A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

MV Agusta is Getting Ready for a Future IPO?

06/25/2013 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

MV Agusta is Getting Ready for a Future IPO? The Caterpiller Alice in Wonderland 635x691

Right on heels of the news that Massimo Bordi has left MV Agusta, we get news from the Italian marque that Giorgio Girelli has been appointed the new Executive Vice President of MV Agusta Motor SpA. According to the company’s press release, Girelli’s appointment to the MV Agusta’s Board of Directors is part of three-year goal to take the motorcycle manufacturer’s stock to the public market. In case you weren’t sure, this is what a horrible idea looks like.

“Giorgio Girelli’s addition to the Board of Directors of MV Agusta is the beginning of a process aimed at further growth, particularly in high-potential international markets. Girelli brings unique and valuable expertise to the Company combined with a sincere passion for motorcycles and the MV brand. Over the next 3 years we can aim for the doubling of sales, with a solid capital structure, and we are convinced that the outcome will be the listing of the Company on the Stock Exchange” says Giovanni Castiglioni in the company’s press release.

The press release then goes on to coyly state MV Agusta’s “strong growth” in 2012 by quoting an 86.% boost in sales and 49.5% increase in revenue, though MV Agusta fails to peg those numbers in any sort of concrete figures. Our sources say that the company from Varese is still operating at a heavy loss, and it is a curious note that with all the growth that is occurring on the balance sheet, MV Agusta fails to mention a similar increase in the company’s net income.

A large part of that operating loss stems from the fact that MV Agusta is still a sub-10,000 unit company — a problem that the Castiglioni’s hoped to fix with its smaller-displacement triples, namely the MV Agusta F3 675. To be fair, MV Agusta has made strides in that regard, and has posted double-digit unit sales growth thus far in 2013. However, one also has to remember the plethora of new models that have come from the iconic Italian brand in the past product cycle, and wonder how sustainable that growth is for MV Agusta.

It seems like just yesterday I was wondering about the direction Giovanni Castiglioni would take his company, as MV Agusta was transitioning from the path that Harley-Davidson blazed for the brand onto the path that Castiglioni would forge. Whiffing hints at a future public stock offering, while casually dropping the most spurious of financial claims, is an interesting first move.

From an investment perspective, much could be done with MV Agusta, which is no doubt the reason the Castiglioni’s bought the brand back from Harley-Davidson (knowing some clever loopholes in Italian bankruptcy and business law does hurt either). A few years ago, MV Agusta was an intriguing company for investment bankers, venture capitalists, and private equity firms, and it remains so to this day.

The potential for another great Italian motorcycle brand rebirth is there; but remember, even Ducati Motor Holdings struggled to turn a profit these past years, and once Audi finds where all the bodies are buried in its new motorcycle company’s accounting ledgers, I am sure zie Germans will wonder about the wisdom of their $1.1 billion purchase.

A person much wiser than me once explained that companies like Ducati and MV Agusta have to exist as private corporations, ideally within the confines of another, more secure and profitable corporation, in order to truly be stable and survive the cycles of consumer spending.

I don’t think that logic has changed in the years since, and while MV Agusta can run a good PR campaign on its revival from the ashes of Harley-Davidson ownership, the investors who would presumably be buying the company’s shares on the open market…well, they’ll be looking at the balance sheets not the product brochures.

The announcement, if you can call it that, since it should be treated more like a stated aspiration than anything else at this point in time, reminds me a great deal of a similar statement made by Tesla Motors a number of years back. A company yet to turn a profit, in a sector with low, very low, revenue multiples (the napkin math investors use to value companies), Tesla had a clear road map to go public, and did so with considerable success.

Where Tesla suceeded, and where MV Agusta will fall, is the market opportunity — there is growth in electric vehicles. There is technology being developed that can be sold or licensed. There is an entire industry of entrenched companies that could be displaced — the opportunities go on.

For MV Agusta, its biggest asipiration right now would be to have the volume and brand power of its Italian sibling, Ducati. This is of course a false goal line, as Ducati has eyes to have the international sales of a brand like BMW. BMW Motorrad, the name of the game is to build more than a quarter-million units a year, which likely means following KTM to India and other developing markets with its new partner TVS.

