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.

A Race Weekend with the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha MotoAmerica Superbike Team

08/01/2016 @ 1:54 pm, by Andrew Kohn6 COMMENTS

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It’s 7am at Utah Motorsports Campus on Day One of a three-day MotoAmerica race weekend. Being my overly punctual self, I’ve shown up at the track too early, but it’s given me a unique opportunity to watch the teams arrive and get set up.

As I walk around the paddock, I can hear the sounds of a race weekend beginning. The quiet tones of the teams waking up and starting their day; eyes still bleary from the long drive to Utah. I could smell coffee brewing and breakfast cooking in some pits, while others were still devoid of activity.

I came around a corner and saw the unmistakable blue awning of the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Factory Superbike Team. Yamaha invited me to spend a weekend with them to see the inner workings of a professional racing team, and all of the hard work that goes into such an undertaking.

Over the weekend, I’d have opportunities to sit down with Racing Division Manager and AMA Hall of Famer, Keith McCarty, 2015 Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes, and Crew Chiefs, Rick Hobbs and Jim Roach.

Since it was still early and the tent flaps were still down, I stood and watched as the paddock awakened.

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Racing Likely to Return to Bonneville Salt Flats This Year

07/13/2016 @ 8:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Racing Likely to Return to Bonneville Salt Flats This Year

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Racing seems set to return finally to the Bonneville Salt Flats this year, as the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) has found the conditions favorable to run its Speed Week event next month (above is a photo taken of the salt flats, just two weeks ago).

This is good news for land-speed racers, as racing at Bonneville has seen a two-year hiatus because of deteriorating salt conditions in 2014 and 2015.

Now, the SCTA says that it sees the Bonneville Salt Flats as being suitable for three courses – an 8-mile “long course”, 5-mile “short course”, and a 3-mile “rookie course” – and has begun prepping the salt for its Speed Week event next month.

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Gone Riding: Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L

05/03/2016 @ 7:28 am, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

2016 Honda Africa Twin

Hello from the road, dear readers. I’m out in Moab, Utah for the next few days, testing the Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L adventure-touring motorcycle. We have a solid couple of days riding ahead of us, with Tuesday being an on-road day, and Wednesday seeing our feet get dirty with some off-road action.

Weather here in Moab has been fluctuating for the past few days, with rain, hail, and flurries being previously on the menu, but the forecast promises us some sunshine for our stay. Hopefully the weatherman right.

One of the most anticipated machines for the 2016 model year, the Honda Africa Twin is finally about to arrive in motorcycle dealerships (though, in limited numbers). We’ve been looking forward to swinging a leg over this off-road focused ADV machine for some time, to see if it lives up to the hype.

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Miller Motorsports Park Sale Vacated by Judge

12/18/2015 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Miller Motorsports Park Sale Vacated by Judge

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Miller Motorsports Park is set to change hands, after the Miller family’s LHM Group decided not to renew its lease with Toole County on the property.

This created a situation where bids were tendered for a new operator, which lead to Mitime Utah Investment, LLC — a subsidiary of Chinese company Geely Holding Group, which is also the owner of automotive company Volvo — winning the bidding process with a sum of $20 million, two months ago.

That sale though has been vacated by Third District Judge Robert Adkins, who agreed with the petition of Center Point Management (CPM) that the company’s $22 million bid should have won, since it was higher and the County has an obligation to sell the property for the most money.

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Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Now Canceled

08/17/2015 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Now Canceled

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After being a tentative “go” for racing last week, the 2015 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials has now been canceled because of conditions on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The announcement comes after rains in the Salt Lake City, Utah area put water on the salt flat racing course, and now currently half an inch of water sits on what the BMST calls its “Mountain Course” area.

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Triumph Postpones Land Speed Record Attempt

08/13/2015 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats has been a tumultuous affair for 2015, with the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) forced to cancel its Speed Week event for the second year in a row, just to see the AMA now proclaim its Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials event a tentative “go” barring more weather in the Salt Lake City area.

One of the teams we hoped to see competing on the salt flats was Triumph, with its Triumph Rocket III Streamliner and Guy Martin at its helm. With Guy Martin’s savage crash at the Ulster GP leaving the Lincolnshire-man with a broken back, sternum, and ribs, Triumph has had to re-think its 2015 land-speed record program.

As such, Triumph is calling this year a wash, and will return to the salt flats in 2016, where hopefully conditions, and more so fate, will allow the team to race towards its 400 mph goal.

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AMA Says Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Still a “Go”

08/11/2015 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on AMA Says Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Still a “Go”

Shunji-Yokokawa-Honda-Bonneville-land-speed-record

UPDATE: The 2015 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials has now been canceled, due to salt conditions.

The conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats are worrying, to say the very least. Each year the conditions of the salt flats are worse and worse, and 2015 marks the second year in a row that Speed Week has been cancelled by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) because of the conditions.

Last month, when Speed Week was cancelled, there was a lot of doubt cast on the rest of the land-speed record season, but the AMA says that its Speed Trials event has found a suitable course its motorcycle-only land-speed racers.

Set to run August 29th thru September 3rd, as of right now the “AMA Land Speed Grand Championship” that is the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials is a tentative “go” for racing.

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SCTA Cancels Bonneville Speed Week, Again

07/21/2015 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on SCTA Cancels Bonneville Speed Week, Again

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Bad news continues from the Bonneville Salt Flats, as the SCTA has officially cancelled its upcoming Speed Week event — an event that was cancelled last year as well.

As we reported earlier, Speed Week was put into serious doubt because of the conditions of the salt flats, which were shown to have a thin salt layer and wet/muddy conditions that made the historic site unsuitable for land speed racing.

Spending Tuesday morning at Bonneville looking for a suitable stretch of salt for a 2.25-mile course, SCTA President/Race Director Bill Lattin & the BNI Chairman Roy Creel deemed the conditions unsafe for a race course, and thus dashed any hopes of the event being salvaged.

Perhaps the only silver-lining to today’s news is that if the salt dries out, future land speed racing events might be possible at Bonneville this year.

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SCTA Speed Week in Peril as Bonneville Loses More Salt

07/13/2015 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats continue to deteriorate with each passing year, and 2015 is no different. Testing for the upcoming Speed Week, put on by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), has been cancelled, and the salt conditions for the August 8th event are questionable, at best.

Readers will remember that last year’s Speed Week was cancelled, after torrential rain flooded the salt flats. This year, the salt layer is so thin that the uneven desert floor is poking through in some spots.

Out surveying the salt flats last week, Russ Eyers from the SCTA told the Salt Lake Tribune that he couldn’t find a 7-mile stretch of land suitable to land speed racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats, with some portions still underwater and others where the salt is mixed with mud.

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Guy Martin Racing at Bonneville with Triumph

07/09/2015 @ 7:30 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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After competing in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb last year, Guy Martin continues his pursuit of racing beyond just road race courses, with an announcement today that he will compete with Triumph for a land speed record at Bonneville.

The news sees the Lincolnshire-man aboard the Triumph Rocket III Streamliner, which is powered by two turbocharged 2.3-liter Triumph Rocket III engines that make a combined 1,000 horsepower.

Triumph and Martin hope to top the current FIM motorcycle land speed record, which is 376.363 mph, pop the 400 mph barrier, and thus bring the land speed record back to the Triumph brand, and the UK, after a 45 year absence.

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