Author: Simon Toyne

Lincolnshire Biker and PMF Biker magazine editor, Goodwood (grrc.goodwood.com) motorcycle road tester and reviewer, UlsterGP contributor, Paddock chatter contributor, Bikefan.co.uk editor, Aprilia RSV-R Factory owner, full-time sportsbike lover, part-time deer slayer, petrolhead and owner of Write On Media (Writeonmedia.strikingly.com)

New metal: Yamaha unveils new 2020 R1 and R1M

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Yamaha has announced new versions of its flagship sportsbikes at the Laguna Seca WSBK round.

The 2020 YZF-R1M and the 2020 YZF-R1 feature significant revamps to meet stricter emissions rules on the road and to stay in touch with the ever fiercer competition on the track.

New styling, revised suspension, improved electronics and a reworked engine mean that despite sharing its bare bones with the existing model, the updated R1 promises to be a vastly improved package.

At first glance, the new models may appear to be similar to the existing bikes, but Yamaha has altered almost every panel on the R1. Signature elements remain, including the MotoGP M1-aping nose intake shape and the twin, round headlights below the nose, but the front end is new, as is the tank.

The new R1M also boasts a new carbon fibre tail unit.

The engine updates mean the uprated motor now passes next year’s Euro 5 emissions rules – making it one of the first machines in its class to do so – and Yamaha is still claiming 197bhp, the same as the 2019 model.

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New metal: Ducati celebrates 25 years of iconic 916 with special Panigale V4 S LE

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Ducati has unveiled a limited edition Panigale V4S in homage to arguably its greatest ever superbike, the iconic Ducati 916, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Just 500 individually-numbered Panigale V4 25° Anniversario 916s will be built, with bike number five being auctioned off in tribute to Carlin Dunne, who lost his life racing a Ducati at Pikes Peak earlier this year.

Although based on the 1103cc, 211bhp V4S, this special version features the front frame from the 998cc V4R, a dry clutch, Marchesini Racing forged magnesium wheels and a Euro4-compliant titanium Akrapovic silencer.

All 500 machines come in a distinctive new livery, inspired by Fogarty’s championship-winning 1999 Ducati 996 World Superbike.

Experiencing the highs and lows of used bike ownership in Austria

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The route from Asolo in the north of Italy through South Tyrol and into Austria is biking heaven. Snaking through the scenic countryside, the roads are glorious; smooth, plenty of grip and a glorious mix of wide, fast, sweeping bends and tighter, technical, slower corners.

The temperature’s hot. Really hot. As I set off, the thermometer its a giddy 35, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the roads are empty. My bike, a 2006 Aprilia RSV-R Factory, feels good. It feels like it’s made for trips like this and is great at churning out the miles. It’s roomy, comfortable and has more than enough grunt to make each bend an occasion. The suspension feels plush and the noise from the engine is intoxicating, with the deep rumble that accompanies every downshift delivering a lot of smiles per mile. It really is all the bike I’ll ever need. Yes, I may be dripping sweat in my one-piece leather, but I’m grinning like a loon in my helmet, feeling at one with the bike and the road. Why would I possibly want or need something more modern? I look at the crude notes taped to the tank. This is old skull touring, and I love it.

Three hours of riding nirvana later and the bike starts misbehaving. There’s a slight delay in the throttle, followed by a surge when I overtake a car as we climb a valley. It’s nothing. I’m imagining it. And then reality hits home; the bike won’t rev above 6000rpm, in any gear. I pull over. In neutral the bike revs like a dream, under load it’s sticking at 6. I’m two hours from my destination, but four hours from home, It’s a Saturday, it’s 5.30pm and I’m in the middle of the Dolomites. I can either try and get where I’m going, or spin around. Fortune favours the brave.

The bike is getting worse. It now won’t rev above 5000rpm and it’s sounding rougher and rougher. I pull over for fuel and left the engine cool down, in the hope fresh juice will get the old girl singing again.

Unfortunately it doesn’t. The bike is getting worse, now refusing to rev above 4000rpm. It’s hesitant, and really struggles with town work. Then I pull up at a junction after sitting in road works for five minutes and the engine surges then dies. The engine’s still running, but it’s either all or nothing and there’s no response low down. I slip the clutch, pray there’s no massive power spike and pull left, quickly chasing into second in a bid to have some control over forward momentum.

