MV Agusta Looking to Part Ways with Mercedes-AMG

The story of MV Agusta continues with even more interesting developments, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer seems intent on buying back its shares from Mercedes-AMG, and recapitalizing with new investors. Talking this week to Italy’s Il Giorno, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni said that he is “negotiating a buy-back of shares,” though that might be a task easier said than done for the Italian CEO. This is because MV Agusta’s current financial predicament is due primarily from the company’s massive debt accumulation, which now totals over €40 million. To complicate matters further, some of that debt was secured by the involvement of AMG, and its investment contract stipulates that if AMG doesn’t own 20% or more of MV Agusta then the loaned sum is due immediately.

The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles: Haptic Feedback

We are at an interesting point in time for motorcycles, namely because the technological landscape for the transportation sector is shifting radically. Long-time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will note some of the issues at play here, namely autonomous vehicles, rider aids, and vehicle interconnectivity. Over the next few weeks I want to revisit those items in more depth and detail, with a series that focuses on emerging technologies that are either already permeating into our two-wheeled lifestyle, or will be hitting the motorcycle industry over the next decade or so. But before I tackle the more obvious items on this list, I want to invest some words on a lesser-known technological innovation, which has the potential to be the next, “next big thing” in the motorcycle industry.

You Already Want This Honda Grom Race Bike from HRC

Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well. Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs. To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.

Honda CBR250RR Headlight Spotted in Patents

We are literally marking time until Big Red debuts the Honda CBR250RR, the sportier sibling to the Honda CBR250R, which should rev to the moon and make more power with its two-cylinder engine. We have seen the prototype of the Honda CBR250RR already at trade shows, and the new CBR250RR is definitely on the edgier side of things, which is surprising coming the ever-conservative minds at Honda. How much of the edgy design will remain in the production version has yet to be seen, but we do have our first glimpse of some of the machine. The headlight shape has been filed with European patent offices, which is sort of a weird thing to be reporting on, but it does show insight into where Honda is headed.

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own. This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic. Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction. Time will tell on how this rumor plays out, though there are number of interesting things to consider with a BMW power cruiser.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles. As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride. With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Is BMW Working on 300cc GS Model?

When the BMW G310R arrived, the German brand indicated that the small-displacement street bike would be the first of many model based on the 313cc platform. Now it seems that the first iteration is ready to drop, with news that BMW Motorrad is working on a G310R-based adventure-touer model. According to Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, BMW Motorrad UK’s Director Phil Horton has confirmed that a BMW G310GS model will debut, perhaps in time for the 2017 model year, saying “new models aside, the line-up isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. But there are plenty more bikes to come, including, hopefully in 2017, a G310R GS-style derivative.” The idea of small-displacement ADV machine does mimic what we have been seeing from other brands.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events. The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts. Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Honda Halts Operations at Its Kumamoto Factory After Earthquakes Strike Japan

If you have been following mainstream news, you will know that the Pacific Rim has been active with earthquake activity these past few days. In addition to the devastating movements in Ecuador, Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes as well, two of which have centered on the Kumamoto prefecture of the country. If that names sounds familiar to motorcycle enthusiasts, it is because Kumamoto is Honda’s mothership for motorcycle production. As such, Honda is halting the operations of its Kumamoto factory, thru the rest of this week (ending April 22, 2016). Honda says that its subsequent production plans will be determined according to facility restorations and component supply.

Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened & What Happens Next

In case you missed it, Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati Corse for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP World Championship seasons. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed. We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

What If You Put Dustbin Fairings on Modern Sport Bikes?

10/14/2014 @ 4:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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I simply love the latest sketches from Nicolas Petit. The French designer is sort of re-imaging a previous project of his, where he designed a modern-looking dustbin-style fairing for a BMW HP2 Sport and Moto Guzzi V12 Le Mans.

Taking on now the Ducati 1199 Panigale, Petit has mixed the old-styled TT racer look with Italy’s premier superbike, in an effective manner. We haven’t seen this sort of clash between old and new technology since John Hopkins raced the last two-stroke GP bike, the Yamaha YZR500 in 2002.

Upcoming BMW S1000F Rendered by Nicolas Petit

07/02/2014 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Once again the folks at Wunderlich are readying themselves for another BMW model, and the German company has enlisted the services of French designer Nicolas Petit to render the upcoming BMW S1000F sport-tourer, which we are all eagerly awaiting.

Based off the BMW S1000RR sport bike, the S1000F features an upright handlebar design with a more touring-oriented sitting position, to make for better long-road travel. It’s not clear if BMW will follow the lead of Erik Buell Racing, and choose not to detune its superbike engine, but it does seem that BMW wants a bigger piece for the sporty end of the touring market.

BMW K1600GT Hybrid 3-Wheeler Concept by Nicolas Petit

07/05/2013 @ 2:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we love the work of French designer Nicolas Petit — his Honda VTR1200 concept remains one of out all-time favorite concepts, and spurred me to think long and hard about the potential that the Japanese manufacturers could have in the two-wheel industry. Today’s post though, isn’t about a two-wheeler…it’s about a three-wheeler.

