Despite the fact that, virus-wise, the U.S. is starting to resemble Dante’s Inferno, over in Europe things appear to be trending well. MotoGP/Dorna has been itching, for obvious reasons, to get some kind of season started and in the books. The sheer amounts of money involved in canceling an entire MotoGP season are unimaginable. They need to get a 2020 season, this kind of MotoGP Lite thing, going, and soon.
Has it really been 20 years since the world didn’t seize up at the stroke of midnight, as we feared it might? Yes. Every time I walk out into the garage, my 2000 R1 sitting dormant on its stand (the last year of the first-gen R1) reminds me of what a long time ago that was. Next to all the new bikes it sees come and go, the old girl is positively archaic. In a good, Ann-Margret way, but still. While we’re still quarantining seems like a good time to look back upon what bikes have moved the game forward the most since the millennium.
I credit my early foundations in motorcycling to my beloved Suzuki SV650. Like with any sport, you need to learn the basics before you can progress to the more advanced stuff, and while my motorcycling career progressed on a number of different motorcycles over the years, my foundation was solidly built on my humble little SV.
It’s important to keep things in perspective; the coronavirus isn’t the first disaster to befall us and you know it won’t be the last. Well, I mean it could be… Wherever you live, you can probably find all kinds of things that have gone spectacularly tits up over the years in your own backyard. The bigger the town, the bigger the pile of massive cock-ups, as the English like to say. It’s a good word. Especially now that there’s no traffic, and we have motorcycles, why not let’s go visit? Our deepest condolences to those of you living in places where you’re not allowed to ride.
Repsol Honda phenom Marc Marquez is, as per usual, the early favorite to make it seven world championships in eight tries in 2020. Sure, there are a lot of fast challengers – Yamaha NKT (new kid in town) Fabio Quartararo, Ducati #1 Andrea Dovizioso, Yamaha’s inconsistent Maverick Viñales topping that list – and Marquez is coming off right shoulder surgery. Sadly, the result is likely to be the same. If you’re planning to wager on anyone other than ReMarcAble Marc, best get yourself some odds.
Lately, it’s like time travel around here. A couple years ago we put the then-new Kawasaki Z900RS up against the Suzuki GSX-S1000 in a slightly apples-to-oranges comparo, Retro or Not(ro), which the Kawi won by a hair. Now that Suzuki has their own retro based upon the GSX-S in the Katana, we felt like we had to do it again. Our duty.
How can any red-blooded American not love Suzuki, the blue-collar working motorcycle so many of us thrashed as youths, left parked in alleys with no loss of sleep, covered in fur for a brief period there in the (I think) ’90s… In spite of all the abuse we dished out, Suzuki’s loyalty was never in question.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Afridza Munandar, who died following a crash on the opening lap of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup race held Saturday after MotoGP qualifying. The 20-year-old Munandar was an up-and-coming rider, fighting for the series championship entering the Sepang round.
Recently, Alpinestars threw open the doors at Willow Springs Raceway for a day of motorcycle-focused fun. With the famed Big Track open to all comers – many who were experiencing a closed course environment for the first time – it was hard for the attendees not to have a good time. All of this, however, begs the question: What’s in it for Alpinestars? Yes, we were all wearing gear made by the apparel company (and if we didn’t have any, it was loaned to us), but this wasn’t an introduction where we were to experience a new piece of protective riding gear. The point was, it seems, to simply have fun riding motorcycles with friends. Oh, and hopefully create some new fans of track riding. You see, some of the first time track riders were name-brand Alpinestars-sponsored athletes in other disciplines. You know, influencers who have the means to preach the racetrack riding gospel and hopefully get more people interested in riding motorcycles.
Suzuki has been stringing us along with short teaser videos for a new model set to debut next week at EICMA 2020. The first video was laughable, showing friends having a meal countryside – there wasn’t even a motorcycle! The second video revealed a dark, shadowy silhouette of a motorcycle. Finally in this, the third teaser video, Suzuki has revealed the new machine – the 2020 V-Strom 1000.
Today’s GoPRO British Grand Prix unfolded according to script, a script seemingly written by some Hollywood hack. Plucky young challenger Alex Rins trails peerless champion for the entire race, makes a late mistake, but recovers in time to steal the win by 13/thousandths of a second in one of the closest MotoGP tilts of all time. Marc Marquez lost a relatively meaningless battle but happily extended his lead in the war to a dispiriting 78 points.