Will 2012 Finally Be Husqvarna’s Year?

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.

Will 2012 Finally Be Husqvarna’s Year?

03/08/2012 @ 2:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Will 2012 Finally Be Husqvarnas Year? Husqvarna sales figures 635x393

For the past day I have been plunking away at a spreadsheet, adding in values found in several years’ worth of press releases. You see, while most motorcycle manufacturers go out of their way to hide sales information in their media communications, they still leave enough clues that allow one to decipher these pieces of information in their entirety. A monthly figure here, a quarterly result there, a percent gain over last year mentioned, and you’ve got your self five or more months of sales data extrapolated.

That being said, there is no need to go through this much work to know that Husqvarna has been having a rough couple of years. Even by just taking a straw poll from any of the BMW Group’s many glowing sales reports, you’ll find a three to four sentence paragraph outlining the continued disappointment that the Italian-based Swedish brand has brought the German company. Often not even cracking four-digit monthly sales figures, Husqvarna has been on a sales decline that has spawned BMW Motorrad’s decision to push the once dirt-only brand into the street bike scene.

In its most recent media communication, the BMW Group has praised Husqvarna’s sales success over the past two months. With the subsidiary posting a 50% gain in January, and a 2% gain in February, Husqvarna has thus far this year posted a 15% gain over the first two months of 2011. All is well for Zie Germans, no? You know the setup, continue reading for the take-down.

Just taking a look at Husqvarna’s ongoing yearly sales decline (above), you can see why there is a good business case for the introduction of bikes like the Husqvarna Nuda 900, Husqvarna Strada, and Husqvarna Moab & Husqvarna Baja concepts (in theory at least, I’ll save the execution part for a later commentary). And while it is easy to believe the early 2012 hype that Husqvarna has finally found the rocky bottom of whatever chasm it fell into, if history teaches us anything, a promising first quarter does a yearly sales increase not make.

Will 2012 Finally Be Husqvarnas Year? husqvarna percent growth bars 635x463

Part of the reason for the hesitation regarding Husqvarna’s promising 2012 stems from the fact that all of this has happened before, and it will happen again. Posting strong(er) numbers in January and February of 2011, Husqvarna went on to post a 22% decline in sales for the year, which was punctuated with the absolutely horrible second and fourth quarters that were posted by the motorcycle company. Coming into 2012, Husqvarna has once again posted signs of life in the early months, though with less fervor than before, which leads to the question of what the rest of the year will hold for the brand and parent company BMW Motorrad.

If we can assume the same trend of lackluster performance in coming months, Husqvarna’s one saving grace for positive sales growth could well be the Nuda 900. Even with Husqvarna’s limited dealer network, one or two models sold at each dealership in the summer months could easily sway the company from negative to positive sales growth, due mostly in part to Husqvarna’s sub-600 unit monthly sales figures in 2011.

Will 2012 Finally Be Husqvarnas Year? husqvarna monthly sales lines 635x339

A classic game played in public relations, large percentage gains at low volume numbers are really less impressive than they appear. But even if Husqvarna really can bolster its sales with the Nuda 900, the move could be a bigger financial burden than financial boon to the company. While much has been said about the use of BMW’s F800 motor as the base for Husqvarna’s new 900cc lump, one important factor that has been overlooked with this move by BMW is the relatively low production costs associated with the repurposed engine.

Already produced at volume, the BMW Group has likely absorbed most of the tooling costs associated with the F800 series, and with BMW Motorrad revamping its motorcycle line, the water-cooled parallel twin motor could certainly be coming to its end-of-life with help from the Husqvarna Nuda 900 (the same can be said with single-cylidner BMW-powered Husqvarna Strada). It wouldn’t surprised me then if the choice in motors for the Husqvarna Nuda 900 was based not using the German bike company’s road-going heritage, but instead because of the financial efficiencies of the motor design at smaller-scale production. It’s all something to chew on as we wrap up Q1 2012, and head into the rest of the year.

