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.

Ducati Monster 1200 Gets a Bevy of Updates for 2017

11/11/2016 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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At the 2016 EICMA show, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali said that so many changes had come to the 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 line, that the updated motorcycles were effectively all-new machines.

We are not so certain about that, but you cannot deny that the Monster 1200 gets a sizable update for the 2017 model year.

At the head of those changes is a revised Testastretta 11° DS v-twin engine for the 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 and 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 S, which makes 150hp and 93 lbs•ft of torque.

As a result, this means that the base model Ducati Monster 1200 gets a 15hp increase, while the Ducati Monster 1200 S gets a 5hp bump. The Monster 1200 R continues to lead the line with its 160hp unit, and all three Monster 1200 variants are now Euro4 compliant.

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Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – Got Roost?

11/07/2016 @ 9:53 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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As expected for EICMA, Ducati has two new models to add to its Scrambler sub-brand, the first being the 2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – a long-suspension Scrambler model with some added off-road chops.

The name is of note, giving a nod to the scrambler-style street bikes that competed in events like the iconic LA-Barstow-Vegas races several decades ago.

Picking up on that vintaged past, Ducati has unsurprisingly created its own modern riff on the dirt sled style, and produced a proper scrambler at the same time.

Now with five models in its Scrambler lineup, Ducati finally has a machine that is ready to get its feet properly dirty. We expect this bike to be a big hit with a wide gamut of riders who are looking for back-to-basics dual-sport machines.

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Ducati 1299 Superleggera Priced at $80,000

10/26/2016 @ 10:31 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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When news of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera started to leak out of Italy, we knew that the second “super light” from Borgo Panigale would command a price increase over its 1199 counterpart, and now we know by how much.

Reliable sources have told Asphalt & Rubber that the Ducati 1299 Superleggera will cost $15,000 more than its predecessor, meaning you will need a cool $80,000 to own one of these limited-production superbikes.

While there will be some sticker shock to that price tag, loyal Ducatisti should remember that the Desmosedici RR retailed for $72,500 back in 2008, which when adjusted for inflation, would be $81,000 in 2016 dollars.

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More Photos of the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6

10/13/2016 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will know how much we like our high-resolution photos here at A&R, so we wanted to make sure you could get a good high-res look at the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 that debuted today at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida.

Yamaha has left its class-leading bike mostly unchanged for the next model year, when it comes to the R6 motor and chassis, which might disappoint some. But with the addition of R1-inspired styling, traction control, ABS brakes, and better suspension pieces, we think supersport fans will be pleased with this update.

With the bar now set higher in the 600cc realm, hopefully we will see other manufacturers take up the challenge, and the supersport class will have new life breathed into it.

We’ll have to wait and see on that. Until then, enjoy this modest photo gallery.

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The Yamaha FZ-09 Gets More Aggressive for 2017

10/13/2016 @ 8:27 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha FZ-09 will follow it European counterpart, the Yamaha MT-09, for the 2017 model year – getting an “upgrade” to its styling, along with a few performance enhancements.

Yes, this means the face that only a mother can love is coming to US soil; but on the bright side, it’s bringing with it traction control, fully adjustable forks, and anti-locking brakes.

The new headlight assembly features four LED headlamps, with other styling changes being made to the tail section, radiator shrouds, air scoops, and license plate mount (now on the swingarm).

Yamaha hopes that this styling effort will appeal to younger buyers, while the added features will appeal to more pragmatic buyers. Like on the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6, a quickshifter can be added as an optional accessory item, at the dealership.

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2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Gets ABS, Traction Control, & More

10/13/2016 @ 7:23 am, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

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The wait is finally over, as the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 debuted today at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida. As expected, the new Yamaha R6 visually borrows from the recently updated R1, with a similar headlight and intake setup featuring now on both machines.

On the technical side of things, the 2017 Yamaha R6 is more evolution than revolution, with the basic chassis and engine configuration staying the same.

However, updates for 2017 include a revised suspension package, ABS brakes, riding modes via ride-by-wire, traction control, and an optional quickshifter.

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New Base Model Honda CBR1000RR to Debut at EICMA

10/10/2016 @ 6:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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If the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP is a little out your superbike budget, with its roughly $20,000 price tag (actual MSRP to be confirmed soon), then you will be happy to hear that a base model version of the updated CBR1000RR will be debuting at the upcoming EICMA show in November.

There is no word on the base model Honda CBR1000RR beyond the bike’s debut, at this moment, though we can make some guesses about what to expect from Big Red in Milan, based off what we’ve seen with SP and SP2 models.

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Ducati SuperSport Priced at $13,000 for the USA

10/06/2016 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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If were to judge things by traffic on Asphalt & Rubber alone, the new Ducati SuperSport was the bike of the 2016 INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany. The return of a cult classic, it seems Ducati has successfully tapped into the vein that made the original so well-loved.

Releasing pricing for the US market today, there might be more to love about new SuperSport and its up-spec SuperSport S sibling, as both bikes come with attractive price tags.

As such, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport will MSRP for $12,995 in the USA, while the 2017 Ducati SuperSport S will come with a sticker price of $14,795 MSRP.

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Pure & Simple, Here is the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure

10/04/2016 @ 2:36 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Ever since we saw its name published in the California Air Resources Board documents, we have been speculating what could be “pure” about the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure motorcycle. Today, at INTERMOT, we get that answer.

We might be mildly disappointed that the BMW Lac Rose Concept is not one of the two new models for the trade show in Germany, though it shouldn’t surprise us to see that BMW is taking another styling exercise with its R nineT platform – albeit a more simple one, this time around.

One of two new bikes based off the air-cooled BMW R nineT platform for 2017, the BMW R nineT Pure is supposed to harken back to a more classic time for motorcycles.

An extension of the heritage line that BMW is creating with the R nineT, the Pure and Racer two sides of an older coin.

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2017 Montesa Trials Bikes Available in the USA

09/16/2016 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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American Honda will once again be importing a range of Honda-powered Montesa trials bikes into the USA, which is music to our ears. As such, both the  and the 2017 2017 Montesa Cota 300RR will be available for order at Honda dealerships.

For the 2017 model year, the Montesa Cota 4RT260 gets mostly bold new graphics, though it does have a longer kickstarter lever, for easier starts. The Montesa Cota 300RR (above), however, gets more substantial changes for this coming model year

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