Polaris Acquires Electric Motorcycle Business from Brammo

Polaris Industries has acquired the electric motorcycle business from Brammo, Inc. Polaris is also acting as a leading investor in the recapitalization of Brammo, which will enable Brammo to focus exclusively on the design, development, and integration of electric vehicle powertrains. This means that Polaris will takeover building electric motorcycles at its Spirit Lake, IA production facility, and that Brammo will continue developing EV powertrains for Polaris and other OEM partners. According to its press release, Polaris will start production of electric motorcycles in the second half of 2015.

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.

Triumph Tiger Explorer Gets $15,699 MSRP Price Tag

01/13/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

When the Triumph Tiger 800 came out, speculation immediately set forth on when the British brand would build a “full-size” adventure bike. Then the 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer broke cover ahead of the 2011 EICMA show, and officially added a 1,200cc three-cylinder adventure-tourer to Triumph’s motorcycle line-up. Along with a plethora of other motorcycles, the Triumph Tiger Explorer hopes to take on the BMW R1200GS, the undisputed king of ADV riding.

Since the Tiger 800 gained favorable reviews and traction in the marketplace, the Tiger Explorer was expected to also be a market favorite for 2012…that is of course if Triumph could price the big-displacement Tiger competitively against the Ducatis, BMWs, and KTMs in the US market. Getting a $15,699 MSRP price tag, that element of our question has been answered, and sets the Triumph Tiger Explorer as the cheaper alternative in the premium-adventure market.

Spy Photos: 2013 BMW R1250GS Caught Testing

12/29/2011 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The bike that made the brand, the BMW R1200GS is about to get updated for the 2013 model year, and the Bavarians have been busy testing their new adventure bike. As such the ever questionable “spy photos” have made their way onto the interwebs, and we diligently give in to the new trend in motorcycle marketing to bring you some very clear photos of the 2013 BMW R1250GS. While the new BMW R1250GS looks ready for prime time, and is expected to be a liquid-cooled version of the now iconic GS, we imagine BMW is still surely stepping carefully with the R1250GS’s final design.

One of the best-selling motorcycles worldwide, the BMW GS has defined the now lucrative adventure-touring market segment. Accordingly, BMW must be keen on making sure the new 2013 BMW R1250GS doesn’t alienate its core constituency of GS riders. However, the German brand is surely also feeling the pressure to update its air-cooled line with water-cooled motors, as well as bringing other modern features to its motorcycles.

Even More Teasers of the New Suzuki V-Strom

06/15/2011 @ 6:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Suzuki continues to string us along with dates and teasers of its expected V-Strom replacement/update. Showing three more blurred, yet revealing, photos of the new middleweight adventure bike, Suzuki is now saying to come back to its website on June 22nd for more details on the machine.

From what we hear from our European colleagues, Suzuki has sent out invites for the new V-Strom’s unveiling, which is schedule for June 27th in Croatia — a great venue, but also a week and a half away. Whether or not we’ll get a glimpse of the machine before then remains to be seen (or more teasers for that matter), but there is at least now a definitive timeline on when this madness will conclude. More photos after the jump.

Four Images Reveal More About the New Suzuki Middleweight Adventure Bike

06/07/2011 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Rumors are still fuzzy on the upcoming release of a new middleweight Suzuki adventure bike, with there being some debate as to whether the V-Strom replacement will be a 650cc, 1000cc, or perhaps even an 800cc machine. Suzuki is pushing the adventure statement hard, which to us means that this new bike will be more off-road capable than the current V-Strom, which to us has always seemed like a sport-tourer duped into doing something it wasn’t intended to do.

With Suzuki’s US website even sporting the teaser images now, this looks to be a worldwide release; and we won’t have to wait long to find out all the details, as this Saturday should bring us more information on how the Japanese brand is finally getting on this mid-life crisis bandwagon. So far the best guess we’ve heard are new look, new chassis, and new motor. More teaser photos after the jump.

Spy Shots: Honda Crosstourer Caught Testing

05/24/2011 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The Honda Crosstourer is getting closer to production, as the Japanese adventure bike was caught testing by the eagle-eyed lens of Brenda Priddy & Company. Sans some panniers, and with a cover over the bike’s crash bars/fairings, it looks like the Honda Crosstourer has remained largely unchanged from its 2010 EICMA debut.

