US Motorcycle Sales Down in 2016, While UK Sales Are Up

For many in the motorcycle industry, 2016 felt like an off year, and now we know that those feelings weren’t unsubstantiated. Early leaks of the MIC’s industry sales figures for 2016 show that the US motorcycle market contracted 2.1% in 2016, erasing the modest gains made in 2015. Meanwhile for our neighbors across the pond, things are going substantially better, with sales in the United Kingdom up 11.7% (128,644 registrations). We will have to wait for all the motorcycle OEMs to report their final quarter sales results to know who are the big winners and losers of the 2016 sales year. Though, we do know that KTM and BMW (up 5.9%) have shown signs of strong results internationally, whereas Duacti and Harley-Davidson are expected to post overall sales declines for 2016.

BMW R1200R Drag Bike by Nicolas Petit

Nicolas Petit has a way of inking motorcycle designs that we didn’t even know we wanted. First it was drawings of dustbin motorcycles, and now its his drag bike creation, which is based off the BMW R1200R. BMW’s boxer-twin engine doesn’t lend itself to being a great platform for drag racing, but you have to admit that this is a handsome ride, even if it’s all show and no go. With BMW filling every niche under the two-wheeled sun with its bikes though, we wouldn’t be that surprised to see the Germans follow-up with something similar to what the French designer has done here. After all, BMW Motorrad is rumored to be working on an XDiavel-killer, and then there’s…

MV Agusta Relaunches in USA and Canada

It didn’t take long for the news to become officially official, but MV Agusta USA and MV Agusta Canada have come under new ownership, as the Italian brand attempts to relaunch itself in the North American market. Heading the new efforts is Urban Moto Group, headed by Joseph Elasmar, who imports MV Agusta, Benelli, EBR, Royal Enfield, and other brands into Australia. According to the their agreement, both MV Agusta and Urban Moto will co-develop the North America territories, with the aim of capitalizing on the region’s large market for big displacement motorcycles. “We are very excited to build a successful relationship with Urban Moto Group as a new partner also overseeing and developing the presence of MV Agusta in the USA market,” said Giovanni Castiglioni.

New Triumph Street Triple Debuts with 765cc Engine

As expected, today we get to see the 2017 Triumph Street Triple, with its new engine capacity: 765cc. The new engine displacement comes from both an increase in bore and stroke on the iconic three-cylinder motor, with Triumph using a new crank, pistons, and barrels in its construction. Three flavors of Triumph Street Triple will be available for 2017, with S, R, and RS-spec (above) machines being available, with obvious performance differences existing between the trim levels. As such, peak horsepower will be 113hp (S), 118hp (R), and 123hp (RS) – a notable boost over the 675cc machine’s 105hp. Meanwhile, peak torque has been improved from 50 lbs•ft, now to 53 lbs•ft (S) and 56 lbs•ft (R & RS). All the models tip the scales at 166kg (dry) according to Triumph, which is a 2kg reduction over the outgoing model.

Victory Motorcycles Ceasing Operations

Polaris Industries is starting the year off with some surprising news, announcing that it will cease operation of Victory Motorcycles and other related business operations to the brand. Scott Wine, Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO, explained the decision as coming down to basic business factors, with Victory not showing the growth and volume in order to sustain its continued existence. Polaris in its press release also cites the changing landscape of the motorcycle landscape, and that the resources and investments required to make Victory competitive going forward were too hard to justify for the troubled brand. Instead, Polaris will focus solely on its Indian and Slingshot brands, for the motorcycle space.

Triumph Set to Become the Official Moto2 Engine Supplier

The future of the Moto2 class looks secure. Reports from the UK and Austria are suggesting that Triumph has finalized a deal to supply the Moto2 class when the current deal with Honda concludes at the end of 2018. From 2019, Triumph will supply a new three-cylinder engine, probably based on the new, larger sports triple they are building for release in 2017. There had been uncertainty over the future of the Moto2 engine supplier since the beginning of this year. Honda had extended the deal to supply CBR600RR engines until the end of the 2018 season, but as the Japanese manufacturer was stopping production of its middleweight sports bike, it was clear that a replacement would have to be found.

