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.

Yamaha MT-09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/27/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the concept by Oberdan Bezzi for a Yamaha MT-09 based Ténéré adventure-tourer, but we thought we would up the ante now that the Italian designer has inked a “Worldcrosser” version of the three-cylinder machine as well.

Complete with knobbies, and over 150 lbs lighter than the 1,200cc Super Ténéré, the Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Worldcrosser could also boast a sticker price that is nearly half that of the venerable ADV bike from Yamaha.

It might just be a drawing, but there is something about this concept that really has us excited. To keep the creative juices rolling, there is a café racer version of the Yamaha MT-09 after the jump as well. Could this become the new “go-to” platform for customizers? At $7,990 MSRP, it just might be.

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Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/19/2014 @ 5:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha FZ-09, or the Yamaha MT-09 as it’s known outside of the USA, has become a big win for the tuning fork brand. A fun three-cylinder machine that has enough pep to carve up the canyons, yet also has a relaxed enough riding position to handle commuting duties, the Yamaha FZ-09 really wins our hearts and minds with its dirt-cheap price tag of $7,990 MSRP.

We’re not alone in our opinion, as the MT-09 has done so well in the global market, that Yamaha built off the buzz and released its two-cylinder cousin: the Yamaha MT-07.

If the Japanese OEM truly is eyeing more three-cylinder machines, we are excited for the prospect. Oberdan Bezzi is excited too, as the Italian designer has imagined his own interpretation of what Yamaha could do with the MT-09 line.

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Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine?

01/28/2014 @ 7:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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Nissan Motor Company is better known for its four-wheeled vehicle pursuits, so it might surprise you to see its name mentioned here on Asphalt & Rubber. To front load the answer to your most pressing question, no the Japanese marque is not getting into the two-wheeled universe.

However, Nissan has been doing some interesting work, ever since it took over the DeltaWing project. In a nutshell, the Nissan DeltaWing was a failed IndyCar replacement race car project that aimed to push the boundaries of light, aerodynamical, and efficient vehicle design.

It found new legs in the endurance racing arena though, and participated in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans — however it didn’t finish the iconic race, when a competitor crashed into it 75 laps into the race.

Nissan and the DeltaWing team have since parted ways collaboratively, but the Japanese car maker has clearly learned something from the process. Returning to Le Mans for the 2014 season, Nissan will field a very similar design, which it has dubbed the Nissan ZEOD RC.

A hybrid race car (Nissan hopes to complete its first lap at Le Mans solely on electric battery power), what tickles our fancy most is the 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine, which weighs a featherlight 88 pounds. Twenty inches tall, eight inches wide, the Nissan DIG-T R engine is small, though mighty. How does 400hp grab you?

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Video: MV Agusta Dragster 800 Teaser

01/20/2014 @ 10:23 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With all the details and rumors surrounding the new MV Agusta Dragster, it doesn’t surprise us to see MV Agusta drop us a hint about its newest motorcycle model. Accordingly, we have a teaser video of the Dragster, MV Agusta’s answer to the Ducati Diavel, to show you today.

Based around the company’s three-cylinder 800cc engine, we don’t expect the Dragster 800 to be a turbo, but we do expect it to be muscly and fun bike to ride. With burnouts and wheelies galore, along with a Metallica soundtrack, the Italian brand is certainly making us some promises of that nature, and as usual the bike is a looker to boot.

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Get Ready for the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800

10/18/2013 @ 9:08 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Those Italians in Varese are getting their EICMA machine ready, and have sent the international press invitations to see the new MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800. As the name implies, the machine is a sport-tourer, likely based off the still unreleased MV Agusta Rivale 800 platform and its 800cc three-cylinder engine.

Details beyond this are unknown, though the Turismo Veloce 800 is likely to look like sex on two wheels, as all MV machines tend to do. We hope that the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 looks like the MV Agusta Tricruiser concept we saw back in 2011. Photos of that rolling piece of art are after the jump.

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Triumph Daytona 1100 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/13/2013 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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It seems like a no-brainer, right? Take the existing Triumph Daytona 675 supersport package, drop in the 1,050cc three-cylinder motor found in the Triumph Speed Triple (with a higher state of tune, of course), and call the beast the Triumph Daytona 1100 superbike. Boom. Done. It’s so easy Triumph, so why haven’t you done it already?!

The answer of course is that the superbike segment is extremely competitive and expensive to enter — just ask BMW Motorrad. A small manufacturer with a rich brand history, Triumph also has a propensity to zig when others zag, which is how the Speed Triple came about in the first place. However, the timing might be right for Hinckley to put some effort into a superbike project.

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2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

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With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.

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MV Agusta F3 800: 146hp – 381 lbs – MVICS – EAS

06/04/2013 @ 1:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Just as our Bothan spies had predicted, the folks in Varese, Italy have debuted an 800cc version of the MV Agusta F3. The new machine is cleverly named the MV Agusta F3 800, and as you may expect, the street bike features the 798cc three-cylinder engine that is found on the MV Agusta Brutale 800 and the still unreleased MV Agusta Rivale.

Pepping that three-cylinder motor up to 146hp (note: MV Agusta continues to have some trouble converting kW into horsepower, and other publications continue to fail at checking MV’s math. Last we checked, 108.8 kW equalled 145.9 hp), MV Agusta has wedged the lump into its supersport chassis, and reports that no additional weight has come as a result.

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MV Agusta F3 800 Coming in June

05/16/2013 @ 3:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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If we had to summarize MV Agusta’s new model plans right now, we would classify it as a “no stone left unturned” approach, as the Italian brand seems committed to make every possible iteration of machine from its common parts bin of motorcycles.

Debuting the MV Agusta F3 675 three-cylinder supersport in 2010, and finally bringing it to market in 2012, the Varese brand is set to bring another iteration of the F3 to market, the MV Agusta F3 800.

As the name implies, MV Agusta will use its 800cc three-cylinder engine, which can be found on the MV Agusta Brutale 800 and the still-not-released MV Agusta Rivale 800 as well.

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XXX: 36 Photos of the MV Agusta Brutale 800

11/26/2012 @ 6:05 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

We might question the wisdom of building a stroked-out 798cc version of the three-cylinder MV Agusta Brutale 675, but we cannot disagree with the fact that the machine is a sight to behold. Using the same engine that motivates the MV Agusta Rivale, power for the MV Agusta Brutale 800 comes in at 123hp, with 59.7 lbs•ft of torque at 8,600 rpm, which means the new Brutale 80 won’t be nearly as peaky with its horsepower as the Brutale 675.

Fitted with higher-spec suspension and components, along with the MVICS electronics package, MV Agusta hopes that the Brutale 800 will be the feature-rich alternative to the more affordable naked bike, which is the Brutale 675. However you want to make the distinction between the two models, it is another piece of rolling motorcycle art, better known as MV Agusta. We have 36 photos of it after the jump for you to…enjoy.

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