MV Agusta Will Race in the Moto2 Championship

MV Agusta will make a historic return to grand prix racing, announcing its plans today to race in the Moto2 Championship with Forward Racing. The news has been rumored and talked about for quite some time, in some form or another, but now the ink has dried on the deal, and it is officially official. As such, MV Agusta will build a custom chassis around the Triumph 765 three-cylinder engine and provide factory technical assistance to the team, while Forward Racing handles the day-to-day items running the Moto2 squad. The new race bike is expected to make its debut in July of this year, and be on the grid for the 2019 season – when Moto2 switches from Honda to Triumph spec-engines.

Aprilia Racing Certified Dealers Coming to the USA

Soon Aprilia dealers in the United States will begin flexing their racing prowess, with a new certification program from Aprilia Racing. The certification program hopes to leverage Aprilia’s racing experience on the international stage, and thus turn Aprilia dealerships into performance shops capable of honing Aprilia’s motorcycles for track use. As such, Aprilia Racing certified dealerships will have access to a host of performance parts that Aprilia Racing has developed back in Italy, during the course of their racing programs in MotoGP and WorldSBK. In order to obtain certification though, dealership technicians will have to participate in a specific training program with Aprilia Racing, which will focus on setting up motorcycle electronics, chassis, and engines.

Nicky Hayden Photo Exhibition Opens at Imola

An exhibition of Nicky Hayden photographs, by the Italian photographer Mirco Lazzari, opened during the Imola WorldSBK round, aptly named “A Million Dollar Smile”. With 69 photographs depicting the American’s international career, it provided a reminder to fans of what made the Kentucky Kid so popular. For Lazzari, the challenge of finding the correct pictures was a trying time ,with weeks spent to ensure he struck the right chord, as the first anniversary of Hayden’s death approaches. “I wanted to create an exhibition for Nicky, and it was very emotional because Nicky was a rider that gave all of us a lot of emotions,” said Lazzari. “He meant a lot to so many fans and to the sport, so I wanted to do this exhibition because he is missed by so many people.”

The Only Motorcycle Statistic That’s Worth a Damn

Every year the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) releases data about motorcycle fatalities in the United States. The results are never that surprising, and despite some fluctuations year-to-year, the basic takeaways are always the same. Motorcyclists are way more likely to die (28x more likely per mile traveled) than automobile drivers and passengers; fatal motorcycle crashes are more likely to involve alcohol than other vehicle fatalities (25% vs. 21% for passenger cars); and motorcycle fatalities closely correlate to new motorcycle sales. The figures are of course important, but reporting the results is an exercise in playing a broken record, over and over again. Except for one statistic that caught our eye this year: motorcycle fatalities as a percentage of overall vehicle fatalities.

Up-Close with the Krämer HKR EVO2 R

If I said that there was an 81hp track bike that weighed less than 280 lbs ready to race, would that be something you’d be interested in? If so, say hello to the Krämer HKR EVO2, a purpose-built track bike from Germany. Built around KTM’s 690cc single-cylinder engine, which is found in KTM 690 Duke and Husqvarna’s 701 series of bikes, the Krämer HKR EVO2 features a bespoke steel-trellis chassis, custom bodywork, and a host of top-shelf components. The real tasty part about the Krämer HKR EVO2 though is the attention to detail and the purposefulness of its design – take for instance the 12-liter XPE plastic fuel tank that doubles as a subframe, which has integrated crash sliders, and a sighting hole for easy adjustment of the rear shock damping.

Motorcycle Sales in Europe Show Strong Growth

Motorcycle sales in the United States might be tanking, but things are looking fairly positive across the pond in Europe, as the ACEM reports a 4.7% increase in motorcycle sales for Q1 2018, for a total of 203,853 units sold in the first three months of this year. The increase in sales is due to key markets like France (+9.1%), Germany (+1.9%), and the UK (+7.4%) showing good growth, compared to Q1 2017. However, not all the European countries are showing increases in motorcycle sales, with the Czech Republic (-17.3%), Poland (-28.7%), and Austria (-18.9%) pulling the sales growth figure down considerably. Not all segments are growing too. While the big bikes are seeing sales increases, European sales for mopeds are down considerably for Q1 2018 (40.2%), to the tune of a 24,996 unit sales decline over last year.

This Week’s Honda V4 Superbike Rumor

I have to admit, this rumor is more than a week old, as Japanese magazine Young Machine breathed new life into the Honda V4 superbike rumor mill about a month ago. And of course, the reality is that this rumor is much, much older than this tiny fraction of time. If you know your motorcycle news history, talk of a Honda V4 replacement for the CBR1000RR line has existed for almost two decades now…but hey, a broken clock is correct twice a day, right? So what is new from the Land of the Rising sun that we haven’t heard before? The big eye-catching component to this story is that Honda has/had a two-stage upgrade path for the CBR1000RR, of which we are about to see the second phase.

