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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #27 – The Ducati Show

08/11/2016 @ 11:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Part 2 of our big catch-up, Episode 27 continues our conversation about my recent travels, with this episode focusing those trips with Ducati.

In the show, we talk about my recent interview with Claudio Domenicali, giving a teaser of what’s to come from A&R’s conversation with the Ducati CEO. We then turn our attention to my two trips to Italy, one for World Ducati Week, and the other for the DRE Enduro course.

On both trips I was riding the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, so Quentin and I talk a bit about that as well.

We finish up the show by talking an speculating about Ducati’s 2017 model lineup, which includes the Ducati 1299 Panigale Anniversario and the Ducati Supersport. If you’re a Ducatista, you won’t want to miss this show.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

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What It’s Like to Party with 81,000 Ducati Fans

08/04/2016 @ 5:10 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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“It’s like drinking from a firehose” is the phrase I would use over and over while telling people about my recent trip to this year’s World Ducati Week.

The three-day event attracted 81,000 rabid Ducati fans through the gates of the Misano race track, which is just a stone’s throw from Italy’s Adriatic Coast. One of the best race tracks in the world, along one of Italy’s best beaches…the recipe for success here might seem obvious.

Beyond these factors though, World Ducati Week itself is a magnet event that attracts Ducatisti from the world over by offering them the ultimate Ducati experience.

Strangely enough though, you don’t even have to be a Ducati fan to attend – though it helps – as WDW2016 is something that any motorcyclist can enjoy.

For my part in this, I will admit to having more than one Ducati in my garage (none on press loan, mind you), so consider my glass of Kool-aid aptly filled, but truthful Ducati has put together a motorcycle enthusiast agenda that other brands and venues should take note of .

As such, World Ducati Week is a great example of how to get motorcyclists excited about being…well, motorcyclists.

Ducati does this by having no shortage of events and spectacles for fans to enjoy, and while the venue is a race track, most of what makes World Ducati Week special doesn’t take place on the Misano Circuit itself.

Instead, the key to World Ducati Week’s success is the carnival atmosphere, that immerses attendees in the very best that the Ducati brand has to offer.

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Some Photos from the Scrambler Races at WDW2016

07/05/2016 @ 9:52 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you have been following Asphalt & Rubber for the past week, you would know I was just in Italy for World Ducati Week. A bi-annual gathering of Ducatisti from around the world, for three days the Misano circuit and surrounding areas are flooded with Ducati motorcycles.

The tagline for WDW2016 was “More than Red” and part of that credo is a nod to the addition of the Scrambler Ducati line, with the yellow-colored “Land of Joy” sitting in prominence at the circuit’s entrance.

With the Scrambler too came a new event for World Ducati Week, flat track racing, which featured eight GP and SBK riders competiting on Misano’s TT-styled flat track course. In competition were Andrea Dovizioso, Troy Bayliss, Tati Mercado, Davide Giugliano, Danilo Petrucci, Yonny Hernandez, and Alessandro Valia.

The racing was head-to-head, with a pair of riders battling against each other over three laps, from a staggered start of 100 meters or so. It was good fun to watch, and the crowd seemed into it. I only took a few shots from the races, but thought I’d share them with you.

Above “Desmo Dovi” on the gas, and on his way to a race win. There’s more after the jump.

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Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario – Celebrating 90 Years

07/02/2016 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Ducati is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, with the culmination of that celebration happening right now in Misano, at World Ducati Week. As we previewed already, Ducati would give a sneak peak of a new model at the event, and debut a limited edition machine as well.

Well, we have had more than a sneak peak of the upcoming Ducati Supersport model, and now we get the full monty of the Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario – a special superbike that commemorates 90 years of Ducati motorcycles.

The Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario is more than just a cosmetic exercise, with only 500 motorcycles getting its limited edition paint job, gold-colored metal pieces, and bevy of technical upgrades

One interesting new feature though is the debut of the EVO version of the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) systems.

