KTM Debuts Their 2017 MotoGP Bike, the RC16

KTM is coming to MotoGP in 2017 and today they gave the first glimpse (publicly at least) of their entry into the premier class of motorcycle racing, the KTM RC16. These pictures are courtesy of Heinz Kinigadner, KTM’s sporting director who posted them on his Facebook page.

There are two things of note about the bike – both relating to Honda. First is the appearance which in many respects resembles Honda’s current MotoGP entrant, the RC213V. Of course, there’s not a great deal of differentiation one can have with sportsbikes but the front air intake and the swingarm are eerily similar.

The other interesting thing to note is the prominence of Red Bull sponsorship. Of course, Red Bull is involved in just about any sport with even a hint of risk, but what is interesting is that this season, Red Bull’s sponsorship of the factory Repsol Honda team has become more and more prominent. Perhaps come 2017, we’ll have a KTM backed Red Bull MotoGP team to sit alongside their Formula 1 efforts.

The KTM RC16 will use a V4 engine and is designed around a steel trellis frame. KTM plans to release consumer versions of the RC16 for track use only come 2017 as well.

 

Is This What the New Suzuki GSX-R1000 Will Look Like?

Is this rendering of the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 accurate? It would be nice to think so but at this stage it’s just a concept published by Japanese motorcycle magazine Young Machine. The crew at Young Machine have a great deal of imagination and talent for creating these images, having mocked up many renders of upcoming motorcycles in the past though unfortunately their track record is fairly inaccurate of late.

That said, if the all new Suzuki superbike did resemble this concept, we would’t be complaining too much. It’s contemporary looking enough without being too out there and certainly would give the current GSX-R1000 a much needed fresh face. That modern appearance should hopefully go hand in hand with the modern package Suzuki is producing for the bike as per our previously posted rumor round-up.

It’s still up in the air as to when Suzuki will release their brand new flagship. Our sources have been somewhat contradictory on a timeframe. Some are still suggesting the bike will be unveiled in November this year while others are saying it will more likely be the year after. Given how old the current GSX-R1000 is, it can’t come soon enough and would help Suzuki capitalize on the success they’ve had on their fulltime return to MotoGP this year where both bikes are regularly finishing in the top 10.

Young Machine Suzuki GSXR-1000R

 

Suzuki Announces Plans for Next Five Years

Suzuki Motor Corporation, incorporating both its car, outboard motor and motorcycle divisions has announced its mid-term business plan, titled ‘Suzuki Next 100’ – a five year plan that starts now and is set out until 2019. The ‘Next 100’ moniker is to coincide with the company’s 100th anniversary of foundation in 2020.

Sadly, for those hoping that a resurgent Suzuki may be returning to the motorcycle space, their goals and aims seem extremely conservative. Suzuki were hardest hit of just about all the motorcycle manufacturers when the GFC came and they’ve not come close to recovering. Suzuki’s aim is to increase total motorcycles sales in North America from an estimated 50,000 units this year to 60,000 by 2019 – a paltry increase that still puts it way behind what it was selling back in 2008/09.

In Japan, Suzuki is even more conservative stating that their ambitions are to sell the same number of motorcycles in five years as it does now. And if you thought this was all because Suzuki was focusing on growth markets like Asia, you’d be wrong. Suzuki is forecasting that they will actually sell 70,000 less units in five years in that region.

The PowerPoint presentation released to investors showed the following items relating to the motorcycle division:

  • Departure from chronic deficits through selection and concentration.
  • Development of products which clearly define characteristics of Suzuki (150cc and up, backbone, sport)
  • Return to the origin of basic performances of “Running, Cornering, and Braking”
  • Pursue fun-to-ride and easy-to-ride
  • Feedback of MotoGP technologies

It’s all very pedestrian and doesn’t give us great hope that the Suzuki of old will be returning anytime soon. Given rumors of exciting new machines like the Recursion we would have expected the companies forward projections to be a little more ambitious – so perhaps instead we’ll be stuck with the same old machines that haven’t been updated for nearly a decade instead.

2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Rumor Round-Up

Honda RC213V-S – A $184,000 Bike With Less Power than a Harley V-Rod

No, that headline isn’t a mistake. The much hyped Honda RC213V-S – supposedly a road legal MotoGP bike has been unveiled today and it’s a massive disappointment. We’d said many months ago that a ridiculously priced motorcycle that just uses parts from MotoGP brings nothing of intrinsic value to the market, but it’s actually worse than we thought.

