Oh Yes, The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Is USA Bound

Good news sport bike fans, Kawasaki USA in its infinite wisdom has decided to bring the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE to the United States for the 2018 model year. Debuted at this year’s EICMA show, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE takes the potent superbike and most notably adds Showa’s new semi-active suspension to the package. Other perks include the seven-spoke forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, found already on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, as well as an up/down quickshifter. Like what you hear? Well brace yourself…If you want a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE in your garage, you are going to need to shell out $21,899 MSRP for it. That sticker price represents quite the premium over Team Green’s race homologation machine, the ZX-10RR, which goes for $18,899.

PJ Jacobsen Racing in WorldSBK for 2018

Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen will be stepping up to the big show for the 2018 season, with today’s announcement that the American will be riding with the TripleM Honda WSBK Team. Moving off of the World Supersport grid and into the World Superbike Championship, Jacobsen will be riding the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 with the satellite Honda team effort that TripleM has put together. “I’m very excited to be making my World Superbike debut with TripleM Honda WSBK Team,” said PJ. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be finally racing in this class and I want to thank the team and Honda for making this possible. Both the team and I will be rookies in the WorldSBK championship so there’ll surely be a lot to learn, but it’s a challenge that stimulates me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Yamaha Selling Shares in Yamaha Motor to Raise Money

The Yamaha Corporation announced today that it will be selling 8 million shares of its holdings in Yamaha Motor Co., a movement of shares that will see roughly 2.3% of the voting power in the powersports company changing hands. This deal is expected to close on December 4th, and the Yamaha Corporation says that it will be selling its position to various unnamed securities companies, presumably to then be sold on the open market. At the current market price for Yamaha Motor stock, this deal should be worth close to ¥26 billion, and ¥18 billion after tax expenses have been factored. The news means that while the Yamaha Corporation will remain the single largest shareholder in Yamaha Motor Co., its ownership position as a shareholder will drop from 12.22% to 9.93%, as a result of the divestiture.

Valentino Rossi’s Winter Test Helmet Gets Mexican Flair

It is another winter testing period for the MotoGP riders, and that means that Valentino Rossi has another special “Winter Test” AGV helmet design for us. This year, The Doctor takes his inspiration from Huichol bead art, after he visited the region on a recent vacation to Mexico. As such, Rossi’s winter test AGV Pista GP R helmet features a hand-painted bead design that plays on the winter motif, with the Italian’s usual affinity for symbols. “Huichol art immediately intrigued me, because it uses many of my symbols, like the sun and moon or the turtle,” explained Valentino Rossi. “We have tried to recreate the effect of the beads that the Mexicans use to bring color and shape to these objects, but to do so with a Valentino Rossi twist.”

Jonathan Rea Talks About New WorldSBK Rules

Three years of unparalleled success has seen Jonathan Rea notch up 39 victories, 70 podiums, and 3 WorldSBK titles. To put those numbers into context, only Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, and Noriyuki Haga have won more races in their WorldSBK careers. It truly has been a historic run of form for Rea and Kawasaki. For WorldSBK though the achievements have been outweighed by the reaction of fans to these results. Feeling that significant changes were needed to ensure a more competitive balance for the field, WorldSBK has introduced a wide range of new regulations to curtail the Kawasaki dominance. The goal isn’t to stop Rea and Kawasaki winning but simply to allow other manufacturers to get on an even keel.

The “Smart” Approach to Writing the WorldSBK Rulebook

Scott Smart has been tasked with writing and rewriting the rule book for Superbikes around the planet. The FIM Superbike Technical Director has been instrumental in bringing about the recent regulation changes for WorldSBK, and speaking at the season ending Qatar round he explained the philosophy behind the changes. “There’s a lot of benefits to these changes, but the biggest factor is that we want to find a way to have more exciting racing in WorldSBK,” explained Smart. “With the new regulations each team on the grid has the chance to run the same specification as the factory teams or to develop their own parts. This gives a private team the chance to have a bike with development work already having been completed by simply buying the relevant parts for their bike.”