Pretty much the coolest trike we have ever seen imagined, Petit has once again inked a design for consumption, which features Bavaria’s favorite brand: BMW. Taking the 1.6L six-cylinder engine from the BMW K1600GT/GTL, Petit has mated a very recognizable front-end to his creation. The ultimate driving machine? We wouldn’t mind taking one for a spin around our local track.

What Goes into a Motorcycle Concept Sketch?

05/02/2013 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on What Goes into a Motorcycle Concept Sketch?

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We have already covered designer Nicolas Petit’s time-lapse video, which shows the 20-minute process of drawing out a motorcycle concept sketch. But what goes into envisioning a concept like the Wunderlich BMW R1200S in the first place? Well, Petit has a video for that as well.

Any interesting perspective on how the French designer takes a BMW R1200GS Adventure, turns it into a boxer-twin sport bike, and then a streetfighter, it is always facinating to see the process behind a person’s art. And if you’re thinking, “man, I wish they’d build that bike!” You’re not alone in that thought.

How Long Does it Take You to Draw a Motorcycle?

03/04/2013 @ 4:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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We spend a bit of our time here at Asphalt & Rubber featuring the work of Nicolas Petit, and other designers, sharing with you the unique visions that these artists create. Some of their work comes to fruition in three dimensions, and some of it remains in a two-dimensional form, but it is all still pretty damn impressive. But what goes into these sketches and renders?

Working on his BMW HP2 Megamoto LC Concept, Petit has condensed his 20-minute sketching routine, and put together a short three-minute time-lapse video of his work. Armed with only with a couple pens and markers, Petit makes short-work of the sketch, though we can only imagine how many hours of studying design had to come together before pen could be put to paper. Check it out after the jump.

Wunderlich BMW R1200S Concept by Nicolas Petit

12/17/2012 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

If you don’t follow the work of Nicolas Petit, you should. The French designer has been inking some of the most striking motorcycle concepts in the industry, and the best part is many of them are coming to life thanks to BMW accessories provider Wunderlich.

Refusing to let go of the thesis provided BMW HP2 Sport, Petit envisions BMW’s new semi water-cooled boxer engine (first seen on the 2013 BMW R1200GS) as providing the basis for a new sport bike in the HP2’s vein, complete with a single-sided swingarm, dual undertail exhaust, and Öhlins suspension.

It might be a tough sell now that the BMW S1000RR and BMW HP4 have hit dealership floors, but there is something really quite elegant in Petit’s design, and we imagine there are more than few weekend riders who wouldn’t mind such a unique machine with a boxer’s punch.

BMW R12 Concept by Nicolas Petit Motorcycle Crèation

07/11/2012 @ 5:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The work of designer Nicolas Petit is one of those gems in motorcycling that really gets our imagination here at A&R working at high-speed. It probably has something to with Petit’s simple, practical, but stunning designs that grab our fancy, and make us think “yeah, I could see one of those in my garage” — such is the case with the BMW R12 concept.

A clean and modern café racer design, Nicolas Petit’s BMW R12, which is based off the BMW HP2, is something we’d like to have in our stable for when the journey, not the destination, is the order of the day. Enjoy his sketches and renders after the jump, and to save you the trouble when you go scavenging for boxer-twins, here’s a link to craigslist.

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

12/22/2011 @ 9:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler105 COMMENTS

Talking to a colleague the other day, we came to a frank discussion about how the European motorcycle brands weathered the recession better when compared to their Japanese counterparts.

While there are many factors at play in this statement, there is at least a component of truth to the idea that strong brand integration helped spur the Europeans into setting record months, quarters, and years during a global economic downturn, while companies like Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha saw their businesses virtually collapse.

It is not that the Japanese manufacturers don’t have strong brands, it is just that their brands stand for something fundamentally different from those being forged by the Europeans.

While companies like Ducati, KTM, and Triumph are building entire communities and lifestyles around their motorcycles (hat tip to Harley-Davidson for showing them how), the Japanese continue to hang their hats on the attributes of their products.

Well-engineered, bulletproof, and relatively cheap, Japanese motorcycles tick all the right boxes when one is objectively measuring a motorcycle, but they are sufficiently lacking when it comes to creating lasting ties to their owners.

Ducati Desmosedici RR Trike Concept

03/03/2010 @ 12:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Nicolas Petit, a 25 year old Frenchman who lives just outside of Paris, is a motorcycle mechanic by day, and motorcycle sketcher by night. With already an impressive resume of motorcycle design sketches and renders to his name, we think Nicolas can add one more stunning example to the list: the Ducati Desmosedici RR Trike concept. We’re not huge fans of trikes here at A&R, but when you base your concept off one of the most powerful streetbikes ever created, it certainly catches our attention. Photos and more after the jump.