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.

Saturday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/23/2011 @ 11:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Saturday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

Lorenzo Cleared to Race after Free Practice Crash

07/23/2011 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Jorge Lorenzo had a spectacle of a highside during the cooldown lap after MotoGP’s Free Practice 3, sending the Spanish rider into the air and his Yamaha YZR-M1 motorcycle tumbling after him. Stopping to do a practice start, the traction control on Lorenzo’s M1 was disabled, which is normal during such an event. Failing to re-engage the TC system after his start by downshifting (as would happen going into Turn 1 after a start), Lorenzo entered the next turn without his rider aids.

Cracking the throttle wide-open on the corner exit (as is the custom now with GP bikes), the Yamaha recieved full-power to the rear wheel, resulting in the accident. Hitting the ground hard, Lorenzo recieved further injury from his M1 also colliding with him, resulting in the Spaniard grabbing his knee and being slow to get up from the gravel trap. Helped off the track by corner workers, Lorenzo was already recovering from the incident by the time he got to the Clinca Mobile.

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Twelve Entries for the FIM/TTXGP Round at Laguna Seca

07/21/2011 @ 10:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

After seeing a flop of a round at Infineon earlier this year with four, then three entries racing on the two race days, it would seem that some good has come from the FIM and TTXGP playing nice with each other, as twelve entries have been listed for the upcoming electric motorcycle race. Poised to be perhaps the best e-moto race to date, we have virtually all the major players in the electric motorcycle production, technology, and racing gig as entrants for the event (noticeably absent are Zero Motorycles and the “banned” Chip Yates).

Other notable notations include Lightning fielding two bikes, one in each TTXGP class, as well as eCRP entering two bikes in the open class. It also looks like Michael Czysz will be once again riding again on-board his 2011 MotoCzysz E1pc, personally defending his victory at last year’s Laguna Seca gathering. Find all twelve entries for the FIM/TTXGP round listed after the jump.

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Jorge Lorenzo: Japan Yes, Motegi No

07/21/2011 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you live from Laguna Seca for the rest of the week and weekend, and upon our arrival at the historic Californian track, we had a moment to talk to Jorge Lorenzo about his recent statement that he would not race at Motegi, even before Dorna’s independent safety review of the Japanese track was published.

Responding to the criticism that his statement ran counter to the “With You Japan” message Yamaha and the rest of the MotoGP paddock have been showing, Lorenzo made his position clear that he was for Japan, but not Motegi. Perhaps hinting that another circuit should be chosen for the Japanese GP.

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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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You’re Doing it Wrong!

07/28/2010 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Emptying out the memory cards from the Red Bull US GP weekend, we came across a few blooper shots that we just had to share with you (like this one of Aleix Espargaró re-enacting “The Pass” that Rossi pulled on Stoner in the 2008 US GP). We often place MotoGP riders on a pedestal, looking to them as gods, but it’s good every now and then to remind ourselves that they are mortal men after all. Flip through this short series of photos after the jump for a couple of laughs.

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2010 US GP Laguna Seca MotoGP Infographic

07/28/2010 @ 6:01 am, by Peter Lombardi4 COMMENTS

Friday Report from Laguna Seca: The Newbs Meet the Corkscrew – Corkscrew Wins

07/24/2010 @ 7:59 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Our in-person coverage of the Red Bull US GP continues, as the MotoGP paddock finally takes to Laguna Seca for the first time this week. The weather is perfect, the track is perfect, and the riders? Well with some meeting the crucible that is “the corkscrew” for the first time, we’re seeing some interesting lines through the famous turn. A testament to how tough of a nut Laguna Seca is to crack, Saturday we expect to see the MotoGP rider rise to the occasion, and show why they’re the best of the best.

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Thursday Report from Laguna Seca: Rossi Considers WSBK, Stoner Displeased w/ Bridgestone, Hayden Has a Miscommunication

07/23/2010 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Sleep is a luxury in the MotoGP paddock. Sunburned, tired, and still with only a rudimentary understanding of Italian, we’re slogging our way through the paddock talking to teams and riders. We’ll try to pick out individual stories during the day…but no promises. Instead you’ll find a daily digest coming your way each morning from the previous day, which will touch on the day’s major events.

Head over to MotoMatters.com if you want more in-depth coverage (or click on the links in the digest), as David Emmett will be making sense of our sloppy handwriting and noisy audio clips, and turning it into MotoGP gold. Thursday’s digest after the jump.

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Asphalt & Rubber @ Laguna Seca

07/22/2010 @ 4:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS
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