“Stop Sale & Stop Ride” Issued for the Polaris Slingshot

Polaris Slingshot owners should take note, as Polaris Industries issued a “Stop Sale & Stop Ride” this week for two issues found on the Slingshot. As the name implies, this special recall advises all Slingshot owners to stop riding their three-wheelers, and all Slingshot dealers to stop selling the vehicles, until the two issues are resolved. The first issue involves the ball bearings on the steering rack, which have been deemed faulty by Polaris. It’s been determined that because of the faulty ball bearings on the Slingshot, the steering system could fail, resulting in an unexpected total loss of steering. The second issue involves the roll hoops over the driver and passenger seats on the Slingshot.

Report: Honda RC213V-S Priced at ¥20 Million

According to a report made by The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second largest daily newspaper, Honda has green-lit the RC213V-S project, with a price tag of 20 million yen — roughly $170,000 USD. The Honda RC213V-S debuted at the 2014 EICMA show, and was as advertised: a MotoGP race bike with lights and mirrors added to it. Honda teased show-goers and the media by say that the RC213V-S model was only a prototype, adding more fuel to the speculation regarding whether the Japanese firm would actually produce the long-awaited model. Since its inception, price figures have been rumored and banded about, almost all of which were in the six-figure category.

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.

Roland Sands Talks about Bell Helmets

01/17/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

We’ve had more than a few Bell Helmets rolling around the A&R office these past months, and one of the things we’ve really liked from this American-based company is how it has teamed up with notable designers from inside and outside of the motorcycle industry to bring attractive and fresh looks to consumers. While it’s been the Bell Star and Vortex that have been keeping our brains firmly in-between our ears, it’s the designs by Roland Sands and Jona Cerwinske that have been attracting us to Bell, and propelling the company back into the motorcycle helmet market as a whole.

Taking some time to talk to Roland Sands at his new Southern California shop, Bell Helmets has put together this short video with the former motorcycle racer turned designer. While Bell and RSD are obviously out to hock the new gold-leaf-over-carbon fiber “Speed Freak” helmet they’ve created for 2011, Roland has some interesting stories about his process and growing up around motorcycles…the photography is spectacular too boot.

With Bell in the process of restoring its name after having its motorcycle helmet division operated overseas by another company, we expect to see more videos in the future like the one after the jump that engage riders with this once-defunct American brand.

Misano Rossi Helmet: Time to Wake Up

09/04/2010 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

At Misano this morning, Valentino Rossi debuted another of his famous helmet designs for his home crowd. Adorned with a painted clock on the top of helmet, Rossi will use a different helmet for each session during the San Marino GP. The time on the clock is set to five minutes before the session’s start, and labeled with “wake up and get going,” which for Rossi is both a literal and figurative reminder.

Critical of his results lately, Rossi is acknowledging that he needs to start turning around his season at Misano, and once again ride at the front of the pack. Hopefully these helmets (last year Rossi was the donkey) will be a reminder to the Italian rider, who has struggled since returning from a compound fracture to his leg.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

07/26/2010 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

For the past four days, we’ve inundated you with our coverage of the Red Bull US GP race weekend, and while we do love us some racing here at Asphalt & Rubber, we like to think we’re more than a one trick pony. So let’s switch gears and mix it up a bit…and by that we mean, let’s showing you this awesome helmet prop designer Volpin made for Daft Punk. Where not sure if it’s channeling Eurofunk or Disco fever, but it’s seven shades of awesome on a Rocketeer helmet. Harder, better, faster, stronger videos/photos after the jump.

Valentino Rossi’s Laguna Seca Helmet

07/24/2010 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Just as Fiat-Yamaha will be running special race livery this weekend, Valentino Rossi had some one-off paint work done to his helmet for MotoGP’s race at Laguna Seca. For Fiat-Yamaha, the Laguna Race livery consists of the faces of 500 fans who submitted their photos to the race team, but on Rossi’s helmet you’ll find the people that help him go fast: his team.

You can also find Rossi’s dogs near the back, and while it hasn’t been confirmed…the fellow above the AGV on the front looks a lot like Ron Jeremy (whoever that is).

Photo: © 2010 Scott Jones Photography

Helmet Phrenology by Death Spray Customs

07/13/2010 @ 3:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Phrenology is a passé theory in psychology that centered around the belief that you could understand a person’s mental faculties and character traits based on the shape that person’s skull. Phrenologist used to make a healthy living rubbing the temples of patients, and examining the various bumps and lobes on their cranium, before things like the scientific method starting infiltrating the medical field.

Phrenology reached it’s peak during the late 1700’s – early 1800’s, and was superseded by the next fad in the industry: psychoanalysis. This vastly superior theory of psychology was dubiously famous for claiming cocaine as a panacea; and for a fun factoid, Sigmund Freud did enough nose candy to kill a small elephant.

With so many great connections between personality types, motorcyclists, and of course head injuries, we were tickled pink when we saw Death Spray Custom’s latest helmets titled “Head Set”, which features a trio of brainy paint schemes. Check them out after the jump…and no, we don’t know why this model isn’t wearing a shirt.

Video: Crocs vs. Asphalt

07/01/2010 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

There’s so many things going on in this video, we’re not certain where to begin. Filmed on Mulholland Highway by the same fine folks who brought us video footage of the guy who crashed in front of a CHP officer, this new saga takes a different approach to riders exceeding their limits on city streets.

Take an unsuspecting white Honda Elite scooter, a pair of Crocs shoes, and some invisible knee pucks, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a bizarre Sunday morning lowside that could have been much, much, much worse.

While we’ll give bonus points for good dirt-tracking technique, be sure to check the slow-mo footage for the exact moment the rider’s shoes depart humanity, and dive over the cliff. Video after the jump. Thanks for the tip Jelly!

Rossi’s Custom Helmet at Mugello – The Jolly Joker

06/07/2010 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Overshadowed by Rossi’s highside and subsequent injury, one thing we missed at Mugello (besides the Italian himself) was Rossi’s traditional custom helmet for the Italian GP. Always one to pander to the home crowd, Rossi has made it a tradition to have a special helmet designed for when he races at Italian tracks (with Mugello in particular), and this year was no different.

Arai Tops J.D. Power & Associates Helmet Rankings

05/21/2010 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

For twelve years in a row, Arai Helmets has topped J.D. Power & Associates motorcycle helmet rankings for customer satisfaction. This is important because J.D. Power also found that highly satisfied owners are more likely to buy their brand of helmet again (that’s a no brainer, right?). The kicker though is that the likelihood of a repeat customer is nearly 10x more likely when they are highly satisfied with their helmet. In a world where it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one, a 10x multiple is a staggering figure on how product quality plays into a company’s sales and growth strategy.

Shield Tech Visor: Transition Lenses for Your Helmet

03/30/2010 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

S.H.I.E.L.D. Tech has taken the concept of transition lenses to its next logical step, tint transitioning helmet visors. For the rider that’s had to pack a clear shield when going out on a long ride, or for the time you wore sunglasses under your clear visor, now there’s a helmet visor the eliminates the need pack multiple shields for changing light conditions (and to comply with Johnny Law).

AGV Opens Up Customizable “Scream” Helmet Site

01/30/2010 @ 1:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi made quite the scream with his face helmet at Mugello back in 2008. With all the buzz it created, AGV brought out a limited edition version replica of Rossi’s lid to the market in 2009. Now it’s 2010, and AGV has decided to spread the customized lid to everyone else, with a personalized touch. Opening up valentinosface.com, AGV has created a website where you can put your own mug on Rossi “Scream” rep, and have the helmet shipped directly to you from AGV.