Mmm…Check This Suzuki GSX1100SD Katana Race Bike

I am young enough that most of what I can remember of the 1980s is skewed by the forming mind of a child, thankfully. New Coke, ponytails to the side, Cabbage Patch Kids…Alf – it is all a bad dream as far as I am concerned. The 1980s were a pretty good decade for motorcycles though. Two-strokes still reigned supreme in grand prix racing, and some of America’s best two-wheeled heroes were riding them. The only rider-aids that were available were things like handlebars and footpegs. Even then, racing a motorcycle was a pursuit full of perils. Mirroring this notion on the production side of things, the superbike was just starting to be born in earnest, with consumers able to buy fire-breathing monsters that tested the limits of chassis and tire design. A healthy dose of male bravado was involved in riding a motorcycle like a Katana.

Mega Gallery: 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans

Not only does the FIM EWC showcase several manufacturers, with strong race-winning potential each of the championship’s multiple iconic events, but it the series is the last great venue for a proper battle between the different tire brands. Add to that the fact that the Endurance World Championship is comprised not only of endurance specialists, but also with some of the top names from motorcycle racing, both in factory and satellite teams, and it’s easy to find a reason to cheer for a particular entry. The best part though might be the photography that comes from motorcycle racing, which often spans from daylight and into the darkness of night. This year’s 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans event was no different, and we have a bevy of photos to share with you from France.

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.

Gone Riding: 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800

01/25/2016 @ 12:45 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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It’s a busy time in the Asphalt & Rubber office, with the entire motorcycle industry deciding that January/February is the perfect time to host events. As such, we should have a flurry of reviews, interviews, and other articles from these events posting to the site over the next few weeks.

For me, this starts two weeks on the road, with my first top near Malaga, Spain for the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 launch – the day’s route see us riding the new Brutale 800 near the Mediterranean Sea today, putting about 150km on the bike.

Things are already off to an interesting start, as we woke up to a sizable earthquake, whose epicenter was just on the other side of the sea, 11km off the coast of Morocco. Hopefully that’s not a bad omen for my fellow riders, though for me it felt like being back in California.

Enough of all that, the purpose of this post is to field questions about the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 from A&R readers, which I can answer in the comments section. If I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the MV Agusta personnel that are here with me in Spain.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #Brutale800 for the thoughts of our colleagues as well.

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2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 – Comes with Less Power, More Weight, & A Different Look Thanks to Euro4

11/17/2015 @ 3:59 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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For the 2016 model year, the MV Agusta Brutale 800 gets an obvious makeover, with changes coming to the tail section, fuel tank, exhaust, taillight, and LED headlight.

What is less obvious though, are the effects of having to be Euro4 emissions compliant, which drop the Brutale 800’s peak power from 125hp to 116hp, though there is an increase in peak torque, from 59 lbs•ft to 61 lbs•ft.

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MV Agusta Brutale 800 Gets a Visual Overhaul for 2016

11/12/2015 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The crafty folks at Moto.it have gotten their hands on a video that shows the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800, which will be getting a modest facelift for the upcoming model year. Details on the model are non-existent at this point, but we can spot obvious style changes on this bike  when compared to the 2015 model.

As such, the tail-section has been replaced with one that uses negative space, like on the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce. Similarly, the fuel tank, exhaust, taillight, and headlight have all been swept backwards, while the intake ducts, and radiator fairings have all been changed.

The chassis and three-cylinder engine seem to be unchanged for 2016, but we’ll have to wait for official word from MV Agusta on that front. Expect to see the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 officially drop on Monday, and be on display at the EICMA show in Milan.

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Suzuki GSX-S1000 Coming with a Full Fairing Too?

09/29/2014 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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We don’t want to know how our friends at Oliepeil got onto the INTERMOT show floor ahead of its official press opening tomorrow, but the crafty Dutch bloggers have spotted a number of machines that the OEMs had laying around uncovered.

Of course we have been expecting something like a Suzuki GSR1000 for some time now, and just a few months ago, a naked bike badged as the Suzuki GSX-S1000 was spied while it was filming a commercial in Southern California.

Now it seems that Suzuki will be releasing a full-faired version of the bike as well, as it has been spotted on the INTERMOT showroom floor next to its naked compatriot.

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Bimota BB4 Concepts by Oberdan Bezzi

07/15/2014 @ 2:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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I had to check the last time we showed you some of Oberdan Bezzi’s work, and it was over three months ago. The Italian designer has certainly been busy since that time though, as he has produced a number of BMW/Bimota concepts for us to ponder about.

Imagining the Italian company’s current trend of using BMW power plants — as has been seen with the Bimota BB3 — Bezzi’s drawings instead use BMW Motorrad’s popular boxer engine as their base.

The effect is an interesting one, as the BMW’s boxer engine has proven to be the base of the German brands Top 3 selling bikes, and has found interesting applications in the BMW R nineT modular machine, and the BMW Roadster Concept motorcycle.

Here dubbed the “Bimota BB4”, these concepts come in a variety of sporty standard, cafe racer, and streetfighter varieties that Bezzi’s simply calls a “Café Fighter” concept.

It’s hard to pick our favorite from the bunch, but we are enthusiastic about the idea of a boxer-powered Bimota. We doubt we’ll see such a move from the now Swiss-owned brand, but like a good concept sketch, it’s good to dream.

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2015 Ducati Monster 821 Mega Gallery

06/24/2014 @ 10:16 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Ducati is hosting its press launch of the 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in Bologna right now, which means that the Italian motorcycle company also just released a ton of high-resoltuion photos of its new water-cooled baby Monster on the interwebs.

Visually very similar to the Monster 1200, the Monster 821 distinguishes itself with lower-spec components, and more noticeably with a double-sided swingarm.

Featuring the same 821cc Testastretta 11° engine (112hp and 65.9 lbs•ft) that is found on the Ducati Hypermotard and Ducati Hyperstrada, the Monster 821 tips the scales at 395.7 lbs (dry) – just 5 lbs less than its 1,200cc counterpart. Other features include traction control, ABS brakes, and a ride-by-wire throttle.

Expect to see the 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in  a Ducati dealership near you next month. Pricing is set at $11,495 for the in red and white models, while the “Dark” is priced at $10,995.

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More Photos and Video of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000

11/02/2013 @ 8:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the first glimpse of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 two weeks ago, but with just a few days until the start of the 2013 EICMA show, Kawasaki’s new naked bike is giving us the full monty, courtesy of Japan’s Mr. Bike. Getting a chance to film the new Kawasaki Z1000 with up-close panning shots, we are even treated to the new Z’s exhaust note.

For the new model year, things seem to be mainly an aesthetic overhaul — the great internet debate is now whether the new Z1000 retains its predecessor’s 136hp motor, or whether the machine gets the 140hp lump from the Kawasaki Z1000SX. One would presume the latter, though both engines are of the same ilk and difficult to distinguish from visually.

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Spy Photos: The BMW S1000RR Naked Bike Winks at Us

07/16/2013 @ 1:36 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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That BMW is making a streetfighter version of its venerable S1000RR superbike is no secret, as we have seen the “BMW S1000R” naked bike already before from the lenses of Europe’s plethora of spy photographers. Today we get another glimpse of what zie Germans have been up to in their workshops, and what we expect them to debut at the EICMA show in Milan later this fall.

Caught head-on and from the side (see after the jump), we get a good look at what appears to be a final, or near final, headlight assembly, and true to BMW form, it is winking at us. From the side, we can see that the naked bike retains many of the S1000RR’s components, including its exhaust design. Of course, the real question will be what’s inside the cylinder casings.

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What Evil Cometh from Yamaha?

05/30/2013 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Yamaha is gearing up to debut some models, this much we know. Both the US and European arms of the tuning fork brand have been in full marketing/PR swing lately, and today’s quick video teaser just confirms as much.

What exactly Yamaha is gearing up to promote though is a different story, however we do know that the Japanese brand sees three-cylinder engines as the way forward with its motorcycle designs.

Teasing today what appears to be an upright-sitting street bike, we can only assume that Yamaha has some sort of new naked or streetfighter machine it is readying for mass consumption.

With the video coming from Yamaha Europe though, one can guess as to whether this particular motorcycle will be a small-displacement machine, Europe-only model, or what exactly. Could it be the first three-cylinder machine from Yamaha? Time will tell, and we won’t have long to wait.

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Video: Streetfighter Version of the BMW S1000RR Spotted

05/29/2013 @ 11:52 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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The eagle eyes over at the Italian magazine Motociclismo have caught BMW testing the naked-bike version of the BMW S1000RR out in Italy. A machine that has long been rumored, and expected to be the encore production of the Germany company’s very successful superbike project, the streetfightered RR is expected to have the same four-cylinder superbike motor, though likely in a lower state of tune.

Dressed in BMW’s typical black and white swirl camouflage, it is hard to see all the details of the new motorcycle, though the front fairing looks ahem interesting. Building off an already existing model, a naked RR is the logical next machine to come from zie Germans, and if it debuts as a 2014 machine, then we can expect to see it at the EICMA show in Milan later this year in November (there is no INTERMOT show this year).

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