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.

From Russia with Love, MV Agusta Finds New Money

11/20/2016 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Last week, I was ready to start polishing the obituary for MV Agusta – the Italian company seemingly in an impossibly terminal state.

Italy’s Guardia di Finanza had found that the Italian company had been using the social security contributions of its workers to pay down the money owed to parts suppliers (something MV Agusta disputes is the case), and earlier this year MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni was investigated for irregularities on his tax return.

All of this is on top of the ever precarious financial situation MV Agusta has been in for the past year, which has resulted in the company looking to restructure its €50 million debt in the Italian court system, furlough a good portion of its workforce, and reduce its production volume to roughly 9,000 units per year.

Now it seems MV Agusta’s fortunes are changing, with the Italian motorcycle maker signing an agreement with the Black Ocean investment group to recapitalize MV Agusta.

Details of the pending transaction haven’t been released, but we can assume that the increase in capital will help ease MV Agusta’s relationship with suppliers, get workers back on the assembly line, and continue the development of new models.

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Watch These Urals Ford the River, Oregon Trail Style

08/19/2015 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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I don’t really get the people who obsess about riding a Ural – a Russian knock-off of a German sidecar just doesn’t strike me as an enjoyable time on a motorcycle.

Of course, my saddle time on a Ural has been relegated to around-town and highway riding, which isn’t really the Ural’s domain of choice. These Cossack bikes really shine off-road, where their funky WWII-era 2WD design becomes an asset, not a hinderance.

Add to the fact that Urals are bone-simple to work on — owning a Ural means you will be wrenching on it, a lot, by the way — and you’ve got a motorcycle that’s well-suited to the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of where the road ends…especially when the road ends in a river.

Attempting to ford the river, Oregon Trail style, these Ural owners are experiencing all that the Russian marque has to offer. Seeing is believing, after the jump.

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Moscow Round Canceled, 13 WSBK Rounds for 2015

02/11/2015 @ 10:18 am, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

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The World Superbike calendar has been reduced to 13 events. The Russian round of WSBK, scheduled to be held at the Moscow Raceway on July 5th has been canceled, after the event organizer, YMS Promotion, failed to provide the contract guarantees required by the contract.

As a further consequence, the Yakhnich Motorsport Team have also lost their slot on the 2015 World Supersport grid, which was tied in with the Russian round.

The cancellation of the Russian round did not come as a surprise. The Russian WSBK round is a legacy of the last years of Infront running the series.

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2015 World Superbike Provisional Calendar v.1

11/18/2014 @ 10:47 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

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The FIM have finally released the provisional calendar for the World Superbike series for next year. The 2015 season will see WSBK travel to 14 rounds, returning to all of the venues which hosted races in 2014, and two more overseas rounds added, in Russia and Thailand.

The chances of this being the definitive calendar appears to be slim, however. Three rounds are marked as still subject to contract: Portimao, Moscow, and Qatar. Both Portimao and Qatar look likely to go ahead, but whether WSBK will actually return to Moscow remains to be seen.

The 2014 round was canceled due to the political instability in the Russian Federation and the overflow of conflict in Ukraine, which affected various partners of the series. The political situation has only deteriorated since then, with the EU and US imposing sanctions on Russia, making the race there almost impossible.

The teams and riders will be hoping for the round to be canceled: the race was a logistical nightmare to get equipment to and from, and for both the fans and riders to attend and find accommodation for.

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Video: Rider Nails the Landing After a Nasty Crash

08/19/2014 @ 10:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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The upside to having rampant insurance fraud with motor vehicles is the increased use of dashboard cameras, at least that’s our selfish take on the situation currently in Russia. If that’s truly the case, then the crowning achievement of that philosophy is surely the following video.

Going far too fast for the flow of traffic, our protagonist finds himself quickly cut-off by a car that is changing lanes. What happens next is entirely predictable, yet incredibly not. We don’t want to give it away, just watch it after the jump…no pun intended. Thanks for the tip Taco Ben!

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WSBK: Russian Round Cancelled over Political Concerns

04/12/2014 @ 8:55 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Bad news from the World Superbike Championship paddock, as the Russian round, which was scheduled to be held at Moscow Raceway on September 21st 2014, has been cancelled because of concerns stemming from the Russian/Ukrainian situation along the Crimean peninsula.

Promoters DWO and YMS Promotion declared that, “the current political situation affects the capabilities of a number of key partner companies essential to run the event. Parties regret the decision, but are confident that the strong partnership between DWO and YMS Promotion will prevail.”

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Ural Sidecars Used in Opening Ceremony for Sochi Olympics

02/12/2014 @ 8:02 pm, by Bryan Delohery4 COMMENTS

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Proud of the opportunity to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia showed its accomplishments to the world during the opening ceremony on Friday by showing off its culture, traditions, and highlights of its post-World War II industrial economy.

As part of those highlights, a procession of twenty bright red Ural sidecars rolled across the ice at Fisht Olympic Stadium, as three billion people looked on via television.

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Andrea Antonelli Dies During World Supersport Race – Second WSBK Race & Other Events Cancelled

07/21/2013 @ 9:46 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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It’s with our deepest regret that Asphalt & Rubber reports the passing of Team Goeleven Kawasaki Rider Andrea Antonelli, who was involved in a serious accident during the opening lap of today’s World Supersport race.

Crashing on the straight between Turns 14 & 15 at the Moscow Raceway, Antonelli then collided with another machine, and as a result, suffered a fatal cranium base fracture.

The race was red flagged, and Antonelli was immediately taken to an ambulance where the medical staff worked to resuscitate him. Despite their efforts, Andrea sadly succumbed to his injuries at 2:10pm local time.

With the World Superbike paddock mourning the loss of the 25-year-old from Castiglione del Lago in Italy, the day’s remaining races and events have been cancelled. A&R‘s best thoughts are with his friends and family.

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WSBK: Race Results for Race 1 at Moscow

07/21/2013 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race Results for Race 1 at Moscow

WSBK: Kawasaki Racing Re-Signs Tom Sykes

07/20/2013 @ 7:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Tom Sykes may be having a tough time of things on the track in Moscow this weekend with WSBK, but off the track with Kawasaki Racing, the Brit has some good news. Signing up for another year with Team Green, Tom Sykes has his 2014 racing plans sorted out, and can get back to overcoming his 0.5 point let-down on last year’s World Superbike Championship.

Soon to make it five years in a row with Kawasaki Racing, Sykes currently leads the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship by six points, though he will start Sunday’s races in the 9th grid position, after falling during the third round of the Superpole qualifying event.

Kawasaki says that with the rule changes coming down from Dorna, it was important for the team to shore up its lead rider. We think they made a fine choice, though the move may mean the offer is off the table for Nicky Hayden, as the American looks for a home outside of Ducati Corse’s MotoGP campaign. There has been no word on a contract for Loris Baz though.

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