Ben Spies Returns to Motorcycle Racing…On Dirt Bikes

Ben Spies fans will be happy to hear that the Texan is returning to racing motorcycles, announcing the news while talking to Matthew Miles at Cycle World. However, the news might not be as expected, as Spies isn’t returning to the superbike paddock, but instead will compete in the AMA National Enduro series next season. As such, Spies will take part in several rounds on the Full Gas Sprint Enduro calendar, in the mid-level “Pro2” class; as well as an ISDE qualifier, with an eye on making the squad for Team USA. Certainly not the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship bid that was reported earlier, though Spies confirmed that he had been in talks with Ducati about racing a Panigale, and had also spun some laps on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R at a track day in Texas.

Ducati Panigale V4 Pricing Revealed for 2018

Fancy yourself the new Ducati Panigale V4? It’s going to cost you a pretty penny if you do, as pricing for the USA and Europe has been revealed, and the 215hp superbike is not going cheaply into that good night. As such, Ducati lists 2018 pricing for the Panigale V4 as €22,590 in Europe, with pricing in the US set at $21,195 for the base model. For those keeping score, this is a premium of $1,200 over the outgoing Ducati 1299 Panigale. When you get to the Panigale V4 S though, things start getting considerably more expensive. European pricing on the Ducati Panigale V4 S is set at €27,890, while pricing for the USA will be $27,495. For the American market, this is a $1,700 bump on pricing when compared to the 2017 Ducati 1299 Panigale.

MAG Files for Chapter 11

The Motorcycle Aftermarket Group (MAG) is not a name that motorcycle enthusiasts are usually familiar with, but the family of brands that the company owns certainly is: Performance Machine wheels, Roland Sands Design, Renthal handlebars, Vance & Hines exhausts, Tucker Rocky, J&P Cycles, etc. The network of brands has been struggling over the recent years though, and today we learn that many of them will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while the overarching MAG Group business restructures its debt and finds new ownership. While this is not the sexiest news story to happen in the motorcycle industry this year, it is certainly one of the most important and complicated. As such, we will try to break it down in a digestible way for you.

Valentino Rossi’s Special Yamaha XJR1300 Flat Tracker

It is good to be Valentino Rossi. Not only do you have nine world championships to your name, legions of yellow-crazy fans, but you also get pretty nice gifts from your friends. Take “Mya” for example – a special Yamaha XJR1300 custom flat tracker that the folks at VR|46 built for their fearless leader. Now, when you think about bikes that should be the basis for a custom project, the Yamaha XJR1300 doesn’t exactly come to mind. It probably doesn’t help that this decades-old model is only Euro3 compliant, and set to sunset at the end of this year. The XJ1300 certainly doesn’t strike us as the appropriate starting point for a flat track bike either, especially with its 530 lbs weight figure. That all being said, the VR|46 crew have done a pretty good job of spiffing up the old girl.

Spies On Top of WSBK Superpole at Phillip Island

02/28/2009 @ 5:17 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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Ben Spies sits on top of the leader board at today’s qualifying at Phillip Island, and is the first winner of World Superbike’s new Superpole system. Quashing any comments from naysayers who still harbored considerable doubts about Yamaha’s recruit from the AMA, Spies showed that he is the real deal in WSBK and could be one of the riders to watch in the series. Tomorrow, he gets two chances to show what he can do it in the race. Max Biaggi follows the American rookie with a strong showing for Aprilia’s WSBK comeback, which has stirred some controversy on exactly how similar it is to the production version of the RSV4. Continue reading for times from qualifying.

 

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Controversy has hit Aprilia after Max Biaggi took second place in the Superpole shoot out. Alstare Suzuki owner and team manager, Jean Francois Batta told Italian network La7 that: “Everyone knows that the RSV4 is a prototype and shouldn’t be racing here in SBK. After the race I’m going to the technical commission and lodge a complaint.” According to paddock gossip the Alstare techs seem to have had a tiny peek at Aprilia’s fuel system and saw something that did not convince them. Fuel systems according to Superbike regulations have to be identical to the road bike version. Since Aprilia’s return to the series, several teams have quietly expressed concern regarding Aprilia’s new superbike, deeming it not yet a true production bike.

 

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MotoGP Adds Bulgarian GP for 2012

02/28/2009 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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The FIM MotoGP World Championship will arrive in Bulgaria as of 2012, following a preliminary agreement reached between the Bulgarian Motorcycle Federation and Dorna Sports, the commercial rights holder for MotoGP. The new five year deal, which will take MotoGP to Bulgaria from 2012 to 2016, marks another step into Eastern Europe for MotoGP, and who recently signed a similar deal for a Hungarian GP.

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It is now official, Marco Melandri will be on the grid at Qatar for the start of the 2009 season with a factory supported Kawasaki. Kawasaki issued a statement earlier today, stating that the agreement to provide support for the team had come because of “the necessity to come to constructive solutions for all related parties.” Kawasaki throughout the entire saga has had tremendous pressure from Dorna to stay in the racing series, and Dorna was under considerable pressure from FIM to field enough bikes to keep its “Championship” status. Both of these issues seem now solved with Kawasaki’s announcement as the minimum quota of 18 riders is now met.

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Yamaha to Cut Production by 24 Percent

02/26/2009 @ 12:37 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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Yamaha Motors has announced it will cut motorcycle output at its Japanese factories by almost a one quarter, or nearly 87,000 units, this year. This will mean that Yamaha will produce just over 260,000 units for the year, Yamaha’s lowest output level in nearly forty years. According to Reuters, the Japanese firm will halt production at its main assembly plant, to reduce output by 13,000 motorcycles as a starting point, with further reductions in production expected over the coming months. It is unclear what model bikes will be reduced the most, but certainly the reductions will touch every segment.

Source: Visordown

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Silverstone Set to be the Fastest Track in MotoGP

02/26/2009 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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Track modifications at the Silverstone circuit look set to make it one of the fastest circuits on the MotoGP calendar, when the MotoGP series heads to the Northamptonshire venue from 2010 onwards. The new Silverstone circuit, which will feature a spectacular new section of track running from the approach at Abbey corner to a tightening ‘Arrowhead’ hairpin at the inside of Becketts, will measure 3.5 miles in length, a third of a mile longer than the existing Grand Prix circuit.

Based on mathematical simulations, HOK Sport, one of the world’s leading sports architecture firms, has calculated that the average lap time for MotoGP riders around the new track would be 1’51.456, racing at an average speed of 113 mph, almost 2mph faster than at Phillip Island, which is currently the fastest circuit in MotoGP.

Source: MotoGP

Melandri To be On A 2008 Kawasaki At Qatar Tests?

02/25/2009 @ 8:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Marco Melandri has announced on his Facebook profile his intentions for the upcoming MotoGP season. According to the Italian press, Melandri wrote “for the moment, we will test the bike at Losail, we will see whether it’s going to be worth racing the bike after the test: if the bike’s a disaster, we will all go home.”

Furthermore, GPOne.com is reporting that the Italian will be riding an updated version of the 2008 bike at Qatar, which was tested at Valencia and Phillip Island earlier in the testing season. Melandri had previously rejected trying to race this bike, but as this point riding the quasi-2008 bike is better than no ride at all.

Whether this is just idle speculation or a genuine plan, we will see soon enough. The Qatar tests take place at the end of next week, and if Melandri is there on a Kawasaki, we will finally get an inkling of how this story will end.

The last day of testing at Phillip Island has ended with Ducati on top of the time board. After losing Troy Bayliss to retirement last year, Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga have stepped up to show that they are ready to defend the Ducati crown. Fabrizio ended the day the fastest, with a time of 1’32.19 it was well under Bayliss’ winning lap time from last year’s race. Team mate Haga was not far behind, just fractionally ahead of new boy Ben Spies. The American took a second off his time from yesterday, on only the second day of riding at the track.

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Yamaha Building A Moto2 Contender?

02/24/2009 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

While we have lamented about how Oberdan Bezzi is a motorcycle artist and not a motorcycle journalist, despite the fact he is often cited as if he were one, the Italian artist has posted information on his blog (alongside a render of course) that Yamaha is rumored to be building a Moto2 bike which will be ready to compete when the series replaces the 250 class, either in 2010 or 201.

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It is with sad news that we report that yesterday, February 20th, that entrepreneur and philanthropist Larry H. Miller passed away at the age of 64 from complications due to type-2 diabetes . Miller owned the Utah Jazz, numerous car dealerships, movie theaters, and commercial real estate properties, but in the world of Asphalt & Rubber he was most known for building the Miller Motorsports Park that opened in 2006. The track, located in Tooele, UT, quickly garnered a reputation as being one of the premier venues in the country and hosted ALMS, Grand-Am, NASCAR, and AMA Superbike races. In addition to his business ventures, Miller was well known for his generosity. He and his wife provided close to 300 college scholarships every year and donated millions of dollars to local colleges and universities. Press release after the jump.

 

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