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.

2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP – Proving Patience is a Virtue

10/04/2016 @ 7:44 am, by Jensen Beeler84 COMMENTS

2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP

The wait is over. The most anticipated motorcycle of the INTERMOT show is here, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP.

We have seen the spy photos of this new superbike, we have seen leaked details on this superbike, and we’ve mused endlessly about this new superbike. And now, we can finally replace that conjecture with fact.

First off, the rumors were true. The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP sheds a massive 15 kilograms off its bulk, which translates into a 441 lbs mass at the curb. Power has also been increased by almost 11hp, for a total of 190hp at the crank.

Honda says that these two figures combined mean a 14% increase in the Honda CBR1000RR’s power-to-weight ratio. That’s pretty astounding, when you consider that under the new fairings is still mostly last year’s bike.

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2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R – A Two-Pronged Approach

10/04/2016 @ 5:12 am, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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No, that extra R in GSX-R1000R isn’t a typo – Suzuki is releasing two versions of its superbike at INTERMOT today, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R being the higher spec model for track enthusiasts.

Available later in mid-2017, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R takes the already robust package that is the Suzuki GSX-R1000, and adds to it an up-and-down quickshifter, launch control, and cornering ABS feature set.

The suspension has also been upgraded, with the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R getting the very noticeable Showa Balance Free forks (note the gas cartridge on the fork bottom), and the Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion rear shock, which is an interesting piece of kit, since Showa says the design does away with the need for separate high-speed and low-speed compression adjustment.

The last item of difference, besides the price of course, is that the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R includes a lighter triple tree top clamp.

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The All New 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Finally Debuts

10/04/2016 @ 4:01 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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We have had to wait nearly an entire year for Suzuki to finalize and release its new superbike, after first teasing us at the 2016 EIMCA show with it. But today at INTERMOT, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is finally ready for primetime.

Because Suzuki already teased us the new GSX-R1000 a year ago, much about the machine is already known. But, for a proper plot twist, there will in fact be two variations of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 for 2017, with a higher spec 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R debuting as well.

For the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 base model, of course everything is brand new. The inline-four engine on this liter-bike features a variable valve timing (VVT), a first in the superbike segment. Peak power is just shy of 200hp, with Suzuki claiming 199hp and 86.7 lbs•ft of torque.

The crown jewel of the electronics package is a six-axis IMU, which brings a 10-level traction control system, riding modes, cornering ABS, launch control, up-and-down quickshifts to the once “King of Superbikes” (the latter three items being on the GSXR-1000R).

With a wet weight of 441 lbs, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is in the hunt to reclaim that crown, making this a strong return for the Japanese brand in the superbike segment.

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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Earns that Extra “R”

10/04/2016 @ 3:07 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2017-kawasaki-ninja-zx-10rr-04

Before INTERMOT this year, Kawasaki USA sent out a cautionary email that Kawasaki bikes debuting at trade show in Germany would be for the European market only, and that those bikes coming to the USA would debut later next month.

So, we can’t say for certain for our North American readers that the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR will be crossing the pond, but for our European compatriots, here is a new superbike that should get your motor really running.

A byproduct of the World Superbike rules, the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a homologation special, of which only 500 units will be made for public consumption.

To get that extra “R” on its name, the folks at Kawasaki have taken their already stout ZX-10R superbike, and massaged in some pretty choice engine, chassis, and electronic upgrades.

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2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR Gets More Updates

10/04/2016 @ 1:19 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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The 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR is the first bike to debut at this year’s INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany. For the Italian brand, it is evolution, not revolution for its venerable superbike, with the Aprilia RSV4 getting some more bits and bobs for the 2017 model year.

The key items of note are improved suspension and braking pieces, as well as an updated electronics package, which includes cornering ABS. Of course, Euro 4 emissions compliance is part of the package as well, something will see en masse this year at INTERMOT as it becomes mandatory for all models.

The engineers in Noale have been hard at work though to keep the RSV4 at the pointy end of things, with the 2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR still making a claimed 201hp and 84.8 lbs•ft at the crank.

