Honda Motor Europe just announced its road racing squad for the 2018 season, welcoming Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston to team. The duo should be a strong lineup for Honda, and it is fairly big news to see Hutchy with Big Red for next season.
The bigger news though is that today’s announcement leaves us asking what happened to John McGuinness, the 23-time race winner at the Isle of Man TT being absent from Honda’s racing announcement.
Missing the 2017 TT because of injuries he sustained at this year’s North West 200, doubt had been cast over McPint’s road racing future.
Always chasing the high-water mark left behind by 26-time TT race winner Joey Dunlop, McGuinness has to contend with a new generation of fast racers, his age and health, and a troublesome racing package in the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.
This leaves the question, are we just marking time before we hear a retirement announcement? Or, is something else afoot?
While it has hardly been surprising to see Ducati and Kawasaki maintain their position as the dominant forces at play in WorldSBK, the battle for best-of-the-rest has been an interesting subplot for 2017.
Over the course of the opening three rounds of the campaign, the form of Honda and Yamaha has been marked by their stark contrast in fortunes.
Last year, Honda had been a podium and front-row regular as the season moved into the European swing, and Yamaha looked to be clutching at straws and looking for any positives they could find on their return to the series.
This year has seen their roles have reversed, with Yamaha consistently the best-of-the-rest and in position to fight for a rostrum finish. Honda on the other hand have had a disastrous start to the campaign with an all-new Fireblade.
Road Racing’s biggest personality is returning to the paddock, as Guy Martin has signed up with the factory Honda Racing team. Martin will be alongside John McGuinness, and the pair will compete in the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT on the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.
The news is a welcomed announcement for those who missed Guy Martin’s presence in the road racing scene – the truck mechanic from Lincolnshire sat out the 2016 Isle of Man TT, and other racing events, choosing instead to take on some other projects, like a land speed record attempt at Bonneville.
The American Flat Track aesthetic is catching hold over in Europe. We can see evidence of such by the popularity of flat track racing for Europe’s top MotoGP athletes, the rise of the Spanish Superprestigio event in Barcelona, and with the concepts we are seeing come from the European divisions of motorcycle OEMs.
Add the Honda CB1100 TR concept to that pile of evidence, as it is one of two motorcycle concepts that Honda Motor Europe is debuting at the 2016 EICMA show (the other being the very tasty Honda Africa Twin Enduro Sports concept).
Built off the Honda CB1100 street bike, the Honda CB1100 TR concept takes a motorcycle we otherwise would not be terribly interested in riding, and gives it a healthy dosage of sex appeal.
Go-fast parts come from Öhlins and Termignoni, with the #58 numberplate honoring the memory of Marco Simoncelli, who passed away five years ago, and whose passing is still deeply felt in Italy.
The folks at Big Red have just sent word that the Honda X-ADV adventure scooter is headed into production.
The crossover model, which is based closely off the Honda City Adventure concept, takes your typical maxi-scooter design, and adds some off-roading capability.
Honda says the scooter has long-travel suspension, a five-stage adjustable windscreen, and storage space for an off-road helmet.
The Honda Six50 concept continues where the Honda CB4 concept left-off in exploring what other machines could be created from the Honda CBR650F platform. Instead of a café racer though, the Honda CBSix50 is more of a modern-take on the popular scrambler genre.
To that vein, it works well with the Honda CB4 concept, as both machines attempt to tackle popular hipster tropes currently in the two-wheeled space, but with decisively modern and unique approaches.
Honda isn’t saying too much about its CB4 concept, and we are not sure they need to – the motorcycle speaks for itself. Just in case you can’t hear it, the retro-style standard is an appealing machine, which draws a distinct line to the Hondas of a couple generations ago.
The Honda CB4 concept seems to be built off the Honda CBR650F platform, though the concept is certainly as far as you can get from the CBR650F in terms of feeling and inspiration.
To that end, a single-sided swingarm has been added, the exhaust routed stylishly and polished, and we are a big fan of the solid iron front brake discs with radially mounted Tokico calipers, in red…naturally.
Honda Motor Europe’s factory race team is better known simply as the Honda TT Legends squad, and this year the team is really living up to that name.
Fielding a five-rider all-star squad for the 2013 season, the Honda TT Legends team will compete in the 2013 Endurance World Championship (EWC) with John McGuinness, Michael Rutter, Cameron Donald, and Simon Andrews.
For the Isle of Man TT and other road races, the team will retain McGuiness and Rutter, while adding Michael Dunlop to the mix on the three-rider squad.