1200cc Displacement Limit, Alps Challenge And More! - Up To Speed

Is There A 1200cc Desmo In Your Future?

Euro Notes
It's hard to beg for more pasta when you've already got a full plate, but that's what Ducati seems to be doing in asking the FIM and World Superbike promoters FGSport to raise the twin-cylinder displacement limit to 1200cc while fours stay at 1000cc. This lends truth to the persistent, if until now unconfirmed, rumors that the Italian manufacturer is set to launch an enlarged version of its trademark desmo V-twin Testastretta motor in an all-new streetbike that would replace its controversially styled 999 superbike.

The fact that Ducati is openly pressing for a 2008 introduction of the 1200cc rule seems to indicate the debut of the rumored 1188 won't come before the Milan Show in November of next year. But as Claudio Domenicali confirms, Ducati is set to march up the capacity scale with its V-twin products regardless of the FIM's decision.

"We decided a while ago that the best commercial platform for us to use in planning the company's future is to keep developing the V-twin desmo engine," says the Ducati Corse race boss, who since January of last year is also in charge of product development for the company's street range. "So let's make this clear: There will not be a volume-production four-cylinder Ducati engine in the future. It is true that we're developing the Desmosedici RR road model based on our existing V-four MotoGP bike, but this will be a very exclusive, limited-edition, high-end product with a sand-cast engine, selling for an extremely high price when it becomes available in 2007."

This is an important bit of news, because if Ducati was developing a lower-spec, volume-production version of the Desmosedici RR, it would obviate the need for the Italian firm to continue racing a V-twin in the Superbike class, hence no need to petition the FIM to raise the limit.

"We [still] think that the V-twin is the best platform to support a volume-production range of motorcycles-including sportbikes-that follow our established traditions as a manufacturer, have a unique identity and are enjoyable to ride with a distinctive character," Domenicali continues. "We want to remain true to Ducati's history, and keep selling the bikes customers around the world have come to expect from us. So we decided that, in the long term, Ducati must have in its range a larger-capacity twin-cylinder sports model than the existing 999. Whatever happens with our application for a bigger twin-cylinder capacity limit for racing, we will-we must-make a bigger-engined streetbike. We strongly believe that, in street terms, the larger capacity V-twin will offer a competitive platform against four-cylinder bikes of equivalent performance in terms of top speed and horsepower, while keeping the advantage of being rideable and torquey."

So, expect a 2008-model-year arrival for the Ducati 1188, which it's conjectured will be styled to resemble the current Desmosedici racer, whose bodywork penned by British aerodynamicist Alan Jenkins has played a key part in making the V-four MotoGP racing's speed king. But with the 990cc Desmosedici about to be rendered obsolete by new MotoGP rules for the 2007 season, don't count out whatever bodywork Jenkins chooses to cloak Ducati's new 800cc contender in.

As for the Desmosedici RR, the expected June 1 unveiling of the final pre-production street-legal version at this year's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, just 37 miles from the Bologna company's factory gate, won't bring forward the construction of customer versions, which have been deferred to 2007. The planned delivery of the keys to the first such road bike to its lucky owner was originally envisaged for the biennial World Ducati Week 2006 at Misano, but was canceled in advance of the recent takeover of the company by Investindustrial.

Alps Challenge?
Last Chance!

Time is running out for those of you considering traveling to the Alps with us this fall to sample what is arguably the very best motorcycling in existence. The Motorcyclist Alps Challenge Tour, our fourth with the Edelweiss folks, happens September 8-17 and covers a near-perfect slice of the Alpine-riding adventure. We'll start in Munich, Germany, head south into the heart of Austrian ski country, continue south into Italy's mountainous Dolomite region, then ride east for a short visit to Slovenia. Then it's back through Austria and the famous Grossglockner Pass. Count on seven days of spectacular riding, all of which we'll feature in a magazine story down the road. Prices range from $3290 to $4640 depending on your choice of bike. There's nothing in this world quite like riding the Alps in the fall, so give Tri Community Travel a call at (800) 507-4459 for more information, or click on www.edelweissbike.com. Only 10 spots remained at press time, so act quickly. Hope to see you there!

