Honda Bulldog Concept Lets the Dogs Out in Osaka

After first showing us the Honda SFA and Honda CRF250 Rally concepts, Big Red made good on its promise for another motorcycle concept premiere at the Osaka Motorcycle Show, debuting the Honda Bulldog concept. With the face of a Ruckus, and built to “leisurely” take-on the great outdoors in an unassuming manor, the Honda Bulldog is a stout off-roader that adds a new slant to the term adventure-bike. With wide 15″ knobby tires, a 28″ seat height, and 400cc parallel-twin engine mated to a six-speed gearbox, the Bulldog certainly isn’t what you expect to see bombing down the trails, yet it sorta makes sense.

A Naked Yamaha YZF-R25 Is Coming Soon?

If you believe the reports coming out of India and Southeast Asia, Yamaha is working on a naked version of its YZF-R25 sport bike. Presumably to be call the Yamaha MT-25, the naked bike would continue Yamaha’s trend of making naked version of its fully faired sport bikes, similar to the recently released Yamaha MT-125 that is available for the European market. With images of the machine testing on public roads abounding, the MT-25 seems likely to see production, so the real intrigue will be in what markets Yamaha makes the machine available. With Honda already offering faired (Honda CBR300R) and unfaired versions (Honda CB300F) of its small-displacement motorcycle in the US, Yamaha could easily go head-to-head with Big Red with the YZF-R3 and an FZ-03 variant, based off the R3 design.

Kawasaki Applies for Electric Motorcycle Patent

Need further proof that the future of motorcycling will include electrics? Take this recently published patent application from Kawasaki, that the Japanese OEM filed for back in 2011. The claims are fairly rudimentary, though they do include a transmission, with Kawasaki’s lawyers mostly outlining the basics of a motorcycle powered by an electric motor, of course the news is less about the contents of the patent application, and more about the fact that it was applied for, in the first place. When will we see an electric motorcycle concept from Kawasaki is anyone’s guess, though there are two big motorcycle shows coming up in Japan in a couple weeks’ time. In reality, we doubt we’ll see something so soon from Kawasaki, but if the Kawasaki H2 has shown us anything, it is that anything is possible from Kawasaki right now.

Is KTM Planning a V4-Powered Sport Bike?

Why would KTM be riding around on a camouflaged Aprilia Tuono V4? That is the question of the day, after a spy photographer caught the Austrian company testing in Spain with such a machine. The answer of course points to KTM working on a V4 street bike platform, which shouldn’t be too surprising since KTM CEO Stefan Pierer already tipped the media off to the fact that it is working on a MotoGP entry that would be based around a beastly V4 engine called the RC16. While Pierer confirmed the MotoGP, as well as a track-only consumer version of the GP bike, zie Austrians have been mum about other motorcycles in KTM’s lineup sharing the new V4 powerplant.

Honda CRF250 Rally Concept Breaks Cover in Japan

Adventure riders, you prayers have been answered. Honda is set to debut a new off-road model at the Osaka Motorcycle Show, the Honda CRF250 Rally. Based off the Honda CRF250L platform, the Rally concept is basically the CRF250L with rally-styled bodywork. The Honda CRF250 Rally concept will get its worldwide debut alongside the Honda True Adventure concept, which we first saw at last year’s EICMA show. This makes for an interesting dichotomy, as the CRF250 Rally is set to look like the CRF450 Rally race bike, while the True Adventure (cough, Africa Twin, cough) borrows heavily from the race bike’s technology package. With Honda showing a 250cc ADV model and a 1,000cc model at the same show, one has to wonder when a consumer-level version of the CRF450 Rally race bike will be ready as well.

Honda SFA Concept Gets Japanese Debut

After it first debuted in Indonesia last October, the Honda SFA concept motorcycle seems to be getting serious, as Honda will be showing the up-market bike at this weekend’s Osaka Motorcycle Show and next weekend’s Tokyo Motorcycle Show. While Honda only mentions that the SFA concept is a “street-fighter style light-weight motorcycle with a single cylinder engine mounted on a trellis frame,” sources in Indonesia say the fetching small-displacement machine is built around the 150cc CB150R for that market. Whether this means that Honda will make more premium-focused 150cc machines, and bring them to markets outside of Asia remains to be seen, though it is clear that the Japanese firm is taking such an approach under serious consideration.

Bimota Racing at IOMTT with American Brandon Cretu

Italy’s favorite boutique brand will be back at the Isle of Man TT races this year, with a two rider team that includes American Brandon Cretu. Cretu and his teammate Ben Wylie will campaign for Bimota at the big four road races (North West 200, Isle of Man TT, Ulster Grand Prix, and Macau GP) on-board the Bimota BB3 superbike. This is not the first time that Cretu and Wylie have raced together, having shared a pit while at the Wylie Racing team during the 2011 and 2012 Isle of Man TT races. Though the Bimota BB3 was ruled ineligible for FIM events, the international road racing scene has no hang-ups letting the S1000RR-powered superbikes lineup on the starting grid.

