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.

Video: Watch William Dunlop Chase Down Ian Hutchinson at Triple-Digit Speeds at the IOMTT

05/29/2014 @ 7:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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A typical practice day spent at the Isle of Man TT starts in the evening, as the roads close just around dinner time (the Isle of Man’s latitude means the sun sets near 10pm). One finds a good vantage point before the roads close though, which also means choosing a spot that will provide their specatating for the next fews hours, as getting around the Mountain Course is nigh impossible once the bikes get going.

Those few hours are spent watching racers scream by at triple-digit speeds, until the sessions end and the roads re-open. Grabbing a quick bite to eat, spectators typical congregate at the bars where they drink, or the home-stays they sleep, and share what they saw on the course with their mate, over drinks and food of course.

As the night comes to an end, the TV stations air their coverage of the day, which pieces together the day’s events, and adds a cohesive narrative to what was before just a single-corner vantage point. Rinse and repeat this for nearly a week, and you have an idea of why the Isle of Man TT is so special, and less of a race and more of an event.

IOMTT: Grandstand Paddock with Richard Mushet

05/28/2014 @ 9:41 pm, by Richard Mushet1 COMMENT

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After a glorious Tuesday evening practice, the weather was looking decidedly gloomy before this evening’s session. Due to an abundance of cloud cover and impending showers, I can honestly say that my decision to shoot from Lezayre wasn’t the best idea I’ve had so far this TT.

Unfortunately the session was stopped, after most riders had only managed a solitary lap, due to an incident at the top of Barregarrow. Combined with the failing light and ever-heavier rain showers on the Northerly sections of the circuit (including myself at Lezayre) the Clerk of the Course cancelled all sessions this evening.

Due to a lack of racing action I will leave you all with a few sights from around the paddock today, and hopes for better weather (and light) for tomorrow’s practice.

IOMTT: Greeba Castle with Tony Goldsmith

05/28/2014 @ 2:51 pm, by Tony Goldsmith3 COMMENTS

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We were treated to perfect conditions for Tuesday evenings practice and after a bit of deliberation I decided to go to the Greeba Castle section of the course.

Greeba Castle is a tight S-bend lined with trees and Manx stone walls. The riders have been flat on the stop for two or three miles before breaking hard into this section. The first left-hander is taken quite slowly before they drive through the right-hander and out into a pocket of sunlight, before disappearing out of sight and onto the Alpine section.

I hadn’t photographed there before, in truth I had been put off a little as I’d heard it was tricky as you are perched on top of 5 1/2 foot wall. As the sun was shining I decided it was the perfect night to go and try it out.

The stories I’d been told of the wall were not exaggerated, and not being as mobile as I once was once took a few attempts to get up. You might be thinking that 5 1/2 feet doesn’t sound very much, but when you are sitting on it, planning an escape route, it looks like 10 feet.

Thankfully I didn’t have to throw myself from the wall, the only problem encountered where the dreaded Manx Midges. My head has started itching again as I begin to think about the little bastards.

IOMTT: Quarterbridge with Richard Mushet

05/28/2014 @ 1:34 am, by Richard Mushet2 COMMENTS

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After arriving by ferry, late on Monday evening, my TT began tonight at Quarterbridge. Following on from Monday night’s perfect conditions, the course was once again bathed in glorious sunlight, which provides a challenge in itself to achieve the ideal exposure on your images.

Quarterbridge is situated just beyond the first milestone and provides the first “real” corner of the Mountain course, after the iconic (and flat-out) Bray Hill and Ago’s Leap sections. Riders approach the corner while braking downhill, before attempting to hit the apex and carry some decent speed as they get back on the throttle to head towards Braddan Bridge.

Other than listening to the loudspeakers erected around the circuit, the only hint of approaching bikes is the distant screaming of a redlining engine shortly followed by numerous downshifts. If you’re lucky, you can catch the flash of a rider’s helmet through the dense foliage on the inside of the turn’s approach. For the TT, this is more than the usual notice, especially when compared to faster sections, some of which have a non-existent lead time to take your shot.

The fading sunlight provided a dramatic backdrop later on in the solo sessions, but left the sidecars looking a little dull once the sun had dipped beneath the surrounding tree line, but that’s merely one of the many challenges you face when shooting this legendary circuit.

