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.

KTM SMX-E Imagined by Piers SP

01/23/2012 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

As we already know, the KTM Freeride E will be out in 2012 in limited numbers, as the Austrian brand tests the waters on the electric dirt bike market. Building an electric not because they believe in the technology’s immediate relevancy, but because they believe in its future and want to continue being a market leader, KTM is the first big motorcycle OEM to bring an electric motorcycle to market. Giving Zero Motorcycles (and soon Brammo & BRD) a run for its money, the KTM Freeride E is a modest design with its 30hp (peak) PERM motor and 2.1 kWh battery pack.

As a dyed-in-the-wool street biker, I was a bit disappointed that KTM was only bringing the Freeride E out as a dirt bike, with no supermoto variation available. Thankfully I was not alone in that sentiment, as Kiska Senior Pixel Pusher Piers SP also longed for an electric Austrian backing-it-in machine. The difference of course is that as a blogger, I have no concept of creating something of my own (that’s moto-journo humor right there folks), while Piers SP is a zen voodoo digital samurai (truth). Needless to say, photoshopping ensued.

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Rendered: Ducati 1199 Panigale Race Replicas

12/09/2011 @ 10:07 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

It’s only a matter of time before Ducati releases some race replica paint jobs for the recently unveiled Ducati 1199 Panigale. It almost certainly won’t be during the 2012 model year, but in 2013 don’t be surprised to see some race-inspired colors adorning Bologna’s flagship superbike. Seemingly beating Ducati to the punch, the guys over at MotorBikeTV have put together some fine photoshops of what the Ducati 1199 Panigale race replicas would look like. Hayden, Bayliss, Checa…the only thing missing is perhaps the most important race replica of all: Valentino Rossi’s.

With The Doctor signing onto the Italian MotoGP squad for two seasons, the match was a marketing director’s dream come true. And while the Rossi yellow might clash with the Rosso Corsa, you can beat anything stamped with a 46 and the Ducati Corse logo will sell like hot cakes…it did for the Ducati Monster at least. A Rossi-branded Ducati 1199 Panigale? The sound you just heard was Ducatisti worldwide having spasms of joy, of the change-your-pants variety. Thanks for the tip Sergio!

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Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce by Luca Bar

04/26/2011 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In case you haven’t notice, we really like the work of Luca Bar. The young Italian designer has an eye for motorcycles we like to own, so it seemed fitting that we show off one of Bar-Design’s older works, the Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce.

With the fabled Italian company set to go up on the auction block again this summer, we thought perhaps some inspiration from Maestro Bar would help pull some buyers out of the woodwork. At the very least, it’s an excuse to show off some more drool-worthy motorcycle eyecandy.

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A&R’s April Fools Round-Up

04/01/2011 @ 6:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

If it hasn’t become apparent by now, we love us some April Fools here at Asphalt & Rubber, because like Christmas, the real joy in the holiday isn’t in the act of receiving, but in the act of giving. It’s perhaps at this time of year where the media side of the motorcycle industry reaches its zenith of creativity, producing eloquent prose, perfect press releases, and some of the most superb photo re-touches we’ve ever seen. We have in fact many maestros in our presence, and we wanted to share our Top 3 picks of the days festivities.

And our role in all this? Well we’re firm believers in the idea that if you’re going to do something wrong, then it’s best to do it right. Instead of trying to fabricate a story or two, and then convince you that they were real (that’s so 2010 by the way), we decided to switch things up and publish two stories (here & here) that we knew to be fundamentally true, and convince you that they were in fact fake. April Fools.

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KTM 690 SMC R by Isaac Chavira

03/29/2011 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

More work from our man Isaac Chavira, maker of the Ducati Monster 848R everyone was drooling over last week. This week Chavira turns his attention to Austria and its resident motorcycle maker KTM. Focusing on Team Orange’s supermoto offering, Chavira has dreamed up a KTM 690 SMC R concept bike, saying “I’d really love to see this bike come to reality and frankly speaking I don’t see why it cant become a reality. Heck any gear head worth his salt can build 95% of this bike from a KTM parts catalog.” That sounds to us like a challenge.

