Michael Dunlop is all smiles after his record breaking win in the Superbike TT.
John McGuinness at Union Mills.
Ian Hutchinson couldn’t match the blistering pace of Michael Dunlop and had to settle for second place.
The Motor Bike Expo is underway in Verona, Italy right now, and MV Agusta is there showing off two of its special livery machines, to help grab headlines and to keep buzz moving around the Italian brand. The first bike is the MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR “Ballistic Trident” that we have already shown you, and the other is today’s installment, the MV Agusta Dragster 800 “Blackout”. As the name implies, the Blackout is built off the Dragster 800 platform, with copious amounts of black paint used. In other news, water is wet, right? The design is pretty interesting though, and I mean that in the Chinese proverb sense of the word.
Ducati Motor Holding has finished counting how many bikes it sold last year, and the official tally is 55,451 units were sold worldwide in 2016. That figure is up from the 54,809 sold in 2015, for a modest gain of 1.2%. This result means two things: 1) 2016 was the best sales year ever for Ducati, in terms of volume, and 2) 2016 was the seventh year in a row where Ducati has posted sales growth – no easy feat considering the economic climate. “Ending the year of our 90th anniversary with yet another record is a source of immense pride and satisfaction,” said Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding. “2016 was the seventh consecutive growth year for Ducati, clearly confirming the soundness of the Bologna-based group’s strategy and skills.”
Suzuki Motor of America has released the pricing on its new superbike lineup, showing aggressive prices for the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R motorcycles, which will start at $14,599 MSRP. As you may recall, the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 is a brand new design that uses a flat-plane inline-four engine with variable valve timing (VVT), which is of note as it is the first superbike to use variable valve technology. Official specs on the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 show a claimed 199hp and 86.7 lbs•ft of torque. Suzuki’s pricing on the base model GSX-R1000 is very aggressive, taking on bikes like the Yamaha R1S ($14,999) and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ($16,099 ABS) base model, and undercutting both those models on price, while offering more in features.
For many in the motorcycle industry, 2016 felt like an off year, and now we know that those feelings weren’t unsubstantiated. Early leaks of the MIC’s industry sales figures for 2016 show that the US motorcycle market contracted 2.1% in 2016, erasing the modest gains made in 2015. Meanwhile for our neighbors across the pond, things are going substantially better, with sales in the United Kingdom up 11.7% (128,644 registrations). We will have to wait for all the motorcycle OEMs to report their final quarter sales results to know who are the big winners and losers of the 2016 sales year. Though, we do know that KTM and BMW (up 5.9%) have shown signs of strong results internationally, whereas Duacti and Harley-Davidson are expected to post overall sales declines for 2016.
Nicolas Petit has a way of inking motorcycle designs that we didn’t even know we wanted. First it was drawings of dustbin motorcycles, and now its his drag bike creation, which is based off the BMW R1200R. BMW’s boxer-twin engine doesn’t lend itself to being a great platform for drag racing, but you have to admit that this is a handsome ride, even if it’s all show and no go. With BMW filling every niche under the two-wheeled sun with its bikes though, we wouldn’t be that surprised to see the Germans follow-up with something similar to what the French designer has done here. After all, BMW Motorrad is rumored to be working on an XDiavel-killer, and then there’s…
It didn’t take long for the news to become officially official, but MV Agusta USA and MV Agusta Canada have come under new ownership, as the Italian brand attempts to relaunch itself in the North American market. Heading the new efforts is Urban Moto Group, headed by Joseph Elasmar, who imports MV Agusta, Benelli, EBR, Royal Enfield, and other brands into Australia. According to the their agreement, both MV Agusta and Urban Moto will co-develop the North America territories, with the aim of capitalizing on the region’s large market for big displacement motorcycles. “We are very excited to build a successful relationship with Urban Moto Group as a new partner also overseeing and developing the presence of MV Agusta in the USA market,” said Giovanni Castiglioni.
