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.

Husqvarna Two-Strokes Get Fuel-Injection Too

We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Husqvarna will be following suit with its Austrian sibling, and adding fuel-injection to several of its two-strokes enduro motorcycle for the 2018 model year. After a long history of rumors and development, KTM finally debuted fuel injection for a production two-stroke model just a few weeks ago, using the technology on two of its upcoming enduro models, the KTM 250 EXC TPI and KTM 300 EXC TPI. Husqvarna will use the same technology for its own motorcycles in the same segments, announcing today the the all-new 2018 Husqvarna TE 250i and 2018 Husqvarna TE 300i enduro models with transfer port injection.

Opinion: The Danger of Expanding the MotoGP Calendar

It is looking increasingly like the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand will be added to the MotoGP calendar for the 2018 season. I understand from sources that there was a significant hurdle to be overcome: circuit title sponsor Chang is a major beer brand in Thailand, and a rival to the Official MotoGP Beer Singha, also a major beer brand in Thailand and further abroad. The race can only happen if a compromise has been found to accommodate this conflict. This is good news for Thailand, and good news for fans in Asia. The World Superbike round at the circuit is always packed, and MotoGP should be even more popular. It is hard to overstate just how massive MotoGP is in that part of the world.

First Official Photos of the 2011 Ducati Diavel – Traction Control, ABS, Multiple Driving Modes, & 456lbs

10/12/2010 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Ducati USA just sent us a larger version of the photo posted on Facebook (enhanced version above). Check out the key entry for the trunk under the tail, and how the tail lights extend past the tail section to function as turn signals as well.

Ducati has just released the first official images of the 2011 Ducati Diavel on its website and Facebook page, thus beginning the teasing process as we lead up to the EICMA show in Milan in three weeks (and confirming the name Diavel in the process). Showing the ass end of the power cruiser, we get our first good glimpse of the carbon tank on the Diavel (rumors are the Ducati Diavel will come in two trim levels). Ducati has also announced that the Diavel will sport ABS, Ducati Traction Contorl, multiple riding modes, and weigh 456lbs.

Ducati has also confirmed that the 2011 Ducati Diavel will use the Testastretta 11° engine found on the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200, but has coyly made no mention of power figures, leading us to take an educated guess that the “Devil” makes a bit more power than its sport-touring cousin.

Smaller details are starting to come out as well, as we see the frame will get some red paint (as inked-in earlier), along with a central racing stripe down the tank and tail. We’ve brightened up the close-up photo after the jump, but don’t expect to see anything more than some pieces from the Ducati parts bin.

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2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track

10/06/2010 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track

We told KTM when we rode the 1198 RC8 R that it was the perfect bike for the track. Agile steering, gobs of v-twin power, sure-footed suspension…there really wasn’t anything more we could ask from the Austrian manufacturer (except maybe a price reduction and a free puppy with every purchase). Someone at KTM must have agreed with our sentiments, because the Ready to Race firm has taken that mantra to the next level with the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track, it’s ready to race incarnation of the KTM 1198 RC8 R.

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2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Becomes Officially Official

10/06/2010 @ 1:50 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Finally breaking cover officially, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R made its official debut at Intermot this week. For 2011, Kawasaki has taken a ground-up approach to building its liter-bike offering, and the Japanese company has its eye squarely on racing in World Superbike for 2011. Developing the race bike ahead of the street model, the new ZX-10R should prove to be a monster of a machine with its 197hp at the crank power figure (207hp with ram air) and 436.6lbs curb weight (+12lbs for ABS). However, for the US market the bike will get watered down by 10hp or so for emissions, which Kawasaki is quietly trying to downplay.

As we reported earlier when the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R leaked, Kawasaki like many other brands is bringing an optional ABS system to the sportbike genre, but Japanese firm has also brought a very sophisticated traction control system to the party, which will be a standard option. Taking measurements every 5 milliseconds from the front and rear tire pickups, throttle position sensor, engine speed, and other inputs, Kawasaki’s S-KTRC, according to the company, is the most advanced traction control system to-date in the consumer market. With pricing starting at $13,799 MSRP (+$1000 for ABS), we’d certainly hope it’s the most advanced sport bike on the market.

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2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 – The Fully Faired Z1000 Tourer

10/05/2010 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Rumors have been swelling about Kawasaki introducing a full-faired version of its popular Z1000 street naked, and at Intermot today those rumors became true. Dubbed the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (the bike is going by the Kawasaki Z1000S or Z1000SX name in other markets, which has lead other sites to misreport the model name for here in the US), the new heavyweight 1000 street bike uses the same 1043cc motor as the current Z1000, and remains largely unchanged from the Z1000 except for some modifications to make the bike fit a more touring-oriented segment.

Fitted with an adjustable windscreen and hard-mounts for panniers, Kawasaki hopes that the new Ninja 1000 will fill a sportier-touring role in the company’s line-up. Likely realizing that Z1000 owners like to log some miles on their bikes, the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 seems to be Kawasaki’s response to these adventurers’ wants, needs, and criticisms.

