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.

2016 Midual Type 1 Prototype – Motorcycle Opulence

08/27/2014 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler51 COMMENTS

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Leave it to the French. The Midual Type 1 is perhaps one of the most intriguing motorcycle designs that we have seen this year, though much of the roadster seems to lust for attention, rather than serve a realistic purpose.

Debuting at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, an opulent venue in its own right, the 2016 Midual Type 1 prototype appeals to the uber-rich crowd, not only in its touches and aesthetics, but also with its €140,000 price tag ($185,000).

While that price tag gets you a certain exclusivity, the most striking feature of Midual’s machine is of course its 1,036cc longitudinally mounted boxer-twin engine, which sits proudly in the machine’s bespoke frame.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1978 Ducati 900 NCR Mike Hailwood Race Bike

08/23/2011 @ 7:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The story of Mike Hailwood’s 1978 comeback season cannot be told without mentioning the 1978 Ducati 900 NCR that he rode to victory both at the Isle of Man TT and Mallory Park. Taking an 11 year break from motorcycle racing, the 38-year-old Hailwood made a triumphant return to two-wheeled racing on-board an NCR prepped Ducati 900 SS.

Making 87hp, Hailwood’s NCR was underpowered compared to the favored Honda of Phil Read, but that didn’t stop “Mike the Bike” from racing one of the most legendary races in history of the sport. Bringing out the same bike that Hailwood road on the TT course (a quick thank you to Steve Wynn and Ron Winder for the clarifications in the comments), this 1978 Ducati 900 NCR shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is comprised of the Hailwood’s race bike with a rebuilt motor from that season.

A true contender for the superlative “Greatest of All Time”, this ’78 NCR is truly special machine for racing enthusiasts as it comes from one of Hailwood’s all-time best races. Accordingly, the judges at Pebble Beach awarded it Third in Class at this year’s Concours d’Elegance.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1956 Ariel Square 4 with Garrard Sidecar

08/25/2009 @ 8:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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This 1956 Ariel Square 4 features a matching Garrard sidecar (stocked with Champagne!). If you take a quick glance at this Ariel, you might notice something doesn’t quite look right. This is because tt the heart of the Ariel is a 997cc square-four engine, or “Squariel”, which was designed in 1936 by the unemployed engine designer Edward Turner.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1932 BSA W32-6 with Matching Sidecar

08/25/2009 @ 11:00 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1932 BSA W32-6 with Matching Sidecar

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The BSA w32-6 was built mainly for use with a side car, and has a 499cc side-valve motor. BSA’s were so popular in Britain during the 1930’s that one in four motorcycles was built by “Beeza”. This 1932 BSA W32-6 Sidecar was sold as a complete unit, during the height of sidecar popularity in the UK.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1913 Premier 3 1/2hp 3 Speed

08/25/2009 @ 9:21 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1913 Premier 3 1/2hp 3 Speed

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This 1913 Premier 3 1/2hp 3 speed motorcycle was the oldest example of British two-wheeled freedom at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1922 Triumph Model R “Ricardo”

08/25/2009 @ 2:30 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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In 1922, Triumph needed an update to its motors in order to be competitve in the developing sportbike market. As such, it hired gas flow special Harry Ricardo to improve the performance of the Triumph machinery, and this 1922 Triumph Model R “Ricardo” was one such lucky recipient.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1953 Matchless G45

08/25/2009 @ 1:52 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1953 Matchless G45

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Based on the streetbike version, this 1953 Matchless G45 was an “over-the-counter” race bike that was made available to select British racers. It has a 500cc parallel twin motor from a G9, and in the right hands, was quite successful at winning national races.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1949 Velocette Mk. VIII

08/20/2009 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1949 Velocette Mk. VIII

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The preferred ride in 350cc racing after World War II, the 1949 Velocette Mk. VIII wasn’t the fastest bike on the grid, making only “average” power, but made up this deficincy by utilizing its superior steering and suspension.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1938 Triumph Speed Twin

08/20/2009 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1938 Triumph Speed Twin
Giving birth to the engine’s design, this 1938 Triumph Speed Twin showcases Edward Turners vertical twin motor. With a 498cc, twin overhead valve construction, the Speed Twin made a solid 27hp and was the first truly successful British twin.
Early models were only available in ‘Amaranth red’, and were hand painted with gold pinstripes. The hard-tail and initial girder forks meant that the only real suspension for the rider was the sprung seat. Passengers would have to survive with only a doubly thick pad over the rear fender.

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Giving birth to the engine’s design, this 1938 Triumph Speed Twin showcases Edward Turner’s vertical twin motor. With a 498cc, twin overhead valve construction, the Speed Twin made a solid 27hp and was the first truly successful British twin to come to market.

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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1929 Sunbeam Model-90 Road Racer

08/20/2009 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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This 1929 Sunbeam Model-90 Road Racer, like many of the motorcycles at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, has an interesting story of its discovery and restoration.

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