Ride in Peace, Author Robert Pirsig

I first heard of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance shortly after I bought my first motorcycle, a Honda CBR600F2. I was stuck in the middle of Dunsmuir, California with a bad rectifier/regulator (a common trouble-spot on that model bike), and a passerby recommended the title. I think they referred the book out of naiveté its content, but obviously the novel, despite its title, would do little to help my immediate problem with my Honda, though it was a good read about some general philosophic ideas, which I could chew-on after I got my CBR bumped-started and back on the road again. Undoubtedly, you have likely heard of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as well.

Carbon Fiber BMW HP4 Race Debuts in China

As we predicted, the BMW HP4 Race carbon fiber superbike debuted today in China, at the Auto Shanghai 2017 expo. This is the production version of the prototype that BMW Motorrad teased at last year’s EIMCA show in Milan. Details were scarce in Italy, but now BMW is ready to tell us all about its halo bike. The numbers? Only 750 units of the BMW HP4 Race will be produced. Each one will make 212hp, and weigh 377 lbs when fully fueled and ready to ride – which is lighter than BMW’s WorldSBK-spec S1000RR racing machine. Of course the main feature of the BMW HP4 Race is that it drips in carbon fiber. The bodywork, main frame, and wheels are made of this composite material, with the tail section being a self-supporting carbon fiber unit.

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.

Niccolò Canepa Charged for Track Day Altercation

08/04/2015 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Niccolò Canepa is in deep water with Italian officials for an incident that occurred at Mugello, back in 2013. Allegedly participating at a track day at the iconic Italian circuit, Canepa has been named as the rider that closed-circuit cameras picked up having an altercation with another rider, on track.

The camera footage shows quite clearly two riders gesticulating to each other while riding around the track between the Poggio Secco and the Materassi turns.

The footage then goes on to show that the rider, who is alleged to be Canepa, intentionally hits the other rider’s front brake, causing that rider’s bike to fall and nearly take out another non-involved rider in the process.

The crashed rider has been identified as Davide Cappato, who fractured his collarbone in the fall. Taking recourse with authorities in Florence, Cappato seems finally set to have his day in court with Canepa.

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Sunday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/20/2015 @ 6:23 am, by Scott Jones3 COMMENTS

WSBK Laguna Seca weather

The weather is often a large part of the story at Laguna Seca. Usually it’s either heat, like the dangerously hot 2006 MotoGP weekend, or morning fog that delays the start of a day’s sessions, like nearly every time an event is held at this circuit.

But today the weather was a sudden thunderstorm that started just before sunrise. As the paddock came awake, lightning was flashing to the south and rain was drenching the circuit, washing the rubber off the asphalt and soaking the Media Center, to name only a couple of moisture-related casualties.

Out came the rain tires for the morning warm-up, and away they went on a track that was drying but still wet. But by the time Race 1 arrived, it was back to slicks for two dry races.

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Saturday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/18/2015 @ 11:54 pm, by Scott Jones8 COMMENTS

Ducati Panigale R WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

It’s great to be back on Asphalt & Rubber again, sitting next to Jensen in a media center at a race track, preparing photos for the A&R readers.

It’s great to be back at a World Superbike race as well, where the atmosphere is more relaxed than MotoGP. The bikes are just as shiny, and apparently you can just mosey down to your local dealer and buy one!

The bike above rolled right off the show room floor, I’m told. It would look great in my garage.

Leon and Ron Haslam Aprilia WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

There’s also a jovial family atmosphere. Here two generations of Haslam watch Superpole 1, which is more amusing to some than to others.

Chaz Davies Ducati WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

Chaz Davies took the honors in Superpole 2 on a day that featured two Ducatis at the top of the time sheet.

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Weekly Racing News Digest #7

04/22/2015 @ 11:29 am, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

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Can you ever have too much motorcycle racing? You can if the amount of racing over one weekend actually exceeds the number of hours in each day.

That was pretty much the case last weekend, when we MotoGP at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, World Superbikes – including World Supersport, FIM Superstock 1000, the European Superstock 600 Championship, and the European Junior Cup – at Assen, British Superbikes at Brands Hatch (the very short, very fast Indy circuit, not the longer GP layout), the second round of the inaugural MotoAmerica series at Road Atlanta, and the 24 hour race at Le Mans in France.

