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.

Video: Michel Fabrizio Gets the Kiss of Death

10/27/2009 @ 9:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Davide-Tardozzi-Xerox-Ducati

After Noriyuki Haga lost the WSBK Championship, Davide Tardozzi, team Manager for Xerox Ducati, came under a lot of fire for letting Michel Fabrizio compete against his teammate Haga.

Citing points lost at Imola, and Fabrizio’s 1st place finish in Race 2 of Portimao, many think Tardozzi should have put the hand-cuffs of team orders on the Italian rider. We’ll save that debate for another article, but in a candid moment it seems Tardozzi had his own opinion. Click after the jump for a video you can’t refuse.

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WSBK: Race 2 at Portimao is All Over, But the Crying

10/26/2009 @ 1:56 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Race-2-WSBK-Portimao-Portugal

With Race 1 changing two riders’ fate, the last race of the last round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship would be the only redemption left, until next year. Just as catastrophe changed the Championship in Race 1, disaster here in Race 2 could just as easily swing the pedulum. With this pressure still looming, Spies and Haga both had to be ready for a fight to the finish. Spoilers after the jump.

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WSBK: Crash in Race 1 Could Cost the Championship

10/26/2009 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ben-Spies-Race-1-WSBK-Portimao-Portugal

It’s the day that all World Superbike fans have been looking forward to, the day that the battle for the World Superbike Championship would finally come to an end. Some say it is Noriyuki Haga, who has come so close to Superbike supremacy in the past, only to miss his day by a few simple points. Others say it is Ben Spies.

The Texan has been dominating his rookie season abroad, and now with his MotoGP plans for 2010 solidified, it would be unfinished business if he left World Superbike without a Championship wreath. We think both riders have a solid argument for why they should win the crown, but talking does little for victory on the race track.

With two races at Portimao to find our champion, it would seem that all we’d need is Race 1 to find our Champion, as a costly crash early into the race by one of these riders has likely dashed their hopes for the day. More after the jump.

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WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider

10/24/2009 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider

Ben-Spies-Qualifying-Portimao-WSBK

It’s the qualifying session we’ve all been waiting for: the last Superpole of the 2009 season at Portimao, Portugal. A vetting process for tomorrow’s races, today’s Superpole gives us a glimpse into how this amazing season might end. How close would Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga be on the starting line come Sunday? Who would be faster? By what margin? And lastly, would Ben Spies be able to take the outright pole record for World Superbike racing? Those answers after the jump.

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Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

10/23/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

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We typically don’t cover the Free Practice/Qualifying sessions in World Superbike, but considering that the entire season will come down to Sunday’s race, we’re making an exception. With QP1 in the bag already at Portimao, we get some insight into how the grid could come together for the last race of the WSBK season, and the results might surprise some people. More after the jump.

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WSBK: Race 2 at Magny-Cours is Brought to You by the French Word “Merde!”

10/05/2009 @ 8:55 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 2 at Magny-Cours is Brought to You by the French Word “Merde!”

WSBK-Race-3-Magny-Cours-Max-Biaggi

You have to appreciate the two race program in World Superbike. Not only does it give fans a chance to see their favorites battle it out twice in one day, but it also gives riders a second chance to make a grab for the podium. With only a handful of points separating Spies and Haga, the points that Race 2 provides will definitely determine the WSBK Championship outcome. Spoilers and results after the jump.

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WSBK: Race 1 at Magny-Cours Shows a Points Teeter-Totter for the Championship

10/05/2009 @ 8:26 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 1 at Magny-Cours Shows a Points Teeter-Totter for the Championship

WSBK-Race-1-Magny-Cours-Ben-Spies

Eclipsing the excitement in MotoGP this week, World Superbike has heated up to be a great series to watch in these final two outings. Recently signed to Tech3 Yamaha, Ben Spies looked for W in Race 1 to try and take back the Championship lead from Noriyuki Haga.

Always a bridesmaid, and never a bride, Haga entered Race 1 also looking for a win, to help further his points lead in what could be his first WSBK Championship trophy. Johnny Rea on the other hand, entered Race 1 to try and crash into one of the top riders, and spoil the whole series for everyone else. Continue after the jump to find who was successful in their endeavors.

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Haga & Fabrizio Re-Sign With Ducati Corse for 2010

09/29/2009 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

xerox-ducati-wsbk-kyalmai-2009

Ducati Corse has re-signed both of its World Superbike riders, Noriyuki Haga & Michel Fabrizio, for the 2010 season. No word on the details of the rider’s contracts, but the move won’t cause any surprises in the WSBK paddock. Xerox Ducati has been dominating the World Superbike series, save for one man, Ben Spies.

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WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

09/27/2009 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

Michel-Fabrizio-Superpole-WSBK-Imola

Race 2 promised to have more close racing, as many riders in Race 1 proved they could race near the top (not to mention, many riders in WSBK have contracts up for renewal). With Imola being the home track for the Ducati loyal, a lot of fans we’re waiting to see the red bikes up front.

Many Xerox Ducati fans were also keen to see if Haga could retake the lead in the World Superbike Championship standings with a strong showing at Imola. They would not be disappointed, a full race report after the jump.

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WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level

09/27/2009 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Imola-WSBK-Race-1-Haga

Racing went off without a hitch this Sunday, as the Imola circuit seemed devoid of earlier traction problems that almost sidelined the racing earlier this week. With Imola sitting literally in Ducati’s backyard, all eyes were on the Xerox Ducati squad, and Noriyuki Haga.

Haga, who trails Ben Spies for the first time this season coming into Imola, was especially keen on grabbing back some points from the American. Lastly, a new addition to the WSBK paddock took the form of Marco Simoncelli, who was filling in on the factory Aprilia team for the injured Shinya Nakano. A full race report with spoilers after the jump.

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