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.

Erik Buell Racing Acquired by the Flying Spaghetti Monster

07/26/2015 @ 2:38 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Flying-Spaghetti-Monster-Erik-Buell-Racing

Social media and some assorted motorcycle news websites (first here, and now here) are feverishly reporting that Erik Buell Racing has been out-right acquired by Hero MotoCorp, during the company’s receivership auction, thus confirming the wet-dream conspiracy theories of Buellistas around the world.

The report was first started by the stalwart news source Motorcycle.in.th, and was then elevated quickly into the realm of semi-truthfulness by a bevy of other news outlets.

Sources close to Buell and Erik Buell Racing have since come forward and discrediting the report, calling the story a complete fabrication. Meanwhile, Hero MotoCorp stock has risen 0.50% on the news.

With the journalistic bar now set so low, Asphalt & Rubber feels comfortable reporting that there is indeed a new owner for Erik Buell Racing, but it is not Hero MotoCorp, but instead the Flying Spaghetti Monster — deity to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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The 5 Most Dangerous Motorcycles in America?

07/17/2014 @ 8:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler60 COMMENTS

Gilbert-Gottfried

Contrary to what the AMA or motorcycling gentry may believe, not all motorcycles are created equal. Due to a combination of marketing, riding styles, and environment, the following five types of motorcycles are the country’s most dangerous.

While the NHTSA doesn’t track motorcycle accidents and crashes based on the type of motorcycle being ridden (among other things), the cultural factors that surround motorcycle injuries and fatalities paint a stark picture, which we’ve shared with you here.

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“Maybe If It Snow, I Can Win” – Valentino Rossi, July 2011

01/12/2012 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

About the only time the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 was competitive last year was during wet sessions and races. This trend lead to one of Valentino Rossi’s more humorous sayings of the season: that in order to win a race on the GP11, it would have to snow. Well Rossi and his teammate Nicky Hayden may have finally gotten the break they needed, as the Ducati Corse crew has outfitted the two-up Desmosedici with studded tires for the Wrooom media event taking place this week at Madonna di Campiglio ski resort.

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A&R’s April Fools Round-Up

04/01/2011 @ 6:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

If it hasn’t become apparent by now, we love us some April Fools here at Asphalt & Rubber, because like Christmas, the real joy in the holiday isn’t in the act of receiving, but in the act of giving. It’s perhaps at this time of year where the media side of the motorcycle industry reaches its zenith of creativity, producing eloquent prose, perfect press releases, and some of the most superb photo re-touches we’ve ever seen. We have in fact many maestros in our presence, and we wanted to share our Top 3 picks of the days festivities.

And our role in all this? Well we’re firm believers in the idea that if you’re going to do something wrong, then it’s best to do it right. Instead of trying to fabricate a story or two, and then convince you that they were real (that’s so 2010 by the way), we decided to switch things up and publish two stories (here & here) that we knew to be fundamentally true, and convince you that they were in fact fake. April Fools.

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Nicky Hayden’s Ducati Diavel Concept

11/08/2010 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Are you one of the loyal Ducatisti who is not so crazy about the new Ducati Diavel? Don’t worry, because Nicky Hayden feels your pain, and went as far as to create his own concept bike for Ducati’s newly released performance cruiser. Based off the 800cc V4 motor of the Ducati Desmosedici GP10, Hayden’s low-riding two-wheeled vision uses an all carbon frame, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo monoblocs.

It also comes fitted stock with Bridgestone’s top-of-the-line performance tires, and has numerous carbon fiber bits and pieces, not to mention traction control, launch control, wheelie control, but no ABS. Available only in Rosso Corsa for now, we hear a one-off limited edition white paint scheme may also be available later next year. No word on price, but the above model comes slightly used.

Source: Alex Hofmann (Twitter) via Ducati News Today

There’s Never a Bunny Around When You Need One

07/20/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

God bless Randy de Puniet. For whatever reason, the French LCR Honda rider has wormed his way into our hearts here at Asphalt & Rubber. At first it was because de Puniet had a penchant for crashing, perpetually misplacing his shirt, and well…being French. As the leading satellite bike rider in the 2010 season though, Randy de Puniet has found a new consistency with the LCR Honda, and has even given the factory Repsol Honda boys a run for their money on more than one occasion. We have to admit, we’ve been impressed with de Randy 2.0 this season.

de Puniet has also stayed mostly out of the gravel traps for 2010, showing a new maturity. He’s still French, pompous, and generally comes across as a playboy, but we sort of like that in our French men. Afterall, if Parisians were courteous to American tourists, the city would feel a lot like Atlanta: hot, dirty, and full of people who talk funny.

So when Randy de Puniet broke his leg during the German GP, we were crushed to hear that our favorite rider in the paddock would be out until Brno, and miss the Laguna Seca round. Our concerns of course then immediately turned to Randy’s well-being as he was being carted off for examination at Clinica Mobile.

Was he ok? Did his broad shoulders fit through the clinic’s meager doorways? Who would hold his brave hand while Dr. Costa poked and proded him with his medical “science”? We now know those answers. Video after the jump.

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The 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R Drinking Game

04/07/2010 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber regulars should know by now that we sometimes like to take the press materials a company sends us, and “spice them up a bit” when we think they’re lackluster or too fluffy about the product being pitched. Our goal with these satirical works isn’t to poke these companies in the eye, but instead to say, “Hey, we know you can do better. Here’s an example that shows how your marketing materials could be worse than they already are, but still manage to engage your end customer more effectively.” With this in mind, we present the Kawasaki ZX-6R drinking game: the happy merger of the worlds most boring commercial, with America’s favorite college dorm room time waster. Click past the jump to play.

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AMA Pro Racing Adds AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Spec Racing Series

03/04/2010 @ 4:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

You may remember that six month’s ago we published a rumor that AMA Pro Racing was considering the idea of adding a Harley-Davidson XR1200 spec racing class. Today, that rumor became reality as AMA Pro Racing announced at the Daytona Bike Week that it would be adding the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series to its calendar. The painful press release and our colorful commentary after the jump.

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