Looking beyond motorcycle road racing, there was also the fourth round of the MXGP motocross world championship at Trentino in Italy, and a Formula One race at Bahrain.

Although the constraints of long seasons mean that there will always be clashes, this was a little ridiculous. Racing series are not completely free to set their calendars as they wish – they are tied down by a host of factors such as track availability, the weather, other events organized at the circuits, local government permission and many, many others – this weekend was one of the more spectacular scheduling SNAFUs. Let us hope this can be avoided next year.

For the upcoming weekend, the calendar is much more limited. The FIM Repsol CEV championship – what we used to know as the Spanish championship – has its first race at Portimao in Portugal.

The field is as varied as ever, with riders from all over Europe and Asia, as well as an Australian and an American in Moto3, an even more varied field in Moto2 – including exotica such as the Vyrus, ridden by British youngster Bradley Ray – and Barcelona-based American rider Kenny Noyes defending his title in the Superbike class.

Their Italian counterpart, the CIV championship, also kicks off this weekend with their first races at Misano. Both series will be streamed live, CEV on their Youtube channel, and the CIV via a specialist Italian motorsports channel called Sportube.

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WSBK: Team Hero EBR Still Racing This Weekend

04/17/2015 @ 1:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2015-Team-Hero-EBR

With the news that Erik Buell Racing has ceased operations and will be headed into receivership, doubt has been cast on the company’s racing efforts in the World Superbike Championship. Allaying some fears, Team Manager and Rider Larry Pegram spoke to the WorldSBK.com website, saying that the team would indeed race in Assen, as planned.

“For Team Hero EBR, nothing has really changed,” Pegram said while speaking to WorldSBK.com. “We are going to be racing this weekend and we plan to continue for the season. All indications are that we are going to be able to do that. There is obviously some restructuring and financial stuff going on in the USA, but we are over here in Assen and getting ready for a good weekend.”

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Weekly Racing News Digest #3

02/28/2015 @ 1:11 pm, by David Emmett16 COMMENTS

troy-bayliss-ducati-corse-phillip-island-wsbk

It has been a busy week for racing, with the World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island followed by the MotoGP test at Sepang, including the extra day of testing on Michelins.

There has been a lot of news, but there have been one or two things we may have missed, so again here’s our weekly round-up of racing news.

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WSBK: Big Changes for Team Hero EBR in 2015

12/03/2014 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

2014-Team-Hero-EBR-1190RX

Despite an abysmal year in the World Superbike Championship last season, Team Hero EBR will return to the WSBK paddock for 2015. The team’s return is perhaps in name only, as major changes have been made to EBR’s WSBK presence, which will continue to be based out of Italy.

Most notable is Team Hero EBR’s new riders — Larry Pegram and Niccolo Canepa — with Pegram having double-duties, as he will act as the Team Manager in charge of the Pegram Racing crew, which will take over running the Team Hero EBR program.

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WSBK: Althea Racing Returns to Ducati – Will Field Niccolò Canepa with an EVO Entry in 2014

12/19/2013 @ 5:16 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

althea-racing-laguna-seca-jensen-beeler

The Althea Racing team is to switch back to Ducati from Aprilia for the 2014 World Superbike season. After their split with Ducati over development of the Panigale at the end of 2012, the Italian team are to return to the Bologna factory fold and race the Panigale in 2014.

They will do so on a different footing to their previous relationship with Ducati, however. Next season, Althea will race the Panigale 1199 R as an EVO entry in WSBK, the subclass set up to allow a more affordable entry into World Superbikes.

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MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro To Replace the Injured Niccolo Canepa At Valencian GP

11/03/2009 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Niccolo-Canepa-MotoGP

It looks like Aleix Espargaro will be replacing Niccolo Canpea a little bit earlier than planned at the Pramac Ducati team. Canepa, who was scheduled to lose his ride to Espargaro after the final round of MotoGP, has just announced that he won’t be racing at Valencia because he is still recovering from his skin transplant caused be his crash at Phillip Island a month ago.

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Hayden Sachsenring Qualifying Highside Video

07/20/2009 @ 6:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

On Saturday’s qualifying, Nicky Hayden got launched in Turn 8, as his Ducati Desmosedici GP9 highsided from the rain at the Sachsenring. Luckily, fellow Ducati rider Niccolo Canpea was there to break Nicky’s fall. Check the video above (0:38 in) to watch Hayden takedown Canepa Terry Tate Office Linebacker style.

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