More Can't-Miss Events
Just before we went to press we confirmed two more can't-miss events we're involved with for 2006: The 2006 Monterey Classic Bike Auction (www.montereyclassicbikeauction.com) on July 20-22 and the Motorcyclist/Sportbike Track Time/Mid-Ohio Fantasy Camp (www.sportbiketracktime.com) on October 1-2. The MCBA, which happens during MotoGP weekend at Laguna Seca, is the coolest, highest-end classic bike auction known to man. Handfuls of classic street-, race- and dirtbikes will be on the block, and rumor has it some actual factory machinery will be up for grabs. (Boehm says he might even auction off his TZ750 there.) Folks signing up for the STT/Mid-Ohio Fantasy Camp not only get an exclusive, all-access pass for the final AMA Superbike weekend of the season, they also get to ride, hang out and break bread with one of the factory Superbike race teams. Whoa! Check the STT Web site for more details.Don't miss 'em!

Stop The Presses

Norton Gone AgainThe quixotic efforts of Kenny Dreer's Norton Motorcycles ground to a halt on March 31 when the Gladstone, Oregon-based manufacturer shut its doors for what's likely the last time. The man who fought for and won the manufacturing rights to the revered British marque managed to build 50 of his $20,000 retro VR 880 models, but ultimately failed in his bid to put the modernized, 80-horsepower 961 Commando into production.

A Business Week online report speculated the project has cost approximately $8.5 million to date, with a further $10 million needed to begin large-scale production. A company designer was quoted as saying, "That's the trouble with a startup. You run full-speed toward a chasm, trusting the bridge will be there when you arrive. It's a shame Kenny never had the money. He had the dream."

Turning The (Red) Tide
Just when it seems everything American is being Made in China-Levi's for instance-Harley-Davidson has announced it will begin selling genuine Made-in-the-U.S.A. motorcycles there. Beijing Feng Huo Lun has been appointed as the first authorized Harley dealer in China. Located in northeast Beijing, the dealership has been importing foreign-made heavyweight motorcycles for 10 years.

The Motor Company expects entry into China to be a gradual process. The market there for premium heavyweight motorcycles is just beginning to emerge, limited by ownership and riding restrictions in most large cities and on highways, as well as by limited but growing disposable income. Harley-Davidson's long-term strategy seeks to address the riding restrictions and to help lead the development of a leisure-oriented heavyweight motorcycle market as consumer buying power grows.

Meet Virginia
Every state needs one of these: "Motorcycle Virginia!" is a program aimed at promoting motorcycle safety, tourism and business development, directed by government officials working hand-in-hand with motorcycle enthusiasts.

"Virginia has worked to expand its tourism markets in so many areas-and motorcycle tourism is a great opportunity for us," said Governor Mark R. Warner. "Additionally, as the commonwealth grapples with the transportation challenges of the next decade, motorcyclists need to have a voice in that debate."

Since its launch in 2004, the program has produced more than 50,000 "Watch for Motorcycles" bumper stickers and created a Web site (www.motorcycleva.com) featuring the state's best motorcycle routes, plus safety guidelines and motor-cycle resource links.

Lawrence Grodsky, founder of Stayin' Safe Motorcycle Training and a monthly columnist for Rider magazine, was killed in an accident in Fort Stockton, Texas, April 8. Grodsky, 55, was reportedly doing a feature story about purchasing a used motorcycle (a 1997 Kawasaki police bike) on eBay, and was riding it from a Motorcycle Safety Foundation conference in Long Beach, California, to his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when he collided with a deer at night.

"Larry was the most talented, experienced and competent motorcyclist in the country, but this is the one thing he knew he couldn't do anything about," Grodsky's girlfriend Maryann Puglisi told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Just a few weeks ago he said to me, 'That's how I'm going to go-it's going to be a deer.' He could deal with all the idiot drivers, but at night when a deer jumps in your path, that's it and he knew that."

