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SHOCK SWITCH: John McGuinness will ride for Norton at the Isle of Man TT

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Sensational coup for British manufacturer Norton as the King of the Mountain, John McGuinness is announced as a rider for the Isle of Man TT.

The sound and fury of the silver SG-prefixed Norton V4s have become a welcome fixture of the Isle of Man TT since Stuart Garner and his team reintroduced the brand to the Island with the SG1 back in 2012.

With a noise that Asphalt & Rubber referred to at the time as being “somewhere between “Four Horseman (sic) of the Apocalypse” and “Queen of the Harpies” — as heard from several miles out”, the presence of the machines across the mountain course has been beloved by the crowds and even recognised officially by the Isle of Man race organisers from a technical perspective.

Now those excitement and achievement levels are expected to increase tenfold as the legend that is John McGuinness has been confirmed as an official rider of the Norton V4 race-bike for this year’s Isle of Man TT races in May & June 2018.

We thought we’d seen the road racing worlds’ collective brains explode after the announcement of McGuinness riding with Guy Martin for Honda last year, but with the near-mythical alignment of the brands McGuinness and Norton for this year’s event, we’re certain that the level of anticipation will be off the charts when the King of the Mountain first swings his leg over the shiny, chrome Norton V4 during practice week!

Speaking about the announcement, McGuinness seems at his normal, self-effacing best with his tweet of the announcement finished with the hashtag #bitofunfinishedbusiness.

And naturally, CEO of Norton Motorcycles, Stuart Garner is optimistically upbeat.

But the best part of it all? We called it weeks ago!*

*But then even a stopped clock is right twice a day!

And if you were in any doubt as to how happy the McGuinness family are with the switch, the latest tweet by John’s wife Becky should set your mind at rest…

How McGuinness and Honda parted ways.

There’s no doubting that all was not well within the Honda road racing camp last year, but it wasn’t always that way. With the new CBR1000RR being introduced and with John McGuinness and Guy Martin being announced as the new ‘dream team’ for the Honda team, the start of the 2017 road racing season was met with excitement and rampant expectation. But then the accidents started to happen.

With the horrendous crash of McGuinness at the NW200LATEST: John McGuinness has leg operation but in good spirits and subsequent issues with the new Fireblade causing problems and a crisis of confidence for Guy Martin, the dream of 2017 dominance quickly transformed into something closer to a nightmare.

And then, weeks later and buried beneath problematical news about a prospective Guy Martin retirement that he quickly debunked came the admittance and confirmation from Honda that it was an issue with the bike that had caused the 23 time Isle of Man TT winner to fall and break his leg. Issues that had plagued other riders during the remainder of the season and issues that McGuinness had surely fed back to the team after his accident.

Weeks later, and as the rest of the world led with the news of Ian Hutchinson joining the 2018 Honda road racing team, the lack of a future for John McGuinness at Honda seemed certain to even the most casual of observer; despite the headlines of the press seemingly ignoring the obvious.

This was a narrative helped along with a few timely tweets from the TT legend himself over the holiday period.

https://twitter.com/jm130tt/status/940262163771310080

Couple all of that with the now infamous snap of him on a Norton TT bike from race organiser Paul Phillips, and you can see what set the tongues at Motofire HQ wagging. Sometimes a lot of speculation and a modicum of thought can go a long way!

With John McGuinness getting himself into shape for his visit to the Island and Norton genuinely attacking podium places at this year’s TT, we can’t think about anything else now, other than seeing – and hearing – McGuinness on that glorious, chromed-out V4, tearing down Bray Hill.

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Custom of the Week: Ducati Leggero by Walt Siegl

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FOR WALT SIEGL, performance and beauty go hand-in-hand. The bikes in his Ducati Leggero series are drop dead gorgeous, but they’re also light, quick and handle well. And that puts them in high demand.

This newest build was commissioned by Jamie Waters, one of the leading lights behind the REV’IT! and Rizoma brands in the USA. Jamie owns a significant collection of race bikes, European sports cars and American muscle cars, but they’re more than just show pieces: he regularly pilots his rare factory racers at AHRMA events.

