MV Agusta Looking to Part Ways with Mercedes-AMG

The story of MV Agusta continues with even more interesting developments, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer seems intent on buying back its shares from Mercedes-AMG, and recapitalizing with new investors. Talking this week to Italy’s Il Giorno, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni said that he is “negotiating a buy-back of shares,” though that might be a task easier said than done for the Italian CEO. This is because MV Agusta’s current financial predicament is due primarily from the company’s massive debt accumulation, which now totals over €40 million. To complicate matters further, some of that debt was secured by the involvement of AMG, and its investment contract stipulates that if AMG doesn’t own 20% or more of MV Agusta then the loaned sum is due immediately.

The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles: Haptic Feedback

We are at an interesting point in time for motorcycles, namely because the technological landscape for the transportation sector is shifting radically. Long-time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will note some of the issues at play here, namely autonomous vehicles, rider aids, and vehicle interconnectivity. Over the next few weeks I want to revisit those items in more depth and detail, with a series that focuses on emerging technologies that are either already permeating into our two-wheeled lifestyle, or will be hitting the motorcycle industry over the next decade or so. But before I tackle the more obvious items on this list, I want to invest some words on a lesser-known technological innovation, which has the potential to be the next, “next big thing” in the motorcycle industry.

You Already Want This Honda Grom Race Bike from HRC

Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well. Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs. To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.

Honda CBR250RR Headlight Spotted in Patents

We are literally marking time until Big Red debuts the Honda CBR250RR, the sportier sibling to the Honda CBR250R, which should rev to the moon and make more power with its two-cylinder engine. We have seen the prototype of the Honda CBR250RR already at trade shows, and the new CBR250RR is definitely on the edgier side of things, which is surprising coming the ever-conservative minds at Honda. How much of the edgy design will remain in the production version has yet to be seen, but we do have our first glimpse of some of the machine. The headlight shape has been filed with European patent offices, which is sort of a weird thing to be reporting on, but it does show insight into where Honda is headed.

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own. This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic. Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction. Time will tell on how this rumor plays out, though there are number of interesting things to consider with a BMW power cruiser.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles. As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride. With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Is BMW Working on 300cc GS Model?

When the BMW G310R arrived, the German brand indicated that the small-displacement street bike would be the first of many model based on the 313cc platform. Now it seems that the first iteration is ready to drop, with news that BMW Motorrad is working on a G310R-based adventure-touer model. According to Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, BMW Motorrad UK’s Director Phil Horton has confirmed that a BMW G310GS model will debut, perhaps in time for the 2017 model year, saying “new models aside, the line-up isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. But there are plenty more bikes to come, including, hopefully in 2017, a G310R GS-style derivative.” The idea of small-displacement ADV machine does mimic what we have been seeing from other brands.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events. The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts. Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Honda Halts Operations at Its Kumamoto Factory After Earthquakes Strike Japan

If you have been following mainstream news, you will know that the Pacific Rim has been active with earthquake activity these past few days. In addition to the devastating movements in Ecuador, Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes as well, two of which have centered on the Kumamoto prefecture of the country. If that names sounds familiar to motorcycle enthusiasts, it is because Kumamoto is Honda’s mothership for motorcycle production. As such, Honda is halting the operations of its Kumamoto factory, thru the rest of this week (ending April 22, 2016). Honda says that its subsequent production plans will be determined according to facility restorations and component supply.

Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened & What Happens Next

In case you missed it, Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati Corse for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP World Championship seasons. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed. We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

At the Yamaha Wall of Champions Induction

12/23/2015 @ 2:23 pm, by Andrew KohnComments Off on At the Yamaha Wall of Champions Induction

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What makes a champion? Is it talent? Desire? Drive? Today we had an opportunity to learn about those things from the champions themselves, as Yamaha closed out their year-long 60th Anniversary celebration by inducting twelve members into the Yamaha Wall of Champions.

The celebration occurred at Yamaha’s headquarters in Cypress, CA with much of Yamaha’s senior leadership team present. Four of the inductees came from the motocross and supercross side of the house, two were ATV champions, and six prefer the slick tires of motorcycle roadracing.

Yamaha used this ceremony as an opportunity for its employees to celebrate the holiday, to give back to the community, and to enjoy some time with factory racers, both past and present.

The mood was festive and spirits were high. A band comprised of Yamaha employees added to the festive atmosphere and a couple of food trucks ensured that everyone was well fed.

Yamaha Debuting an FZ-09 Powered Side-by-Side?

08/05/2015 @ 5:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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A teaser video from Yamaha Europe is very clear on the fact that Yamaha is getting ready to debut a sporty off-road side-by-side, for the European market and likely the American market as well.

The interesting thing, and the reason we’re talking about it here at Asphalt & Rubber, is the four-wheeled desert-shredding monster is powered by a three-cylinder engine – a peculiar choice of lumps, from the Tuning Fork brand.

Of course the only model in Yamaha’s lineup that has such an engine is the FZ-09 (that’s an MT-09 to you non-Americans), which has been the basis for the FJ-09 sport-tourer as well.

Perhaps hoping to get some more mileage, no pun intended, out of its three-cylinder engine design, Yamaha has repurposed its triple for this unique use.

We will likely have to wait a little while longer to see what Yamaha has brewing, though it does seem intriguing…if you like to sit-down and steer your adult-sized toys.