That's Not The Queen!The Los Angeles Calendar Motorcycle Show returns to the famed Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, July 15-16. This year's 15th-annual event will feature all the usual custom cruisers and sportbikes together with the beautiful models from promoter Jim Gianatsis' Fast Dates pinup calendars, plus seminars by celebrity builders, a dyno shootout, a calendar girl model search pageant, live music and a stage show featuring the Purrfect Angelz. For more information, log on to www.fastdates.com.

Apexes Racing News
Escape To-And From-The Usgp If it's July, it's time for the United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Fans who remember last year's traffic nightmare (some might still be there) will be relieved to learn a new plan will be in effect for this year's event. Only authorized personnel will be permitted to bring cars or trucks onto the grounds; all other four-wheeled vehicles will have to park off-site, their occupants bused to the racetrack. Motorcycles will be allowed to enter the facility through a special bike-only entrance and will park in the former car lots.

Last year's long lines at the souvenir stands should also be a thing of the past thanks to a new 8000-square-foot superstore along vendor's row.

For further details or to purchase tickets for the July 21-23 event, call (800) 327-SECA or log on to www.laguna-seca.com.

Yamaha Steps Up-Again
Speaking of the USGP, Yamaha has pledged its support of the event until the end of the decade. A "Proud Sponsor of the Red Bull United States Grand Prix," the reigning MotoGP manufacturer's champion contributed a significant portion of the $7 million required to upgrade Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the '06 event-this on top of the $2 million the company donated in '05.

"After the success of last year's event, we all jumped at the opportunity to continue our relationship," said Bob Starr, corporate communications manager of Yamaha Motor Corp. "The funds will ultimately be used to improve rider safety and ensure everyone will enjoy MotoGP racing here in the U.S. for years to come."

"Without Yamaha's initial involvement, there would not have been a USGP," commented Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "To know that Yamaha was willing to step to the plate and continue that support through 2010 allows us to continue to host the MotoGP World Championship for the foreseeable future and keep Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca among the world's premier racing facilities."

Fastest Of Them All?
MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi has challenged Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso to a high-speed duel.

Rossi told England's Motor Cycle News he'd like to see a three-tier challenge between himself and Alonso after the Spaniard questioned whether the Italian could make the switch from bikes to cars.

"I read that if Alonso is able to make some practice then he can put a MotoGP bike on the podium with me," said Rossi. "Well, I think we should drive a Formula One car, a World Rally car and a MotoGP bike, add the times together and then we will see who is the fastest."

Alonso was quoted by the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport as saying he would be up for the triple challenge, adding it would be "something very enjoyable." Rossi has won the MotoGP title five years running and has tested with Ferrari amid speculation he will make the switch to F1 next year.

Mike The Bike, The MovieFans of the late, great Mike Hailwood will be flocking to theaters in the not-too-distant future to watch a film about his life.

German producer Michael Ohoven, whose 2005 work Capote was nominated for five Academy Awards including best picture, has been working closely with Hailwood's widow, Pauline, and has enlisted Paul Pender to write a script.

Hailwood, who earned the nickname Mike the Bike, won nine motorcycle roadracing world championships in the 1960s before switching to cars. In '78 he returned to bike competition to win the Isle of Man TT on a Ducati, but was tragically killed along with his daughter when their car collided with a truck three years later.

Surf Report Fun And Games
Neil Hodgson's Super Jump

WHAT IT IS: Leap a Ducati 999 over a row of buses, and sexy girls remove articles of clothing as your technique improves. Beware the old hag who appears after you auger in!
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because this is all Ducatisti have got after the factory disabled the Games page on its Web site. And it's sponsored by an insurance company!

Aprilia Mania
WHAT IT IS: Race an Aprilia RSV1000 on public roads, avoiding barrels and fallen trees while flying off jumps and attempting to pass your rival within the allotted time.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because you thought Noriyuki Haga was out of control

Stoppie Till You Drop
WHAT IT IS: Attempt to do the longest stoppie possible while eliciting the fewest grunts, groans and whoas from the rider.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because it hurts less when you endo at your desk than on the road.

Superbike GP
WHAT IT IS: Squealing tires aside, this is the best motorcycle roadracing game we could find online. You'll need Shockwave to play, but you can download it for free.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because if you're going to be world champion, you'll first need to learn the tracks. MC