BMW Motorrad released yet another glowing sales report, as the German brand continues to build steam and market share in an otherwise luke warm and uncertain marketplace. Boasting a 1.8% worldwide sales increase in February and a 5.6% year-to-date (YTD) sales increase, BMW Motorrad has sold 12,078 motorcycles worldwide thus far in 2012. While the gains are modest at best, the news that BMW has found a way to grow despite the economy is something we have talked about ad nauseam. As such, I almost skipped this press release all together for our coverage, but then I saw a quote from Hendrik von Kuenheim, BMW Motorrad’s General Director.
We already told you that 2011 was BMW Motorrad’s best sales year ever, and that the BMW S1000RR topped the Bavarian brand’s charts here in the United States. Zie Germans must be feeling rather pleases with themselves right now (and rightfully so), as BMW has released more details about its all-time motorcycle sales record. Pushing out 104,286 units in 2011, BMW Motorrad was up 6.4% in 2011 over 2010, with each of the 2011′s twelve months outselling its 2010 counterpart. Toppling its previous sales record from 2007 (the height of the world economy), it says something about BMW’s current business strategy that it can best that figure in an economy that is still exceedingly weak in comparison.
It is interesting to note in which markets, and in which segments, BMW is finding this growth, because the answers are not necessarily our usual suspects. Basically doubling its worldwide 500+cc market share over the past four years, BMW now accounts for 12% of the worlds “big” displacement motorcycles by units sold per annum. This goes counter to the trend that we’ve seen, where small-displacement are being cast as the sales leaders for large brands (namely the Japanese Four).
Winning the French Supermoto National Championship, Sylvain Bidart and the Luc1 team have a lot to be thankful for this year, and they of course couldn’t have achieved their victory without the help of their sponsors. So the French team put together a video, with some more-than-strategic product placement for the team’s main sponsors: Honda, Michelin, Ixon, & Intermarché. Is it a nine minute rolling advertisement for these brands? Absolutely. Did we watch it six times and giggle like little girls? Maybe…yeah, yeah we did.
But after riding the BRD RedShift SM Prototype and watching clips like this one (note the RotoR camera footage), it’s hard not to go buy a dirt bike and some 17″ wheels this very second. Serious fun on two wheels is being had here, and with our local karting tracks only charging $40 for a supermoto track day, the sport hits our wallet in all the right places. Hrrrmmm…
In the US, you’d be hard pressed to hear someone say that scooters are for the cool kids. The Diet-Coke of motorcycling, scooters get a bum wrap in the two-wheeled world because of their low horsepower, walk-through seat, and their snooze-fest urban practicality. Despite being the perfect way to get around a city like San Francisco, riders looking to make more of a statement usually opt for something along a different train of thought. Ask around your local bike night, and you’ll hear that scooters are only good for new riders, girls, or men who wear pants so tight you can tell their religion.
Well, if that’s been your experience too, then you probably don’t know Boulon. A product of the south of France, Boulon certainly knows how to make scooters look hip (is that the word kids are using these days?) as he shreds this skatepark on his personal transportation device. A well-shot video of some hooligan fun, our only complaint would be the lack of a helmet. Come on Boulon, you have to set an example for the children. Video after the jump.
To say that the French GP got off on the wrong foot might be the understatement of the season. Between the statements between riders about each other, and the Casey Stoner/Randy de Puniet punch incident, the pre-race antics were at a fever pitch in Le Mans. The off-track drama in MotoGP is clearly seeping into the on-track racing action, and accordingly the French GP was filled with several incidents that should give the pundits something to talk about for the coming three weeks before the Catalan GP.
Meanwhile qualifying showed that the Hondas ruled the roost, with the firm’s four factory supported bikes sitting in the top four spots on the starting grid. With Casey Stoner commencing from the pole position, Marco Simoncelli qualified just barely second to the Australian, while Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the front row.
Directly behind Stoner was Dani Pedrosa, who has had some tremendous starts from the second row in the past, and surely couldn’t be counted out of today’s race. Eyes were also on Randy de Puniet, who counted Le Mans as one of his least favorite circuits, despite it being in front of his home crowd.
Le Mans proved to be a Honda-friendly track today, as all four true-blooded factory Honda machines took the four top spots on the grid for tomorrow’s French GP. With the Hondas bunched up at the front, the groupings didn’t stop there as the next four spots were occupied by the Yamaha contingency, with Jorge Lorenzo leading Crutchlow, Edwards, and Spies respectively.
Ninth and tenth on the grid belong to Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, while Randy de Puniet on the satellite Pramac Ducati will start 11th for his home GP. Both Hayden and Spies cited mistakes on their fast laps as being the cause for their poor qualifying, while Rossi’s squad was unable to capitalize on its softer-compound tire for an ultimate qualifying time.
Starting on pole will be Casey Stoner, as the Australian continues his superb form this season. Though the Repsol Honda rider has been the one to watch so far this season, he only beat out sophmore Marco Simoncelli by a margin of 0.059 seconds.
Simoncelli has seemingly found his stride this season, though his riding has prompted concerns in the MotoGP paddock, as many of the top riders went to the Safety Commission meeting to complain about the Italian’s riding. Rounding out the front row is Andrea Dovizioso, who bested teammate Dani Pedrosa by six-hundreths of a second. Full qualifying results after the jump.
On paper the Aprilia Tuono V4 R is a monster, boasting the most horsepower in its class, and coming armed with a sophisticated electronics package to help hook-up the 162hp on the tarmac. While all the early ride reports are positive about the new true-blooded streetfighter, and we’re sure the slightly watered-down naked RSV4 would paint a silly grin on our face, it’s the headshot of this bike that makes us cringe just a little bit — the RSV4 headlight just doesn’t work without the accompanying bodywork.
While your mileage may vary, at least one dealership in France appears to agree with us, and has taken matters into its own hands. Putting together what it calls an Aprilia Tuono V4 Street, Paris-Nord Moto has created its own special version of the Aprilia Tuono V4 R with a new headlight and half-fairing design.
While getting a tour of Yamaha’s French factory (you know, the one they’re keeping open), the folks at MotoBlog.fr spotted something they’d never seen before: an upgraded FZ8 naked bike labeled as the Yamaha FZ8R. After some negotiating with the tuning fork brand, the French publication was allowed to take a photo of the bike’s body panel, as a sort of proof of life in their story.
Expected to be announced soon, the francophones spotted on the FZ8R an upgraded exhaust by Lazer, Öhlins suspension stickers (and perhaps an Öhlins shock), but what looked to be stock forks and stock brakes.