I’m now just 45 minutes away from my digs for the night. I’m so close I can almost taste the beer. Yet I’m increasingly convinced I won’t make it. The bike now won’t rev above 3000rpm, and we’ve got to climb up to 1900m. As we leave the v alley floor and the main road, the asphalt up to the town where I’m staying narrows and become more sinuous. It’s a proper mountain road, and in normal circumstances this would be biking heaven. But it’s not. It’s hell. I’ve been passed by bike after bike after bike as I try and nurse it higher and higher, but the steeper the climb, the worse the problem becomes. And now I’m stuck behind a bus. I can’t use first, as the power keeps kicking in and then dying, and I can’t use second, as the bike won’t rev high enough to move forwards. It’s frustrating and scary in equal measure, and if it dies now, I’m literally in the middle of nowhere, with no phone signal.

I reach my hotel, just, get off the bike, take my helmet and sink to the floor. I’m overwhelmed with relief. But I’m also drained. I’ve coaxed the bike here but have no idea what’s wrong. Is it a throttle position sensor? An alternator? Fuel pump? How am I going to get it back? Where am I going to take it to get it fixed? So many questions…

MotoGP: Vinales is Top Gun at Assen

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Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales proved he belongs in MotoGP’s elite when he claimed his and Yamaha’s first MotoGP win of 2019 at Assen.

Vinales took the lead with 11 laps to go, but ran wide two laps later gifting the lead back to Marquez.

However, Vinales regrouped and re-passed the championship leader, setting consecutive personal best laps to eke out a slender gap.

Marquez pushed hard to stay with him, but once clear of pole sitter Fabio Quartararo, the Honda rider, with one eye on the championship, started to back off.

This left Vinales to take Yamaha’s first win since the 2018 Australian round to breath fresh momentum into his season following a tough start which included being taken out of three races in collisions which weren’t his fault.

Vinales said: “It feels like I’m dreaming. These have been difficult times for me, because I’ve been out of the three tracks where I thought I had the most potential with the bike. My season has been difficult, but I’ve tried to keep the momentum from Catalunya, because I felt really good on the bike. I’m so grateful to the team, because they did a great job this weekend and prepared well for the last laps of the race. I was strong, even one-to-one on the brakes, I knew I could make the overtakes. It was very important to relieve some of the pressure by taking a victory. I think the team will be more relaxed now. Being back on the top step of the podium again feels really good and bringing Yamaha back to its winning ways is the most important to me. We knew we had the potential but hadn’t been able to show it. It’s always a combination between the team’s, the rider’s, and the bike’s efforts. Sachsenring is a track I’m usually fast at, so we’ll try our best.”

Quartararo, still not 100% fit after arm pump surgery, picks up a second consecutive podium in P3 to leapfrog himself to P6 in the Championship. Andrea Dovizioso did well to come home fourth to limit the damage in the overall standings as much as he could, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) securing his equal-best MotoGP finish with a final chicane move on Danilo Petrucci – the Italian finished sixth. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) crossed the line seventh, the British rider had strong pace mid-race but a mistake at Turn 1 ended his P4 charge, with Suzuki’s Joan Mir also making a mistake late on to finish P8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) finishednonth, with Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing) earning his best result of the season in P10.

WSBK: Rea keeps title dream alive with Race Two win at Misano

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Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea took the 75th WSBK win of his career to slash Ducati’s  Alvaro championship lead to just 16 points with his second victory of the weekend at Misano.

The reigning champion, looking to recover after slipping off  in the Superpole sprint race which Bautista won, was handed a golden opportunity when Bautista low-sided off while leading on the second lap at Turn 4.

With the stricken Spaniard rejoining the race in last place and more than 40-seconds back on the leaders, Rea set about hunting down Kawasaki team-mate Leon Haslam with Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu also in the front group.

After the Turkish rider charged into the lead at the start of Lap 5, Rea pushed Haslam into third place as he began his dash to the front and 25 valuable championship points.