As expected, today we get to see the 2017 Triumph Street Triple, with its new engine capacity: 765cc. The new engine displacement comes from both an increase in bore and stroke on the iconic three-cylinder motor, with Triumph using a new crank, pistons, and barrels in its construction. Three flavors of Triumph Street Triple will be available for 2017, with S, R, and RS-spec (above) machines being available, with obvious performance differences existing between the trim levels. As such, peak horsepower will be 113hp (S), 118hp (R), and 123hp (RS) – a notable boost over the 675cc machine’s 105hp. Meanwhile, peak torque has been improved from 50 lbs•ft, now to 53 lbs•ft (S) and 56 lbs•ft (R & RS). All the models tip the scales at 166kg (dry) according to Triumph, which is a 2kg reduction over the outgoing model.
Polaris Industries is starting the year off with some surprising news, announcing that it will cease operation of Victory Motorcycles and other related business operations to the brand. Scott Wine, Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO, explained the decision as coming down to basic business factors, with Victory not showing the growth and volume in order to sustain its continued existence. Polaris in its press release also cites the changing landscape of the motorcycle landscape, and that the resources and investments required to make Victory competitive going forward were too hard to justify for the troubled brand. Instead, Polaris will focus solely on its Indian and Slingshot brands, for the motorcycle space.
The future of the Moto2 class looks secure. Reports from the UK and Austria are suggesting that Triumph has finalized a deal to supply the Moto2 class when the current deal with Honda concludes at the end of 2018. From 2019, Triumph will supply a new three-cylinder engine, probably based on the new, larger sports triple they are building for release in 2017. There had been uncertainty over the future of the Moto2 engine supplier since the beginning of this year. Honda had extended the deal to supply CBR600RR engines until the end of the 2018 season, but as the Japanese manufacturer was stopping production of its middleweight sports bike, it was clear that a replacement would have to be found.
This Dakar Rally inspired Ducati Hypermotard is the latest creation from Walt Siegl Motorcycles, and it comes with some very appropriate timing. Not only are we full-swing into the 2017 Dakar Rally, but this 1980s-styled Ducati comes during a week where we have been talking about my not-so-secret love affair with the Ducati Hypermotard. Again, we see the air-cooled version of this street-going supermoto being used as a platform for a unique work, though this time Walt Siegl has been commissioned to make a bike that rolled right off the sand dunes of Africa. The exercise centers around mostly the restyling of the bodywork, to give us a little nostalgia for when the Dakar Rally was actually held in its namesake in Northern Africa.
Ian Hutchinson was the first rider to break the outright lap record, which was set by John McGuinness during last year’s Senior TT race, with a 132.892 mph lap.
The record would be short-lived though, as Michael Dunlop was hot on Hutchy’s heels, with a 133.369 mph lap performance on his Hawk Racing BMW S1000RR.
The first ever TT lap under 17 minutes, and the first ever lap that averaged over 133 mph, Dunlop’s performance during the Superbike TT was nothing short of dominant…and he wouldn’t stop there.
Upping the ante on the second lap, Dunlop benefited from less fuel and put down another scorcher – a 133.393 mph lap.
It’s been seven perfect days of weather at the Isle of Man TT, which is a rarity for the island nation, which sits in the turbulent Irish Sea. That has boded well for Saturday’s opening race, the RST Superbike TT, as riders have been putting in scorching laps so far this practice week.
All expectations were for a record lap to be set, especially after Ian Hutchinson set an “unofficial” outright lap record the day before during practice, but the question was from whom would the record be broken by officially, as a number of riders were showing good race pace.
The weather gods have been smiling on the Isle of Man TT this fortnight, with six consecutive days of sunshine and warm temperatures thus far. That bodes well for the TT riders, as it means that they will push faster and faster with each session.
Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising to hear that Ian Hutchinson is now “unofficially” the fastest man ever to lap around the Isle of Man TT course, setting a scorching 132.803 mph lap on his Tyco BMW Superstock. That’s right, on his Superstock machine.
Since my last update from the Isle of Man TT, the sun has continued to shine and the speeds have continued to rise. After spending Tuesday evening in and around the paddock, I headed out to the K-Tree, just outside Ramsey, for Wednesday’s practice.
Also known as Lezayre Church or the Conkerfields, the K-Tree has become very popular in recent years. Some of the most spectacular slow motion footage from the last few years has been filmed there.
