Ducati Sets Sales Record for 2014 – 45,100 Bikes Sold

Ducati Motor Holding is reporting another record sales year, and that the Italian motorcycle manufacturer sold 45,100 bikes in 2014. This marks the fifth year in a row that Ducati has shown sales growth, and it’s the third year in a row that the sales figures have been an all-time record for the Italian brand. Sales for 2014 were up 2% over 2013, with the USA again leading as Ducati’s most important market (8,804 units sold in the USA). Unsurprisingly, the Asian market is growing quickly for Ducati as well, up 11% in 2014. Ducati attributes its sales growth in-part to its new water cooler Monster line, where the Ducati Monster 1200 and Ducati Monster 821 helped raise Monster sales by 31%, with 16,409 new bikes sold in 2014.

Newspeak: The Advent of the “Adventure-Sport”

In the past decade the ADV segment has been a confusing amalgamation of differing interests, and over that time-period, two distinct groups have boiled to the surface. First there are the “Long Way Round” hopefuls, who invariably own a BMW R1200GS/A, and seem to be on some sort of perpetual preparation for an African safari. More recently, a second group has appeared: those riders who look to these big ADV bikes as more versatile Sport-Touring machines. All these riders, and their bikes, have been wedged into a single “Adventure” category, and it has created a bit of confusion for the segment. So, I want to introduce the concept of the “Adventure-Sport” and how it differentiates from the previous “Adventure-Touring” category.

MotoGP: Ducati’s Desmosedici GP15 Officially Delayed

As had been widely expected, Ducati will not have the GP15 ready for the first test at Sepang, in early February. In an interview with the MotoGP.com website, due to be shown on 19th January, Ducati Corse boss confirmed that work was still underway on the all-new bike; and that instead, Ducati will be bringing an uprated version of last year’s bike, dubbed the GP14.3, to test aspects of the new design not requiring the new engine. The delays have been trailed by both Dall’Igna and Paolo Ciabatti, speaking to the media at the Valencia test and at the Superprestigio dirt track event in December. The GP15 is a completely new bike, designed from the ground up, with a completely redesigned engine.

1972 Honda CB500, 3D Printed to Life Size

We’ve talked a bit before about the virtues of 3D printing, and how this increasingly affordable technology could change the consumer landscape as far as how we buy basic parts in the motorcycle industry. For as practical as how 3D printing, or rapid prototyping, can be, it can also be beautiful and used for art. This story is sort of a merger of those two ideas. Jonathan Brand has hoped to buy a 1972 Honda CB500 motorcycle, but the birth of his son changed that plan. Where there is a will though, there is a way, and Brand came up with the next best thing — he built a life-size model of a CB500 with his 3D printer.

Mercedes CEO: No Further Acquisition of MV Agusta

Italians are rejoicing over the news that Mercedes-Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche has made it clear that the German car manufacturer is not interested in acquiring more of MV Agusta’s private stock. Loyal readers will remember that Mercedes-AMG purchased 25% of MV Agusta last October, for a rumored €30 million — echoing the move Audi made in Ducati. Talking at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit though, Zetsche said “however, to avoid what happened with Ducati we point out that we have no intention to take over the business or produce motorcycles. MV Agusta can do it better than us.”

Triumph Has Its Best Sales Year Since Its Rebirth

Good news for Triumph Motorcycles fans, as the British motorcycle marque is reporting a banner year for 2014 — with 54,432 units sold worldwide. That figure is up 4% over 2013’s sales figure of 52,089 units, which was the first time that Triumph broke the 50,000 unit mark since the company’s rebirth in 1984. Helping Triumph reach this new high-water mark was the company’s home market, where Triumph accounted for one-in-five motorcycles sold in the UK (over 500cc). Overall, Triumph saw 8% growth in the UK, as modest growth considering the British market was up roughly 10% last year. The news is not all good, however. Triumph previously reported that financial figures for the first-half of 2014 were down, with revenue down £364 million from £369 million, and net income at a loss of £8 million.

Husqvarna 401 Concepts Will Be 2017 Production Models

One of the more intriguing things to come out of the 2014 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan were Husqvarna’s two “401” concepts, the Vitpilen and Svartpilen. The café-styled bikes are based off the KTM 390 Duke platform, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at them. Husqvarna said at EICMA that if there was sufficient interest, the Vitpilen and Svartpilen could go into production. With an overwhelming critical response from the press and fans, it should come no surprise then that our friends at Bike.se are reporting that Husqvarna intends to make the small-displacement machines a part of its 2017 model lineup.

