John McGuinness claimed his 46th TT podium, with a 3rd place in the Senior TT.
Ben & Tom Birchall at Signpost Corner, on their way to victory in the Sidecar TT Race 2.
Bruce Anstey at Braddan Bridge.
If you are in a region that gets all four of the seasons, you are likely counting down the days to the coming snow-thaw. As such, this article might be coming to you a little late for this season, but for next winter you should consider mounting some winter traction tires to your motorcycle. Yes, such things exist. To be fair, I too was unaware that you could get a motorcycle tire that met the criteria from the DOT, in order for it to carry the “mountain/snowflake” symbol, but apparently Turkish tire-maker Anlas has such tires in its line-up. That’s right, for regions of the world that require special tires during the snowy months, there is a tire out there to keep you riding all-season.
You probably haven’t heard of SWM Motorcycles, the off-road brand that carries on where Husqvarna left off in Italy. Built from the parts that KTM didn’t want when it bought the Swedish brand in 2013, SWM Motorcycles is based outside of Milan, Italy and produces a variety of off-road focused machines using pre-BMW Husqvarna engine designs. Many members of the company’s team are former Husqvarna employees, including the company’s CEO, Ampelio Macchi – all of whom were left out in the cold when the German brand sold Husqvarna to KTM. But, with a new production facility, support from the local government and worker unions, along with Chinese financing (from the Shineray Group), SWM Motorcycles has taken on a new life with a promising future.
It is terribly fashionable in some circles to regard Dorna as a blight on the face of motorcycle racing. Their alleged crimes are both heinous and manifold. They have dumbed down the sport by exerting an ever tighter grip over the technical regulations. They killed off the two-strokes in favor of four-strokes. They have aggressively pursued copyright and trademark claims, at the cost of broadening the appeal of the sport. They have been relentless in their pursuit of financial gain over the spirit of the sport. They have meddled in the sport to favor one rider, or one nationality over the rest. Most of these complaints are either baseless, or an expression of anger at how the sport has changed over the years.
The final factory MotoGP to debut its 2017 MotoGP Championship race bike, Aprilia has finally debuted the 2017 Aprilia RS-GP that Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes will campaign this year. The Italian outfit continues to make quiet strides in its development with the RS-GP, though the efforts from Suzuki and KTM tend to dominate the headlines. For the 2017 season, Aprilia looks ready to take another step forward, especially with Aleix Espargaro at the helm. The biggest task for the 2017 will be to bring more horsepower to the Aprilia RS-GP. The machine reportedly handles quite well, though that is often an item of praise that changes as the power increases.
Ducati released a new financing program this week, maybe you saw the announcement already. If you even bothered to read one of the copy/paste jobs on this announcement, you probably got three sentences into it, and then realized you just lost a minute or two of your life, which you will never get back. It is hard to make this topic sexy, and motorcycle journalists are lazy creatures (myself included)…which is why you probably just saw the press release reprinted on a website, with some Ducati advertising placed next to it, just for good measure. The Ducati Premier Financing program is a big deal though, just not in a way that is immediately sexy to the casual motorcycle buyer.
Legalizing lane-splitting in Washington State just got a step closer to reality, as the State Senate of the Washington State Legislature has passed a bill that would allow lane-splitting under very specific circumstances. Senate Bill 5378 (SB 5378) would allow lane-splitting only during slow traffic conditions – up to 10mph faster than the flow of traffic, but no faster than 25 mph – and only on numbered highways that have a median and multiple lanes of traffic in each direction. The bill passed the senate with 32 “yea” votes from both Republicans and Democrats, while the 17 “nay” votes came solely from Democrat members.
Polaris Industries says it is working on a new electric motorcycle, to replace the now discontinued Victory Empulse TT model that was scrapped when the Minnesota company closed the doors to the Victory brand earlier this year. According to a report from Reuters, the new electric motorcycle will be released under the Indian Motorcycle brand name, and will be focused towards riders who ride for pleasure, rather than those who commute or do long-distance trips. The report says that Polaris is targeting a 120 to 140 mile range – almost double of what was available from the Empulse TT – from this new electric motorcycle model, when ridden at an aggressive pace.
When the Indian Scout FTR750 flat track race bike debuted, our comments section was filled with enthusiasts screaming for a production version of the water-cooled 750cc machine. Well my friends, your prayers have been answered…in part. Indian is making the Scout FTR750 available to anyone who has the coin to spend, with a couple caveats: 1) you will need to pony up $50,000 in order to purchas the bike, and 2) it will be a race-only model. Still, the news should be exciting for privateer flat track racers who are keen to use Indian’s very trick racing package, which looks to be far more purpose-built than Harley-Davidson’s Street 750 based offering.
The data continues to support the notion that sport bike sales are contracting, with Powersports Business releasing a report that sport bike sales dropped by 4.7% over a 12-month period that ended in October 2016. According to the dataset put together by Statistical Surveys Inc., 75,469 sport bikes were registered in the United States during last year’s time period, compared to the 79,225 motorcycles that were registered the previous year. While the general trend across the country is a drop in sport bike sales, the research also showed some interesting locations where sport bike sales actually increased dramatically, showing that there may be a location element to the demise of the sport bike.
