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.

Akrapovič Full Moon Concept – Starship or Cruiser?

12/09/2014 @ 6:49 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Akrapovic-Full-Moon-Concept-06

Known better for its fine exhausts, Akrapovič is starting to get into the habit of making some intriguing concept motorcycles as well.

So far the Slovenian brand has kept these bikes to a cruiser theme, perhaps to amplify the company’s message to the Bar & Shield realm that other options exist outside of their Screamin’ Eagle©®™ Patriot-Freedom exhaust cannons that are so ubiquitous in that segment.

In contrast to the current trend, Akrapovič’s designs have been sleek, and this weeks’ latest, the Akrapovič Full Moon concept continues that ideal.

Brammo eCruiser & Other Models Spied in Investor Pitch

09/23/2014 @ 4:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

brammo-product-road-map

Brammo continues to build upon its war chest of investment, and has turned to crowd-funding site EarlyShares for help in that regard. The site is targeted towards Angel-type investors, and is along the lines of a Kickstarter-style site for the wealthy and investment-minded.

The news that a company like Brammo is looking to raise more capital is nothing new, nor is it terribly noteworthy, but the documents provided to EarlyShares investors are certainly worth chewing on by two-wheeled enthusiasts.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is a diagram of Brammo’s planned model lineup, which briefly appeared on EarlyShares; and among other things, shows an eCruiser model from the Oregonian company. Boom goes the dynamite.

Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster – By Pierre Terblanche

08/15/2014 @ 5:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Confederate-X132-Hellcat-Speedster-01

The Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster is the newest motorcycle from the venerable “Southern” brand, and that’s enough of a pedigree for the machine to grace the pages of Asphalt & Rubber, but this latest incarnation of the Hellcat line also happens to be the first work by a certain Pierre Terblanche, who became Head of Design at Confederate not too long ago.

Based around the same 132 cubic inch (2,163cc) v-twin engine as the previous Hellcat models, the Speedster is good for 121hp and 140 lbs•ft of torque. The styling is true to the Confederate canon, though Terblanche’s touches can certainly be seen in the details of the machine.

Confederate C2 P-51 Fighter — Pierre Terblanche’s Latest Motorcycling Creation

12/07/2013 @ 8:12 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

confederate-C2-P51-Fighter

It has been over two years since we saw a new motorcycle from Confederate Motors, but you would be wrong to think that the boutique Southern brand has been sitting idly by all this time.

Earlier this year, Confederate added esteemed motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche to its ranks, and now we get to see the first fruition of the South African’s influence on the American motorcycle company.

Announcing today the Confederate C2 P-51 Fighter, Terblanche has created Confederate’s second-generation model of the Fighter line — no easy feat to build upon, as Terblanche calls the original fighter one of his all-time favorite motorcycle designs.

2014 Honda Valkyrie — Your Valhalla of Power Cruisers?

11/20/2013 @ 7:11 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

2014 Honda Valkyrie

As our Bothan spies had predicted, Honda has unveiled a new power cruiser for the upcoming model year, the 2014 Honda Valkyrie. Thankfully dropping its F6C designation for the more iconic “Valkyrie” name, Honda’s new machine is based around the 1,832cc flat-six engine of the Honda Gold Wing, and aims to be a stripped-down cruiser alternative to Honda Gold Wing F6B bagger.

A model that first debuted in 1996, this new Valkyrie features an aluminum twin-spar frame, a low-seat height, and will tip the scales at the curb with 750 lbs. An anti-locking braking system (ABS) will be optional for the US market, though pricing is yet to be determined by American Honda. We think the cruiser market will like the new Valkyrie, how about you?

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada – Now We’ve Seen Everything

11/12/2012 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

What happens when you take a Ducati Diavel and raid the Ducati Performance parts bin? You get the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada. After seeing the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada, it is clear that the Bologna Brand has touring on the brain, and thought that the Diavel should get some extra attention at this year’s EICMA show (although, maybe not as much as the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada, & 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R).

Designed with longer trips in mind, the Diavel Strada features improved wind protection, higher handlebars (15mm) that are also swept farther back (60mm) making for a more comfortable sitting position. Other additions include a gel seat and heated grips, as well as two auxiliary power outlets that are fed by a higher-output generator. For the pillion, a backrest has been included, and of course there is 41 liters of side luggage available.

