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.

Michael Dunlop Racing A Suzuki GSX-R1000R at IOMTT

02/21/2017 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Michael Dunlop will be on an all-new machine for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, as the Northern Irishman has inked a deal that sees him on the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike for the North West 200, Isle of Man TT, and Ulster GP.

Confirming the news with Britain’s MCN, Dunlop says he will continue to ride with the Hawk Racing team in the Superbike class, with full-factory support from Yoshimura.

The deal also sees him campaigning another GSX-R1000R in the Superstock class under his MD Racing name, as well as a yet-to-be-determined Supersport model.

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Guy Martin Returns to Road Racing with Honda

01/18/2017 @ 1:51 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Road Racing’s biggest personality is returning to the paddock, as Guy Martin has signed up with the factory Honda Racing team. Martin will be alongside John McGuinness, and the pair will compete in the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT on the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

The news is a welcomed announcement for those who missed Guy Martin’s presence in the road racing scene – the truck mechanic from Lincolnshire sat out the 2016 Isle of Man TT, and other racing events, choosing instead to take on some other projects, like a land speed record attempt at Bonneville.

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Guy Martin Will Not Race in the 2016 Isle of Man TT

01/19/2016 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The world’s favorite road racer will not be at the 2016 Isle of Man TT, nor at the North West 200, as Guy Martin says he will be missing those events on this year’s calendar. Instead, Guy Martin will take to a different kind of road bike, cycling in the Tour Divide race through North America.

There has been rumor for some time about Martin forgoing the TT for quite some time now, and there has even been talk of the Lincolnshire man hanging up his leathers entirely.

The latter doesn’t seem to be the case, but Martin does seem to be drifting away from the Isle of Man TT – an event he has never won a race at, though he has come close.

“I’m not done with motorbikes and if I race on the roads again this year it will be with the TAS team,” said Guy Martin, talking with the Isle of Man TT website. “The BMW bikes are mega and the team are spot on.”

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Video: Honda Previews the Road Racing Season

05/14/2015 @ 3:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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When it comes to real road racing, the boys on Hondas are always the short-list of whom to beat. Gearing up for the North West 200 this weekend and the rapidly approaching Isle of Man TT, the road racing season is firmly upon us.

Never mind circuits and race tracks, these guys let it all hang out on public roads, with speeds approaching and surpassing 200 mph on some courses. Make no mistake, this is risky business.

Mental preparedness and track knowledge are key, but that doesn’t mean that machine shakedowns are unnecessary. Although the Honda CBR1000RR racing package hasn’t changed much over its eight years of use, HRC has been able to refine the Fireblade to be a keen, and more importantly, a reliable weapon on the roads.

This year, John McGuinness and Conor Cummins will wear the factory HRC livery, as they take on the other top riders. Honda has put together a quick video of the two racers, with their thoughts on the 2015 season. Check it out after the jump.

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Bimota Racing at IOMTT with American Brandon Cretu

03/16/2015 @ 2:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Italy’s favorite boutique brand will be back at the Isle of Man TT races this year, with a two rider team that includes American Brandon Cretu.

Cretu and his teammate Ben Wylie will campaign for Bimota at the big four road races (North West 200, Isle of Man TT, Ulster Grand Prix, and Macau GP) on-board the Bimota BB3 superbike.

This is not the first time that Cretu and Wylie have raced together, having shared a pit while at the Wylie Racing team during the 2011 and 2012 Isle of Man TT races.

Though the Bimota BB3 was ruled ineligible for FIM events, the international road racing scene has no hang-ups letting the S1000RR-powered superbikes lineup on the starting grid.

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IOMTT: Michael Dunlop Will Ride for Milwaukee Yamaha

01/15/2015 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Classic-TT-Isle-of-Man-Road-Racing-Tony-Goldsmith-6

With the surprise move of BMW Motorrad working with TAS Racing and Guy Martin, the questions have been flying, yet again, about who Michael Dunlop will be racing with this upcoming Isle of Man TT.

The nephew of Joey Dunlop has come into his own now as a racer, taking many of the race victories in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and with a good ride underneath him, a sweep of the TT races is not outside the realm of possibilities.

Again we get a late answer, as we have news today that Michael Dunlop has signed with the Milwaukee Yamaha team for the 2015 Isle of Man TT.

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Simon Andrews Has Died After a Horrible NW200 Crash

05/19/2014 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

simon-andrews-2013-isle-of-man-tt-tony-goldsmith

It’s with sad news that we begin this Monday’s coverage, as we regret to report that popular road racer Simon Andrews has succumb to the head injuries he sustained in a crash during the North West 200.

Andrews was racing with the Penz13.com BMW team on Saturday, when he had a horrific crash during the NW200 Superstock race. The crash occurred during the fourth lap of the race, near the Metropole corner in Portrush.

Airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, reports on Andrews’ condition seemed to improve on Sunday, as the 29-year-old had been taken off life support and was breathing on his own, but Andrews unfortunately passed away this morning from his injuries.

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Simon Andrews to Ride for Penz13.com at IOMTT

02/06/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

simon-andrews-isle-of-man-tt-jump

After sustaining injuries in the FIM World Endurance round at Le Mans last year, Simon Andrews is returning to racing for the 2014 Isle of Man TT in Rico Penzkofer’s paddock. The 29-year-old will be riding a BMW HP4 prepared by the Penz13.com BMW racing team, not only in the TT, but also the Macau Grand Prix and the North West 200.

During his TT debut in 2011, Andrews made it clear he was a serious competitor taking 11th in the Superstock and Senior races while setting a lap record of 125.134 mph, making him the third fastest newcomer of all time.

Add to that a fastest lap time of 126.001 around the TT Mountain Course, and you can start to see why his TT career includes four Top 15 finishes, along with a podium finish in the 2012 Macau Grand Prix where he took third.

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TT Legends — Episode 3: The North West 200

01/29/2014 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Honda-TT-Legends-North-West-200-06

We are back on track with the eight-part “TT Legends” documentary, which follows the racing shenanigans of the Honda TT Legends road and endurance racing squad. After finishing with the Bol d’Or endurance race in Episode Two, Episode Three finds the Honda riders at the North West 200, one of the great Irish road racing events.

Like the Isle of Man TT, the North West 200 is held on public roads, but unlike the TT, this is not a time trial format. Instead, NW200 riders leave the starting line together, and swap paint and positions throughout the course. One of the fastest road races, riders reach well over 200 mph on their machines at the Irish road race.

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“TT Legends” Documentary Coming to YouTube

01/09/2014 @ 1:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

honda-tt-legends-pit-stop

Last year, the Honda TT Legends crew worked with Britain’s ITV4 television station to produce an eight-part documentary that followed the factory Honda road racing team.

Featuring the John McGuinness, Simon Andrews, and Cameron Donald, “TT Legends” follows the team through six races: the Bol d’Or, Le Mans 24 heurs, Suzuka 8-Hour, North West 200, Isle of Man TT, and Oscherselben 8hr. The series was a delight for British racing fans, though sadly wasn’t rebroadcasted for us Yanks — unless you employed less-than-legal means, that is.

Well that’s about to change, as Honda Pro Racing will be hosting the series on its YouTube channel, one episode each week, starting on January 12th. It’s a great series, and well worth keeping up with, if you have the time. We’ll bring you each installment here on Asphalt & Rubber, as they become available. Until then, whet your appetite on the trailer.

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