Ducati Desmosedici Cucciolo Concept by Alex Garoli

Imagine if you will that the first Ducati, the Ducati Cucciolo, and the most modern Ducati, the Ducati Desmosedici, had a child — what would it look like? That far-fetched question nagged Mexican designer Alex Garoli, so he decided to build a concept of the machine. At the core of the Ducati Desmosedici Cucciolo is the V4 powerplant of Italy’s MotoGP race bike, and around it Garoli has imagined a modern steel trellis frame that mimics the bicycle frame look of the post-WWII motorized bicycles that pulled Italy out of deep recession. Of course the most interesting thing about Garoli’s concept is the fact that it’s a ~12:1 scale model. The work is pretty exquisite, even if you don’t agree with the concept’s ethos.

Is Suzuki Reviving the Katana and Gamma Names?

Signs of life are starting to trickle out of Hamamatsu, as Suzuki finally seems to be working on new models for our riding pleasure. First, it was the news that the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept is likely to go into production, and now it’s that the Japanese OEM is reviving iconic names from its past: Katana and Gamma. Suzuki has re-registered the Katana name & logo with both the European and American trademark offices, while the Gamma logo has been re-registered in the EU. What this means precisely in terms of future models is up for debate. As for the name Katana, the evidence might already be in front of us with the Recursion concept. The Suzuki Katana line started life as a performance-oriented machine, and slowly saw its name watered down into the sport-touring segment.

MV Agusta Gets €15 Million Loan for New Business Plan

Good turns for MV Agusta, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has secured a €15 million loan from SACE and Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM). The loan, which was issued by BPM and guaranteed by SACE, will go towards MV Agusta’s foreign growth plans, namely the company’s strengthening of its US business, and its push into Brazil and Southeast Asia. The more business-speak version of that statement is that MV Agusta will use the €15 million to implement the company’s 2014-2018 business plan, which has the company expanding its product range and penetrating into “high-potential” markets.

KTM Developing Two Moto3 Bikes with Kalex Engineering

06/03/2011 @ 8:56 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

KTM has announced it will be entering the Moto3 Championship, building a 250cc single-cylinder bike in what the company is describing as an 100% in-house operation. This statement is a bit confusing though, as KTM will also be partnering with Kalex Engineering on a second bike, where KTM will help the German company by supplying their race motors. No riders have been confirmed on either the KTM or KTM/Kalex machines.

KTM’s return to international road racing is certainly a welcomed sight, and it’s interesting that the Austrian company is both building its own bike, and supplying motors to other outfits. Both the KTM and KTM/Kalex machines will have to compete against the Honda NSF250R race bike, which Honda debuted at the Catalan GP just yesterday.

HRC NSF250R Moto3 Race Bike to Debut at Catalan GP

05/20/2011 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Honda has done a pretty good job of teasing out its HRC NSF250R, which is set to race in the Moto3 Championship in 2012. Replacing the 125GP, Moto3 class is based around four-stroke 250cc race bikes, and should be a more affordable and leveling playing field for new riders to enter into GP racing. HRC has teased us with images and videos of the new NSF250R, which takes its core cues from the its RS125R predecessor (both current factory Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso won their lower Championships on the Honda RS125R).

KTM Begins Testing Moto3 Race Bike

01/02/2011 @ 2:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

At the end of last year we learned that KTM had committed itself internally to competing in the upcoming Moto3 class, which is slated to replace 125GP in 2012. At the time of that news, the Austrian company was still in the early stages of planning for its 250cc four-stroke single-cylinder race bike; but not wanting to let Honda take all of the Moto3 development spotlight with its NRS 250, this past week KTM began testing Moto3 chassis configuration at the Cartagena track in Spain.

Arriving with a modified 125cc chassis and 350cc SX-F thumper, KTM’s IDM Supersport rider Michi Ranseder took to the helm of the prototype race machine over the two day testing session. More of a prologue than the first chapter to KTM’s Moto3 story, this event makes it clear that KTM is still getting its bearings on what direction it wants to take its entry-level GP program.

Video: Honda NRS 250 Moto3 Contender Teaser

12/27/2010 @ 10:52 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Perhaps as a belated holiday treat, Honda has finally seen it fit to give a better glimpse of its HRC NRS 250 Moto3 contender. With a few quick cuts and some blurry shots, HRC isn’t completely giving away the 250cc single-cylinder GP bike, but the footage does give us a better idea of what the final shape of the Honda will look like, and perhaps more importantly what it will sound like. If you’re a four-stroke fan, you’ll love the video after the jump…two-stroke fanatics, probably not as much.

