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.

The End of Marzocchi Suspension is Nigh?

04/22/2015 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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Reports out of Italy suggest that the Marzocchi brand may soon be no more, after parent company Tenneco made the decision to close the Italian firm’s Bologna factory in Zola Predosa.

The Italain outlets go on to say that motorcycle manufacturers that use Marzocchi as an OEM part have been notified that they will no longer be supplied with the suspension pieces, once the co Marzocchi’s stock of forks has been exhausted from supply.

This news would affect a bevy of brands, including BMW, Ducati, MV Agusta, TM, GasGas, Beta, and AJP.

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Recall: Aftermarket Öhlins Shock & Steering Dampers

04/02/2015 @ 7:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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If you’ve bought an Öhlins shock or Öhlins steering damper in the last year and half or so, you may want to check your part’s serial number as it may be affected one of the two recalls Öhlins just issued for the company’s aftermarket suspension pieces.

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BMW R1200RT Suspension Fiasco to Conclude This Month

08/04/2014 @ 3:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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It was only a few months ago, June 6th to be precise, that BMW Motorrad advised owners of the new liquid-cooled BMW R1200RT, who had the optional Dynamic ESA suspension package equipped, to stop riding their motorcycles until a solution to a collapsing rear shock defect could be found.

Ultimately, BMW and its parts supplier decided to replace the rear shock entirely, recalling all the 8,000 units worldwide (950 of which are in the United States) — they made that announcement just a month ago, though have been giving R1200RT owners a varying number of other options as well.

For those R1200RT that elected not to have BMW Motorrad buyback their machines, riding should commence sometime this month. BMW Motorcycle Magazine is reporting that BMW Motorcycle dealers should have replacement shock absorbers in two weeks’ time, and thus be able to begin fixing affected machines.

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Recall: BMW R1200RT Equipped with Dynamic ESA

07/02/2014 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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After advising owners of the 2014 BMW R1200RT to stop riding their motorcycles if they were equipped with the company’s Dynamic ESA suspension, BMW Motorrad has now begun an official recall with the NHTSA for the faulty rear shock piston rod on the R1200RT.

In its NHTSA filing, BMW of North America says that the piston rod within the rear shock absorber can break without warning, which can cause a loss of stability that in-turn could result in a crash. The issue only affects motorcycles manufactured between November 27th, 2013, to May 5th, 2014, for a total of 950 potentially affected machines in the USA.

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BMW Motorrad USA Offering Money, Loaners, and Buyback Options to R1200RT Owners for Suspension Woes

06/23/2014 @ 11:50 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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A reports by BMW Motorcycle Magazine has described what BMW Motorrad USA is offering owners who were affected by the “Do Not Ride” order regarding the BMW R1200RT.

For those that don’t remember BMW Motorrad issued a worldwide statement regarding the 2014 BMW R1200RT, saying that models of the touring bike that were equipped with the Dynamic ESA suspension should not be ridden, as a BMW supplier alerted the German brand that the rear suspension had a defect, which could cause catastrophic failure.

BMW Motorrad hasn’t intimated when a solution could be coming for the affected R1200RT owners, though rumors are a date in August or September. To compensate American riders for this downtime, BMW Motorrad USA has put together three options for RT owners.

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2014 BMW R1200RT Owners Advised Not to Ride Their Motorcycles – Potentially Critical Suspension Defect

06/05/2014 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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BMW Motorrad has released a worldwide notification about a potentially dangerous suspension situation, which affects the 2014 BMW R1200RT.

Concerned about the safety regarding the Dynamic ESA electronic suspension package, BMW Motorrad says that there is a potential defect with the system’s rear spring strut.

Since the German motorcycle manufacturer cannot rule that the piston rod could potentially break, BMW Motorrad is advising 2014 R1200RT owners not to ride their motorcycles until further notice.

BMW Motorrad insists that this is a precautionary measure, which the comopany is making in the interests of customer safety, and based on a supplier report.

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Recall: Moto Guzzi Griso, Norge, & Stelvio

08/12/2013 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Recall: Moto Guzzi Griso, Norge, & Stelvio

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Piaggio Group Americas is recalling certain model year 2012-2013 Moto Guzzi Griso, Moto Guzzi Norge, and Moto Guzzi Stelvio motorcycles because of a manufacturing fault in the rear suspension connecting links, which could fracture and collapse the rear suspension.

Affecting 680 units in total, the bikes in question are Stelvio NTX 1200 motorcycles manufactured February 6, 2012 through April 10, 2013, Norge 1200 motorcycles manufactured January 25, 2012 through March 21, 2013, and Griso 1200 motorcycles manufactured January 26, 2012 through April 29, 2013.

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MotoGP: Defective Tire Or Setup Error – Why Did Jorge Lorenzo Struggle at Le Mans?

05/24/2013 @ 10:05 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

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Jorge Lorenzo’s disappointing performance at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans has been the cause of some debate. The factory Yamaha man finished a lowly seventh, his worst finish (other than DNFs) since his rookie season in 2008, and finishing off the podium for the first time since Indianapolis in 2011. To say this was an uncharacteristic performance from Lorenzo is something of an understatement.

So what went wrong? Immediately after the race, Lorenzo made it clear that he believed the problem was with his rear tire. He had had no grip whatsoever, and been unable to get any drive from his rear tire.

He told the press afterwards that the only logical explanation he could think of for his problems was a defective rear tire. Lorenzo had been fast in the morning warm up, though it was a little drier then, and the set up used was very similar to then. In 2012, Lorenzo had won at Le Mans by a huge margin, so he could not understand why he was struggling so badly in France.

Bridgestone naturally denied there had been a problem with Lorenzo’s tire. After the race Bridgestone officials told the press that they had examined the tire together with Yamaha engineers and found nothing wrong with it.

In their customary post-race press release, Bridgestone’s Motorsport Tyre Development Manager Shinji Aoki reiterated this stance. “As is always the case in these situations, his engineer thoroughly examined Jorge’s race tyres which were found to be in good working condition,” he is quoted in the press release as saying.

“In addition, I examined the tyre myself and personally discussed the matter with the Yamaha engineers and we all agreed that Jorge’s lack of rear grip was not attributable to his tyre.”

What do we know ourselves? Though nobody is saying anything other than official statements, there are still some clues we can piece together from the data available. The key fact is visible from the race footage, available to those with a MotoGP.com video pass on the official MotoGP website.

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Öhlins Releases a Semi-Active Suspension Upgrade for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S – But, What’s Next?

04/30/2013 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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An interesting development on the aftermarket side of things has graced our desks, as Öhlins has released a “suspension control unit” (SCU) that upgrades the electronically adjustable suspension on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S so that it becomes a semi-active suspension system. Whhhaaaat??!

So, if you’re the proud owner of a pre-2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, and you think that your electronically controlled Öhlins suspension is no longer boss, now that Ducati has released its Sachs-powered “Skyhook” semi-active suspension pieces on its new batch of Multistrada sport-tourers, there is a remedy for your motolust.

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Öhlins Brings Semi-Active Suspension to the Masses

12/12/2012 @ 3:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Enticed by the idea of having semi-active suspension on your motorcycle? Then the latest tech from Öhlins Suspension might be the thing for you, as the Swedish company has developed an electronically controlled mechatronic shock for existing motorcycles, starting with the 2011-2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

Developing the system first in the  World Superbike Championship, Öhlins is the first suspension manufacturers to bring the technology to the masses, though companies like Bitubo, Marzocchi, and WP Suspension have similar units that will be available next year as well.

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