The High Fives Heard in Milwaukee

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson’s Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka. No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well. Milwaukee even impressed with its more “core” offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be “a real motorcycle” in our eyes…we think.

Ducati’s Project 1309 Reveals a New Diavel Coming

We didn’t hear too much about “Project 1309” from World Ducati Week 2018, which is surprising considering what the past has shown us about Ducati’s secret reveals, but the Bologna brand was once again giving a teaser to fans in Misano. In the past, World Ducati Week has been the place where Ducati showed us the first Scrambler model, and last year the event debuted the return of the Ducati SuperSport. This year, it is another new bike. A new Diavel, to be precise. Set to compliment the current XDiavel model, the new Diavel features the same 1,262cc DVT engine with variable valve timing, but puts it into the more sport Diavel riding platform. This means tucked in feet on rearsets, rather than the XDiavel’s foot-forward controls.

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.

For the past five years, Belgian brand Sarolea has been at the Isle of Man TT honing its electric superbike. The results haven’t always been there for the boutique company, but Sarolea set its best time around the Mountain Course in 2017 with Dean Harrison at the helm, posting a 108.064 mph lap.

Taking what it has learned on “the roads” and applying it to the road, the Sarolea MANX7 has been born. Basically the race bike with lights, the Sarolea MANX7 Limited electric superbike is breaking cover for the 2018 model year.

Carbon fiber everything, and a truly bespoke machine, the overall aesthetic of the Sarolea MANX7 Limited might not be for everyone, but it certainly is a sight to be seen, with very clever details hidden in its retro-modern design.

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Ride in Peace, William Dunlop

07/07/2018 @ 3:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of William Dunlop, who passed away today at the Skerries 100 in Ireland

Crashing near the Sam’s Tunnel section of the road racing course, Dunlop succumb to the injuries he sustained during Saturday’s open practice session. He was 32 years of age.

A veteran racer and a member of road racing’s most storied family, William Dunlop was brother to Michael Dunlop, nephew to the legendary Joey Dunlop, and son to Robert Dunlop – all four Dunlops making their mark at a number of road racing events.

A six-time podium finisher at the Isle of Man TT, and a race-winner at both the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix, William Dunlop was a road racing favorite, with many pegging the 2018 season as possibly his last before retiring.

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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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The “Race to the Clouds” consists of 156 turns, 12.42 miles of tarmac, and a summit for 14,110 feet. It is no small undertaking. To prove that simple point, one only needs to watch the on-board footage from Pikes Peak racers.

Today’s example comes to us from Carlin Dunne, who last weekend took his Ducati Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak race bike to the top of America’s Mountain, with a race-winning time of 9:59.102.

The Pikes Peak race course proved challenging for all of the competitors involved, and you can see from the on-board videos that Carlin has more than his fair share of close calls where he loses traction – especially in the top half of the course.

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Carlin Dunne Wins Nail-Biter at Pikes Peak

06/24/2018 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Today saw the 96th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, with riders and drivers once again racing to the clouds, just outside Colorado Springs.

This year’s race was framed as Ducati vs. KTM, with the Australian claiming the outright record at Pikes Peak, after Chris Fillmore took his KTM 1290 Super Duke R up to the summit in 9:49.625.

Looking to reclaim its crown, Ducati came back to Pikes Peak after a short hiatus, enlisting the help of Carlin Dunne (of A&R fame) and Codie Vahsholtz.

The duo would square off against Cycle News test editor Rennie Scaysbrook, who would ride again on his KTM 1290 Super Duke R, while Chris Fillmore would take on the middleweight class with a KTM 790 Duke, in a quest to post a sub-10 minute time on the smaller bike.

With the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb framed as one of the most exciting in recent memory, the event surely didn’t disappoint.

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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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