KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Gets Closer to Production Form

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

MV Agusta’s Moto2 Race Bike Predictably Looks Awesome

After a 42-year hiatus, MV Agusta is returning to the Grand Prix Championship. This iconic Italian motorcycle brand will not be competing in MotoGP however, and instead MV Agusta will make its return in the Moto2 category. Partnering with the Forward Racing team, MV Agusta aims to take advantage of the rule changes for the 2019 season, which will see a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine replacing the 600cc Honda four-cylinder engine that is currently in use. This change in the spec-engine rule will likely upheave the Moto2 Championship, and MV Agusta wants to be part of that sea change. As such, the bike you see in the photos here will be the machine that launches MV Agusta’s assault on the GP paddock.

The Harley-Davidson “Custom” Is the First Cruiser We Like

In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept. There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over. For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept. Using the 1,250cc version of Harley-Davidson’s new modular engine, the Custom takes a number of cues from Harley-Davidsons of the past and future.

The Anatomy of an Isle of Man TT Pit Stop

06/20/2018 @ 7:17 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Amongst the top riders at the Isle of Man TT, victory or defeat can come in pit lane, as crucial time is either won or lost in front of the TT Grandstand on Glencrutchery Road.

But, a pit stop at the Isle of Man TT is not a straight-forward affair, and as such the top teams have choreographed a precise dance in order to extract the maximum performance under tight circumstances.

For TT riders, the biggest rate-limiter during a pit stop is fuel, and a good pit stop will see teams waiting for their fuel tanks to fill, rather than losing time on changing a rear tire, attending to the rider, or some other mechanical issue.

In the video attached to this post, we see Peter Hickman come into the pits, on his way to winning this year’s Senior TT – setting a course record of 135.452 mph along the way as well. It is an interesting insight into this often over-looked aspect of TT road racing.

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Friday’s Race TT Photos from Tony Goldsmith

06/09/2018 @ 4:06 pm, by Tony GoldsmithADD COMMENTS

IOMTT: Senior TT Race Results

06/08/2018 @ 7:25 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you ask the racers at the Isle of Man TT which of the nine races they would most like to win, the Senior TT is always the answer. They call it the “blue ribbon” event, and that is because it features the fastest bikes on the grid, racing over a grueling six laps – it also has the largest trophy.

With the TT fortnight acting like a crescendo to Friday’s race, the Senior TT is final cacophony of noise at the Isle of Man, and today’s race was the epitome of that notion.

Once again, the weather smiled upon this tiny island in the Irish Sea, as it has all fortnight. This not only meant a day for perfect racing, but it also meant that racers had two weeks of honing their craft and their machines for the Senior TT race.

Lap times were going to drop; records were going to be broken, and benchmarks were going to be set, which is exactly what you should expect from the Senior TT.

All this being said, I still had my reservations this morning about publishing a story where Dean Harrison said that a 135 mph lap time was a necessity if he wanted to win the Senior TT. Just a few years ago, 135 mph seemed unthinkable. Two weeks ago even, a 135 mph lap seemed too far away.

My apprehension seems to have been unnecessary though, but even that wasn’t immediately clear at the start of The Senior.

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Harrison, On Chasing a 135 MPH Lap at the TT

06/08/2018 @ 12:11 am, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

On Saturday during the RST Superbike race, Dean Harrison smashed the outright Isle of Man TT lap record with a 134.432 mph lap of Mountain Course.

It was the culmination of a long apprenticeship on the roads for the Bradford rider, and having claimed a second career TT victory this week, he'll be out to impress once again during the Senior TT on Friday.

Road racing is in his blood, his father Conrad is a sidecar race-winner, but for Dean the challenge has been to gain the experience to show what he can do on the 37-mile long circuit.

That experience has been taking place on the roads, at home studying videos, and racing in the British Superbike Championship to understand more about what it takes to reach the limit of his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.

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Friday’s Isle of Man TT Race Preview

06/07/2018 @ 7:38 pm, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

Senior Day dawns on the Isle of Man, and this national holiday is far from a day-off for the riders.

With six laps of the fearsome Mountain Course, the top riders will have just over 100 minutes to etch their names in the history books. The list of past winners is a who’s who of road racing, and brings to a close two weeks of helter skelter action at the road racing capital of the world.

Mike Hailwood and John McGuiness are the most successful riders in the history of the Senior, with seven wins apiece, but with only two active riders, Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson, having claimed a win in the blue ribbon race, we could see a new victor added to the 45 names on the winners list.

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Wednesday’s Race TT Photos from Tony Goldsmith

06/06/2018 @ 5:03 pm, by Tony GoldsmithADD COMMENTS

IOMTT: Lightweight TT Race Results

06/06/2018 @ 8:01 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Lightweight TT each year proves itself to be one of the most popular classes at the Isle of Man TT. Originally conceived as a three-lap race, where pit stop strategy added to the intrigue, the “junior” class is now a four-lap affair.

Designed to be a proving ground for younger riders, now we see the big names in the class as well, with Ian Hutchinson, Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman and others testing their mettle on the 650cc twin-cylinder bikes.

The final race on Wednesday, TT fans were treated to a strong race, which had several lead changes, and plenty of lap records.

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IOMTT: TT Zero Race Results

06/06/2018 @ 5:47 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

After two years of stagnation, 2018 was do or die for the TT Zero electric race in terms of forward progress. Before the race even started, the race saw some drama, with Team Mugen’s three-bike strategy having to be rethinked due to news from John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey.

As such, Mugen ultimately would field a two-man team, with Michael Rutter and Lee Johnston on the helm of the Mugen Shinden Nana.

In total, only seven entries would lineup on Glencrutchery road for the TT Zero race, with all eyes wondering if we would finally see a 120 mph lap from the electric bikes.

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IOMTT: Supersport TT Race 2 Results

06/06/2018 @ 4:24 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The sign at the starting line said “conditions excellent” as the Isle of Man provided another perfect arena for motorcycle racing, as Race 2 of the Supersport TT got underway.

With Michael Dunlop setting a 129 mph lap during Race 1, conversations already started about whether we would see a 130 mph lap from the supersport machines, an almost crazy average lap speed to consider from the 600cc machines.

While we wouldn’t see the record books change that entry today, we did see an eventful Supersport TT Race 2 at the Isle of Man TT.

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Wednesday’s Isle of Man TT Race Preview

06/06/2018 @ 12:06 am, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

After a thrilling start to race week, today’s action has a lot to live up to. Wednesday’s lineup will offer nine laps of racing across the Supersport, Lightweight, and TT Zero classes.

The trio of Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman, and Dean Harrison have dominated the week so far, and it’s almost certain that they will once again be the men to beat in the Superport class.

But in the Lightweight class, the likes of Ivan Lintin and a host of others will feel they can contend.

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