IOMTT: Cronk-y-Voddy with Tony Goldsmith

05/27/2014 @ 7:52 am, by Tony Goldsmith7 COMMENTS

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After a delay of 48 hours due to adverse weather, practice for 2014 Isle of Man TT finally got under way in perfect conditions on Monday evening.

I decided to go the end of the Lambfell section where the riders crest a rise and wheelie onto the the Cronk-y-Voddy straight. I’m not sure of the speed they are doing at this point but it must be in the region of 140mph.

Standing on the hedge this is a relatively straight forward shot, despite the speed as you can see the bikes approaching and the camera can track them.

Sitting on the hedge to lower the angle, which is my preference, is more challenging as you don’t see the riders until the last minute. I ended up with more pictures in the bin than I would have liked, but that’s the challenge of photographing the TT.

I’m not sure what the weather has in store for us this evening so a decision on where to go will most likely be made at the last minute.

Isle of Man TT Start Moved to Monday, On Account of Rain

05/25/2014 @ 2:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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It’s not a good start to festivities over at the Isle of Man, as the 2014 Isle of Man TT has seen its first day of practice washed out by the rain. Saturday’s opening day was called by Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson, as rain hit the small nation island in the evening.

As such, Saturday’s schedule will be added to Monday’s, with the newcomers speed-controlled untimed laps for solo riders starting at 18:15, with the sidecar newcomers starting their first lap at 18:30. The sessions originally slated for Monday (Superbike, Superstock, and Supersport) will get underway at 18:45, as was originally planned.

2014 Isle of Man TT Practice & Race Schedule

05/24/2014 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The 2014 Isle of Man TT is finally underway…sort of. With heavy rain on the Isle of Man today, the scheduled practice sessions had to be abandoned for safety reasons. The weather for Sunday is looking better though, and thus tomorrow will likely mean the practical start for what we consider to be motorcycling’s greatest event.

This year US fans will be able to follow the Isle of Man TT on the Velocity channel. If that’s not a part of your TV package, don’t worry; we’ve got some great TT coverage coming your way, straight from the Isle of Man. So stay tuned to Asphalt & Rubber for the latest on the Isle of Man TT sessions and happenings.

To aid in planning your sleep schedule, please find the provisional schedule of sessions after the jump.

“TT Microworlds” – The Isle of Man TT, In Miniature

05/17/2014 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The Isle of Man TT is only a few weeks away from starting, so naturally we want to whet your appetite for one of motorcycling’s greatest events. Here is the TT from a slightly different perspective though, called “TT Microworlds” — the work product of Manx film producer Glenn Whorrall.

Using a tilt-shift filiming technique, which creates a narrow band on the frame where the shot is in focus, Whorrall has employed the simple effect to make the Isle of Man TT look as if it was being done in miniature form, perhaps in a hobbyist’s workshop.

Hardcore cinefiles will probably deride the extensive use of the sometimes gimmicky technique, but we just like anything that has to do with racing motorcycles. For the few minutes of your time, it’s worth a watch.

Guy Martin to Race the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

05/05/2014 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It seems Guy Martin, the barely understandable, though immediately lovable road racer of Isle of Man TT fame will compete in the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. One of the stars of the Isle of Man TT, and perhaps the fastest man on the Mountain Course who has never won an IOMTT race, Martin’s involvement with “The Race to the Clouds” has been a long time coming.

The organizers at the PPIHC have long been trying to get riders and teams from the Isle of Man TT onto the Pikes Peak road course, in an effort to bolster the race’s international appeal and reputation, as well as breathe new life and interest into the historic American race.

Our sources say a special effort was made to lure Guy Martin, who was the centerpiece personality in the Isle of Man’s Closer to the Edge film, and it seems those efforts have finally paid off with this latest news.

Saroléa SP7 Electric Superbike Debuts Ahead of IOMTT

04/28/2014 @ 6:56 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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After a 50 Year Hiatus, the Belgian brand Saroléa is making a bit of comeback, albeit this time in electric form. Already making its intention to race in the 2014 Isle of Man TT, Saroléa has now finally debuted its racing machine, the Saroléa SP7.

An amalgamation of retro-styling and high-technology, the Saroléa SP7 boasts a carbon fiber chassis, a 174hp (130 kW) motor, and a 422 lbs bulk. All of that is wrapped into a café racer styled machine, which with all the modern equipment has a certain juxtaposition that is both visually pleasing, and visually glaring — we will let you decide which sensation dominates your senses more heavily.