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.

2016 Ducati Hypermotard 939 – Modestly More Powerful

11/16/2015 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Hypermotard family, which include the Hypermotard, Hypermotard SP, and Hyperstrada gets a displacement increase to 937cc, but we knew that already from CARB documents earlier this year.

Now we know that the plus-sized supermoto model will make 113hp (+3 hp from previous) from its Euro4 compliant engine, which also comes with a 10% torque increase (+7 lbs•ft of torque).

The styling is obviously the same, as you can see from the photos after the jump, though there are some subtle changes to the turn signals and handguards, that may look familiar if you’ve perused the Ducati Performance catalog recently.

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Watch the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto Do Its Thang

10/13/2015 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Maybe it’s because my supermoto season officially ended this weekend (without me, I should add), with our last scheduled sumo session at the go-kart track here in Portland passing by this weekend, or maybe it’s because we just want the Swedish brand to deliver the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto already…either way, consider our appetite whetted by this last video from Husky.

Finally giving us a showing of the 701 Supermoto on a proper race track — not that the ice course with spiked tires wasn’t cool (no pun intended) — we get to see the 701 at home in its natural element: hitting apexes, sliding tires, and crushing lean angles.

We imagine that the nearly as powerful, and considerably lighter Husqvarna FS 450 supermoto would be the better weapon on the track, but the 690cc power plant on the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto is certainly the better choice for a machine that will roll a tire on public roads…and that’s sorta the point of the machine.

We’ll be eager to see this Husqvarna hit showrooms in Europe this November, and thus being the long wait for it to come to the USA in February 2016. Could the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto be the ultimate city hooligan bike? Time will tell…we’re certainly eager to find out, though.

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New 937cc Ducati Hypermotard 939 Outed for 2016

09/28/2015 @ 10:59 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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In addition to the 2016 Ducati 959 Panigale, Ducati is set to update the Hypermotard line, according to documents filed with the California Air Resources Board.

The filing shows three new Hypers: the base model Hypermotard 939, the up-spec Hypermotard 939 SP, and the touring-oriented Hyperstrada 939.

Unfortunately the CARB filings don’t tell us too much about the machines, other than their emissions are lower (thanks to Euro 4 compliance), and that all three street bikes will use a 937cc engine and a six-speed gearbox.

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Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, Coming to the USA

09/26/2015 @ 2:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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It seems our hopes have been answered, as the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto has been confirmed for the US market, for the 2016 model year. We already knew that the 701 would be available in Europe, starting in November 2015, but word for other markets was non-existent.

Now clarifying things, Husqvarna has confirmed that the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto will be at dealerships in the USA, as well as other markets, start in February 2016. Yes, that means you too can now own a KTM 690 SMC R, dressed in blue and white.

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2016 Husqvarna FS 450 – Less Weight, More Swede

09/18/2015 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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The Husqvarna brand will continue with its FS 450 offering for the 2016 model year, though you would be wrong to confuse the 2016 bike with its predecessor.

Trimming the fat off the 2015 model, it is clear that Husqvarna looked for ways to make the FS 450 even lighter than before, for 2016, and the Swedish brand look successful in that endeavor, with a 232 lbs machine (sans fuel).

To hit that target weight and other benchmarks, the 2016 Husqvarna FS 450 needed a new chromium molybdenum steel frame, a potent 63hp, 450cc, SOHC, engine, and a bucket of weight-saving items.

Our press release says the new FS 450 will be out in dealers in September of this year, but we take that to surely mean European showrooms, not American. We hope this bike will come the USA though, as it sounds like two wheels of hoon for sumo enthusiasts, and a lighter option than the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto.

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Husqvarna 701 Enduro Coming for 2016

09/08/2015 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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I had the supreme pleasure of being a guest at the KTM factory last week, touring the Austrian company’s headquarters at Mattighofen.

Seeing some things that I should have perhaps not have seen, Asphalt & Rubber can now confirm two things: the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto looks awesome in person, and that there will be a Husqvarna 701 Enduro for the 2016 model year.

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Watch Dani Pedrosa Rip It Up on a Supermoto

07/29/2015 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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A riding buddy of mine taunted me last night about how he was going out to the supermoto track, while I’ve been itching to get out on mine…so we’re starting today off with a little homage to the Sultans of Slide, the European Luc1 supermoto team.

I hope all motorcycle racing teams take a long look at what Luc1 is doing, because they not only win on the track, but they also win at content creation. At the end of the day, professional motorcycle racing is about selling for sponsors, and Luc1 not only gets that, but they excel at it.

Take this video here, where they are joined by Dani Pedrosa, who has a little free time right now since it is MotoGP’s summer break. Good things happen.

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“I Am From the Future, You Are Not”

07/21/2015 @ 10:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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Last week I was down in California, mostly for the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca, but also to replace a dead hard drive on a server named Heather, and for the Arai Corsair-X helmet press launch. It was a busy week, to say the least.

I was lucky though to stop be and see the folks at Alta Motors, the ranks of whom have swelled greatly since I was last there, as the company is readying itself for production and is soon moving to its new facility for that very purpose.

It might be too early to talk about 2016 model year motorcycles, but the RedShift SM is definitely a bike I am eager to see in its production form, since the prototype definitely impressed me…all the way back in 2011.

Alta seems just about ready to deliver on its “faster than gas” marching orders, and they have been quietly letting friends and family ride their pre-production units at the shop.

One such person was Jon Bekefy, a stalwart of the motorcycle industry, and no stranger to electric motorcycles, having recently worked for the now defunct Mission Motorcycles.

Equipped with a RedShift SM, a helmet cam, and a microphone…good things ensue. We imagine soon-to-be RedShift owners will have similar reactions once they get their bikes. Enjoy the video, after the jump…and Jon, do you really kiss your mother with that mouth??!

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More Details on the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto

07/17/2015 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Husqvarna is getting ready to unleash a 690cc supermoto on the world, in case you’ve missed the Swedish brand’s marketing campaign and dedicated website. Unsurprisingly, the bike is based off a comparable KTM model, though that’s not to say the folks at Husky haven’t improved on the KTM 690 Duke for their purposes.

(Re-)Releasing some tech details this week, we again know that the Husqvarna 701 will feature a ride-by-wire throttle (with three engine maps), slipper clutch (because supermoto), premium WP suspension, and what Husqvarna calls “Supermoto ABS” that is really the Bosch 9.1 MP race ABS, which allows one to still lock-up the rear wheel while the front wheel engages the ABS.

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Superprestigio of the Americas Announced

06/08/2015 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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With the success of the Superprestigio in Spain, AMA Pro Flat Track is looking to copy the model for the American market. Dubbed the Superprestigio of the Americas, the November 21st race will presumably heavily feature American riders, though no names have been announced just yet.

The announcement is just the latest of events to come from the Daytona Motorsports Group, in order to promote the sport of flat track racing in the USA. As you may know, Just recently flat track racing was included as part of the X Games in Austin, Texas, which gave the sport a captive mainstream TV audience.

Now appealing to riders from road racing, supermoto, and other two-wheeled diciplines, the Superprestigio of the Americas can bring together fans from different parts of the two-wheeled racing world…just don’t expect to see Marc Marquez going head-to-head again with America’s finest.

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