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.

Here’s a Custom Ducati XDiavel by Roland Sands Design

08/15/2016 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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In the event’s 76-year history, this year marks the first time that Ducati has ever participated at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – the Italian company hoping to showcase its Harley-Davidson alternative, the Ducati XDiavel.

Helping fuel that fire was a collaboration between Roland Sands Design and Ducati, which has given way to the creation of a one-off XDiavel with the usual RSD touches.

This means a flowing single-piece body, the addition of a 19″ front wheel, and shotgun-style exhaust are added to the already stylish XDiavel. The RSD Ducati XDiavel is then finished off with metallic flake paint job, along with the usual bits and bobs from the RSD catalog.

There is a lot of “Southern California” transmitted through RSD’s design into the Italian-born XDiavel. It makes for an interesting mixture. We’ll be curious to see how this resonates with American cruiser riders.

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Roland Sands Crashes Bike into Crowd at Sturgis

08/08/2016 @ 1:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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During an event at the Buffalo Chip venue at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, masses gathered to see former-racer, bike designer, and motorcycle lifestyle brand purveyor Roland Sands. Unfortunately for all of those involved, the debut didn’t go quite as planned.

As the video after the jump shows, Roland rides his Hooligan race bike onto the stage (not the new Indian Scout FTR750, as had been reported earlier)…and then right off of it, and into the watching crowd. Right before the bike goes off the stage, you can hear someone say that the bike has no front brakes.

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Yamaha XSR900 Adds to Yamaha’s Sport-Heritage Range

11/16/2015 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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If you’ve ever wondered what the FZ-09 would look like as a café racer, the Yamaha XSR900 is it. Fresh off its EICMA debut, the 2016 Yamaha XSR900 is the Japanese brand’s attempt to build out its “sport-heritage” line. That is to say, it’s Yamaha’s attempt to appeal to the skinny jean and beard crowd.

That’s about all the hate we can muster for the Yamaha XSR900 though – probably because we used it all up earlier on the Yamaha MT-10 – but truthfully, Yamaha’s appeal to the “heritage demographic” feels a lot more genuine than say, a certain Italian brand that also debuted a hipster bike today.

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BMW Motorrad Concept 101 – Six Cylinders of Bagger

05/22/2015 @ 11:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Released today at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Lake Como, Italy, the BMW Motorrad Concept 101 is a six-cylinder bagger aimed at the American market. Using the K1600 platform as a base, BMW once again enlisted the help of Roland Sands to build a concept, this time one that was suitable for touring on America’s highways.

The name “Concept 101” comes from the 1,649cc displacement, which clocks in at roughly 101 cubic inches. BMW says that the name is also an homage to Highway 101, which isn’t far from BMW’s design studio in Southern California, where this bike was conceived.

“The Concept 101 opens up a new chapter in the history of our concept bikes. It is the BMW Motorrad interpretation of endless highways and the dream of freedom and independence – the perfect embodiment of ‘American touring’. Designing this big touring bike study was amazingly exciting for us because we haven’t been involved with a motorcycle concept like this before. To me, the Concept 101 is the epitome of elegance, power and luxury on two wheels,” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of BMW Motorrad Design.

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A BMW Scrambler Cometh?

04/20/2015 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It appears that BMW Motorrad wants in on the retro-styled scrambler game that Ducati and Triumph are playing, and is looking to use its R nineT platform to do the job.

The scrambler model, which has already been previewed to BMW’s European dealers, would be just the first of several budget-oriented models to come from BMW, all of which would be based off the BMW R nineT.

The scrambler is expected to debut later this year with its 100hp air-cooled engine, while the other models, namely a café racer model, will come in 2016.

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Roland Sands “Hypermodifies” the 2012 Yamaha Tmax 530

11/12/2012 @ 6:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

What happens when you give Southern Californian bike builder Roland Sands few instructions beyond “build something cool”? and a 2012 Yamaha Tmax 530? You get one of the most pimped out Tmax scooters ever seen…and that is saying a lot. A popular choice with bike tuners and builders in both Europe and Japan, the Yamaha Tmax 530 hasn’t caught on here in the “scooters are for girls” United States of America.

Based around a 46hp 530cc parallel-twin motor, the Tmax 530 has some pep underneath its feet-forward design. Disguised as docile scooter, the Yamaha Tmax is no stranger to shedding its clothes for some performance persusasion, and Roland Sands has tapped into that vein of the Tmax here with his build, which will debut at EICMA tomorrow.