Since before I started Asphalt & Rubber, the scribe’s at MCN have been predicting a MotoGP-derived V4 superbike from Honda – I think the original rumor started with a V5 power plant, if that gives you an idea of how long this story has been making the circuit. The hands on the clock are finally starting to meet with reality though, and the British magazine now says that a more affordable version of the Honda RC213V-S could hit dealerships in time for the 2019 model year. This information echoes similar news that we saw before the launch of the updated Honda CBR1000RR – that Honda was working in parallel on a new Fireblade as well as a V4 superbike project. Though now, MCN now points to recent patents filed by Honda, as well as sourced information that the bike is a couple model years away.
Last to go on Wednesday for the Isle of Man TT, the Bennetts Lightweight TT features “super twin” four-stroke machines, of up to 650cc in displacement.
The weapon of choice in the class has been the Kawasaki Ninja 650, but that is slowly changing. Gary Johnson, for instance, has made a good show of things with the Chinese CF Moto.
Though any rider can compete in the Lightweight TT category, the class is seen by many as a stepping stone onto a supersport or bigger bike. As such, many of the TT’s upcoming stars feature in the Lightweight TT.
A four-lap race this year, the Lightweight TT in the past has been a three-lap contest, which brought a bit of strategy into play on when to take a pit stop. Now four laps, that intrigue has been removed, but given riders a more difficult contest on machines not designed for racing.
The weather is mercurial at the Isle of Man, and it often throws a spanner into the plans for the TT. This year, the weather has been perfect – hot and sunny throughout the practice week, and into the race week. That is of course, until Wednesday, when the fog and ocean mist delayed proceedings by several hours.
This meant that the Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 got off to an afternoon start, rather than its planned morning get-off. Thankfully, the modest delay still allowed for a full-day’s racing, and good racing it was.
Ian Hutchinson at the bottom of Barregarrow on his way to winning the Supersport TT race 1.
Monday was not a good day for Michael Dunlop. He was excluded from the Supersport results due to a technical infringement, and failed to finish the Superstock race.
Dean Harrison finished on the podium in both races.
The RL360º Quantum Superstock TT race features liter-class bikes that are supposed to be closer to what rolls out of a motorcycle dealership, as such, few modifications are allowed to these machines at the Isle of Man TT.
That being said, the Superstock TT bikes have been putting down impressive lap times, nearing the speeds that the Superbike TT machines produce. This is due partially to the plateauing of speeds at the Isle of Man, and also because modern-day superbikes are very stout, even right out of the box.
A good example of this is the “unofficial” outright lap record that Ian Hutchinson set on his superstock BMW S1000RR, but perhaps a better example was during this year’s Superstock TT race, where a new record was not only set, but the 133 mph barrier was broken yet again.
With the big bikes getting the 2016 Isle of Man TT off to a wonderful start, Monday saw the Supersport and Superstock bikes on the Mountain Course for the racing action. Though the machines were different, the same names were the talk of the paddock.
The weather was once again stellar for Race 1 of the Supersport TT, the first match of the 600cc class of machines, and all eyes on the TT course were getting record to see another race record drop. They would not be disappointed.
Since my last update from the Isle of Man TT, the sun has continued to shine and the speeds have continued to rise. After spending Tuesday evening in and around the paddock, I headed out to the K-Tree, just outside Ramsey, for Wednesday’s practice.
Also known as Lezayre Church or the Conkerfields, the K-Tree has become very popular in recent years. Some of the most spectacular slow motion footage from the last few years has been filmed there.
For your viewing pleasure, I’ve also included in this post a selection from Tuesday evening’s session in the paddock. Above: James Hillier on the back wheel at the K-Tree.
What is it like to ride a supercharged 300hp hyperbike around the Isle of Man TT? Somewhat terrifying, and that’s coming from a guy who does it for a living: James Hillier.
As you might know, Hillier rode a Kawasaki Ninja H2R around the Isle of Man TT road course as part of an exhibition lap during this last TT fortnight, much to the delight of fans lining the Manx hedgerows.
Now we can relive that experience, since Kawasaki put together a short video on James’ impressions riding the supercharged carbon fiber beast, complete with on-board footage. Enjoy!
If there is one event everyone gets excited about at the Isle of Man TT, it’s the Senior TT. Often called “the blue-ribbon event” at the Isle of Man, the Senior TT is not a race for the elderly, like the name suggests, but instead it features the biggest, meanest, machines on the road course.
Most of the PokerStars Senior TT grid is filled with bikes from the Superbike TT, as the classes have a great deal of overlap, but the Senior TT usually has one or two special machines, who fall outside of the Superbike rules — the Norton SG4 is one of those machines.
All the TT riders want to win the Senior TT, and it fittingly is the final race of the Isle of Man TT, which only adds to excitement.
With Friday being drama-filled at the Isle of Man TT, the Senior TT was no different.