On a humid and hazy southern California morning our cast of misfits began to stir to life from all stretches of the LA basin. Showers were had (by some), coffee was made and consumed, gear was donned. We seven fortunate souls set out on what would be our first true challenge of the next 72 hours, the first gauntlet that our machines would be subjected to, weekday traffic in Los Angeles with a destination of none other than Starbucks. The unofficial meeting place of adventure riders the world over, yet, for so many, the journey’s end before it ever even begins.
This week you might notice Motorcycle.com being a little quieter than usual. The reason is because most of the MO staff are out riding in our Sorta Annual Big Adventure Bike Shootout. For 2018, we’ve gathered seven of the biggest and baddest adventure machines out there. The plan? To put them through their paces on both the pavement and the dirt. To prove we’re serious about the dirt part, each of the contenders here comes to us with wire wheels, except for one, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Pardon me for a moment while I take you down memory lane. The year was 2007. I was racing my beloved Suzuki SV650 at the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama, with intentions of going further east afterward and tackling the high banks at Daytona International Speedway with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA). The Barber round was great – I had some decent finishes to my name, and better yet, I came away from the event in one piece and with so many happy memories. Meanwhile, one kind competitor even agreed to take my SV to Florida!
Suzuki has released its 2019 line-up for motocross, dual-sport, off-road, and youth models. The most news-worthy new models are the in the RM-Z and DR-Z families with the RM-Z250 motocrosser and all-new DR-Z50 youth model. Suzuki has said it focuses on the fundamental performance elements of run, turn, and stop when it comes to the RM-Z line and have been hyperfocused on advancing the 250’s turn capabilities while bringing over technology from the revamped 2018 RM-Z450 to create what Suzuki calls the Winning Balance. The all-new DR-Z50 adds a new youth motorcycle to the market that’s easy and convenient for youngsters to sink their teeth into.
Niccolò Canepa is a bit of a journeyman in the racing scene. With stints in both MotoGP, Moto2, World Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Supersport 600, the Italian has now found a home in the Endurance World Championship, where he’s riding the factory GMT94 Yamaha R1. In this video, you can see why Canepa has raced in virtually all of the top-tier classes the world has to offer. In this practice session for the Suzuka 8 Hours, Canepa takes you on board as he slices and dices his way past lesser riders – all of whom would likely smoke the biggest hotshot at your local trackday.
If your name is not Marc Marquez, Round Nine of the 2018 MotoGP championship at the legendary Sachsenring in eastern Germany could not arrive at a worse moment. Bad enough that he put his hands on the throat of the 2018 title last time out in Assen, inserting 41 points between himself and Valentino Rossi, but to do so on the way to Germany, where he hasn’t lost since, like, grade school, is a little much, if you ask me.
Here in Southern California, where the MO staff call home, we’re experiencing the first summer heat wave of 2018. Temperatures are soaring well past 100ºF all over the state and air conditioning units are working overtime to keep the masses cool. So when we came upon this video, we knew we had to share. Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on a Suzuki GSX-R1000…snow bike.
The Cathedral of Speed gave the 105,000 crazed Dutch fans in attendance a memorable liturgy today – the most closely grouped top 15 in MotoGP history, 16 seconds separating the lot. The action at the front – six different riders led at one point or other – was so intense it reduced the announcers to mere stuttering and grunting during the last three laps, panties in a full twist. At the end, the incomparable Marc Marquez put his stamp on a signature win, one of his best ever.
With Yamaha having dominated the proceedings in France for the past few years, many fans, especially those with French accents, expected Johann Zarco to waltz into racing history today, starting from pole with those dreamy eyes. Alas, his unforced error on Lap 9 landed him in the gravel. Andrea Dovizioso’s “own goal” on Lap 6, crashing out of the lead, left the day to Marc Marquez. #93 enjoyed a walk in the park on his way to a 36-point lead in the 2018 championship race.
The 30th running of the Grand Prix de France at Le Mans – Round 5, for those of you keeping score at home – arrives at a critical time for the factory Yamaha team. Both Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales have been struggling with the YZR-M1 this year, searching in vain for feeling in the front and grip in the rear. Le Mans has been très Yamaha-friendly of late, M1s having gone three-for-three since 2015. Sunday would be a really good time for a replay.
Marc Marquez currently leads the 2018 MotoGP championship but it was only a month ago in Argentina that the Repsol Honda rider had arguably his worst race in the premier class. While much of the post-race talk was about Marquez’s role in Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaro crashing out in two separate incidents, what happened to Marquez on the starting grid was somewhat overlooked. Here’s a reminder of what happened:
Today’s Red Bull Grand Prix de España served as a vivid reminder that in the premier class of MotoGP there is Marc Marquez, and then there are a bunch of other riders. We are clearly living in the heart of The Marquez Era in MotoGP, which appears likely to extend into the future as far as the eye can see. With the best rider in our generation astride the best bike on the grid, in mid-career, an air of inevitability has settled over the 2018 championship.