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.

Spy Shots: A New Water-Cooled 1198cc Ducati Monster?

06/26/2013 @ 7:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Oh the ever *cough* elusive motorcycle spy photo, how we love to hate thee. No brand has been a greater “victim” of its pre-production motorcycle being caught by eagle-eyed photographers than Ducati, so it should come as no surprise then that first machine on the pre-EICMA buzz machine should be one from the Bologna brand — though cynicism, it is an interesting machine that has been spied.

Having the clear lines of the Ducati Monster line, our subject today has the curious oddity of being equipped with what appears to be a water-cooled Testastretta 11° motor, which is fitted with an exhaust that looks suspiciously like the lump found in the Ducati Diavel.

If the interwebs are correct, and this new Monster is indeed a 1198cc beast, then that means that we likely have a modern take on the Ducati Monster S4 on our hands, which should good for 150 hp of street terror.

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2014 Suzuki GSV-R Spotted Again

05/02/2013 @ 2:55 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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News that Suzuki plans on returning to the MotoGP Championship in 2014 should be old information for dedicated Asphalt & Rubber readers, and the Japanese company’s inline-four race bike was already spotted doing test laps last year by the eager eyes at Cycle World.

Well the American print-mag has another set of eyebrow-raising high-quality photos of the 2014 Suzuki GSV-R to mull over from the Motegi race track, along with some technical insights provided by the venerable Kevin Cameron.

Head over to Cycleworld.com to read Cameron’s analysis (and see the bevy of great photos the magazine has published), but understand that while the secrets revealed may be fewer than last time’s inline-four revelation, one thing is for certain: Suzuki’s MotoGP package looks to be very well polished in its design.

It is clear that the Japanese manufacturer has clearly taken some notes from the work produced by its fellow countrymen. Expect to see the new Suzuki GSV-R (or whatever the boys at Hamamatsu end up calling it) in a few formal GP tests later this summer, with Randy de Puniet heavily tipped to be Suzuki’s test rider.

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Spy Video: BMW R1200GT

04/17/2013 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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News that BMW will be coming out with a water-cooled replacement of its current R1200RT is really nothing new. Since the debut of the new BMW R1200GS, and its precision water-cooled motor, it has seemed like only a matter of time before the BMW’s next-generation boxer engine made its way into the German company’s other models.

We have already seen the 2014 BMW R1200RT strutting its stuff in camouflage before, but those photos were small and blurry — really just enough to give us an idea of what we were looking at, and nothing more. This is not the case today however, as a German blogger has been fortunate enough to catch what he calls the BMW R1200GTt out in the wild, and has included a 1080p walk-around to prove it.

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Water-Cooled 2014 BMW R1200RT Spotted

03/27/2013 @ 11:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With the water-cooled BMW R1200GS official debuted and soon to be released for the 2013 model year, it was only a matter of time before we saw the same “precision liquid-cooled” version of the BMW R1200RT make its spy shot debut.

Coming to us in a very blurry form, a blogger at the french publication MotoMag caught the 2014 BMW R1200RT out for a spring time jaunt in the South of France.

Heavily disguised in camouflage, it is hard to understand how far zie Germans have strayed from the old model’s lines, though we hope that the touring machine gets as much of an overhaul as the Gelände Straße.

To our eyes, the fairings look physically much larger, and it looks like the headlights could be borrowed from the KT1600GT platform. More photos after the jump, call out any other changes you might see.

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Spotted: Honda CBR500, Honda CB500R & Honda CB500X

10/25/2012 @ 4:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Honda is set to debut a number of 500cc machines at EICMA next month, two of which we have already glimpsed: the Honda CBR500 & Honda CB500R. Joining the smaller sport bike and street-naked is is the Honda CB500X, a 500cc version of the Honda NC700X.

Spotted all together at an Italian commercial shoot, all three models are said to share a 500cc parallel-twin motor that makes 45hp, as well as the same basic chassis.

Fitted with “traditional” telescopic forks, single brake discs up front, and all three models sharing a bevy of major parts, Honda should be able to be very aggressive with its pricing structure on the new 500cc model line.

Looking at the components as well, it is clear that Honda intends its new CBR500, CB500R, and CB500X motorcycles to be priced at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, making them attractive to newer and price-sensitive motorcyclists — especially our friends across the pond who are riding with an A2 license.

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More Photos of the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 848

06/15/2012 @ 8:44 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Last month, we brought you a photo of what we believed to the new Ducati Hypermotard 848. There was a bit of chatter after the photo hit the internets, as some believed the bike to be akin to the Multistrada line. While the telemetry rack on the bike of the machine, and its side-mounted GP-style exhaust followed the design ethos of the Multistrada 1200, the bike’s seat, mud gaurd, and overall aesthetic were reminiscent of the current Hypermotard.

Seemingly confirming our suspicions, these photos of the likely 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 848 add further credence to our Hypermotard line of reasoning — especially with the front of the motorcycle being seen more clearly. Expected to have a detuned lump from the Ducati Superbike 848 EVO, photos of the liquid-cooled middleweight create more questions about the machine than they do answers.

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Spy Photo: Are You The New Moto Guzzi Stelvio?

05/31/2012 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Is Moto Guzzi working on a new adventure model? These spy photos would seem to suggest that is the case, as this bike was caught outside of Piaggio HQ, with the longintudinal v-twin heads popping out of the sides of the spoked-wheel machine. Caught by Moto.it, the Italian publication seems to think this is more of a super/hypermotard type of machine, though the proportions to us look to be more well-suited for adventure touring.

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2014 Suzuki GSV-R Spotted – The Inline-Four Cometh?

05/23/2012 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The eagle-eyed camera’s over at Cycle World have caught Suzuki conducting tests for its MotoGP project, and the early indications are that the Japanese brand has dropped its V4 motor configuration in favor of a more traditional transverse inline-four cylinder arrangement — at least for this present stage of testing.

Cycle World‘s sources say that while the cylinder configuration may be fairly standard, the 2014 Suzuki GSV-R is anything but your typical four-pot. Showing the makings of a crossplane crankshaft via the bike’s exhaust routing, it would seem Suzuki has taken a page out of Yamaha YZR-M1‘s playbook, with rideablility being the name of the game. If you are keen for a good read, checkout Kevin Cameron’s article on Cycle World for more pictures and his analysis of what they mean for Suzuki’s MotoGP prototype.

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Spy Photos: Brammo Empulse R Caught in the Wild

05/01/2012 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Next week we will get to see the Brammo Empulse R officially and publicly unveiled in Los Angeles, but the eagle-eyed lens of Brenda Priddy & Co. and the pages of AutoMoto have caught the electric motorcycle during a movie shoot for its upcoming launch. With an “R” emblazoned on the side, you can be sure this Empulse R and not the base model Empulse we have looked at for the past 22 months, though the two bikes seem to share a bit of similarity.

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KTM Adventure 1290 Spotted in the Wild

04/23/2012 @ 12:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Caught testing in the wild by the folks at Infomotori, these “spy photos” of the KTM Adventure 1290 are the first good glimpse we have gotten of the Austrian brand’s upcoming revamped adventure bike. Expected to hit the North American market in the 2014 model year, the 2014 KTM Adventure 1290 features a water-cooled v-twin motor, which will likely be shared with the 2013 KTM Super Duke R 1290.

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