VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

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.

Episode 83 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk mostly about Harley-Davidson’s big fat new bike road map announcement.

Before we get to that though, we talk some news: Triumph North America losing its COO, MV Agusta’s new Moto2 race bike, Aprilia’s rumored parallel-twin sport bike, and emission concerns in Europe & Japan, as well as California.

The conversation then turns to news from World Ducati Week 2018, as well as a recap from the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race in Japan.

From there, we talk about Harley-Davidson – its ADV bike, its streetfighter, its custom model, and its electric lineup. We also talk about the company’s business plan going forward, and what we see in Harley-Davidson’s future.

There is a lot of ground to cover in this show, but thankfully we had plenty of caffeine to help us through it. Enjoy!

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #82 – Bring the Noise

07/27/2018 @ 3:43 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 82 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk mostly about track days, new riders, and the mental process of going fast on a motorcycle.

The show isn’t so much of a how-to for track days, as it is more of an hour-long philosophical discussion about riding motorcycles around a race track.

From there, we finish up with some news items, like Dani Pedrosa’s retirement, Yamaha’s mid-sized Niken, the lack of a Triumph Daytona 765, Ducati Streetfighter V4 rumors, a duo of new Kawasaki sport bikes (ZX-6R & ZX-10RR), BMW’s new superbike, and some racing gossip.

Lastly, we remember William Dunlop and James Cowton, who lost their lives road racing recently. Our thoughts are with their family and friends.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #81 – Sex Panther

07/17/2018 @ 11:23 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 81 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it is a marathon show – right at 2.5 hours in length. Because of that duration, we cover a huge range of topics, the first of which is a little news about Harley-Davidson, and the growing American trade war.

From there, we move to Jensen’s recent trip to Italy, where he rode the new MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso SCS, which features a new auto-clutch for sport bikes, made in partnership with Rekluse.

Jensen’s travels then took him to Milan, where he visited Pirelli’s world headquarters and testing facility, which was a unique experience in seeing how tires are evaluated and produced.

Lastly came a trip south to Sicily, to visit the Metzeler/Pirelli R&D testing facility, where Jensen rode the entire Metzeler tire range up a volcano…no seriously.

Back home in the USA, Quentin was doing a bit of racing, as he lined up on the grid in OMRAA’s 250 Ninja Cup. He then played on the other side of the wrench in his travels to Pikes Peak, spinning wrenches for Michael Woolaway, who raced a custom Ducati Hypermotard up the Colorado mountain.

At the same time, Jensen was in Laguna Seca for the World Superbike weekend, and the following Pirelli track day. There, Jensen got to ride two very unique motorcycles: the Kramer HKR EVO2 and the BMW HP4 Race. A short review: they did not suck.

Since Quentin recently also got a chance to ride the Kramer, the two trade notes on the show about this interesting single-cylinder motorcycle, and how much fun it is to ride smaller-displacement motorcycles on the track.

Like we said, it’s a marathon show, but we think you will find all the topics not only interesting, but the stories entertaining.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Episode 76 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and in it we mix things up. Recorded at the Laguna Seca WorldSBK round, on the mics are Steve English and Jensen Beeler, and the duo covers the World Superbike Championship season thus far.

The show is the first part of a two-part series look at the WorldSBK paddock, which is currently on a two-month summer break. 

Starting with the opening round at Phillip Island, we look at what has happened thus far in production racing. We then move to the WorldSBK silly season, as the rider market for next season is just starting to get interesting.

Lastly, we make some predictions for the rest of the season, and take some quick looks at what is to come for the 2019 season in terms of riders, teams, and machinery.

All in all, we think you will enjoy the show. It is packed with behind-the-scenes info on the World Superbike Championship, and insights from teams and riders in the paddock.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

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Too Many Photos of WorldSBK at Laguna Seca

07/07/2018 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I am just now getting to the photos I took during the WorldSBK round at Laguna Seca, so apologies for the delay. As such, I have compiled the entire weekend’s shots into a single gallery, rather than breaking them out by day.

The order isn’t chronological then, but instead works its way around a lap of the track. The gallery starts in pit lane, with bikes and riders getting ready to take to the circuit. Next follows the pageantry of the starting grid, as my colleague Andrew Wheeler would call it.

A few shots from Turn 1 (the scariest turn in all of motorcycling, if you ask me), Turn 2 (the double-apex known better as the Andretti Hairpin), and Turn 3 (one of my favorite turns, as a rider) to get things started.

I pick the WSBK riders up again at the top of the hill at Turn 7. This vantage point always provides some good heavy braking shots, with riders often lifting the rear-wheel off the ground as the head into The Corkscrew – though, I didn’t seem to get that shot this year.