A “hypermodified” 2012 Yamaha Tmax 530, Sands has his usual touches in the machine, which is both a tasteful and raw representation of the looming scooter apocalypse. If Mad Max rode a scooter, this might be it. We love the tan leather seat with its subtle beige stitching, and of course the “braaaaaap” of the baffle-less exhaust. More photos after the jump.

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Roland Sands Desmo Tracker Begins to Take Form

07/08/2011 @ 8:13 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

We’ve had our fair share of controversial articles here on Asphalt & Rubber, with some posts dealing with hot-button topics, while others were designed to stir the pot a bit. Usually though we know what sort of trouble we’re getting ourselves into, even before the first comment is left by a reader, but no article caught us by surprise more than our initial coverage of Roland Sands’s latest custom project: the RSD Desmo Tracker. A flat track bike with a Desmosedici RR heart, there’s something about taking the MotoGP replica and turning it into a steel-shoe racer that elicits a very visceral response from Ducatisti and flat trackers alike.

Maybe it’s because those two parts of the motorcycle world are just that far apart — one is reserved for dentists having a mid-life crisis, and the other for back-woods hillbillies that can only turn left. Maybe it’s because people think that if you own a $40,000 Desmosedici RR, the last thing you should be doing with the machine is making it something else. There’s no doubt that Desmo is the sort of thing little boys put posters of on their bedroom wall, so does tampering with Bologna’s GP opus change that childhood fantasy?

We could delve into this topic further, but I doubt we’d get very far in the conversation. I will say this though, just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a bike by its build progress. That being said, this post is one of those articles that we see trouble brewing a mile away. A friendly reminder: the comments section is below, near the bottom of the page.

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Another Day in the Roland Sands Office

05/10/2011 @ 4:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Making custom bikes of his choosing in Southern California is pretty lush gig, and helping prove the point that we should give up this crazy blogging lifestyle, Roland Sands Design has come up with this “typical day in the office” video. Tracking a promotional photo shoot that starts in the RSD shop, and ends in some apocalyptic industrial park, there’s a bevy of women, motorcycles, and Roland.

After crushing a small mutiny here in the office (we must not have enough bikes for our decor here in the A&R office), we can share with you  the video of a typical day in the Roland Sands Design office. Employers beforewarned as your workforce may start complaining of unfair working conditions. Employees beware, not all the scenes here are strictly work safe.

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Roland Sands Talks about Bell Helmets

01/17/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

We’ve had more than a few Bell Helmets rolling around the A&R office these past months, and one of the things we’ve really liked from this American-based company is how it has teamed up with notable designers from inside and outside of the motorcycle industry to bring attractive and fresh looks to consumers. While it’s been the Bell Star and Vortex that have been keeping our brains firmly in-between our ears, it’s the designs by Roland Sands and Jona Cerwinske that have been attracting us to Bell, and propelling the company back into the motorcycle helmet market as a whole.

Taking some time to talk to Roland Sands at his new Southern California shop, Bell Helmets has put together this short video with the former motorcycle racer turned designer. While Bell and RSD are obviously out to hock the new gold-leaf-over-carbon fiber “Speed Freak” helmet they’ve created for 2011, Roland has some interesting stories about his process and growing up around motorcycles…the photography is spectacular too boot.

With Bell in the process of restoring its name after having its motorcycle helmet division operated overseas by another company, we expect to see more videos in the future like the one after the jump that engage riders with this once-defunct American brand.

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More Photos of the Roland Sands Design Ducati Diavel

10/17/2010 @ 11:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Our good friends at Ducati News Today have released more photos of the Ducati Diavel that Roland Sands built at his Southern California shop. While this photo is RSD’s take on how the Diavel should look, Roland and his crew have made a variety of accessories and OEM parts that Ducati will carry for the Diavel when it officially launches.

You’re not likely to hear Ducati brass tout the fact though, as they’ve tried to distance themselves from Roland Sand Design’s involvement — a misstep in our opinion. If anyone can connect the stodgy custom chopper market to a more hip and younger motorcycling audience, it’s Roland Sands Design, and Ducati could do well to associate themselves with the talent surrounding that firm. After all Roland Sands Design is really the only link in the US market that exists between the sport bike and cruiser markets.

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