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.

Race Highlights from the 2014 Macau GP

11/21/2014 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The 48th annual Macau Grand Prix was underway this past weekend, rounding out the 2014 road racing season, all the way on the other side of the world from the normal Irish and Manx roadways.

As much of a spectacle as its European counterparts, the Macau GP is set in the downtown area of the Special Administrative Region of Macu, and is proper elbow-to-elbow motorcycle racing.

A spectacle to see with the tight corners and dense cityscape, we regrettably didn’t cover the race this year due to a communication error on my part with our correspondent (my pay has been docked accordingly).

To try and at least make up for that error, we have for you the video highlights of the race, which Stuart Easton won quite comfortably, bringing his tally of Macau GP wins up to four now.

KTM Posts 26.8% Sales Increase for Q1 2014

04/17/2014 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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KTM continues to have successful quarterly sales reports, as the Austrian company has announced that its Q1 2014 sales are up 26.8% over last year’s figures. Moving a total of 32,994 KTM-branded vehicles worldwide, the Austrian brand was assisted in that figure by Bajaj, which sold 2,748 KTM 200 Duke & KTM 390 Duke motorcycles in India.

For that bump in sales, KTM reports that quarterly revenue was up 20% over Q1 2013, for a total of €196.9 million. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came to a total of €14.6 million, up a whopping 254% over last year.

ADVers, Your 250cc Prayers Have Been Answered

02/26/2014 @ 11:14 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Five years at this game now, and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what the reaction to an article will be before it’s published.

With big-displacement ADV bikes, there are invariably those who arrive, deploring the unnecessary weight and size of the machine in question, and who adamantly believe that 450cc is all you will ever need off-road (let’s side-step the whole “two-strokes vs. four-stroke” debate on this one).

This group always seems to miss the point though: that one would not want to travel hundreds (if not the thousands of miles we did on our Broventure) on the wooden saddle of a dirt bike — I already cringe at the thought of the handlebar buzz as well.

As cumbersome as a big ADV bike is off-road compared to its dual-sport brethren, they get the job done well enough, without sacrificing too much on the macadam while loaded to the gills. This is what we call compromise

That doesn’t change the fact that these detractors are somewhat right though, it’s high time that motorcycle manufacturers built smaller, lighter, and more comfortable ADV bikes of the sub-800cc variety. Well, one finally has: China’s Zongshen has just debuted its 250cc Zongshen RX3 adventure machine, for your touring pleasure.

Were These the Luckiest Guys at the Macau GP?

11/25/2013 @ 3:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Proper road racing is a dangerous game, as the spectacle unfolds upon all of the uncertainty that comes with public roads, rather than the controlled environment of a proper closed-course racing circuit.

The competitors you find at events like the Irish road races, the Isle of Man TT, or the Macau Grand Prix are a unique breed to be doing what they do, where they do it; and if you talk to many of them, the prospect of an untimely ending is something that has already been factored into the cost of what that choose to do.

No one goes looking for an early death, of course, but the realities of the situation are ever-present. Just last year, Luis Carreira lost his life while qualifying at the Macau GP, a reminder of how dangerous the armco-laced Guia race track can be for motorcyclists.

Thankfully the 2013 Macau Grand Prix was without major incident, but we did have a close-call on the first lap between Horst Saiger and Marc Fissette. The event’s photographers captured the contact and subsequent crashes with their cameras, giving us a frame-by-frame perspective into what was thankfully just a bad day at the office for these two riders.

Watch the 2013 Macau Grand Prix Right Here

11/18/2013 @ 7:12 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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What? You mean the 2013 Macau GP wasn’t on your television, despite the fact you get like a billion channels nowadays? And one flying-lap is simply not enough to ease your motolust?

Don’t worry, if you missed the road racing action this weekend in China’s Special Administrative Region, we’ve got your back. Someone in China has broken the Great Firewall, and uploaded the race to YouTube.