That makes him the perfect client for Walt. “I’m thrilled that I could build this bike for Jamie,” says Walt from his New Hampshire workshop, “because I know he will ride it and enjoy it.”

Each Leggero is hand made to order with room for customization, but the building blocks are always the same. It starts with a Walt Siegl Motorcycles 4130 chromoly steel frame, created in-house and weighing just 15 pounds.

Walt slots in a two-valve Ducati motor, rebuilt and blueprinted by Bruce Meyers Performance. It’s then finished with top-shelf components, and custom Kevlar bodywork.

On this build, the donor motor came from a Monster 1100. It’s been blueprinted and bumped to 1125 cc with Mahle pistons, warmer cams, ported and flowed heads, and titanium valves. The carbs have been ditched in favour of the fuel injection system from a Hypermotard, and the bottom end has been lightened too.

Since Jamie’s pretty serious about actually riding the Leggero, he wanted top spec chassis and suspension components too. The lightweight chromoly Leggero frame is matched up to an aluminum subframe, and a Ducati S2R swing arm.

It would take days of careful study to spot all the details on this Ducati, so we’ll just run through the highlights. The custom-built, ceramic-coated stainless steel exhaust is stunning, right down to its carefully placed heat shields.

The cockpit’s pretty slick too, and includes a racy Motogadget tacho bearing the WSM logo. And there’s a sprinkling of carbon fiber and Rizoma bits, to drive the performance ethos home.

When it came to the final livery, Jamie’s hobby provided all the inspiration needed. “Jamie wanted to incorporate elements from the early muscle car era in my Leggero design,” says Walt, “which is decidedly European, if you will.”

So the white ceramic coating on the exhaust system references early Shelby Cobras, and the frame’s been nickel plated, as a nod to the 1960s and 70s.

The primary paint color was sampled from a car in Jamie’s collection. “Jamie has a 1968 Corvette in Laguna Blue,” says Walt. “For that series Corvette, it was a one-year color only—painted by Peach Pit Racing.”

Now we’re really jealous.


This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on Bike Exif. It is republished here with permission.

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Idiot thieves steal electric manufacturers’ bike whilst they were on ‘theft tracking’ test!

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Motorcycle manufacturer Zero had their own bikes, actually stolen – for real – during security testing.

Bike thieves are the worst.

Not literally – we’re pretty certain that there are some certain individuals on the world stage that could put a petty motorcycle thief into perspective – but they’re ‘up there’ on our list alongside people who use their mobile phones on speaker whilst sat on public transport and most of the contestants from TV’s Love Island.

Bike thieves are also pretty stupid. None more so than the ones who tried to make off with a couple of Zero electric motorcycles recently in London.

What made these thieves particularly stupid we here you cry? Well, how about trying to nick a couple of electric bike maker Zero’s actual bikes whilst they were undergoing actual theft-tracking device testing with British bike security firm Datatool?

“I have been testing the product for several months now”, said Zero UK’s manager Dale Robinson, “but the ultimate test came last week, when two of our bikes were stolen from the back of a van in the London area.

Ironically we had just been introducing the partnership with Datatool to our dealers at a conference the day before, but I hadn’t expected that we would have to put it to the test when I got up the next morning.”

Yep, you read that right. Literally the same night that Zero and Datatool had introduced their partnership at a dealer shindig, somebody thought it would be a good idea to take the battery-driven machines.

But did the freshly installed system actually work?

“I reported the theft at 8.00am and the data confirmed that the bike was stolen at 3.37am. Datatool collaborated with the Met Police’s stolen vehicle squad, and the bikes were tracked to within a metre of their actual location, under a tarpaulin in a timber yard.

The police extraction team commented that the information given to them, in the form of a pinpointed Google map and exact coordinates, was the most accurate they had received and I got a call to come and pick the bikes up a few hours later.”

Some people pay thousands for that kind of PR. All Zero and Datatool had to do was get drunk and leave a couple of bikes in a van on a London street overnight.

Amazing.

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