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.

A Shameless Opportunity to Talk About Mad Max: Fury Road

07/28/2014 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Apparently there’s a new Mad Max reboot coming out, and it looks awesome. I have nothing really to say beyond that, and will argue a tenuous link to our usual content on Asphalt & Rubber because motorcycles are one of the best ways to survive the onslaught Imperator Furisoa (Charlize Theron) in George Miller’s post-apocolyptic imagination.

It’s interesting to think about Hollywood’s inclusion of motorcycles in collapse-of-civilization scenarios though. Is it because two-wheeled transportation is the best way to get around when roads no longer exist, much in the same way that Riders for Health uses motorcycles to effectively get medical aid to remote locations?

Or, is it some subliminal message that Hollywood feeds off of (and thus also helps create) that tells us society has truly fallen apart if we are riding motorcycles…much like how a movie character’s act of smoking a cigarette was used to heighten his/hers cool or mysterious persona?

I don’t know the answer to those question, but it keeps me up at night. I am the Nightrider. I’m a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!

Get Excited for “On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter”

05/13/2014 @ 12:56 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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I have had to zip my lips for far too long about this project, but A&R can finally tell you about On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter – the sequel to the famous documentary of a similar name.

A project by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown, the man who filmed the original On Any Sunday, this next installment follows a variety of amateur and professional racers and enthusiasts, from a broad-spectrum of two-wheeled disciplines.

Fund This Documentary: “It’s Something Inside”

02/24/2014 @ 3:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Last month, our friend John Shofner (you may have seen some of his work on A&R already) sent us a link to a project he was working on, and we couldn’t wait for it to become a reality.

So finally, we can talk about the full-length documentary, It’s Something Inside, that Shofner Films hopes to produce, which will tell the story behind America’s two-wheeled petrol racing culture.

To help raise the $400,000 that the It’s Something Inside project will need to produce the film, John has turned to the crowd-sourcing platform of Kickstarter.

If funded (your contributions only get collected if John meets his fundraising goal), and once completed, Shofner Films will then pitch the film to various film festivals, with the hope of ultimately getting a theater or TV deal for the film.

As you can tell from the trailer above, and the stills after the jump, John has a great photographic eye; and his previous work, including a documentary of the karting scene, shows his immense talent in storytelling as well.

We are pretty pumped to see this project go forward, and if you are too, we hope you will contribute some money towards his Kickstarter fund. Count us in for a couple bucks John!

Yamaha Riding Academy and the Story of Hidenobu Toh

11/17/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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You may remember the well-done short film that Yamaha Racing put together recently about Kazutoshi Seki, the man behind the electronics of Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP race bike, and how great of a job Yamaha did in portraying someone in the MotoGP paddock that you likely have never heard of, but whose contributions are so vital to what happens on the race track every weekend.

Well today we bring you an earlier installment of Yamaha’s “Moving You” series, from which that video came from, and which instead focuses on the Yamaha Riding Academy (YRA) and its Chief Instructor Hidenobu “Concorde” Toh.

A film about the work that Yamaha does beyond just selling motorcycles, it highlights the fact that YRA primarily deals with police forces around the world, and that Toh-san is responsible for teaching the motorcycle officers both basic and advanced riding techniques, which will serve them in the line of duty, and could make the difference between life and death.

As the video explains, this is a high-stakes training effort, as many of the countries involved use officers on motorcycles for their most dangerous assignments. In that regard, Toh-san and his instructors are tasked with giving these officers the tools they need to not only perform their jobs, but to also come home safe from assignment.

Like its MotoGP counterpart, it is well-told story that focuses on the work of one individual, and how that person contributes to a larger effort. It also happens to be a great eleven-minute distraction from your weekend, which we think you will enjoy.

Trailer: Why We Ride

10/23/2013 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Though the trailer to Why We Ride has been around for some time now, we have been getting emails about the two-wheeled documentary ever since its limited screening at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida. Encompassing every form of the motorcycling lifestyle, all accounts we have heard about the film say its a feel-good movie with a positive message about motorcycles. Think of it as a recruitment film for future motorcyclists.

Screenings of Why We Ride are limited though, with the movie set to debut in New York and Los Angeles, and with future screenings being held in the Southern California area. Hopefully the Why We Ride team can add other locales to the list. If they want to have a screening in San Francisco, Asphalt & Rubber is down to help with that. The trailer is after the jump. Enjoy!

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Video: Road Warriors 2012

02/13/2013 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Self-described as an “all access behind the scenes with the fastest riders in America,” Road Warriors is a documentary that follows five riders in the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship over the 2012 season: Josh Hayes, Danny Eslick, Melissa Paris, Elena Myers, and Austin Dehaven.

