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.

Recall: Kawasaki Z125 Pro

07/24/2016 @ 10:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Kawasaki’s pocket-sized motorcycle, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro, is getting a recall for a faulty shock absorber, which according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), may leak oil and lose functionality.

Since the loss of oil from the shock absorber can change the handling characteristics of the motorcycle, which in turn could lead to a crash, Kawasaki is recalling 1,282 units of the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.

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Watch Kenan Sofuoğlu Hit 400 KM/H on a Kawasaki H2R

07/02/2016 @ 3:28 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The Osman Gazi Bridge in Turkey is the fourth largest suspension bridge in the world – it spans 1.66 miles, with its center span almost a mile long.

Why are we telling you this random fact? Becasue Kenan Sofuoğlu just took a Kawasaki Ninja H2R to to 400 km/h (~250 mph) on the Turkish bridge. We all know that the supercharged, fire-breathing, 300+ horsepower, Kawasaki Ninja H2R is no joke in a straight line.

And while it seems trite to just turn the throttle and hold on, anyone who has touched 200+ mph can tell you that the aerodynamic pressure hitting the rider is more than a force to contend with, if you will pardon our pun.

To hit nearly 250 mph, in less than 30 seconds, is a serious undertaking. Perhaps what is more important though, is that the media-catching run comes during a period where Turkey is increasingly trying to find its place in the world, as the magnificent country straddles the boundary between east and west.

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WSBK: Tom Sykes Extends Contract with Kawasaki

06/20/2016 @ 8:16 am, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

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The Kawasaki World Superbike line up will remained unchanged for the next two years. On Monday morning, the Kawasaki Racing Team announced they had signed Tom Sykes to another two-year contract for WorldSBK.

Sykes will line up alongside Jonathan Rea in 2017 and 2018, as he has for this season and last. There had been a lot of speculation that Sykes could jump ship to Ducati, after the Italian factory had handed him a de facto blank check for his signature.

Sykes preferred to remain with Kawasaki, however, despite the animosity in the Kawasaki garage between the two riders.

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Say Goodbye to the Kawasaki W800

06/01/2016 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Kawasaki announced today that 2017 will be the last model year for the Kawasaki W800, as the retro-classic machine is going the way of the dodo, thanks largely to the advent of Euro4 emission standards.

Any hope of a model refresh down the line seems to have been squashed, as Kawasaki says that this is “the end of the iconic W series of four-stroke vertical twin motorcycles” and that the “W800 ‘Final Edition’ marks the end of an era” in its press release.

That’s an interesting move from Team Green, considering the popularity of post-authentic machines right now – bikes like the Triumph Bonneville and Ducati Scrambler.

This is as much of the death of a motorcycle line, as it is a shift of focus by one of the largest motorcycle OEMs.

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XXX: Team Kawasaki SRC Ninja ZX-10R World Race Bike

05/13/2016 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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I know we have mentioned before our love for endurance racing machines. The FIM Endurance World Championship just doesn’t get nearly enough play to soothe our appetite.

It is the last international motorcycle racing series that has a proper tire war; it has strong factory involvement that can see a number of brands winning on any given weekend; and it is also the only true “team sport” in motorcycle racing. What’s not to like, right?

Leading the pack so far this season is Team Kawasaki SRC, which won the season-opener at Le Mans, with riders Greg Leblanc, Matthieu Lagrive, and Fabian Foret at the helm.

Team Kawasaki SRC has always been one of the stronger teams in the Endurance World Championship, and this year it looks like thing could finally come together for “Team Verte” – though we still have a lot of racing left to do.

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Jonathan Rea Staying with Kawasaki for Two More Seasons

05/12/2016 @ 11:50 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

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As the world of motorcycle racing has gone mad with speculation over who is to replace Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha, and by extension, either Maverick Viñales at Suzuki or Dani Pedrosa at Honda, focus has also turned on the World Superbike paddock.

There has been much talk of which riders could make the transition to MotoGP, and in turn, which MotoGP riders could try the switch to World Superbikes.

The one name that was consistently raised was reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea. Given Rea’s previous experience standing in for an injured Casey Stoner in 2012, there had been much speculation that Rea had both the ability and the interest in making the switch to MotoGP.

Today, Rea put an end to any such speculation. The man from Larne extended his contract with Kawasaki to remain in World Superbikes for another two years. Rea will now be racing for Kawasaki until at least the end of 2018.

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Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Race Kit Parts Now Available

04/05/2016 @ 8:49 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is a perfectly capable superbike on the track, but as with any bike available for the street, compromises have to be made. That’s why Kawasaki always makes special factory racing parts, available right from your local Kawasaki dealer.

For the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, things are no different, and now Kawasaki has released this year’s go-fast parts catalog. If you are a privateer, looking for some factory-backed performance, this should be your first stop before your racing season begins.

Tasty items include an adjustable ECU that optimizes fuel, ignition, timing, over-rev, traction control, launch control, etc. There is also an ABS dongle that can disable anti-locking brakes for one or both of the wheels.

Of course, you can also get the usual chassis adjustment pieces and engine performance parts that you would expect from an OEM racing kit…just be sure to bring your wallet, winning isn’t cheap.

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Thailand World Superbike Preview: Green with Envy

03/09/2016 @ 8:28 am, by Kent Brockman6 COMMENTS

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The second round of the Superbike World Championship will take place this weekend in Thailand, and while Jonathan Rea has started the year in terrific form there’s plenty of reason for optimism along the pit lane.

Thailand will offer a true indication of what to expect this year in WorldSBK and while it’s unlikely we’ll see the same number of bikes fighting for the win, it’s likely that the scrap at the front will be just as competitive.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and championships aren’t won on the opening weekend of the season, but in Australia Jonathan Rea put down a marker to the field that showed that he won’t relinquish his World Superbike title without a fight.

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Step Aside Honda Grom, Here’s the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro

03/04/2016 @ 6:00 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Behold the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro, Team Green’s answer to the Honda Grom. This four-stroke, 125cc, 225 lbs “monkey bike” from Kawasaki hopes to tap into the same unassuming, approachable, and fun vein that the Honda Grom exposed three years ago.

Like the Grom, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro appeals to two very different demographics. One the one hand, it is the perfect learner bike for young and green (no pun intended) riders – you can see as much in the photos at the end of this post that clearly target the millennial skateboarding young male.

On the other hand though, the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro is just as much of a machine for older and more experienced riders, who are looking for a cheap and fun machine to add to their already comprehensive stable –  perhaps as a grocery-getter or pit bike at the track.

If we can continue to the comparison to the Honda Grom, this dual approach appears to play out well in the market, with the unassuming motorcycle gaining attention from a surprising wide and large demographic. As such, Kawasaki is smart to jump on the trend.

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Recall: 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

02/29/2016 @ 12:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R hasn’t been available for very long, but the venerable superbike already has its first recall. Affecting 805 units, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is being recalled for faulty steering damper bracket mounting bolts, which might break due to being over-tightened.

The recall affects ZX1000RGFAL, ZX1000RGFL, ZX1000SGFAL, and ZX1000SGFL models of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, which were manufactured between October 28, 2015 and January 18, 2016.

Since the steering damper bracket could detach and interfere with the steering of the motorcycle, thus increasing the risk of a crash, Kawasaki USA has registered a recall with the NHTSA.

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