Ride in Peace, Author Robert Pirsig

I first heard of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance shortly after I bought my first motorcycle, a Honda CBR600F2. I was stuck in the middle of Dunsmuir, California with a bad rectifier/regulator (a common trouble-spot on that model bike), and a passerby recommended the title. I think they referred the book out of naiveté its content, but obviously the novel, despite its title, would do little to help my immediate problem with my Honda, though it was a good read about some general philosophic ideas, which I could chew-on after I got my CBR bumped-started and back on the road again. Undoubtedly, you have likely heard of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as well.

Carbon Fiber BMW HP4 Race Debuts in China

As we predicted, the BMW HP4 Race carbon fiber superbike debuted today in China, at the Auto Shanghai 2017 expo. This is the production version of the prototype that BMW Motorrad teased at last year’s EIMCA show in Milan. Details were scarce in Italy, but now BMW is ready to tell us all about its halo bike. The numbers? Only 750 units of the BMW HP4 Race will be produced. Each one will make 212hp, and weigh 377 lbs when fully fueled and ready to ride – which is lighter than BMW’s WorldSBK-spec S1000RR racing machine. Of course the main feature of the BMW HP4 Race is that it drips in carbon fiber. The bodywork, main frame, and wheels are made of this composite material, with the tail section being a self-supporting carbon fiber unit.

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.

MotoGP, WSBK, & MotoAmerica Exclusively on beIN Sports

02/24/2016 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

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If you are an American who was hoping to see motorcycle racing on basic cable, we have bad news for you all three major series – MotoGP, World Superbike, and MotoAmerica – will air exclusively on the premium TV network beIN Sports this year.

The deal with beIN Sports mimics similar deals we have seen Dorna cut elsewhere abroad, where the media rights holder of both MotoGP and World Superbike favors deals with premium television companies over basic broadcast stations.

These deals usually mean more money for Dorna, though come with the downside of fewer viewers for the sport of motorcycle racing.

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Friday Summary at Le Mans: Of Four Fast Men, Improved Ducatis, Redding’s Reign, and a Quota on Spaniards

05/17/2013 @ 4:43 pm, by David Emmett24 COMMENTS

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So far, so good. That seems to be the story from the first day of practice at Le Mans. A full day of dry weather – except for the last few minutes of FP2 for the Moto3 class, where the rain turned briefly to hail, only to blow out again as quickly as it came – means that everyone had a chance to work on their race set up.

With the top four separated by just 0.166 seconds, the top five are within a quarter of a second, and Alvaro Bautista, the man in ninth, is just over seven tenths from the fastest man Dani Pedrosa.

A good day too for the Hondas. Dani Pedrosa was immediately up to speed, as expected. Marc Marquez was also quick in the afternoon, which was less expected. Unlike Jerez and Austin, this was the first time he rode a MotoGP machine at Le Mans, and getting used to hauling a 260 hp, 160kg bike around the tight layout of the French track is a different proposition to riding a Moto2 bike with half the horsepower here.

He took a morning to get used to the track, asked for a few changes to the base set up inherited from Casey Stoner, and then went and blitzed to second in the afternoon, 0.134 seconds off his teammate.

More important than Marquez’s speed is his consistency, however. In the afternoon, he posted seven laps of 1’34, which looks to be the pace to expect for a dry race. Only two men did more, Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo having posted nine laps at that pace, with both men also consistently a tenth or two quicker than the Spanish rookie.

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Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO

05/25/2011 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Our affection for the work by Radical Ducati is getting to the point where we need seek professional help. Not only are we becoming a broken record for our praise of the Spanish firm’s work, but our love affair for their motorcycles is completely one-sided. They don’t return our calls, nor our late night texts. We suspect they’re talking to other weblogs, and we can’t stand the thought of them going around town with a print magazine. Like all schoolyard crushes, this is sure to end in tears, but until then we’ll continue our hardcore crush on their take of Italian motorcycle design.

For our latest infatuation, we show you the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO (2011). We’ve been pretty pumped over this build since we heard about it a couple weeks ago, and now that it’s blown it’s cover, well…we’re revamping our Christmas list. While we appreciate all forms of motorcycles, we’re sportbike folk at heart here at Asphalt & Rubber, so a Radicalized sportbike tickles the pink out of us in ways that café racers cannot. We think you’ll agree when you check out all the photos after the jump.

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Video: Toni Bou Rides Trials in the FC Barcelona Stadium

05/25/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Camp Nou is the the Futbol Club Barcelona’s stadium of residence, and has been the destination for more than one rowdy Spanish soccer fan in its lifetime. An iconic figure in the Catalan community, FC Barcelona is also probably one of the most well-known soccer teams worldwide (though anglophones are more familiar with Manchester United), but that doesn’t mean the club can’t do a little marketing now and then.

