Ride in Peace, Author Robert Pirsig

I first heard of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance shortly after I bought my first motorcycle, a Honda CBR600F2. I was stuck in the middle of Dunsmuir, California with a bad rectifier/regulator (a common trouble-spot on that model bike), and a passerby recommended the title. I think they referred the book out of naiveté its content, but obviously the novel, despite its title, would do little to help my immediate problem with my Honda, though it was a good read about some general philosophic ideas, which I could chew-on after I got my CBR bumped-started and back on the road again. Undoubtedly, you have likely heard of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as well.

Carbon Fiber BMW HP4 Race Debuts in China

As we predicted, the BMW HP4 Race carbon fiber superbike debuted today in China, at the Auto Shanghai 2017 expo. This is the production version of the prototype that BMW Motorrad teased at last year’s EIMCA show in Milan. Details were scarce in Italy, but now BMW is ready to tell us all about its halo bike. The numbers? Only 750 units of the BMW HP4 Race will be produced. Each one will make 212hp, and weigh 377 lbs when fully fueled and ready to ride – which is lighter than BMW’s WorldSBK-spec S1000RR racing machine. Of course the main feature of the BMW HP4 Race is that it drips in carbon fiber. The bodywork, main frame, and wheels are made of this composite material, with the tail section being a self-supporting carbon fiber unit.

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.

Bonneville Speed Week Cancelled on Account of Rain

08/11/2014 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

bonneville-salt-flats-water-SCTA

It’s that time of year again, when the devote followers of velocity congregate at the alter of speed, and make their pilgrimage to the Bonneville Salt Flats. For the Southern California Timing Association though, this month’s Bonneville Speed Week was a wash, literally.

Getting heavy rain in the Salt Lake City area, the Bonneville Salt Flat course is under water this week, unfortunately causing the SCTA to cancel Speed Week, and what would have been the 100th anniversary of the first land speed record at the iconic venue.

Continue Reading

Honda Breaks World Record for Fastest Lawn Mower

04/02/2014 @ 4:19 pm, by Bryan Delohery8 COMMENTS

Honda-HF2620-Mean-Mower-lawnmower-land-speed-record-11

For those of you who are fans of the Stig, you may remember his infamous “Mean Mower” episode from Top Gear’s Speed Week 2013, as he blasted around the track on a lawn mower that sounded more like an Aston Martin than a two-stroke.

As comical as it was, that mower was producing 109hp, and had a 0-60 time of four seconds, all while retaining the ability to cut the grass and corners.

That Mean Mower is back and this time, and at the IDIADA proving ground in Tarragona, Spain, it broke a Guinness World Record.

Continue Reading

Video: Setting a Land Speed Record on a Stock CBR600RR

01/06/2014 @ 1:15 pm, by Bryan Delohery5 COMMENTS

Shunji-Yokokawa-Honda-Bonneville-land-speed-record

For SpeedWeek 2013, Shunji Yokokawa  set out on a journey to set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but what he had not anticipated were the challenges that lay ahead.

Yokokawa had always dreamed of riding on the salt flats, but it was not until 2013 as Assistant Chief Engineer for Honda Japan, that he was afforded the opportunity to fulfill his dream, which he describes as “gliding” across the flats.

Assisted by a 2-man crew, Yokokawa traveled to Utah with a bone-stock 2013 Honda CBR600RR in hopes of adding yet another record to one of the many that Honda holds. The CBR was set up specifically with one goal in mind: to break a land speed record with a production class motorcycle, but as Yokokawa and his team wuold find out, there is a reason why so many fail.

Continue Reading

“World’s Fastest” – Triumph’s 2013 Highlight Reel

10/25/2013 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

triumph-motorcycles-daytona

It has been a busy year for Triumph, and the British marque wants you to know it. Thankfully, they have recapped everything into an awesome three-minute video. From Daytona to Bonneville, from flat track to road racing, and a little stunting sprinkled in for good measure, there are some good audio/video vibes waiting for you after the jump. Happy Friday!

Continue Reading

“Castrol Rocket” Makes a Bid on the 400 MPH Mark

08/30/2013 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

castrol-rocket

With only minor modification, most new liter-bikes have no trouble reaching 200 mph, provided that you have a track long enough in front of you (don’t be an idiot and try to go that fast on the street). However, it is north of 200 mph where things start to get difficult. As we saw with the untimely passing of Bill Warner, reaching the 300 mph mark on a motorcycle is a serious matter, and it doesn’t take much for things to go horribly wrong.

It goes without saying then that Triumph and Jason DiSalvo’s attempt at 400 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats is a serious endeavor. Piloting the carbon/kevlar clad the Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing Castrol Rocket, DiSalvo will have two turbocharged Triumph Rocket III engines, good for a combined 1,000+ hp and 500 lbs•ft of torque when burning methanol, hurling him down the land speed record course on two wheels.