MV Agusta F4 RC Leaks Again with More “AMG”

We are still waiting for the 2015 MV Agusta F4 RC to break cover officially, but the top-of-the-line superbike from Varese continues to make itself sneakily available to the public. First there were the leaked studio photos, which looked spot-on to the photos MV Agusta USA teased us with at its press launch earlier this year. Now, we have more photos of the F4 RC leaking, though with some changes to the design — namely more prominent “AMG” badging, for MV Agusta’s newest minority partner. The 2015 MV Agusta F4 RC isn’t supposed to arrive at dealerships until June 2015; and when it does, it will be in limited numbers. The F4 RC is MV Agusta’s homologation special for World Superbike and domestic superbike racing classes.

Q&A: Romano Albesiano – “We Know It Takes Three Years to Be Competitive in MotoGP”

Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano has big shoes to fill. Taking over from Gigi Dall’Igna, Albesiano must continue the legacy of success which his predecessor left for him. He got off to a good start, Sylvain Guintoli lifting the World Superbike title in Albesiano’s first year at the helm. Now comes the hard part, following up on that success and expanding into MotoGP. A small group of journalists spoke to Albesiano at the Aprilia launch in Milan. In a wide-ranging conversation, the Aprilia boss covered many topics, including explaining why the Noale firm came back to MotoGP a year ahead of schedule, touching on what the new bike Aprilia is working on for 2016 and beyond might look like, and the 2016 rules in MotoGP.

Ducati CEO Leaves the Door Open for a Scooter Model

In a recent interview by Moto.it with Claudio Domenicali, the Ducati CEO fielded a number of questions about the Italian company’s business and its relationship with its German owners (read it here in Google English), but one question was of particular interest: a Ducati Scooter. The often rumored, often debated, and often denied subject is perhaps the most feared topics for Ducatisti, and it ranks generally just below discussions on which oil to use, which tires are best, and how to break-in a motorcycle engine properly. That being said, it seems we are headed for another round of debate, as Domenicali is quoted as saying the following to Moto.it: “a scooter marked Ducati is not blasphemy.”

Brammo Empulse Delivery Delayed to 2012 – IET Coming?

05/06/2011 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Our good friend Ted Dillard from The Electric Chronicles got an interesting email from Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher this past week, in which the Oregonian company stated that it will be pushing deliveries of the Brammo Empulse back yet another year to 2012, and then fairly bluntly hinted that the revamped Empulse would be fitted with the company’s newly licensed Integrated Electric Transmission (IET).

In his email to Dillard, Bramscher states that “Brammo teams and suppliers across the globe are working hard to deliver you a motorcycle of the level of quality Brammo riders have come to expect. We had a tough decision to make recently: Deliver the Empulse this riding season, or integrate our latest technology and deliver a superior bike in 2012. After much deliberation, we decided to be true to our values and build the best bike we can.”

Brammo Engage – Electric MX & Supermoto from Ashland

05/04/2011 @ 4:02 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

A part of Brammo’s announcement that it will be entering the electric dirt bike scene, the Brammo Engage is the cornerstone of the Ashland, Oregon company’s off-road line. Featuring the S.M.R.E. designed Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET), Brammo is not only getting into the dirt bike and supermoto scene with the Engage (going squarely after players like Zero and Quantya), but is raising the ante by offering a six-speed transmission specifically designed for electric motors.

Details and specifics are still coming together about the Brammo Engage, and even the photos given to the press are of pre-production machines that are based-off S.M.R.E. prototypes. However, early speculation is that the IET system will also feature regenerative braking, another first for the Oregonian company. Photos, video, and more after the jump.

Brammo Encite – Electric Mini Moto MMX Racer

05/04/2011 @ 4:01 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Another model announced during Brammo’s intention to get into the electric dirt bike scene is the Brammo Encite. Like its larger cousin the Brammo Engage, the pre-production Encite is based off the S.M.R.E. prototype electric motorcycle, which features the six-speed Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET). Seemingly designed with racing in mind, Brammo will be entering its Encite MMX into the upcoming AMA Mini Moto SX event being held in Las Vegas — a story we broke last week.

A purpose-built race bike, there is no word on pricing yet for the pint-sized Encite, likely due to the fact that Brammo wants to gauge interest on the machine, and perhaps judge whether the mini-moto can be built in an affordable enough manner. Despite this setback, interested buyers can pre-order a Brammo Encite from the company’s webpage — Christmas is only seven months away after all.

Brammo Launches Dirt Bike Product Line – Features Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET)

05/04/2011 @ 4:00 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Well it didn’t take us long to get to the bottom of the reason as to why Brammo will be racing at the AMA Mini Moto SX in Las Vegas this week, as we speculated the Ashland-based company has got dirt bikes on the mind, and today is launching its dirt/supermoto line of electric motorcycles. Debuting with the full-sized Brammo Engage MX & Supermoto, along with the Brammo Encite MMX mini moto, Brammo has a robust off-road offering to its name now.

Behind the new product launch is another big step in the electric motorcycle industry, as the Oregonian company is debuting its new Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite motorcycles with an Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET). Developed by Italian engineering firm S.M.R.E., the IET is basically a six-speed gearbox designed specifically for use on electric motorcycles, and should help lure current ICE rides to the dark side of electrification. With today’s news, we think someone just put Zero Motorcycles on notice.

