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.

First Images of the 2017 Honda CBR250RR

07/25/2016 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen Beeler46 COMMENTS

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The rumor was that we would see the 2017 Honda CBR250RR debut this week, and that news didn’t disappoint.

Getting our first glimpse of the machine today, the Honda CBR250RR is finally breaking cover, and we can bring you the first images and technical specs of the quarter-liter sport bike.

As we already knew, the Honda CBR250RR will use a 250cc twin-cylinder, DOHC, eight-valve, liquid-cooled engine that revs to a 14,000 rpm redline. There’s no word yet on power, but we would expect it to surpass the other 250cc offerings from the Japanese manufacturers.

We also expect a 350cc version for markets like North America and Europe, though there’s no official word on that, just yet.

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Ducati SuperSport S Spotted at World Ducati Week

07/01/2016 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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World Ducati Week is in full-swing right now, with Ducatisti from around the world gathering in Misano, Italy for two days of desmodromic fun.

Of the many attractions at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Ducati is giving enthusiasts a chance to preview a new bike that will officially debut at the EICMA show in Milan (in addition to the two machines that will unveil tomorrow).

The affair is a strictly managed, no cellphones allowed, sort of sneak peak at the new machine – thus, it comes as no surprise that some fan has snapped a photo of the secret bike on a hidden phone. In case you were wondering, this is why we can’t have nice things.

You can’t put the cat back in the bag though, so get ready folks because we have good news: the Ducati SuperSport is coming back!

As you can see in the photo, the machine in question is called the Ducati Supersport S, an homage to the bikes of the same name that came almost 40 years before it.

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Updates Coming for the 2017 KTM 390 Duke

06/13/2016 @ 3:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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One of the hottest bikes on the market since its 2013 debut, the KTM 390 Duke is seemingly set for a model refresh, with cosmetic updates and other minor technical changes coming our way.

This photo above shows the 2017 KTM 390 Duke with its new headlight, and in it you can also see some of the styling changes to the fairings and fuel tank, along with the updated switchgear and dash design.

Designed in Austria, but built in India, it doesn’t surprise us to see this photo leak coming from the Bajaj factory near Pune, India – where production has surely already started in anticipation for the next model year.

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Hi, Are You the Honda CBR250RR?

06/07/2016 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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The above photo seems to be the first leaked image of Honda’s new quarter-liter sport bike, which many have dubbed as the Honda CBR250RR. First debuted at the Honda “Light Weight Super Sports” concept, our sources say that the Honda CBR250RR has been green-lit for production.

Patents showing the Honda’s LED headlight seem to confirm that news, and many expect the twin-cylinder sport bike to be a response to the machines that Kawasaki, KTM, and Yamaha in the small-displacement space.

As such, we can expect the Honda CBR250RR to make north of 35hp from its 249cc lump that revs to 14,000 rpm..

The styling on the “Light Weight Super Sports” concept has been very aggressive, and if the image above is to be believed, the finished product doesn’t lose any of the concept’s razor-sharp edge.

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2016 Ducati Hypermotard 939 – Modestly More Powerful

11/16/2015 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Hypermotard family, which include the Hypermotard, Hypermotard SP, and Hyperstrada gets a displacement increase to 937cc, but we knew that already from CARB documents earlier this year.

Now we know that the plus-sized supermoto model will make 113hp (+3 hp from previous) from its Euro4 compliant engine, which also comes with a 10% torque increase (+7 lbs•ft of torque).

The styling is obviously the same, as you can see from the photos after the jump, though there are some subtle changes to the turn signals and handguards, that may look familiar if you’ve perused the Ducati Performance catalog recently.

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Ducati 959 Panigale Comes with a Shotgun Exhaust*

11/16/2015 @ 7:47 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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We knew from CARB filings to expect a Ducati 959 Panigale at the EICMA show, with Ducati’s “middleweight” getting a displacement boost that puts its well into superbike territory. And now that the show Milan is finally upon us, we have all the details of the 2016 Ducati 959 Panigale.

As expected, the Ducati 959 Panigale gets a 955cc displacement increase on its now Euro4 compliant engine, via a longer stroke. This means that the 2016 Ducati 959 Panigale makes 155hp of peak power, and 79 lbs•ft of peak torque.

Suspension is done by Showa and is fully adjustable, while the double-sided swingarm remains. However, we predict it is the bike’s titanium shotgun exhaust that we think most Ducatisti will be talking about.

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This is the Ducati XDiavel Power Cruiser

11/16/2015 @ 7:30 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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In addition to the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, the Scrambler Sixty2, and Ducati 959 Panigale that have debuted ahead of the EICMA show, we can also bring you the first photos of the Ducati XDiavel, the much-talked about belt-driven cruiser from Italy.

A lot of the Ducati XDiavel, and its higher-spec sibling the Ducati XDiavel S, is “what you see is what you get” and not really our cup of tea, to be honest. Though, the models represent an expansion of the Diavel line that is certainly intriguing and likely to bring more riders into the Ducati family.

Underneath all the cruiser styling is a potent and new 1,262cc engine, which has variable valve timing and makes a healthy 156hp and 96 lbs•ft of torque.

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2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro – More ADV

11/16/2015 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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This is Ducati’s first real foray into the adventure-touring segment of motorcycles, and the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro promises to up the ante on the Multistrada 1200’s off-road ability, with a purpose-built trail stomper.

As we can see from the photos, there have been several changes to the Multistrada 1200 to make it more ADV capable, the most important of which is the double-sided swingarm, for added strength and rigidity.

Other changes include a 19″ front wheel, shod with knobby tires, a skid plate, and a higher-mounted single exhaust can. We are told the fuel tank has been punched out to 30 liters, which is almost 8 gallons – certainly enough fuel to get you properly lost in the great outdoors.

Of course, with any ADV bike, the scales are the machine’s worst enemy, as the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro weighs a hefty 516 lbs.

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BMW R nine T Scrambler Will Come in Two Models?

11/15/2015 @ 1:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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An Asphalt & Rubber reader dropped off these two photos, showing the 2016 BMW R nineT Scrambler in its two trim levels.

Our reader goes on to say that the base model will be the road-going model we have already seen in a leaked video, while a pricer “off-road” model will include knobby tires, wire wheels, and ADV farkles.

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Here’s Your First Look at the BMW R nineT Scrambler

11/13/2015 @ 11:06 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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It looks like one of BMW Motorrad’s video of the upcoming BMW R nineT Scrambler has leaked ahead of schedule, thus giving us the first glimpse of the production scrambler model.

As expected, the R nineT Scrambler looks almost identical to the BMW Concept Path 22, sans surfboard of course. At its core is the air-cooled boxer-twin, found on the BWM R nineT; and thanks to the nineT’s modular design, BMW has been able to add a flat leather seat, and high-mount double exhaust to complete the scrambler look.

An attractive design, it appears that the 2016 BMW R nineT Scrambler will be the jewel in BMW Motorrad’s EICMA crown. Expect the Scrambler to debut next week in Milan, Italy.

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