Mmm…Check This Suzuki GSX1100SD Katana Race Bike

I am young enough that most of what I can remember of the 1980s is skewed by the forming mind of a child, thankfully. New Coke, ponytails to the side, Cabbage Patch Kids…Alf – it is all a bad dream as far as I am concerned. The 1980s were a pretty good decade for motorcycles though. Two-strokes still reigned supreme in grand prix racing, and some of America’s best two-wheeled heroes were riding them. The only rider-aids that were available were things like handlebars and footpegs. Even then, racing a motorcycle was a pursuit full of perils. Mirroring this notion on the production side of things, the superbike was just starting to be born in earnest, with consumers able to buy fire-breathing monsters that tested the limits of chassis and tire design. A healthy dose of male bravado was involved in riding a motorcycle like a Katana.

Mega Gallery: 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans

Not only does the FIM EWC showcase several manufacturers, with strong race-winning potential each of the championship’s multiple iconic events, but it the series is the last great venue for a proper battle between the different tire brands. Add to that the fact that the Endurance World Championship is comprised not only of endurance specialists, but also with some of the top names from motorcycle racing, both in factory and satellite teams, and it’s easy to find a reason to cheer for a particular entry. The best part though might be the photography that comes from motorcycle racing, which often spans from daylight and into the darkness of night. This year’s 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans event was no different, and we have a bevy of photos to share with you from France.

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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #26 – Return of the Kickstands

08/03/2016 @ 1:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Episode 26 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out for your listening pleasure. To make up for a lack of shows the past few weeks, this episode is a two-part recap of the Jensen’s adventures in Italy, California, and North Carolina. As such, keep an eye out for Episode 27, which will be out later this week, to give you something extra to listen to over the weekend.

In the meantime, we are going to Tarantino the order of events, and talk first about Jensen’s most recent trip, the press launch for the Yamaha FZ-10 street bike, which he rode at The Tail of the Dragon.

The show starts with some current headlines though, talking first about MotoGP’s decision to ban winglets, Harley-Davidson’s rumored hostile takeover by a private equity firm, and Honda’s decision to abandon support of the supersport street segment.

Naturally, the guys find some rabbit holes to crawl down, along the way, which includes a discussion on the role of prototype racing, the oddity that is the “cripple triple” racing motorcycle, and the realities of a tiered licensing systems.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

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Some Photos from the 2016 Southern 100

07/31/2016 @ 11:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Our friend and photographer Stephen McClements was recently out at the Southern 100, that other road race that’s held each year at the Isle of Man.

Set in the scenic town of Castletown, the Southern 100 doesn’t run on the famous TT course, instead racers compete on the Billown Circuit.

Though it’s not as famous as the Isle of Man TT, the Southern 100 still manages to attract some recognizable names from the TT and Irish road racing championship.

For instance, this year’s race saw entries from Michael Dunlop, Dave Molyneux, Dean Harrison, Ivan Lintin, Dan Kneen, and James Cowton.

Stephen brought Asphalt & Rubber some great high-resolution photographs from the 2016 Southern 100, we hope you enjoy them, after the jump (above: Dan Kneen at the Church Bends stone wall).

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 25 – Mur-Diddly-Urdler

07/08/2016 @ 8:59 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Episode 25 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is an omnibus episode that covers a number of topics (we even had to cut a couple out, since the show went waaaay long).

We start the show with a discussion about Indian’s upcoming flat track racing effort, which will see Jared Mees helping develop a new Indian motor that was recently teased. We also talk about the new Husqvarna FS 450 supermoto and its cool go-fast parts (traction control, launch control, air forks, etc).

Fresh off the Isle of Man TT, we also look at the TT-styled road race that Australians are trying to organize near the Sunshine Coast. Our last news item see us talk about what the VerticalScope hack means for motorcycle forum enthusiasts.

We finish the show by trading stories about racing in the Baja 500, and Quentin’s adventures endurance racing an old clapped-out vintage MX bike. Both conversations somehow involve the mentioning of coconut water, strangely enough.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

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2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Motorcycle Results

06/27/2016 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Australia Considers TT-Style Road Race near Sunshine Coast

06/20/2016 @ 10:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It seems appropriate that just a week after the Isle of Man TT, we should be talking about efforts in Australia to host a similar event.

Dubbed the Sunshine Coast International TT (SCTT), the 29.2-mile race would center off of Australia’s Sunshine coast, near Brisbane, and could potentially bring in $8.5 million to the local economy.

The Sunshine Coast is already a popular destination for motorcyclists, among other types of tourists who flock to the area’s beaches and other topography.