Brammo Going Racing at the AMA Mini Moto SX

04/26/2011 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The Asphalt & Rubber Bothan spies were hard at work over the weekend. Taking a break from finding ALL of the Easter Eggs in the A&R office, the Bothans did what they do best, and found the entry list to the AMA Mini Moto SX that’s going on next week in Las Vegas.

Sure enough in the paperwork was our favorite Ashland-based motorcycle company, which isn’t surprising since Brammo likes to go racing, but raises some eyebrows since you might recall the Mini Moto event is an off-road supercross-style race. Since a company doesn’t just decide to go racing on a whim, this surely must mean that Brammo has dirt bikes on the brain.

Brammo Empulse to Race at Infineon with MotorcycleUSA

04/19/2011 @ 7:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MotorcycleUSA has let it slip that it will be competing in the first round of the North American TTXGP series on-board the Brammo Empulse RR. Taking to the electric race motorcycle with be MotoUSA editor Steve Atlas, who will get the honors of piloting the Empulse RR in its first race outing (Brammo had to sit out its attempt to race a the FIM e-Power race at Laguna Seca last year after having a technical issue).

Brammo has been testing its Empulse RR for almost a year now, so the Oregonian company’s race package should be well-polished for the race at Infineon. When we saw the Empulse RR testing at Thunderhill Raceway earlier this year, the electric bike seemed capable of some good lap times, but of course we’ll have to wait and see how it compares to the competition that arrives later this May.

As for Atlas, the last we heard was that he single-handedly changing the well-earned stigma that motorcycle journalists don’t know how to ride motorcycles, which should make for some good racing for the TTXGP/AMA fans. Some photos of the Brammo Empulse RR are after the jump.

The Great Distribution Experiment is Over

04/12/2011 @ 1:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

As we write the timeline on the evolution of the electric motorcycle, the bullet points for 2011 will note a few key events, and one of them surely will be the adoption of a traditional sales distribution scheme. It’s not a sexy event, but it’s an important one in the growth of this side of the industry. You see when resourced-backed electric motorcycle manufacturers entered the scene, the idea was that a new drivetrain meant a new set of rules, and from that a new playbook was drafted. The idea of selling electric motorcycles at traditional motorcycle dealerships was abandoned, and in its place these companies tried new approaches — some clever, and some not so much.

Direct-to-consumer sales approaches, online purchasing, ad hoc customer sales leads, and even Best Buy all entered into these new models of how to get a motorcycle into a purchaser’s hands…and they all failed. It is no small feat to start a motorcycle company, and it is an even taller order to make an electric one. Not only do you have to sell your would-be-buyer on the features of your motorcycle, but you then also have to sell them on why their purchase should be an electric motorcycle, and not its ICE equivalent.

The undertaking of proving out a new method of selling motorcycles is a burden in its own right for an established motorcycle manufacturer, let alone a startup, so its failure should come as little surprise to those in the industry with this experience. It is therefore not surprising that we get news that both Zero Motorcycles and Brammo have abandoned their previous sales distribution schemes, in favor of adopting a more traditional dealer network approach.

Gas Prices by County in the United States

03/09/2011 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

In case you haven’t been to a pump recently, gas prices are getting more and more expensive lately, thanks mostly in part to the civil unrest in the Middle East (Libya in particular). While the current sticker shock on gas prices is due to temporary issues, the United States is still bracing itself for $5.00/gallon gasoline this summer, which our friends abroad would love to see in their home countries as they pay nearly double that price for only a litre of fuel. Curious to see how gas prices breakdown by state and by county? Check out this cool widget that Brammo is hosting on its website.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill

01/28/2011 @ 4:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Yesterday was a sunny day in the San Francisco/Bay Area, with weather in the mid-60’s. Just recently getting my bike back from a tune-up, I was itching for a ride and decided to pack things up early for the day, and go for a quick jaunt up to Thunderhill Raceway to gatecrash Brammo’s latest testing session with the Empulse RR electric race bike (close-up shots from Laguna Seca last year here).

Using my best ear-to-ear smile at the front gate, I rode into the paddock to see Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann shaking his head upon my arrival, and muttering something about someone posting the session’s schedule online. Always a good-sport, Wismann graciously allowed me to stick around for the remaining day’s sessions, while Brammo’s CEO Craig Bramscher definitively removed me from his Christmas card list (you’ll still get a card from me though Craig).

Kawasaki Tests Costco Sales Program

01/04/2011 @ 2:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Wholesale discounter Costco might be one of the great staples of free-market capitalism, allowing Americans to buy beef jerky in convenient seven gallon portions throughout the seasons (because you need that much jerky in your diet America). Steadfast to the rule that more must be better, it excites us to find out that Kawasaki has been testing a program since November with Costco, which sees the Japanese bike maker selling its motorcycles through 15 Southern California Costco warehouse stores. Taking place in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, several Kawasaki dealerships have been working with local Costco stores on the pilot grogram, which includes having a Kawasaki motorcycle on display (starting with Team Green’s KX dirt bikes) at the Costco stores, along with other promotional materials.