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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #48 – Mechanical Masochism

03/30/2017 @ 11:25 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

In Episode 48 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, we didn’t set out to talk about all the weird technologies in the motorcycle industry, though our conversation certainly covered its fair share of them.

We start the show talking about the Vyrus 986 M2 supersport, which features a unique hub-center steering chassis. This leads us into a conversation about the supersport market, and the rumors that Suzuki is bringing out a new GSX-R750.

From there, Quentin breaks some news that a reliable source has told him that there will be a new Suzuki GSX-R600 for the 2019 model year, which goes against what had previously been rumored. We then finish up the Suzuki talk with a quick discussion about the Suzuki Hayabusa, and hyperbikes in general.

The show ends with us talking about KTM’s new fuel-injection for two-stroke dirt bikes, and what that means for that segment of the industry. Q also tries his best to explain how transfer port injection works, though we would recommend googling some visual adds when you get to that portion of the show.

A fun show, though we think you will also find it very insightful as well.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

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Vyrus 986 M2 Street Bike Is Finally Ready

03/17/2017 @ 5:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

Every time I hear about how the Japanese brands are abandoning the 600cc sport bike market, I have a little chuckle with myself. Honda et al will tell you that the issue is that motorcyclists don’t want to ride supersports anymore.

However, I am a firm believer that the real issue is that motorcyclists don’t want to ride the same old supersports that the OEMs keep cookie-cuttering out of their factories every year. In my mind, the Vyrus 986 M2 proves this point.

I can think of no other machine that has generated a bigger response on Asphalt & Rubber than this 600cc Italian exotic. The sweet irony too is that it’s powered by a Honda CBR600RR engine.

The motorcycle industry keeps trying to sell supersports, pitches them as watered-down superbikes, and then acts surprised when the bikes don’t sell.

Instead, they should take a note from, Vyrus, which has managed to create an inline-four 600cc speed machine that you want so bad, that you would sell a kidney from your middle-child for it.

Carbon fiber fairings, hub-center steering, edgy design…this bike screams unique and special…and no one cares that it’s not a 1,000cc 200hp monster. 

In other news, the street bike version of the Vyrus 986 M2 is finally available for order. You can order one completed, or in kit form.

As with all things from the Italian factory, each bike is built bespoke to its owner’s wishes, though last we heard the Vyrus 986 M2 was fetching a reasonable €25,000 price tag. Strike that, Vyrus just sent us an updated price list: €37,940 for the Vyrus 986 M2, and €27,930 for the street bike kit.

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Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe Is “Pinnacle Weird”

11/17/2015 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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If you’re not listening to the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, you should…there is some good two-wheeled gold in the show. So, with a hat-tip to my co-host Quentin Wilson – whose new favorite phrase is “pinnacle weird” – we present you with perhaps the strangest motorcycle to debut at the 2015 EICMA show.

The Bimota Tesi 3D champions the hub-center steering chassis design, and is one of the more unique motorcycles in the industry right now. Its design is positively futuristic, so it is a little strange that Bimota is trying to make the Tesi 3D into a café racer with the launch of the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe.

Powered by the same 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine that’s found in the Scrambler series, you can tell that Bimota is trying to latch onto the post-heritage trend that is dying a slow death in the motorcycle industry, but hasn’t quite figured out how to do it yet.

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Transform Your Honda CBR600RR into a Vyrus 986 M2

04/30/2014 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Maybe one of the most lurid motorcycles ever to grace the pages of Asphalt & Rubber, the Vyrus 986 M2 Moto2 race bike is just as much art as it is engineering innovation. A hub-center steering front-end, self-supporting carbon fiber body pieces, and a bevy of GP-level electronics adorn this futuristic looking motorcycle from Italy.

The goal from Vyrus was to have a Moto2-class legal racing machine that was ready for competition, though we doubt many owners see it that way. What few bikes that actually leave their owner’s garage, we imagine only a handful will see any track time, but that’s sometimes just the way it goes.

Originally priced at €55,000 for the race bike (a pretty cheap price for a Moto2 machine), a street version was supposed to debut at €25,000, while a Vyrus 986 M2 kit was to be made available at €16,900 (one must supply their own Honda CB600RR motor to use the kit option).

After currency exchange rates, the Vyrus 986 M2 kit sounded like a fairly affordable and hands-on way to own such a unique machine. Well, now that Vyrus is actually able to make good on its do-it-yourself option, things have changed a little…by say €10,000 or so.

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motoDNA: Bimota Tesi 3D E Track Test

02/21/2014 @ 2:07 pm, by Mark McVeigh15 COMMENTS

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The Emilia Romagna region of Italy is a melting pot for the Italian motorcycle industry. Positioned in the middle of this province, also known as the “terra dei motori” or the land of engines, sits the motorcycle company known as Bimota.

