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.

“Scratch” Ducati Scrambler by Officine Mermaid

01/28/2015 @ 2:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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The second of three custom Ducati Scrambler designs unveiled at the Verona Motor Bike Show, “Scratch” by Officine Mermaid is perhaps closer in design to what we connote when thinking about a scrambler motorcycle, than say the design we first showed you by Deus Ex Machina.

Stripped down to only the bare essential pieces of metal, treated to look more rustic than its birth certificate implies, and complete with taped-over headlight, we have some “Grade A” hipster bait right here from Dario Mastroianni and his crew.

“Hondo Grattan” Ducati Scrambler by Deus Ex Machina

01/26/2015 @ 3:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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At the Verona Motor Bike Expo, Ducati presented the first customized Ducati Scrambler models. As you may remember from our review, this $8,600 machine is pitched with a heavy lifestyle component, and Ducati hopes that fat margins on t-shirts and jackets will overcome the thin margins on the model itself. To that end, the Italian company has gone to great trouble in making the Scrambler “cool” for the younger “post-authentic” crowd.

As such, Dario Mastroianni (Officine Mermaid), Filippo Bassoli (Deus Ex Machina), and Nicola Martini (Mr. Martini) were given the first crack at modding Ducati’s newest model. The results have been interesting, and first up on our pages is the “Hondo Grattan” by Filippo Bassoli and the Deus Ex Machina crew in Milan.

Bienville Legacy – From the Mind of JT Nesbitt

10/28/2014 @ 9:28 am, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

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The Confederate Wraith is perhaps one of our most favorite custom motorcycles ever produced, and it happens to be the product of JT Nesbitt’s supreme imagination.

Working now out of his own shop, Bienville Studios, Nesbitt has produced the first of his ultra-premium, tailor-made, American-born motorcycles, dubbed the Bienville Legacy.

Beyond the radical lines, there is the familiarity of things like the Wraith’s carbon fiber girder front-end style, the Motus MST’s V4 engine, and…that is about it.

The rest of the Bienville Legacy motorcycle is unlike anything else on the market, which should surprise no one considering its source (Nesbitt) and the fact that Bienville is setting out to make commissioned bespoke machines for its patrons.

Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster – By Pierre Terblanche

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

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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.

Ariel Ace – A Very Expensive Honda from England

06/25/2014 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The wait is over to see the return to two-wheels by British marque Ariel, as the firm has debuted its very exclusive Ariel Ace motorcycle. Built around a clever modular design, something we have talked about at length here, the Ace is really more than just one motorcycle, and Ariel plans on making each bike bespoke to its customer’s wishes.

At the center of every machine is the 1,237cc V4 engine from the Honda VFR1200F, which is good for 170hp, with 95 lbs•ft of peak torque. Because the VFR’s engine is being utilized by Ariel, the British brand offers a dual-clutch transmission as one of the Ace’s many available options.

Would-be owners will have to decide a number of other options as well, most importantly what kind front-end suspension they wish to run. Ariel offers a traditional upside down Öhlins fork setup, but to be truly unique on the road, the Ariel Ace has an available custom girder suspension setup with an Öhlins TTX at its core. Rear suspension is supplied by Öhlins as well.

Holding everything together is a beautiful aluminum trellis frame, comprised of six sections that are machined to life from billet. Anodized to fit a customer’s tastes, the modular chassis design also has mounting points for a variety of options and accessories, such as different bodywork, fenders, fuel tanks, handlebars, rearsets, seats, and wheels.

Harley-Davidson XR1200TT by Shaw Speed & Custom

06/16/2014 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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While we collectively take a ponder on what to do with the electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle that will be in the next Avengers movie, here’s another interesting twist involving the Bar & Shield brand.

We’re not usually ones for cruisers, but the Harley-Davidson XR1200TT from Shaw Speed & Custom tickles our racing inclinations the right way, and makes us remember when Harley-Davidson’s name was synonymous with road racing.

As the name implies, the project started from a Harley-Davidson XR1200. SS&C then added its own custom-built exhaust, along with a Screamin’ Eagle tuner and breather — good for roughly 100hp at the rear wheel.

Completing the look is suspension from Öhlins, wheels from Dymag, brakes from Brembo, while the bodywork is a conversion from SS&C’s own Bonneville streamliner design. Add a custom tail and seat, and you have the XR1200TT.

It all sounds rather simple, but the finished product deceives the time and energy that Shaw Speed & Custom put into the design. This bike looks like it could have rolled right out of Milwaukee, and it puzzles us as to why Harley-Davidson recently stopped selling the XR1200, let alone never built upon the model’s popularity after its debut.

We will keep pondering all that, but in the meantime, enjoy photos of the Harley-Davidson XR1200TT by Shaw Speed & Custom. It might be a Harley we’d have to have in our own garage.

Ducati Elite II Café Racer by Moto Puro

03/05/2014 @ 3:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1199 Panigale is perhaps the pinnacle of technology for sport bikes from Bologna, Italy. With 195 horses of fury, and a positively anorexic dry weight of 367 lbs, the spec-sheet racing for the Panigale is intriguing, if getting around a race track the absolutely fastest way possible is your primary goal.

But what if you enjoy the finer things in your Ducati life as well? In that case, the brains at Moto Puro might have just the thing for your Desmo addiction: the Ducati Elite II.

To build the Elite II, the Dutch builders of Moto Puro took a Ducati 1199 Panigale S, and stripped the machine down to its Superquadro engine and electrical components. From there, those crazy Dutchmen built a café racer style motorcycle, complete with tubeless wire-laced wheels on single-sided swingarm.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Toubkal by Affetto Ducati

02/14/2014 @ 4:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Today is Valentines Day, and if you haven’t found that special someone to love and pamper tonight, don’t worry A&R has a date all lined-up for you. A sexy redhead, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Toubkal by Holland’s Affetto Ducati is perhaps one of the cleanest MTS1200 build we have seen in a long while.

Tastefully done with metallic red, black, and silver paint, the Toubkal looks like something that could have come from Borgo Panigale, had the Italians dared to build a bike with such flash.

Equipped to go where the sidewalk ends (Toubkal is the highest mountain peak in the Atlas Mountains of Southwest Morocco), the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Toubkal features tubeless spoked wheels, proper panniers, and heavy duty crash protection.

Affetto Ducati gets bonus points for the subtle meshing over the vents, stunning paint job, and carbon fiber windscreen, which add a bit of “show” to the Multi’s already stout “go” — we might be rethinking our V-Day plans after seeing this, how about you?

BMW R90 Interceptor – The Last RAD Bike

01/20/2014 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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For the past week or so I have been stooped over in a depression, because after hearing the news that Radical Ducati would be shutting its doors after 15 years of incredible custom motorcycle building, I am just not sure if life is worth living. That’s a bit of hyperbole of course, but we are, like many, selfishly saddened to see that Pepo and Reyes will be moving onto bigger and better things.

So, it is with some irony that we bring you the last motorcycle to come from Radical Ducati — ironic because the machine is not one of RAD’s mix-matched Ducati’s, which has given the small Spanish firm such notoriety, but instead the motorcycle is a BMW, with the same unique style and flare. Dubbed the BMW R90 Interceptor, the machine is a joint project between Radical Ducati and MaxBOXER.

Radical Ducati Closes Shop

01/12/2014 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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After 15 years of making unique Ducati street bikes, Radical Ducati has announced the closing of its doors. The Spanish firm has made a name for itself by building custom Ducatis from various pieces of the Ducati parts bin, but now Pepo and Reyes are off for new adventures. We will miss their unique flare for design, but wish the folks at Radical Ducati all the best in their future endeavors.