The first race in Valencia brought the latest blows in a year of perfect storm for the MotoGP stalwarts. You have to wonder what they have done to deserve it. It’s flippant but at least superficially true to say that each racing factory has its own distinct character: Honda the austere face of arrogant pride;
Ducati noisy and temperamental Italian dramatists; KTM humourless, earnest and scarily efficient; Suzuki the blushing faux-virgins with a secret wicked streak, Aprilia … well, never mind.
Yamaha has always played the role of fundamentally decent bloke: competitive and sporting for sure, but with an open and honest face. You’d instinctively trust him.
It was therefore completely – radically – out of character that they should become the latest victims of the MotoGP police, accused and convicted for, of all things, cheating.
They had fallen badly foul of the strict rules limiting not only numbers of engines but also freezing development and sealing them throughout the season. The result was the loss of both Constructor and Team championship points.
Protestations of innocence were not that well received by their rivals, but it was clear that there had not been any real malevolence involved. Just some sneakiness. Possibly inadvertent.
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WHAT NEXT FOR NORTON AND BSA?
Following on from the success of the Triumph revival, a lot of noise was made about the arrival of Norton back on the motorcycling scene in 2008. The new owner of the brand, Stuart Garner, got everyone excited when he announced that he would be making not only a new Norton Commando motorcycle but would be returning to the Isle of Man TT with a new superbike, powered by an Aprilia V4 motor.
SO, WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO THE BRITISH MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY?
It’s a story that no-one is unfamiliar with; how the British motorcycle industry withered and died through the 1960s and into the ‘70s. What was once a thriving industry that sold state-of-the-art motorcycles from world-famous manufacturers, by the hundreds of thousands, was reduced to first a handful and then just one manufacturer, producing an outdated design in the face of modern and reliable machines from Japan.
In the world of motorcycling, it is rare, if not unique, for a manufacturer to have two bites of the cake - both with a cherry on top - with two iterations of one particular model, especially when separated by a couple of decades.
TALES FROM THE HOOD
SA & MOTORCYCLE COMMUTING
NORIYUKI HAGA SULTAN OF Slide
Rare in-depth interview with Nori-chan himself explains how the Sultan of Slide rode the bike - and the crucial differences between Superbike and 500 GP
THE GXCC’S PUSH THE SEASON TO THE LIMIT IN 2020
THE GREATEST Comeback?
The greatest British bike racer? Surtees? Sheene? Both have good claims to the title but, in reality, there can be only one king. This is the story of the race that only served to enhance an already glittering reputation.
Great Bikes? The Ariel Square Four
Elsewhere you will have read about the Ariel motorcycle company and here I intend to talk more about their most famous design, the incredible Square Four.
GONE BUT Part 5 ARIEL NOT FORGOTTEN
Turner’s Square Four remained in production from 1931 to 1959
Engineering DEAD-ENDS Part 2: Hub-Centre Steering
Motorcycle development never stands still, although maybe recently, it would be more accurate to say that motorcycle electronics development doesn’t stand still; it is very little in the physical architecture of a motorcycle that is likely to change. But it wasn’t always so and one innovation that was tried not only on road bikes but also 500cc Grand Prix bikes was hub-center steering.
ALTERED STATE of ADVENTURE
Smaller ADVs, bigger rewards.
ADDING A DIMENSION
We send our motorcycle-loving car racer to the Yamaha Champions Riding School so he can learn to think outside the, ahem, box.
YAMAHA SLB300 Silent Bass
An electric upright that assembles in 30 seconds? Jon Thorne sets his stopwatch...
YAMAHA TENERE 700
The wait is finally over. The Yamaha Ténéré 700 is probably one of the most anticipated bikes to come out of the Yamaha factory in quite some time. Yamaha teased us with what appeared to be a production-ready model three years ago and every model year came and went without show. We were starting to wonder if it would ever show up on the showroom floor. Well folks, the day is finally here, and it was worth the wait. The middle-weight class has been gaining a lot of attention over the last three years and is likely to be the most popular segment for years to come.
Olivia Anna Livki offers essential advice for all budding bassists
Yamaha WR250R Long-Ranger
Smaller bikes—in the West they’re something of a sacrilege. But in most parts of the world, a 250cc is considered “big.” I personally haven’t owned anything under 650cc in so many years that I’d become accustomed to manhandling big adventure bikes. I’d also forgotten just how practical smaller dual-sports can be. But… a recent extended trip to northern Thailand forced a re-think. While there I had so much fun on 250cc and smaller dual-sports that there was no way I could return without indulging.
Claudia McKenzie of 4th Labyrinth ended up as a bass player by accident—but it yielded results, she tells us
Hells Angels Meet Housewives on Harleys
How bikers turned into their parents and turned off their kids
Once Upon A Guitar…
Why do some guitars sound special? Alex Bishop considers whether there may be more to it than meets the ears
BSH CUSTOM CHAMPS 2020 OVERALL WINNER - BEST BUTCHERED CLASSIC
AS SOMEONE WHO IS, AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN, A FAN OF BIKES THAT GO FAST, THE BUTCHERED CLASSICS CLASS WAS ONE CLOSE TO MY OWN HEART, AND IT’S ALSO THE ONE IN WHICH I’D HAPPILY’VE VOTED FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE (ANDY’S SCHIZOPHRENIC LC, CARLOS’ VERY EIGHTIES GSX, STEVE’S UBER-BLING GIXER, AND RICHIE’S SUBLIME TDR) BUT, PROBABLY SENSIBLY, I’M NOT A JUDGE.