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.

MV Agusta Gets €15 Million Loan for New Business Plan

Good turns for MV Agusta, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has secured a €15 million loan from SACE and Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM). The loan, which was issued by BPM and guaranteed by SACE, will go towards MV Agusta’s foreign growth plans, namely the company’s strengthening of its US business, and its push into Brazil and Southeast Asia. The more business-speak version of that statement is that MV Agusta will use the €15 million to implement the company’s 2014-2018 business plan, which has the company expanding its product range and penetrating into “high-potential” markets.

Colin Edwards: “I’m Not Ready to Retire”

08/24/2011 @ 7:30 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Also joining Nicky Hayden at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway teleconference was the venerable Colin Edwards, who took some time off from scoping and loading his new 338 Edge rifle to talk to Asphalt & Rubber and a select group of other journalists about the MotoGP season and the upcoming Indianapolis round. By his own admission, Edwards is not having as good of a season this year in MotoGP as he would like, with many in the paddock wondering if 2011 is the Texas Tornado’s last year in MotoGP. Saying that he wasn’t ready to retire, Edwards hinted that some announcements were coming down the line, though probably not in time for the Indianapolis GP.

“Will we make any kind of announcement at Indy? Probably not. Misano, maybe, I don’t know,” mused Edwards. “We’ve got a few pieces of the puzzle laying around. We’ve just got to put those pieces together. Probably the worst thing is that I’m not ready to retire. That would make it easy for everybody. But at the moment, I’m still enjoying it. I’m still having a good time, and I’m still motivated. Until that goes away, I’m going to ride motorcycles.” Read the rest of the teleconference transcript after the jump.

Nicky Hayden: “Nobody Has Lost Hope”

08/24/2011 @ 7:06 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway played host to a teleconference with both Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards this week, allowing Asphalt & Rubber and a select group of journalists to get a preview of the riders’ thoughts before the Indianapolis GP kicks off in earnest this Friday. The only MotoGP rider so far to preview the resurfaced infield at The Brickyard, among other things Hayden gave journalists his thoughts on the new pavement, where he stands in the Championship, and esprit de corps inside Ducati.

What caught our ear listening to the teleconference was that despite all the frustrations he’s had this year, and his noticeable changes in demeanor during press scrums after particularly discouraging sessions, Hayden remains forever the up-beat optimist in the MotoGP paddock. Talking about the level of commitment and the attitude inside Ducati Corse, Hayden said “I told Fillipo (Preziosi) that after the last test, I’ve been impressed with his team and how all the guys have just kept their head down and kept working,”

“Those guys, they get there early and stay late. Some of the engineers I spoke to back at the factory, they’re all on board,” Hayden continued. “I’ve got to believe that hard work and that good attitude is going to pay off in the long run. It normally always does, and I hope this is no different.” Read the rest of the teleconference after the jump.

Repaved Indianapolis GP Surface is “Pretty Much Perfect” Says Nicky Hayden

08/09/2011 @ 8:27 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, checking out the newly repaved infield section on the historic American track. Testing the track on a Ducati Superbike 1198SP, Hayden took a number of laps before giving the nod that he approved of the refurbishment (the FIM also gave their nod on Indy’s work on July 7th). The repaving of the infield portion of the circuit, Turn 5 through Turn 16, comes as a response from riders’ complaints from last year.

With several varieties of pavement, a bevy of bumps, and some poorly placed drainage components, the Indianapolis GP has been a low-point on the MotoGP calendar for most of the MotoGP paddock the past few years, despite being held at an otherwise top-rate and historic venue. With Dorna likely pressuring Indianapolis into making alterations, the track probably faced compulsion to make changes to its infield, especially with the Circuit of Americas track currently being built in Austin.

Talk in the MotoGP paddock is that the Austin GP is now being aimed as less of a replacement for the Indianapolis GP, and instead will be a third stop in America for MotoGP, as Dorna wants to expand the premier class’s presence in the USA. With the 2011 Indianapolis GP just two and a half weeks away, all the GP riders will soon get to see the improvements at Indy, until then they’ll just have to take Nicky Hayden’s word on it. A brief Q&A with the Kentucky Kid and video of his laps and thoughts are after the jump.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Begins Repaving Infield

06/13/2011 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Indianapolis Motor Speedway has announced that it has begun repaving the infield section of its road course, which should finally resolve surface conditions MotoGP riders have complained about while racing at the Indianapolis GP. Repaving Turn 5 thorough Turn 16, Indy will lay over 1.5 miles of asphalt, and if the weather permits, the work should be done by the end of this week.

According to the circuit it is grinding the current tarmac flat, and then laying fresh pavement over the resurfaced track. The new asphalt will match existing pavement on the remainder of the GP circuit, thus eliminating any sort of surface inconsistency issues.

In Mother Russia, World Superbikes Ride You! (in 2012)

05/21/2011 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In the developing markets land grab that is occurring in motorcycle racing, it looks like World Superbike has beat out MotoGP, and is the first to strike in the Russian market, as Paolo Flammini, CEO of Infront Motor Sports (media rights holder for World Superbike) and Alexander Yakhnich, CEO of Yakhnich Motorsport announced that a partnership agreement between the two companies had been reached.

