“Stop Sale & Stop Ride” Issued for the Polaris Slingshot

Polaris Slingshot owners should take note, as Polaris Industries issued a “Stop Sale & Stop Ride” this week for two issues found on the Slingshot. As the name implies, this special recall advises all Slingshot owners to stop riding their three-wheelers, and all Slingshot dealers to stop selling the vehicles, until the two issues are resolved. The first issue involves the ball bearings on the steering rack, which have been deemed faulty by Polaris. It’s been determined that because of the faulty ball bearings on the Slingshot, the steering system could fail, resulting in an unexpected total loss of steering. The second issue involves the roll hoops over the driver and passenger seats on the Slingshot.

Report: Honda RC213V-S Priced at ¥20 Million

According to a report made by The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second largest daily newspaper, Honda has green-lit the RC213V-S project, with a price tag of 20 million yen — roughly $170,000 USD. The Honda RC213V-S debuted at the 2014 EICMA show, and was as advertised: a MotoGP race bike with lights and mirrors added to it. Honda teased show-goers and the media by say that the RC213V-S model was only a prototype, adding more fuel to the speculation regarding whether the Japanese firm would actually produce the long-awaited model. Since its inception, price figures have been rumored and banded about, almost all of which were in the six-figure category.

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.

Leaked: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera Detail Photos

10/11/2013 @ 12:31 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Ducati-1199-Panigale-R-Superleggera-chassis

The leaks from Ducati keep coming in, and now we have our first photos of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera and its tasty details. Stripped of its carbon fiber fairings, we can see where all those magnesium, titanium, and carbon pieces reside on the Superleggera’s rolling chassis.

Asphalt & Rubber has gotten its hands on 16 detail photos of the new Ducati Superleggera, and they are waiting for you after the jump. Our apologies in advance for the insane watermarks, but some people just don’t understand the internet. Other publications should feel free to use our photos, provided they cite their source and link back to Asphalt & Rubber — easy, right?

More Video Goodness of the Ducati Superleggera

10/10/2013 @ 10:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

ducati-1199-panigale-r-superleggera-tease

Sure to be the talk of EICMA, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera is slowly leaking out from Borgo Panigale. We already broke the news about the Superleggera’s 220hp crank horsepower, and the “superlight” superbike’s insane weight trimmings. Looking at the special parts that comprise the Superleggera, it is not hard to see how Ducati dropped 40 lbs from the bike’s mass.

A magnesium frame/headstock, a carbon fiber rear subframe, magnesium wheels, titanium bolts, tungsten inserts on the lightened crankshaft, titanium/carbon fiber exhaust cans…we could go on with our pairings of motorcycle parts and elements from the periodic table.

Ducati hopes to whet our appetites with this machine with a proscribed trickling of information and media. We don’t like that idea too much, so here are eight unreleased teaser videos of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera from Ducati’s invite-only microsite. Don’t ask how we got them.

Are You The Ducati Monster 1200?

10/07/2013 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

ducati-monster-1200-tail

At the German Auto Show, the Boys from Bologna debuted the Ducati 899 Panigale, a “super-mid” version of the Italian company’s superbike platform. A bit too big to be a supersport class machine, the 899 Panigale should however be fun on the track, in a vein that is similar to the Suzuki GSX-R750 and MV Agusta F3 800.

That premise will have to remain as conjecture for us though, as while Ducati’s chosen few are currently gathered in Bologna right now for the press launch of the 2013 Ducati 899 Panigale, Asphalt & Rubber was not among those who crossed the pond for the launch and test ride. Not to worry though, we should start hearing the initial impressions from journalists shortly.

Meanwhile, we can turn our attention to the machines that Ducati has yet to debut to the public, though will be shortly. A&R broke the news last week about the upcoming Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera, and we have already seen spy photos of the Ducati Scrambler (said to be a 2015 model, if it gets the production nod), and a liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

Coming Soon: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera

10/04/2013 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen Beeler64 COMMENTS

Ducati-1199-Panigale-cover

Ducati has gone to great lengths so that you won’t know this, but our sources have confirmed to us that in about a month’s time, the Bologna Brand will debut perhaps the most ostentatious machine ever to come from the Borgo Panigale factory, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera. An ultra-exclusive version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, the Superleggera edition is exactly what its Italian name suggests, a super-light version of the Panigale R.

With the Panigale R already the lightest sport bike to ever come from Ducati, the Panigale R Superleggera goes even further, employing titanium, carbon fiber, and magnesium throughout the machine to drop its curb weight by an additional 40 lbs. Ducati isn’t stopping there though.

Heavily reworking the 1,199cc Superquadro engine, the engineers at Bologna have bumped the bike’s peak horsepower figure, somehow finding a way to shoehorn 220hp into the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera.

It’s ok if you need to take a minute to readjust yourself in your chair before reading further — we’ll wait.