Official: Alta Motors Racing at the 2018 Erzberg Rodeo

We broke the story yesterday, but today the news is officially official: Alta Motors will race in the 2018 Ezerberg Rodeo, which is part of the Red Bull Hard Enduro series. The most grueling and difficult single-day event in motorcycle racing, the Erzberg Rodeo sees 1,500 entires whittled down into what is usually a single-digit summation of race-finishers – and not every year sees a racer cross the finish line – that’s how tough this race is. Racing for Alta Motors will be Ty Tremaine and Lyndon Poskitt, two riders with a lot of off-road experience. For those who don’t recognize those names, Tremaine is currently racing with Alta in the 2018 AMA EnduroCross series, meanwhile Poskitt has previously competed in a number of enduro events, including the Ezberg Rodeo, and most notably just soloed the 2018 Dakar Rally to completion. 

Come Drool Over SERT’s All New Endurance Race Bike

The winningest team in the FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team is the standard by which other endurance teams are measured…and that is a measuring stick that has seen a lot of use in recent seasons. This is because the FIM EWC is a hot bed for competition right now, with a bevy of factory-backed teams capable of winning on any race weekend. This has made it tough for SERT, and its riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson, and Gregg Black, who currently sit sixth in the 2018 FIM Endurance World Championship standings. For this season, SERT hopes that a new racing platform will make the difference, as the French team has finally jumped onboard with the current-generation Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Johann Zarco Signs Two-Year Deal with KTM

One of the biggest dominoes of the 2018 MotoGP Silly Season has just fallen into place. Today, KTM announced that they have signed Johann Zarco to a two-year contract for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. That Zarco would leave the Monster Yamaha Tech3 squad had been widely anticipated, the only question being which factory team he would end up in. The Frenchman was an extremely hot property, after displaying blistering speed on the satellite Yamaha M1 in 2017. Zarco had offers from Suzuki, Repsol Honda, and KTM, though only Honda and KTM were in the frame for the Frenchman. Zarco and his management were still unhappy with the way Suzuki had treated the Frenchman, after the Japanese factory failed to honor a pre-contract Zarco had signed ahead of the 2017 season, choosing Alex Rins instead.

Jonathan Rea Guides Us Around a Lap at Donington Park

Friday - 05/25/2018 @ 9:29 pm, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

Jonathan Rea was the man that ended Tom Sykes’ winning streak at Donington Park. The reigning WorldSBK champion snapped a nine-race streak for Sykes by winning Race 2 at the British round, and he’s excited ahead of his home round.

“Donington is a circuit of two halves,” said Rea. “Sector 1 and 2 are very flowing, and the final sector is very stop and start.”

“It’s very difficult to find the right setup, and you’re always making a compromise. Sometimes I have had a setting that is great for the first halfm and other times I’ve set the bike up for the final sector.”

“It really depends on what you need to do with the bike you have. You need to find a compromise between stability and agility, but it’s a very satisfying track to get right.

Continue Reading

Friday at Donington Park with Tony Goldsmith

Friday - 05/25/2018 @ 2:49 pm, by Tony GoldsmithADD COMMENTS

MotoGP Silly Season – Jorge Lorenzo Out, Joan Mir In?

Friday - 05/25/2018 @ 1:32 pm, by David EmmettADD COMMENTS

At the beginning of the year, I predicted on MotoMatters that MotoGP’s Silly Season this year would change the face of the MotoGP grid beyond recognition.

The revolution I predicted looks like it is coming to pass, but as with every prediction, the changes happening are beyond even what I had expected.

Young talent is coming into the series – Joan Mir, Miguel Oliveira – big names are changing bikes – Johann Zarco, Andrea Iannone – and a couple of major names face being left without a ride altogether.

A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks. Contracts have been signed with Andrea Dovizioso, Johann Zarco, Aleix Espargaro, Alex Rins, Miguel Oliveira, and Pol Espargaro, adding to the contracts signed earlier in the year with Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Marc Marquez, and Pecco Bagnaia.

With Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli, and Xavier Simeon already having a contract, there are thirteen seats officially taken for next year. Ducati have an option on Jack Miller – and look certain to exercise it – making it fourteen riders in a strong position.

And Taka Nakagami looks very likely to keep his seat at LCR Honda.

But the big news is what happens at Suzuki, Ducati, and Repsol Honda. Rumors that Joan Mir would sign for Suzuki grew very strong at Le Mans, as I wrote on Friday, and now appear to be taking shape.

The reliable Spanish journalist Mela Chercoles is reporting in sports daily AS that Joan Mir has signed a two-year deal with Suzuki, which will see him line up alongside Alex Rins for the next two years.

Continue Reading

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #78 – Princess Düsseldorf

Friday - 05/25/2018 @ 12:54 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 78 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk about an omnibus list of topics. 

As such, the show begins with some racing news, both for the Isle of Man TT and for the World Superbike Championship, with a conversation about Bosch’s safety thruster technology stuffed somewhere in-between those topics.

