At the AMA Supermoto Season-Opener in Bakersfield

It all started with the Superbikers. As a young man growing up in the late 70s, there were only three network TV stations for me to watch, and unlike today, motorsports programs were few and far between. Other than the Indy 500 and the occasional airing of stock car racing, motorsports just weren’t on the air very often. During one serendipitous Saturday, I happened upon ABC’s Wide World of Sports. And on that particular day, they were airing the Superbikers. Looking back, the influence that program had on the rest of my motorcycling life is immeasurable. An unusual combination of road racing, dirt track, and motocross, the Superbikers showcased racers I had only read about in the motorcycle magazines.

The WorldSBK Season So Far: Yamaha & Honda

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.

Investors Leveraging MotoGP for Sizable Payout

According to several reports in the financial sector, the investors behind Dorna Sports S.L. are readying themselves for another sizable payout from the media rights holder for the MotoGP and WorldSBK Championships. Using a bit of financial finesse, the move would see Bridgepoint Capital and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) – the two major investors in Dorna Sports – taking roughly €889 million off the books of the Spanish media company, according to Reuters. As such, today’s news would make this the third time that Bridgepoint and the CPPIB have raided the piggy bank for motorcycling’s premier racing series, having done similar deals in 2011 (€420 million) and 2014 (€715 million).

Norton Gets £3 Million to Increase V4 Production

If you have had your eye on a Norton V4 superbike recently, you might not have to wait as long for it to arrive, as the British marque has secured £3 million from the Santander Corporate & Commercial bank. The debt investment will allow Norton to triple its production rate on the V4 SS and V4 RR models, and also allow for the company to hire 40 new employees for the job. Additionally, according to Norton this will allow the company to increase its production volume to 1,500 motorcycles per year. “Having developed and pre-sold a huge number of bikes, we needed the funding to be readily available to pay for tooling, stock and people to allow production to move from 40 bikes per month to in excess of 130 bikes with effect from summer 2017,” said Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles.

Is The 2018 BMW HP4 Race About to Debut in China?

After this year’s April Fools hijinks, we have a whole new respect for the cunning that resides at BMW Motorrad, and the Germans seem to be honing that trait even further today. Announcing its plans for the upcoming Auto Shanghai 2017 later this month, BMW lists a number of four-wheeled news items for the Chinese auto show, and then casually slips-in at the end of the press release that we should expect a big unveil from BMW Motorrad. The statement reads that “the highlight of the BMW Motorrad stand is the world premiere of one of the most exclusive models ever offered by BMW Motorrad,” which is terse, though given what we know about the Bavarian brand, it should be easy to guess what they are hinting at.

Vyrus 986 M2 Street Bike Now Priced at €38,000

It is apparently more difficult to sell a kidney than I had previously thought (type o- / non-smoker / non-drinker…if you happen to be in the market), which isn’t good news when you are trying to get together some scratch for a Vyrus 986 M2 – the hottest supersport we have ever seen. Making matters worse is that Vyrus got in touch with A&R, updating us with their latest pricing structure for their Honda-powered hub-center steering masterpiece, which now comes with a price tag of €37,940 for the street bike, and €27,930 for the street bike kit. That is quite the change from the originally quoted €25,000 street bike model and €16,000 kit, and there is good reason for that, say the folks at Vyrus.

You Didn’t Know You Missed It, But the Honda NM4 Is Back

You probably didn’t even realize that the Honda NM4 was missing from Honda America’s model list for 2017, but the polarizing motorcycle is back for the 2018 model year. The first 2018 motorcycle to be announced so far this year from Honda, it probably helps that the Honda NM4 is featured in the Ghost in the Shell movie, which stars Scarlett Johansson. Laugh if you want, but the NM4 is a surprisingly pleasant to ride, even if you aren’t dressed like the Caped Crusader. As such, the Honda NM4 represents a tradition of motorcycles from Big Red that have pushed that boundaries of not only what we visually accept a motorcycle to look like, but it also blurs the distinctions we make between different motorcycle segments.

US Senate Establishes Motorcycle Caucus

The motorcycle industry has found more allies on Capital Hill this week, with the creation of the first “motorcycle caucus” in the United States Senate. Established so motorcycle manufacturers and motorcyclists would have a greater voice in the upper chamber of the American legislature, the Senate Motorcycle Caucus is the work of Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan). Motorcyclists typically aren’t single-issue voter – not for issues pertaining to motorcycles, at least – but with several important political issues currently affecting the motorcycle industry, the formation of the Senate Motorcycle Caucus comes at an advantageous time.

Husqvarna Two-Strokes Get Fuel-Injection Too

We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Husqvarna will be following suit with its Austrian sibling, and adding fuel-injection to several of its two-strokes enduro motorcycle for the 2018 model year. After a long history of rumors and development, KTM finally debuted fuel injection for a production two-stroke model just a few weeks ago, using the technology on two of its upcoming enduro models, the KTM 250 EXC TPI and KTM 300 EXC TPI. Husqvarna will use the same technology for its own motorcycles in the same segments, announcing today the the all-new 2018 Husqvarna TE 250i and 2018 Husqvarna TE 300i enduro models with transfer port injection.

Opinion: The Danger of Expanding the MotoGP Calendar

It is looking increasingly like the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand will be added to the MotoGP calendar for the 2018 season. I understand from sources that there was a significant hurdle to be overcome: circuit title sponsor Chang is a major beer brand in Thailand, and a rival to the Official MotoGP Beer Singha, also a major beer brand in Thailand and further abroad. The race can only happen if a compromise has been found to accommodate this conflict. This is good news for Thailand, and good news for fans in Asia. The World Superbike round at the circuit is always packed, and MotoGP should be even more popular. It is hard to overstate just how massive MotoGP is in that part of the world.

Gone Riding: 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000

04/24/2017 @ 6:13 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Good morning from Austin, Texas. After a long weekend watching some of the fastest racers tackling the 20 turns of the Circuit of the Americas, we are going to try a hand at it today, riding the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

COTA is a perfect test track for a bike like the GSX-R1000, with a mix of long straights, elevation changes, quick transitions, and fast sweepers. Run, turn, stop – that is the mantra behind the Suzuki GSX-R1000, and we will be testing those three attributes.

For the 2017 model year, the GSX-R1000 is an all-new machine – though we are told that fans of the “King of Superbikes” should find this machine to be a familiar soul.

Not everything is familiar though, as the outgoing model was noticably behind the times. As such, the 2017 version features near-200hp performance figures and a state-of-the-art electronics suite, which includes ABS, IMU-powered traction control, and ride-by-wire.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the new Suzuki GSX-R1000, before even my own proper reviews are posted.

As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Suzuki personnel (we have members from both the Japanese and American teams here on-site) that are here with me here at COTA. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #Suzuki & #GSXR1000 for the thoughts of my colleagues as well.

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Watch the BMW HP4 Race Do Its Thing

04/23/2017 @ 10:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

BMW Motorrad is one of the few brands still growing in this motorcycle economy, even in the United States, which is facing another year of doubtful sales increases. That’s no easy task.

Not so easy is also improving upon the BMW S1000RR superbike – a machine that tops the lists of many motorcycle publications, near and far. When you ride the BMW S1000RR, it is easy to see why the Bavarian Bullet is so popular.

The BMW S1000RR is beating the Japanese brands at their own game, offering a 1,000cc inline-four superbike with near-200hp peak horsepower figures, anemic measurements on the scale, and a full-suite of electronics…all with aggressive pricing.

How do you improve on this design? Well, a carbon fiber chassis is certainly one way to start; a WorldSBK-spec 212hp engine certainly helps; and factory-set electronics don’t hurt nothin’ either. In other words, you make the BMW HP4 Race.

There are so many reasons why we should heap praise on BMW Motorrad for building the 2017 BMW HP4 Race, but instead we are just going to let this video from the German brand do the talking.

Does anyone know what the 3asy pricing on the HP4 Race is looking like? What if I use my kidney as a down payment? No, seriously…asking for friend.

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Mega Gallery: BMW HP4 Race

04/19/2017 @ 10:04 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The BMW HP4 Race has finally dropped, the Bavarian brand’s extreme superbike offering that drips in carbon fiber pieces. A track-only liter-bike for true enthusiasts, the BMW HP4 Race sees a potent 212hp engine packed into featherweight 377 lbs wet body.

Of course to hit those weight goals, BMW Motorrad employed extensive use of composite materials to shed weight from the already robust BMW S1000RR superbike. As such, the frame, bodywork, and wheels are made from carbon fiber, including the self-supporting tail section.

BMW doesn’t reveal too much on how it has boosted the power from the 199hp found on the S1000RR’s inline-four power plant, though the result is an increased redline to 14,500 rpm (up from 14,200 rpm).

Keeping inline with its ~$85,000 price tag though (BMW Motorrad hasn’t released pricing figures yet, unfortunately), the BMW HP4 Race comes with top-of-the-line brakes and suspension pieces. It also has a robust electronics package that features the usual suspects of three-letter acronyms.

There is plenty to drool over on the BMW HP4 Race, so we have 64 high-resolution photos of the machine, waiting for you after the jump. Enjoy!

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Carbon Fiber BMW HP4 Race Debuts in China

04/19/2017 @ 8:18 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

As we predicted, the BMW HP4 Race carbon fiber superbike debuted today in China, at the Auto Shanghai 2017 expo. This is the production version of the prototype that BMW Motorrad teased at last year’s EIMCA show in Milan.

Details were scarce in Italy, but now BMW is ready to tell us all about its halo bike. The numbers? Only 750 units of the BMW HP4 Race will be produced. Each one will make 212hp, and weigh 377 lbs when fully fueled and ready to ride – which is lighter than BMW’s WorldSBK-spec S1000RR racing machine.

Of course the main feature of the BMW HP4 Race is that it drips in carbon fiber. The bodywork, main frame, and wheels are made of this composite material, with the tail section being a self-supporting carbon fiber unit.

BMW Motorrad has interestingly chosen an aluminum swingarm for the HP4 Race though, a departure from the show bike, likely for rigidity/handling reasons.

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Is The 2018 BMW HP4 Race About to Debut in China?

04/11/2017 @ 2:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

After this year’s April Fools hijinks, we have a whole new respect for the cunning that resides at BMW Motorrad, and the Germans seem to be honing that trait even further today.

Announcing its plans for the upcoming Auto Shanghai 2017 later this month, BMW lists a number of four-wheeled news items for the Chinese auto show, and then casually slips-in at the end of the press release that we should expect a big unveil from BMW Motorrad.

The statement reads that “the highlight of the BMW Motorrad stand is the world premiere of one of the most exclusive models ever offered by BMW Motorrad,” which is terse, though given what we know about the Bavarian brand, it should be easy to guess what they are hinting at.

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Energica Adds More Power To Ego and Eva Motorcycles

04/06/2017 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Italian electric motorcycle manufacturer has two announcements for us today. The first is one is perhaps not that shocking (figuratively), because the Energica Ego and Energica Eva motorcycle have both been homologated as Euro4 compliant.

The second piece of news is a bit more shocking (literally) though, as both the Ego and Eva will see power increases for the 2017 model year. As such, the 2017 Energica Ego will see a 145hp peak power figure, while the 2017 Energica Eva will top the sheets at 108hp.

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April Fools: Ducati V4 Superbike Spied in Trademark Docs

04/01/2017 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

The worst-kept secret in Bologna right now is the fact that Ducati will be switching to a V4 format with its 2018 model year superbike – this being the last year (at least at the top of the model lineup) that Ducati will use a v-twin engine design for its race-focused motorcycles.

We expect the Panigale-killer to be a horsepower beast (220+ hp), and the production motorcycle might even sport some of the aerodynamic enhancements that we have seen Ducati use on the race track in the MotoGP Championship (hopefully just not the company’s “hammerhead” fairing design).

Now, we have name for this next-generation superbike machine, as Ducati has filed trademarks with the United States, European, and Japanese trademark offices (click here for the US filing).

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Report Says Sport Bike Sales in USA Dropped 4.7%

02/27/2017 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler62 COMMENTS

The data continues to support the notion that sport bike sales are contracting, with Powersports Business releasing a report that sport bike sales dropped by 4.7% over a 12-month period that ended in October 2016.

According to the dataset put together by Statistical Surveys Inc., 75,469 sport bikes were registered in the United States during last year’s time period, compared to the 79,225 motorcycles that were registered the previous year.

While the general trend across the country is a drop in sport bike sales, the research also showed some interesting locations where sport bike sales actually increased dramatically, showing that there may be a location element to the demise of the sport bike.

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A Honda RVF1000 V4 Superbike for 2019?

02/23/2017 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

Since before I started Asphalt & Rubber, the scribe’s at MCN have been predicting a MotoGP-derived V4 superbike from Honda – I think the original rumor started with a V5 power plant, if that gives you an idea of how long this story has been making the circuit.

The hands on the clock are finally starting to meet with reality though, and the British magazine now says that a more affordable version of the Honda RC213V-S could hit dealerships in time for the 2019 model year.

This information echoes similar news that we saw before the launch of the updated Honda CBR1000RR – that Honda was working in parallel on a new Fireblade as well as a V4 superbike project.

Though now, MCN now points to recent patents filed by Honda, as well as sourced information that the bike is a couple model years away.

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What We Learned from the Ducati MotoGP Launch

01/23/2017 @ 10:19 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

From one presentation to another. Having the Movistar Yamaha and Ducati Factory team launches on consecutive days made it a little too easy to make comparisons between the two.

There was much complaining on social media about the fact that large parts of the Yamaha presentation were in Spanish only, causing the international audience watching the live streaming to lose interest.

Ducati’s approach was better: while everything in the presentation was in Italian, there was simultaneous translation available on the live stream, so those following could hear it in English.

That was no good to us in the hall, of course, though we would find out later that there had been headsets available with the live translation available. But nobody had thought to tell us about that, of course.

Still, we got to practice our racing Italian, a necessity (along with racing Spanish) for those who work in MotoGP.

There was not much to complain about the location. Just as last year, the launch took place at the Ducati factory in Borgo Panigale, just west of Bologna.

The auditorium is not much to write home about – a dark room with a stage – but journalists and guests were welcomed in the Ducati museum, a glorious place filled with Ducati history and a lot of racing past. If you are heading to Mugello or Misano, a visit to the museum is highly recommended.

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