As a part of this contract, Yakhnich Motorsport will become the organizer of an FIM Superbike World Championship round in Russia, and unsurprisingly will have the TV rights to the event. Infront and Yakhnich hope to host a round in Russia by 2012, though further details of the event have not been outlined. Russia has several circuits that could host the World Superbike round, though none are FIM homologated.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Repave Infield for Indy GP

04/21/2011 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has just announced that it will be repaving its infield track section this summer, in-time for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, which is being held August 26th-28th. Expected to break ground June 9th, The Brickyard will be repaving the 1.5 mile section of the infield track between Turn 5 and Turn 16. The news is a boon to MotoGP fans and riders, as the latter has been complaining about track surface conditions from sicne the word ‘go’, and the prior group has been concerned about the conditions prompting MotoGP to take its toys and play elsewhere.

This announcement means that the infield will be repaved for the first time since its construction in 2000, as no surfacing was done when the road course was created in 2008 for MotoGP. Piecing together a mix of sections that had varying types of asphalt, the inconsistencies in the design have been the Midwest track’s biggest flaw, making it impossible for teams to setup a motorcycle for a consistent response through the infield corners. Belaying any worry that the infield would have different conditions than the oval section, IMS says the new asphalt will be consistent with the other sections of the course.

Aprilia/FIM Deny Any Irregularities on Biaggi’s Bike at Assen

04/21/2011 @ 8:21 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Quite a stir was made on Tuesday when news hit the interwebs (including on A&R) that an illegal fuel pump was found on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 Factory race bike at Assen. With World Superbike regulations requiring that the fuel system be completely unmodified from stock, the story was two-fold as it appeared something about the #1 plated Aprilia was awry, and seemingly no penalty was levied by Race Direction.

Subsequent to this news Gigi Dall’Igna, Technical Director of Aprilia’s World Superbike program, has categorically denied anything illegal about Biaggi’s fuel pump, simply stating that the only difference between Biaggi’s pump and those on Camier and Haga’s RSV4’s was the number stamped on the side…which was different on every unit. In addition to this news, Infront Media Sports emailed Asphalt & Rubber last night, and further explained the situation, also explaining that no irregularities had been found on Biaggi’s race bike at the Dutch round.

Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 Race Bike Caught with Illegal Fuel Injection Pump at Assen – No Penalty Given

04/19/2011 @ 12:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Aprilia and the FIM deny any irregularities with Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 at Assen.

Respected source in the World Superbike community, Sport-Bikes.fr is reporting that WSBK technical scrutineers have found an illegal fuel injection system on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 Factory at the Assen round of the Championship series. According to World Superbike rules, the entire fuel injection system must be original to the street homologated motorcycle, including the pump, fuel lines, and injectors.

Scrutineering at Phillip Island found that the injectors of all three Aprilias were in compliance, as was also the case for the outlet pressure injection pump, which was checked at Donington Park. However at Assen, Max Biaggi’s RSV4 was found to be different from the bikes used by Camier and Haga, and was racing with a non-original fuel injection pump.

A fuel injection pump seems hardly a worthy offense to crucify the reigning World Champion over, and many will state that pushing the limits of the rule book is a part of racing (something Aprilia is already known for). Accordingly World Superbike has not docked Biaggi of his results from Sunday’s races, nor has it levied any sort of penalty for the team’s actions. Instead, Aprilia has simply been told it much replace the pump by the next race at Monza.

MotoGP Signs Austin GP with a 10-Year Contract

04/13/2011 @ 12:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The rumors finally came true today, as Dorna has signed on the Circuit of the Americas, the new world class facility being built outside of Austin, Texas, for a 10-year contract to host MotoGP racing. Like the Indianapolis GP, and unlike Laguna Seca, the Austin GP (unofficial name) will host all three GP classes on its race weekend, and will begin hosting MotoGP starting with the 2013 season.

This is surely good news for American race fans, as it adds another venue to the roster, which could see three stops in the USA for MotoGP racing. Rumored to possibly be replacing the Indianapolis GP, it was interesting enough to see that the famous mid-west track issued its own statement about the event, putting its full support behind the Texan venue entering the calendars, and what it could mean for American GP racing.

Mixed Responses from Riders over Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Renewal with MotoGP

08/29/2010 @ 9:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

In an announcement made before today’s Indianapolis GP, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway published that it will host MotoGP again next year, as Dorna has renewed The Brickyard with a one-year contract. This announcement puts an end to the immediate chatter that surrounded the MotoGP venue before this weekend, as it was speculated that IMS would not be returning to the MotoGP calendar for the 2011 season.

However the announcement also raises some more eyebrows, specifically because of the short renewal duration (Laguna Seca also renewed its contract with Dorna this year, but will host MotoGP through 2014), and also because of the growing pressure from riders regarding the track’s surface and format.

Perhaps most vocal of his opinion about the track’s condition is Casey Stoner. The Ducati rider missed last year’s Indianapolis GP, and says that there has been a significant degradation between Indy’s inaugural conditions and those from this weekend. One of the victim’s of the bumps in Turn 6, Stoner succintly believes that there’s, “a lot of the circuit they need to have a big think about.”