The conversation then turns to some timely news, namely the continued rumors that Honda is readying a V4 superbike, MV Agusta is building a Moto2 bike, Ducati will return to Pikes Peak, and Alta Motors entering the Erzberg Rodeo.

We then shift gears into a long conversation about the rising trend of motorcycle fatalities, when compared to total on-road vehicle deaths.

The show finishes with a look at how profitable halo superbikes can be for motorcycle manufacturers, and how that could be the future of sport bike sales.

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. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

Continue Reading

Kenan Sofuoğlu, A Rider’s Measure

Thursday - 05/24/2018 @ 12:47 pm, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

To be the best, you've got to beat the best. Going up against Kenan Sofuoğlu was no easy matter for the top riders in World Supersport, but it was necessary if you were going to move on from the feeder class.

Kenan Sofuoğlu was the benchmark upon which every WorldSSP rider was judged. If you wanted to move from the class to race a superbike or a grand prix machine, you needed to prove you could beat Sofuoğlu.

As the dominant force of the class his rivals never underestimated the challenge they faced. To mark Kenan's retirement from motorcycle racing, we reached out to his fiercest competitors to see what they had to say about competing against the Turkish rider.

To continue reading this story, you need to have an A&R Pro subscriber account. If you have an A&R Pro account, you can login here.

It was only a couple days ago that we were talking about how limited edition models have been a cash-making boon for motorcycle manufacturers, and now today we see MV Agusta proving the point, releasing a Lewis Hamilton edition of the Brutale 800 RR.

The MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR LH44, as it is known, takes the venerable street bike, and gives it the styling touches designed by the Formula One champion. The look isn’t all that different from the Dragster 800 RR LH44 that debuted three years ago, and the F4 LH44 superbike that debuted late last year.

The design of course was created in collaboration with the Castiglioni Research Center (CRC), and only 144 examples will be made available around the world.

Continue Reading

Round 6 of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship sees the paddock head for the home of Superbikes: Donington Park. The British circuit hosted the first ever round of the championship in 1988, and since then the affinity for superbike racing in the UK has only continued to grow.

The spectacular, flowing track has been the canvas for some of the most incredible moments in the history of the class, but will this weekend be remembered in the same light?

Continue Reading

Honda Finally Debuts a 450cc Dual-Sport for Trail Riders

Wednesday - 05/23/2018 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It has been a long-time coming, but Honda has finally has a road-legal 450cc dirt bike back in its lineup. As such, say hello to the 2019 Honda CRF450L.

Taking its DNA from Honda’s 450cc MX bike (which is also updated for 2019), the Honda CRF450L offers mirrors, LED lighting, an electric starter, and even a place to stick a license plate, giving you the ability to on-road, between trailheads.

Other features include a wide-ratio six-speed transmission, 18″ rear wheel, a two-gallon titanium fuel tank, Showa suspension front and back, and more crank mass than the Honda CRF450R MX bike. The curb weight is claimed at 289 lbs, topped up with fuel and ready to ride.

Honda says that the CRF450L will be available in September 2018, with pricing set for now at $10,399.

Continue Reading

Paddock Pass Podcast #73 – French GP

Tuesday - 05/22/2018 @ 11:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 73 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is uploaded and ready for your consumption.

Covering the French GP in Le Mans, this episode sees Steve English and Neil Morrison on the mics, talking about all the news from the MotoGP round in France, as well as what is happening in the WorldSBK paddock.

An eventful race for the MotoGP Championship lead, the guys talk about the on-track action briefly, before switching gears and looking ahead to 2019. There are a lot of lucrative seats up for grabs next season, and the very real possibility that we could see Pedrosa and/or Lorenzo without a job.

Discussing those possibilities, and the rest of the rider market, the MotoGP Silly Season is truly in full-swing.

Switching paddocks, the conversation then turns to the WorldSBK Championship, and what contracts are on the tables there. Could Jonathan Rea switch to Ducati? Sykes to Yamaha? What about the Ducati Corse team.

There is some enticing smoke coming from the World Superbike teams, so it will interesting to see what fire comes of it.

Of course the show ends with the guys picking their biggest winners and losers from the weekend’s events, which isn’t as obvious this week as one would think.

We think you will enjoy the show. It is packed with behind-the-scenes info, and insights from teams and riders in the paddock.

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!

Continue Reading

Polaris Is Now Part of the Fortune 500

Tuesday - 05/22/2018 @ 5:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Fortune 500 is a list of America’s largest companies, and is a constant barometer on the state of the American business landscape. In its 64 years of existence, the Fortune 500 has been an exclusive club, and its newest inductee is one from the powersports industry: Polaris Industries.

Ranked at #496 on the list, the addition of Polaris means that the influence (and decline) of the US motorcycle and powersports landscape will be seen on a much larger national stage.

Mostly it is just a cool milestone for Polaris, and proud bragging point for the company’s executives at the next country club gathering.

Continue Reading