance made the BMW S1000RR the sport bike to have over the past two years, and it shows in the S1000RR’s sales figures, which eclipsed every other liter bike.

Not wanting to rest too heavily on its laurels, BMW has updated the S1000RR for the 2012 model year, and while the bike may look the same, the German company hopes it has done plenty to its halo bike to make would-be buyers give the S1000RR a good looking over next season, despite going into its third year of production. While the same 193hp engine resides at the heart of the S1000RR, and the curb weight remains a paltry 449 lbs (90% fuel), the 2012 BMW S1000RR gets a bevy of suspension, chassis, and electronics for the new model year.

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2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Frame and Motor Revealed

10/07/2011 @ 6:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The last time we showed you the latest teaser from Kawasaki for its upcoming 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends across the pond), we found it fairly amusing when several sites called the video’s authenticity into question. Systematically leaked to media sites through Kawasaki channels, and generally having the production quality of a professional job, nay-sayers apparently over-looked the smoking-gun fact that the videos in question were hosted on Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-14R mini-site, which for added authority resides on a Kawasaki.com sub-domain. Yes, this video is real. Yes, an updated version of the Kawasaki ZX-14R/ZZR1400 is coming. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s bringing you a new 1,440cc motorcycle. Only a few more days until this baby drops on October 10th. Stay tuned.

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