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.

Yamaha XSR900 Abarth Adds Some Italian Sports Heritage

11/08/2016 @ 1:28 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Yamaha has a long-standing relationship with Fiat’s tuning arm, Abarth, with the two brands having collaborated several times in the past.

For 2017, Yamaha and Abarth are teaming up again, creating the limited edition Yamaha XSR900 Abarth – a tricked out three-cylinder café racer – that is debuting at the 2016 EIMCA show.

As the name suggest, the Yamaha XSR900 serves as the basis for this custom model, with Abarth adding a sportier tone to the retro-styled “Sport Heritage” motorcycle.

Abarth’s changes include carbon fiber bodywork pieces, such as the headlight shroud, rear seat cowl, and front fender. There is also a special full titanium Akrapovič exhaust, which looks absolutely exquisite, as to be expected.

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Photos Leak of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera

11/05/2016 @ 2:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

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Ducati has updated its microsite for its Project 1408 motorcycle, and unsurprisingly those with access to the photos have posted them to Facebook and other social networks, for the whole world to see.

The photos reveal the Ducati 1299 Superleggera, which drips carbon fiber (including its frame, swingarm, and wheels), and features a WSBK-spec Akrapovic exhaust in its race kit, which brings the total power figure of the v-twin Superquadro engine to 220hp (215hp stock).

Limited to 500 units, for those who can afford its $80,000 price tag (USD), the new Superleggera weighs a paltry 150kg dry (330 lbs), making it the lightest and most powerful superbike ever from the Italian brand.

Not officially debuting until Monday evening in Italy, we expect the Ducati 1299 Superleggera to be the main topic of discussion at next week’s EICMA show.

Thus, we will have to wait to get proper high-resolution photos and official tech specs from Ducati, but until then we have a bevy of leaked image grabs from Ducati’s Project 1408 microsite.

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Ariel Ace R Set to Debut, Only 10 Will Be Made

11/01/2016 @ 12:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Remember the Ariel Ace? The VFR1200F-powered street bike from the revived British brand? The attractive street bike is about to get an even sportier sibling (sketched above), as the Ariel Ace R is set to debut at the NEC Motorcycle Live show, this November.

Unless you are well-coined, the NEC show might be your only chance to see an Ariel Ace R in the flesh, as the Brits plan on making only 10 examples of this R-spec machine.

Details are light at the moment, but Ariel does day that the Ace R will have a unique color scheme, and of course there will be better performance pieces and more power from the limited edition motorcycle.

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Honda CBR1000RR SP2 – Big Red’s New Racing Platform

10/04/2016 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The current state of the World Superbike Championship rules entirely encourage the adoption once again of “homologation specials” – production bikes whose sole purpose is to be used on the race track.

While none of the manufacturers have adopted a radical approach with their homologation special designs, this year’s INTERMOT show has already seen several such machines introduced, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

For Honda, the differences between the SP and SP2 aren’t terribly radical, but they are more purposeful.

The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2 does come with several visual cues that are different from the CBR1000RR SP model: carbon insert panels, gold striping on the tri-color paint scheme, and the more obvious Marchesini wheels.

The real differences though are under the hood, and in the two race kits that will be available from Honda.

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Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario – Celebrating 90 Years

07/02/2016 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Ducati is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, with the culmination of that celebration happening right now in Misano, at World Ducati Week. As we previewed already, Ducati would give a sneak peak of a new model at the event, and debut a limited edition machine as well.

Well, we have had more than a sneak peak of the upcoming Ducati Supersport model, and now we get the full monty of the Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario – a special superbike that commemorates 90 years of Ducati motorcycles.

The Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario is more than just a cosmetic exercise, with only 500 motorcycles getting its limited edition paint job, gold-colored metal pieces, and bevy of technical upgrades

One interesting new feature though is the debut of the EVO version of the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) systems.

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Ducati Debuting Two New Bikes at World Ducati Week

06/15/2016 @ 9:39 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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If you’re attending this year’s World Ducati Week, then you’re in for a treat, as Ducati is set to debut two new bikes at the gathering in Misano.

Details are thin at the moment, but we do know that one of the machines will be a limited-edition motorcycle that celebrates Ducati’s 90th anniversary.

Meanwhile the other bike is a new model to the Ducati range, which will be shown in a “closed room” setting as a sort of sneak peak before its official launch.

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Arai Unveils Its 2016 Limited Edition Isle of Man TT Helmet

02/10/2016 @ 6:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Every year Arai Helmet comes out with a highly coveted limited edition lid for the Isle of Man TT; and each year has a different design, with the latest crop coming from the studio of Aldo Drudi.

This year’s design comes on the Arai Corsair-X, a helmet we were very impressed with when we tested it at Thunder Hill last year.

As you can see from the photos, Drudi has emblazoned the Corsair-X helmet with the “TT” logo, as well as the island nation’s Triskelion symbol, which is of three running legs. “Ellan Vannin” is of course the native Manx name for the Isle of Man.

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XXX: 2016 MV Agusta Dragster RR Lewis Hamilton

11/17/2015 @ 4:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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In addition to the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800, the other big new model release from the Varese brand is the MV Agusta Dragster RR Lewis Hamilton, a bike that pays homage to the reigning Formula 1 World Champion.

The concept is pretty simple, take MV Agusta’s already attractive Dragster RR model, and let Mr. LH44 go wild on it. The idea is to create another collectable MV Agusta model, so things stay pretty much the same for the Dragster RR’s 140hp motor and steel trellis frame.

The rest of the bike though, gets a solid going-over, by Lewis Hamilton himself, if you can believe the MV Agusta press release.

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The MV Agusta Lewis Hamilton Dragster RR is Coming to a Burnout Near You

10/15/2015 @ 12:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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You remember the MV Agusta Dragster RR right? The Brutale 800 without a tail section? Of course you do…it was pretty bold design from MV Agusta, which is probably saying something, considering that the Varese brand tends to lead with design, rather than follow.

It turns out that Lewis Hamilton is a bit of a fan of the machines from MV Agusta – it also helps that AMG has a 20% interest in the Italian brand, and Hamiliton is the team’s star F1 driver, at least when teammate Nico Rosberg isn’t around – so, in true MV Agusta fashion, a special limited edition machine must be produced, right?

Behold, the Lewis Hamilton Dragster RR: a collaboration between the F1 World Champion and the Italian motorcycle marque. MV Agusta hasn’t quite revealed the machine yet, but this teaser video does a pretty good job of getting the point across. We took some stills, just in case the edits were too much for you.

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Ducati Diavel Titanium – A “Bold” Limited Edition

11/03/2014 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Ducati describes the Diavel Titanium as making “a bold statement” and “wanted to take the bold and unique Diavel to a whole new level of prestige and desirability.”

We’re pretty sure that many uses of the word “bold” really just means bold new graphics for the Diavel, as the Titanium paint job and titanium panels (fuel tank and headlight covers) on the Ducati Diavel Titanium are really what set Bologna’s newest power cruiser apart from its predecessors.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Diavel Titanium is certainly an attractive looking version of the Diavel, though the machine lacks the Desmodromic Variable Timing that is debuting on the 2015 Ducati Multistrada — something we would have liked to see on the stout power cruiser.

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