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When we first got to get up-close with the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, it was a hastened affair. Honda Motor Europe invited the world’s press to see the model at its EICMA debut, and then hired security guards to keep us away from it. Bizzare.

Now, almost a year later, we finally get to a proper face-to-face with this new Fireblade, thanks to American Honda’s ride debut at Thunderhill Raceway (read our full review here).

With only the top trim level coming to the United States, Honda creates an interesting situation with the Fireblade SP – one that we will explore in the next day or two with our A&R Pro readers, but both bikes share the same core features.

The first time we saw the Aprilia Tuareg 660, it was in a glass box at EICMA, surrounded and covered by plants that obscured our view.

But, with the dirt-focused adventure bike getting closer to reality, we were bound to get a better glimpse before its debut. That brings us to today.

Caught for the first time on the open road, this photo posted to the Aprilia RS660 Facebook group (and then removed) shows the mid-sized adventure bike in its pre-production form.

What did we learn from qualifying for the Grand Prix of Catalonia on Saturday? We learned that qualifying is extremely deceptive.

The front of the grid is a mixture of riders who are genuinely fast on race pace, and riders who are only quick over a single lap.

But what we also learned is that the track at Montmelo, outside Barcelona, is so hard on tires that qualifying is only a very small part of the story. It is uncertain whether where you qualify will have any bearing on the outcome of the race.

The problem at Barcelona is that the track is punishing on tires. You do not get to the end of the race with tire to spare. Indeed, you may not make it to the end of the race at all.

“It’s only Friday.” Something you tend to hear from riders on, well, Fridays, when you ask them who they think is looking strong.

Friday is the day that people are getting up to speed, evaluating different setup directions, making a preliminary assessment of tires, and putting in a banker lap when time and conditions allow.

Drawing conclusions from either session of practice on Friday is fraught with difficulty. Doubly so for Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, near Barcelona.

Episode 164 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out as our second podcast this week, and this one sees Steve English and Gordon Ritchie on the mics talking about WorldSBK’s return to the Catalunya race track in Spain.

The show starts off with a look at the events of the weekend and the state of the championship, with an extra emphasis on the juggernaut that is Jonathan Rea.

When you talk about the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, the conversation starts with several predictable openers.

First, there is the name, which is like some sort of crazy Gilbert & Sullivan routine about majors who are generals or some other thing. The term “Triple R” was floated at our launch, and I hope it catches on – I’m starting to get a TMJ disorder from saying the full name from Honda.

Then, there is the incredible duration of time that has passed since Honda last debuted a truly new sport bike model (the year was 2008, for those keeping count). For comparison, it took J. K. Rowling less time to make the entire Harry Potter movie franchise than Honda could come out with a proper new Fireblade.

Throw in a quick repartee about the addition of winglets on modern superbikes, and you have your basic bike night bro-dude conversation about the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP all figured out.

The conversation should turn around a different narrative though – one that focuses on how Honda has come back to the superbike market with an absolute beast of an offering.

If you don’t mind, I would like to have that conversation about the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP with you now, as this machine is not only a landmark for the Japanese brand, but also now the new reference point in the superbike segment.

The 2020 MotoGP season motors relentlessly on, as we visit Montmelo for the last race of the current triple header. The seventh race in eleven weeks, Round 8 marks the numerical mid-point of the season.

Sort of: it is race 7 of 14 for the MotoGP class, but race 8 of 15 for Moto2 and Moto3, who raced at Qatar.

And as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere and Covid-19 cases start to rise again in Europe, the chances of us making it all the way to Portimao in late November and completing the remaining 6 races after Barcelona are significantly less than 100%.

The relentless round of races is brutal for everyone except fans and riders, most preferring racing every weekend to sitting at home. Especially in a season as up and down as 2020, where the direction of the championship seems to change every week.

You may have already seen the news from yesterday, where California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that will require all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the Golden State to be zero-emission vehicles by the year 2035. 

The order also goes on to say that the state will phase out all new medium and heavy-duty trucks that are not zero-emissions by the year 2045, thus setting up the state to push electric vehicles onto its roadways in a big way.

There is a third provision in this executive order though, and it is getting far less attention than the other two, but it will greatly impact the motorcycle industry.

This is because Gov. Newsom’s executive order also says that by 2035 California will ban the sale of all new off-road vehicles that are not zero-emissions, where feasible.

Effectively, California has just set an expiration date on the sale of new dirt bikes, side-by-sides, and ATVs within its borders.

As we thought, today sees us getting our first glimpse of a new motorcycle from BMW Motorrad, but even so, give a proper hello to the BMW M1000RR superbike.

Of course with the “M” name now on a motorcycle, we see that the S1000RR package has been cranked to 11 in order to make the M1000RR a reality.

First off, you will see the prominent carbon fiber winglets attached to the front of the fairing, which is very en vogue right now, and thus obligatory. They provide 36 lbs (16.2 kg) of downforce at 187 km/h.

Underneath the hood, things are more rowdy with the BMW M1000RR, with peak power coming in at 209hp (156 kW) and peak torque at 83 lbs•ft (113 Nm).

With only 500 units coming worldwide, BMW Motorrad has already made its indication of homologating the BMW M1000RR for WorldSBK use, and to make the bike potent and ready for Superstock racing. Accordingly, pricing is set at €30,000 in Europe.