Pierre Terblanche moves to Norton

Ducati’s Pierre Terblanche, designer of the beautiful Ducati Supermoto, is moving to Norton Motorcycles in the UK to design bikes.  Since Norton currently produces only the 961 Commando, I think we can assume that the reborn British maker has some other models in the works.  If I was guessing, I would say the Norton rotary-powered NRV588 is the prime candidate for Terblanche’s design magic.

If so, he could do a lot worse than to come up with an update of the classic John Player Special version of the Norton Commander F1.

1991 Norton Commander F1 John Player Special

One of the most beautiful bikes ever made.

Speaking of Honda…

…A&R reports that:

Honda Motor Co. is all set to unload a choice piece of property in Kern County this year (Southern California residents should find this statement funny), as the company has put up for sale the Honda Proving Center of California (HPCC). Consisting of a total of 4,255 acres (give or take a few), the proving ground facility consists of a 7.5 mile oval, a 4.5 mile track of winding city roadway, skid pad, MX/SX track, support facilities, offices, warehouses, and plenty of desert terrain just to name a few of the highlights.

So, if you’ve got the money, and are looking for your own private race track, here’s your chance.

This is getting a little ridiculous

Honda asked some bike designers to go all out with their visions of the Honda Fury, the factory chopper Honda’s been touting for several months now, as well as the new Stateline and Saber.  They got these:

Honda Concept Furious
Honda Concept Furious, by Nick Renner. Based on the Fury.
Honda Concept Slammer
Honda Concept Slammer, by Erik Dunshee. Based on the Stateline.
Honda Concept Switchblade
Honda Concept Switchblade, by Edward Birtulescu. Based on the Saber.

There’s nothing wrong with these concepts visually, if you don’t mind a bit of motorcycle with your Arlen-Nessiness.  But, at the end of they day, they’re all 65HP VTX1300s.  No machine based on the VTX1300 can possibly be “Furious”.  Of course, I’m a grown-up, so I realize that there’s not much marketing magic in calling a bike the “Mildly Annoyed”.

On the plus side, you would at least look good tooling along at 45MPH on one of these babys.  Just don’t expect things to turn out well if someone offers to race you for “pinks”. Not that anyone would, because, you know, who’d want to take one of these away from you? Their best-case scenario is that they’d win a VTX 1300.

Yes, yes, it’s a Honda, so I’m sure it’d be finely crafted, smooth, and reliable as all hell. But the VTX1300 platform is, in a word, boring. It’s as dependable a platform as you could ask for…but who would.  Honda’s a fine company, and they make some great bikes (see CBR1000RR or Gold Wing), but the VTX1300 is far closer to “workmanlike” than “great”.

Another 800cc Naked Standard

2011 Yamaha FZ8
2011 Yamaha FZ8

The BMW F800S is not the the only 800cc European naked standard making its way to our shores this year.  Yamaha is following up with the FZ8.

The FZ8 is powered by a 779cc I-4 powerplant that puts out a reported 105HP and 61ft-lbs of torque, which is plenty peppy for an urban bike that weighs 464 lbs. The engine itself is derived from the pre-crossplane R1.

It’s nice to see the manufacturers bringing back a lot of these mid-sized commuter-capable bikes back to the US.  And who knows, with oil prices on the rise again, it might be the perfect environment to do so.