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.

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.

2015 BMW R1200R — A Liquid-Cooled Boxing Roadster

09/30/2014 @ 2:43 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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As expected, BMW Motorrad has finally added its liquid-cooled boxer engine design to the R1200R roadster model, debuting the 2015 BMW R1200R at INTERMOT today.

Using the same 125hp engine that powers the BMW R1200GS and BMW R1200RT, the new BMW R1200R makes more power, more linearly, than its predecessor, though keeps the old R1200R’s basic roadster look and feel intact.

Ducati Monster 821 – A Midsummer Dream from Bologna

05/28/2014 @ 2:14 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Once we saw the unveiling of the Ducati Monster 1200 at EICMA last year, we knew it was only a matter of time before Bologna wedged its new 821cc liquid-cooled motor into a mid-size Monster machine.

That feeling was fueled further by spy photos the 821cc Monster making their way onto the internet, and now we have confirmation of the mid-sized Monster, as Borgo Panigale has officially launched its Ducati Monster 821.

Borrowing the 821cc Testastretta 11° engine (112hp and 65.9 lbs•ft) found on the newly revised Ducati Hypermotard, and its cousin the Ducati Hyperstrada, the Monster 821 continues Ducati’s trend to repurpose powerplants for multiple product families.

The Ducati Monster 821 also continues Bologna’s new trend of building its lower-spec midrange motorcycles with double-sided swingarms, to help further stratify and differentiate its models.

Are You The Ducati Monster 1200?

10/07/2013 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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At the German Auto Show, the Boys from Bologna debuted the Ducati 899 Panigale, a “super-mid” version of the Italian company’s superbike platform. A bit too big to be a supersport class machine, the 899 Panigale should however be fun on the track, in a vein that is similar to the Suzuki GSX-R750 and MV Agusta F3 800.

That premise will have to remain as conjecture for us though, as while Ducati’s chosen few are currently gathered in Bologna right now for the press launch of the 2013 Ducati 899 Panigale, Asphalt & Rubber was not among those who crossed the pond for the launch and test ride. Not to worry though, we should start hearing the initial impressions from journalists shortly.

Meanwhile, we can turn our attention to the machines that Ducati has yet to debut to the public, though will be shortly. A&R broke the news last week about the upcoming Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera, and we have already seen spy photos of the Ducati Scrambler (said to be a 2015 model, if it gets the production nod), and a liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

Harley-Davidson Debuts Liquid-Cooled Engines for Tourers

08/21/2013 @ 3:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler43 COMMENTS

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Harley-Davidson has debuted its 2014 touring and trike motorcycles, which would normally be an event that we’d forgo even mentioning here at Asphalt & Rubber, after all “brand new” to Harley typically means new paint and chrome pieces to bikes that already exist in the line-up — that’s not entirely the case this year though.

Rolling out eight “new” motorcycles for enthusiasts, Harley-Davidson has listened to customer feedback and made changes to the following models in its line-up: Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Tri Glide Ultra, CVO Ultra Limited, and CVO Road King. Nothing crazy there, right?

However what was called “Project Rushmore” inside the motorcycle company, we now know refers to the company’s effort to bring more technology to its two-wheeled midlife crisis machines… the most drastic change being a liquid-cooled engine design. We’ve got your attention now, don’t we?

Debuting two liquid-cooling engine configurations, the Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 motor will be used on the 2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited and the Tri-Glide Ultra trike, while the Screamin’ Eagle Twin-Cooled Twin Cam 110 will be featured on the 2014 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited.

2013 BMW R1200GS – A Water-Cooled Icon

10/02/2012 @ 3:45 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Building off of three decades of tradition and 170,000 units sold worldwide, the 2013 BMW R1200GS has some big shoes to fill. Officially debuting today at the INTERMOT show, the Bavarians have kept most of what makes a GS a “GS” intact, while of course adding a much speculated, hyped, and rumored water-cooled boxer-twin motor into the mix.

The big push with the new model is its ability to meet stricter noise and emission standards, hence the move to liquid-cooling. Though, BMW says it also aimed to improve the R1200GS’s on & off-road performance, increase the bike’s safety, and of course continue the GS heritage that has basically defined the segment.