The racing is fierce on this nearly four-mile long circuit, and the fairytale ending is worth the price of admission alone. Enjoy over an hour of racing coverage.

GyroCam: Take a Flying Lap Around the Macau GP Circuit

11/17/2013 @ 2:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The Macau GP is just nuts, let’s just get that thought out and up front. A proper road race on, you know, the road…it boggles the mind to think that competitors at Macau share the circuit’s near four-mile course length with each other, unlike the Isle of Man TT’s single-rider time trial format.

This of course means riders are angling for apexes with each other, all the while there is virtually no run-off to be seen. No margin for error, triple-digit speeds, and 200+ horsepower machines — like we said, the Macau GP is just nuts.

Don’t just take our word for it, have a look for yourself with this excellent on-board footage from eighth-place finisher Didier Grams and his gyros-stablized camera. It’s epic to watch the armco go flying by while this talented German rider does his thing.

Ian Hutchinson Wins the 2013 Macau GP

11/16/2013 @ 11:23 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Defying the odds against him, Ian Hutchinson has won the 2013 Macau GP, beating fierce competitor Michael Rutter in the shortened race. Hutchinson took the lead from Rutter on the fourth lap of fifteen, though a crash on the eleventh lap by Dean Harrison brought the Macau GP to an early end.

Thankfully Harrison was unhurt by the crash, though his bike was in the middle of the course, and forced race officials to red flag the race. Despite the premature ending, there can be no question that it was Hutchinson’s day, as the man from Bingley had a solid two-second gap over Rutter.

Coming off an eighteen month recovery period, Hutchinson’s win reconfirms the young Yorkshireman as a true talent in road racing, with today’s Macau GP win adding another impressive entry on Hutchinson’s already illustrious resumé, which includes a clean sweep of the 2010 Isle of Man TT’s five solo-class races.

“It’s probably one of the most special wins I’ve ever had with what’s gone on in the last few years, but hopefully now I can move on to carrying on back where I left off three years ago,” said Hutchinson after the race.

Ian Hutchinson Takes Pole Position for Macau GP

11/15/2013 @ 7:13 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The Macau GP is this weekend, and it is already shaping up to be a great event after today’s qualifying. Normally this is a race that Michael Rutter dominates (the Brit has eight Macau GP race wins to his name), but this year sees a new name on the leaderboard at the conclusion of the two qualifying sessions: Ian Hutchinson.

The only man to ever win all five solo races at the Isle of Man TT, Hutchinson was all the talk in 2010, but the Bingly man has seen his last two seasons hampered with tough recoveries from leg injuries.

Though finally healthy, many were beginning to wonder if Hutchy had lost his pace on a motorbike — his performance today on the Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1 has ended that talk though.

2014 Honda CBR300R Breaks Cover in China

10/17/2013 @ 4:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Not content to have only the Honda CBR250R as its small-displacement offering, Honda Motor Corp. announced at the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition in Chongqing yesterday that the 2014 Honda CBR300R would be its latest “world model” motorcycle, with production set to start at Honda’s Thailand factory.

Details on the small-displacement motorcycle are next-to-nonexistent, with Seiji Kuraishi, Chief Operating Officer for Honda China simply stating that “Honda is exhibiting the world premiere of the CBR300R, a global motorcycle model for which Honda is planning to begin production in Thailand in the future. The market introduction of this model in China will be discussed in the future.”

Honda Motorcycle Sales Down 5% in 2012

01/28/2013 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Honda Motor Co. has reported its 2012 sales figures, with the Japanese behemoth showing a 5% sales drop for 2012, when compared to 2011. Selling 15.6 million units last year, Honda made progress in its home country Japan (+1%), as well as in North America (+25%) and Europe (+22%).

However in Honda’s most volume-heavy markets, the company suffered modest loses: South America (-14%), Asia (-5%), and China (-1%). With three out of four Honda motorcycles being sold in Asia, the region’s 5% dip essentially assured the Japanese company’s sales loss for the year.