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.

Up-Close with the TT Winning MotoCzysz E1pc

06/10/2010 @ 6:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Last week we got a leaked photo of the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc, and knew the bike would be a contender in today’s TT Zero at the Isle of Man. Now that the TT for electrics is over, we can get a closer look at the machine that left the competition behind in the dust. MotoCzysz was a scratch at last year’s TT, and following that mantra the team effectively started-over from scratch for their 2010 effort. Back for 2010, there is of course the familiar MotoCzysz-designed 6X Flex front-end suspension system, but the rest of the bike centers around a revised energy package that’s been refined to engineering simplicity.

We’ve already covered how the central “suitcase” or eDD incorporates space maximizing v-shaped removable battery packs that pop-out with the push of a button. And how the entire 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc involves virtually no wiring, since everything dovetails perfectly together. We’ve also covered how the MotoCzysz D1-10 motor is replacing the three Agni motors from last year’s bike. Running off nearly 500 volts of power, the liquid-cooled IPM motor makes 250lbs•ft of torque, and generates over 100hp. The aerodynamics of the 2010 bike have been completely rethought, and employ a palatable design that achieves the aerodynamic goals to give the team a greater advantage with their limited on-board energy.

All of this is well and good, but it doesn’t mean shit if the bike doesn’t go fast.

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The Big Question for Tomorrow’s TT Zero Is…

06/08/2010 @ 3:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

What’s going to be mounted on these protruding brackets? So far the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc has been lapping the Isle of Man without its full fairing on the motorcycle. If history teaches us anything, the presumption, of course, should be that MotoCzysz has something still up its sleeve before the team takes to the Mountain Course tomorrow for the TT Zero event. Last year it was batteries in the tail-section, this year it would seem to be streamlining the E1pc.

While Michael Czysz has derided the use of a dustbin style fairings in road racing, he has acknowledged that a course like the Isle of Man creates an opportunity for a race team to find some benefits in the design. As such, Czysz wrote three months ago that he would have a dustbin fairing at the ready, should someone else show up with one as well…and that’s exactly what’s happened.

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MotoCzysz Sets Unofficial Lap Record at TT Zero with 94MPH Lap – Closing in on £10,000 prize

06/07/2010 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz set an unofficial lap record today at the TT Zero, the Isle of Man’s electric class for the Isle of Man TT. Averaging 94.664 mph over the Mountain Course, Mark Miller and the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc were clocked doing 131.1 mph through the Sulby speed trap. Compare those times to Rob Barber & Team Agni’s 83.689 mph run for the day, which was short of the team’s 2009 performance of 87.434mph (which is also the current class record). The Isle of Man government has setup a £10,000 prize for the first team to crack the 100mph average barrier, which could well be in MotoCzysz’s grasp after today’s showing.

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Zero/Agni Dominates at TTXGP Practice

05/14/2010 @ 6:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

TTXGP hit American soil here at Infineon Raceway today, with two zero-emission practice sessions under its belt for the day. Although dubbed an historic moment, today’s big winner probably wasn’t the sport of electric motorcycle racing, despite ZeroAgni put on a strong performance during the practice sessions. At the helm of the ZeroAgni bike was AMA privateer Shawn Higbee, who looked the part on the former Team Agni Isle of Man bike. Higbee was carrying tons of corner speed, and was the only electric sportbike rider to lap the course at near sportbike speed, and to really go the distance lap-wise.

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Team Agni Confirmed for TT Zero

03/15/2010 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Officially official now, Team Agni has confirmed their entrance into the Isle of Man’s TT Zero electric racing event. Although we’ve suspected for some time that this announcement would come, Agni through up a dust storm a couple months ago when they said they would not compete at the Isle of Man if generators were being used to power the TT Zero paddock. The use of generators was quickly denied by TT Zero organizers, and apparently Team Agni was content with their response. For 2010, Agni will field two bikes on the TT Zero grid, with the hopes of achieving the first 100+mph speed average over the Mountain Course.

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2009 TTXGP Champions Confirm All Three TTXGP Regionals For 2010

02/26/2010 @ 2:45 pm, by John Adamo2 COMMENTS

Team Agni took first place at the 2009 TTXGP at Isle Of Man by a large margin upsetting many favorites. Many eyes have been on Arvind Rabadia to see where his team would go racing for 2010. There are currently three separate electric race organizations, TT Zero (Isle of Man), e-Power (FIM) and TTXGP (eGrandPrix). For those new to the electric race landscape don’t confuse these 3 separate organizations with the 3 separate regional series that make up the 2010 TTXGP. The 8 highest placing teams from each of these regional series meet in Albacete, Spain for a final to decide the champion for 2010.

At this point not many of the major electric race teams have revealed their 2010 plans. Team Agni competing at all three TTXGP regionals could be a big draw for teams who want to beat the 2009 champions. It will be interesting to see if Team Agni signs on for e-Power as well. It seems Team Agni will not be at TT Zero as it falls on the same weekend as the second stop of the North American TTXGP round at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin as they fall on the same date. MCN mentions some feel Team Agni will soon sign on for the TT. It is very possible they will just skip Elkhart Lake or if they have the budget a team at both events. Stay tuned, we should learn more shortly. See the full press release after the break.

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Zero Enters TTXGP Racing Series [Updated]

12/02/2009 @ 10:28 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Zero-Motorcycles-gauge

UPDATE: Neal Saiki comments about using the Mavizen chassis.

Zero Motorcycles has announced their entry into the 2010 TTXGP series, where they will race against Team Agni, and competitors using the CRP Racing and Mavizen platforms. Early reports peg Zero as also using a Mavizen TTX02 platform, essentially a KTM RC8 chassis gutted of its ICE components. Despite using the Mavizen/KTM chassis, the race bike will be powered by Zero’s Z-Force battery packs and motors.

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Team Agni Wins Inaugural TTXGP

06/12/2009 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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In case you missed it this morning, the first running of the TTXGP, a zero-emission TT held on the Isle of Man, occurred today with Team Agni being the victor. Team Agni has dominated the whole week, setting the fastest times in both practice sessions. Their bike, piloted by Rob “Rocket” Barber, is a modified Suzuki GSXR frame, with Agni’s proprietary electrical motor in place of the standard internal combustion engine. Report and results below.

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