You see, the RC213V-S is anything but a road legal MotoGP bike. For whatever reason, Honda has made the bike street legal in a shockingly limited way. For the eye watering price of $184,000 (in USD) you get a bike you can ride on the road plus a kit to convert the bike to something closer to MotoGP spec – only when kitted out like that, it can’t be used on the street.

In street trim, the RC213V-S produces 75kw (101bhp) at 8000 rpm. Why? We have no idea, but that’s less than the current model Triumph Daytona 675R which makes 92 kW (124 hp) @ 12,600 rpm. Hell, it’s less than a huge number of cruisers, adventure bikes, sports-tourers and so on.

Oh, did we mention that the kit isn’t even being sold in the United States? That’s only for Europe and Australia for some reason. So for those living in the USA who are incredibly stupid but don’t want others to know it – don’t buy this bike. Instead, get a Ducati 1299 Panigale – a bike that is also street legal, pumps out 205 hp but costs one tenth that of the Honda.

Perhaps you’re thinking that this bike must have some super technology to warrant the price, like lasers or the ability to levitate, or maybe it farts unicorns. Nope. Unlike the MotoGP bike, it doesn’t get the seamless-shift transmission, nor the pneumatic valve system. Its dry weight in street trim is 170kg – again heavier than a Panigale.

In track trim the figures do improve, with horsepower increasing to 212 hp (still down on the MotoGP figure of 235 hp) and weight reduces to 160kg dry. But as we said before, if you live in America, tough luck because you can’t have the sports kit. In Europe the asking price is €188,000 and $244,000 in Australia.

Whatever.

2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Rumor Round-Up

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Suzuki GSX-R brand (see our article on the GSX-R750 here) and next year will be the 15th anniversary of Suzuki’s halo bike, the GSX-R1000. It’s almost certain that Suzuki will unveil a much needed update for the bike this year and we’ve collated all the rumors (both likely and perhaps not so likely) together in anticipation.

It’s a big year for the smallest of the Japanese brands. In addition to the above mentioned anniversaries, Suzuki has returned to full-time MotoGP racing and what better way to capitalize on that than to release a new bike from the publicity this brings. One thing that is clear from what we’ve heard is that Suzuki have no intention of competing with the likes of Ducati and Yamaha in the technology stakes. That’s not because Suzuki isn’t capable of doing so, but they’re making a conscious decision to make the next generation GSX-R1000 as pure as possible and leaving the expensive gadgets to the other brands.

That doesn’t mean it won’t have some new bells and whistles. Traction control and engine modes will be included as well as things like wheelie and stoppie control. Just don’t go expecting electronic suspension or sophisticated internal GPS units. This will please the purists but also keep the new GSX-R1000 affordable and only slightly more costly than the current model.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The bike will get a completely new engine featuring variable valve timing and based off the MotoGP machine.
  • This engine is rumored to produce just a shade under 200 bhp.
  • Weight will be below the 200 kg mark and the aim is that the new GSX-R1000 will have a better power to weight ratio than the new Yamaha R1 (but only just).
  • Traction control based on the new MotoGP bike will be included
  • Like the Suzuki Recursion concept, the frame will go partially over the engine to make the bike narrower.
  • Bosch cornering ABS is likely.
  • Styling will also take cues from the MotoGP bike, but expect an appearance more conservative than that of the new R1.
  • There is unlikely to be a ‘normal’ version and a ‘premium’ version.

Any announcement is likely at Intermot later this year.

2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Rumor Round-Up

No More Superbikes for KTM – CEO Says They’re Too Dangerous For Public Roads

There’s a headline you won’t enjoy reading, especially if you’re a fan of KTM and their underrated 1190 RC8. KTM CEO and President Stefan Pierer has stated in no uncertain terms that he believes as a producer of sportsbikes, KTM has a serious responsibility to their customers regarding safety and that therefore means saving you from yourself.

That statement was made in an interview conducted by legendary motorcycle journalist Alan Cathcart and published in CycleNews magazine. The interview is quite an interesting and lengthy read and was spread out over two issues, but it’s the second part of the discussion that’s a real eye opener.

