You may have seen him displaying his trials riding skills at one of the motorcycle shows in January or February but if you want to watch to find out if Jordan Szoke will capture his 12 CSBK title in 2017 (his first one was way back in 1998) the five race weekends will be available for viewing on TSN.
The 2017 Schedule is:
Round 1 Shannonville Motorsport Park, ON – Pro Track May 26-28
Round 2 Grand Bend Motorplex, ON – Technical Track June 8-11
Round 3 Autodrome St-Eustache, Montreal, QC June 23-25
Round 4 Atlantic Motorsport Park, Halifax, NS July 13-16
Round 5 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON August 18-20
Visit the Canadian Superbike Championship website for more info – www.csbk.ca
So you went out and bought yourself a big ol’ ADV machine but you can’t find any of your friends who want to join you bashing their big and expensive beasts around the forest. What are you going to do? If you are looking for an organized ride with other like minded individuals you may want to considering buying some travel medical insurance and heading south of the border for one of the AMA’s Yamaha sponsored events in their Adventure Riding Series. The 2017 schedule of events includes twenty different two day rides located is a wide varieties of locations stretching from Florida to Oregon to Nevada. The caveat to the riding is that your bike be street legal and although they state that the rides are more target to ADV riding than say a hare scramble some of the riding locales and trails look quite challenging. One of the more interesting rides is a longtime run in its 34th year that takes the adventurous overland from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, NV in what the organizers cal a creative 400 mile route. The odds are that you may end up with a ding or two on your ADV machine but the good news is that you won’t be doing it alone and there are opportunities to win a prize or two. For 2016 Yamaha even included a Super Tenere for the grand prize. For more info on the 2017 AMA Adventure Series visit the website at http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Riding/Adventure-Riding
With flat track being such a success at the summer X-Games it is no surprise that X-Games organizers were keen to get more motorcycle activity into the winter X-Games. As the options were limited as to what motorcycles could do in the snow – beyond of course ice racing which would be dependent upon having a facility big enough to accommodate a track – the best option was SnowBikeCross which is as the name suggests much like moto-cross but with a ski replacing the front wheel and a track replacing the rear wheel of the motorcycle. The first ever running of SnowBikeCross took place on a converted snowmobile course at the Aspen Winter X-Games and saw Brock Hoyer finish first on a Yamaha, Colton Haaker 2nd on a Husqvarna and Cody Matechuk 3rd on a Yamaha.
Say you are the most legendary roadracer active in the sport today. You are a global favourite. There are suppliers falling over themselves to get you to wear their clothes, riding suits, boots and helmets. Last year’s – maybe even last week’s – helmet is old news. Devoted fans are going to want to wear a replica. What to do? You do the same thing that NHL teams do with uniforms – keep making new special versions. For Rossi’s new look, how about a snow globe? Amid the gearing up and practices that will inevitably lead to the start of the 2017 MotoGP season, Valintino Rossi’s helmet sponsor has revealed his new helmet design – a wintery depiction of Rossi home town Tavullia within a snow globe – although how one would paint the transparent glass of a snow globe is a bit of a mystery. The helmet is the “Winter Test” edition although the nearest snow to the winter test sessions that are taking place in Malaysia would be a 1000 miles away. Like any good snow globe there are little messages inside for those in the know.
Beneath all the fancy paint the AGV helmet does have some interesting features including a internal hydration system that allows for fluids (florescent yellow Gatorade?) on the go.
The Harley-Davidson factory flat track team will be campaigning the 2017 season on a fleet of machines powered by a racing version of the engine found in the Harley-Davidson Street 750 marking a liquid-cooled sweep of the Harley-Davidson flat track force. The team was announced during the winter XGames in Aspen, Colorado and includes two previous Grand National Champions, Kenny Coolbeth Jr and Jake Johnson along with Brandon Robinson. The first race of the season will be held at Daytona International Speedway on a new track constructed in the huge infield of that legendary facility. The XGames reveal coincided with flat track racing being incorporated into the XGames and reaching – perhaps – that much sought after group of young fans.
Harley / Indian – Forgotten Flat Track Rivalries
The Street derived XG750R is set to have a much ballyhooed battle with the new Indian Motorcycles flat track team , known as the “Wrecking Crew” who will be riding the Scout FTR750 powered by an exclusive race only liquid cooled 750cc motor. Not to be outshone by Harley-Davidson, the Indian team consists of three Grand National Champions. The Indian offering proved itself to be competitive in selective races in 2016 while not campaigning for the entire season. While the press may focus on the Harley / Indian battle manufacturers including Kawasaki and Triumph have competitive bikes in the field. In truth the last time the two American nameplates battled for supremacy was so long ago the new showdown is more of a marketing prop than a resurgence.
For 2017 AMA Pro Racing, the organization behind US flat track, has high hopes that flat track can regain some of the following that the racing had back in the 1970’s when it was the most popular racing in the US. Part of that strategy will require finding a way to make the sport marketable and simple enough for a new generation of racing fans to embrace. While the rebirth of a Harley / Indian rivalry may not do much to attract younger eyes, the quality, accessibility and excitement of the racing should.