Source: BMW Group

Comment:

  1. Jonathan says:

    As a proud Husky owner I’ve been watching the last couple of years’ sales figures with a feeling of gloom. Dirtbikes are a leisure accessory and the recession in Europe and America has decimated sales, but will these rather unremarkable /downright ugly (delete where applicable) roadbikes save Husqvarna? Or will they devalue the image of the brand to the point where no self-respecting young racer will buy a Husky competition dirtbike because the roadbikes are so woefully lame?

    My local dealer has a couple of Nudas. Overall they look far better in the flesh than they do in print – lean and purposeful – but up close I feel that they look cheap and unfinished. The motor area is the focus of any naked bike, but it’s just an amorphous mass of differet textures of black.

    As for the Moab and Baja – I think that there’s a huge amount of merit in tipping the hat to past glories, but BMW’s implementation with these concept bikes is woeful. Where do I start? The tank shape? The ill-fitting seat? The cut-off sidepanels? Don’t even start me on the perimeter frame – it makes the machines look like scaled up pitbikes. Just awful.

    As for the Strada, I hope it’s cheap. It’s certainly not aspirational. If you’re going to build commuter bikes you might as well shut down the Varese operation and move production to the far east. And if Beemer are so proud of Husky, why are the new roadbikes so anonymous? Where’s the Husky logo? The way these bikes are presented is almost apologetic.

    Sorry for the ranty post but I really care about this. I also genuinely appreciate the amount of coverage that Husky get here an A&R!

  2. Jonathan says:

    Sorry for the awful spelling in my previous post. Small screen + no glasses = epic fail!

    On the upside it has to be said that the Husky engineers have done a fantastic job with the 449 / 511 range. I can’t imagine how unimpressed they must have been when BMW presented them with the motor from the G450X and said “here, build something good around this, because we don’t have a clue…” but the Varese boffins did good!

    Now BMW, please just give us:

    1) A 250 MX bike with class-leading power so the US magazine reviewers will tell everyone to go buy it.

    2) Updated strokers. Direct fuel injection would be nice…

    3) Some sort of vague plan / roadmap for actually selling the things!

  3. TRL says:

    It sounds silly but I think it was the orange. Too damn much orange. Even H-D learned that orange bikes have limited sales. Ask anyone what the first thing that pops into their minds when you say KTM is and they will likely say blah blah blah orange….

  4. MikeD says:

    I just hope they don’t get lost & become diluted(watered down) BMW clones…chasing the migthy elusive euro or dollar.

    Don’t let them go the MZ and MotoMorini way…it ain’t good for the wheeled world and enthusiasts everytime we loose another player…big or small.

  5. flyboy2160 says:

    They should take note of:
    - the sales gains of KTM in large part from selling those small Dukes in ‘less developed’ markets and manufacturing them in those same less costly areas.
    -the relatively stagnant sales of sport bikes in the developed countries.
    -wusssy as it sounds to hardcore bikers, by the numbers I believe the 250 Ninja and 250 CBR250R are the best selling bikes in the U.S.A.
    -(yes, I know Ducati and Harley have posted gains, but I don’t think they can establish Huskytistas…)

    So make some low cost 250 to 450 street bikes with those great Husky low weights and great power to weight ratios and sell them worldwide.

    And I’ll get fired when it doesn’t work!

  6. MikeD says:

    …and yes, +1 on the PUSH for CLEAN GDI 2 smokes…we all know that the OEM dirt bike builders have the tech and know-how, only God knows why there are NONE out there already.
    This been beated to death before but u know the drill…..only the (T_T) baby gets fresh diaper, feed and looked after \(^_^)/ ….

