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.

Maybe There is Hope for Humanity After All?

06/18/2013 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

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I will keep this post short. Recently we posted that the reported demise (and ensuing celebration) of American Chopper was a bit premature. It appears that our favorite juicing bike builder, Paul Teutul Sr., wasn’t quite done with the limelight, despite sending Orange County Choppers merchandising into bankruptcy, alienating two of his sons, and generally making motorcyclists look like a bunch of neanderthal’s with tribal tattoos, leather pants, and sleeveless shirts (we call it the Chopper Trifecta).

No, it seems someone told Paul Sr.that  he should give the small screen another shot, and the Country Music Television (CMT) wanted to oblige — for reasons still not fully understood by this author. The catch though was that Paul Sr. needed a compatriot — someone to focus his mercurial temper upon, and you know…to do the actual building of the bikes. With over a month now lost in that pursuit, OCC has yet to find someone desperate enough for TV stardom to fill the spot. Huzzah!

OCC Coming Back to TV? — Universe Collapses in on Self

05/03/2013 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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After a very public father/son break-up between Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr., a steroid-ring scandal involving Paul Sr., and finally a bankruptcy proceeding, it appears that Orange County Choppers is the impossible to kill multi-headed hydra of doom that we all knew it was, as the custom chopper shop is once again headed to the small screen and recruiting some talent, on and off the show.

Looking for “someone who will work alongside Paul Senior, running the shop and helping build some of the best custom motorcycles in the world,” OCC says it will be back on television with a new show later this month (last we heard, the show was still looking for a creative director too). Please for the love of god, will someone give this man the attention he craves so dearly??! Or, just shoot us in the face.

Say Goodbye to Orange County Choppers Merchandising

02/06/2013 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Fresh off the moto-press newswires, we get word that Hudson Valley Merchandising LLC, the merchandising arm of Orange County Choppers, has sought protection in bankruptcy court under Chapter 7 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

Listed as having $1.12 million in assets and $1.44 million in debts, Hudson Valley Merchandising LLC will be given a trustee by the court, who will then likely dismantle the company and its assets in order to make the company’s creditors as whole as possible.

American Chopper Cancelled: Thank You Jesus?

11/16/2012 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

After 10 years and 233 episodes on the air, American Chopper is finally getting dragged out behind the shed, and put out of its misery on December 11th, 2012. It has been a long road with the Teutul family, as for the past decade we have watched the Oedipal struggle between Paul Jr. and Paul Sr., with man-child Mikey trapped in the middle, serving as the only adult in the group.

Things started out well enough, with the folks at Orange County Choppers making some interesting customs, and exposing a mainstream TV audience to the world of motorcycles…albeit in the same lowest-common denominator way that is typically found on WWF’s Monday Night RAW.

Like all good Hollywood dreams, the money started to trickle in for “theme” bikes on the show. Turning what should have been an exposé of mechanical craftsmanship into a marketing/PR circle-jerk with the Teutul family’s severe anger-management issues as the sideshow distraction.

Somewhere within the plot lines of Paul Sr.’s bicep size, and his battle with son on who can more perfectly fit the description of narcissism in the DSM-IV, bikes were made…but really we just showed up to see how many chairs could be thrown across the room in a single episode, or how often Paul Jr. could act like a spoiled brat.

Paul Teutul Sr. Joins the Cast of Celebrity Apprentice

01/04/2012 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

NBC has announced its cast for the next installment of Celebrity Apprentice, the game show where b-list celebrities supplicate themselves to the marrow-sucking Donald Trump (it’s actually great television if you’ve never caught an episode). Joining a cast comprised of Adam Carolla, Arsenio Hall, Clay Aiken, Tia Carrere, and others, Celebrity Apprentice will also see Orange County Choppers’ Paul Teutul Sr. take on the challenges of Mr. Trump.

Roid Rage? Paul Sr. Named in Illegal Steroid Case

02/07/2011 @ 12:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

In a case being prosecuted in Florida, a former dentist has plead guilty to supplying a number for high-profile athletes and celebrities with various steroid and performance-enhancing drugs. Among the names being pulled out of his business records is Paul Teutul Sr. of Orange County Choppers and the popular television show American Chopper.

