“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.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Ninja H2

11/11/2014 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

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With the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R putting out 300hp from its supercharged 998cc displacement, the 200hp Kawasaki Nina H2 street bike seems positively demure, by comparison.

Of course, any 200hp machine is more than a handful, and we doubt many H2 owners will keep their machines street legal for very long — it’s been explained to A&R that it doesn’t take much work to uncork the H2…we’re just not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though.

Ostentatious might be the best way to describe the new H2. Bringing back forced induction to the sport bike scene is a pretty bold move from Kawasaki, and something we will likely see more of from the Japanese manufacturers. The styling of the H2R was certainly…eye-catching…with all the winglets and dramatic lines, the H2 street bike is only slightly watered-down from that lurid design.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 – The Ultimate Street Bike?

11/04/2014 @ 2:22 am, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

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The Kawasaki Ninja H2 street bike has finally debuted at the EICMA show, giving motorcycle fans a glimpse at the road-going counterpart to the Kawasaki Ninja H2R track-only machine. Based around the same 998cc supercharged inline-four engine, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 makes an astonishing 207 hp with ram air, 197hp without. For reference, the Ninja H2R makes 305hp, without ram-air.

Kawasaki has designed its supercharger system to have two-step gear-ratio, allowing for maximum boost and low and high engine speeds, and the supercharger impeller reaches 130,000 rpm when the Kawasaki Ninja H2 is at its 14,000 rpm redline. Peak torque is 98 lbs•ft, at 10,500 rpm, with the supercharger primarily helping to broaden the powerband for better street riding.

Is This How Much the Kawasaki Ninja H2R Will Cost? Nope.

10/14/2014 @ 3:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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It has certainly been interesting to see the buzz around the Kawasaki Ninja H2 these past few weeks, especially as everyone tries to cash in on the supercharged hype-machine that Kawasaki has been running.

First we saw Motorcycle.com just create a story out of thin air, to help its owner VerticalScope promote a new web property. That was…uhh…the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen while in this industry, not to mention just sloppy journalism. Now lately we have seen a supposed dealer invoice for the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R, with a price tag just north of $60,000.

Many publications have latched onto that price point — which isn’t the craziest conclusion to come to, considering that the H2R is Kawasaki’s halo-bike project, and will likely cost a pretty penny — though with just a quick glance, we can see that the alleged paperwork has clearly been a work of Photoshop, and not inside information.

LEAKED: First Image of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 Street Bike

10/05/2014 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Just last week the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, KHI’s supercharged track-only 300hp beast of a hyperbike, debuted at INTERMOT. The reception of the H2R was astounding, and Kawasaki has certainly laid down the gauntlet with the design, philosophy, and execution of its latest Ninja.

Kawasaki’s test riders are already reporting on social media speeds over 210 mph, and we eagerly await Kawasaki’s street-legal Ninja H2.

Set to debut at the AIMExpo in two weeks’ time, it seems the first image of the machine has leaked ahead of schedule. Caught in what looks like an early release of Kawasaki’s next teaser video, we can make out the lines of the Ninja H2 street bike.

OMG: Leaked Hi-Res Photos of the Kawasaki Ninja H2R

09/29/2014 @ 8:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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In five hours the Kawasaki Ninja H2 will officially debut at INTERMOT…of course, the internet waits for no motorbike. In addition to the first leaked photo we brought you, we now have a bevy of high-resolution images of the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, the racing sibling to the H2.

Several sites now are tipping the Kawasaki Ninja H2R as making 300 horsepower from its 998cc inline-four engine, a number that is achieved by the H2 & H2R’s centrifugal supercharger. That figure is much larger than some publications were reporting from their “sources” inside Kawasaki — or were just fabricating wholesale to get pageviews.

LEAKED: Here is the First Photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2

09/29/2014 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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Our INTERMOT coverage is in full-swing today, and we bring you the first photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2. Showing more clearly the wings we spotted in Kawasaki’s last video, we can see now the extent that the Japanese company has gone to in making the H2 more aerodynamic.

Our sources tell us this the “race” version of the supercharged Ninja H2, though what it’s racing, we are not sure — our bets are on either land speed records at Bonneville or the Millennium Falcon.