Say Goodbye to MotoGP Racing at Laguna Seca

09/29/2013 @ 6:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

laguna-seca-motogp-daniel-lo

Ever since Indianapolis Motor Speedway re-signed to host the MotoGP Championship, the writing has been on the wall for GP racing at Laguna Seca. The tiny coastal track in California is a favorite amongst the riders, mostly for how different it is compared to the computer-designed Grand Prix circuits in Europe, but that distinction has also always been the Achilles heel of Laguna Seca.

While the circuit provides fans with the unique ability to get close to the racers in the paddock, as well as great general admission vantage points for watching the racing action on the track, Laguna Seca is only able to do so because of its low attendance figures, and generally campy approach to hosting motorcycle racing.

Looking for a more polished GP experience, one which would be more consistent with how MotoGP operates in Europe and other venues, Dorna has always viewed Laguna Seca as the black sheep of GP racing circuits. Looking now to push MotoGP more into developing regions, Dorna’s current holding of three American GP rounds seems to make less sense, and thus something has to give.

With drafts of the 2014 MotoGP Championship calendar circulating at the Aragon GP, and with World Superbike meeting this weekend in Laguna Seca, all but the official announcement itself has made its way through the two camps. As such, multiple confidential sources have reported to Asphalt & Rubber that MotoGP will not return to Laguna Seca, despite the track’s contract with Dorna for next season.

The Most Awesome Thing You Will See Today

07/22/2013 @ 8:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

luke-yoda-marc-marquez-valentino-rossi-star-wars

Regular readers will know that Asphalt & Rubber is littered with Star Wars references — we are a bit dorky like that. Speaking for myself, I am an equal opportunity sci-fi nerd, giving healthy viewing times to the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5 franchises, just to name a few (David for some reason enjoys Farscape…no one is perfect).

If you read enough of our articles, a Boba Fett, Deathstar, or Bothan Spy reference is more than likely to crop up (dear I say, they are even expected??!) — so for the kids who were cool in high school: deal with it.

With that disclaimer being said, we bring to you the most awesome thing you will see this Monday: Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi photoshopped into the iconic movie frame of Yoda mentoring Luke Skywalker in the swampy forests of Dagobah. Thanks for the tip Gigi!

Rumor: Ducati Scrambler Cometh

07/08/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

ducati-scrambler

While I was lounging at the pool this holiday weekend, getting my bronze on, the A&R Bothan Spy network was hard at work dumpster diving, hacking emails, and subscribing to the NSA’s live PRISM feed.

The fruits of that labor was the alarming realization of how many kitten videos the motorcycle industry collectively watches in a single day, and the fact that Ducati is working on scrambler-style motorcycle.

The project itself dates way back when Pierre Terblanche was still toiling away in Bologna, dodging equal portions of labor strikes and carbonara, and at the time was based around the now defunct Ducati Sport Classic.

Shelved, and thought never to see the light of day, we can only imagine this whole Hipstacyclist™ movement has helped Ducati rethink its position regarding a scrambler.

MV Agusta F3 800 Coming in June

05/16/2013 @ 3:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

mv-agusta-f3-800

If we had to summarize MV Agusta’s new model plans right now, we would classify it as a “no stone left unturned” approach, as the Italian brand seems committed to make every possible iteration of machine from its common parts bin of motorcycles.

Debuting the MV Agusta F3 675 three-cylinder supersport in 2010, and finally bringing it to market in 2012, the Varese brand is set to bring another iteration of the F3 to market, the MV Agusta F3 800.

As the name implies, MV Agusta will use its 800cc three-cylinder engine, which can be found on the MV Agusta Brutale 800 and the still-not-released MV Agusta Rivale 800 as well.

Mission Motorcycles: The Mission R Lives??!

05/07/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Mission-Motorcycles-Teaser

Mission Motors tweeted out something interesting just a moment ago, a link to a new website for Mission Motorcycles. Teasing there a photo of the Mission R, it would seem that the electric superbike that does competitive AMA Supersport lap times at Laguna Seca, is finally set to come to production.

The stars have been aligning these past few months for such an occasion, with rumors that an old Mission Motors investor was back in the mix, and looking to bring the Mission R to production. You may recall that Mission Motors made a course correction away from the two-wheeled world, focusing instead on supplying the automotive world with electric-drive components.

That change of course saw the departure of two Mission Motors founders, and the heartbreak of two-wheeled enthusiasts, petrol and electric alike, who wished to see the Mission R come to market. With layoffs reported at the San Franciscan startup just six months ago, it would seem more changes are afoot for the EV company, but we think you will like the sound of this.

Gabriele del Torchio Leaving Ducati for Alitalia?

04/15/2013 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Gabriele-Del-Torchio-Ducati

I thought I could hold onto this one over the weekend, but I guess I was wrong. Asphalt & Rubber, along with several other publications it would seem, have gotten news that Gabriele del Torchio, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, could be leaving the company for a position with Italian airline Alitalia.

Still an unconfirmed rumor at this point, Del Torchio’s move would mark the end to a major chapter in Ducati’s history, as the Bologna company has flurished under the Italian’s command. Though this transition that has been hinted at since Audi AG bought Ducati Motor Holding from Investindustrial, the news perhaps isn’t surprising, but it does raise some interesting question marks for the future.