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.

Rumor: Race-Only 450cc BMW/Husqvarna Bike Coming?

11/28/2012 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Italy’s motorcycle publication of record, Motociclismo, is reporting that BMW Motorrad is developing a 450cc race bike for youth racers. Said to be a ground-up design that centers around a single-cylinder motor that will likely be prepared by Husqvarna, the BMW race bike would feature a frame built in Bologna, Italy with “racing” suspension, forged wheels, and carbon fiber bodywork.

With pricing to be in the €20,000 range, BMW hopes that its 450cc cup bike will appeal to 15 to 18-year-old riders, and is formulating a racing series that will piggyback off six select World Superbike and British Superbike rounds. As such, BMW’s proposal appears to be in direct competition with the European Junior Cup (EJC), which will use the Honda CBR500R as its spec-machine for the 2013 season.

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First Look at the Honda CBR500R Race Bike

11/13/2012 @ 4:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

With the debut of the 2013 Honda CBR500R street bike, Honda has somehow managed to get the 500cc parallel twin budget bike to be the weapon of choice in the European Junior Cup — displacing the KTM 690 Duke from its racing duty. A grooming series for World Superbike Racing, the EJC series is a cost-effective way to get young future stars on bikes and in front of the people that could make or break their careers.

Hoping to give the CBR500R a bit more performance cred, something the 47hp machine might need to appeal to new riders who have to adhere to the A2 License requirements, but still want a proper “sport bike” for their first ride. As such, the Honda CBR500R race bike was debuted at EICMA today, and even got a little star power from one Jonathan Rea. Photos and video after the jump.

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HRC’s Honda CBR250R Cup Bike

06/08/2012 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

In Japan, Honda has a nice spec-series brewing that features the new Honda CBR250R sport bike. Naturally for the cup race there needs to be a racing version of the CBR250R, and HRC has happily obliged. Nothing too fancy, after all this is supposed to be an entry-level series, but the HRC CBR250R racer features race bodywork sans lights and signals, as well as a fully-adjustable ECU that has come pre-loaded with various HRC fuel and ignition maps.

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First Look: KTM Moto3 Race Bike

10/06/2011 @ 6:52 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

KTM has finally given us a glimpse into its Moto3 class race bike, showing renders of the bike to journalists assembled at the company’s Hangar 7 press event. The Austrian company also officially showed its Moto3 race motor, and for those expecting to see a repurposed SX motor for the 250cc four-stroke Grand Prix racing series, abolish that thought. For the inaugural 2012 racing season for GP racing’s entry-level series, the Austrian company has started from scratch when approaching its Moto3 development.

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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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Brammo Encite – Electric Mini Moto MMX Racer

05/04/2011 @ 4:01 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Brammo Encite – Electric Mini Moto MMX Racer

Another model announced during Brammo’s intention to get into the electric dirt bike scene is the Brammo Encite. Like its larger cousin the Brammo Engage, the pre-production Encite is based off the S.M.R.E. prototype electric motorcycle, which features the six-speed Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET). Seemingly designed with racing in mind, Brammo will be entering its Encite MMX into the upcoming AMA Mini Moto SX event being held in Las Vegas — a story we broke last week.

A purpose-built race bike, there is no word on pricing yet for the pint-sized Encite, likely due to the fact that Brammo wants to gauge interest on the machine, and perhaps judge whether the mini-moto can be built in an affordable enough manner. Despite this setback, interested buyers can pre-order a Brammo Encite from the company’s webpage — Christmas is only seven months away after all.

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Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

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Vyrus 986 M2 – Soon to Infect Moto2 & Showroom Floors

01/13/2011 @ 7:16 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

You remember Vyrus right? The company that makes the Vyrus 987 C3 4V…the Bimota Tesi look-alike with a Ducati 1198 motor, hub-steering, and a supercharger? Not willing to rest on its laurels as having “the most powerful production motorcycle in the world” (211hp gets you that title), the small Italian boutique firm seems set to enter Moto2 racing with its new Vyrus 986 M2 race bike, whose preliminary concept photo has just leaked out of the Rimini factory.

Taking the idea of prototype racing to its fullest dimension with its hub-center steering design, perhaps the only thing more exciting than the prospect of seeing a few of these Vyrus 986 M2’s at 18 of motorcycling’s best venues, is the prospect that a road-based version of the machine could be siting in our garage later this year (assuming we could afford such things). Details after the jump.

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Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica: 200hp, 175kg, €50,000

05/10/2010 @ 4:19 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Aprilia has confirmed that the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica will not be available for purchase directly in the US, and is bought directly from Aprilia Racing in Italy. The Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica is also upgradeable via Aprilia Racing’s catalog, which means gear-driven cam shafts, Biaggi swingarms, and all the other fun go-fast parts that are “publicly” available to meet WSBK regulations.

Well the rumors were true, as the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica was launched this weekend at the World Superbike races being held at Monza, Italy. Boasting the goodies found on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 race bike, the RSV4 Biaggi Replica has an astounding 200hp motor strapped to its anorexic 175kg (385lbs wet sans fuel) frame. For that level of performance, you can expect some sticker shock, and the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica is no exception. Owning this true race replica will set you back €50,000, but it’s totally worth it, right? Photos and more after the jump.

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Erik Buell Racing Prices Announced

05/09/2010 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has released pricing details on its EBR 1125R DSB, EBR 1125RR, and EBR 1190RR race motorcycles. In addition to these models, Erik Buell Racing also has a few track bikes that are available for sale. Prices after the jump.

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