In September 1972 the now famous designer Massimo Tamburini crashed his Honda 750 Four at Misano racetrack — the stack left him with three broken ribs. While recovering from his unfortunate incident, he constructed a tubular steel frame to handle the horsepower then being produced by the Japanese bikes.

The frame he constructed lowered the centre of gravity and reduced the weight of the original Honda. Called the HB1, the first Bimota was born. Bimota’s name is derived from its founders’ initials: Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini.

Bimota has a rich racing heritage and has carried such great names as Virginio Ferrari, Davide Tardozzi, and Randy Mamola. Also who could forget Anthony ‘Go Show’ Goberts awesome WSBK victory at a wet Philip island in 2000 aboard the Bimota SB8R!

Born from a young university graduate’s mind, it was Engineer Pierluigi Marconi’s university thesis (Tesi in Italian) that directly led to the Bimota Tesi 1D hub-center steered motorcycle in 1990, the 1, 2 and 3D standing for the various Ducati engines used in the models.

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Vyrus 984 Ultimate Edition

11/20/2012 @ 8:14 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Technically very similar to the Bimota Tesi 3D (there’s a reason for that), the Vyrus 984 C3 2V is that other hub-center steering motorcycle from Italy. Featuring a 992cc Ducati DesmoDue motor at its core, the Vyrus 984 is about as radical as it gets when it comes to modern motorcycles. Upping the ante another notch though is the Vyrus 984 Ultimate Edition, which takes the already light 984 machine, and drops its weight to 144kg (317 lbs) dry.

Helping Vyrus achieve that ludicrous figure is the company’s copious usage of carbon fiber on the Vyrus 984 Ultimate Edition, which drops over 10 lbs from the original design. A large part of this weight savings is the front portion of the machine, which like the Ducati 1199 Panigale, builds directly off the engine cylinder heads, and serves double-duty as the motorcycle’s airbox.

Other goodies include carbon disc brakes, Öhlins TTX shocks for suspension, magnesium case covers, and an upside down aluminum box frame swingarm. Designed with the track in mind, the Vyrus 984 Ultimate Edition also comes with traction control and a full data-logging system. Price? Let’s just say it’s six figures. Expect a water-cooled Vyrus 985 Ultimate Edition to follow shortly.

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2013 Bimota Tesi 3D Naked – Hub-Center Steering for Two

11/13/2012 @ 1:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

In my list of the Top 10 motorcycles ever, I think the Bimota Tesi 3D would make a strong showing. A truly unique machine, the lack of fairings only serves to showcase the hub-center steering mechanism, making the Tesi 3D an intriguing work of both art and science.

Separating the braking forces from the suspension travel, on paper motorcycle’s with hub-center steering have a significant mechanical advantage over their traditional counterparts, in reality though they have failed to live up to the hype on the track.

A product of either riders who are groomed to expect the workings of traditional linear fork suspension systems, or simply a answer to question that wasn’t asked, hub-center steering hasn’t exactly taken off…yet.

The Bimota Tesi 3D perseveres though, and for the new model year, Bimota has made my Tesi 3D obsession more conducive to my social agenda with motorcycles. This is all the excuse I need to share the photos after the jump with you. Enjoy.

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Vyrus 986 M2 Gets Street Legal

04/23/2012 @ 4:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

One of our favorite bikes to debut last year, the Vyrus 986 M2 continues to be developed by the small Italian firm, and pictures of the 600cc, omega-framed, hub-center steered motorcycle have been uploaded to the Vyrus Facebook profile page, and show the Moto2 hopeful in its street-legal form.

Breaking cover back in January 2011, Vyrus had hopes of racing the 986 M2 in the Moto2 Championship, as well as selling a street and kit version of the motorcycle to consumers. At €25,000 ready to roll (€50,000 for the race version), the street-going Vyrus 986 M2 might be one of the most expensive supersport-class motorcycles on the market, but honestly, wouldn’t you want to own one these bay boys instead of a comparably-priced liter-bike? We know we would.

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zecOO: An Electric Maxi-Scooter from Japan

04/13/2012 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The maxi-scooter scene in Japan borders on the lunatic fringe, as the two-wheeled segment is over-saturated with trendy young riders, as full-size motorcycles are too prohibitively expensive for 20-somethings in the island nation. This has created a vibrant tuner and modder community for scooters in Japan, which has spurred some of the most audacious builds we have ever seen. It doesn’t surprise us then to see the zecOO from Kota Nezu of Znug Design.

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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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