Walt Siegl’s Dakar Inspired Ducati Hypermotard

This Dakar Rally inspired Ducati Hypermotard is the latest creation from Walt Siegl Motorcycles, and it comes with some very appropriate timing. Not only are we full-swing into the 2017 Dakar Rally, but this 1980s-styled Ducati comes during a week where we have been talking about my not-so-secret love affair with the Ducati Hypermotard. Again, we see the air-cooled version of this street-going supermoto being used as a platform for a unique work, though this time Walt Siegl has been commissioned to make a bike that rolled right off the sand dunes of Africa. The exercise centers around mostly the restyling of the bodywork, to give us a little nostalgia for when the Dakar Rally was actually held in its namesake in Northern Africa.

Mike’s Carbon Fiber Motus MSTR

The Motus MSTR is a beast of a machine, it just oozes raw power and torque from its 1,650cc V4 engine; and to compliment all that grunt, the MSTR also comes tastefully wrapped in painted carbon fiber fairings. But when a composites expert wants one of your motorcycles, painting those carbon fiber body panels might not be the best of choices – it may even be an affront the Gods of Internal Combustion. When customer “Mike M.” wanted to see show off the weave of the Motus MSTR’s carbon fiber bodywork, he opted for his machine to come sans the livery. We think that was a pretty good choice, and the gods are surely pleased as well. So, to help get the New Year off to a proper start, and to return to the appreciation of all things two-wheeled, we give you Mike M.’s Motus MSTR motorcycle – how’s that for alliteration?

10 Things to Look Forward to in Motorcycle Racing for 2017

The new year has officially started, the real world of contracts finally lining up with the world of motorcycle racing. Riders who swapped factories are now free of their old contracts, their new contracts having commenced as the world greeted 2017. That also leaves them free to post about the new season on social media again. Aleix Espargaro was so keen to do so that he posted right on the stroke of midnight. If the riders are excited, that gives fans reason to be excited too. Here are 10 reasons to look forward to 2017.

Michael Lock Talks About the Future of Flat Track Racing

As discussed previously on Asphalt & Rubber, flat track racing in the United States will have a comprehensive makeover in 2017. The series will be rebranded as the American Flat Track Series, and the calendar expanded to 18 rounds. At the Superprestigio in Barcelona last weekend, the CEO of the American Flat Track series, Michael Lock, sat down with Asphalt & Rubber to discuss the reasoning behind the changes. The expat Englishman came to flat track with a unique perspective; that of an outsider. He was an Englishman abroad, and brought fresh eyes to the problem of trying to grow flat track racing once again. The single biggest change is to simplify the structure of the championship with the GNC1 class now just for twin-cylinder engined bikes, with the GNC2 class using the smaller singles.

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA – Adios FB Corse?

01/14/2010 @ 6:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Something is up in the John Hopkins camp. First the American GP/WSBK racer was linked with MotoGP upstart FB Corse. A few days after the team announced a deal with Hopper, his manager said nothing was signed, and rumors about his involvement in the AMA began to ramp up.

While FB Corse continues to insist that Hopper will be riding with the Italian team next season, the American seems to be making every indication that he will be returning home with RoadRacing World is reporting that Hopkins will testing a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 with Team Hammer (aka Team M4 Suzuki) at Fontana on Februrary 2nd & 3rd.

John Hopkins Confirmed with FB Corse?

01/05/2010 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

There seems to be a back and forth going on as to whether John Hopkins will be riding with FB Corse at a limited number of MotoGP events this year. First there was the announcement that was picked up by major reporters and even some racing sponsors which slotted the American with the Italian team.

However when the news reached Bob Moore, Hoppers manager, he flat out denied that Hopkins had signed anything, and that they were still considering offers including a ride in the AMA. Now Italian site MotoBlog.it, which has been well connected to the FB Corse team from day one, is again saying the American will be in the riders seat at the team’s unveiling later this month.

UPDATE: Hopper Has NOT Signed with FB Corse

12/29/2009 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

It would seem reports that John Hopkins will be back in MotoGP with FB Corse were premature. While confirming that Hopper has been talking to the Italian GP team, his manager Bob Moore has denied any news that the American rider has signed with the team. Moore goes on to say that Hopkins is still considering all options at this point in time, including a ride in the AMA Pro Racing series.

Ben Bostrom Signs with Pat Clark Motorsports – Jake Zemke & John Hopkins in Talks with PCM

12/16/2009 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ben-Bostrom-Graves-Yamaha

A reliable source in the AMA has just tipped us off to the fact that Ben Bostrom has signed with Pat Clark Motorsports (PCM) for the 2010 season. PCM, which has been linked to Bostrom since the beginning of the month, is keeping the deal under wraps though as they try to sign both Jake Zemeke and John “Hopper” Hopkins to the team as well. If successful, this would mean PCM is building the Deathstar of AMA Superbike teams for the 2010 AMA season.

