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.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R SBK Now in Green

09/02/2010 @ 3:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Kawasaki will be officially be “unveiling” its 2011 World Superbike-spec ZX-10R at Nurburgring this weekend, but has released photos of the bike, finally showing the ZX-10R in its green livery. Team Green has slowly been leaking photos and videos of the new 10R through a massive online social marketing campaign, which centered around the company’s Next_Ninga twitter account.

Kawasaki is putting a lot of weight on the superbike’s shoulders after being un-competitive in World Superbike racing, and withdrawing completely from MotoGP. Hoping the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-1oR will turn around Kawasaki’s racing fortunes, Kawasaki is also hopeful that the bike will help spur its fading sport bike sales.

For 2011, Kawasaki says it has down a top-down approach to the ZX-10R, starting for the first in the company’s history with making the race bike before the street model. This hopefully means that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will be a no-compromises race/track weapon with turn signals, but we’ll leave that hyperbole until A&R gets a leg over one.

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World Superbike Responds to Ducati Exodus

08/27/2010 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Infront Motor Sports, rights holder to the World Superbike Championship series, has responded to the news that Ducati Corse will be leaving the series in 2011. Responding with an official press release, IMS’s message essentially boils down to poking holes in Ducati’s statement about technical regulations.

Stating that the 2009 season was dominated by the Ducati 1198 Superbike, sans one Ben Spies, the Italian firm has clearly been able to be competitive with the current formula. IMS goes on to basically say that WSBK is about more than one manufacturer, and can’t cater to Ducati’s whims even if they do have a lengthy history together. Check the press release after the jump.

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Video: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R WSBK at Autopolis

08/25/2010 @ 7:33 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After releasing a bevy of photos from its tests of the 2011 WSBK-spec Kawasaki ZX-10R at the Autopolis & Suzuka tracks in Japan, Team Green has put together a video with clips of the bike in both the paddock and out lapping on the track of Autopolis.

Besides showing us some up-close details of the bike’s performance goodies (push-to-shift buttons make us drool), we also get to hear the new 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R revving under load and at different engine speeds.

The new ZX-10R sounds like  a screamer to us; sorry Kawi fans, no cross-plane crankshafts here. Still, the bike looks good drenched in carbon fiber. Check it out after the jump.

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Tom Sykes Tests the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R WSBK

08/05/2010 @ 11:04 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Kawasaki is at the track again with its 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R World Superbike platform, and this time at the helm is WSBK rider Tom Sykes. Sykes, who is picking up the slack for his injured teamamte Christopher Vermeulen, isn’t sure of his chances of staying with Team Green in 2011, but was obliged to help the team develop it’s new superbike. Kawasaki has had a horrible run of things in WSBK lately, despite killing its MotoGP program. Hoping to turnaround its poor results, Kawasaki has been teasing us with its WSBK development, which of course also clues us in to how the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R road bike will shape up. Photos and videos after the jump.

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Get Ready for Miller Motorsports Park – Re-Watch All the World Superbike Races Here

05/24/2010 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The countdown to Memorial Day weekend is alive and well in the Asphalt & Rubber office this week (in fact our web designer already took off for Amsterdam…no good can come from that). As we Americans get ready for a three-day weekend (four-days if you played your vacation/sick days right), one of the highlights that we can look forward to is World Superbike’s sole stop in the US at the Miller Motorsports Park.

Helping get us ready for the only WSBK race to occur on a Monday, we’ve gotten ahold of all the past WSBK races, and put them into one post so you can re-cap the 2010 season to-date. Ok, ok, World Superbike put them up on YouTube, and we copy/pasted the clips into this post…but still, it’s a great way to re-live the WSBK season before it hits MMP, or to just catch a race you missed. Kyalami above, Monza, Assen, Valencia, Portimao, and Phillip Island after the jump. Enjoy!

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WSBK: Superpole from Phillip Island – Motorcycling Racing is Back in Action Down Under

02/27/2010 @ 2:00 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The World Superbike Championship has returned to us, helping fill the winter snow & rain blues. Coming to us this weekend from Phillip Island, Australia, WSBK shows some new faces in the Superpole mix now that Ben Spies has left World Superbike for greener pastures. With the weather holding out, Superpole at PI had some surprising results, and some not so surprising results. Click past the break to get the low down.

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2010 World Superbike Preview Video

02/10/2010 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The 2010 World Superbike Championship series is only two weeks away from its season opener at Phillip Island, and to help get the Superbike juices flowing for race fans, WSBK has put together a video that highlights moments from the 2009 season and an update on riders and teams for the 2010 season.

If only we could get coverage of WSBK this good on the television back here in the States. At 22 minutes long, this is a video well worth watching with beverage and food within arms’ reach. Enjoy the season preview after the jump.

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Spies Talks About World Superbike Championship

10/26/2009 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ben-Spies-World-Superbike-Champion

The good folks at On The Throttle got a chance to talk to Ben Spies after the racing action at Portimao, Portugal, and have shared the video with us. Spies talks about the season, Haga, and his move into MotoGP. Video after the jump.

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Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

10/23/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

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We typically don’t cover the Free Practice/Qualifying sessions in World Superbike, but considering that the entire season will come down to Sunday’s race, we’re making an exception. With QP1 in the bag already at Portimao, we get some insight into how the grid could come together for the last race of the WSBK season, and the results might surprise some people. More after the jump.

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Sykes and Vermeulen Join Kawasaki WSBK for 2010

10/21/2009 @ 4:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Kawasaki-WSBK-Team-ZX-10R-Sykes-Vermeulen

After much back and forth, Kawasaki has finally announced that Tom Sykes will be joining Christopher Vermeulen on its factory World Superbike team, riding the 2010 Kawasaki ZX-10R. Sykes, who is currently Ben Spies’ partner at Sterilgarda Yamaha, will be making the switch to Team Green, where he will once again be playing second fiddle.

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