Ride in Peace, Author Robert Pirsig

I first heard of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance shortly after I bought my first motorcycle, a Honda CBR600F2. I was stuck in the middle of Dunsmuir, California with a bad rectifier/regulator (a common trouble-spot on that model bike), and a passerby recommended the title. I think they referred the book out of naiveté its content, but obviously the novel, despite its title, would do little to help my immediate problem with my Honda, though it was a good read about some general philosophic ideas, which I could chew-on after I got my CBR bumped-started and back on the road again. Undoubtedly, you have likely heard of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as well.

Carbon Fiber BMW HP4 Race Debuts in China

As we predicted, the BMW HP4 Race carbon fiber superbike debuted today in China, at the Auto Shanghai 2017 expo. This is the production version of the prototype that BMW Motorrad teased at last year’s EIMCA show in Milan. Details were scarce in Italy, but now BMW is ready to tell us all about its halo bike. The numbers? Only 750 units of the BMW HP4 Race will be produced. Each one will make 212hp, and weigh 377 lbs when fully fueled and ready to ride – which is lighter than BMW’s WorldSBK-spec S1000RR racing machine. Of course the main feature of the BMW HP4 Race is that it drips in carbon fiber. The bodywork, main frame, and wheels are made of this composite material, with the tail section being a self-supporting carbon fiber unit.

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.

Track Testing with MotoCzysz

07/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Over the long weekend, Asphalt & Rubber got the chance to swing by Portland International Raceway for MotoCzysz’s first track test with the 2010 E1pc electric race bike. It’s hard to believe, but this was Michael Czysz’s first time riding his creation on the track. The session was prompted by Czysz’s need to get ready to race the E1pc at the up-coming e-Power Championship race at Laguna Seca. Czysz had hinted to us several months ago that he might pilot the electric race bike at Seca, and now has confirmed that intention to race the bike himself. .

Getting to tag along during the new E1pc’s first actual track test, we got to see how the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc compared to ICE track bikes while lapping at PIR. Observations, photos, and two videos that prove we need to get a proper camcorder in the A&R office are awaiting you after the jump.

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Videos: Rossi Lapping at Misano Test

07/08/2010 @ 7:15 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Italy was abuzz yesterday as Valentino Rossi took to the track, testing at Misano, after nearly a month long hiatus. Breaking his shin during a highside at Mugello, Rossi was able to get back in the saddle this week partly because of his extensive use of a hyperbaric chamber, which super-saturated his body with oxygen and increased his body’s healing power, but it is also because the Italian World Champion is just that dedicated to racing.

One lucky spectator at Misano was able to catch a number of Rossi’s laps on video, as the Italian completed 26 laps, over two sessions, on the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 World Superbike. Rumors peg the carbon-clad WSBK R1 as being one of Cal Crutchlow’s bikes. Crutchlow is a favorite candidate to move into MotoGP (with Monster Tech3 Yamaha) next season, if Yamaha loses Rossi to Ducati in 2011. Check the videos out after the jump.

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Two Examples of Target Fixation

06/15/2010 @ 9:55 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Target fixation can be the bane of both novice and veteran riders alike. Occurring when a rider fixates on an object, usually something they want to avoid, it often results in the opposite intended result: riding towards, rather than away from the object. This is because motorcycles usually go where you look, and riders freeze up when they should be taking action.

Just about all motorcyclists have a story that goes something like, “I was coming around the corner a little too hot, and I saw that the hill came right up to the shoulder of the road. I kept watching the hill get closer and closer, and the next thing I know my bike was crashed and I was being flown-out of the mountains by a helicopter.” Yeah…you know what I’m talking about, and in case you don’t, here are two video’s showcasing this neurological phenomena (video after the jump possibly NSFW).

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Yamaha FZ8/Fazer 8 Coming to Canada – USA Next?

06/11/2010 @ 7:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Yamaha Canada has just announced that the 2011 Yamaha FZ8 and 2011 Yamaha Fazer 8 street bikes will be available in the Canadian market. Perhaps as a disappointment for some, both models of the new street-naked will come without the option for ABS.

Presumably the Canadian market has now cleared out its back-stock of Yamaha FZ6’s, which the 8-series has been replacing in European markets, and can now begin to offer the new middleweight.

With Canada getting the 8’s in its line-up, all eyes are now on the Yamaha USA to see if/when they’ll bring the bike to the US market. When they do, we can probably look forward to some great commercials, like these gems from the European campaign (that’s sarcasm for those keeping score). Check them out after the jump…did we mention they’re really bad?