Not exactly our cup of tea, but then again we have never been a big fan of the Diavel’s styling (riding the beast is a whole different matter though), but we imagine there are some would-be Diavel owners who would jump at the chance to tour on Ducati’s sport-cruiser. Photos and video after the jump for you intrepid souls.

2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B – A Tourer Minus the Touring

11/12/2012 @ 3:00 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

The last of Honda’s six new models for the 2013 model year (checkout our coverage of the 2013 Honda CBR500R, 2013 Honda CB500F, 2013 Honda CB500X, & 2013 Honda CBR600RR), the 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B is in a class of its own.

If the traditional Honda Gold Wing is the Cadillac of the motorcycling world, then the Honda Gold Wing F6B must be what the bike looks like with a drop-top. Taking the huge weekend touring machine, Honda has made the Gold Wing F6B more of a day-to-day cruiser…but not in a horrible Honda Rune sort of way.

Using the same chassis and 1,832cc flat-six motor that is found in the Honda Gold Wing, the 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B not only looks like less motorcycle than its predecessor, but it also sports 62 lbs in less heft than the base tourer model, for a “curvy” 842 lbs curb weight.

Coming in two models, the Honda Gold Wing F6B will cost $19,999, while the Honda Gold Wing F6B Deluxe will cost $20,999, and will include a center stand, passenger backrest, and self-cancelling turn signals. Color choices are simple: black or red. Photos and tech specs are after the jump.

The Indian Gambit – Polaris Puts Harley-Davidson on Notice

04/20/2011 @ 6:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Before yesterday afternoon, I had a hard time getting excited about Polaris. I think they make snowmobiles…but I’m not sure. This is how engaged with their brands I was, but of course this has all changed with the news that Polaris Industries, Inc. has acquired Indian Motorcycle for still undisclosed terms. Covering the business strategy side of motorcycling for the past two and a half years, I can tell you that there are few moves or decisions that strike me as truly inspired, but that events of the past 24 hours are surly Mensa-worthy.

Before I can talk about Polaris and Indian, I have to talk about another motorcycle company: Harley-Davidson. Kingdoms are fated to topple, but looking at Harley-Davdion and its dominance in the American motorcycle scene, let alone in popular culture, the legacy of the Milwaukee company seems assured to endure the test of time. So many companies have tried to be the next Harley, and all of their failures reinforce that concept that no company does “Harley” better than Harley-Davidson. Virtually creating the the legacy cruiser segment, and Harley-Davidson’s success in this regard is also the double-edged sword that is slowly prostrating the Milwaukee brand.

If I had to give one piece of advice to a company wanting to compete with Harley-Davidson, it would be real simple: don’t. Seemingly at the risk of painting itself into a corner, Harley-Davidson has refined its marketing message so thoroughly that it has honed in on a particular type of rider, and exhibits such a distinct persona of motorcycling that the company’s identity has found itself heading full-speed down a one-way street of branding. Thus the low-hanging fruit of competing with Harley-Davidson is to go after the brand where it cannot go.

Polaris Acquires Indian Motorcycle

04/19/2011 @ 3:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Polaris Industires has just announced its acquisition of the historic Indian Motorcycle company. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the deal sees one of the most historic names in American motorcycling finding a home with a major player in the motorcycle industry. The move is an interesting one for Polaris, as the company already owns cruiser and touring motorcycle manufacturer Victory Motorcycles.

According to the company press release, Indian will function as an autonomous business unit, but will likely gett help from Polaris’s engineering department, along with the obvious supply chain and purchasing power of the larger brand.

Harley-Davidson Considering an Electric Model

04/01/2011 @ 10:11 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Our favorite brand from Milwaukee continues to surprise us, as we’ve gotten confirmed reports that Harley-Davidson is considering an electric model to its line-up. Details are scarce on the project, but the company has made a poor secret out of its desire to return as an industry innovator (yes, there was in-fact a time when you could call a Harley-Davidson a trendsetter in the motorcycle industry…it just hasn’t been in this blogger’s lifetime). Likely eyeing the next big trend in motorcycling, internally the Bar & Shield brtand has been exploring the idea of an electric or hybrid ICE/electric drive train.