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.

The Yamaha MT-09 Gets a Facelift & More for 2017

10/04/2016 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Yamaha’s MT line runs with the tagline “The Dark Side of Japan” and promises edgy and affordable street bikes for urban riders.

Someone in Iwata, Japan must have thought that the current Yamaha MT-09 wasn’t quite edgy enough though, which is the only way we can explain the 2017 Yamaha MT-09, which debuted today at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany.

Now with a “twin-eyed” LED headlight design, the Yamaha MT-09 feels a little bit more at home when parked next to the Yamaha MT-10 / Yamaha FZ-10 streetfighter. Other changes include an assist/slipper clutch, quickshifter, new suspension, and a redesigned tail section and fender.

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Here’s Another Yamaha YZF-R6 Teaser Video

10/04/2016 @ 10:04 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 is coming soon. We know this because Yamaha has released a second teaser reminding us to that fact. Set this time at what looks like Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, the teaser video again is light on giving anything away.

A few glimpses of a sport bike can be seen, and of course there’s the aural pleasure of hearing a 600cc inline-four engine being revved out to infinity. Our ear hears a flatplane crank for the new Yamaha YZF-R6, which is a topic we’ve covered before, in the last teaser video.

If we sample the frames to this video, we do get a couple good detail shots. One is of the vents on the fuel tank / airbox cover, another shows us what looks like an LED headlight, the best shot though shows us the shilouette of the new R6, which looks to be based closely off the current R1.

Beyond this, what features could Yamaha be bringing to the class-leading supersport? Only time can tell.

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MotoGP Race Results from Aragon

09/25/2016 @ 4:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #33 – Wankeled

09/20/2016 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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I’m not going to lie to you, Episode 33 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast starts off a little rowdy, and never really stops partying. In it, we look at the recently spied 2017 Honda CBR1000RR and recently teased 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6, two incredibly important machines in the sport biking side of the industry.

We also talk about the Wazer water jet cutting project, and how that’s going to affect builders and makers. From there, we pivot to a discussion on the consumerization (that’s a word now) of high-tech manufacturing techniques, which has made things like water jet cutting and rapid prototyping accessible to the masses.

The show ends with a listener question about ABS brakes, which is good timing, considering our interesting discussion about electronics as a whole, and the progression of rider aids in the motorcycle industry. Wankel jokes aside, it is a pretty interesting, and dare we say entertaining 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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This Yamaha FZ-09 Based ADV Bike Is Awesome

09/15/2016 @ 2:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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In the spirit of a little more Yamaha news today (the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 will debut in less than a month, if you didn’t hear), here’s something we are sure that will stoke your moto-lust.

It’s no secret that the adventure-touring market is hot right now, with virtually every OEM scrambling (no pun intended) to bring dual-sport machines that can go long distances, no matter what the road conditions are, even if they are completely lacking.

This has lead to a wide range of designs, with different levels of on-road and off-road prowess. This has also lead to consumers creating their own ADV/dual-sport machines, based off a variety of machines.

The most intriguing build we have seen thus far though has to be this one, which is based off the Yamaha FZ-09. It’s awesome.

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2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Hinted for INTERMOT Debut

09/15/2016 @ 9:46 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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For a couple months now, we’ve had some indications that Yamaha was getting ready to release a new sport bike. With the Yamaha YZF-R1 coming up on two-years-old, the timing suggested that Yamaha was ready for a follow-up to that hit. That is to say, it is time for a new Yamaha YZF-R6.

Yamaha seems to agree, today posting a teaser video to its website and social media accounts. The video is sanitized from giving away too much information, with us only seeing a rider going around a race track. The sound though, is a strong giveaway.

The video’s soundtrack is filled with the screaming of a multi-cylinder machine. Our ear hears a four-cylinder engine, with a flat-plane crankshaft, that is revving to the stratosphere.

This give us a strong indication that a supersport bike is just around the corner, and the video ends with the promise of showing more on October 4th, the first press day of the INTERMOT trade show in Cologne, Germany.

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Yamaha’s Katsuyuki Nakasuga Will Wild Card at Motegi

09/06/2016 @ 10:03 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Yamaha continues to hand out rewards for its recent win at the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, having just granted Alex Lowes a ride on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP bike this past weekend at the British GP, and this coming weekend at the San Marino GP.

Yamaha’s next recipient will be its test rider, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who will get the honor of racing as a wild card in front of his home crowd at the Japanese GP in Motegi, Japan.

Nakasuga-san is no stranger to the MotoGP paddock, and this year’s race in Japan will be the fifth time that Nakasuga has raced in the Japanese GP.

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Michael van der Mark Switches to Pata Yamaha for 2017

08/30/2016 @ 10:09 am, by David Emmett11 COMMENTS

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In the latest round of poorly-kept secrets emerging at last, Yamaha have announced that they have signed Michael van der Mark for the 2017 season. He will join Alex Lowes in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad for next year, replacing Sylvain Guintoli.

The move had been long expected, as it became clear over the summer that Van der Mark would be leaving the Ten Kate Honda team, with whom he has had a long relationship.

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Gone Riding: Yamaha SCR950

08/18/2016 @ 8:01 am, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

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Hello from Julian, California which is just a stone’s throw away from Southern California’s Palomar Mountain State Park – a local riding Mecca. I’m out here today with Yamaha USA, riding the Yamaha SCR950 – the Japanese company’s “Made for the USA” scrambler model.

The SCR950 is part of Yamaha’s “Sport Heritage” line, and joins bikes like the XSR900 café racer and Yamaha Bolt C-Spec. That latter model is important, as the Yamaha SCR950 is built off the Bolt platform, adding a number of scrambler-styled design cues to the affordable cruiser model.

It’s worth noting that the SCR950 is the first model by Yamaha that has been developed here in the USA, rather than in Japan. As such, its focus is obviously on the American market. Strangely though, its most comparable competitors are all European.

This is becoming a trend for Yamaha, as we saw with the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-10. The brand from Iwata is making great strides to set itself apart from the other Japanese companies.

We’ve got a full day’s worth of riding to find out. While I’m out on the road, I will try and give you a live assessment of the machine, and answer any questions you might have. So, here’s your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the 2017 Yamaha SCR950, before even my own proper review is posted.

Cellphone reception is pretty spotty here in the mountains, but we’ve got pretty good wifi at the hotel, so I will attempt to answer any questions you post here in the comments and on social media.

As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Yamaha personnel that are here with me in North Carolina. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #Yamaha #SCR950 #SCR950FirstRide for the thoughts of my colleagues as well.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #28 – Getting Cranky

08/15/2016 @ 7:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Episode 28 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast starts with some recent news: the closure of Skully and the near-passage of California’s lane-splitting law.

The conversation about Skully quickly moves from the failed startup, to a broader conversation about helmet design and the progress of technology in this space. The show then turns to California’s lane-splitting law, and what it could mean for motorcyclists in states other than California.

Once the news items are out of the way, the show spends a bit of time talking about crankshaft design, namely what it means to have a “crossplane” crankshaft.

Further down the rabbit hole, this turns into a larger conversation about how engines make their power, and how that power is tuned for specific tasks. It’s a tough subject to do only via voice, but we think you’ll enjoy it.

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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