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Memorial Day was finally greeted with some proper racing weather at Miller Motorsports Park, and World Superbike racing was underway Monday at WSBK’s only stop in the USA. With the Ducatis lacking speed on Miller’s long front straight, the Italain contingency made up for its horsepower deficit in MMP’s many curves. Surprisingly, this lead to Jakub Smrz taking the Superpole on Sunday, and with Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano sitting on the front row, only Tom Sykes could mix things up with his #3 spot on the grid.

Getting a look at Dainese & AGV’s 2012 collection, Asphalt & Rubber was down in Orange County earlier this week to see the highly anticipated Dainese D-Air Racing leather suit, which has a four liter airbag system that helps reduce the risk of injury during a motorcycle crash.

Dainese has been working on the D-Air Racing system for 10 years now, and after soft-launching the airbag suit in Europe, the Italian company is ready to bring the game-changing technology to American soil.

If you watch MotoGP or World Superbike, you have likely already seen the roughly one pound (650 grams) D-Air Racing suit at work, as riders like Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Stefan Bradl, Leon Haslam, and Max Biaggi have been wearing Dainese’s airbag leathers while racing, and have also been providing the company with feedback on the D-Air’s design and development.

In addition to deploying an airbag that protects a rider’s neck, chest, and shoulders, the Dainese D-Air system also provides a telemetry package that track riders can use in lieu of a basic motorcycle data acquisition system.

Despite showing a rebound for 2011, and several brands posting strong growth over the past six months, industry-wide motorcycle sales in the United States grew only a modest 1.7% over the first six months of 2010. The news comes as Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki report continued sales decreases in 2011, and as the Japanese brands constitute a large portion of sales in the US, those losses have more than offset the record sales posted by smaller unit sellers like Ducati and BMW.

Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you live from Laguna Seca for the rest of the week and weekend, and upon our arrival at the historic Californian track, we had a moment to talk to Jorge Lorenzo about his recent statement that he would not race at Motegi, even before Dorna’s independent safety review of the Japanese track was published.

Responding to the criticism that his statement ran counter to the “With You Japan” message Yamaha and the rest of the MotoGP paddock have been showing, Lorenzo made his position clear that he was for Japan, but not Motegi. Perhaps hinting that another circuit should be chosen for the Japanese GP.

After much waiting, Motus Motorcycles finally launched its MST sport-tourer to the public today. Unveiled at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Motus’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, the American motorcycle manufacturer will head to Florida for the Progressive International Motorcycle Show on Thursday, March 10th for a more public showing.

Developed in conjunction with Pratt & Miller Engineering, the Motus MST features the KMV4 motor, a 1,645cc V4 push-rod style engine that include gasoline direct-injection technology (GDI). Power for the Motus MST prototype is said to be 161hp @ 7,800 rpm; 122 lbs•ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm, while the bike tips the scales around around 500 lbs dry. Motus will be riding the MST around the United States to show off their work, meet with supporters, and look for dealers interested in carrying the line.

BMW Motorrad has just released its numbers for last year, and the Bavarian brand is showing some strong results in 2010, especially considering the double-digit slogging most other companies took. With sales up 12% globally, BMW sold 98,047 motorcycles in 2010 compared to the 87,306 units it sold in 2009 (that’s a 10,741 unit difference).

Of the motorcycles sold in last year, the R1200GS remained the globally best selling unit within the brand (accounting for 18,768 units worldwide), and was followed by the R1200GS Adventure (11,648 units), R1200RT (11,132 units), and the S1000RR (10,209 units).

Perhaps the most striking news though is the fact that the new S1000RR superbike dominated liter bike sales in the United States, and even outsold the R1200GS here domestically, making 2010 a very successful year for BMW not only on the balance sheet, but also as proof that the Germans can sell bikes that aren’t featured in Long Way Around.

More news from American Honda, as the 2011 Honda CB1000R will be priced at $10,999 when it finally comes to American soil in the new year. The Honda CB1000R goes up against the industry-wide belief that naked sport bikes don’t sell here in the United States (there might be a point to that line of reasoning), and the CB1000R will have to contend with another new but not-so-naked liter-bike contender: the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (Z1000SX to our European friends, or misguided Americans).

There certainly is more than one motorcycle manufacturer competing for the hearts and minds of riders who are looking for a sporty bike, without the sporty sitting position. As for the incumbents, Honda seems to have priced itself slightly above the Yamaha FZ1 ($10,490), and Kawasaki Z1000 ($10,599), which isn’t terribly shocking and sticks to their usual pricing scheme. True to American fashion, you can get the 2011 Honda CB1000R in any color you want, as long it’s black. Photos and technical spec’s after the jump.

The historic British motorcycle brand Norton is set to return to the United States with its Commando 961’s next year. Heading up Norton’s push into the US market is former Ducati North America CEO Dan Van Epps, who also served time with Ducati in Bologna, acting as the company’s Director of Overseas Markets and Head of Product Marketing. Starting in May 2011, Van Epps and his crew will begin importing Norton Commando 961 Sport, Café Racer, and SE models. Built off the classic Norton lines, the Commando 916 series features a 916cc fuel-injected parallel twin motor, along with Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes.

While the tri-color paint scheme might still be too cool for the United States, Honda has finally seen the light, and decided to bring the 2011 Honda CB1000R to the America after all. Based-off a de-tuned CBR1000RR, the CB1000R is Europe’s fun street-naked from the Honda brand that brings some punch to the table (even more when you bring it back to RR specification). While the headlight might remind some of a certain Star Wars bounty hunter, the single-sided swingarm and radial brakes bring a stylish and sporty emphasis to the CB name (that exhaust pipe is a whole different issue though).

Available in any color you want, as long as it’s black, the white and tri-color paint schemes will stay in the EU for now. Honda is still finalizing the technical specifications on the 2011 Honda CB1000R (likely for emissions purposes), so it will be interesting to see if the CB1000R gets further restrictions to meet EPA noise and pollution standards like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Expect to see the 2011 Honda CB1000R in dealerships in Spring of 2011. Photos and technical specifications after the jump.

After moving its Canadian distribution to its United States office last year, the Piaggio Group is pledging to improve its Canadian dealer network and customer relations. The move out of Canada, which reportedly has spurned law suits, is just one example of the major problems Piggio is experiencing in North America, as even the United States office isn’t exactly known for its great dealer support and customer service (just ask your local Aprilia owner how long it takes to get replacement parts).