Mmm…Check This Suzuki GSX1100SD Katana Race Bike

I am young enough that most of what I can remember of the 1980s is skewed by the forming mind of a child, thankfully. New Coke, ponytails to the side, Cabbage Patch Kids…Alf – it is all a bad dream as far as I am concerned. The 1980s were a pretty good decade for motorcycles though. Two-strokes still reigned supreme in grand prix racing, and some of America’s best two-wheeled heroes were riding them. The only rider-aids that were available were things like handlebars and footpegs. Even then, racing a motorcycle was a pursuit full of perils. Mirroring this notion on the production side of things, the superbike was just starting to be born in earnest, with consumers able to buy fire-breathing monsters that tested the limits of chassis and tire design. A healthy dose of male bravado was involved in riding a motorcycle like a Katana.

Mega Gallery: 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans

Not only does the FIM EWC showcase several manufacturers, with strong race-winning potential each of the championship’s multiple iconic events, but it the series is the last great venue for a proper battle between the different tire brands. Add to that the fact that the Endurance World Championship is comprised not only of endurance specialists, but also with some of the top names from motorcycle racing, both in factory and satellite teams, and it’s easy to find a reason to cheer for a particular entry. The best part though might be the photography that comes from motorcycle racing, which often spans from daylight and into the darkness of night. This year’s 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans event was no different, and we have a bevy of photos to share with you from France.

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.

CCM Spitfire Coming in a Scrambler Version Too?

04/11/2017 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The CCM Spitfire (above) was a big hit with A&R readers, with the bike’s basic looks and 600cc single-cylinder engine showing that sometimes less is indeed more.

In case you are not in the market for a roadster model though, CCM reportedly has a scrambler version in the works as well, so says Britain’s MCN .

The idea seems pretty obvious, when you think about it, with the two design aesthetics being very similar, and the SWM-sourced engine originally coming out for use in dirt bike models.

As such, we are almost surprised that CCM didn’t start first with a scrambler model, but that is despite the point.

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CCM Planning New 600cc Dual-Sport ADV Bike

03/27/2017 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The good folk over at ADV Pulse have some interesting news for the dual-sport crowd, as British marque Clews Competition Machines is getting ready to discontinue its CCM GP450 dual-sport/adventure-tourer.

Replacing it will be a 600cc model, which will share the same engine as CCM’s recent Spitfire roadster model, which is really a big-displacement single-cylinder lump from SYM, which is really just a liquid-cooled four-stroke motor from the BMW era of Husqvarna. Still with us on that?

Confusing lineage aside, the new CCM GP600 Adventure sounds like it will be the perfect choice for those in the ADV category who want a dirt bike that can go on the highway, rather than a highway bike that can go off-road.

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Here’s the CCM Spitfire in the Flesh

02/23/2017 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

When renders of the CCM Spitfire roadster hit the internet, it cause quite the stir. The British brand was clearly onto something with its 600cc four-stroke thumper.

A bespoke machine priced around £7,995 – the CCM is not only an intriguing design, but remarkably affordable. It shouldn’t surprise us then to hear that the Spitfire has sold out.

Hopefully the folks at Clews Competition Machines realize that they hit an interesting niche squarely on the head, and produce more basic and affordable machines like this.

It looks even better in real life as it does in the computer renders. See for yourself, after the jump.

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CCM Teases 600cc Single-Cylinder “Spitfire”

02/10/2017 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Clews Competition Machines is probably not one of the most well-known brands in the USA, though the British marque has a solid niche following around the world.

So, we should explain that CCM is best known for its single-cylinder four-stroke motorcycles, namely dirt bikes, though a number of interesting supermoto models wear the company’s monogram as well.

Right now, CCM is focused on selling its GP450 Adventure model, which takes a repurposed Husqvarna 449 engine, and wraps it in an aluminum chassis that’s built with long-distance ADV riding in mind.

CCM is looking to get back into road bikes though, and has begun teasing a new model. Named the Spitfire, this street bike has a 600cc thumper at its core and a chassis that is a lot more “roadster” than what we have previously seen from this rebellious band of Brits.

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MotoGP Tech Director: No Breach of Moto3 Rev Limit Found

03/11/2016 @ 1:53 pm, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

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MotoGP’s Technical Director has rejected KTM’s claim that Honda exceeded the official Moto3 rev limit during the 2015 season.

