The High Fives Heard in Milwaukee

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson’s Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka. No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well. Milwaukee even impressed with its more “core” offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be “a real motorcycle” in our eyes…we think.

Ducati’s Project 1309 Reveals a New Diavel Coming

We didn’t hear too much about “Project 1309” from World Ducati Week 2018, which is surprising considering what the past has shown us about Ducati’s secret reveals, but the Bologna brand was once again giving a teaser to fans in Misano. In the past, World Ducati Week has been the place where Ducati showed us the first Scrambler model, and last year the event debuted the return of the Ducati SuperSport. This year, it is another new bike. A new Diavel, to be precise. Set to compliment the current XDiavel model, the new Diavel features the same 1,262cc DVT engine with variable valve timing, but puts it into the more sport Diavel riding platform. This means tucked in feet on rearsets, rather than the XDiavel’s foot-forward controls.

VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

BMW R1250GS Details Emerge – Now with VVT?

Thursday - 08/16/2018 @ 9:18 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We know that for the 2019 model year that BMW Motorrad plans to release nine new models. What those models may be is up for conjecture, though we have a pretty good idea about more than a few of them.

Now, add to the list a new GS model, as some technical details of the 2019 BMW R1250GS have emerged, and as the name suggests a revised design of BMW’s famous boxer engine features as the centerpiece.

The folks at BikeSocial say that the boxer twin will see an increase in displacement to 1,254cc (up from 1,170cc), which means an 11hp power increase, for 134hp in total.

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“New” Ducati Hypermotard Spotted in the Wild

Thursday - 08/16/2018 @ 8:42 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Perhaps the longest tooth in Bologna’s motorcycle lineup, the Ducati Hypermotard 939 is set to get a sizable update for the 2019 model year, spy phots have revealed.

Taking a page from the original Hypermotard 1100 model by Pierre Terblanche, the 2019 Ducati Hypermotard gets a steel trellis subframe, along with an underseat exhaust system with dual cans.

The rest of the Hypermotard looks largely unchanged for the upcoming model year, though we can hope for a substantial electronics package revision.

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Come Support Our Favorite Motorcycle Charity

Wednesday - 08/15/2018 @ 4:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Our favorite motorcycle charity is about to have its biggest event of the year, as Two Wheels for Life will be hosting its Day of Champions event ahead of the British GP at Silverstone in just under two weeks’ time.

Held on the Thursday before racing action begins, the Day of Champions offers a number of fun motorcycle events for the whole family, and it culminates with a live auction that is hosted by Randy Mamola, and offers some very cool MotoGP paraphernalia to bid on. 

Other events of note include the opportunity to have access to the MotoGP paddock on Thursday and to meet some GP riders. There is also a ride that participants can join, which includes two laps around the Silverstone track (you can buy tickets here).

Of course, all the money raised goes towards a good cause, as Two Wheels for Life provides funding to programs in Africa that ensure life-saving healthcare gets to rural communities using reliable transport (i.e. motorcycles).

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Ducati and Hero MotoCorp Making a Baby…Motorcycle?

Wednesday - 08/15/2018 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Is Ducati thinking about making a 300cc sport bike? Is it going to do so in India? With Hero MotoCorp? That is the talk of the motorcycle industry today, though this isn’t the first time that this idea has been floated in the two-wheeled rumor mill.

The reason this rumor keeps coming around is that Ducati seems to be one of the last motorcycle brands really to adopt the small-displacement motorcycle strategy.

Motorcycle manufacturers are continuously investing in motorcycle models that would sell well with entry-level riders or in developing nations. This has lead to a boom in motorcycles that that are under 400cc – most of which are produced in Asia, though also sold in the western markets.

Despite Ducati’s continued commitment to staying out of the 300cc displacement category (it does have the 400cc Scrambler Sixty2 though), rumors continue to speculate on this future for the Italian brand, this time with Hero MotoCorp in the picture.

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Riders, teams, journalists, fans, almost everyone likes to complain about the layout of the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg. Three fast straights connected by hairpins, with a long left hand corner thrown in for the sake of variety.

