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.

Piaggio Gita, An Autonomous Two-Wheeler for the Future

02/09/2017 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

When you think of the Piaggio Group, in terms of its two-wheeled creations, your thoughts probably conjure up images of motorcycles made by Aprilia or Moto Guzzi, or maybe a scooter with a Vespa badge on it.

Surely, the Gita is not what first comes first to your mind, but it might be the most impactful idea from the Italian brand to-date.

Sure, the brightly colored self-balancing rolling cylinder doesn’t seem like much of a novel creation, even with its ability to follow its owner, or autonomously navigate a prescribed route. But then again, you have probably been carrying stuff around in our arms, or on your back, like a big sucker.

Capable of hauling 40 lbs in what looks like a sizable bin, the Piaggio Gita has huge implications for the disabled or elderly, but it also could change the way the status quo carries and transports things in the future.

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Aprilia Racing Making a Return to MotoGP for the 2016 Season — Just in Time for a Rule Change?

11/05/2013 @ 10:43 am, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

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There is a lot of fascinating news coming out of this week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan: the boom in smaller capacity motorcycles, an upgraded Fireblade, a massive push from MV Agusta, but the show is also making headlines which will affect motorcycle racing as well.

Today at the EICMA, during a presentation on Aprilia’s future plans, Piaggio CEO Roberto Colaninno announced that the Italian manufacturer is aiming to make a return to the MotoGP class as a factory entry in 2016.

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Recall: Moto Guzzi Griso, Norge, & Stelvio

08/12/2013 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Recall: Moto Guzzi Griso, Norge, & Stelvio

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Piaggio Group Americas is recalling certain model year 2012-2013 Moto Guzzi Griso, Moto Guzzi Norge, and Moto Guzzi Stelvio motorcycles because of a manufacturing fault in the rear suspension connecting links, which could fracture and collapse the rear suspension.

Affecting 680 units in total, the bikes in question are Stelvio NTX 1200 motorcycles manufactured February 6, 2012 through April 10, 2013, Norge 1200 motorcycles manufactured January 25, 2012 through March 21, 2013, and Griso 1200 motorcycles manufactured January 26, 2012 through April 29, 2013.

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A&R’s EICMA 2012 Best in Show: Vespa 946

11/16/2012 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

It is no easy feat in picking the very “best” from a wide array of motorcycles, like we have to do here with the 2012 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. How do you compare an adventure-touring bike to a sport bike, and then declare one better than the other? As you can imagine, the comparison is very much an exercise in measuring apples to oranges.

If our metric of choice was simply based on how much buzz was generated here on Asphalt & Rubber, and on the various social media networks as a whole, then the clear winner would be the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype. With a bored-out RC8 R motor that makes 180hp, the KTM surely performs as good as it look, and it looks quite delectable indeed.

Maybe the best bike of the show should go to the now water-cooled Ducati Hypermotard, or its touring variant the Ducati Hyperstrada. Doing away with the air-cooled DesmoDue design of Pierre Terblanche, the 2013 Hypers are a new chapter for Ducati, and just further proof that there are no sacred cows in the Borgo Panigale factory. Speaking of Panigales, we also have to consider the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, of course if that conversation is to occur, then we have to also include the Aprilia RSV4 Factory ABS.

You see it is no easy feat to pick the “Best in Show” at EICMA, and in even our short thought-process above, there are names that are glaringly omitted. What makes the process possible however is when a new model comes along, and clearly outshines everything else — such is the case with the Vespa 946.

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Three Moto Guzzi V7 Models Coming to America for 2013

09/26/2012 @ 9:16 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

For the new model year, Moto Guzzi is bringing three variations of its V7 line to the United States with includes the 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone, 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer, and 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Special. Based around the Italian company’s revised 750cc 90° longitudinally mounted v-twin motor, all three models also sport a cardan-shaft drive and double-cradle “Tonti” frame, for that classic Guzzi retro look.

The three Moto Guzzi V7 models should be popular with riders who are looking for a throw-back aesthetic, with a bit more modern engineering. That being said, Moto Guzzi has struggled for traction in the US market, due in part to an inadequate supply/support chain, but also because of some confusing marketing and segment placement.

While the Piaggio Group subsidiary struggles to find its identity, we think the company should further explore bikes like the V7, which provides a unique alternative to the standard modern-bike fare, and creates a bit of distance between Moto Guzzi and the rest of the Piaggio Group line-up.

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Moto Guzzi Sportbike Concept by Luca Bar Design

03/28/2012 @ 1:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

We are big fans of Luca Bar’s imagination and what comes from the stylus of Luca Bar Designs, and today just reinforces that point further. Drafting a Moto Guzzi sportbike concept, Luca has created a very eye-catching design that takes the longitudinal v-twin motor and places it into a modern sportbike chassis.

With the frame design and tail section borrowed from the Aprilia RSV4, the front-end incorporates a Hossack suspension system, instead of the customary fork tubes. The single-sided swingarm is a nice touch, and of course everyone loves carbon fiber bodywork.

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Paolo Timoni Out at Piaggio Group Americas

03/10/2011 @ 8:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

It’s been bad year so far for motorcycle industry CEO’s in the United States, as we hear the Piaggio Group is having a shake-up of their own. After six years with the Italian company, Paolo Timoni is stepping down from his position as President & CEO of the Piaggio Groups Americas office, and will be replaced by Miguel Martinez. Martinez is the former General Manager of Piaggio Spain, and will report directly to Stefano Sterpone, Executive Vice President EMEA & Americas 2-Wheeler Sales & Marketing.

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Pierre Terblanche Leaves Piaggio for Norton

01/13/2011 @ 9:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

While Norton Motorcycles finds itself currently in the middle of a relaunch period, having recently resurrected the brand at its Donington Park headquarters, being widely rumored to contend in MotoGP for the 2012 season, and just a month ago announcing that it would return to the North American motorcycle market, more changes seem in store for the historic British company. Announced today was the surprise move that sees famed South African motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche moving from Piaggio, where he was working on revamping the Moto Guzzi line, to Norton Motorcycles.

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2011 Pricing and Availability for Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, & Piaggio Motorcycles and Scooters

12/28/2010 @ 12:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The North American distributor for the Piaggio Group (PGA) has released pricing and availability info for the company’s 2011 range of motorcycles and scooters for the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, and Piaggio brands. While most of the scooters are immediately available, many of the big bikes will come in the first half or middle of 2011. Noticeably absent from the pricing and availability sheet are the 2011 Aprilia Tuono V4 R & 2011 Aprilia RS4 125, but the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory SE ($22,499 MSRP/mid-2011) is listed along with the base model RSV4 R ($15,000/mid-2011). Check after the jump for a full breakdown of prices and availability times.

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Piaggio to Rebuild Canadian Dealer Network

06/09/2010 @ 6:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

After moving its Canadian distribution to its United States office last year, the Piaggio Group is pledging to improve its Canadian dealer network and customer relations. The move out of Canada, which reportedly has spurned law suits, is just one example of the major problems Piggio is experiencing in North America, as even the United States office isn’t exactly known for its great dealer support and customer service (just ask your local Aprilia owner how long it takes to get replacement parts).

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