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Some Details on the New Ducati Supersport

07/02/2016 @ 9:39 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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You may have already seen the leaked photo from World Ducati Week, which shows that the Ducati Supersport is making a return to Bologna’s lineup.

We haven’t seen the “Supersport” sport-touring line in almost a decade, but it will be making a return for the 2017 model year, with two bikes.

Since yours truly is at World Ducati Week this year, I was able to get a peak at the Supersport, and can share with you some details on the machine.

First off, a clarification for those who aren’t acquainted with Ducati’s history with the Supersport line. The name is different from our normal usage of the term “supersport” and doesn’t imply that this motorcycle is Ducati’s answer for a 600cc racing machine.

Instead, the Ducati Supersport has a rich history as a sport-tourer; back when that segment actually existed, and was distinct from being just a superbike for the road. This model seems very much a return to that past.

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Ducati SuperSport S Spotted at World Ducati Week

07/01/2016 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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World Ducati Week is in full-swing right now, with Ducatisti from around the world gathering in Misano, Italy for two days of desmodromic fun.

Of the many attractions at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Ducati is giving enthusiasts a chance to preview a new bike that will officially debut at the EICMA show in Milan (in addition to the two machines that will unveil tomorrow).

The affair is a strictly managed, no cellphones allowed, sort of sneak peak at the new machine – thus, it comes as no surprise that some fan has snapped a photo of the secret bike on a hidden phone. In case you were wondering, this is why we can’t have nice things.

You can’t put the cat back in the bag though, so get ready folks because we have good news: the Ducati SuperSport is coming back!

As you can see in the photo, the machine in question is called the Ducati Supersport S, an homage to the bikes of the same name that came almost 40 years before it.

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Ducati Debuting Two New Bikes at World Ducati Week

06/15/2016 @ 9:39 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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If you’re attending this year’s World Ducati Week, then you’re in for a treat, as Ducati is set to debut two new bikes at the gathering in Misano.

Details are thin at the moment, but we do know that one of the machines will be a limited-edition motorcycle that celebrates Ducati’s 90th anniversary.

Meanwhile the other bike is a new model to the Ducati range, which will be shown in a “closed room” setting as a sort of sneak peak before its official launch.

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Photo: Ducati Scrambler Caught at WDW 2014

07/23/2014 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

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Ducati has just finished up the desmodromic orgy that is World Ducati Week 2014, where thousands of Ducatisti gather to celebrate all things Ducati. One of the highlights of the festival this year was Borgo Panigale’s showing of the Ducati Scrambler.

A mix of yellow shipping containers, cabanas, and sand, the Scrambler reveals were held for about a dozen Ducati fanatics at at time, in a controlled room where no cellphones were allowed.

It’s hard to say whether Ducati thought it could prevent photos from the event from leaking onto the internet despite these measures, or if the Italian motorcycle company just likes putting up a good front for its marketing buzz. Either way, some images have come out from the event.

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Ducati Scrambler to Debut at World Ducati Week

06/18/2014 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Ducati Scrambler to Debut at World Ducati Week

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The Ducati Scrambler seems set for a mid-summer debut, as Borgo Panigale has confirmed that the new Italian motorcycle will be shown to Ducatisti at the 2015 World Ducati Week event.

Like Ducati’s teaser event with its staff in Bologna, viewings of the Ducati Scrambler will be private and reserved (held on July 18-20th), as Ducati hopes to generate buzz around the new model, while limiting the Scrambler’s details from being revealed.

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Ducati Museum Goes Virtual with Google Maps

02/19/2014 @ 1:59 pm, by Bryan Delohery2 COMMENTS

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For those Ducati owners who have been pining to visit the world famous Ducati museum in Bologna, but cannot cover the cost or justify the trip, you are in luck. The doors at Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati have opened to Google Maps to allow you to take the tour without getting up from your computer.

The 9,150 sq ft museum in Borgo Panigale already hosts 40,000 visitors a year and with the virtual tour, Ducati hopes to attract hundreds of thousands more.

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