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Watch TTXGP at Infineon Raceway

05/26/2010 @ 2:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

In case you weren’t able to attend the inaugural North American TTXGP electric sportbike race at Infineon Raceway two weekends ago, we’ve got a bevy of photos and videos to make you feel like you were right there at the Sonoma track (minus a lack of wine). Above we have the full race from the perspectives of Zero/Agni’s #21 Shawn Higbee and #14 Kenyon Kluge (courtesy of Zero Motorcycles). And after the jump, we have photos and clips from the race and practice sessions. Enjoy.

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Get Ready for Miller Motorsports Park – Re-Watch All the World Superbike Races Here

05/24/2010 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The countdown to Memorial Day weekend is alive and well in the Asphalt & Rubber office this week (in fact our web designer already took off for Amsterdam…no good can come from that). As we Americans get ready for a three-day weekend (four-days if you played your vacation/sick days right), one of the highlights that we can look forward to is World Superbike’s sole stop in the US at the Miller Motorsports Park.

Helping get us ready for the only WSBK race to occur on a Monday, we’ve gotten ahold of all the past WSBK races, and put them into one post so you can re-cap the 2010 season to-date. Ok, ok, World Superbike put them up on YouTube, and we copy/pasted the clips into this post…but still, it’s a great way to re-live the WSBK season before it hits MMP, or to just catch a race you missed. Kyalami above, Monza, Assen, Valencia, Portimao, and Phillip Island after the jump. Enjoy!

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Video: Freddie Spencer Explains Motorcycle Racing

05/24/2010 @ 6:49 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Mondays can be a little rough, especially if you were up at 5AM PST like we were to catch the MotoGP race on SPEED. If that’s the case for you as well, or if you’re just not a morning person, we’ve got just the thing to help you transition into a functioning human being this Monday morning. Grab a coffee from the office kitchenette, and get ready for 28 minutes of old-school motorcycle racing pontification from none other than Freddie Spencer.

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Video: Bridgestone Explains Tires in MotoGP

04/20/2010 @ 9:02 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Bridgestone is halfway through its three year contract with Dorna as the sole tire supplier to MotoGP. The exclusivity contract means that the Japanese tire company has to provide a variety of compounds and options to race teams as they tackle the MotoGP season. Explaining the options available to teams, and the some of the challenges the company faces, Bridgestone has put together these two videos (after the jump) that contain everything you wanted to know about tires and motorcycle racing. Check them out after the jump.

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Ducati Multistrada 1200 Video Recap

04/14/2010 @ 9:16 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

How important is the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 to the Italian company? Consider this, despite releasing a bevy of new and revised motorcycles for the 2010 model year, only the Multistrada 1200 has seen the Bologna company bend over backwards to market its sport-tourer with a bevy of videos. Part of this is due to the extra pocket change seen in the adventure segment of motorcycling, but an even more important reason for Ducati’s aggressive media push is the need for the Italian brand to stand for something more than just expensive sport bikes.

Before there were Hypermotards and Multistrada 1200’s, Ducati still saw the lion’s share of its sales come from the Monster line, despite the company being better known for its Superbike line. Unlike some other companies, Ducati was fortunate enough to realize that you can’t play in only one market segment, and began looking for new ways to expand it’s product lineup…thus the Multistrada 1200 was born. In an effort to keep up with all the marketing around the beak-nosed bike, we’ve compiled all of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 videos we could find, so sit back, grab a beverage, and enjoy them after the jump.

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Harley-Davidson Apparel is “Seriously Dangerous” Down Under

03/31/2010 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Australian Harley-Davidson dealer, Rocky Harley-Davidson, recently released some new videos on the internet to help promote their bar & shield apparel. After all, one can’t merely ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, you have to have the appropriate clothing to fit your motorcycle lifestyle. The following is a loose interpretation of what the script looked like for one of those videos.

In our first scene, we see the protagonist dismount his thundering stead, with his Harley-Davidson shirt blazing like a forest fire. Confidently he walks by a bevy of women. Blonde, brunette, red head, it doesn’t matter…they are all powerless to resist the swagger and sex appeal that oozes from his cotton threads. These women are like deer in the headlights, waiting to be hit by his freight train of masculinity. This man, nay…God..walks down the street with his sunglasses firmly on at all times, keeping his gaze under control lest he fire laser from them at his next female victim, just like Cyclops from X-Men. Why? Because he’s seriously dangerous. Check the real thing after the jump, and yes…even a bonus video for the ladies.

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