During the offseason for the WorldSBK series, I sent our man Steve English on a photo-finding mission. He came back victorious from his endeavor, bringing us our first look at the WorldSBK-spec BMW S1000RR superbike that Tom Sykes will campaign this season.
Today, we have another treasure trove of photos from that outing, as we bring you an “up-close” gallery of Eugene Laverty’s Ducati Panigale V4 RS19 race bike, which was back-to-back testing components at Portimão, ahead of this weekend’s season-opener.
A motorcycle that we have covered extensively here at Asphalt & Rubber, you might be wondering why another Panigale V4 is gracing our pages. For that, let me explain.
The Ducati Hypermotard 950 is the third generation of this street-sized supermoto, and in its design, Ducati borrowed heavily from the previous iterations.
As you can see, the mechanics of the 950 machine don’t wander far from the 939 that came before it, and the styling is a modern homage to the lines found on the original 1100 model.
As such, consider the 950 like a greatest hits album from the Hypermotard lineup.
One of the more intriguing story lines we are following in the coming WorldSBK season is the arrival of BMW Motorrad in the superbike paddock. For the 2019 season, BMW has partnered with the Shaun Muir Racing team, with riders Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger.
With an all new superbike platform to develop and work with, our attention is on what this machine can do, especially with such a high-level team and duo of riders.
With SMR officially unveiling the team at their preseason test in Portugal, we sent our man Steve English into the pit box to get some up-close photos of the WorldSBK-spec BMW S1000RR for the 2019 season.
As you would expect, the details on this bike are very interesting.
I had to check our coverage of the Moto Guzzi V85 TT, to see how many words we managed to use when talking about this new adventure-tourer – 398 words, if you wanted to know – which is pretty astonishing considering the complete lack of actual information coming from Piaggio on this new motorcycle.
Little more was revealed at INTERMOT as well, beyond what we could see physically on the machine. We know that the V85 TT will make 80hp from its 850cc v-twin engine. We know that it will have ABS, cruise control, LED lights, and a TFT dash (which looks great, by the way). Beyond that…well…it’s a very bright motorcycle.
One of the few surprises at the INTERMOT trade show in Germany, was Team Green’s release of two 125cc motorcycle models: the Kawasaki Ninja 125 and the Kawasaki Z125. The bikes are basic in their concept, and will be headed only to the European market.
Kawasaki hopes that the Ninja 125 and Z125 will be the ideal option for those with A1 or A2 licenses in Europe’s tiered motorcycle licensing program, though the Japanese company didn’t discount some interest from older riders who are looking for something smaller in their garage.
That is a fair goal from Kawasaki, because despite the budget-focus of these 125cc machines, the quality of the bikes is quite high, and we were most impressed with the fit and finish found on the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 125.
The belle of the INTERMOT ball, the Indian FTR1200 made its debut in Germany this week to much fanfare. We should all make note that the American brand has released its first non-cruiser motorcycle…and it did so on foreign soil. This is not an accident.
The FTR1200 marks an important moment in the Indian Motorcycle Company’s history, as it is the first of several machines to come from this historic marque that will take it into the future.
As I have said before, we should all pay attention, because Indian doesn’t want to be the next Harley-Davidson…it wants to be the next Honda, and that means worldwide domination.
One of the highlights from the INTERMOT trade show in Germany was the new Suzuki Katana. Set to be an early 2020 model, the Suzuki Katana takes the GSX-S1000F platform, and brings a unique retro-modern look to its chassis.
This means that the heart of this sport bike comes from the 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000, which has been re-tuned for street duty.
Though Suzuki is light on details, this should mean a 147hp sport bike, with basic electronic aids. This should also mean an attractive sport bike for under $12,000 here in the USA, if our math is correct.
Much was said about the 2019 Honda CRF450L before it even debuted in the United States, and the resounding collective opinion of the moto-journalists in attendance at its press launch was that the 450cc dual-sport is potent off-road, and well-mannered on the street.
Our own thoughts on the new Honda CRF450L are quite positive, and it rises to the top of the list of dual-sports that we would put in our garage. Getting an up-close look at the machine, you can see Honda’s quality shine through, from the engine to the switchgear, and even the body panels.
Making roughly 45hp at the crank, the CRF450L isn’t the most powerful bike in the category, put the torque curve on the Honda is tabletop flat and without holes. This makes the machine easy to hookup on the dirt, and refined for street riding…all the way to 85mph or more.
One of five new 450cc dirt bikes from Honda, the CRF450L is a true dual-sport – letting bikes like the CRF450RX and CRF450X fill the enduro niches for racing and pure trail riding. Thus having a weapon for every use, Honda smartly focused the CRF450L to be a dual-sport that can actually handle on street riding, instead of just compromising an exist dirt-focused machine.
If I said that there was an 81hp track bike that weighed less than 280 lbs ready to race, would that be something you’d be interested in? If so, say hello to the Krämer HKR EVO2, a purpose-built track bike from Germany.
Built around KTM’s 690cc single-cylinder engine, which is found in KTM 690 Duke and Husqvarna’s 701 series of bikes, the Krämer HKR EVO2 features a bespoke steel-trellis chassis, custom bodywork, and a host of top-shelf components.
The real tasty part about the Krämer HKR EVO2 though is the attention to detail and the purposefulness of its design – take for instance the 12-liter XPE plastic fuel tank that doubles as a subframe, which has integrated crash sliders, and a sighting hole for easy adjustment of the rear shock damping.
Up-close, the build quality is excellent and the bike feels incredibly light. Oddly enough, the riding position is even comfortable for riders over six-feet in height, and as such we are itching to get some ride-time in the coming weeks.
At the Grand Prix of the Americas, Aprilia USA debuted a special new superbike for the 2018 model year, the Aprilia RSV4 RF LE.
Limited to only 125 units for North America (100 for the USA, 25 for Canada), the big feature of the 2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF LE is the bike’s fairing winglets, which draw from Aprilia Racing’s aerodynamic progress in the MotoGP Championship.
Getting a chance to see the new Aprilia RSV4 RF LE in the flesh while in Texas, we grabbed some up-close photos of this limited edition RSV4, for your viewing pleasure, along with some other details.
By my nature, I am a critical person. This isn’t exactly a desirable personality trait, but it serves me well in my chosen profession. Accordingly, I rarely ever use words like “perfect” or “flawless” when describing something. It’s just not in my nature.
From my lens, there is always room for improvement. But, when it comes to seeing the Suter MMX 500 up-close and in person, I had to rethink my usual choice of words. I will sidestep superlatives and simply say that the Suter MMX 500 is a true rider’s motorcycle.
On the Suter MMX 500, there are no electronic rider aids, no ride-by-wire throttles, no kickstands, mirrors, or lights. There is nothing on this machine that doesn’t serve a purpose, and the only acceptable purpose is to go as fast as possible.