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Details Emerge About the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR

10/03/2016 @ 4:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

honda-logo

Our colleagues at NieuwsMotor have been up to their usual trade show tricks today, and seemingly they have gotten ahold ofthe technical specs for the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR.

They are reporting that the venerable superbike will get an increase of roughly 10hp, along with a diet of 33 lbs (15kg). Other features include Öhlins semi-active suspension, different riding modes (likely via ride-by-wire), and traction control (HSTC – Honda Select Torque Control).

The new Honda CBR1000RR is of course Euro4 compliant, and Honda is apparently touting that 90% of the machine has been redesigned for the 2017 model year.

To be certain, out of all the machines set to debut at the INTERMOT show tomorrow, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR is the one we are looking forward to seeing the most.

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New Honda CBR1000RR Videos Confirm Inline-Four Engine

09/30/2016 @ 10:19 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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After seeing the spy photos of the Honda CBR1000RR filming in Croatia, we already have a pretty good indication that Honda isn’t going to stray too far from the current Fireblade design. The chassis looks almost exactly the same as the current generation model, as does the engine.

The most recent teasers from Honda confirm this notion, with the Japanese brand showing us four glowing header pipes off an inline-four engine. The exhaust note should end speculation that a crossplane crankshaft has been added to the CBR1000RR, with a distinct “screamer” tone coming from its pipes.

Honda’s next video gives indication that the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR will have an LED headlight, a tip to the likely robust electronics suite that Big Red is bringing to its new superbike, which will compliment the major fairing design upgrade

With the tagline “Total Control” being touted by Honda, we can expect the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR to come with the bevy of electronic rider aids that we have come to expect from this segment: ride-by-wire, traction control, wheelie control, launch control, etc.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #33 – Wankeled

09/20/2016 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

two-enthusiasts-podcast

I’m not going to lie to you, Episode 33 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast starts off a little rowdy, and never really stops partying. In it, we look at the recently spied 2017 Honda CBR1000RR and recently teased 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6, two incredibly important machines in the sport biking side of the industry.

We also talk about the Wazer water jet cutting project, and how that’s going to affect builders and makers. From there, we pivot to a discussion on the consumerization (that’s a word now) of high-tech manufacturing techniques, which has made things like water jet cutting and rapid prototyping accessible to the masses.

The show ends with a listener question about ABS brakes, which is good timing, considering our interesting discussion about electronics as a whole, and the progression of rider aids in the motorcycle industry. Wankel jokes aside, it is a pretty interesting, and dare we say entertaining show.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

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Honda Begins Teasing the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR

09/20/2016 @ 2:13 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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Honda launched a dedicated website for its arriving 2017 model year motorcycles today, giving us a glimpse into what Big Red has in store for us at INTERMOTEICMA, and the IMS Show in Long Beach, and the first machine they’re teasing seems to be the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR.

While the current teaser is set in the United States, at Thunderhill Raceway Park, we first caught glimpse of the new Honda CBR1000RR while shooting at a similar promo video in Croatia, strangely enough.

From those photos, we know that the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR (that’s the 2017 Honda Fireblade to our European readers) is based off the current model’s design, with the two machines sharing a chassis, and likely many engine parts.

Obviously, Honda has wrapped the 2017 CBR1000RR in very different fairings, and updated the superbike for Euro4 emissions.

Logic also dictates that Honda’s updated superbike will have ride-by-wire, traction control, and other electronic aids, and we can likely expect the engine to get a little bit more pep as well, just to keep us from moaning too loudly that the aged platform is seeing yet another year of service.

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Hi, Are You the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR?

09/13/2016 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler85 COMMENTS

2017-honda-cbr1000rr-similarities

If you were hoping that the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR would be a completely new machine for sport bike enthusiasts, the following might disappoint you.

This is because photos published on Twitter seem to suggest that the 2017 Honda Fireblade will get mostly cosmetic changes for the upcoming model year.

As you can see after the jump, what looks like the new CBR1000RR was caught lapping for what appears to be a PR video spot for the Japanese OEM.

While it is clear from these shots that the pictured Honda CBR1000RR has a radically new fairing design, a closer comparison to the chassis (see above) suggests that the machine is simply the current generation machine, with new clothing.

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