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Ducati Monster 848R Concept by Isaac Chavira

03/24/2011 @ 6:54 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Today we have a concept sketch that should appeal to A&R‘s Ducatisti readership, as Isaac Chavira brings us his rendition of a Ducati Monster 848R. The name sort of gives off what’s going on here, as Chavira has incorporated the 848’s superbike motor into a Monster chassis (a Monster 796 chassis to be exact).

While the Monster line has become Ducati’s air-cooled street machine, we like where Chivra’s head is at when explains his choice for using the 848 Superbike’s water-cooled motor: “As you’ll see I have given it a heart transplant stuffing the 848’s motor into the Monsters chassis. After all they gave it a menacing name, why not have the heart of a beast right?”

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KTM Supermoto Concept by anyaverageartist

03/22/2011 @ 6:46 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

We love us some concept bikes here at Asphalt & Rubber. While not all of them live in the realm of possibility, it’s interesting to see the ideas that come forth when people put pen to paper with reckless abandon. Motorcycling is about individual expression, which we often see exhibit itself in the way people modify their bikes after purchase.

If this customization process is the physical and practical manifestation of this idea, then concept sketches and renders are examples of the same act being done as purely a mental exercise. Luckily for us, Photoshop allows for just about anyone with the skillset to now create these concepts, which supplies us with a regular healthy dose of motorcycles to day-dream about.

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The Vegemite Honda RC212V by Morgan Driessen

03/18/2011 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Here’s some Friday eye candy for you, courtesy of Morgan Driessen. When Morgan isn’t out working on his multiple degrees in graphic design (he graduated with honors we might add), he’s likely jumping over things on his trials bicycle (training to compete in the world championship on that as well).

Now in the unlikely situation where you would be unable to find Morgan doing either of those afore mentioned things, then well he’s probably day dreaming about two-stroke racers, and putting pen to pad on a motorcycle designs. Today finds us catching the young Mr. Driessen at the latter, as he has done up some splendid drawings of alternative paint jobs and sponsorships for the Honda RC212V (above) and Yamaha YZR-M1 (after the jump).

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A Rainbow of MV Agusta F3 Colors

03/04/2011 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

As far as we can tell right now, you can get the 2012 MV Agusta F3 in just about any color you want, as long as it’s white & red. While the F3 looks good in the classic MV Agusta livery, that fact didn’t stop some Italian fanatics from photoshopping the bike into a variety of other color schemes MV has used over the years. Big ups to our commenters for pointing them out to us, you can find a gallery of the photoshops after the jump.

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Rendered: MV Agusta Brutale 675 B3

03/03/2011 @ 4:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Naturally with the new MV Agusta F3 supersport, which according to MV Agusta will be available in the Fall of 2011, comes the news that we’ll be seeing a naked version of the 675cc three-cylinder motorcycle. Dubbed the Brutalina by Castiglioni, the MV Agusta Brutale B3 675 seems a more appropriate and official name for the smaller Brutale, and is a sign the project is becoming more cohesive. While official details are still scarce, judging from how the larger predecessor compares to the venerable and iconic MV Agusta F4, we have some vague idea of how the Brutale B3 675 will compare to the now officially debuted F3.

Helping us form a more cohesive thought though is photoshop master Jérôme Vannesson, of French magazine Moto Revue, and thankfully he has done up some renders on what the MV Agusta Brutale B3 675 could look like. Vannesson’s work is flawless, and in the past he’s been spot on with the design cues used by the OEMs. Time will tell if MV Agusta follows Vannesson’s line of thought, but until the Brutale B3 unveils, we’ll have to drool over his renders instead. Check Moto Revue‘s site for all four of Vannesson’s photochops (we like the black and white bike with the red frame the most).

Source: Moto Revue