Rea caught and stalked Razgatlioglu as the pair burst clear of Haslam and the chasing pack, with the four-time world champion making his move into the lead for the first time with three laps to go diving up the inside at Turn 1.

But Razgatlioglu demonstrated why he his so highly coveted in the paddock, sticking to the rear wheel of Rea over the closing laps before diving deep up the inside at Turn 4 to reclaim the lead on the final lap.

However, the Turkish rider drifted wide and Rea was able to dive back into the lead to take a vital victory and the 75th win of his WSBK career.

Rea said: “Winning two races at Misano was good for us, especially the two important races. Unfortunately in the Superpole Race today I made a big mistake in turn ten, when I lost the front. But I restarted to finish fifth which was all important for the weekend.

“Race Two today was a tough one because the temperature was hot. I was very unsure of the pace. I felt like it was slow but I did not want to push any faster. I saw Alvaro go down very early in the race and the conditions out there were very tough, especially for the front tyre. The rear was just not digging in and going forward, it was just spinning so much – but we won, which was the main thing. It was a super-nice day for Kawasaki because we put three bikes on the Race Two podium. Team Suzuka! Donington next and we will go to every track with an open mentality.”

With Razgatlioglu and Haslam completing an all-Kawasaki podium, Yamaha’s Alex Lowes secured fourth place for Pata Yamaha with Michael Ruben Rinaldi  finishing top Ducati in fifth.

Tom Sykes finished sixth on the BMW, ahead of Chaz Davies on the Ducati in seventh, wildcard Michele Pirro in eight with Lorenzo Zanetti on the Team Goeleven Ducati who is standing in for the injured Eugene Laverty finishing ninth. Jordi Torres rounded out the top 10 for Pedercini Kawasaki.

WSBK: Rea wins wet Race One at Misano

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The Italian weather once again threw a spanner in the WSBK works with heavy rain hitting Misano. So hard in fact that the red flag was brought out on the sighting lap for Race One. With Sunday’s racing in Imola being cancelled earlier in the season because of torrential rain, teams and fans looked to the sky…would the same fate hit Misano?

After a delay, a restart was planned for 14:24 with a quick-start procedure; one mechanic and one minute.

The race started with Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea leading Sandro Cortese on the satellite Yamaha and BMW’s Tom Sykes, before Yamaha’s Alex Lowes passed the chase trio with an audacious move around the outside. Champions leader Alvaro Bautista then pounced to take fourth place from Cortese, with Lowes taking the lead into turn on Lap Two. Lowes then set the fastest lap as the leading pair broke free of Sykes in third place, pulling out a gap of more than a second.

Lap Three saw Lowes set the fastest lap again, with the rain returning with a vengeance, and the red flags came out. Again.

After another downpour, the weather eased and the race restarted,  with the grid being determined by the results of the red flagged session, meaning Lowes, Rea and Sykes were  on the front row, Bautista, Davies and Haslam on the second row and Cortese, Pirro and Baz on the third row., with another quick-start procedure ahead of an 18-lap race.

The restart opened with Rea and Tom Sykes getting past Lowes, but Lowes quickly sn rapped back. passing riders round the outside with another brave move to take second place. Bautista briefly held third place, powering past Sykes in a straight only for Sykes to outbreak him in the treacherous conditions to snatch third place back.

Rea and Lowes were the class act of the field and were almost two seconds clear of Sykes after just one lap. Rea set the fastest lap a lap later, with the leading pair extending their lead to more than three seconds ahead of Sykes and Chaz Davies, Bautista and Leon Haslam.

With lightning filling the sky, and the grandstands rapidly emptying, Lowes dived into the lead on Lap Seven and began to put the hammer down,  riding hard to eke out a gap, but he was too greedy on Lap Eight, losing the front and sliding out. The crash gifted the lead to Rea and he never looked back, managing the gap to take the chequered flag to win by 3.692 seconds ahead of Sykes, with Bautista finishing third.