Imagine now you are a stock broker or financial advisor, and you want to advise your client on buying stock in MV Agusta. A company with its sorted financial history not that far in the past, with no positive income on its books, and with a venerable smoke and mirrors show of financial stability/growth. How would you invest?

Source: MV Agusta

Comment:

  1. philly Phil says:

    very good points. well written. I can’t see MV being a very good investment. However, I imagine, he has some trick up his sleeve. I don’t think ducati was such a bad investment however. unlike MV, Ducati is a household name. now that doesn’t matter much when it comes to numbers, but I think ducati would have been just fine w/o Audi. The two of them can only benefit from each other.
    MV is turning a new page with their new models, and I would more so think or hope, that they need the investors to expand their dealership base and model line offering…

    otherwise, it’s not gonna work out

  2. irksome says:

    Actually, in Alice In Wonderland, the caterpillar and the Chesire Cat are the only ones who know what’s going on.

  3. CTK says:

    Good piece. Yea I am not sure MV is ready for prime time. It will take a few years. I am sure they would love the cash flow now though.

    MV is unlike Ducati in that they don’t have the adventure bike leverage to take advantage of. Their whole lineup is in a segment in sharp decline. I would really hate for them to dilute the brand with poorly fuelled 250-300cc bikes too. They are kind of stuck

  4. paulus says:

    IPO…. Instant profit opportunity (for some select few)
    Outside investors just there to stuff the coffers of the fat cats.
    Turn their debt ridden holdings into something of worth.
    After a year or two.. parachute out on investor cash.

    No thanks

  5. kww says:

    Unlike the Agnelli empire, in which the Italian government has until recently, had their back financially; the Italian motorcycle industry have another tact: beguiling investors and corporations into large investments which never pay off. They go bankrupt, or close to it, and start over again, a phoenix from the ashes (or the Resurrection, this is Italy after all).

    You must realize there is two sides to the Italian motorcycle industry coin. The first is the brilliant engineers and engineering, from which the greatness occurs. The second is the financial wizards who play their money game. It is a curious arrangement, the client and artist. All others are outsiders.

    It will be interesting to see how Audi does with Ducati in the long run. I don’t think Audi has been too successful with Bentley or Bugatti, and only moderately successful with Lamborghini. Therefore I don’t think a ‘foreign’ corporate investor would work for MV.

    Possibly the best outcome could be if Piaggio, or KTM acquire the company and the MV becomes a supersport lineup within a larger brand.

  6. smiler says:

    An investment company would be better suited to sort a company like MV out than a share issue. Look at Ducati before Texass Pacific took it over. When the 916SP came out you could not tell what it was because they really just stuck on anything that happened to have in stock. Foggy and the Monster saved the company but it is in a much better place now than it was ten years ago. And TP made a decent return as well.
    The trickle down that was used from the R version Superbikes right through the range to the Monster was a very sensible way of reducing the size of its parts bin and being able to purchase in bulk to reduce costs. That is something MV must do. And thus far they have not made a basic version of the F4. On the market since 1997 but still no 9K version.

    The Italians get stuck on making ever more exotic and expensive bikes then go bust. MV needs to make (and is) some simple bikes that it can sell in volume. Then they can have the exotica as well.

  7. alexssss says:

    fiat

  8. sigsegv says:

    @ctk
    MV will reveal both an Hyperstrada-like version of the Rivale and a Multistrada alternative this fall.

    @kww
    Indeed, Aprilia is doing rather well under Piaggio.

  9. Marc says:

    They’re a great candidate for a PE buyout. Short on cash, likely terrible balance sheet (though much improved from pre-Harley), great brand and product pipeline. With cash and management rigor, the two things a good PE has, they could be a fantastic turnaround story (and investment multiple). I wonder if this talk of IPO is just a way of indirectly marketing themselves for a private purchase – “look we’ll give you a great exit in 3 years, just buy us now and turn us around.”

  10. Norm G. says:

    echoing what some have already said, here is their “3-legged stool” for success. in no particular order…

    dealers, race effort of the 675, and adventure kit.

    do not pass go.