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.

eRoadRacing’s Miller Motorsports Park Round Cancelled

08/08/2013 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Team-Icon-Brammo-Empulse-RR-Steve-Atlas-09

It’s been a while since we reported on the eRoadRacing World Cup series, the love child merger of the TTXGP and FIM e-Power electric motorcycle racing series, and that is for good reason.

While Asphalt & Rubber is a big proponent of the electric motorcycle uprising, and there are a lot of interesting things developing in this space (be sure read to our ride reviews of BRD RedShift SM, Mission RS, and MotoCzysz E1pc) the racing side of the equation has been rather lackluster.

So, it doesn’t surprise to hear that the FIM has cancelled the eRoadRacing event at Miller Motorsports Park, which was supposed to happen August 31st & September 1st.

Instead, the North American part of the eRoadRacing series will consist of only two rounds: last month’s Red Bull US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, and this month’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Video: Speed Week at Bonneville 2012

03/15/2013 @ 10:26 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Video: Speed Week at Bonneville 2012

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Not that California has any real seasons to speak of, but spring has definitely arrived this week in San Francisco, with sun-filled days and warm nights again on the region’s menu. That means our brief winter hibernation from motorcycling  is about to end, as the revving motors of World Superbike at Phillip Island, AMA Pro Road Racing at Daytona, and MotoGP at Doha wake us from our slumber.

For Asphalt & Rubber, our events calendar for 2013 is marked full of great two-wheel escapades that we plan to attend, but at the top of the list, Speed Week at Bonneville ranks highest. Helping us get in the mood for man’s toil against the salt is this great video put together with scenes from last year’s running. Happy Friday people. Get out and ride.

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WSBK: Red Flags Mean Second Chances for Race 2 at MMP

05/29/2012 @ 6:55 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

With clean racing for Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park, World Superbike’s Race 2 was interrupted after a few laps with a red flag incident caused by Hiroshi Aoyama’s Honda CBR1000RR crashing, and spilling fluid onto the track. This proved to be bad news for Carlos Checa, who like in Race 1, had gotten clear of the field, and was able to once again run his own race. Instead, Checa had to contend with strong showings from Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes, proving that the restart of Race 2 would be another good battle.

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WSBK: Sunshine & Motorbikes for Race 1 at MMP

05/29/2012 @ 5:21 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Sunshine & Motorbikes for Race 1 at MMP

Memorial Day was finally greeted with some proper racing weather at Miller Motorsports Park, and World Superbike racing was underway Monday at WSBK’s only stop in the USA. With the Ducatis lacking speed on Miller’s long front straight, the Italain contingency made up for its horsepower deficit in MMP’s many curves. Surprisingly, this lead to Jakub Smrz taking the Superpole on Sunday, and with Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano sitting on the front row, only Tom Sykes could mix things up with his #3 spot on the grid.

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WSBK: Dry Conditions Prevail for Cold Qualifying at MMP

05/28/2012 @ 7:12 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Encircled by the gorgeous Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges, Miller Motorsports Park has some of the most dramatic backdrops out of all the World Superbike venues, though coupled with the track’s 4,000+ foot elevation, the weather can be wet and cold at times. Such words were probably an understatement for the conditions on Sunday, as frigid temperatures and rain prevailed in the day’s earlier sessions. Realizing that some Superpole qualifying was scheduled for later though, the weather gods appeased the American crowd, who had been braving the conditions, and quickly dried the track for World Superbike qualifying.

Down on power at the very fast track, the Ducatis of Smrz and Checa surprised everyone with their dominance on the time sheets. Of course, Tom Sykes could not be counted out from the qualifying fun, as the Englishman has taken four of the past five pole positions. One of only two stops on the WSBK calendar that is outside of Europe, American fans were treated on this Memorial Day weekend to some fine qualifying, which included some upsets. Results after the jump.

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Do You Have 20/20 Vision?

01/11/2012 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Because motorcycles can move from lane to lane with ease, and even vary their position in a single lane with regularity, motorcyclists are sadly hard to spot when automobile drivers are accustomed only to looking out for larger slow-to-move cars that take up an entire lane’s width. Yes, as motorcyclists we impose a special duty on automobile drivers, a duty which more often than not gets pushed back onto us. This then requires motorcyclists to ride defensively. It requires us to assume a cage doesn’t see us, and is gong to move into our lane.

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Video: 200+ MPH with Paul Thede & Lightning Motorcycles

08/22/2011 @ 7:57 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Lightning Motorcycles had a busy week last week, as the San Francisco Bay Area company was hard at work at Bonneville setting the fastest speed ever on an electric vehicle, and then later shattering that record. Though the team wasn’t able to break past 220 mph as they had hoped, rider and multiple LSR holder Paul Thede is probably still happy with the fact that he spent the better part of the week going faster than he has ever gone on two-wheels before, let alone on an electric.

Becoming the newest inductee to the 200 MPH Club, Thede and his red hat made two more stabs at their 215.907 mph land speed record. Though they wouldn’t get past the mark, they did send us this video of their last run which showed 216 mph on the GPS at one point during the five mile pass. Be sure to note the perceivable lean angle capture by Lightning’s camera due to the Bonneville’s crosswinds. Would you be able to go 200+ mph cocked over 15º or more? Video after the jump.

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Bonneville: Lightning Raises the Electric Motorcycle LSR Up Another Peg with a 215.907 mph Record

08/17/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Lightning Motorcycles is still on the salt flats at Bonneville, looking for the ultimate in speed on an electric motorcycle. After already on Sunday setting the fastest speed recorded for any electric motorcycle, the Lightning crew set back to work on crushing its own 206.079 mph land speed record. Posting a 214.209 mph speed yesterday, Paul Thede had to once again back up the team’s accomplishment with another wicked fast run today, in order to get into the record books. Battling gusty cross-breezes, Thede put in an astonishing palindromic 217.712 mph time to set another LSR for Lightning, which officially comes in at 215.907 mph in the APS-Ω class.

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Final TTXGP Round to be Held at Miller Motorsports Park

08/04/2011 @ 2:16 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After AMA Pro Racing and Virginia International Raceway had their little hubbub over hosting one of the last road racing events on the AMA calendar, the news that the two parties had fallen-out meant that the TTXGP round scheduled to piggyback off the VIR round was by proxy also cancelled. With TTXGP’s New Hampshire round (yes, you read that right…New Hampshire) also cancelled because of worries over competitor attendance, TTXGP’s joint-round with the FIM e-Power Championship at Laguna Seca threatened to be the series’s final running of the 2011 season.

With rumors swirling at the US GP that TTXGP was hard at work securing a final round, we get word tonight that the final round will be held at the venerable Miller Motorsports Park on the weekend of September 3rd & 4th. With MMP hosting Bike Fest (a regional gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts) during that weekend, TTXGP will presumably become a part of the Fests’ festivities. That is of course if anyone actually shows up to the racing event.

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Monday at Miller Motorsports Park with Scott Jones

05/30/2011 @ 6:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS