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.

Castrol Honda Returns to World Superbike

01/18/2011 @ 6:34 am, by Victoria Reid8 COMMENTS

Ten Kate Honda officially became Castrol Honda at the 2011 launch of the team in the UK today. Though Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus were confirmed as riders in November 2010, the return of a Castrol Honda team to World Superbike was kept pretty well under wraps until today’s launch. Naturally the livery is very different from last season, with the previous yellow-green color of previous sponsor Hannspree completely removed in favor of a Castrol green, red, and white and a bit of Honda’s wing logo.

“When our world championship racing adventure was first beginning, many years ago now, Castrol Honda was the one team in the paddock which everyone looked up to, whose professional and performance standards we all wanted to achieve. It is an honour for us now to be racing under this famous and historically successful banner and we are privileged to be following in the footsteps of the team we admired so much in the past,” said team manager Ronald ten Kate. The factory Honda team sponsored by Castrol won three superbike championships: John Kocinski, 1997, and Colin Edwards, 2000 and 2002.

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Johnny Rea Gets MotoGP Chance During Test at Sepang

12/13/2010 @ 12:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Jonathan Rea will get a chance to swing a leg over a MotoGP bike for the first time later this week, as HRC is conducting a MotoGP test at Sepang. With MotoGP riders forbidden to turn a wheel on a GP bike until the February tests, Rea will get the nod instead as Honda tries to further develop the RC212V race platform. For Rea it’s a big moment, as the Ulsterman was supposed to get a wildcard ride at Donington Park back in 2007, but had to cancel because of his schedule with British Superbike and the Suzuka 8 Hours. Rea was also on Hervé Poncharal’s short-list of replacements for Ben Spies earlier this season, but got passed over when the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team chose Cal Crutchlow instead.

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WSBK Silly Season: Haslam to BMW, Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki, & Haga to an Aprilia [UPDATED]

09/21/2010 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

UPDATE 3: Michel Fabrizio has signed-on with Alstare Suzuki team for 2011.

UPDATE 2: Leon Haslam has signed with the BMW Factory Squad.

UPDATE: It’s being reported that Noriyuki Haga has agreed to ride with the DFX team on a factory Aprilia RSV4, with  an announcement delayed out of deference to Biaggi’s impending WSBK crowning.

While the MotoGP silly season is just starting to wind down, the World Superbike shuffling of riders is apparently just getting underway. So far this silly season we’ve seen Marco Melandri make the switch into WSBK Racing, joining the young Eugene Laverty in the Sterilgarda Yamaha squad, and clearly displacing James Toseland from a job. Johnny Rea has also been in the news, confirming that he’d be with Ten Kate Honda next season, despite being only two years into a three year contract, which was a strange announcement at the very least.

After Ducati’s little spat with Infront Motor Sports last month, the Xerox Ducati Team will be no more in 2011, leaving factory riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki S.O.L. when it comes to gainful employment, which is where our fist batch of silly season rumors starts us. If Moto.it‘s Carlo Baldi is to be believed (he is the listed press officer for Althea Ducati after all), Haga will find himself on a satellite Aprilia ride, while Michel Fabrizio will go to Alstare Suzuki. If you’re a die-hard WSBK fan you may realize that means that current Alstare Suzuki star Leon Haslam must be finding work elsewhere, with Baldi putting the British rider in the factory BMW squad. Still with us?

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Jonathan Rea Continues with Ten Kate Honda

09/12/2010 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hanspree Ten Kate Honda has announced that it has retained the services of Johnny Rea for the 2011 season. Rea is two years into his three-year contract with Ten Kate, with the Dutch-based team having an option to renew the Irishman for another year. Currently third in the World Superbike series, Rea joined Ten Kate Honda in 2008 as one of the team’s World Supersport riders, where he finished second to teammate Andrew Pitt.

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WSBK: Crutchlow Takes Dominant Superpole at Brno

07/10/2010 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

World Superbike racing is in the Czech Republic this weekend, and Cal Crutchlow has shown himself to be the man to beat at Brno. Leading through all three Superpole sessions, the British rider easily sailed into the #1 grid spot for Sunday’s races. WSBK continues to show diversity on the grid, with every manufacturer having a bike up front…except Kawasaki (only one Team Green bike made it into the second Superpole round). With Crutchlow looking for his first win, Haslam looking to make up ground on Biaggi, and BMW looking for a top-step on the podium, racing action at Brno should be good come Sunday.

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Spectator Catches Nasty Race 2 Crash at Monza

05/10/2010 @ 9:17 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Catching the nastiest crash to come out of Race 2 from World Superbike at Monza, Italy this weekend, one spectator has posted this YouTube clip of the crash that took out three riders. With one rider heading to the hospital as a precaution, another seeing his second race crash for the weekend, and the last rider crashing too often this season, it’s safe to say no one involved wanted this result for Race 2.

Source: MotoBlog.it

Magic Trick: Johnny Rea Makes a Honda Disappear

05/10/2010 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

No one doubts that Johnny Rea is a talented rider. Unfortunately for the Brit, this weekend at Monza wasn’t the best outing for him, nor his Honda CBR1000RR. Rea, always putting his best foot forward, still pandered to the crowd, and made his CBR disappear in this great magic trick that boggles the mind. The trick was so good, even Rea thought the bike had disappeared. Look closely and you’ll see the sleight of hand at work.

Source: Two Wheels Blog

WSBK: Race 2 is Action-Packed in Assen

04/26/2010 @ 6:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

With Race 1 seeing a number of worthy riders vying for the victory, there was little doubt that Race 2 would provide similar close-rider racing on the Dutch circuit. With each manufacturer with a horse in the race, Assen proved to be not only a venue where opportunities could be created, but it also seemed destined to shake up the World Superbike Championship Standings.

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WSBK: Close Group Vies for Win in Race 1 at Assen

04/26/2010 @ 11:07 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The results of Race 1 at Assen may not be a huge surprise for race fans, but the racing that took place to get those results surely was. The first race of World Superbike’s stop in mayonnaise country saw some strong showings from hometown favorites, and some disappointments from WSBK greats. This trend in the 2010 season seems to be the norm this year, which means great racing for WSBK fans. With five racers vying for the win and only a handful of laps to go, you’ll be disappointed if you didn’t catch this race and its conclusion.

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WSBK: Assen Superpole Sees Surprise Front Row

04/26/2010 @ 8:45 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

World Superbike action came to Assen this weekend, and it didn’t take long for the Dutch track to claim it’s first victim. Seeing a rider crash in the first round, and a number of big names lost in the second round shuffle, the Superpole format clearly is still a quagmire for many teams. This didn’t stop a couple familiar names from making it onto the front row, but going into the WSBK round in Holland, you never would have guessed who these riders would have been.

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