The facilities and setting may be magnificent, but the track layout is pretty dire. Coming from the spectacular, flowing layout of Brno, the contrast could hardly be greater.

And yet the Red Bull Ring consistently manages to produce fantastic racing. The combined gap between first and second place across all three classes on Sunday was 0.867 seconds, and nearly half a second of that was down to Moto3.

The MotoGP race was decided on the last lap again, just as it had been in 2017, though the race was decided at Turn 3, rather than the final corner. Spielberg once again served up a breathtaking battle for MotoGP fans, with a deserved winner, and the rest of the podium riders losing with valor and honor.

If we were to be picky about it, it would be to complain that the protagonists of the MotoGP race were rather predictable.

It is no surprise that the factory Ducatis would play a role at the front of the race: a Ducati had won in Austria in the previous two races, and the long straights from slow corners are almost made to measure for the Desmosedici’s balance of power, mechanical grip, acceleration, and braking stability.

Nor was it a surprise that Marc Márquez should be involved, the gains made by Honda in acceleration giving the RC213V the tools to tackle the Ducatis.

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Paddock Pass Podcast #80 – Austrian GP

Tuesday - 08/14/2018 @ 11:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 80 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and in it we see Neil Morrison & David Emmett on the mics, as they discuss the recent Austrian GP at Spielberg.

Naturally, the show starts with a look at Ducati’s third-straight victory at the Red Bull Ring, and how it came to be that Jorge Lorenzo stood on the top podium step, come Sunday afternoon.

Part of Lorenzo’s victory can be credited to his tire choice, which creates some discussion as well about the Michelin rear tire selection. 

The conversation then turns to Marquez’s increasing lead in the MotoGP Championship standings, as he continues to gain on Valentino Rossi, who is making the best of a lackluster year on the Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1.

Lastly, the show takes a look at Aprilia Racing, which seems to be making little progress on its MotoGP program. The show covers the various reasons why Aprilia is struggling, and how the factory team can turnaround its fortunes.

Of course, the show finishes with out winners and losers from the weekend, which you won’t want to miss.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

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Trump Encourages Boycott of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Tuesday - 08/14/2018 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Hoping to pressure Harley-Davidson into keeping its production in the United States, President Trump this weekend tweeted words of encouragement to riders who planned to boycott the American motorcycle brand.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that Harley-Davidson has increasingly found itself at odds with the White House, primarily over President Trump’s trade negotiations and agreements.

The tension started with the United States withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, and reached a boiling point when President Trump imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Now with Harley-Davidson signaling its plans to move into new segments and create a new business plan for the 21st century, the Trump Administration is increasing the pressure for Harley-Davidson to maintain the status quo.

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Jorge Lorenzo Wins a Methodical Austrian GP

Sunday - 08/12/2018 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Saturday MotoGP Summary at Spielberg: History Repeating?

Saturday - 08/11/2018 @ 8:39 pm, by David EmmettADD COMMENTS

It is a good job it will be dry on Sunday at the Red Bull Ring. Because if it were to stop raining half an hour before the race started, the rest of the field wouldn’t see which way Marc Márquez went.

That is the conclusion we can draw from Saturday morning in Austria, when FP3 started on a wet track with a dry line forming.

Márquez waited patiently in the pits for half an hour, then when the dry line got wide enough, went out on slick, and destroyed the field, lapping 2 seconds or more faster than anyone else.

It was a display of just how useful all that riding flat track has been to Márquez. There is no one quite so good at searching for grip on a sketchy surface, and clinging so precisely to the thin line of drying track which offers grip.

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Alta Motors Has Its First Recall

Saturday - 08/11/2018 @ 1:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A motorcycle company’s first recall is a milestone event, an unwelcome milestone, but an inevitable one nonetheless. That is where startup Alta Motors finds itself today, with its first recall hitting the NHTSA newswires.

Affecting certain 2019 Alta Redshift EXR and 2018-2019 Alta Redshift MXR motorcycles, this recall concerns Alta’s throttle system, which under specific circumstances can fail, and cause an apparent “stall” of the motor.

The issue is software related, however, and the fix is an update to the firmware to the affected motorcycles. The firmware update takes about 15 minutes to perform.

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