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.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

04/05/2014 @ 4:46 pm, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

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Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012.

How different the situation looks today. The CRTs have served their purpose – to persuade the factories to help fill the grid, and supply the teams with (relatively) affordable equipment – and the reduction in costs brought about in part by the spec electronics is enticing factories back to MotoGP.

Suzuki is in full testing mode, and getting ready to return to racing full time in 2015, and Aprilia is working towards a full-time return in 2016.

In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

WSBK: Team Ducati Alstare With Checa & Badovini

11/12/2012 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

All the conjecture about Ducati’s factory World Superbike team can now come to a halt, as the Italian brand has announced that Francis Batta’s Belgian organisation, Team Alstare will take over the reigns of the company’s new WSBK effort.

At the helm of the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 will be former WSBK Champion Carlos Checa, who will be joined by Ayrton Badovini. Handling Ducati’s World Superbike campaign for the next two years, Alstare takes over from Althea Racing — a move that made headlines just a week ago.

Ducati Corse Confirms Carlos Checa & Panigale RS13 in WSBK – Hints at Factory Team for 2013

10/29/2012 @ 1:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

After the shocking news this weekend that Ducati and Althea Racing would go their separate ways, the Bologna Brand has issued its own press statement about the break-up. Confirming that it has contracted former World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa to its payroll for next season, Ducati Corse also reaffirmed its commitment to race the Ducati 1199 Panigale in the series.

Ducati Corse has yet to release its official plans to race in the series, but the writing on the wall hints towards a factory team for 2013. Citing its strong ties and good relationship with the Althea Racing team, Ducati’s press release mentions the possibility of a “cooperation between Ducati and Team Althea” that could still be “found in the future,” which suggests that Althea could come on as a satellite team for 2013, or again takeover as the factory-backed effort at a later point in time.

While Ducati’s WSBK racing effort is still very much in the air, names like Liberty Racing and Davide Tardozzi are being banded about, and it is certain that Ducati Corse is exploring every option available. What is perhaps most intriguing in the news is Ducati Corse’s reconfirmation of its plan to race the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 next season.

Team Alstare Racing an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport?

12/16/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

You can’t keep a good race team down, as talk in the World Superbike paddock this week has been swirling around the Alstare Racing team. One of several teams to be on the receiving end of Suzuki’s withdrawal from the major racing series, Alstare found its factory-support from Suzuki draw to a close at the conclusion of the 2011 WSBK Championship season. We use the words “factory support” loosely of course, as Alstare Suzuki had been developing the Suzuki GSX-R1000 almost exclusively in-house, receiving only production OEM parts from Suzuki when needed.

As Suzuki shut its doors to WSBK and MotoGP racing, in the hopes of saving money to buy its stock back from minority shareholder Volkswagen (among other things), the Alstare Team Principal Franics Batta vowed that he would race with the Japanese manufacturer, or not race at all. News then came out that linked Team Alstare to possibly taking over the Kawasaki Factory WSBK team, which would later be handed to World Supersport’s Provec Motocard Kawasaki team. Other rumors linked Batta as interested in campaigning with MV Agusta, though the Belgian team owner could not get a callback from Varese.

Progress has seemingly been made on that front though, as Alstare Racing is reportedly closing in on a deal with the Italian company to campaign an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport, with the relationship possibly growing to include an MV Agusta F4 RR in a seaon’s time.

KTM Fielding Three-Rider Factory Moto3 Team

11/28/2011 @ 9:29 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

It would be safe to say that KTM is making a serious commitment to the new Moto3 racing format, which replaces the two-stroke 125GP class in 2012 GP racing. Not only is the Austrian firm developing its own Moto3 race bike from scratch, but KTM is also helping engineering firm Kalex develop a Moto3 platform which uses KTM’s purpose-built Moto3 motor for its power plant.

Announcing that it will also field a factory team in the inaugural Moto3 season, KTM has named three riders for its factory squad. Signing Sandro Cortese, Danny Kent, and Arthur Sissis, KTM is making its debut back into entry-level GP racing a big one. The Austrian company last raced in 125GP in 2009, and with its departure, left the series to be dominated by the Piaggio Group’s Aprilia and Derbi-badged machines.

Suzuki Out of MotoGP for 2012 Season

11/15/2011 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

After watching factory rider Álvaro Bautista jump ship to Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, it looks like the shoe has finally dropped on Suzuki’s involvement in MotoGP for the 2012 season, as it is being reported that Rizla Suzuki team members were emailed Friday that the factory squad would not enter next year’s MotoGP Championship.