According to the seized documents, Paul Sr. received dozens of prescriptions for steroids and HGH (human growth hormone). The scripts for these drugs were written by the plaintiff in the case, Dr. James M. D’Amico, along with three other Florida physicians, culminating in over a four years of use.

This news of course comes as virtually no surprise to anyone who has ever watched the show American Chopper.

Paul Sr. Quietly Selling Bikes from His Personal Collection

01/31/2011 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Add a 1943 BSA M20 to the list of bike’s available from Paul Teutul Sr.’s personal collection.

Paul Teutul Sr. cannot seem to stay out of the news lately. First the senior Teutul sued his son for ownership of Orange County Choppers, invoking a minority buyout clause that would pay Paul Jr. the market value of the business, which was allegedly valued at nothing, thus robbing Paul Jr. of his shares.

Then just recently at the end of the last week we learned that GE Capital and OCC were in disagreement over the terms of OCC’s loan from the credit company. Displeased by having to pay full-price on a devalued building, Paul Sr. has stopped paying back his loans to GE Capital, which have resulted in the financing firm filing for foreclosure on the custom chopper crew.

Allegedly Paul Sr. has the money, but wanted to sway GE into renegotiating the loan. While we were skeptical of this claim, it’s interesting to note that Paul Sr. has since quietly put two motorcycles from his personal collection up on eBay (a Ariel T-5 & BSA B33).

Using the account of OCC Head Assembly and Technician Supervisor Nicholas Hansford to list the bikes, it looks like at least two more motorcycles (maybe an A&R reader can help us identify them) are set to go up for sale. While Hansford has a video of the BSA B33 sitting in his YouTube channel, two other unlisted bikes (another BSA and a Norton) are included in the channel with video titles labeled “bikes for sale.”

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and it all sorta makes you wonder what’s really going on in Orange County, New York. More info on the auctions after the jump.

Orange County Choppers Facing Foreclosure

01/27/2011 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, only have basic cable, and don’t frequent moustache competitions, you’ve likely heard of Orange County Choppers, American Chopper, and the Teutul family. Originally started by father (Paul Sr.) and son (Paul Jr.), the small theme bike builders of Orange County Choppers came to fame when The Discovery Channel (later moved to The Learning Channel) picked them up for its hit show American Chopper.

Usually centering around a bike with spider theme, and the generally dysfunctional relationship between Paul Sr. and his sons, the show almost hit the skids when Paul Jr. left the company to start his own venture Paul Jr. Designs.

As the father and son battle out in court over a stock buyout between the two Teutuls (Paul Sr. has a 80% share, Paul Jr. 20%, and there’s some interesting buyout clauses in their ownership agreement), Discovery pitched a new concept for the show, calling it American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior, which follows the two motorcycle shops as they struggle to build bikes in the moments when they aren’t trying to destroy each other. Throwing chairs while discussing business issues is just good family fun and a totally appropriate way to communicate with another person, right?

Whether you take Junior’s side or Senior’s, or even follow the melodrama as it still airs on television (or TMZ), there’s a very real possibility that Orange County Choppers could go into foreclosure, as GE Capital has reportedly not received a payment from Paul Sr. in sometime.

American Chopper is Back: Senior vs. Junior

04/09/2010 @ 2:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler233 COMMENTS

That’s right your favorite motorcycle show to hate, American Chopper, is back on TLC for another season, this time pitting father against son. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior centers around both Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. building motorcycles in a sort of head-to-head competition. The father-son duo hasn’t spoken in over a year, which has created a great deal of drama in what was hailed as the last season of the original show. It looks like that drama is set to return to a television near you.

American Chopper Cancelled by TLC

02/08/2010 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler81 COMMENTS

UPDATE: American Chopper is back as American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior. The new show sees both Teutuls going head-to-head in bike build offs at their respective workshops.

The Learning Channel (TLC) has finally given the television series American Chopper the boot, releasing information that show’s season finale will debut this Thursday at 9pm (8pm Central). We can only conclude that the show’s demise comes as a result of the ongoing rift between Paul Teutul Sr. and his sons, in particular his former partner Paul Teutul Jr. The two Paul’s are locked in a legal struggle regarding ownership of the American Chopper business, which has bled onto the television screen.