“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.

Oh No, Not Again – Ducati 899 Panigale: Japan Edition

01/22/2014 @ 12:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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If you’re in the market for a Ducati 899 Panigale, and have the misfortune of living in Japan, the above is what you will be forced to buy. You see the Ducati 899 Panigale, like the Ducati 1199 Panigale and MV Agusta F3, is too loud in its stock form for the Japanese market.

Compounding the issue, the Island Nation is too small of a market for Ducati to revamp its design to meet homologation in its stock form, so an obvious quick-fix has been implemented instead.

It’s a bit of an eyesore on any model; but on the Panigale, the long carbon fiber pipe detracts from the hard work Ducati designers and engineers put into the attractive under-slung unit on the middleweight sport bike. Also of note is the revised big black plastic clutch cover, for added sound dampening.

We’re told the eyesore can be easily removed, with most dealers taking that liberty for an owner at the time of purchase, but still…somethings just aren’t right. A big hat tip to loyal A&R reader Trane for snapping these photos. The sake is on us.

Crimes Against Motorcycling: MV Agusta F3 – Japan Edition

03/26/2013 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

MV-Agusta-F3-675-Japan-02

Remember when the Ducati 1199 Panigale hit the shores of Japan, and the Bologna Bullet got an ugly mid-pipe and exhaust can welded into place, whiled the underslung exhaust cans welded shut? It was such an affront to the senses of some of our loyal Ducatisti readers, our comments section was flooded with the word “hoax” and the cry to burn it with fire.

Unlike Santa Claus, the Japanese-spec Ducati 1199 Panigale is very real Virginia, and it features other changes beyond its monstrous exhaust to help quiet the beast that resides within its fairings.

Ducati is not alone in the list of brands that have seen the gorgeous lines of their machines ruined by the strict noise and emission standards of Nippon. Committing yet another crime against motorcycling, we have for your viewing terror official photos of the Japanese edition of the MV Agusta F3 675 — yes, the exhaust can of doom makes a return appearance.

Sorry, The Japanese-Spec Panigale is Not a Hoax

08/30/2012 @ 5:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

Never underestimate the power of denial. When we first published photos of the Japanese-spec Ducati 1199 Panigale, the immediate reaction from readers was that the machine had to be a hoax. Oh no dear Ducatisti, Japan’s v-twin abomination of Italy’s latest superbike is very real.

With Japanese journalists now getting a chance to swing a leg over the machine, we get our first glimpse of the bike in motion. Noticeably quieter than our American-spec version, we still don’t understand the need for such a butchering of Ducati’s design. But then again, we’re bloggers, not engineers.

Featuring a single right-hand-side-mounted exhaust that taps into the under-slung units we are more familiar with, the Japanese-spec Ducati 1199 Panigale also features an enlarged plastic clutch cover, and a re-worked engine map (the S model also features the base model’s wheels). Check the video out after the jump. If any of our Japanese speakers hear something interesting in the video, post it up in the comments.

Too Loud for Japan – The Ducati 1199 Panigale Gets Ruined for the Japanese Market

08/14/2012 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler51 COMMENTS

We have to feel sorry for our Japanese readers today, as a crime against motorcycling has occurred in the Japanese motorcycle market. The bike of 2012, and arguably one of the more beautiful designs to come out of Bologna (don’t worry 916 fans, we still like the Tamburini classic more), it turns out that the Ducati 1199 Panigale was a touch too loud for the Japanese market, and modifications had to be made before it is released to the island nation next month. Some extra baffle, maybe some tuning to the ECU, and no big deal right? Well…no, not quite.

The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

Is Your Motorcycle Helmet Making You Deaf?

08/05/2011 @ 10:50 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

I ride bikes for a living, in case you didn’t know this already. I ride more miles on two wheels in a year, than the average American does in their automobile (I put more four-wheel miles down a year than the average American does as well, if that gives you any idea how much of Asphalt & Rubber is written while on the road). With all this riding, I’ve become increasingly concerned over my hearing, as I’d like still to have it when I’m older. Thus for my own personal benefit, I’ve been trying out the different kinds of ear protection that are available to motorcyclists, as well as a variety of helmets from manufacturers (articles surely to ensue).

So when the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America published a study titled “Aeroacoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise” in which the various frequencies and decibel levels of helmet-generated noise were measured and tested, I became very interested in the study’s findings. Bear in mind I’m a staunch believer in helmet laws and riding with a full-face helmet (my apologies to the Libertarians in the group), so when the study suggested that my two main concerns regarding my head may be at odds with each other, it piqued my interest.