If you have ever wondered where the current trend of ADV bikes proudly sporting “beaks” originated, Suzuki claims that the first stylistic probobiscus appeared on the legendary DR-BIG 750, a monster of a machine that arrived in 1988 with serious dualsport credentials including a massive single cylinder engine, extensive bodywork and that now famous protruding beak. The DR-BIG was a striking machine and was ADV before ADV was cool. The Suzuki proved that big is sometimes better. In a nod to good breeding, Suzuki has added that same beakish nose to the V-Strom 650 in a move that gave the 2017 medium sized Strom a family resemblance to the V-Strom 1000 (as we all “knows” a good nose runs in a family). Even the new V-Strom 250 will sport a beak of its own should that smaller offering be made available in Canada somewhere down the road.
Rumours have surfaced in the last several months of a new and improved DR-BIG – and not just 750 or 800cc big but up over the 1000cc mark. The V-Strom is arguably Suzuki’s most popular offering but a machine in the company’s line-up with a nod to more serious off-road ability in the vein of say the Africa Twin would be appreciated by some.
In a tribute to beaks and noses here are just a couple more contemporary examples to evaluate your bird spotting skills.
There comes a point when even a retro styled machine needs to be refreshed. The question becomes how to do it. To paint a scenario and stick within the Honda stable, imagine one day there is a retro version of the Honda Interceptor 750 circa 1983. It isn’t an unlikely scenario as that first Interceptor launched a thousand riding dreams and looked at the time like nothing else on the road. If that bike was given a retro treatment today, what would its refreshes look like? If continuous and sustained would they eventually make their way back to the VFR800 we have today? That is all a little too Days of Future Past. The point is that you can not refresh a retro machine in a new direction from what eventually came after it originally. In the case of Honda’s CB1100 retro flagship, the refreshing is best described as subtle – which is the best course of action. Noticing the differences is like playing that game on the back of a kid’s menu involving spotting the ten differences in almost identical images.
CB1100 – Can you tell the difference?
For 2017 the CB1100EX gets a gently re-sculpted tank, stainless steel spoked wheels rather than cast, led lighting incorporated into both the headlight and taillight, smaller and lighter mufflers, suspension improvements and a slipper clutch. Subtle but still an evolutionary improvement on a bike intended to evoke the gory days of 1970’s Japanese sport machines.
Now how about a 2019 VF750?
It may serve as an unfortunate indicator of what we may be seeing often in the years to come. The American Motorcyclist Association has announced that the organization is fighting a 100% tariff on motorcycles that will effectively double the price of European motorcycles with displacements between 51cc and 500cc sold in the United States. There are many manufacturers that would be affected by these tariffs including Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Husqvarna, KTM, Piaggio and Vespa among others. What is the cause of this sudden potential impediment to riding? Beef. Or more specifically hormones in beef. Europe doesn’t like the hormones that go into building bigger, stronger, faster cattle and have placed sanctions on imported US beef. Looking around for something on which to retaliate the Office of the United States Trade Representative chose – of all things – motorcycles. In what might be one of the larger understatements of the year, AMA vice-president Wayne Allard stated “there is no logical link between motorcycles and beef”. Beyond a tasty steak after a long ride Mr. Allard has that right. This confounding tact of a tariff on motorcycles has been taken by the USTR before. In 2008 they tried the same thing but eventually backed down due to opposition and instead placed tariffs on European food stuffs which to many would seen more appropriate.
How you make ask does this affect us in Canada? Often times models brought to Canada are dependent on the same model being brought to the US. If some or all of those models become too expensive to sell in the US, we may not see them here either. With luck and effort this new assault on motorcycling will be defeated but in the long term it may be a fight repeated. An active tariff on motorcycles has been seen before in the United States as in the 1980’s when Japanese bikes over 750 cc were subject to them. Unlike the current issue, that tariff was an effort to protect a domestic industry .
So that would be the end of our favourite Victory model, the Hammer, as Polaris announced that as of now the company will be winding down the brand and will focus “motorcycle” efforts on the Indian and Slingshot labels. The company pledges to supply parts for 10 years and honour warranty coverage. Of the move, Polaris CEO Scott Wine states “Our focus is on profitable growth, and in an environment of finite resources, this move allows us to optimize and align our resources behind both our premium, high performing Indian Motorcycle brand and our innovative Slingshot brand, enhancing our focus on accelerating the success of those brands. Ultimately this decision will propel the industry-leading product innovation that is core to our strategy while fostering long-term growth and increased shareholder value.” It seems that’s the way business goes.
Ducati announced that 2016 was their best year ever with a small gain in total deliveries over 2015. The total number of bikes delivered was 55,451 with the biggest share at 8,787 going to the United States followed by Italy and Germany as the next largest markets. The hipster oriented, “Land of Happiness”, less expensive Scrambler line accounted for 28% of Ducati sales while it looks as though as a single model (as opposed to a family), the XDiavel might be one of the most popular models in Ducati’s stable accounting for almost 10% of total sales – not bad for a cruiser that doesn’t want to be a cruiser or is it a sport bike that doesn’t want to be a cruiser? Whatever… but with those kind of numbers, these two ought to be smiling!