Using “precision cooling” derived from Formula 1, the 2013 BMW R1200GS only uses liquid cooling on the parts of the motor that need the additional heat exchange, thus allowing the engine still to use a high-degree of air-cooling, which BMW says helps justify the continued use of the boxer-twin motor design. Other changes include a wet slipper clutch and left-hand side cardan shaft drive. As we reported earlier, power is 123hp and 92 ft•lbs of torque at 6,500 rpm, while the curb weight is 525 lbs (238 kg) without fuel.

Spy Photos: 2013 BMW R1250GS Caught Testing

12/29/2011 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The bike that made the brand, the BMW R1200GS is about to get updated for the 2013 model year, and the Bavarians have been busy testing their new adventure bike. As such the ever questionable “spy photos” have made their way onto the interwebs, and we diligently give in to the new trend in motorcycle marketing to bring you some very clear photos of the 2013 BMW R1250GS. While the new BMW R1250GS looks ready for prime time, and is expected to be a liquid-cooled version of the now iconic GS, we imagine BMW is still surely stepping carefully with the R1250GS’s final design.

One of the best-selling motorcycles worldwide, the BMW GS has defined the now lucrative adventure-touring market segment. Accordingly, BMW must be keen on making sure the new 2013 BMW R1250GS doesn’t alienate its core constituency of GS riders. However, the German brand is surely also feeling the pressure to update its air-cooled line with water-cooled motors, as well as bringing other modern features to its motorcycles.

There Are No Sacred Cows: Harley-Davidson Patents Cylinder Head Cooling System

06/20/2011 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

The rumors that Harley-Davidson has been eying a liquid-cooled motor design have always been in abundance, and 10 years ago we saw the company test the waters of that pool with the Porsche-engineered lump that was found in the V-Rod. While the VRSC line may not have been as big of a success compared to the other models in Harley’s line-up, the water-cooled bastard child of Milwaukee still seems to sell in the tens of thousands each year, even after nearly a decade of only cosmetic revisions.

Faced with an aging demographic, an uninspired motorcycle line-up, and 21 takes on the same motorcycle design, there’s a push internally at Harley-Davidson to break-out and find a new way to engage riders, especially younger riders. The core ethos of change seems to start at the motor itself, and Harley-Davidson has already done the rounds at various electric motorcycle and drivetrain companies. There also exists amount of external and internal pressure over Harley’s pervasive use of air-cooled motors, and now whispers of a water-cooled v-twin power plant have gotten louder in Milwaukee. With those rumors now reaching a boiling point (see what I did there?), Harley-Davidson has patented a very clever way of adding liquid-cooling to its iconic v-twin motor design.

BMW’s New Liquid-Cooled Boxer Spotted in the Wild

02/04/2011 @ 11:43 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The writing has been on the wall for some time for BMW to replace its air-cooled boxer twin with an updated liquid-cooled version, and that hallmark day appears to be coming, as SoloMoto (additional photos on their website) has captured the next-generation German motor out testing in the wild (enhanced photo above) on the Spanish roads near Tarragona. This photo appears to confirm reports that BMW is testing a new R1200GS model, which will feature the liquid-cooled boxer twin, and has obvious differences from its air-cooled predecessor.

Ducati Enduro Spotted in the Wild

01/06/2009 @ 10:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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While not exactly the most revealing photo we’ve seen, the much rumored Ducati R1200GS killer has been spotted in the wild. Rumors have been flying here and here, about Ducati’s lastest creation, which will replace the Multistrada and serve as Ducati’s entrance into the Enduro market.

Sources close to the production of the bike have stated that it will be powered by the liquid-cooled 1098cc superbike motor (and not the 1200cc air-cooled motor rumored before). This will likely mean the same motor as found in the Ducati Streetfighter, which makes around 150hp. It is also reportedly to be very similar in design to the Moto Morini Granpasso, and features a single-sided swingarm, with an upright sitting position. In other news, engineers in Bavaria were put on notice today.