The Noise Snare Photo System – Loud Pipes Beware

05/23/2011 @ 7:20 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

The next hot-button issue concerning the EPA and motorcycles is not gas and particle pollution like you might expect, but instead simply noise. There’s always been a battle between the straight-pipe running motorcycle contingency (you know who you are), whose loud pipes have been an earsore for both regular citizens and motorcyclists alike. With the EPA cracking down at a federal level, and states like California adopting similar provisions, it would seem the day of the straight-pipe are going the way of the dodo, but the issue doesn’t stop there.

Take the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, the would-be superbike of 2011 (if Kawasaki ever sends us one from the press fleet), which boasted an astonishing 207hp at the crank with ram-air. Motorcycle enthusiasts of the United States were disappointed when the machine arrived on American soil, and learned that the new ZX-10R had been de-tuned to meet EPA standards. Losing roughly 10hp, the presumption was that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R had failed to meet emission standards, but the reality is that Kawasaki had to de-tune the bike in order to make it quieter.

Shortening the rev range by 750 RPM, Kawasaki basically gamed the system on how the EPA measures sound, which is based off a percentage of the total rev range. Perhaps the first to comply with this new standard, American motorcyclists can look forward to different performance spec-sheets on sport bikes from those found abroad in the soon-to-come future. Of course as is the case with the Kawasaki ZX-10R, bypassing the changes made to meet EPA compliance is a simple matter of modifying the electronics package, and then Bob’s your uncle. However would-be tinkerers may want to think twice, as a new device known as the Noise Snare is set to make its debut on catching overly-loud motor vehicles.

AMA Spits Some Venom at Gov. Schwarzenegger During AMA Motorcyclist of the Year Announcement

12/08/2010 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

The AMA has announced its AMA Motorcyclist of the Year, and  the organization that represents all American motorcyclists has chosens Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California for its yearly distinction. Using the award as a platform to denounce the outgoing Governor, the AMA in its announcement chastised Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signing of California Senate Bill 435, which brings EPA noise enforcement standards to the Golden State. We’ve already addressed here at A&R how California’s adoption of this law essentially is a moot point legally, but the AMA’s grandstanding on this issue smacks speaks to a larger issue that goes to the core of the organization.

Clearly unable to self-regulate and educate the very people it is supposed to represent, the AMA is instead more concerned with tar and feathering politicians and governmental agencies for addressing a growing issue that negatively affects the relationship between motorcyclists and the general population. The simple truth is that a small portion of our community feel the need to compensate for their short-comings by running straight-through exhaust pipes that not only annoy normal citizens, but other motorcyclists as well. How is this an issue that 99% of motorcyclists can’t get behind?

While the AMA has some good ideas on how to measure and enforce lower sound levels from motorcycles, the organization’s lack of anything resembling efficacy in getting those provisions adopted should not create an open license to lay the blame on others (well except maybe the MIC, which is just as culpable for this problem as the AMA). While it’s easy to chastise Gov. Schwarzenegger for signing a bill into law, we think the AMA should take a harder look in the mirror on how motorcyclists created this problem for themselves, because in the end we’re the ones that ruined a good thing.

AMA press release after the jump, but for the record we would have given the award to Erik Buell…but hey that’s just our opinion.

Rumor: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Getting Horsepower Reduction for the American Market

10/07/2010 @ 6:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Immediately after the launch of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, which claimed a 207hp figure at the crank with ram-air (197hp sans the air), rumors began to swell that the new ZX-10R’s peak performance figure would be drastically less in the American market. Apparently and supposedly due to federal regulations by the EPA, Kawasaki will be lowering the rev-limiter on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R in order to comply with US government provisions.

Whether those rumors are in regards to the ZX-10R’s emissions or noise levels at that rev range is unclear at this time, but speculation that the power decrease is due to the new 10R’s peak power figure being north of 200hp are completely unfounded (Editor’s note: the United States has no provisions, at both the state and federal level, that cap motorcycle horsepower performance levels from the factory). We’ve reached out to Kawasaki for an official response on the issue, more as we get it.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs California Exhaust Bill into Law – Nothing Changes

09/29/2010 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has seemingly just terminated loud and free flowing exhaust systems on motorcycles in the Golden State of California. Affecting only motorcycles and aftermarket parts made in 2013 and on, the California’s law cracks down on noisy bikes by imposing fines  of $50 to $100 for first-time offenses, and fines of $100 to $250 for subsequent offenses.

The law’s passage has been a big issue for Californian motorcyclists, with the fires being fanned by both the MIC and AMA, who would like to state and national exhaust noise laws adopt an SAE standard. The reality though is that California’s law brings the state in-line with Federal laws on the issue, which already superseded California’s lax standards, which were widely unenforced by the state’s law enforcement officers.

With nothing changing from a legal perspective, it remains doubtful that California LEO’s will ramp-up their enforcement of the new provisions, considering how seriously they took the federal statutes.

Source: California Senate Bill 435 via Dealer News