In an official statement issued today, Danny Aldridge said that he and his technical team had examined the official rev limiter used in Moto3 and verified that it was operating correctly, and that although there had been overshoots of the rev limit, these were very small and very brief.

Aldridge went on to confirm much of what we had found when we investigated the issue at the end of February. Speaking to Peter Bom, crew chief of 2015 Moto3 world champion on a Honda Danny Kent, Bom explained that the issue had been about the way in which Honda had optimized the point at which the rev limiter cut in, and this is what had caused the confusion.

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Step Aside Honda Grom, Here’s the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro

03/04/2016 @ 6:00 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Behold the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro, Team Green’s answer to the Honda Grom. This four-stroke, 125cc, 225 lbs “monkey bike” from Kawasaki hopes to tap into the same unassuming, approachable, and fun vein that the Honda Grom exposed three years ago.

Like the Grom, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro appeals to two very different demographics. One the one hand, it is the perfect learner bike for young and green (no pun intended) riders – you can see as much in the photos at the end of this post that clearly target the millennial skateboarding young male.

On the other hand though, the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro is just as much of a machine for older and more experienced riders, who are looking for a cheap and fun machine to add to their already comprehensive stable –  perhaps as a grocery-getter or pit bike at the track.

If we can continue to the comparison to the Honda Grom, this dual approach appears to play out well in the market, with the unassuming motorcycle gaining attention from a surprising wide and large demographic. As such, Kawasaki is smart to jump on the trend.

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Benelli Tornado 302 – Bringing Sexy Back

11/18/2015 @ 6:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Just like the Benelli Tornado Naked T, the Benelli Tornado 302 treads on one of motorcycling’s iconic names, replacing it with a budget-oriented model that has none of the pizazz of its namesake.

This is what Benelli has been reduced to as a motorcycle brand, and the reason why the West no longer takes Benelli seriously.

That all being said, if we beat our head against the wall long enough to forget the Benelli Tornado, in either its 900c or 1130cc variants, the Benelli Tornado 302 is a fetching small-displacement machine.

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2016 KTM 690 Duke Learns Some Table Manners

11/17/2015 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The KTM 690 Duke has always been a fun street bike, with a fair amount of power wedged into a relatively light package. For 2016, the KTM 690 Duke learns some refinement though, most notably with an engine overhaul that drops the buzz from the motor, and adds power to the dyno chart.

This comes about as the 690cc LC4 engine gains a secondary balancing shaft, a new crankshaft, and lighter pistons and connecting rods. All these changes come with a new cylinder head that has the exhaust valves on roller rockers, and the intake valves on the camshaft.

The result is that the 2016 KTM 690 Duke gets a modest power gain – a 73hp peak horsepower figure – and a powerband that is 1,000 rpm wider than before.

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Watch the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto Do Its Thang

10/13/2015 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Maybe it’s because my supermoto season officially ended this weekend (without me, I should add), with our last scheduled sumo session at the go-kart track here in Portland passing by this weekend, or maybe it’s because we just want the Swedish brand to deliver the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto already…either way, consider our appetite whetted by this last video from Husky.

Finally giving us a showing of the 701 Supermoto on a proper race track — not that the ice course with spiked tires wasn’t cool (no pun intended) — we get to see the 701 at home in its natural element: hitting apexes, sliding tires, and crushing lean angles.

We imagine that the nearly as powerful, and considerably lighter Husqvarna FS 450 supermoto would be the better weapon on the track, but the 690cc power plant on the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto is certainly the better choice for a machine that will roll a tire on public roads…and that’s sorta the point of the machine.

We’ll be eager to see this Husqvarna hit showrooms in Europe this November, and thus being the long wait for it to come to the USA in February 2016. Could the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto be the ultimate city hooligan bike? Time will tell…we’re certainly eager to find out, though.

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KTM 690 Duke To Get Upgrades for 2016

09/09/2015 @ 4:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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KTM is pulling the interesting move of only alerting certain outlets to the fact that the Austrian company will be bringing updates to the KTM 690 Duke for the 2016 model year. Regardless of that alienating choice, the facts remain, and we’re here to give you the details of their new models.

As such, expect to see the 2016 KTM 690 Duke to get a power boost, roughly to the tune of 73hp @ 8,500 rpm (up 1,000 rpm over the previous model), with peak torque also getting a boost of roughly 6%.

This increase in power comes about partly to internal changes, which include a larger bore and shorter stroke. These give that 690 Duke a very slight displacement increase of 3cc, for 693cc in total.

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