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.

Nicky Hayden Riding the Indy Mile

09/01/2010 @ 9:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

If you weren’t in Indianapolis for the Indy GP, you certainly missed one of the better side events of the weekend: The Lucas Oil Indy Mile AMA Flat Track Grand National. It’s hard to make riding on packed dirt at breakneak speeds with no brakes more exciting, but throw in former flat track Champion Nicky Hayden, the entire Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and a contract announcement and you have the makings for a very special event.

With Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio on-stage to announce Hayden’s new two-year contract, motorcycle racing fans got to see their homeboy do good. Helping celebrate the event, Hayden took to the track with his steel boot, and held nothing back for his loyal followers.

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Sunday at Indianapolis with Jason Yu

08/30/2010 @ 5:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ducati Pulling Out of WSBK in 2011

08/27/2010 @ 7:12 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

After being unable to achieve the racing regulations in World Superbike that it desires, Ducati has announced that it has officially pulled out of WSBK racing in order to focus its technical efforts on MotoGP racing, and bringing new technology to its street motorcycles. While Ducati Corse will continue to provide motorcycles and support to private teams, the Italian company will not field a factory team in the 2011 season.

Although Xerox is apparently still game to foot the bill for Ducati’s WSBK effort, the title sponsor only wishes to do so if the factory team is winning races. This goal becomes increasingly more difficult for Ducati, who is finding the current 1198 Superbike not on equal footing performance-wise with the inline-four Japanese Superbikes. Closing the performance gap for Ducati means either the simple fix of adding larger throttle bodies to the existing race package, or the expensive choice of developing the 1198 motor further.

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Question Marks for MotoGP in America for 2011

08/02/2010 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Rumors have been swelling for the past few months about the state of MotoGP in the United States, as both Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Motor Speedway were up for contract renewal with Dorna and the FIM. Laguna Seca has always been the more popular American venue for MotoGP, and during the Red Bull US GP stop, the famous Californian track and the premiere motorcycle series again solidified their relationship, extending the GP’s presence at Laguna Seca into 2014. But what fate bestills IMS and the timing of the US GP weekends after 2010?

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The Countdown to V-Day

07/29/2010 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.

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Sunday at Laguna Seca by Scott Jones

07/26/2010 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Aprilia RSV4 Gear Driven Camshaft Good For 3-5HP

07/01/2010 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

After getting the nod to use their gear driven camshaft in World Superbike racing (shown above is the Aprilia’s belt driven camshaft), Aprilia has become a tour de force on the WSBK grid. Aprilia first used the gear driven cams in race environment while at the Miller Motorsports Park round, much to the protest of the other teams.

Aprilia and Max Biaggi have been on a bender since the new camshaft’s implementation, with the Aprilia RSV4 going double-double (no, not that Double-Double) and winning every race since the gear driven camshaft was installed on the race bike.

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Garry McCoy Leaves FB Corse

06/07/2010 @ 7:42 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Garry McCoy announced this weekend that he has left FB Corse, presumably after the MotoGP team failed to develop its racing effort in any meaningful way. Beleagured from the start with lofty goals and un-true press releases, FB Corse has struggle both technically and financially to get on the MotoGP grid. After suffering a setback of not being given the green light to race while testing  at Valencia, FB Corse seemed determined to make at least a few wild card appearances this season.

Now with McCoy resigning from the team, the MotoGP paddock expects this to be the end of the Italian racing project (editor’s note: FB Corse has already removed its photos from its flickr stream). Of course knowing Franco Uncini and the FB Corse spin machine, we may still see another press release or two in the future from the Italian racing effort. McCoy’s official statement after the jump, best of luck to you Garry.

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Moto3 Coming to Replace 125GP in 2012?

06/01/2010 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

MCN is reporting that the days of 125GP may be numbered as Dorna and the FIM get ready to replace the small displacement GP series with what’s being called the new Moto3 race class. Drawing from the formula found in Moto2, Moto3 features prototype bikes with 250cc four-stroke single-cylinder motors. However instead of a single-spec motor rule, as found in Moto2, Moto3 appears to be open to multiple engine manufacturers.

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Get Ready for Miller Motorsports Park – Re-Watch All the World Superbike Races Here

05/24/2010 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The countdown to Memorial Day weekend is alive and well in the Asphalt & Rubber office this week (in fact our web designer already took off for Amsterdam…no good can come from that). As we Americans get ready for a three-day weekend (four-days if you played your vacation/sick days right), one of the highlights that we can look forward to is World Superbike’s sole stop in the US at the Miller Motorsports Park.

Helping get us ready for the only WSBK race to occur on a Monday, we’ve gotten ahold of all the past WSBK races, and put them into one post so you can re-cap the 2010 season to-date. Ok, ok, World Superbike put them up on YouTube, and we copy/pasted the clips into this post…but still, it’s a great way to re-live the WSBK season before it hits MMP, or to just catch a race you missed. Kyalami above, Monza, Assen, Valencia, Portimao, and Phillip Island after the jump. Enjoy!

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