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.

The #1 BMW Motorcycle Fan? — That’s a Tall Order!

08/15/2014 @ 12:36 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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I’m not complaining, but it’s been a busy week for Asphalt & Rubber’s Editor-in-Chief. Monday was spent getting back from the Indianapolis GP, where Dan and Tony once again proved how they are some of the most amazing photographers in the business, David as usually decrypted the paddock and wrote what should be considered the gold standard of daily summaries, and I…well, I tried to stay out of everyone’s way.

Finally back in California, Tuesday saw the hard drive in my laptop give up the ghost, and thus was spent knee-deep in nerdom with Scott — who knew that a #6 pentalobe screwdriver would be so difficult to find?! Wednesday was spent at the Honda CBR300R press launch, which for reasons beyond comprehension I drove to, instead of flying. Thursday meant swimming through the 800 or so emails that I neglected throughout the weeks’ activities, which just leaves me to say how is it Friday already?

Again I’m not complaining, but thank goodness it’s the end of the week. Anyhoo, I’m sure everyone has had their share of busy weeks, especially as summer is beginning to wind down. To help lighten the load, here’s a video of a giraffe that really loves himself some BMW motorcycles. If anyone asks, I’m saying a reader sent this to me…yeah…a reader…that’s what happened…

What’s Bigger: Indy Motor Speedway or Star Wars?

08/10/2014 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Since we are a bunch of stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herders, it seems only appropriate that we conclude this already slightly absurd string of articles about the size of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the only way we really know how: using equally absurd Star Wars references.

So, in the narrow overlap that occurs in the Venn diagram of MotoGP factoids and outright nerdiness, we ask you to ponder which is bigger: the IMS oval or the Star Wars universe’s iconic spaceship, the Imperial Star Destroyer?Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.

A Shameless Opportunity to Talk About Mad Max: Fury Road

07/28/2014 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Apparently there’s a new Mad Max reboot coming out, and it looks awesome. I have nothing really to say beyond that, and will argue a tenuous link to our usual content on Asphalt & Rubber because motorcycles are one of the best ways to survive the onslaught Imperator Furisoa (Charlize Theron) in George Miller’s post-apocolyptic imagination.

It’s interesting to think about Hollywood’s inclusion of motorcycles in collapse-of-civilization scenarios though. Is it because two-wheeled transportation is the best way to get around when roads no longer exist, much in the same way that Riders for Health uses motorcycles to effectively get medical aid to remote locations?

Or, is it some subliminal message that Hollywood feeds off of (and thus also helps create) that tells us society has truly fallen apart if we are riding motorcycles…much like how a movie character’s act of smoking a cigarette was used to heighten his/hers cool or mysterious persona?

I don’t know the answer to those question, but it keeps me up at night. I am the Nightrider. I’m a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!

Event Report: Dirt Quake USA

06/27/2014 @ 4:06 pm, by Sean Smith7 COMMENTS

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It’s Sunday morning and after we hit the ATM, I ask Ash to check the event website and see what time tech inspection is. In my head, its sometime around 11:15, and no bikes are to be started before 12:00 on Sunday (at the request of a local church).

Ash reports that the web site says tech inspection is from 9-10 and that the rider meeting was at 10:15. Shit. I text Thor Drake (my boss from See See Motorcycles,who is sponsoring the event), it’s 10:24. We’re in Longview, driving a borrowed Mazda B2500 that has a terrible miss, which only gets worse with more throttle.

We arrive at the scene in Castle Rock, WA. There are people in shorts riding all manner of choppers, Thor is dressed in white 12 o’clocking a slice of Sizzle Pie that Bjorn Drake affixed to a Honda ATC200, something to do with some advertising deal, but no one cares. It’s awesome.

How To Change a Tire with Zip Ties

06/10/2014 @ 4:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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ADV riders and how-to junkies take note, the following is a video on how to MacGyver a motorcycle tire on and off a wheel, while using only zip ties — it might be the most impressive thing we’ve seen in a long while.

