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The Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 is perhaps the most-anticipated motorcycle for the 2021 model year, as the bike is set to define the future of the Bar & Shield brand.

If the bike is a success on the sale floor, the future bodes well for this iconic American institution. If the bike is another failure, like the V-Rod (and Livewire), then well…Harley-Davidson has a tough road ahead of it.

With the European press launch of the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 coming ahead of the bike’s debut in the USA (weird, right?), we couldn’t wait when came to evaluating this important machine.

The idea behind setting the grid in Grand Prix racing is simple: after two 15 minute sessions, the rider who sets the fastest lap gets to start from pole position, the other riders ranked in order of their best lap times.

Of course, the fact that qualifying is split into two sessions to prevent people using tows to artificially boost their starting positions (more on that later) is already a distortion, as the quickest riders left in Q1 have sometimes posted faster times than those who made it through to Q2.

It was hardly ideal circumstances to make a return to the toughest class in motorcycle racing after more than eight months without riding a bike. Overnight rain left the track covered in damp patches, making the surface treacherous and unpredictable.

But that didn’t deter Marc Márquez: though he wasn’t the first out of the pits in FP1, he was on track soon enough. And he was fast soon enough too, ending the morning session as third quickest, just a quarter of a second slower than Maverick Viñales.

Drawing conclusions from times which are 2.5 seconds off the race lap record and 3.5 seconds off the best pole time is a little premature. But Márquez was fast again in FP2, in much drier and consistent conditions.

We could probably save a lot of pixels, and a lot of headlines, if we just wrote one story saying that updates have come to MV Agusta’s 800cc three-cylinder lineup…but where’s the fun in that?

Continuing the trickle of reveals, we have on the offer today the MV Agusta Brutale line, which includes the base model Brutale Rosso, the up-spec Brutale RR, and the auto-clutched Brutale RR SCS.

After a month in the desert, MotoGP returns to something more resembling normality. The Grand Prix paddock has left Qatar behind to fly to Europe, gathering at the Circuito do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal.

The change is all-encompassing: from the wild temperature swings from day to night of Qatar to the temperate climes of Portugal’s Algarve coast in balmy springtime; from dust and wind to mist and sunshine. From the bright artificial spotlights to being bathed in natural sunlight.

Above all, though, the change is from having a narrow window where everything resembled race conditions, that golden hour from 7pm to 8pm, to having usable conditions both morning and afternoon.

From a track where Michelin couldn’t bring a selection of tires which would allow a choice for the race at night, to a track where the teams should be able to find a tire that works for their bike, instead of having to bend their bikes to suit the only tire that will withstand the the weird conditions that prevail in the Qatari night.

Not that tires won’t be an issue at Portimão. Last year’s allocation has been tweaked, based on data collected at the track when MotoGP visited for the first time.

And because we go there now in mid-April, rather than late November, when the sun is higher in the sky and radiating more heat into the ribbon of asphalt the riders have to traverse.

Last year was a difficult year for the motorcycle industry, due primarily to the regional lockdowns, production stoppages, and disrupted supply chains.

The effect has been a loss in motorcycle sales across the board, and KTM is no different from the bulk of the two-wheeled brands.

Reporting a drop of 3.4% in motorcycle units sales, KTM ended last year selling 270,047 motorcycles worldwide (compared to 280,099 units in 2019).

Four months after getting off the Ducati, with no contracts signed for 2021, Andrea Dovizioso is riding again.

The Italian has spent the past three days testing the Aprilia RS-GP at a private test at Jerez, sharing the track with Yamaha, KTM, and Honda, in between the sessions for the MotoE class.

On Wednesday afternoon, the final day of Dovizioso’s test with Aprilia, the Italian spoke to the media about the test, his motivation for testing the RS-GP, his plans for the immediate future, and what he thought of the test so far.

He was very cagey in his responses, not wanting to give away too much, but reading between the lines he still had plenty to say.

He did not want to enter into detail about how the bike felt, insisting that the first thing he had to do was to find the right riding position before he could be comfortable trying to push the bike to its limit.