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.

The Yamaha MT-09 Gets a Facelift & More for 2017

10/04/2016 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Yamaha’s MT line runs with the tagline “The Dark Side of Japan” and promises edgy and affordable street bikes for urban riders.

Someone in Iwata, Japan must have thought that the current Yamaha MT-09 wasn’t quite edgy enough though, which is the only way we can explain the 2017 Yamaha MT-09, which debuted today at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany.

Now with a “twin-eyed” LED headlight design, the Yamaha MT-09 feels a little bit more at home when parked next to the Yamaha MT-10 / Yamaha FZ-10 streetfighter. Other changes include an assist/slipper clutch, quickshifter, new suspension, and a redesigned tail section and fender.

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Yamaha MWT-9 Leaning Trike Concept Debuts in Tokyo

10/28/2015 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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As expected, Yamaha has a leaning multi-wheel concept at the Tokyo Motor Show for us to chew on. Without further ado, let us introduce to you the Yamaha MWT-9 leaning trike concept.

The key to understanding the MWT-9 is the number three. Three wheels to grip the road, three cylinders to power the engine, and three Predator movies to get the aesthetic jussssst right. Three groups of three makes nine, and blammo, you have the MWT-9.

In seriousness though, there is a lot to take in with the Yamaha MWT-9, once you get past its alien/insect/whatever-that-is look.

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Yamaha Debuting an FZ-09 Powered Side-by-Side?

08/05/2015 @ 5:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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A teaser video from Yamaha Europe is very clear on the fact that Yamaha is getting ready to debut a sporty off-road side-by-side, for the European market and likely the American market as well.

The interesting thing, and the reason we’re talking about it here at Asphalt & Rubber, is the four-wheeled desert-shredding monster is powered by a three-cylinder engine – a peculiar choice of lumps, from the Tuning Fork brand.

Of course the only model in Yamaha’s lineup that has such an engine is the FZ-09 (that’s an MT-09 to you non-Americans), which has been the basis for the FJ-09 sport-tourer as well.

Perhaps hoping to get some more mileage, no pun intended, out of its three-cylinder engine design, Yamaha has repurposed its triple for this unique use.

We will likely have to wait a little while longer to see what Yamaha has brewing, though it does seem intriguing…if you like to sit-down and steer your adult-sized toys.

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Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

09/06/2014 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before.

We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations.

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Yamaha MT-09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/27/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the concept by Oberdan Bezzi for a Yamaha MT-09 based Ténéré adventure-tourer, but we thought we would up the ante now that the Italian designer has inked a “Worldcrosser” version of the three-cylinder machine as well.

Complete with knobbies, and over 150 lbs lighter than the 1,200cc Super Ténéré, the Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Worldcrosser could also boast a sticker price that is nearly half that of the venerable ADV bike from Yamaha.

It might just be a drawing, but there is something about this concept that really has us excited. To keep the creative juices rolling, there is a café racer version of the Yamaha MT-09 after the jump as well. Could this become the new “go-to” platform for customizers? At $7,990 MSRP, it just might be.

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Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/19/2014 @ 5:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha FZ-09, or the Yamaha MT-09 as it’s known outside of the USA, has become a big win for the tuning fork brand. A fun three-cylinder machine that has enough pep to carve up the canyons, yet also has a relaxed enough riding position to handle commuting duties, the Yamaha FZ-09 really wins our hearts and minds with its dirt-cheap price tag of $7,990 MSRP.

We’re not alone in our opinion, as the MT-09 has done so well in the global market, that Yamaha built off the buzz and released its two-cylinder cousin: the Yamaha MT-07.

If the Japanese OEM truly is eyeing more three-cylinder machines, we are excited for the prospect. Oberdan Bezzi is excited too, as the Italian designer has imagined his own interpretation of what Yamaha could do with the MT-09 line.

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2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally – Three Cylinders of Hoon

11/07/2013 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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We wouldn’t call it a new model from Yamaha, but one of the new releases from the tuning fork brand at the 2013 EICMA show is the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally.

A collection of bolt-on pieces for your Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 for us Americans), the Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally started life as dealer-made bike in Europe, but Yamaha liked it so much it has become an official option when buying the new three-cylinder street bike.

A pretty aggressive working over on the otherwise conservative MT-09, the Street Rally includes new fuel tank shrouds, side number plates, and fork covers, which give the MT-09 a more supermotard look.

The Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally is also trimmed in a “Tech Graphite” paint scheme; and lastly, headlight covers, knuckle guards, along with wider footrests and a slimmer seat complete the package.

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Yamaha MT-DM 850 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/18/2013 @ 5:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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By now you have surely seen the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 naked/standard/street bike from our favorite tuning fork brand. Featuring a 847cc three-cylinder engine that makes 113hp and 65 lbs•ft of torque, all within a 414 lbs curbside hulk, the FZ-09 has a lot of things going for it, not the least of which is the bike’s $7,999 price tag.

Like we said in our first assessment of the Yamaha FZ-09, Yamaha has really hit the nail on the head with a solid middleweight street bike, save for a few design elements that look a bit off to our eyes. We aren’t too worried about it though — an aftermarket exhaust here, a couple cosmetic tweaks there, and just about any motorcyclists can stamp the FZ-09 with their own unique look.

The first of many triples to come from Yamaha, it is easy (perhaps too easy, reading some of the comments left here on A&R) to put the Yamaha FZ-09 into other market segments.

With some longer suspension and armor, an adventure bike could be born from the FZ-09. Just as easily, put some saddlebags, a taller windscreen, and change the ergonomics a tad, and a sport-tourer you have…and that’s exactly what Luca Bar has done here with his Yamaha MT-DM 850 concept.

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2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

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With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.

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