If you already own a set of tire irons, or even better a full-blown tire-changing machine, you can feel comfortable in your purchase-making decision, because they are by far the easier solution.

But for our readers who are on a budget or do a bit of touring, the following could keep you from being stuck on the side of the road, all for the tidy sum of $1 at your local hardware store.

2014 April Fools Motorcycle Pranks Round-Up

04/02/2014 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Another year, and another April Fools Day is in the bag. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas Day, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

David had a wonderful timely piece on Red Bull acquiring the media rights to the MotoGP Championship, ousting Dorna from its position as Bridgepoint Capital cashed out its position. Red Bull has of course had its own issues in the Formula One Championship, and with energy drinks being the new tobacco, the premise was at least plausible.

Speaking of tobacco, we also ran a story about California mandating tabacco-style warning labels for motorcycles, a nod to our more libertarian readers and their growing concerns of “freedom” on two-wheels. Thankfully this story was a complete fabrication and not grounded in any truth, though maybe unfortunately for some, so was David’s piece as well.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

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Watch the Red Bull Romaniacs Enduro in Slow-Motion

03/27/2014 @ 4:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Here is a recipe for success: take a slow-motion camera, and film motorcycles doing awesome things with it. Presto! Internet gold. The folks at Red Bull did just that with their Romaniacs series. Enduro bikes taking big drops, crossing obstacles, and generally being bad ass…I feel like I don’t have to explain this video any further.

Just So We’re Clear, This is How You Market a Race Team

03/12/2014 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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The start of the AMA Pro Road Racing calendar is just around the corner, and that means manufacturers, teams, and riders are getting their PR machines in full swing. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get excited about our venerable national racing series (DMG’s shenanigans aside), but duds like this don’t help in whetting our two-wheeled racing appetite here at Asphalt & Rubber.

Just when we were about to lose all hope though, Triumph shows up and saves the day…with a little help from Jason DiSalvo and Elena Myers. Kneedragging, wheelie popping, backwheel drifting two-wheeled fun, all packaged in a well-done YouTube video that even manages to show a little personality from the riders.

We dig it, we dig it hard. A quick warning though: several orange cones were hurt during the filming of this video. Some footage may not be suitable for adult-sized children with a history of brrraaappptitus. Thanks for the tip Matt!

Video: Ducati 1199 Superleggera – The Power of Lightness

02/04/2014 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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I don’t have a good excuse as to why I want to post this video up on the site, other than the Ducati 1199 Superleggera is probably the most awesome motorcycle to come out in the past decade (apologies to any Honda DN-01 owners in the crowd).

An exercise in engineering prowess, which saw Borgo Panigale drop shed some serious weight from its venerable superbike, it should come as no surprise then that the 155kg (dry) Superleggera was a model put forth by Claudio Domenicali, a man who rose from engineer to CEO at Ducati Motor Holding.

That being said, I’m not sure we need a good excuse to fawn over the Superleggera. A magnesium monocoque frame, forged magnesium Marchesini wheels, carbon fiber rear sub-frame and bodywork (with integrated R-spec aero-kit), lithium-ion battery, titanium exhaust system with stainless steel headers, titanium bolts and fasteners…I’m sorry, what was I saying?

Dirt Quake USA is a Go!!!

01/28/2014 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Why should the boys and girls across the pond have all the fun? Dirt Quake, the most fun you can have on a motorcycle while partially clothed, is headed to America. A dirt track event that is the product of good folks at Sideburn Magazine, Dirt Quake is…well…how do you describe it…it is just different.

The event will be held at the GNC track in Castle Rock, WA on May 31st thru June 1st. See See Motorcycles is co-hosting the event, which is either a good thing, or bad thing, depending on your opinion about motorcycle Cuisinarts. It should be good fun, either way. We hope to see you there.