For your viewing pleasure, I’ve also included in this post a selection from Tuesday evening’s session in the paddock. Above: James Hillier on the back wheel at the K-Tree.
Practice for the 2016 Isle of Man TT got underway on Saturday evening and continued on Monday. Both sessions ran under beautiful conditions on the Isle of Sun, at least it’s the Isle of Sun for now.
I spent Saturday evening around 7 miles from the start at the Greeba Castle section. I’m lucky to still be here after being eaten alive by midges.
Monday evening was spent in the sun on the mountain at Guthrie’s and the 27th Milestone. Thankfully the midges weren’t a problem, but I did have to chase away a pheasant that had popped along for a look.
Above, you will find Dean Harrison on his Superstock Kawasaki at Guthrie’s Memorial.
This year marks the 97th running of the Isle of Man TT, and the two weeks of practice and racing sessions should be considered a “must attend” item on any motorcyclist’s bucket list.
The TT is a special event to attend, and I can tell you as a journalist that it is one of the more surreal motorcycle races to cover. First, there is the serenity in watching machines race on public roads, just inches sometimes from where you are sitting. There is no where else that gets you that close to the action.
And then, there is the pound of flesh that comes with the spectacle: the knowledge that statistically speaking, two racers will lose their lives over the course of the fortnight. It is sobering to know going into an event that you will likely report the death of an athlete.
Whether you are a fan of road racing or one of its detractors, I still feel that it should be compulsory to attend an Isle of Man TT before one can make comment one way or another on its continuance.
This isn’t just another motorcycle race, and this isn’t just another extreme sport; this isn’t life in the sand of the coliseum, but it’s also not going through life in the passenger seat.
There is something truly special about the Isle of Man TT, and until you experience it from beyond these words, they will just continue to seem hyperbolic.
It is easy to wax poetic about the TT – you will just have to attend one yourself to understand that. Until you do though, we aim to bring you the best Isle of Man TT coverage available over the next two weeks. So, here’s a primer of information, before we start cluttering your A&R news feed with TT postings.
The Isle of Man TT is a time trial event, meaning that riders are ultimately competing against the clock, not necessarily against the other riders on the course.
Usually when a rider has caught another rider on the course, it means one of them overcame an initial 10 second separation, and thus is considerably faster than the other.
The general protocol then is to let the faster rider through. This benefits the faster rider, who clearly has a superior pace to the slower rider. But, it also benefits the slower rider, who can get a tow from the faster rider, and benefit from their added confidence on the course.
As such, it’s rare to see riders get too close to each other on the Snaefell Mountain Course. Then again…this is motorcycle racing, and these are motorcycle racers…
The Superstock TT is an interesting part of the Isle of Man TT. As the name implies, it features liter-class machines, but in a near-stock level of trim. That being said, the speeds attained by the Superstock machines touches near to the highly tuned Superbike machines, with 130+ mph laps being a reality.
The Superstock machines only compete once in the TT fortnight though, whereas there are two Supersport races, and the Superbikes basically get two goes of things, with the Superbike and Senior TT having a staggering overlap in machinery.
With all the weather, the sole chance to run the RL360 Superstock TT was pushed to Tuesday, and was the only race to run today. But, it certainly did its part in providing TT fans with some entertainment.
After a multitude of delays and interruptions by the weather, Sunday finally played host to the first race day of the Isle of Man TT.
As is the custom, the RST Superbike TT, or Junior TT as some call it, started things off — who doesn’t like seeing the fastest bikes on the Mountain Course right at the start of things, right?
Ahead of any TT, there is a ton of speculation. John McGuinness said the lack of practice played to his advantage, with the Honda CBR1000RR being a proven package here at the Isle of Man. Bruce Anstey was the first rider to do a 130 mph lap in practice, thus being the quickest to pace.
Michael Dunlop made a surprise switch from his Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1, back to the BMW S1000RR he rode to great success last year — will that move prove to be prudent? And then of course, there’s Guy Martin, who has said before the fortnight that this is his last TT ever.
After a three-minute delay on the starting grid, the riders were finally off for the first race of the 2015 Isle of Man TT. Continue reading for a full race report.