AMA Pro Racing Hires Michael Lock as a Consultant

02/13/2015 @ 10:57 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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It seems DMG has made its second smart decision in recent memory, the first being to sell its interesting AMA Pro Road Racing to the KRAVE, which started the MotoAmerica series.

What is this new “smart” decision, you might ask? The hiring of former Ducati North America CEO Michael Lock as a strategic consultant AMA Pro Racing.

Certainly a contentious name in the Ducati dealer network, one cannot deny however that Lock brought growth to DNA (not to mention Triumph) during his tenure, and that he understands the importance of branding and public perception — something DMG clearly does not have at its core competencies.

Brutus, This Is What Half an ATV Looks Like

11/15/2012 @ 3:43 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

You know that scene in Crocodile Dundee where Mick says, “that’s not a knife, this is a knife!” and whips out a big-ass bowie blade? That’s the inner-dialogue Alessandro Tartarini (of modern Lambretta fame) must have had as he designed the simply named “Brutus” motorcycle concept. Likened to being half an ATV, the main calling in life for the Brutus is to go where no other motorcycle dare dream.

Helping it achieve that lofty goal, the Brutus has a massive 750cc water-cooled single-cylinder motor, which is rated at around 50hp, and is paired with a CVT transmission. 14″ wheels are mated to Maxxis Big Horn tires, which give the two-wheeler that Bigfoot look, though we were surprised to learn that the Brutus is only one-wheel drive.

Expected to debut a production model later this year, with public availability in Spring 2013, the Brutus will come with a bevy of options, including sidecar, ski, and fire-fighting configurations. Massively over built, the Brutus is completely ridiculous in almost every way, yet the idea of monster-trucking our way through the most rugged terrain seems oddly appealing. Hrmmm…

Trakrok Concept by Alexei Mikhailov

05/23/2011 @ 5:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Trakrok Concept by Alexei Mikhailov

Well maybe it’s not strictly a motorcycle, but Alexei Mikhailov’s Trakrok concept certainly look like a lot of fun. Part quad, part snowmobile, part dirt bike, we imagine the Trakrok would be able to get us into all sorts of trouble on some of the more impassable terrain available. Featuring futuristic off-road tires up front, the real thing that catches our eye with the Trakrok is the rubber snowmobile-like independent track that replaces the rear tires.

Complimenting the angular modern design, is the idea that the Trakrok would be powered by a hydrogen power cell. A bit out there on the practical meter, we do like the design elements that Mikhailov is using here, and the Trakrok looks like something straight out of the KTM playbook (or would that be the Kiska playbook?). Angel eye headlights set-off the front, while trellis framing abounds on the frame and track supports. It might be a bit hard to find tires for the thing though. More photos after the jump.

US Motorcycle Sales up 7% in Q1 2011

04/25/2011 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The Motorcycle Industry Council is reporting that US motorcycle sales are up 7% in Q1 of 2011, with 102,547 units being sold in the year’s first three months. Leading the charge were scooter sales, which were up nearly 50% to 6,246 units, while on-road units were up as well, pushing 70,879 units in Q1 (a 6.9% gain).

Despite the strong numbers from on-road and dual-sport models, off-road vehicles did not fare as well, with ATV sales down 16% and off-road motorcycle sales down 5.5% (47,702 & 18,725 units respectively), making 2011 still a mixed bag depending on what side of the industry you are on.

Honda Sales up 28% for Q1 2010

08/05/2010 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Honda has closed its books for the first quarter of 2010, and the company’s motorcycle, scooter, and ATV sales are up 28.2% over Q1 of 2009. Selling over 2.8 million units (compare that to Q1 2009’s 2.25 million units), Honda’s sales created $3.7 billion in net sales. Honda reported $3 billion in net sales during the same time period last year. While the Asian markets powered most of Honda’s sales, North American sales were up 11% to 60,000 units sold.

Polaris Packs Up Manufacturing and Moves to Mexico

05/21/2010 @ 6:21 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

In about 18 months, roughly a thousand workers will be out of a job at the Polaris plant in Osceola, Wisconsin. In that timeframe Polaris plans to close the Osceola plant, and move its production south of the border to Mexico. The move comes about as Polaris looks to increase production efficiency (i.e. lower production costs with cheaper labor), which will then allow the company to be more competitive with its products’ positions in their respective marketplaces.

Industry Report: Have We Found the Bottom?

10/21/2009 @ 9:32 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The latest data from the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), suggests that the end of cascading motorcycle sales may be near. According to the MIC, the combined new unit sales for motorcycles, scooters, and ATVS during the past 9 months were down 40% from last year’s numbers. While still frighteningly low, these results show a 2% rebound in sales when compared to the first 6 months of 2009.

Kawasaki Offers to Buyout Workers in Nebraska

05/15/2009 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Kawasaki Offers to Buyout Workers in Nebraska

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Kawasaki, not be left out of the metric manufacturer meltdown, is offering a buyout package to 320 workers at its plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, which produces ATVs and personal water craft for Team Green. While, the buyout applies to only about 16% of the plants total 2,000 or so workers, if further costs reductions are not met then deeper cuts will likely be made.

According to Kawasaki, “rapidly declining sales” of recreational and utility products prompted the buyout, and if not enough of the employees excericse the option to have their contracts bought, then Kawasaki will “be forced to terminate some employees.” Workers at the Nebraska plant already have been working short weeks and will continue to do so for the next several months. No further comment from Kawasaki is expected until Friday, May 22. 

Source: PowerSports Business