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.

Is Your Motorcycle Helmet Making You Deaf?

08/05/2011 @ 10:50 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

I ride bikes for a living, in case you didn’t know this already. I ride more miles on two wheels in a year, than the average American does in their automobile (I put more four-wheel miles down a year than the average American does as well, if that gives you any idea how much of Asphalt & Rubber is written while on the road). With all this riding, I’ve become increasingly concerned over my hearing, as I’d like still to have it when I’m older. Thus for my own personal benefit, I’ve been trying out the different kinds of ear protection that are available to motorcyclists, as well as a variety of helmets from manufacturers (articles surely to ensue).

So when the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America published a study titled “Aeroacoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise” in which the various frequencies and decibel levels of helmet-generated noise were measured and tested, I became very interested in the study’s findings. Bear in mind I’m a staunch believer in helmet laws and riding with a full-face helmet (my apologies to the Libertarians in the group), so when the study suggested that my two main concerns regarding my head may be at odds with each other, it piqued my interest.

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The Noise Snare Photo System – Loud Pipes Beware

05/23/2011 @ 7:20 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

The next hot-button issue concerning the EPA and motorcycles is not gas and particle pollution like you might expect, but instead simply noise. There’s always been a battle between the straight-pipe running motorcycle contingency (you know who you are), whose loud pipes have been an earsore for both regular citizens and motorcyclists alike. With the EPA cracking down at a federal level, and states like California adopting similar provisions, it would seem the day of the straight-pipe are going the way of the dodo, but the issue doesn’t stop there.

Take the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, the would-be superbike of 2011 (if Kawasaki ever sends us one from the press fleet), which boasted an astonishing 207hp at the crank with ram-air. Motorcycle enthusiasts of the United States were disappointed when the machine arrived on American soil, and learned that the new ZX-10R had been de-tuned to meet EPA standards. Losing roughly 10hp, the presumption was that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R had failed to meet emission standards, but the reality is that Kawasaki had to de-tune the bike in order to make it quieter.

Shortening the rev range by 750 RPM, Kawasaki basically gamed the system on how the EPA measures sound, which is based off a percentage of the total rev range. Perhaps the first to comply with this new standard, American motorcyclists can look forward to different performance spec-sheets on sport bikes from those found abroad in the soon-to-come future. Of course as is the case with the Kawasaki ZX-10R, bypassing the changes made to meet EPA compliance is a simple matter of modifying the electronics package, and then Bob’s your uncle. However would-be tinkerers may want to think twice, as a new device known as the Noise Snare is set to make its debut on catching overly-loud motor vehicles.

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AMA Spits Some Venom at Gov. Schwarzenegger During AMA Motorcyclist of the Year Announcement

12/08/2010 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

The AMA has announced its AMA Motorcyclist of the Year, and  the organization that represents all American motorcyclists has chosens Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California for its yearly distinction. Using the award as a platform to denounce the outgoing Governor, the AMA in its announcement chastised Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signing of California Senate Bill 435, which brings EPA noise enforcement standards to the Golden State. We’ve already addressed here at A&R how California’s adoption of this law essentially is a moot point legally, but the AMA’s grandstanding on this issue smacks speaks to a larger issue that goes to the core of the organization.

Clearly unable to self-regulate and educate the very people it is supposed to represent, the AMA is instead more concerned with tar and feathering politicians and governmental agencies for addressing a growing issue that negatively affects the relationship between motorcyclists and the general population. The simple truth is that a small portion of our community feel the need to compensate for their short-comings by running straight-through exhaust pipes that not only annoy normal citizens, but other motorcyclists as well. How is this an issue that 99% of motorcyclists can’t get behind?

While the AMA has some good ideas on how to measure and enforce lower sound levels from motorcycles, the organization’s lack of anything resembling efficacy in getting those provisions adopted should not create an open license to lay the blame on others (well except maybe the MIC, which is just as culpable for this problem as the AMA). While it’s easy to chastise Gov. Schwarzenegger for signing a bill into law, we think the AMA should take a harder look in the mirror on how motorcyclists created this problem for themselves, because in the end we’re the ones that ruined a good thing.

AMA press release after the jump, but for the record we would have given the award to Erik Buell…but hey that’s just our opinion.

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Rumor: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Getting Horsepower Reduction for the American Market

10/07/2010 @ 6:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Immediately after the launch of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, which claimed a 207hp figure at the crank with ram-air (197hp sans the air), rumors began to swell that the new ZX-10R’s peak performance figure would be drastically less in the American market. Apparently and supposedly due to federal regulations by the EPA, Kawasaki will be lowering the rev-limiter on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R in order to comply with US government provisions.

Whether those rumors are in regards to the ZX-10R’s emissions or noise levels at that rev range is unclear at this time, but speculation that the power decrease is due to the new 10R’s peak power figure being north of 200hp are completely unfounded (Editor’s note: the United States has no provisions, at both the state and federal level, that cap motorcycle horsepower performance levels from the factory). We’ve reached out to Kawasaki for an official response on the issue, more as we get it.

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs California Exhaust Bill into Law – Nothing Changes

09/29/2010 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has seemingly just terminated loud and free flowing exhaust systems on motorcycles in the Golden State of California. Affecting only motorcycles and aftermarket parts made in 2013 and on, the California’s law cracks down on noisy bikes by imposing fines  of $50 to $100 for first-time offenses, and fines of $100 to $250 for subsequent offenses.

The law’s passage has been a big issue for Californian motorcyclists, with the fires being fanned by both the MIC and AMA, who would like to state and national exhaust noise laws adopt an SAE standard. The reality though is that California’s law brings the state in-line with Federal laws on the issue, which already superseded California’s lax standards, which were widely unenforced by the state’s law enforcement officers.

With nothing changing from a legal perspective, it remains doubtful that California LEO’s will ramp-up their enforcement of the new provisions, considering how seriously they took the federal statutes.

Source: California Senate Bill 435 via Dealer News

California Considering EPA-Style Exhaust Regulation

06/30/2010 @ 2:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

A California State Assembly committee has endorsed legislation that would to require motorcyclists in the Golden State to have an EPA-compliant exhaust system on their 2011 or newer motorcycles. Two days ago the Committee on Transportation approved Senate Bill 435 with an 8-4 vote, which would make it illegal to operate a 2011 or newer motorcycle with an exhaust system that doesn’t have an EPA label that certifies it as meeting noise limit standards. According to the bill, riders would incur a “fix it” ticket if caught without their EPA exhaust sticker if the bill came into law.

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The Noise Police

10/23/2008 @ 9:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on The Noise Police

Our poor friends down under are about to get a further crackdown on what can and cannot be done out on the asphalt. The Aussies are set to put into place a series of roadside microphones to crack down on offending and unrestricted exhaust pipes. Similar murmurs are also being made back on the Queen’s Island. 

The fully automated systems have been in development for the last three years and are now set to be rolled out in several states and territories down under. According to a report in Australia’s The Newspaper, the camera-based system utilises a set of microphones to record noise levels and, when the set threshold is exceeded, a ten second video is stored and a ticket automatically generated. Apparently the machine can hold data for up to 10,000 tickets before it needs to be reset.

Source: PistonHeads via RSVzone

There are rumors that soon even thinking about a wheelie will be illegal. Ok, George Orwell…you win.

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