Hopper Out the Rest of World Superbike Season

09/11/2009 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Although initial reports suggested that John Hopkins went relatively unscathed after his crash at the Nürburgring (video above),  Dr. Ting here in the United States has concluded upon further examination that Hopper had a small hemorrhage on his brain that has since stopped bleeding. The discovery of this injury is a show-stopper for Hopkins, who has been plagued with adversity this past year.

Hopkins Dislocates Hip in Crash at Assen, Racing Sunday Looks Doubtful

04/24/2009 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

john-hopkins-crash-assen-motogp-2008

If you were to ask John Hopkins what his least favorite track is right now, we’d bet good money the American would say the Dutch track Assen. The last time Hopper was in Assen, he smash his leg in a huge crash, which left him sitting out of two races, and struggling in pain for the rest of the season. Now, after only four laps around the course this year, Assen has shown its teeth again for Hopper. During the free practice today Hopkins dislocated his hip in another big crash, and there is doubt surrounding his return to riding by Sunday.

 

John Hopkins Officially Racing in WSBK with Stiggy Honda

03/19/2009 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

john-hopkins

UPDATE: Roberto Rolfo announced on his website that he would be leaving Stiggy Racing, due to “reasons beyond his control.” Those reasons beyond his control would seem to be: John Hopkins joining Stiggy Honda, having sponsorship coming with him, and generally not performing that well last season.

It seems the rumors were true. According to Roadracing World, John Hopkins is officially racing with Stiggy Honda’s World Superbike team. John Hopkins’ agent Bob Moore confirmed the news that that Hopper will be riding a Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR in the World Superbike Championship series, starting with the next round at Valencia, which starts April 3rd. 

 

John Hopkins to World Superbike?

02/03/2009 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on John Hopkins to World Superbike?

Hopper and Melandri still seem to be in MotoGP pergatory, which only gives people more time to speculate on what might become of the two riders. The prevailing rumor right now is that Hopper could end up with a World Superbike ride with Stiggy Honda Motorsports, along-side rider Leon Haslam. This move would mean that Hopkins would replace Roberto Rolfo, who has had problems with a dislocated shoulder.

This appears to be news to Rolfo who recently posted to his site about his recovery and plans for the season without any apparent concern about being replaced by the American.

Hello boys!
In these days I am receiving a lot of mail regard to my injury, I want in the first place say you “thanks” for your support! During the tests of Portimao I completed only a few laps, the lesion was still too much fresh; I knew that it would not have been immediately easy, but it has been however important for me to enter in track, to better know the bike and the new team! I’m happy because the upgrades them is very high!
The days before the next tests in Australia are enough for being able to recover the form with a lot of motivation and training! I am not losing not even a minute of time, therapy, race, bicycle, swim, always with much music: thanks special also to Diabo for the songs of the “El Canto del Loco”! I will take advantage of every day at best, in order to arrive to the top in Australia for the next tests!
By by… and always… Gasss!
Roby44

With the pace that the news has been going about these two, it is really only a matter of time before the Hopkins/Melandri Moto2 rumors start surging; but until then, WSBK might seem like a nice fit for Hopper.

Phillip Island: John Hopkins Goes to Surgery Immediately After Testing Finishes

11/28/2008 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Phillip Island: John Hopkins Goes to Surgery Immediately After Testing Finishes

Kawasaki concluded their testing at Phillip Island before the winter break today, after which John Hopkins headed almost immediately to the hospital to have surgery performed on his leg.

Hopper had been experiencing pain ever since the surgery performed after his crash in Assen early in the 2008 season. Toughing it out, Hopkins showed determination to get this last week’s worth of testing in:

“Today was more positive for me. The injuries weren’t such a big problem, although I had to adapt because I still can’t put any pressure on the left footpeg…we found a pretty good setup on the bike, and my lap times were pretty consistent over the long runs we did for Bridgestone, and it’s this consistency that’s important to our development program right now.”

Hopper clocked in 1’32.1 lap today, about a second off his qualifying time at Phillip Island earlier this year.

Even though MotoGP is such a high profile sport, it is understated how often MotoGP riders become injured during the racing season (Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo also had notable injuries during 2008), and how often  they ride on Sunday’s races with aliments and pains that would leave most of us weekend racers sitting on the couch with a cold one in hand, watching the races instead.

Hopkins plans to take it easy after the surgery, make a full-recovery, and then “train [his] butt off ready for the new season”.

Source: MotoGP; Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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