It seems every couple months we have to report on the changing landscape in the moto-journalism realm, as the motorcycle industry continues a heavy churn with its constant state of flux and never-ending evolution (or lack thereof).
So far, we have seen a massive shakeup of Bonnier’s motorcycle titles, including Cycle World going to a quarterly format and Motorcyclist publishing every-other month format, while closing titles like Sport Rider and consolidating titles like Bagger and Hot Bikes.
We have seen The MAG Group (which is going through its own bankruptcy proceedings right now) close the doors at Motorcycle-USA, and also sell Cycle News to the motorcycle industry’s top advertising network.
We have also seen RideApart sold to media conglomerate Motor1 (and recently lost its Editor-in-Chief), Vertical Scope’s Motorcycle.com just lost its #1 and #2 leaders, Canada Moto Guide (the largest online publication in that region) has switched ownership, and internet upstart Rider’s Domain (owned by Jake Wilson) just let go of a significant part of its content and editorial staff.
And now today, we report that UK publication MotoFire has announced that it is for sale, with founders Steve Hunt and Ian Jubb (two ex-MCN employees) looking to take a step back from the website.
When it comes to historic British motorcycle brands, Ariel ranks as one of the top marquees in the business. Currently lending its name to the insane street-legal go-kart that is the Ariel Atom, which Jeremy Clarkson helped make famous with his big mouth..literally, Ariel boss Simon Saunders has tipped, in a press release about the latest Atom iteration, that the company’s next effort will be of the two-wheeled variety. Caught testing by the lenses of MCN, the British moto-publication says that the new Ariel will be based around the 1,237cc V4 engine found on the Honda VFR1200F, and have a single-sided swingarm, along with a unconventional front-end — possibly of a girder or Hossack design.
I’m not sure if this video about Dirt Quake II needs an explanation, and to be frank…I’m not sure I even want to even hazard a go at one. Organized by Sideburn Magazine and the Dirt Track Riders Association, a group of misfits on two-wheels did some racing around the Norfolk Arena in England. Merriment was had, a video was produced, and we are not sure if the world is ready for a repeat occurrence. Enjoy after the jump.
Former British moto-journalist Jim Lindsay is behind one of the more intriguing motorcycle projects in the UK right now. Working from the list of contacts he’s made covering the motorcycle industry, Lindsay and his crew are building the Enigma 1050, a Triumph Speed Triple-powered custom sport bike. Collaborating with the minds that bring us Tigcraft, K-Tech Suspension, Promach , and Dymag, the pedigree behind the Engima 1050 is already a promising one, but what intrigues us the most is that the Enigma crew is considering offering the bike as a kit build, in addition to a finished ready-to-ride motorcycle.
Before the name Ariel was synonymous with the Honda-powered Ariel Atom trackday car, the brand was affixed to vehicles of the two-wheeled variety. After producing great bikes like the Ariel Square Four, the now defunct Ariel Motorcycle company was folded into BSA, which in a roundabout fashion gave birth to the current Triumph brand. Building on that vein, we get word that the makers of the Ariel Atom want to get into the two-wheeled biz, and are planning to launch a new Ariel motorcycle by the end of this year.
Though there may not be any exact ties between the current past Ariel marques beyond their names, the idea of another motorcycle maker entering the treacherous and rarely lucrative motorcycle industry fray is nonetheless exciting to us here at A&R; and since we’re big fans of the Ariel Atom car project, we can only just barely contain our excitment on the idea of a similar movement done on two wheels as the one we’ve seen already on four.
In what seems to be the growing trend of motorcycle startups latching onto the growing EV market, the Agility Saietta debuted today at the Carole Nash MCN Motorcycle Show in London. The design is likely going to be a love or hate affair for most riders, and we doubt it’ll do anything to convince petrol-heads that electrics are the future of this industry, but the Saietta packs some seriously dubious performance claims, which if true should impress performance geeks.
Engadget is reporting an ambiguous performance figure from Agility of 675 hp/ ton, which would work out to 169hp on a 500 lbs motorcycle, and 135hp on a 400 lbs machine. Spying the air-cooled brushed DC Agni motor nestled within, we imagine that figure is peak power rating, and as we’ve seen at the Isle of Man TT, those Agni motors are finicky about running at those power levels for extended periods of time.
Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.
The British Motorcycle Industry Association is reporting that the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R was the best selling 651cc-1000cc motorcycle on the island nation for the month of November (with a whopping 17 sales!), despite the fact that the 10R has been put on a technical hold by Kawasaki, and not a single machine has made it to a British customer. Leaving aside the obvious problems of counting your chickens before they’ve hatched, and the validity of the MIA’s statistics just generally, it will be interesting to see how this “technical hold” affects Kawasaki’s sales for the superbike-derived ZX-10R as we get closer to the prime sportbike selling season.
Already under some controversy for coming to the United States sans about 20hp, the technical hold on what many believe is a piston wear issue is another blow to Team Green. While A&R‘s ZX-10R launch invite must have gotten lost in the mail (that’s what you get for being one of the first to break Kawasaki’s lowered RPM news), it would appear from one owner’s video that the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is more than capable of ludicrious speed in street form (not that we condone such a thing). Video of a 300+ km/h top speed run after the jump.
Don’t call the silly season over just yet, as the rumor mill has begun to churn away on Anglo-American John Hopkins. Finishing 10th in the AMA American Superbike Championship, Hopper had a mixed season with the M4 Suzuki squad, missing several races because of a wrist surgery. Now finally on the mend, Hopkins is being linked to the Crescent racing team in the UK, which is headed by former Rizla Suzuki MotoGP boss Paul Denning, and if true could be heading back to his other motherland for the 2011 racing season.
Good news for British motorcycle racing fans, as Donington Park has secured a spot on the 2011 World Superbike calendar. But the real good news for the Brits is that WSBK will come to both Donington and Silverstone next year, giving the sometimes rainy island a double-helping of production-based international motorcycle racing.
The announcement signals the rescue of the British track from what seemed like certain death, after planned renovations fell through and the track was unable to secure a Formula 1 bid, leaving the Donington Park leasees without a dime to spend, and without a track circuit to run (construction had begun to make the track conform to Formula 1 standards).
MotoGP was in Donington Park this weekend for the British GP, and what will be the MotoGP Championship’s last stop at the Midlands track for the foreseeable future. Donington proved that not only would this be a finale GP, but also a memorable one. Weather forecasts for the day proved to be accurate with drizzles occurring during racing. Teams gambled on tires, and early ride reports indicated that the British track was very slippery when wet (shocking, we know). The end result was crashes, cold tires, and a podium line-up we’re guessing no one expected. Bangers and mash anyone?