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.

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.

The 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / ZZR1400 Makes Under 200hp

10/11/2011 @ 5:32 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

After debuting the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400, Team Green has been fairly tight-lipped about quoting specific performance figures on the company’s revamped hyperbike. Carefully gleaning the performance specifications from its US and UK websites, it looks like Kawasaki Motors Europe has spilled the beans on the ZX-14R’s horsepower figures. Perhaps letting down those who expected the ZX-14R/ZZR1400 to break the 200+ horsepower barrier, Kawasaki’s site quotes power figures just shy of 200hp.

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2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R Breaks Cover

10/10/2011 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

True to its teaser campaign, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 to our friends abroad) finally got revealed today. Tweaking its hyperbike offering, Kawasaki has confirmed that the ZX-14R (note the added R to the name) will get a displacement bump to 1,441cc, along with a cosmetic overhaul and other basic features. Most notably added to the Kawasaki ZX-14R is the addition traction control, and ride-by-wire throttle control system. Kawasaki hasn’t spilled all the beans about the new ZX-14R, but power is said to be over 200hp at the crank with ram-air.

Kawasaki is already pitting the ZX-14R against Suzuki’s Hayabusa, perhaps in an attempt to re-ignite the speed wars of the 1990’s. While no top speed has been touted, the Japanese company is quoting the Kawasaki ZX-14R as “the world’s fastest accelerating production motorcycle.” A lengthy superlative, but it will be interesting to see if Suzuki responds with an update to the aging Hayabusa, which hasn’t had a meaningful upgrade since its 1999 market introduction.

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2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Frame and Motor Revealed

10/07/2011 @ 6:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The last time we showed you the latest teaser from Kawasaki for its upcoming 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends across the pond), we found it fairly amusing when several sites called the video’s authenticity into question. Systematically leaked to media sites through Kawasaki channels, and generally having the production quality of a professional job, nay-sayers apparently over-looked the smoking-gun fact that the videos in question were hosted on Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-14R mini-site, which for added authority resides on a Kawasaki.com sub-domain. Yes, this video is real. Yes, an updated version of the Kawasaki ZX-14R/ZZR1400 is coming. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s bringing you a new 1,440cc motorcycle. Only a few more days until this baby drops on October 10th. Stay tuned.

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2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 Comes Together in Teaser Videos

09/16/2011 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Kawasaki is gearing up to launch its new hyperbike, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 or the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 as it’s known to our friends outside of the US market. Keeping a constant stream of video teaser videos over the past few weeks, Team Green has finally given us a glimpse at the new Kawasaki ZX-14 in it’s latest “Ultimate” video. Flashing the dimensions “84 x 65mm” in the video, the new ZX-14/ZZR1400 will surely live up to its name with a 1,440cc engine displacement, and is expected to make over 200hp in production trim.

The new ZX-14 is also likely to include anti-lock brakes and traction control, in order to help tame all that hyperbike power on-tap. If you’ve missed out on Kawasaki’s teaser campaign, we’ve got all of them waiting for you after the jump in reverse chronological order. Expect to see the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 unveiled on October 10th if Kawasaki can keep it under wraps for that long, sooner if the Japanese company can’t.

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Are You the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 / ZZR1400?

09/06/2011 @ 8:50 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

The internet has been abuzz lately with leaked/early/spy photos, some real, and some not so much. Looking a bit like the genuine article, we get another alleged glimpse at a soon to be released motorcycle before its public unveiling. While Kawasaki has been busy teasing the interwebs with videos that feature a nice exhaust note, a flash of green light, and the date: 10/10/2011,  it looks like Asian motorcycle magazine Young Machine has released its issue featuring the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends in other markets) a tad early.

In what looks to be the first photos of the new Kawasaki ZX-14, we also get a look at some of the basic features that the new hypersport will boast in 2012, namely a 1429cc motor, anti-lock brakes, Kawasaki’s traction control system, and rider-selectable engine maps. As for looks…ZX-10R owners will be pleased. Photos after the jump, and if you read what appears to be Japanese, help us out with a translation in the comments. Thanks for the tip John!

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