Taking a number of vantage points to this iconic turn, I shot the Corkscrew from both the inside and outside. The inside shots are the ones that are more famous, but my favorite photos from Laguna Seca always come from the outside, where on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Coming down The Corkscrew I got a sequence of PJ Jacobsen finding the wrong line through the turn, with the marshals facing a very difficult bike recovery situation, which included fluid on the course.

Following the line through The Corkscrew, riders sweep wide into Rainy Curve (Turn 9), before tightening the line at the apex. The Corkscrew isn’t that technical of a turn to ride, beyond the fact that if you get it really wrong, you will lose all your drive down the hill and thru T9.

One of the few right-handers, Turn 10, and then the bus stop that is Turn 11, and the racers are back on the front straight. This is where I caught them again, power-wheelieing out of T11 and accelerating in front of the grandstand.

If you do this 20 or so times faster than anyone else, you find yourself in parc fermé with bubbly in your hands. This year the crowd got a taste of the prosecco as well, courtesy of Jonathan Rea.

Enjoy the shots, I left them in super-high resolution form in case you need a new desktop background. Note, there are more photos in the thumbnail gallery, if you want to click through those as well.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #80 – Mac Track

07/06/2018 @ 11:51 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 80 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it is a lesson in how not to record a podcast, as the first 30 minutes of show were lost to some technical errors.

We recouped though, and the show is even more entertaining the second time around…maybe.

First, we talk about Quentin’s recent stint as an endurance racer, as he participated in a six-hour race at a local go-kart track.

After a lengthy discussion, we turn our attention to other racing events that happen to be going on, namely the MotoGP round at Mugello, the Isle of Man TT, and the Erzberg Rodeo.

The episode is a bit late to get out, so not all the racing news might be current, but we think it is still a pretty interesting show.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #79 – Avocado Toast

06/04/2018 @ 8:31 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 79 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we get a little dirty. Fresh from Eric Bostrom’s flat track school, Quentin tells us a story about sliding the rear wheel, which contrast Jensen’s dirt-bike crashing ways very nicely.

We then take a look at the new Honda CRF450L, which brings a street-legal 450cc dirt bike from a Japanese brand finally back to the US market. This also leads us into a conversation about the Erzberg Rodeo, which Alta Motors will contest in.

Racing is the topic of the day, with more talk about the Dakar Rally maybe moving back to Africa; the MotoGP Championship silly season showing just how silly it can get; and the start of the Isle of Man TT.

It’s a fun episode, with lots of side-stories. It might even make you hungry…hungry for more.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Episode 78 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk about an omnibus list of topics. 

As such, the show begins with some racing news, both for the Isle of Man TT and for the World Superbike Championship, with a conversation about Bosch’s safety thruster technology stuffed somewhere in-between those topics.

The conversation then turns to some timely news, namely the continued rumors that Honda is readying a V4 superbike, MV Agusta is building a Moto2 bike, Ducati will return to Pikes Peak, and Alta Motors entering the Erzberg Rodeo.

We then shift gears into a long conversation about the rising trend of motorcycle fatalities, when compared to total on-road vehicle deaths.

The show finishes with a look at how profitable halo superbikes can be for motorcycle manufacturers, and how that could be the future of sport bike sales.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #77 – Fifty Shades of BBQ

05/16/2018 @ 12:44 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 77 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk about our trip to Austin, Texas for the MotoGP race, as well as some news items we’ve missed in all our travels.

Most notably, we talk about the Krämer HKR EVO2 R track/race bike from Germany, which uses a 690cc single-cylinder engine from KTM inside a bespoke steel trellis frame.

The bike makes 80hp, inside a 280 lbs package, and has been quite the talk of our local road racing club. Once the drool has been mopped up, we change gears at look at what is going on inside the motorcycle industry.

As you can expect, it is not good news. But, the landscape is rapidly changing, and our conversation turns to how manufacturing is about to change dramatically for the motorcycle industry.

Somewhere along the way too, we talk about Erik Buell’s latest project. Overall though, the show is quite interesting and we think you will enjoy it.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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Episode 76 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is finally out, and in it we talk about Jensen’s recent trip to Africa. Well actually, it’s two trips to Africa.

First we talk about going to South Africa with Pirelli, riding on the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tire, which we got to test at the recently renovated Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, outside of Johannesburg.

Next up we head to Morocco, where we rode on two new tires from Bridgestone – the Battlax A41 adventure-touring tire, and the Battlax T31 sport-touring tire – riding in the desert region of Ouarzazate.

Three tires to test means a bevy of bikes were ridden too, which also means plenty of rabbit holes for us to jump down. As such, this show is a tad on the long side. Set aside a couple hours in your day, and enjoy.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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