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.

Spy Shot: 2012 Ducati Superbike Superquadrata

05/31/2011 @ 9:18 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

It was only a matter of time until a photo of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike “Superquadrata” appeared online, as we knew the bike was testing last week at Mugello, alongside Valentino Rossi’s further testing of the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Set to debut at the 2011 EICMA show, the new Ducati Superbike is a marked departure from the current Ducati Superbike 1198.

Up until now, we did not know fully what the bike would look like, but this photo featured by MotoSprint.it sheds some light on the new Ducati, and confirms earlier reports we’d been given. Featuring an over-square v-twin motor (hence the name Superquadrata that’s been milling about), the 2012 Ducati Superbike says goodbye to the iconic trellis frame, and features a chassis that takes a page from Ducati’s MotoGP project.

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Lightning Motors “Flying Banana” Drops 150lbs, Adds 50hp

05/05/2011 @ 2:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We just got an update from Richard Hatfield at Lightning Motors about his team’s progress on the 2011 “Flying Banana” (there’s no escaping that name Richard), and without having seen all the bikes for this racing season, we would peg Lightning’s as the one to beat.

When we talked to Lightning at the end of last season, the stated goal for the 2011 bike was to remove 150 lbs, and add 150hp to the machine. With the parts coming together, Hatfield informs us that the team is on-track to achieve that goal – translation: this bike is going to be wicked fast and agile…and of course, yellow.

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Spy Photo: 2012 KTM 690 Duke

04/27/2011 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

MCN is running a photo today that a Austrian KTM enthusiast supposedly snapped at at gas station just down the street from the Austrian company’s Mattighofen headquarters. Coming across what looks to be an early-prototype of the 2012 KTM 690 Duke, we have at least a rough idea of what KTM will likely unveil at EICMA later this year.

Expected to be a few horsepower up on its predecessor, the ~70hp 2012 KTM 690 Duke has always been an urban wheelie machine that KTM would be hard-pressed to improve upon. The most notable changes so far appear to be a new headlight, a more pronounced pillion, and standard exhaust placement, along with a revised chassis and motor.

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Aprilia Caponord 1200 Adventure Bike Spied

02/28/2011 @ 7:25 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

According to the folks at Motociclismo.it, this is the first shot of Aprilia’s new adventure-touring motorcycle, the Aprilia Caponord. Based on the 1200cc Dorsoduro chassis and motor, the Caponord (or Tuareg 1200 if you want to believe other rumors) was originally supposed to debut at the 2010 EICMA show, but is now apparently slotted for a later arrival. Details are scarce on the model right now, but it’s clear from the 17″ front wheel and street-derived chassis that Aprilia is gunning for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 with its design.

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Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Headed for the Indy Dealer Expo

02/17/2011 @ 10:18 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing just posted this photo on its Facebook page with the caption “Spy photo of the race 1125 and the 1190RS in the van on it’s way to Indy for the big show! Thank you to everyone for your faith and support! It’s going to be an amazing year!” Strapped next to its AMA Pro Racing counterpart, we see that the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike was thankfully completed in-time for the Dealer Expo, and will debut with the exhaust can we were less than enthralled about during other glimpses of the machine.

But after last night’s glimpse of what’s underneath the fairings, we think we’ll forgive EBR on this one, as the 1190RS appears to be a no-compromises race bike with headlights, mirrors, and turn signals attached to it (which is exactly how the machine evolved).

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Yamaha FZ8R Cometh?

02/15/2011 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

While getting a tour of Yamaha’s French factory (you know, the one they’re keeping open), the folks at MotoBlog.fr spotted something they’d never seen before: an upgraded FZ8 naked bike labeled as the Yamaha FZ8R. After some negotiating with the tuning fork brand, the French publication was allowed to take a photo of the bike’s body panel, as a sort of proof of life in their story.

Expected to be announced soon, the francophones spotted on the FZ8R an upgraded exhaust by Lazer, Öhlins suspension stickers (and perhaps an Öhlins shock), but what looked to be stock forks and stock brakes.

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2011 KTM Duke 200 Spotted Again

02/11/2011 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Our friends at IndianCarsBikes.in have spied the KTM 200 Duke again out testing again near Bajaj’s factory in Pune, India. This time riding down the street, we get to see how the 200cc variant of the KTM 125 Duke will sit with an adult on the frame, and the bike looks fairly comfy for a full-sized person (although we have no idea how tall the rider actually is of course). The second spy shot of the KTM 200 Duke in a just a week, Bajaj is either getting sloppy (unlikely), or the debut of this machine could be edging closer and closer to reality.

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BMW’s New Liquid-Cooled Boxer Spotted in the Wild

02/04/2011 @ 11:43 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The writing has been on the wall for some time for BMW to replace its air-cooled boxer twin with an updated liquid-cooled version, and that hallmark day appears to be coming, as SoloMoto (additional photos on their website) has captured the next-generation German motor out testing in the wild (enhanced photo above) on the Spanish roads near Tarragona. This photo appears to confirm reports that BMW is testing a new R1200GS model, which will feature the liquid-cooled boxer twin, and has obvious differences from its air-cooled predecessor.

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First Look: Honda Crosstourer Concept

11/01/2010 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

While Honda won’t release more info on its new 800cc V4-based adventure bike and 1,200cc V4 adventure concept until a day or two from now, the folks at Oliepeil snapped this photo of the Honda booth, which shows a bike very similar to Honda’s teaser image. Looking very GS-esque, it will be interesting to see the results on Honda’s foray into the adventure bike segment with a V4 motor.

Source: Oliepeil.nl

Spy Shot: 2011 Triumph Tiger 800

10/19/2010 @ 7:24 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Spy Shot: 2011 Triumph Tiger 800

A British couple has seemingly caught the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 out in the wild, flying down the road doing 100 mph or so. Finally catching up to the bike at a gas station, the savvy duo snapped this photo, and put it on the interwebs for all to see (nice of them, huh?). The photo doesn’t really reveal too much about the road-going version of the new Tiger 800 that we don’t already know, but we do get a good look at the bike’s side profile. Clad with a 19″ front wheel, steal frame, and stroked three-cylinder motor, the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 looks to be blast down pot-hole laden roadways. Expect more details in a few weeks when the bike debuts at EICMA alongside the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC.

Source: BMW Sport Touring Forum via MotoBlog.it