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 Epic Story of Barry Sheene is Coming to the Big Screen

02/12/2016 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Barry Sheene is one of grand prix racing’s greatest riders, and perhaps one of its most intriguing characters. The two-time World Champion comes from a era when motorcycle racers were as unapologetic as the machines they rode, and Sheene exemplified both those those facts to the maximum.

Perhaps the original playboy of grand prix racing, Sheene eventually married Penthouse model Stephanie McLean – you’ve likely seen the set of iconic photos with her in Sheene’s unzipped leathers.

A heavy smoker, a big drinker, and a constant partier, Sheene represents a forgotten time in motorcycle racing where polished personalities weren’t the norm, and the personality of racers weren’t whitewashed by PR firms.

Why are we telling you all this? Because the epic story of Barry Sheene is finally coming to the silver screen, thanks to IO Films Australia and Deep Spring Pictures UK. It looks like it’s still early days for the crew, but the trailer is waiting for you after the jump.

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Benelli Leoncino Makes Its Return at EICMA

11/13/2015 @ 1:19 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

benelli-leoncino

Benelli piqued our interest when it said that a legend was returning, and now we know what machine the Italian brand was referring to: the Benelli Leoncino. A historic name for Benelli, the Leoncino (Italian for “lion cub”) was the model that defined the Italian company after World War II.

Like many motorcycles during that time period, the Leoncino offered Italians an affordable way to get around town, when many families could not afford a car, nor could the Italian infrastructure support four-wheeled mass transport.

As a result, many of Italy’s iconic names go their start in this manner (the same can be said of Japan’s motorcycle brands), so the hyper is certainly worthy of a legend’s return. The model teased of course, is a different story.

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Moto Guzzi V9 Gets the Teaser Treatment

11/12/2015 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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The joke might be that Moto Guzzi riders are a little “touched” in the head, but we think anyone who isn’t that concerned about getting from Point A to Point B in the fastest manner possible can appreciate the Italian brand’s latest model.

Getting teased ahead of the EICMA show, this looks to be the first photo of the Moto Guzzi V9 – a stylish retro-cruiser type of machine. The photo comes not from some leaked source, but instead from Moto Guzzi’s own website, where the teaser is displaying prominently (shown above, and enhanced after the jump).

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Bimota Impeto “Hyper-Naked” Debuting at EICMA

11/10/2015 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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In addition to the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe that will debut at the EICMA show in Milan next week, the boutique Italian brand has another new model for our two-wheeled consumption, the Bimota Impeto.

Bimota is calling the Impeto a “hyper-naked” model, which we take to mean a nasty-fast streetfighter machine, which will take over from the Bimota DB9. We say this because sometimes things get lost in translation when it comes to Bimota press releases.

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Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe – Hub-Center Steering Café Racer

11/10/2015 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

bimota-tesi-3d-rc-teaser

Bimota has a number of things to debut at next week’s EICMA show, the biggest being the company’s latest model: the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe.

The concept seems pretty simple, take the hub-center steering design of the Bimota Tesi 3D, and style it to look like the café racer of the future – if that oxymoron makes sense to you.

The above image is the teaser for the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe, which shows a more traditional headlamp on the futuristic machine. Other changes include the use of Ducati’s air-cooled 803cc v-twin engine, which is currently powering the Ducati Scrambler line.

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A New “MT” from Yamaha, But What Is It?

11/09/2015 @ 12:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Yamaha is teasing a new model to its MT family (that’s the FZ family, for American readers), but the teaser doesn’t tell us much beyond that a new model is coming. Yamaha’s video says that the new model is a “Ray of Darkness” which continues Yamaha’s “Dark Side of Japan” tagline from previous years for the MT line.

What model Yamaha has up its sleeve is an interesting thought exercise, as the Iwata brand has already debuted a 125cc and 250cc single-cylinder models, a 689cc two-cylinder model, and a 847cc three-cylinder model under the MT name. In the North American markets, the FZ-01 rounds out the FZ family with its 1,000cc four-cylinder engine.

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Ducati Teases Its New “X” Cruiser

11/09/2015 @ 11:20 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Ducati has nine new models to show us at EICMA, one of which is surely a feet-forward cruiser design that’s based off the Ducati Diavel. The teaser campaign for this new model has been going on for quite some time now, but we have been ignoring it since there was absolutely no substance to what Ducati was showing…until now.

Finally giving us a glimpse of what the hell the Italian brand has been saying with its “This is…” tagline, Ducati isn’t exactly showing the full monty, but it’s enough for us to recognize the belt-driven cruiser model that we’ve seen in spy photos.

We are not sure how such a model is going to be received by hardcore Ducatisti, but clearly Ducati is looking to expand its reach of new customers, and is looking to take a little bit of Harley-Davidson and Victory’s action.

Time will tell if it pays off – expect to see this new Ducati unveiled in one week’s time at the EICMA show in Milan.

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Here are the First Photos of the 2016 Honda CB500F

11/09/2015 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Media Advisory: 2016 Honda CB500F Preview Images

Here is your first look at the 2016 Honda CB500F, which like its other Honda brethren, will get a bit of makeover for next year. American Honda is teasing the new model now, but says it won’t release more information until the EICMA show in Milan, on November 17th.

We don’t think Honda will stray too far from the current Honda CB500F, with most of the modifications being cosmetic refinements that enhance the street-standard’s appeal to riders.

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Benelli Teases the Return of a “Legend” – A Scrambler?

11/05/2015 @ 11:20 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

benelli-scrambler-teaser

Benelli is very much the forgotten Italian marque in the motorcycle industry, with Ducati, MV Agusta, and Aprilia (in that order, perhaps) taking most of the attention when it comes to motorcycle that hail from a country shaped like a boot.

The brand has made some fantastic modern models, like the Tornado, TnT, and Tre, and of course Benelli is steeped in a rich history that has some classic motorcycles. Those are the elements that have always attracted us to the brand, and what keeps us longing for more from Benelli.

However, ownership under the Qianjiang Group has proved difficult for motorcycle enthusiasts, with the company’s sexy Italian-designed motorcycles giving way to practical simple people movers. The Benelli TnT25 proves that point.

It seems though that things are slowly coming around for Benelli and its Chinese owners though, with the Italian-born brand sending the above teaser with the message “The Legend is back…” So we dug a little deeper.

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Modest Changes Come for the 2016 Honda NC700X

10/22/2015 @ 2:01 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2016 NC700X Teaser 2

Modesty might be the name of the game so far for Honda’s 2016 lineup, as Big Red announces its lesser models for next year, ahead of the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, where we expect to see some interesting machines.

One of those models getting a modest refresh for the upcoming model year is the Honda NC700X, Honda’s other road-hobbled adventure-touring machine. The big change for 2016 will be “exciting new styling”, though other changes are afoot as well.

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