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.

Ducati SuperSport Priced at $13,000 for the USA

10/06/2016 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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If were to judge things by traffic on Asphalt & Rubber alone, the new Ducati SuperSport was the bike of the 2016 INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany. The return of a cult classic, it seems Ducati has successfully tapped into the vein that made the original so well-loved.

Releasing pricing for the US market today, there might be more to love about new SuperSport and its up-spec SuperSport S sibling, as both bikes come with attractive price tags.

As such, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport will MSRP for $12,995 in the USA, while the 2017 Ducati SuperSport S will come with a sticker price of $14,795 MSRP.

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2017 Ducati SuperSport – The Sport Bike Returns

10/04/2016 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler66 COMMENTS

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The Ducati SuperSport is back for the 2017 model year, bringing a street-focused sport bike into Ducati’s motorcycle lineup once again. As you would expect, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport will come in two models, the SuperSport base model and a higher-spec SuperSport S model.

Both bikes use the 937cc, water-cooled, 113hp v-twin engine that’s found in the Ducati Hypermotard 939. Ducati has also used a steel trellis frame for the SuperSport, which looks very similar to the one used on the current Monster line. Obviously, the front fairing takes some cues from the Panigale superbike.

Ducati’s focus is for the SuperSport to augment its street lineup with something sporty that could go on the race track, but would be more at home on twisty roads, even with a passenger on the back.

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Here’s Another Yamaha YZF-R6 Teaser Video

10/04/2016 @ 10:04 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 is coming soon. We know this because Yamaha has released a second teaser reminding us to that fact. Set this time at what looks like Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, the teaser video again is light on giving anything away.

A few glimpses of a sport bike can be seen, and of course there’s the aural pleasure of hearing a 600cc inline-four engine being revved out to infinity. Our ear hears a flatplane crank for the new Yamaha YZF-R6, which is a topic we’ve covered before, in the last teaser video.

If we sample the frames to this video, we do get a couple good detail shots. One is of the vents on the fuel tank / airbox cover, another shows us what looks like an LED headlight, the best shot though shows us the shilouette of the new R6, which looks to be based closely off the current R1.

Beyond this, what features could Yamaha be bringing to the class-leading supersport? Only time can tell.

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Ducati SuperSport Photos Leaked

10/03/2016 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler72 COMMENTS

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The big reveal for Ducati, at INTERMOT, will be the Ducati SuperSport. Bologna already teased this machine at this year’s World Ducati Week gathering at Misano, giving hardcore Ducatisti a first look at the sporty street bike.

Naturally, photos of the machine promptly leaked from WDW2016, which coupled with eyewitness reports, means we have a pretty good idea what to expect in Cologne, Germany this week.

Because of all that, we can confirm that the following are indeed photos of the 2017 Ducati SuperSport, though we will obviously have to wait until tomorrow to see high-resolution images and tech specs released.

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The Ducati SuperSport Gets Teased Ahead of INTERMOT

09/30/2016 @ 11:03 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The start of “New Bike Season” is nearly here, with various brands getting their teaser campaigns ready for next week’s INTERMOT show. One of the best in the business at this, Ducati is ready to unveil its long-awaited Ducati SuperSport model.

The rebirth of one of Ducati’s more popular models in the past, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport works on the same idea of making a sporty street bike, which is not only good for spirited weekend rides, but also capable of doing some short-distance touring.

As such, the SuperSport fits a narrow niche in Ducati’s lineup, somewhere between the Hyperstrada 939, the Monster 821, and the Panigale 959.

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Lausitzring World Superbike Debrief: The Rain Lottery

09/21/2016 @ 6:32 pm, by Kent Brockman1 COMMENT

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It was a weekend of contrasts in Germany. Four weathers in a race weekend is usually something associated with Phillip Island, but with 86°F temperatures having welcomed the WorldSBK paddock from their summer break, the heat gradually transitioned to a downpour on a cold and windy Sunday.

With Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea claiming the spoils in the races, there was little reason to think that this was a standout weekend, but in many ways the German round of WorldSBK could prove pivotal when the season concludes.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #33 – Wankeled

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

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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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2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Hinted for INTERMOT Debut

09/15/2016 @ 9:46 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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For a couple months now, we’ve had some indications that Yamaha was getting ready to release a new sport bike. With the Yamaha YZF-R1 coming up on two-years-old, the timing suggested that Yamaha was ready for a follow-up to that hit. That is to say, it is time for a new Yamaha YZF-R6.

Yamaha seems to agree, today posting a teaser video to its website and social media accounts. The video is sanitized from giving away too much information, with us only seeing a rider going around a race track. The sound though, is a strong giveaway.

The video’s soundtrack is filled with the screaming of a multi-cylinder machine. Our ear hears a four-cylinder engine, with a flat-plane crankshaft, that is revving to the stratosphere.

This give us a strong indication that a supersport bike is just around the corner, and the video ends with the promise of showing more on October 4th, the first press day of the INTERMOT trade show in Cologne, Germany.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #27 – The Ducati Show

08/11/2016 @ 11:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Part 2 of our big catch-up, Episode 27 continues our conversation about my recent travels, with this episode focusing those trips with Ducati.

In the show, we talk about my recent interview with Claudio Domenicali, giving a teaser of what’s to come from A&R’s conversation with the Ducati CEO. We then turn our attention to my two trips to Italy, one for World Ducati Week, and the other for the DRE Enduro course.

On both trips I was riding the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, so Quentin and I talk a bit about that as well.

We finish up the show by talking an speculating about Ducati’s 2017 model lineup, which includes the Ducati 1299 Panigale Anniversario and the Ducati Supersport. If you’re a Ducatista, you won’t want to miss this 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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What It’s Like to Party with 81,000 Ducati Fans

08/04/2016 @ 5:10 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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“It’s like drinking from a firehose” is the phrase I would use over and over while telling people about my recent trip to this year’s World Ducati Week.

The three-day event attracted 81,000 rabid Ducati fans through the gates of the Misano race track, which is just a stone’s throw from Italy’s Adriatic Coast. One of the best race tracks in the world, along one of Italy’s best beaches…the recipe for success here might seem obvious.

Beyond these factors though, World Ducati Week itself is a magnet event that attracts Ducatisti from the world over by offering them the ultimate Ducati experience.

Strangely enough though, you don’t even have to be a Ducati fan to attend – though it helps – as WDW2016 is something that any motorcyclist can enjoy.

For my part in this, I will admit to having more than one Ducati in my garage (none on press loan, mind you), so consider my glass of Kool-aid aptly filled, but truthful Ducati has put together a motorcycle enthusiast agenda that other brands and venues should take note of .

As such, World Ducati Week is a great example of how to get motorcyclists excited about being…well, motorcyclists.

Ducati does this by having no shortage of events and spectacles for fans to enjoy, and while the venue is a race track, most of what makes World Ducati Week special doesn’t take place on the Misano Circuit itself.

Instead, the key to World Ducati Week’s success is the carnival atmosphere, that immerses attendees in the very best that the Ducati brand has to offer.

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