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.

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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Superbike TT & Sidecar TT Race 1 with Tony Goldsmith

06/05/2016 @ 5:54 pm, by Tony Goldsmith4 COMMENTS

Two Competitors Have Died at the Isle of Man TT

06/05/2016 @ 12:42 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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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. Dwight Beare died during today’s Sidecar TT Race 1, and Paul Shoesmith who died during this evening’s solo-class practice sessions.

Dwight Beare was a 27-year-old from Melbourne, Australia who moved to Onchan on the Isle of Man. While competing in the Sure Sidecar 1 TT, Beare unfortuantely did not survive a crash near Rhencullen, the race was red-flagged immediately after the crash.

Beare’s sidecar passenger, Benjamin Binns, was airlifted from the crash site to Nobles Hospital, and thankfully is reported to have only a fractured ankle.

Later that day, 50-years-old Paul Shoesmith from Poynton, Lancashire died during Saturday’s evening practice session. His incident occurred on the Sulby Straight. The practice session was red-flagged immediately following the incident.

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2016 Isle of Man TT Schedule Revised

07/07/2015 @ 2:33 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2016 Isle of Man TT Schedule Revised

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It’s been 2015 Isle of Man TT since the Isle of Man TT, but preparations are already underway for the 2016 event.

Announcing a new timetable of events for the 2016 Isle of Man TT, the Manx organizers have made it so the solo class and sidecar class champions crowned on the same day.

Accordingly, this means that the Senior TT will remain on the final Friday (June 10th) of racing, capping the fantastic road racing event, but now it will be joined by the second Sidecar TT race as well, which will lead the final day’s activities.

Making way for the sidecars, the Lightweight TT will be moved to the now vacant racing slot, on Wednesday (June 8th). Additionally, the TT race organizers have made the Lightweight TT a four-lap race, so as to reflect the growing popularity and stature of the class.

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IOMTT: Colin’s TT Blog – Someone I Can Cheer For

06/08/2015 @ 11:06 pm, by Colin Evans1 COMMENT

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A world traveler on two-wheels, Asphalt & Rubber reader and good friend Colin Evans is attending his first Isle of Man TT this year. We asked him to share his perspective on the trip, as both someone new to the Isle of Man, but also as a veteran of the world and riding motorcycles. Our hope is that it will be an informative, yet different, perspective than your typical coverage of the IOMTT. Please enjoy! -Jensen

Everyone here it seems has their favorite rider, and it’s usually someone from their home towns across the UK and across the world; whether it be Morecambe, Ballymoney, Wellington, Bingley, or Grimsby.

But I could not find a team to cheer from my part of Nottinghamshire until this afternoon, when I found sidecar outfit driver and passenger brothers Ben and Tom Birchall – from Mansfield.

I didn’t ever live in Mansfield, but it’s the town next door where I went to school. The picture of them on the podium says it all; they are clearly instantly likable blokes who are pleased as punch with their victory – and they speak with the same accent as I do. All good enough for the fan club registration.

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Sidecar TT & Supersport TT Race 1 with Tony Goldsmith

06/08/2015 @ 7:37 pm, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on Sidecar TT & Supersport TT Race 1 with Tony Goldsmith

IOMTT: Union Mills & Grandstand with Tony Goldsmith

06/08/2014 @ 3:12 am, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on IOMTT: Union Mills & Grandstand with Tony Goldsmith

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I decided prior to the start of the second sidecar race that I wanted to get to the grandstand for the podium. Photographing a TT podium does place some restrictions on where to shoot the race, while still enabling you to get away.

After a bit of deliberation I decided on the bridge at Union Mills. This is a popular spot, particularly for the solos, as you can catch them leaned over with the back wheel popping off the ground as they go over the bridge.

It can also be good for the sidecars, as the front runners just take off as they hit the bridge. If you time it right you can catch them with all 3 wheels off the ground.

Once the leaders had gone through on the final lap, it was time to jump in the car and head to the grandstand to get the podium shots.

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IOMTT: Kirk Michael with Richard Mushet

06/07/2014 @ 11:02 pm, by Richard MushetComments Off on IOMTT: Kirk Michael with Richard Mushet

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Due to the weather, another postponed race yesterday (Wednesday), meant that I had the opportunity to shoot the second sidecar race and a couple of practice sessions from another location.

Looking for a place I hadn’t been to before, I thought that the backdrop of Kirkmichael village would make for a dramatic image that really shows off the spectacle of the Mountain course.

Accelerating through the village, between rows of houses only a yards away from the curb, the exhaust notes reverberate down the road, giving any spectators an aural treat that will raise the hairs on the back of their neck and arms.

A fairly straightforward place to shoot from, this public viewing point gave me a chance to play around with different ways to frame the riders and really try to convey the experience of watching the TT from the roadside.

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