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.

Ducati Café Fighter Concept by Gannet Design

07/09/2014 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Last year we brought you the interesting Fluid Ducati Superleggera Concept by Gannet Design, and unsurprisingly our die hard Ducatisti readers had a thing or two to say about the render. Well, Gannet Design is back with another sketch that is sure to pique the ire of some.

Using the Ducati 1199 Panigale once again as a starting point, Gannet incorporates some roadster and café racer elements into the high-revving sport bike. The effect is interesting, and serves as a stark contrast to the lines of the original Panigale, and Gannet’s “Fluid” design.

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Upcoming BMW S1000F Rendered by Nicolas Petit

07/02/2014 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Once again the folks at Wunderlich are readying themselves for another BMW model, and the German company has enlisted the services of French designer Nicolas Petit to render the upcoming BMW S1000F sport-tourer, which we are all eagerly awaiting.

Based off the BMW S1000RR sport bike, the S1000F features an upright handlebar design with a more touring-oriented sitting position, to make for better long-road travel. It’s not clear if BMW will follow the lead of Erik Buell Racing, and choose not to detune its superbike engine, but it does seem that BMW wants a bigger piece for the sporty end of the touring market.

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Yamaha MT-09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/27/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the concept by Oberdan Bezzi for a Yamaha MT-09 based Ténéré adventure-tourer, but we thought we would up the ante now that the Italian designer has inked a “Worldcrosser” version of the three-cylinder machine as well.

Complete with knobbies, and over 150 lbs lighter than the 1,200cc Super Ténéré, the Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Worldcrosser could also boast a sticker price that is nearly half that of the venerable ADV bike from Yamaha.

It might just be a drawing, but there is something about this concept that really has us excited. To keep the creative juices rolling, there is a café racer version of the Yamaha MT-09 after the jump as well. Could this become the new “go-to” platform for customizers? At $7,990 MSRP, it just might be.

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Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/19/2014 @ 5:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha FZ-09, or the Yamaha MT-09 as it’s known outside of the USA, has become a big win for the tuning fork brand. A fun three-cylinder machine that has enough pep to carve up the canyons, yet also has a relaxed enough riding position to handle commuting duties, the Yamaha FZ-09 really wins our hearts and minds with its dirt-cheap price tag of $7,990 MSRP.

We’re not alone in our opinion, as the MT-09 has done so well in the global market, that Yamaha built off the buzz and released its two-cylinder cousin: the Yamaha MT-07.

If the Japanese OEM truly is eyeing more three-cylinder machines, we are excited for the prospect. Oberdan Bezzi is excited too, as the Italian designer has imagined his own interpretation of what Yamaha could do with the MT-09 line.

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Is BMW Working on an S1000RR Based Sport-Tourer?

02/13/2014 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Rumors out of Germany say that BMW Motorrad is working on a new variations of its “S” platform, which would see the S1000RR used as a base for a Multistrada-esque four-bikes-in-one type of machine.

According to the well-informed folks at Motorrad magazine, the new BMW model could be seen at this year’s trade shows (we would expect an INTERMOT debut, over an EICMA premiere), and would feature dynamic damping control, ride-by-wire throttle maps, ABS, and traction control.

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Buell Firebolt XB12R Concept by Holographic Hammer

12/30/2013 @ 4:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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It’s funny that we should come across Holographic Hammer’s concept renderings of a reworked Buell Firebolt XB12R at the end of the year, because the work is perhaps the most intriguing we have seen in 2013.

More of cult classic than big hit, the Buell Firebolt XB12R was never honestly considered an appealing machine in terms of design and function, though the two-wheeler has found a special place in the hearts of Buellisti around the world.

Featuring the typical gimmicks innovations of Erik Buell’s tenure at Harley-Davidson, things like the Firebolt’s in-frame fuel tank and underslung exhaust create some interesting freedoms for designers to work with visually.

While many Buell customs have come across our desk, we think the work done by Holographic Hammer, the work of love by BMW Motorrad designer Sylvain Berneron, is the only one to really embrace the opportunity that Buell’s create.

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How Long Does it Take You to Draw a Motorcycle?

03/04/2013 @ 4:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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We spend a bit of our time here at Asphalt & Rubber featuring the work of Nicolas Petit, and other designers, sharing with you the unique visions that these artists create. Some of their work comes to fruition in three dimensions, and some of it remains in a two-dimensional form, but it is all still pretty damn impressive. But what goes into these sketches and renders?

Working on his BMW HP2 Megamoto LC Concept, Petit has condensed his 20-minute sketching routine, and put together a short three-minute time-lapse video of his work. Armed with only with a couple pens and markers, Petit makes short-work of the sketch, though we can only imagine how many hours of studying design had to come together before pen could be put to paper. Check it out after the jump.

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First Sketch of the Honda Scooter/Motorcycle Hybrid

09/25/2012 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

If you want some more proof that Honda’s emerging larger and more “torqueful” two-wheeler, which is based on the Mid Series, is going to be one-part scooter and one-part motorcycle, then look no further than this screen capture of the slide Honda CEO Takanobu Ito used at the company’s end of the fiscal-year event.

While only a very vague sketch of sweeping lines, the image shows a shape that looks striking similar to the Honda DN-01 crossover, which also featured a scooter/motorcycle hybrid design. While Ito-san only talked about the machine in generalities, we do know that Honda’s new motorcycle will be suitable for commuting and touring, built in Honda’s flagship Kumamoto plant, and debut in the North American market.

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BMW R12 Concept by Nicolas Petit Motorcycle Crèation

07/11/2012 @ 5:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The work of designer Nicolas Petit is one of those gems in motorcycling that really gets our imagination here at A&R working at high-speed. It probably has something to with Petit’s simple, practical, but stunning designs that grab our fancy, and make us think “yeah, I could see one of those in my garage” — such is the case with the BMW R12 concept.

A clean and modern café racer design, Nicolas Petit’s BMW R12, which is based off the BMW HP2, is something we’d like to have in our stable for when the journey, not the destination, is the order of the day. Enjoy his sketches and renders after the jump, and to save you the trouble when you go scavenging for boxer-twins, here’s a link to craigslist.

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Bimota/BMW Concepts by Oberdan Bezzi

06/19/2012 @ 1:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We follow Oberdan Bezzi’s work pretty closely here at Asphalt & Rubber, if for no other reason than we like the Italian designer’s ability to fantasize about the endless possibilities available in the two-wheel world — and after, who here doesn’t like to daydream about exotic motorcycles? Lately it seems Bezzi’s imagination has gone to a world where Bimota uses more than Ducati’s v-twin lumps in its exclusive street bikes, with his most recent sketches envisioning a BMW/Bimota collaboration.

Inking the Bimota BB-2 superbike, and it’s naked sibling the Bimota BB-3 “Paura”, the usual Bezzi lines and style are present in the designs. Oberdan’s thought-process on the Bimota BB-3 seems to be well-timed though, as the Bavarian company has recently been caught testing a naked version of the well-selling BMW S1000RR at its facility. Set to be a true Germans streetfighter, BMW could very well succeed in a motorcycle segment that the Japanese have historically struggled with here in the US.

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