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.

2014 Ducati Monster 1200 Mega Gallery

02/17/2014 @ 2:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 has officially debuted for the world press, which means we get a bevy of hi-res photos of the street-naked on location at the Canary Islands.

Fitted now with Ducati’s water-cooled Testastretta 11° engine, the new Monster 1200 gets a significant power boost over its predecessor — 135hp for the base model and 145hp for the S model, compared to the Monster 1100 EVO’s 100hp.

While the classic Monster lines have been retained, Ducati has updated the Monster 1200 to a more modern aesthetic; and the new Monster even uses its own version of Ducati’s “frameless” chassis design, with the subframe and headstock bolting directly to the v-twin engine’s cylinder heads.

A very clean look in person, even all 196 of these high-resolution photos don’t do the Monster 1200 justice. You have to see it in person; but until then, enjoy the photos after the jump.

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2014 Honda CB650F — A2 License Optional

11/08/2013 @ 4:44 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Of course where there is a new Honda CBR650F at the 2013 EICMA show, there is a new Honda CB650F as well. Based on its fully-faired sibling, the 2014 Honda CB650F features the same brand new chassis and motor that is found on the 2014 Honda CBR650F sport bike.

Accordingly, peak horsepower is 86hp with the CB650F tipping the scales at 454 lbs at the curb (458 lbs for the ABS-equipped model).

Like the CBR650F, the CB650F is geared for younger riders, and accordingly Honda will have an A2 license machine available that will make 47hp and have ABS as a standard option.

Other features and characteristics are in-line with the 650cc CBR model, making the CB650F a practical street naked, that has some design chops as well. Would you rock it?

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2014 Kawasaki Z1000 – So Much Sugomi

11/05/2013 @ 5:37 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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We have seen the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 leaked and teased ad nauseam ahead of the 2013 EICMA show, but now we finally have the official photos and specifications of the Kawasaki’s new street-naked.

For the new year, Kawasaki says that the new Z1000 has a revised ECU setting, along with different camshaft timings and oval exhaust connectors between the header pipes.

Other improvements like connected cylinders (less pumping loss) and a new airbox design, help the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 reach 140hp (104.5 kW) and 82 lbs•ft of torque from its 1,043cc inline-four engine.

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Ninja’d: BMW S1000R Streetfighter Caught on Camera

11/04/2013 @ 12:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Our friends at Oliepeil.nl have some serious “lef” going on, because through some “enhanced journalism” those crazy Dutch moto-enthusiasts have managed to grab a couple photos of the BMW S1000R as it waits in the BMW Motorrad exhibit, ahead of its official EICMA debut tomorrow.

A streetfighter version of the venerable BMW S1000RR, the BMW S1000R drops an “R” from its predecessors name, but still features the same inline-four engine as it superbike counterpart –though the motor has likely been detuned to a more sane level.

Unfortunately, we don’t have word on specs or features for the 2014 BMW S1000R, but we do have an idea now of what its finished form looks like. Photos after the jump, but be sure to see more photos and watch the the walk-around video on Oliepeil.nl…just don’t eat the mayo while you’re there.

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2014 Kawasaki Z1000 Debuting at EICMA

10/01/2013 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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With the KTM Super Duke 1290 R debuting today, and BMW Motorrad set to show its BMW S1000RR-based streetfighter in a couple weeks, we get news that Kawasaki will be upping its game in the street-naked category as well — debuting an all new 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 at the 2013 EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

Teasing the bike for the past few weeks, this is the first news confirming the date and model in question from Kawasaki. Big Green isn’t talking specs at this point in time, but instead is using the Japanese word sugomi — “the intense aura or energy given off by a person or object of greatness and felt by the viewer” — to pitch the new Z1000.

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2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R Finally Revealed

10/01/2013 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The countdown clock is at zero, and that means the wait is over for the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R. At EICMA last year, they called it “The Beast” and with 177hp (132 kW) coming from the 1,301cc v-twin engine, we are inclined to agree.

As svelte as it is powerful, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R tips the scales at 417 lbs dry, and comes with a ride-by-wire throttle control system, along with traction control and ABS that can be disengaged, as A&R also predicted.

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Say Hello to the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R

09/26/2013 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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With four days still on the countdown clock, we didn’t expect to see the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R until its October debut, but those crafty Frenchies at Moto-Station have gotten their hands on a couple photos of Austria’s new street hooligan machine.

Giving us a glimpse into “The Beast’s” final lines, we see that the new KTM Super Duke 1290 R retains the headlight shape from the prototype concept (better seen on the Patriot Edition concept), though sadly does not incorporate Kiska’s underslung GP-style system, opting instead for the standard single-can setup that was seen in the various spy photos that we have shown.

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2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

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With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.

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The KTM 1290 Super Duke Caught in the Wild

04/20/2013 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Spy photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke are nothing new, and the Austrian company has even gone as far as to tease us with a heavily massaged KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype at the 2012 EICMA show. With the final version of the superbike-powered streetfighter expected to be decidedly less edgy, the photo brought to us today (one can only guess when it was taken), if anything else, is a reminder to be reluctant our expectations.

The ever elusive “spy” photo, what we have here looks to be a near production prototype of the KTM 1290 Super Duke that has been caught in the wild. Easily the clearest photo we have seen of the road-going bike, it clearly holds KTM’s LC8 motor as well as the same trellis frame found on the “beast” prototype.

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WSBK To “Return to Its Roots” — Race Naked Bikes

04/01/2013 @ 12:07 am, by David Emmett25 COMMENTS

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The news that Dorna had been handed control over the World Superbike series struck terror into the hearts of WSBK fans around the globe. The fear was Dorna would use its position of controlling both World Superbikes and MotoGP to widen the technical gap between the two series in an attempt to cut costs.

With Dorna having so often complained that World Superbikes was encroaching on MotoGP territory, and with MotoGP’s technical regulations becoming ever more restrictive, the logical step would appear to be to severely restrict the level of machinery used in WSBK.

Over the winter, and during the first round of the 2013 World Superbike series, talks between Dorna, the Superbike teams, and the manufacturers involved in the series failed to make much headway. The factories could not agree among themselves what level of modification to allow, while the teams were unimpressed by Dorna’s demands that a WSBK machine should cost 250,000 euros a season, stating that the money saved in the bike would only be spent elsewhere.

Talks had continued at the IRTA test at Jerez, with Dorna’s new World Superbike boss Javier Alonso present, and engaged in private discussions with the bosses of HRC, Shuhei Nakomoto, Yamaha Motor Racing, Shigeto Kitegawa, and Ducati Corse, Bernhard Gobmeier.

We have learned that since then, further telephone discussions have taken place with Kawasaki boss Ichiro Yoda and Suzuki’s Shinichi Sahara, while Alonso had previously spoken to Aprilia Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna at the Jerez circuit, during their test there.

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