The Kawasaki Ninja H2 Has…Wings??!

09/26/2014 @ 12:38 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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While some publications have been outright fabricating information about the new Kawasaki H2 to get eyeballs and clicks, we have been trying to filter Kawasaki’s massive marketing campaign, so you only get the most distilled information. That’s sort of our mantra here at Asphalt & Rubber.

So, you will forgive us then for showing you yet another teaser video on the H2, but we think there is an interesting development here. The ninth installment thus far, Kawasaki is focusing on the aerodynamics of the hyperbike, and from what we can see, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 comes equipped with aerodynamic wings.

The winglets look a lot like those found on the Ducati Desmosedici GP10, which served more to help flow air across the very hot V4 engine, rather than to provide any sort of downforce. What Kawasaki is using them for, that’s up for debate.

One shot seems to show the H2’s mirrors, and their aerodynamic shape, while the other two shots have us guessing. One is clearly a winglet, possibly near the front of the machine, which would help pull the air around the rider (especially around the legs) more effectively.

The third shot (actually the first in the video), look like a rear spoiler/diffuser to us, but we’d love to hear your theories in the comments section.

The Most Ridiculous Thing I’ve Ever Seen in This Industry

09/18/2014 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler59 COMMENTS

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I have seen a lot of things in the motorcycle industry since I started Asphalt & Rubber, but never before have I seen something like this. During the autumn months, it is not uncommon for A&R to receive tips about new motorcycle models that are about to debut, and today was seemingly no different.

This morning we got an enthusiastic email from a purported regular reader (make that two readers now), asking why we weren’t covering the leaked details on the supercharged Kawasaki H2, which were apparently “going viral” all over the internet, as the email told us. To give us proof of that assertion, they included in the emails links to a Facebook page for a new web forum for the H2, which is where the leak apparently occurred.

A quick check on our massive RSS feed (roughly 600 publications now) showed the viral story had only been picked up by one other publication, Motorcycle.com. MO ran the story with the headline “Inside Info About Kawasaki’s Radical H2 Sportbike?” — which had been written by the ever loveable “Motorcycle.com Staff” author, and qualified with the profession’s ubiquitous “?” phrasing.

Our friends at MO certainly do a bit of traffic (I say that with sincerity), though I normally wouldn’t use a single publication covering a story as an indication of that story going viral, but ok whatever…hyperbole is part of the game.

Like any good editor though, I dove into the story deeper. What I found has me supremely worried.

A Brief Glimpse of the Kawasaki H2 in Action

09/16/2014 @ 11:12 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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At the pace Kawasaki is going, it looks to be a long, painful, drawn-out debut for the Kawasaki H2. We’re six videos in now, and not much about the supercharged sport bike has been revealed. Sure, we’ve heard the sound of the bike’s centrifugal supercharger and inline-four engine, and we have gotten a glimpse at the H2’s lines, but our appetite desires more.

Today won’t be that satiation, though we do get to “see” the Kawasaki H2 for the first time…as it does triple-figures past the camera. Once again, Kawasaki takes off another piece of clothing in this two-wheeled burlesque show, yet manages not to show us anything worth the excitement.

We will likely just have to wait until September 28th, when the Kawasaki H2 officially breaks cover, ahead of the INTERMOT show.

The Most Important Thing about the Kawasaki H2?

09/11/2014 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The supercharged Kawasaki H2 teasers continue to come from Team Green, though none since the “sound video” have really given anything away about the new sport bike. Today’s video, the fifth installment, doesn’t really whet our appetite either, though we thought we’d share it for one good reason, the Kawasaki River Mark logo.

There is something fundamental that motorcycle enthusiasts have to understand about the Japanese manufacturers, and that is the fact that their motorcycle business constitutes a very small portion of the companies’ overall operations and incomes.

Historically, the motorcycle divisions of the Big Four have been the epicenter for corporate bragging between these Japanese conglomerates — they told all of Japan, “look what we can do.”

In the case of Kawasaki, it is truly only a small part of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which builds ships, heavy equipment, aerospace parts, trains, and even parts for nuclear power plants. There aren’t too many industries where Kawasaki doesn’t have an interest, and its motorcycle division is where it shows off its technological prowess…at least, that’s how it used to be.