The self-proclaimed most advanced streamliner on the salt, the Castrol Rocket was built not only to break the outright AMA & FIM motorcycle land speed records of 376.156 mph (set in 2010 by Rocky Robinson on the Ack Attack streamliner), but the team also wants to go all the way past the 400 mph barrier. It’s a huge undertaking, and also a breathlessly beautiful machine. Check it out after the jump.

Continue Reading

Bill Warner, The Fastest Man on a Motorcycle, Dies While Attempting 300 MPH in One Mile

07/15/2013 @ 6:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

bill-warner-land-speed-record-hayabusa

The motorcycle industry is mourning the loss of Bill Warner today, as the 44-year-old land speed record holder died while attempting to break the 300 mph barrier over the course of a single mile. Racing in the “The Maine Event” at the Loring Air Force Base, Warner’s partially streamlined and turbo-charged Suzuki Hayabusa veered to the right after clearing the one-mile marker, and went off the runway course roughly 2,000 feet later, before ultimately crashing.

According to reports, Warner was conscious and communicative after the crash, but he succumbed to his injuries about an hour and fifteen minutes later at a hospital near Caribou, Maine. It is not clear how fast he was going when he left the course’s runway, but he had been clocked at 285 mph while on the course.

Continue Reading

Video: Speed Week at Bonneville 2012

03/15/2013 @ 10:26 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Video: Speed Week at Bonneville 2012

speed-week-bonneville-2012

Not that California has any real seasons to speak of, but spring has definitely arrived this week in San Francisco, with sun-filled days and warm nights again on the region’s menu. That means our brief winter hibernation from motorcycling  is about to end, as the revving motors of World Superbike at Phillip Island, AMA Pro Road Racing at Daytona, and MotoGP at Doha wake us from our slumber.

For Asphalt & Rubber, our events calendar for 2013 is marked full of great two-wheel escapades that we plan to attend, but at the top of the list, Speed Week at Bonneville ranks highest. Helping us get in the mood for man’s toil against the salt is this great video put together with scenes from last year’s running. Happy Friday people. Get out and ride.

Continue Reading

Italy Gets an FIM-Sanctioned Land Speed Record Facility

10/26/2012 @ 7:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

While the Bonneville Salt Flats remains the gold standard venue for land speed record attempts, the journey across the pond for European competitors is a daunting task. First there is the cost involved in shipping a bike, crew, and supplies from Europe to America, but there is also the hassle at the border for shipping and customs that can throw more than a wrench in even the most carefully made plans.

At 4,219 feet above sea level, the elevation at Bonneville sucks the much needed horsepower out of the engines of internal combustion machines, and the salt flat terrain is a less-than-ideal surface for traction, and can vary wildly from weekend to weekend. All of this adds up to be a daunting level of adversity for would-be record-breakers, but for Europeans, there might be a better option soon.

Continue Reading

Confederate X132 Hellcat Hits 172.211 MPH at Bonneville

09/26/2012 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

It is fall, which means it is also land speed record season up at Bonneville. While our own plans for salt flat were thwarted by some empty promises from an OEM, it seems plenty of teams and manufacturers made it up to Bonneville to test their mettle against the stopwatch.

One such company was Confederate Motorcycles, which took its recently debuted Confederate X132 Hellcat Combat up to the BUB Speed Trials in August, and subsequently set a 171.211 mph land speed record in the A-PF 3000 class (special construction chassis (unfaired), push-rod motor, fuel, & up to 3,000cc in cylinder displacement).

Racing his own bike on the salt flats, we are having a hard time imagining how Confederate customer James Hoegh managed to hold onto his unfaired machine at 171+ mph — it must be all about the tuck. Check the video out after the jump, and if you are anything like us, keep on dreaming about your day racing at the Bonneville.

Continue Reading

Chip Yates Retires After Setting Four FIM/AMA Land Speed Records at Bonneville

09/01/2011 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

We got a quick message from Chip Yates this afternoon, saying that the SWIGZ Racing team just completed setting four FIM/AMA land speed records at the BUB Speed Trials currently being held at the Bonneville salt flats. Getting off to a rocky start after crashing through a mile-marker pylon, Yates went on to salvage the outing, setting his first FIM/AMA record on Tuesday with a 196.421 mph LSR in the “over 300kg class” (the team also hit a 200.7 mph speed trap velocity at BUB).

Yates followed-up that LSR over the next two days, with a second record: 181.439 mph in the “over 300kg naked” fairing-less class, a third record: 173.574 mph in the “150-300kg” class, and lastly a fourth FIM/AMA record: 187.143 mph in the “150-300kg naked” class. Rumors of a fifth record for being the certified fastest pizza delivery bike have not been confirmed, and like these other four FIM/AMA records, will have to be certified by the respective regulatory bodies before becoming truly official.

Continue Reading