Showing his support for the Catalan team, Trials World Champion Toni Bou does what does best in this video, and rides his trial bike through, on, and over the Camp Nou grounds. Popping a wheelie while going up the stadium steps, and doing a stoppie all the way back down are just some of the Spaniard’s claims of fame, and probably would go on the list of things our healthcare provider wouldn’t cover. It’s pretty impressive stuff, and  merges two of the biggest sports in Spain into one video. Check it out after the jump.

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Radical Ducati Il Mostro Kit

04/21/2011 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

It should be apparent by now that we loves us some Radical Ducati here at Asphalt & Rubber. And why shouldn’t we be? Those Spanish desmoholics have put out some really impressive motorcycles the past few years, not only putting their small shop on the map, but Spain as a whole as a budding venue of custom motorcycles (check out the work fro Sbay for more Spanish goodness for instance). The process at Radical Ducati is pretty simple, take parts collected from various Bologna motorcycles, mash them up with some creative flare, add-in some custom fabrication, and presto: you have some unique motorcycles that embody the best of Ducati’s designs.

Now typically if you wanted your own Radical Ducati you’d have to fork over a hefty amount of money, and the figure out how to get your masterpiece back to respective your country of origin. While this technically remains true, you can now at least give your Ducati Monster the Radical treatment, as those crazy Spaniards have come out with the Il Mostro customization kit for the Ducati Monster 696, 796, & 1100.

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Dragon TT Atila 1000 R Concept

01/05/2011 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Sometimes after the day is done, we lay in bed thinking about the world around us. Will Sarah Palin run for President in 2012? Will the North Korea continue to escalate matters with South Korea and the de-militarized zone? What would the love child from the alien in Predator and an Yamaha R1 look like after the pair had a lurid one night affair fully of empty promises and awkward moments at breakfast the next day?

These are all important questions for the new year, and we’ve set about to find some answers to them. While we’re not quite sure on how things will pan out with Palin (The GOP directors seem to think she can win) and North Korea (multi-lateral negotiations with China and US seem to be par for the course), we do have a pretty good idea on the Predator/Yamaha progeny: behold the Dragon TT Atila 1000 R.

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Paris Hilton Joins 125GP – Hell Officially Freezes Over

12/11/2010 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

According to the folks at Motocuatro, socialite Paris Hilton will be picking up where Antonio Banderas left off, and is set to unveil her 125GP team next Saturday. Officially Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton, the unveiling of the team is to be held at the Hotel ME in Madrid, Spain. It’s not clear at this time where Hilton’s interest in motorcycle racing stems from (perhaps she is taking a page from, and one-upping, Kim Kardashian’s sponsorship of a NASCAR Sprint Cup team), but the Hilton fortune heiress has put together a very strong team, making her entry into the 125 GP very compelling.

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Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer

11/29/2010 @ 6:17 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Here’s to starting Monday morning off right as we bring you the Spanish-made Sbay Flying 1800 custom café racer from Sbay Motor Company. If cruisers from a certain American manufacturer could look like this, we imagine that talks of an aging demographic would cease to exist as the Flying 1800 has ample doses of eye-candy, sportiness, and innovation.

Between the 3.7 gallon carbon fiber tank that is hangs below the oil-holding frame and above the motor, the rear taillight that integrates into the tail section like a Ducati GP9/GP10, and the tasteful use of copper pipes that we liked so much on the Confederate Fighter, there’s plenty to get you drooling on this bike as it borrows from some of the best ideas in motorcycle design.

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Radical Ducati Café Veloce

11/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Seeing how popular the work of Radical Ducati has been on our site, both with the Radical Ducati 9½ and Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we thought we’d bring you another one of the Spanish group’s fabulous creations: The Radical Ducati Café Veloce. Based off a Ducati Sport Classic, the Café Veloce features the same DS 1000 air-cooled two-valve motor, and steel tube frame as the now discontinued Ducati, but grows upon the Sport Classic’s cafe inspired lines.

Tastefully refining the Café Veloce into a sleeker and more dynamic package, Radical Ducati has created the Café Veloce to be devoid of Ducati’s more bland touches to the GT1000. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re smitten with the Café Veloce, even if it’s not usually the kind of thing we’d go for in our own garage. Photos after the jump.

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The Definitive Guide on How to Pronounce ‘Lorenzo’

05/03/2010 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

It doesn’t seem like a topic that really needs that much explaining, but after suffering through this weekend’s MotoGP race coverage here in the United States, it would seem there is some confusion on how to properly pronounce “Lorenzo”, as in Jorge Lorenzo’s last name. Continue reading if you want to see a leviathan description of Spanish language and how it relates to motorcycle racing in an admittedly over-the-top and pretentious sort of way.

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