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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 9 – EICMA, Part 1

11/23/2015 @ 5:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The 2015 EICMA show is finally over, and of course the guys from the Two Enthusiasts Podcast have something to say about everything that was unveiled in Milan. There is so much to talk about, in fact, that we had to break up the EICMA coverage into two separate shows.

So first up is Episode 9, which is Part 1 of our EICMA round-up. It covers all the happenings from the Italian OEMs: Aprilia, Benelli, Bimota, Ducati, Energica, Moto Guzzi, and MV Agusta.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 (Episode 10), which should debut on Wednesday, and will feature an in-depth discussion on the rest of the OEMs. Yes, that means double the Two Enthusiasts Podcast goodness for this week. Booyah!

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2016 Moto Guzzi V7II Stornello Scrambler

11/18/2015 @ 9:42 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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It was 1967 when Moto Guzzi first introduced the Stornello scrambler to the US market, and now for 2016 the Stornello scrambler returns.

Using the Moto Guzzi V7II platform for this rebirth, the 48hp 2016 Moto Guzzi V7II Stornello is a fetching motorcycle with dubious off-road ability – not that the latter really matters in this all-show, no-go space.

Honestly, we can’t fault Moto Guzzi for trying, as the Italian brand seems to be gravitating towards the heritage demographic, which is currently inundated with “post-authentic” retro models, and as such the scrambler is the moto du jour in the industry – the 2015 EICMA show is proof of that.

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2016 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress

11/17/2015 @ 11:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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We fell in love with the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype at last year’s EICMA show, so it is good news to hear that the Italian brand has tapped the model for the 2016 model year.

In case you didn’t know, the 2016 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress is a 1,400cc bagger, that like all bikes of the brand, includes a 90° transverse V-twin engine.

The model is built around the American motorcycle lifestyle, with the idea of bombing down Route 66 with the wind on your face. We just like its wealth of carbon fiber.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 8 – Schwartz

11/15/2015 @ 2:34 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 8 – Schwartz

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The EICMA show is nearly upon us, so Quentin and Jensen walk us through what bikes are expected to debut in Italy, and what bikes the pair would like to see at the show. It’s a pretty exhaustive overview recording, and thus a little longer than the normal Two Enthusiasts Podcast, but we don’t think you’ll mind.

There’s some good stuff in Episode 8 you won’t want to miss, and it expands on our EICMA show preview story, though pre-dates it. Obviously some news has come out since this show’s recording, but we seem to be pretty good a predicting some things. Take a lesson, and get ready for EICMA starting on Monday.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Cheers!

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Your Definitive Guide to the 2015 EICMA Show

11/13/2015 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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We are already feeling the early effects of the EICMA show in Milan, Italy – easily the most important trade event for the motorcycle industry.

EICMA is where many of the next year’s new models are released, not to mention the show serves as a platform for much of the yearly business that occurs in the motorcycle industry, especially in Europe.

For us in the media, EICMA is a cross between a marathon and Christmas, a plethora of days where articles surge as we see the launching of so many new models. It can be a lot to take in, but it is always exciting to see what the manufacturers have been working on for the past year(s).

To help you keep track of everything, and to help guide your expectations, we have put together this exhaustive list of all the models we expect to see at EICMA. Let the holiday season begin!

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Moto Guzzi V9 Gets the Teaser Treatment

11/12/2015 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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The joke might be that Moto Guzzi riders are a little “touched” in the head, but we think anyone who isn’t that concerned about getting from Point A to Point B in the fastest manner possible can appreciate the Italian brand’s latest model.

Getting teased ahead of the EICMA show, this looks to be the first photo of the Moto Guzzi V9 – a stylish retro-cruiser type of machine. The photo comes not from some leaked source, but instead from Moto Guzzi’s own website, where the teaser is displaying prominently (shown above, and enhanced after the jump).

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Moto Guzzi X-Rally 1200 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/10/2015 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Moto Guzzi would do well to add a scrambler model to its current lineup, and build off the hype generated by the Ducati Scrambler’s launch, not to mention the “post-authentic” movement (whatever that means) that seems to pull models out of the 1960’s and thrust them into the modern conversation.

Helping us imagine such a machine is Oberdan Bezzi, with his Moto Guzzi X-Rally 1200 concept. Maybe too heavy to appeal to die-hard off-roaders (I can hear the moans already in the comments section), but the X-Rally 1200 certainly fills the need for a brutish enduro with classic cues — not to mention, a break from the beaked-ADV status quo that the Stelvio tries so hard to chase.

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Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Prototype

11/05/2014 @ 6:35 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Cruisers really aren’t our cup of tea here at Asphalt & Rubber, which might explain the lack of coverage for America’s gift to the two-wheeled world on our website. That being said, it’s hard to pass on the lurid Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype that is on display at this year’s EICMA show.

A reworked Moto Guzzi California 1400, the MGX-21 is clad in carbon fiber, matte black paint, and red highlights. The carbon fiber disc wheels are a nice touch too (that’s a 21″ wheel up front, by the way), as are the sweeping lines from the front cowl and fenders.

We’re finding ourselves a bit smitten with this Moto Guzzi, as true to the brand, it strays from the cruiser norm. We think you’ll like it too, check out the photos after the jump.

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Moto Guzzi V7 II – A Classic Evolves

09/25/2014 @ 1:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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In addition to the Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally, Piaggio is teasing another new motorcycle at the INTERMOT show, the Moto Guzzi V7 II. An evolution of the previous V7 design, the 2015 Moto Guzzi V7 II features an all-new close-ratio six-speed gearbox, which also has a revised clutch.

Other additions include dual-channel ABS brakes to the V7 line, as well as traction control; while other changes include moving the transverse 90º v-twin 10mm lower in the frame, and also pitching the lump forward 4º than on the previous generation.

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At the Sixth Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

05/20/2014 @ 7:11 pm, by Bryan Delohery8 COMMENTS

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As summer is upon us, avid motorcycle fans all across the country are gearing up for some of the hottest events of the season, the Isle of Man TT, World Superbikes, and Speed Week are some of the first that come to mind.

With so many high profile events taking place during the summer season it is often easy to overlook great opportunities that may be going on right in your own backyard, such as the Quail Lodge Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, California.

After pulling into the Quail Lodge Golf Club, there was a distinct tone of class in the air, although that may have been due to the machinery that littered the parking greens, a Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 355 Spyder, and Porsche 911 GT2 just to name a few.

Upon entrance to the show, it was apparent that this was not just another motorcycle show, and that I was in for a treat as one of the first motorcycles to greet me was an early Simplex Servi-Cycle.

Presented by Tudor, the show is in its sixth consecutive year, and truly does not disappoint with something for everyone, ranging from some of the rarest, most elusive bikes ever made like the 1950 Rumi Turismo to entries that were on the forefront of cutting edge technology such as the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218.

With so many amazing motorcycles and such a rich two-wheeled history all in one place, it was a bit overwhelming trying to figure which gems deserved more photographic attention than others, but there were a handful that really stood out.

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