Based around the same V4 motor that can be found in the Honda VFR1200F, the Crosstourer looks to be fairly off-road capable, and will compete against bikes like the BMW R1200GS and Yamaha Super Ténéré. It’ll be interesting to see how the dual-clutch transmission on the Crosstourer fares in off-road duty.

You can check out the spy shots of the Honda Crosstourer over on Edmunds Inside Line.

A Better Look at the Aprilia Caponord 1200

03/01/2011 @ 9:42 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

If you were disappointed by the low-resolution/low-quality spy photo of the Aprilia Caponord 1200 (Aprilia Tuareg 1200 to some) published yesterday, then have no fear because the folks at Moto-Infos have your back, and have whipped up a photoshop of what the bike should look like when it debuts later this year at EICMA. Since the Aprilia Caponord 1200 basically is a Dorsoduro 1200 in sheep’s clothing anyways, the work here is pretty damn faithful to the image we saw just 24hrs ago.

Confirmed: 2012 Husqvarna Street Bike to Debut at EICMA

02/22/2011 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Husky fans are going to have something to talk about for the next 8 months as BMW Motorrad VP Hermann Bohrer has confirmed that the Husqvarna brand would be dipping its toe into the street bike waters with a new bike launching at EICMA later this year. Said to have German technology with Italian design, the new Husky will be a middleweight adventure bike that features a BMW F800GS parallel-twin motor that’s been increased to 900cc in displacement, which makes it not too dissimilar from the Husqvarna Mille 3 concept (shown above) we saw last year at the Italian trade show.

Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré

11/21/2010 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber was recently one of a few blogs, along with the usual suspects from the American media, to be invited out to Arizona for Yamaha’s press launch of the Super Ténéré adventure-tourer motorcycle (because we know Americans have no idea what to do with an accented “e”, think “tay-nay-ray” for pronunciation…or just cheat like us and say “ten-air-ray”). The earth is orange here in Arizona, and between the mesas and evergreen forests, Sedona makes for a picturesque setting, that’s away from the bustling metropolitans and city life. This serves our purpose well as its an ideal environment to show-off the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré against the desert’s beautiful backdrop and star-filled skies, but it also serves as the type of destination Super Ténéré owners would likely visit on Yamaha’s new motorcycle, putting us right in the shoes of the target customer.

A market segment based around compromises, adventure-tourers sit somewhere between the juxtaposition of dirt and touring bikes. Based on the idea that the journey doesn’t end where the road does, the adventure-tourer market has taken over from the Harley-Davidson crowd as the next expression of freedom on the open road. Essentially created by the BMW GS series, it is impossible to talk about adventure bikes without mentioning the GS, but other manufacturers as well have entered into this growing market, coming up with different ideas on what riders are looking for when they want to escape from the daily grind.

Built to ride both on and off the street, adventure bikes pose the unique problem of having to decide where to make the trade-offs between these two different purposes, and in this regard we find the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré, leaning more heavily to the street side of this equation than say the BMW R1200GS. As a publication that centers around street bikes generally (hence the name Asphalt & Rubber), we too lean towards the street side of that equation, making the Yamaha Super Ténéré a strong congruency to what we look for in this motorcycle segment, and a bike we wouldn’t mind adding to our stable of daily riders and long-distance tourers.

Honda Crosstourer Concept Also Explained

11/08/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Although Honda likely needed to explain its thought process more fully regarding the 2011 Honda Crossrunner, the Japanese company has also put together a quick video clip with designer Yosuke Hasegawa, and his vision behind the Honda Crosstourer Concept. The more purposeful occasional off-roader, Honda’s Crosstourer Concept takes the V4 motor from the VFR1200F, and mates it to an adventure-based platform.

We imagine the idea is that the Crosstourer picks up where the Crossrunner leaves off, and it is interesting to note how Honda’s naming scheme for both bikes encourages that idea. Cross for crossover concept, the Crossrunner is sportier with its “runner” designation, while the Crosstourer seems destined for more of a “it’s the journey, not the destination” thing with its “tourer” badge. Again don’t take our word for it, watch Hasegawa-san explain his creation after the jump.

Video: Triumph Tiger 800 & 800 XC Unedited

11/02/2010 @ 6:35 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS