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.

Trackside Tuesday: The Curse of Macau

12/13/2016 @ 11:06 am, by Tony Goldsmith12 COMMENTS

My journey to Macau for the 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix didn’t get off to the best of starts. I had just boarded my flight from Madrid to London, and discovered my tablet and laptop were missing from my bag.

After a few moments of panic, I came to the conclusion that they must have been stolen. I had spent three hours in the lounge at Madrid – someone must have taken them then.

It then slowly dawned on me what happened. When going through security, I had taken the laptop and tablet out of my bag as normal. After scanning my bag the security guy wanted all my camera gear out of the bag and sent me back.

I have no idea what makes Madrid security different to any other I have ever gone through, but obviously I wasn’t going anywhere if I didn’t do as instructed, so I emptied my gear into several trays and sent it back through.  

Once everything was cleared I packed all my gear back into my bag, but left my laptop and tablet behind!

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Trackside Tuesday: British Superbikes at Cadwell Park

09/01/2015 @ 11:07 pm, by Scott Jones5 COMMENTS

BSB Cadwell Park 2015 race start

The British Superbikes series doesn’t make many appearances here on A&R, other than the odd reference to a MotoGP or WSBK rider heading to or having come from BSB.

This season I’ve had two opportunities to visit BSB races in person and I’ve been so impressed I thought I’d offer the readers of A&R a trackside view of the series via the most recent round from Cadwell Park.

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Trackside Tuesday: 2015 Isle of Man TT Teaser

05/26/2015 @ 1:59 pm, by Tony Goldsmith13 COMMENTS

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It’s hard to believe that another Isle of Man TT is almost upon us — the racing this year has the potential to be the best we’ve ever seen. With all the usual suspects back, the pace at the front is going to be hot.

Will we see the first 133 mph lap of the Mountain Course? Can anyone stop Michael Dunlop’s dominance? Will John McGuinness edge closer to the 26 wins of the legendary Joey Dunlop?

Then of course there’s the question that everyone is fed up of asking, can Guy Martin finally take his first win? This year could be his best chance as he’s arguably got the best machinery he’s ever had at the TT.

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Trackside Tuesday: The Great British Drought

05/19/2015 @ 5:22 pm, by Tony Goldsmith5 COMMENTS

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It is well known that Britain has not produced a Grand Prix World Champion since Barry Sheene, who was crowned 500cc champ in 1977.

In the late 1990’s, with no sign of that changing, British fans turned their attention to World Superbike in their bid to find someone to cheer for.

In recent years the fans have returned to Grand Prix racing, despite ongoing success in World Superbike. British riders have started to get competitive machinery, and there has even been the occasional 125 podium and race win to celebrate.

In 2012 things really started to look up for British fans with Cal Crutchlow flying the flag in the premier class.

Whilst riding for the Tech 3 Yamaha team he claimed two podium finishes. The following season he improved taking four podium finishes and two pole positions.

At the same time, Scott Redding was winning races in Moto2, and narrowly lost out to Pol Espagaro in the Championship race .

Meanwhile, Danny Kent, once heralded as The Great British hope was having a nightmare debut season in Moto2 on the uncompetitive Tech 3 Mistral.

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Trackside Tuesday – Caption This

05/12/2015 @ 1:10 pm, by Tony Goldsmith14 COMMENTS

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While having a quick look through some pictures from Jerez, I stumbled across this one from the pre-event press conference that made me chuckle. I thought it would make for a funny “Caption This” post for the readers of Asphalt & Rubber.

I’ll start us off with: M.M.: “I’m a little concerned Dovi. The instructions said the swelling should go down within 4 hours. That was 5 hours ago and it still looks like this.

Over to you guys.

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Trackside Thursday: After Race Day – Testing at Jerez

05/07/2015 @ 10:33 am, by Tony Goldsmith5 COMMENTS

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With the dust settled on the Spanish Grand Prix, the serious business of testing got under way at the Jerez Circuit this past Monday morning.

With a live track for eight hours, this is invaluable time for riders and teams to assess new parts, fine-tune existing parts, and go in search of the elusive setup.

For a photographer, a test is an all together more relaxing experience than a race weekend. With so much time available you can linger at locations and take your time wandering around the track.

Additional locations become available as the advertising boards, which are usually too high to shoot over, have been removed. Pit lane is almost deserted, and provides opportunities that are harder to pick out on a race weekend.

With that considered, I will leave you with the gallery below from Monday’s test.

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Trackside Tuesday: Causing a Ruckus in Austin

04/14/2015 @ 3:47 pm, by Tony Goldsmith12 COMMENTS

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At last weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin I achieved a landmark moment in my fledgling MotoGP career. Thanks to Melanie at Asphalt & Rubber, I was the proud recipient of a Honda Ruckus scooter and what a revelation it was!

The ability to get from point to point with ease was a joy although I did have one small mishap, of sorts. On race day I had decided to photograph the MotoGP race from the outside of the track.

I started at Turn 1 and worked my round to Turn 10. After spending a couple of laps at Turn 10, I returned to my scooter and realised I was missing one of my cameras.

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Trackside Tuesday: The Austin Selfie

04/07/2015 @ 1:33 pm, by Tony Goldsmith20 COMMENTS

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I’ve arrived in Austin and settled into my digs ahead of Round 2 of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship.

As I sat down to write ahead of the coming weekend, I thought back to one of my favorites times from last year.

I’d had a great holiday with my partner Clare prior to coming to the 2014 race and really enjoyed the Austin experience.

While thinking about the weekend I wondered as to what, if any, images still stood in my memory from last year. One I immediately thought of was the MotoGP podium selfie of Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, and Andrea Dovizioso.

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Trackside Tuesday: Faster than Light

03/31/2015 @ 11:59 pm, by Tony Goldsmith5 COMMENTS

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The Qatar Grand Prix always throws up a host of photo opportunities that simply couldn’t be captured anywhere else. With its unique status as the only race on the MotoGP calendar held at night under floodlights; there’s no mistaking a photograph taken in Qatar.

At this year’s race an opportunity to capture something different presented itself as Sunday’s schedule had been changed from previous years.

This meant that warm up for all three classes would be run in daylight with the MotoGP class out last at 5pm – which would hopefully be late enough in the day to capture a MotoGP bike against the setting sun.

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Trackside Tuesday: Pardon Me, Coming Through

03/03/2015 @ 2:29 pm, by Scott Jones19 COMMENTS

Cal Crutchlow Losail grid 2014 Ducati Alpinestars Scott Jones

With the start of the 2015 MotoGP Season right around the corner, we have some more changes to the official regulations that govern MotoGP.

Some changes have been talked about for quite a while, such as that when a rider comes in to swap bikes during a flag-to-flag race, the waiting bike must be closer to the track than to the pit box; lower bodywork on the bikes must be designed to catch oil and other fluids that might leak (Moto2 and MotoGP bikes must be able to catch five liters of fluids, Moto3 bikes three and a half liters); and so on.

But some other items have been added to the rules that haven’t received much attention. Why am I thinking about all of this? Something just caught my eye that will directly affect my work as a photographer on the grid.

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