  7. Braap Wrunn says:

    Husky needs now some proper bikes in E3 and E2, they are off-road design leaders basically but behind the design you need a proper killer engineering too. Kymco doesn’t sound the one. They win Enduro titles, they did well in Dakar and they have Barreda now over there – who is the next Coma most probably. But they need some proper trustable tools now to sell, there is very limited amount of good 4s bikes and specially KTM killed their EXC series Husky should have had something new ready to hit it now as KTM riders will change their 2008 and up bikes now but there is not much to buy and many of them ain’t going to buy this new EXC Harley framed bike. If some one only could offer some proper bullet proof engine bike there you don’t have to invest extra 6000-10K more to get it running properly. This is the reason a lot of people who race are buying to the 2strokes now again. ~80% of UK enduro field is going already on 2s. For most of Japanese bikes you can’t get license plate in EU and this is it. So … an proper 4s with killer power parts list is more when welcome on the market. Wake up BMW! Uhhuuu ;) And where the hell is Mille Tre !?!! And why the Nuda is -100/300 cc !?!! There is like all the decisions are great and right but there is always some missing i dot. Get it right damn. I was expecting to thee Husky in SX/MX at ~2014 about 5-6 years they started the new project now it looks like now way and MxGP project is not evolving quick enough still :( Get more right phenomenal people in and let go all this brake holders. In off-road you have earn the trust, it takes time and winning and when you are in – you know that so chip, chip back to gym :)))

  8. "@Asphalt_Rubber: Will 2012 Finally Be Husqvarna's Year? – http://t.co/56uLltQI #motorcycle"

  9. BBQdog says:

    I never understood why BMW, in a time of recession, is turning a brand making small bikes into a brand making fat and expensive bikes. I think the way KTM is going is much better, more 200cc and 350cc’s, lowering prices.

  10. Jensen

    Nice bit of statistical debunking. Something I have been saying for a very long time, that rarely gets picked up by the media is how deceptive press release “data” can be, when it is only shown partially, and from a particular point of view.

    Reminds me of when I was a small boy visiting Communist Czechoslovakia, and saw signs everywhere boasting “Production of ball bearings up 300%! Victory to the proletariat!” Funny how all production was always always up everywhere, but we still had to line up for an hour to buy toilet paper.

    m

  11. TRL says:

    @Michael Uhlarik

    I’ve used that paper many times in the last few years, always wondered why people would stand on line for it, I’d rather use a badger…

  12. Shawn says:

    I love the idea of owning a Husqvarna. I considered a TE510 when I bought a new dualsport last year, but the price was ridiculous compared to the competition. The Honda had great offroad chops and would last forever, the KLR is a go anywhere, do anything kind of bike for a relatively cheap price. The DR650 is a reliable bike, and also great in the dirt. The TE510 (now 511 I suppose) is also great in the dirt, but its terrible on the road and not exactly reliable and goes for a premium price. If I was gonna to spend so much on a bike it’d have to be much better known. Hell, around here I’d keep having to explain that the bike manufacturing Husqvarna is not the chainsaw and lawnmower Hsuqvarna.

    I AM looking forward to trying a Nuda 900R at some point, and perhaps even purchasing it if its in the same ballpark as a Tiger 800 or the F650GS/F800GS.

  13. conchop says:

    Husqvarna needs to build a Buell Ulysses with 1972 CR 400 styling cues. As the are, typical horribly ugly Euro Styling cues that seems applicable to something Count Von Mach Schnell would be seen riding. BMW has done very little, but that’s no surprise judging from the appearance of their bikes. I’ve always thought of Husqvarna being a great performer … BUT, I wouldn’t want anyone to see me riding one. Another one of those bikes that reminds me of having a girlfriend with a supremely well built athletic body, but with a face that would cause train wrecks. Ugh!

  14. Jonathan says:

    Good point well made conchop! It begs the question – who did BMW get to design the excellent 1000RR for them? They surely can’t have done it themselves…
    I think that Beemer should start looking at KTM’s business model and refining it rather than building bargain basement clunkers around leftover engines.

  15. Brett says:

    I love the looks and specs of the Nuda. However I’ll probably never even see one much less get the chance to buy one. The local BMW dealer doesn’t sell Husky, the nearest Husky dealer is a 3 hour drive and they won’t have one, neither will the dealer 6-7 hours away. Too bad.