Rea said: “I had done next to zero laps in the wet this season, even in winter testing. The first time we came across the wet was in morning warm-up at Imola. The gamble to stay inside the box in the wet morning warm up today still paid off, but we did not expect the rain clouds to come for the race. I was very nervous as we did not really have a wet set-up. So we just tried to maximise our potential, ride my own race and our bike works well in these conditions. It is a very stable bike but the track was changing lap-to-lap. Sometimes we had a lot of surface water, sometimes zero surface water. You need much more concentration in a wet race, because the bike is moving much more underneath you and you have to be very precise, especially with the white lines and the kerbs. When Alex came past I was not prepared to take that risk to go that fast. When I was leading the race I tried to manage my rhythm and the gap to behind. Arturo my mechanic was super-good with my pit-board so I could enjoy the last lap.”

Rea’s race win, for which he thanked his pit board handler, closed the gain the overall rider standings to Alvaro Bautista to 31 points.

New metal: Ducati Streetfighter V4

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Here it is, the Ducati Streetfighter V4, the bike racer Carlin Dunne will race at Pikes Peak.

The course is a challenge: there are 156 turns and thousands of feet in elevation, and is the perfect testing ground for the prototype machine ahead of the 2020 launch of the Ducati Streetfighter V4 production bike.

In keeping with tradition, the Streetfighter V4 derives directly from the sporty Panigale V4 stripped of its fairings, and fitted with high and wide handlebars, while the high performance of the 1100cc Desmosedici Stradale will be kept in by aerodynamic profiles specifically designed for this model.

The prototype will race with a “pixelated” livery, designed by the Centro Stile Ducati; unlike the normal practice with prototypes, the livery does not hide the lines, but accentuates them by deliberately revealing how the bike will finally look.

Tested: Alpinestars GP Pro R3 gloves

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These racy gloves are made out of a mixture of kangaroo, treated cow hide and goat hide, and feature a whole host of state-of-the- art protection taken derived from experiences learnt in MotoGP and WSBK – Kevlar stitching, super touch armour on the knuckles and dual- compound hard sliders. They also feature Alpinestars clever double cuff fastener which has DFS on the cuff and the company’s patented finger bridge, which prevents finger roll and separation in the event of a spill.

On the bike the fit is just right, being long enough in the finger without having any excess material at the fingertips and they’re reassuringly protective while being supple enough to offer good feel at the bars and levers. And that double cuff makes getting the glove on and off easy, while also ensuring that they’re not going to go anywhere once they’re on.

New kit: Alpinestars ‘Rea 2019’ Limited Edition Supertech R boot

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Alpinestars has launched a new Limited Edition Supertech R boots, the ‘Rea 2019’.

Jonathan Rea is the most successful rider in World Superbike Championship history. With four back-to-back world titles under his belt, 2018 saw him equaling the existing record of 17 wins in a single season with his 11th consecutive victory. His final win, under the spotlights at Losail, was his 56th for Kawasaki; a record for a single rider with a single manufacturer in WSBK.

Alpinestars has provided Jonathan’s performance protection technology throughout his WSBK career and to celebrate his achievements on the track, Alpinestars has launched the Limited Edition ‘Rea 2019’ Supertech R boot. Featuring a red, green and black design derived from his own signature style and the Kawasaki WSBK team, the unique graphics allow fans of ‘JR’ to enjoy all the technical innovations of Alpinestars class-leading Supertech R boot in a distinctive, premium race boot fit for Champions.

The WSBK race weekend at the iconic Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli holds fond memories for Jonathan who took double victories at the track in 2016 and 2018 on his way to the WSBK crown. It is fitting then that Alpinestars most iconic road riding boot should be worn by the most successful Superbike rider ever, at a circuit that has been a happy hunting ground in past years.

Tested: Alpinestars KIR CiR Chest Protector

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This fully CE-approved chest protector is designed to protect the sternum and chest from high speed impacts.

It is made from soft, flexible and breathable shock absorbing material which is combined with dense and lightweight layers of foam to disperse energy quickly and evenly over its surface in the event of an off.

Wearing it couldn’t be simpler; just slip in to your leathers and the clever design, which allows the protector to effectively mold to the contours of your chest as it heats up means it stays snugly in place. It’s so comfy and unobtrusive I don’t even notice it’s there. This is a must for trackdays and fast road riding.