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2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 Get Face Lifts and 20lbs of Liposuction for 2011

10/05/2010 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Suzuki made a design departure in 2009 when it revamped its GSX-R1000, while leaving the GSX-R600 & GSX-R750 unchanged aesthetically. Finally bringing the two smaller middleweight gixxers in-line with the larger superbike, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 get not only a face lift for the new model year, but also a revised engine package that has ample weight trimmings. While the new Suzuki GSX-R600 & GSX-R750’s won’t make more power than the 2010 models, the revised motor and other components shed roughly 20lbs off both the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 (413lbs wet) & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 (416lbs wet).

Making the weight-loss program possible, Suzuki went in with its surgical knife and dropped weight in a variety of places, primarily focusing on the bikes’ four-cylinder motor. Losing 4lbs in the motor alone, Suzuki lightened the pistons by 14% and the connecting rods by 12%, while increasing the ventilation holes between the cylinders, helping reduce pumping losses and improve combustion efficiency. Relocating the ECU has saved .6lbs in weight from wiring, which is sort of crazy and impressive at the same time. The new exhaust system sheds 3lbs from the prior models’, while revised injectors increase fuel efficiency by 10% and meet the strict Euro III emission standards. More info and photos after the jump.

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2011 Suzuki GSR750 Unwrapped

10/05/2010 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The street-naked segment, what used to be known as the “standard” motorcycle segment, is heating up this year as another Japanese OEM enters the fray with the official announcement of the 2011 Suzuki GSR750. Suzuki’s answer to the growing middleweight street bike segment, the GSR750 is like the Yamaha FZ8 in that it uses a de-tuned sportbike motor (sourced from the GSX-R 750), and employs a relatively cheap and basic frame and component set to make an affordable, yet punchy, bike for the street warrior.

With power in the 120hp range, and weight expected to be under 420lbs dry, the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 stacks up decently well on the spec sheet (compared to its competition at least), and knowing that swap-over aftermarket parts from the GSX-R line should bolt up nicely, the new Suzuki GSR750 should be popular with the modder crowd. No word yet if Suzuki plans on selling the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 in the United States, but we expect the Japanese company will take a page out of Yamaha’s book, and make a late entry into the model year.

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2011 Triumph Speed Triple – Johnny 5 Lives!

10/05/2010 @ 3:20 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

As children of the 1980’s, we grew up with movies that promised us a future where tracked military robots would learn what it means to love and be human in a humorous yet adventurous manner. While we doubt we’ll see Johnny 5 unveiled at the Intermot show in Germany this week, Triumph is trying fulfill this need of ours as best they can. Officially showing its 2011 Triumph Speed Triple (photos of the bike leaked ahead of Intermot when it was shown on the Triumph’s accessories page), the British company has completely re-worked its larger streetfighter offering, and is slowly winning our hearts.

The biggest improvement for the new Speed Triple is the bike’s all-new aluminum frame. Initially reported to drop the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple’s weight by 40lbs, the bike tips the scales at 471lbs with a full-tank of gas, which is only several pounds lighter than the 2010 model’s curb weight, but that doesn’t mean Triumph has been lax in its revisions. More details and photos after the jump.

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2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 Breaks Cover

10/05/2010 @ 1:12 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The wrappings have been taken off the 2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 ahead of the Intermot show in Germany this week, with the middleweight street naked getting an adjusted rider position that should prove to be sportier than previous models. With a narrower seat, and revised foot and hand positions, new Shiver 750 owners will find themselves hunched over more as they slam through city streets and canyon roads (we’re not too sure about Aprilia’s claim that a “sportier” riding position will be “perfect for longer hauls”). This concludes everything new about the 2011 model compared to the 2010, thank you for reading.

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2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple – Official Teaser Photos Released

09/17/2010 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Get your first glimpse of the MV Agusta F3 here.

In what can only be described as a terse press release, MV Agusta has released two teaser photos of its upcoming MV Agusta F3, the three-cylinder supersport bike that Claudio Castiglioni hopes will save his company. Known to be using a three-cylinder motor, it has been previously reported that the MV Agusta F3 would be a 675cc machine, just like the Triumph Daytona 675. However the Italian brand has confirmed that it will be using a 600cc displacement for its street machine, while giving us a glimpse of the bike without its F4 camouflage.

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Valentino Rossi Goes to Ducati – Officially Official

08/15/2010 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The worst kept secret in the paddock is finally official, thus completing what MotoGP fans (especially Italians) have been waiting for: Valentino Rossi signing with Ducati Corse. The nine-time World Champion and Italian celebrity is finally paired up with Italy’s most iconic motorcycling brand for the 2011 season, an action that has been the subject of intrigue not only for the better part of this season, but for years inside MotoGP.

Announcing their partnership today, Rossi and Ducati have their work cut out for them in taking-on impressive up-start Jorge Lorenzo and the formidable Yamaha YZR-M1. Press releases from Ducati & Fiat-Yamaha after the jump, along with a quote from Valentino himself.

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