Suzuki had been handed an ultimatum by Dorna, demanding that the Japanese company make a decision on its 2012 involvement by Friday of last week. With nary an announcement coming forth, the signs in the tea leaves pointed to Rizla Suzuki’s departure from the series, which has been further confirmed today. Though Suzuki is said to be continuing its 1,000cc MotoGP testing program, reports peg the company’s return to GP racing as soon as 2014, if at all.

Alstare Uncertain About Suzuki WSBK Future

09/27/2011 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After going it essentially alone for the 2011 World Superbike Championship, the Alstare Suzuki team is weighing its options for 2012, as actual factory support from Suzuki for the “factory Suzuki” squad is again seeming unlikely. Releasing a “read between the lines” press release this week, Alstare has publicly put Suzuki Japan on notice over the fact that the Japanese manufacturer is expected not be developing the Suzuki GSX-R1000 further for WSBK, and will not fund Alstare’s own R&D efforts to remain competitive in the premier production-class.

As such, Alstare has been linked to other manufacturers, both in World Superbike and World Supersport, as the team is known to be one of the better run and organized squads in the WSBK paddock. Plagued with essentially running last year’s machinery with updates developed in-house, Alstare has made a lot of progress with the hand they’ve been dealt, though to run at the top of the pack would require more assistance from Suzuki.

With the Japanese company still reeling from the worldwide recession, support from Suzuki seems unlikely, though Alstare says the company is expected to make its official announcement by the Magny-Cours round this weekend. Read the full text of Team Alstare’s press release after the jump.

Kawasaki Tightening Control Over WSBK Team in 2012 – Paul Bird Motorsport Out

09/13/2011 @ 10:20 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

Kawasaki will not renew its World Superbike contract with Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM) for 2012, instead focusing on bringing the race team further under the control of the Japanese manufacturer. Kawasaki had invited bids for teams interested in the 2012 and beyond contract, and received as many as six offers. Just days ago though, Kawasaki European Race Planning Manager Steve Gutteridge indicated that a decision between PBM and current Kawasaki factory World Supersport team Provec would be forthcoming.

Now stating that is has made the decision not to renew PBM’s contract, Kawasaki’s announcement is also devoid of naming the Provec team as the bid winner. “We have enjoyed three valuable years alongside the Paul Bird Motorsport team and would like to put on record our sincere thanks for the time, effort and dedication they have shown to the Kawasaki World Superbike racing programme,” said Race Manager Ichiro Yoda, as he indicated that there would be no contract renewal.

Kawasaki’s Factory WSBK Team Down to Two Possibilities

09/02/2011 @ 12:58 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

After taking bids from teams to obtain factory backing for the 2012 World Superbike season, Kawasaki has narrowed the choices down to two teams, and will likely announce its decision next week. This season the embattled Paul Bird Motorsports team has had factory backing for riders Chris Vermeulen, Joan Lascorz, and Tom Sykes, though the results have not been spectacular, and Vermeulen has spent much of the season recovering from injuries.

With Kawasaki second to last in the Championship, the factory entertained bids from satellite Team Pedericini, the current Alstare Suzuki squad, the Supersonic Ducati team, British Superbike team MSS Colchester, and Kawasaki factory World Supersport’s Provec Motocard team. Now, the process has been narrowed down to two of those bids.

WSBK: Kawasaki Taking Bids for New Factory-Backed Team

07/20/2011 @ 5:05 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

Multiple teams have placed bids to become the 2012 factory Kawasaki racing team in World Superbike, including current factory team Paul Bird Motorsports. The five other teams include satellite Team Pedericini, the current Alstare Suzuki squad (who are less than thrilled with Suzuki’s lack of support), and the Supersonic Ducati team completing the current WSBK teams vying for factory backing. Also interested are British Superbike team MSS Colchester and factory World Supersport’s Motocard.com team.

For PBM, the process of retaining factory support is more difficult after team trucks and personnel were detained with drugs and weaponry when returning to Britian after the Assen round. Though the team said afterwards, “The team are confident that no team member has any connection whatsoever with the items discovered. No one has been detained after the time of the search and all team members are able to undertake their normal duties,” such an event certainly raised eyebrows, and likely soured with an embarrassed Kawasaki.