KTM Commences Moto3 Racing Program

12/10/2010 @ 8:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

With the demise of 125GP coming down the pipe, it comes as no surprise today that we learn that KTM has begun working on a Moto3 racing program. According to GPOne, work began on the project a few weeks ago, and is still in the early stages of its design. With all the 250cc MX, enduro, and supermoto four-stroke singles in KTM’s arsenal, the Austrian company has a surfeit of experience in making potent small displacement machines, and could be an early favorite in the 2012 opening season. The news also balances out well with the recent confirmation that KTM is working on a 250cc+ version of its KTM 125 Duke, which is destined for the American market in the next 18 months or so.

KTM 250 Duke in 18 Months

12/06/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Perhaps our only gripe with the 2011 KTM 125 Duke (besides of course that it’s not coming to America), is the too small for American roads 125cc displacement. With no graduated licensing programs to be found, unlike our European brethren, the 125cc learner format just doesn’t seem to work in our “can travel anywhere by car” society here in the United States. Not to fret says KTM though, as a 250cc or even 300cc version of the orange pocket rocket is under development at the Austrian company.

We think 250cc/300cc would be an ideal size for blasting from stoplight to stoplight on city streets, both for new riders and veteran hooligans alike, and it won’t take much to place the outwardly similarly sized motor in the KTM 125 Duke frame. Thinking along those same veins, KTM says an 18 month trail time is expected from the 125 Duke launch to when we’ll see the next larger iteration.

Bakker RM-Z250R Moto3 Contender

12/02/2010 @ 8:16 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The guys at Bakker have been busy this year, first bringing us a re-imagining of the Suzuki TL1000R, and now a turnkey Moto3 class contender. Noting that two-stroke race bikes are going the way of the dinosaur, the master frame builders at Bakker set out to make a four-stroke package that would fit into MotoGP’s Moto3 series and other 250cc single-cylinder racing classes.

Able to accomodate any manufacturer’s motor, Bakker has a Suzuki-powered model (the Bakker RM-Z250R) that’s been proven in the Open Dutch Championship (ONK) 125cc, the German IDM 125cc, and the UEM Supermono Cup. The Dutch company also has a Honda-powered unit that is ready to go for Moto3 competition when the rules switch in 2012.

Honda NRS 250 Gets a Little Brighter

11/18/2010 @ 12:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Honda continues to taunt us with its upcoming Moto3 contender, the Honda NRS 250. Shedding some more light (that would be literally, not figuratively), on the 250cc four-stroke GP racer, Honda still hasn’t released any details on the machine, but you can expect an 81mm bore and a maximum weight (with rider) of 326 lbs, per the Moto3 regulations that were recently released. Moto3 is scheduled to replace 125GP racing in 2012, but we imagine Honda will divulge info on the NRS 250 well before then. The original and super-enhanced photos of the Honda NRS 250 are after the jump.

Official Moto3 Regulations Finally Released

11/07/2010 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Announced at Valencia this weekend, the GP Commission has finally released the details on the upcoming Moto3 class, which will replace 125GP racing in 2012. Based around a four-stroke 250cc single-cylinder motor with an 81mm maximum bore size, Moto3 aims to reel in the spiraling costs of GP racing, with numerous provisions that are designed to limit how much money teams and manufacturers can sink into the sport to buy victory.

Perhaps the biggest provision designed to help lower the cost of GP racing’s intro class is the spec-ECU rule, which sees teams limited on the level of electronics they can implement, and institutes a hard-cap on the engine’s maximum RPM (14,000 RPM). With multiple manufacturers able to offer motors and chassis for the racing class, Moto3 should be more open thatn the single-motor Moto2 series. The GP Commission has included a laundry list of other provisions, you can find them bullet-pointed after the jump.

2011 Honda CBR250R – We Shall Call It…Mini-Me

10/27/2010 @ 5:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Do not adjust your computer screen, this not a revised version of the VFR1200F, nor is it the V4 adventure bike we expect Honda to debut next week, it’s not even the bastard love child from a CBR and a Cylon, it is in fact the brand new 2011 Honda CBR250R. A 250cc motorcycle for the rest of us, Honda hopes to snag new riders by offering a more practical street bike in the Japanese, European, Australian, and yes, even American markets later this spring.

Raising the bar a bit, the CBR250R comes with optional C-ABS brakes, which will like be mandatory in the European Union, if the EU Commission has anything to say about it. With performance figures coming in at 26hp and 17 lbs•ft of torque, the fuel-injected Honda CBR250R isn’t going to blow anyone out of the water, but that’s sort the point behind the quarter-liter bike, which should be more than capable of scooting around a young rider on city streets and back-road routes.