Stefan Pierer’s shocking announcement came in response to a question regarding KTM’s return to MotoGP in 2016. Here’s the reason for returning to MotoGP:

We’d like to produce a successor to the existing RC8 V-twin… In which case, let’s do the following: We’ll stick to making a Superbike, but only for closed course usage. So it won’t be homologated for sale as a streetbike. Okay? So then to produce that we will take the best prototype development arena available, which is MotoGP. And for the 2016 season there will be new rules introduced when the playing field will be leveled with a standard electronic system, so then KTM can challenge Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia on an equal basis. So that’s the concept for development. We’ll call it the RC16 and it will also be available for the normal customer for track days or private use on track, but it won’t any more be homologated for the street. It’ll be a really serious sports and race item for closed course use only.

Just to make sure he was hearing things correctly, Cathcart pressed the KTM CEO and asked if there would be at least a homologated version of this machine? In answer, Pierer again said “No, because we at KTM think that a sportbike with such performance doesn’t have any place on the public roads.”

No More Superbikes for KTM - CEO Says They're Too Dangerous For Public Roads

The KTM RC 8 R will be discontinued soon and will not be replaced because it’s apparently too dangerous for public roads.

He goes on to say the following:

But let’s be honest, if your Superbike is reaching 200 horsepower or more, it’s impossible to argue that it belongs on the street. It really doesn’t, anymore.

As soon as the RC16 is available for customers we will stop with the RC8. The design is outstanding. I would say it’s still state of the art, and there is nothing else like it. It’s a classic Superbike. But with the increase in safety concerns, I’m afraid bikes like this don’t belong on the street, only on a closed course.

So is Stefan Pierer just another CEO completely out of touch with reality and condemning KTM to a future of mediocrity? That’s a difficult argument to make, as Pierer has presided over KTM for a number of years now and its current success is no doubt in large part due to his leadership. He also stated that part of his reasoning is fear of European politicians who would ban motorcycles outright if they could. So in effect, his decision is perhaps one designed to avoid the issues from the 90’s where governments almost intervened to stop the top speed wars.

But it’s also a huge cop-out. KTM’s most powerful bike on sale is the 1290 Super Duke R which produces 177 hp (The 1190 RC 8 R makes 172 hp but weighs 5 kg less). That sort of power has been available in motorcycles since the Hayabusa was released over 15 years ago and the Suzuki certainly had none of the electronic aids that the Duke does such as traction control, lean-sensitive traction control, ABS and various engine modes when it was first released. So why is it now all of a sudden too dangerous for the public?

Secondly, does this dangerous amount of horsepower also encompass other types of bikes like sports tourers? Say, the 1290 Super Adventure which delivers 160 hp and was only just released? Or are motorcycles only dangerous if they’ve got sportsbike fairings?

We can understand being cautious of politicians and their desire to interfere, but to leave a motorcycle company who’s motto is ‘Ready to Race’ without a flagship sportsbike you can ride on the road? Does not compute.

Stefan Pierer, KTM CEO and Fun Police Officer

Stefan Pierer, KTM CEO and Fun Police Officer

 

Aprilia Debuts 2015 MotoGP Bike

It’s a big year for MotoGP in 2015, with both Aprilia and Suzuki back to compete full-time ahead of the major rule changes for the 2016 year. The Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP bike will used to test and develop their program before it becomes a ‘full factory’ prototype machine for the following year.

“We chose to move up our start date, getting into the mix in the 2015 MotoGP World Championship because we believe that this is the solution which is certainly the most risky but also the best one to become competitive as quickly as possible” said Romano Albesiano, Aprilia racing manager. “We certainly could have avoided the pressure and waited until next year, but that’s not what Aprilia wanted. For us this will be a year of testing, development and in some ways even sacrifice, to be taken full advantage of as we look toward 2016 when we will be able to ride a real Aprilia prototype bike onto the track.”

It’s certainly a gorgeous looking machine with a striking silver, red and black scheme. The bike will be piloted by Marco Melandri and Alvaro Bautista whose feedback will be absolutely necessary in ensuring the 2016 machine is as competitive as possible next year.

“We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do and we are also aware that this will be a season marked by development, so we aren’t setting any goals for ourselves except to improve race by race, working hard” said Bautista. “I was very pleased with the first two test sessions in Malaysia.”

Large rule changes planned for 2016 have not only attracted Suzuki and Aprilia back to the sport, but KTM is planning to join MotoGP next year as well.