While we have seen other proposals interested in taking the Isle of Man TT formula abroad, some at the whim of the Isle of Man government, the SCTT seems to have some legs, with two public hearings on the subject already held with locals and interested outsiders.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 24 – It’s A Brap

06/20/2016 @ 2:02 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Episode 24 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, for your podcasting pleasure. In this episode of the show, Quentin and I have a chat about the race week at the Isle of Man TT, which is split between talking about the races themselves, and the evolution of racing motorcycles.

We then focus our attention to my recent trip to Los Angeles, where I saw first-hand the 2017 Yamaha SCR950 and FZ-10 street bikes from Yamaha North America. Next, we talk about the second part of my trip, which involved riding the Energica Eva electric street bike.

To finish the show, Quentin talks about riding a motorcycle that belonged to a good friend, who died not too long ago. It’s an interesting story that involves a very special motorcycle and getting back out on the track. We think you’ll enjoy it, and the rest of the show.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

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Paddock Pass Podcast – Episode 30 – Isle of Man TT

06/16/2016 @ 11:51 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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A very special installment of the Paddock Pass Podcast, episode 30 takes us to the Isle of Man TT, where Steve and Tony have been for the past two weeks, covering this iconic road race. They are joined on the show by yours truly, where we have a detailed conversation about the fortnight’s activities, as well as the future of the TT.

The show also includes a lengthy interview with John McGuinness, who discusses what it’s like behind the scenes as a racer at the Isle of Man TT, and how he’s seen the TT change over his 20-year career at the Isle of Man. It’s a pretty frank and honest report from McPint, and surely worth a listen in its own regard.

The show is fairly long, even by PPP standards, but we think you will find it immensely enjoyable. Be warned though, if you haven’t been to the Isle of Man before, we are not responsible if this episode makes you book your ticket for next year’s TT.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

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Michael Dunlop Sets New TT Record: 133.962 MPH

06/11/2016 @ 1:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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To say that Michael Dunlop rode to an impressive win on Friday’s Senior TT, might be an understatement. While winning the Senior TT is his second TT race win for the 2016 Isle of Man TT, Dunlop’s true accomplishment can be found on the time sheets, with his record-breaking pace.

A fortnight of records dropping, this year’s Senior TT was no different, and Dunlop set not only the fastest lap of the Senior TT race, but also the fastest lap of any Senior TT race ever held at the Isle of Man TT: 133.962 mph.

This mark is also the fastest lap ever recorded during an Isle of Man TT race, and is the fastest outright lap ever at the Isle of Man TT. In other words, this is the new mark that all other riders will aspire to surpass in the coming years.

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Senior TT & Sidecar TT Race 2 with Tony Goldsmith

06/11/2016 @ 1:34 pm, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on Senior TT & Sidecar TT Race 2 with Tony Goldsmith

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John McGuinness claimed his 46th TT podium, with a 3rd place in the Senior TT.

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Ben & Tom Birchall at Signpost Corner, on their way to victory in the Sidecar TT Race 2.

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Bruce Anstey at Braddan Bridge.

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Two More Competitors Have Died at the Isle of Man TT

06/10/2016 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Again this fortnight, it is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of two competitors who died in separate incidents while at the Isle of Man TT. Ian Bell died during today’s Sidecar TT Race 2, and Andrew Soar who died during the Senior TT race.

Ian Bell, a 58-year-old from Bedlington, Northumberland, was killed in an incident at Ballaspur in the sidecar race. His passenger, who is also his son Carl, was uninjured in the crash.

The father-son team of Ian and Carl Bell dropped out of the Sidecar TT Race 1, after circulating in the 4th position, and were looking for a better result in Friday’s race. A distinguished TT racer, Ian Bell won the newcomers trophy in 1995, and had five podiums in his TT career, including a race win in 2003.

The day’s other fatality Andrew Soar, was a 32-year-old from Loughborough in Leicestershire. Andrew died at an incident at Keppel Gate.

He was an experienced TT competitor, and made his debut at the Isle of Man in the 2013 Manx Grand Prix, where he finished second in the Newcomers A and Senior MGP races.

He would go on to win the Senior MGP the next year, and make his Isle of Man TT debut in 2015. This year, Andrew retired in Lap 2 from the Superbike TT, though he would go on to finis 39th in the Supersport TT Race 1, 47th in the Superstock TT, and 32nd in the Supersport TT Race 2.

The TT paddock surely feels the loss of their presence today. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ian and Andrew’s family, friends, and fans.

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