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The motorcycle highs and lows of 2018

Published: 30 December 2018

2018 has been a busy year in the world of motorcycling. We enjoyed the joint hottest summer on record, saw new models from top manufacturers and a blistering new lap record from Peter Hickman at the Isle of Man TT.

There have been lows, too, with crashes, injuries and the loss of high profile racers, as well as the demise of notable bike models and a prolonged period of snow.

MCN have compiled a list of highlights and low points of 2018:

Harley-Davidson Pan America

Harley-Davidson re-invent themselves

Harley-Davidson unveiled plans to release 21 new bikes over the next four years, including the LiveWire electric bike and an adventure middleweight.

 Ducati Panigale V4 R

Ducati release Panigale V4 R

The Ducati Panigale V4 S won MCN Bike of the Year in 2018, but the model that got us really excited was the 217bhp V4 R developed to give Ducati a fighting chance in WSB and BSB.


 KTM 690 SMC R

KTM re-introduce 690 singles with Enduro and SMC R models

KTM’s big singles, the 690 Enduro and SMC R, looked to be history having fallen foul of emissions regulations but they’re back. They’re certainly not cheap and a price tag of almost £10k will probably limit sales.

 
 New Met Police tactic  

Met police fight back against bike related crime

Bike and scooter crime in the nation’s capital was taken on with controversial new police tactics of knocking suspects and offenders off during pursuits.

 Scott Redding

Scott Redding’s BSB move

Having found himself without a ride in MotoGP for 2019, Scott Redding’s future in racing was looking a little uncertain. Luckily for us, he signed a deal with Be Wiser Ducati PBM to race in BSB.

 
 Triumph 765 Moto2 test bike

Triumph Moto2 engine

We already knew that Triumph would become the engine supplier for Moto2 from the 2019 season, but we couldn’t have predicted how great the engine would be. All we need now is a road-going Daytona 765 to get excited about.

 
 BMW R1250GS

BMW R1250GS

The next chapter in the story of the all-conquering BMW GS family came in the form of the R1250GS with clever Shift Cam technology.

 
 Arc Vector electric motorbike

Arc Vector electric bike

Whatever you think of electric motorbikes, it’s been hard to avoid them in 2018. One of the most interesting comes from British firm, Arc, whose Vector comes brimming with technology.

 
 Peter Hickman at the Isle of Man

Peter Hickman wins at the Isle of Man TT and smashes the lap record

Peter Hickman took his Smiths BMW S1000RR to victory in the Isle of Man TT Senior and recorded the first ever 135mph lap in the process. He also won the Superstock race, just for good measure.

 
 Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea wins again

2018 was a busy year for Jonathan Rea who became the first rider ever to win four World Superbike titles in succession and the most successful rider in the history of the series.

 
 Norton Atlas models

Norton release affordable Atlas

Norton’s new 650 Atlas looks stunning, but the price looks even better. A sub-£10k production model from the British manufacturer is a promising new development.

 
 Leon Haslam

Leon Haslam leaves BSB with a championship win

Jonathan Rea’s teammate for 2019, Leon Haslam left BSB on a high, taking the championship for the first time in the first race of the final round at Brands Hatch.

 
 Marc Marquez  

Marc Marquez takes MotoGP crown

It was a season of ups and downs for Marc Marquez, but he eventually took his fifth MotoGP title in six years at the Japanese Grand Prix.

 Aprilia RS 660

Return of the middleweight

We may have lost supersports like the Honda CBR600RR and Suzuki GSX-R600, but 2018 has actually been quite a promising year for middleweight sportsbikes. There’s the new Kawasaki ZX-6R, Aprilia unveiled a concept RS 660 at Eicma, and Norton have made a 650cc racer called the Superlight.

 

Alongside the highs have unfortunately been some lows, too:

 Motorbikes in the snow

Beast from the East

A prolonged period of snowy weather hit us in March and condemned a lot of bikes to the garage for a few weeks.

 
 Operation Venice is targeting bike theft  

High bike theft rates

The police are fighting back, but large numbers of motorbikes are still getting stolen, especially in cities and built up areas.

 Valentino Rossi crashes out from the lead at Sepang

Rossi crashing out at Sepang

VR46 fans groaned around the world as Rossi crashed out from the lead in Sepang, missing out on what was surely his best chance of a race win in 2018.

 
 Michele Pirro survives 200mph horror crash  

Sport crashes, injuries and deaths

While we often see MotoGP riders bounce back to their feet following crash after crash, some are not so lucky, particularly in road racing. James Cowton, Fabrice Miguet, William Dunlop, Adam Lyon, Andreas Perez, Clive Ling, Alan 'Bud' Jackson and Dan Kneen were all sadly killed in crashes in 2018.

 A damp Valentino Rossi at the Bristish Grand Prix that never was  

Silverstone cancellation

Following a series of crashes in the rain (resulting in an horrific injury for Tito Rabat), the decision was taken to cancel the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

 The Suzuki Hayabusa is no more  

End of an era for Suzuki as Hayabusa, GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 bow out

While Suzuki caused a stir for the right reasons with their new Katana model, they have also retired some of their best-loved models. The GSX-R600, GSX-R750 and Hayabusa all go out of production in 2018.

 The Ten Kate Racing team

The demise of the Ten Kate WSB team

Honda’s surprise announcement that they would be running an HRC team in WSB left Ten Kate Racing in a precarious position. The team eventually declared bankruptcy in November.

 
 Romano Fenati squeezes Stefano Manzi's brake lever  

Race rage: Fenati lets himself down… again

There were plenty of reminders in 2018 that motorcycle racing can be a very dangerous business. So, it was a shame when Romano Fenati lost his cool (and then his job) and grabbed the front brake of fellow rider Stefano Manzi.

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