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.

Video: John McGuinness – A Life Behind the Bars

03/14/2017 @ 4:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We are eagerly awaiting the start of the 2017 Isle of Man TT, which is easily one of the greatest two-wheeled events on our calendar each year. The build-up to this year’s event is already well underway, and helping fuel our addiction are the folks over at Honda Pro Racing.

Big Red has already announced the return of John McGuinness to its team, and riding the new(ish) Fireblade with McPint will be the affable Guy Martin. The fruits of that pairing have already been apparent, which only adds to the spectacle that surrounds this iconic race.

On a more somber and serious note, Honda has put together another video – this time featuring the 23-time TT winner, John McGuinness. It is about 10 minutes long, so grab a beverage and enjoy McGuinness’ thoughts on racing one of the most demanding courses in motorsport.

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Dirt Bikes Persona Non Grata at Pikes Peak

03/07/2017 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

Dirt-focused machines will no longer be welcomed at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), says the race organizers.

With the change in the road surface and race course, the 2017 running of the “Race to the Clouds” will be the last one where competitors can use machinery that was originally intended to operate off-road.

How PPHIC will determine what is a prohibited machine is not really clear, with the press release stating only that “vehicles that were originally designed with the intention of competing on Pikes Peak’s traditional dirt surface” would no longer be allowed to race, after this year’s event.

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Michael Dunlop Racing A Suzuki GSX-R1000R at IOMTT

02/21/2017 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Michael Dunlop will be on an all-new machine for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, as the Northern Irishman has inked a deal that sees him on the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike for the North West 200, Isle of Man TT, and Ulster GP.

Confirming the news with Britain’s MCN, Dunlop says he will continue to ride with the Hawk Racing team in the Superbike class, with full-factory support from Yoshimura.

The deal also sees him campaigning another GSX-R1000R in the Superstock class under his MD Racing name, as well as a yet-to-be-determined Supersport model.

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The Dynamic Duo That Is John McGuinness & Guy Martin

01/24/2017 @ 12:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Honda Racing’s pairing of John McGuinness with Guy Martin is looking like a masterpiece right now. Not only are the two racers extremely fast around a road course, but they are also extremely entertaining to watch when off the track.

Sitting both McGuinness and Martin down for a chat about the upcoming season, Honda has put together a very entertaining video that shows the charismatic personalities of these two very different riders.

After some talk about favorite racing moments from the past, whether they fancy beer over tea, and other similar topics, things get down to brass tacks, with a baited conversation about who is the faster rider.

The interactions and exchanges between McGuinness and Martin are more than entertaining, so we think you will enjoy the long-ish video of them, after the jump.

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Guy Martin Returns to Road Racing with Honda

01/18/2017 @ 1:51 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Road Racing’s biggest personality is returning to the paddock, as Guy Martin has signed up with the factory Honda Racing team. Martin will be alongside John McGuinness, and the pair will compete in the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT on the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

The news is a welcomed announcement for those who missed Guy Martin’s presence in the road racing scene – the truck mechanic from Lincolnshire sat out the 2016 Isle of Man TT, and other racing events, choosing instead to take on some other projects, like a land speed record attempt at Bonneville.

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Tony Goldsmith’s Favorite Photos from 2016

01/04/2017 @ 12:14 pm, by Tony Goldsmith2 COMMENTS

Last year we covered a lot of motorcycle racing, and at many of those events Tony Goldsmith was the man swinging a lens for Asphalt & Rubber. We asked Tony to share some of his favorite snaps from 2016. We hope you enjoy them. -JB

As we look forward to the 2017 season I thought I’d share some of my favourites images from 2016. Above, the eyes of a man after a very fast lap at the Isle of Man TT.

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Trackside Tuesday: The Curse of Macau

12/13/2016 @ 11:06 am, by Tony Goldsmith12 COMMENTS

My journey to Macau for the 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix didn’t get off to the best of starts. I had just boarded my flight from Madrid to London, and discovered my tablet and laptop were missing from my bag.

After a few moments of panic, I came to the conclusion that they must have been stolen. I had spent three hours in the lounge at Madrid – someone must have taken them then.

It then slowly dawned on me what happened. When going through security, I had taken the laptop and tablet out of my bag as normal. After scanning my bag the security guy wanted all my camera gear out of the bag and sent me back.

I have no idea what makes Madrid security different to any other I have ever gone through, but obviously I wasn’t going anywhere if I didn’t do as instructed, so I emptied my gear into several trays and sent it back through.  

Once everything was cleared I packed all my gear back into my bag, but left my laptop and tablet behind!

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The 50th Macau Grand Prix with Tony Goldsmith

11/22/2016 @ 7:54 pm, by Tony Goldsmith5 COMMENTS

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/11/2016: Ivan Lintin at the 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix today. PICTURE BY TONY GOLDSMITH

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This gallery of photos came with a note from photographer Tony Goldsmith, apologizing that I was just now getting them, and also that they weren’t his usual “Gold Standard” of quality.

It turns out that when Tony left Valencia to go to Macau, his laptop took a different trip at the Madrid airport. This means that Tony wasn’t able to process his shots after the Macau GP ended, and also explains their late arrival to Asphalt & Rubber.

If you ask me, they look pretty damn good…as usual. Tony is a true talent with a camera, if you haven’t noticed already. I’ll let him tell the tale about this year’s Macau in the comment section though, but if the rumors are true, the full story involves a circus seal, a tube of toothpaste, and a pair of galoshes. -JB

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2016 Macau GP Race Results

11/19/2016 @ 7:06 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2016 Macau GP Race Results

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The following is a preview of how A&R Pro member accounts will see event results during the racing season. This article format will replace the regular race results posts on the Asphalt & Rubber article feed on the homepage and search results, allowing A&R Pro members to avoid race spoilers while reading the site.

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Peter Hickman Wins the 2016 Macau Grand Prix

11/19/2016 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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If you had an A&R Pro membership, the photo and headline of this post would be different, so as to avoid race spoilers. Instead, your race results would look like this post.

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