In a series that desperately needs to promote the sport and the riders within it, Road Warriors looks to be a much needed shot in the arm for AMA Pro Racing. We hope the full-length documentary is just as good as the trailer, and that it helps generate some buzz for the 2013 season. Check it out after the jump, and be sure to follow the film’s Facebook page.

Grand Prix Racer – A Documentary on the Manx GP

01/29/2013 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you haven’t seen TT3D: Closer to the Edge, the documentary about the Isle of Man TT, then you owe it to yourself to beg, borrow, or steal a copy for your viewing pleasure (we enjoyed it greatly at our viewing at the Isle of Man). A follow-up to that venerable film (no, not this), from the Isle of Man comes Grand Prix Racer, a documentary that covers that other race over the Snaefell Mountain Course: the Manx Grand Prix.

Originally a race for amateurs that was designed to help introduce them to the TT, the Manx GP runs on the same 37 mile course as the TT and uses the same time trial format. Building its regulations to cater to older machinery, the Manx Grand Prix has just recently gone through a brand and format restructuring to make it more of a “Classic TT” event, helping differentiate the autumn race from its summer counterpart.

The restructuring is surely due to the hope by the Isle of Man government to make the Manx Grand Prix as much of a headline and destination event for motorcycle enthusiasts as the TT, and to aid in that effort the island nation has, followed-up the progress made by TT3D by producing Grand Prix Racer.

With a one-hour version of the film set to air on Britain’s ITV4 network on Tuesday, February 5th at 8pm, the film will also be made available to international broadcasters (cross your fingers America). A DVD of the film will be available March 4th. Check the trailer out after the jump.

This Isn’t a Motorcycle Commercial, But It Should Be

02/08/2012 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

For the uninitiated readers of Asphalt & Rubber, I have an axe to grind with the way OEMs market our sport, lifestyle, and culture. For an industry that centers so heavily around the idea of personal freedoms and individuality, the way motorcycle brands engage motorcyclists is appalling.

Often creating cheap one-dimensional campaigns that feed into the most base stereotypes available, it is rare to find any sort of marketing campaign that touches on the nerves of why we ride motorcycles. We’ve seen the car. We know it exists. And yet, we choose to ride motorcycles. Think about it.

If what is after the jump costs 10x what a normal cheap YouTube flick from (insert OEM here), then I’ll take 10x less marketing material from any motorcycle manufacturer if what I do end up seeing looks this good, and actually has this much substance. Like the Escapism short we debuted by friend Barry Munsterteiger, this film Joy Ride by Sandro has the same level of quality and storytelling we need to publish in the industry.

For bonus points, it shows that motorcyclists are real people with depth and character; and for ultra-bonus points, the star of the film is some guy named Mark Miller.The only thing that I hate about this video? It was made to promote a new digital SLR camera, not a motorcycle. Wake up people.

Trailer: Quick – Now We Get It…Sorta

01/27/2012 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Back in May of last year, we brought you the trailer for the Korean movie Quick (allegedly set to be released under the name Fast in the United States). Other than featuring a BMW S1000RR, we had no idea what was going on in the original trailer, though we certainly were intrigued. Thankfully, an updated trailer has been released that actually unfurls the plot line a little bit more for us, and we can get an idea about what the Quick, Fast, but not Fastest, movie thing is about.

Already out in South Korea and Japan, Quick will debut in Singapore next week on February 2nd, however there is no date for the US market premiere at this time (sad trombone). Could a foreign film supplant such masterpieces as Biker Boyz and Torque as the definitive motorcycle action movie of our time? We don’t know, and only time will tell. Can someone send us a copy of this though? Thanks for the tip Rick!

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Video: “Solus” by Lossa Engineering

08/08/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

After we brought you Barry Munsterteiger’s “Escapism” short, we got an email from Jay LoRossa at Lossa Engineering, sharing with us his company’s “Solus” film, which also takes us back to the original question as to why we ride motorcycles, and begs an answer to our postulation as to why OEM promotional videos are not this well done. Featuring Lossa Engineering’s Yamaha SR500 Café Racer, “Solus” is a movie about a man who finds the only moments of solitude in the busy city occur at night.

Riding alone on the streets of Los Angeles, which would normally be pack and busy during the day, there is that same message here that when you are on a motorcycle, you are alone with yourself, the bike, and the moment. The video is well shot, and tells a story that we think any motorcyclist can relate to about riding. It probably helps as well that Jay’s work is drool-worthy, and his custom SR500 sounds great over Beethoven’s 7th symphony. Watch it after the jump.