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.

2010 German GP Infographic

07/20/2010 @ 2:28 pm, by Peter Lombardi7 COMMENTS

There’s Never a Bunny Around When You Need One

07/20/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

God bless Randy de Puniet. For whatever reason, the French LCR Honda rider has wormed his way into our hearts here at Asphalt & Rubber. At first it was because de Puniet had a penchant for crashing, perpetually misplacing his shirt, and well…being French. As the leading satellite bike rider in the 2010 season though, Randy de Puniet has found a new consistency with the LCR Honda, and has even given the factory Repsol Honda boys a run for their money on more than one occasion. We have to admit, we’ve been impressed with de Randy 2.0 this season.

de Puniet has also stayed mostly out of the gravel traps for 2010, showing a new maturity. He’s still French, pompous, and generally comes across as a playboy, but we sort of like that in our French men. Afterall, if Parisians were courteous to American tourists, the city would feel a lot like Atlanta: hot, dirty, and full of people who talk funny.

So when Randy de Puniet broke his leg during the German GP, we were crushed to hear that our favorite rider in the paddock would be out until Brno, and miss the Laguna Seca round. Our concerns of course then immediately turned to Randy’s well-being as he was being carted off for examination at Clinica Mobile.

Was he ok? Did his broad shoulders fit through the clinic’s meager doorways? Who would hold his brave hand while Dr. Costa poked and proded him with his medical “science”? We now know those answers. Video after the jump.

MotoGP TV Ratings Bounce Back with Valentino Rossi’s Return at Sachsenring

07/19/2010 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Auditel (the Italian version of Nielson), is reporting that MotoGP TV ratings were up during the German GP, which coincidently was also the venue for Valentino Rossi’s return to motorcycle racing. The loveable Italian rider is more popular than pasta in his home country, and with Rossi back in the premiere class, MotoGP’s ratings got a big shot in the arm. Reporting 5.5 million viewers during the German GP, Auditel estimates that nearly 43.5% of Italian TV viewers were watching the GP. Warning, spoilers after the jump.

Too Close for Missiles, I’m Switching to Guns

07/19/2010 @ 6:53 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Dorna is hard at work at keeping the videos under wraps. We’ve replaced the original one, who knows how long the new one will stay active.

Do you know what a dogfight looks like on the MotoGP grid? You would if you saw the German GP this weekend at Sachsenring. Playing host to an epic clash between Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, the German track was a battlefield as these two riders swapped turns with each other. How did it end? Did Rossi ride through the pain? Did Stoner’s new wings give him the edge? Check the video after the jump, and get your Top Gun quotes ready.

Randy de Puniet Out for Seca – Roger Lee Hayden In

07/19/2010 @ 6:03 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

If you haven’t watched the German GP at Sachsenring yet, stop reading now. After crashing during Sunday’s race and breaking his tibia and fibia, Randy de Puniet will be out for the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca next weekend. The horrific crash leaves de Puniet in a similar situation as to what Valentino Rossi found himself in 6 weeks ago, which gives us a glimpse as to when we can likely see the shirtless Frenchman back in MotoGP racing. Who is to replace de Puniet at Seca? Why none other than Roger Lee Hayden.

Ducati Desmosedici Gets Wings for Sachsenring

07/18/2010 @ 12:09 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Ducati-Desmosedici-GP10-wings-Sachsenring-05

MotoGP fans in attendance during qualifying at the German GP may have felt like they were watching a Formula 1 race. This is because while at Sachsenring on Saturday, the Marlboro Ducati team used a new fairing design for the Desmosedici GP10 that incorporates F1-style winglets.

Used for only part of Saturday’s sessions, both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden were fitted with the new fairing, which has small lateral ‘wings’ on each side of the bike. Ducati says these wings are designed “to help prevent wheelies around the dramatic undulations” of the German circuit. We just think they look pretty cool. More photos after the jump.

Let’s Try This Again…Caption This Photo

07/17/2010 @ 3:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Red Flag Interrupts Qualifying at Sachsenring

07/17/2010 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP qualifying was underway today in Germany, as riders took to Sachsenring with good weather abounding. With the return of Valentino Rossi to the series, the MotoGP paddock is buzzing with excitement, but the good vibrations would be cut short as the qualifying session was red flagged part-way through.

Seemingly grenading one of his six precious motors, Jorge Lorenzo dumped oil onto the German track, but before officials could the halt the session, Ben Spies and Randy de Puniet experienced a better understanding to what a mu coefficient is, and ended up in the gravel trap. While Spies was un-hurt, de Puniet was seen grabbing his ankle after the crash. The French rider did not participate in the restarted qualifying session, and spent his time in Clinica Mobile.

Rossi Given the Green Light to Race at Sachsenring

07/15/2010 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Meeting today with the Chief Medical Officer at the Sachsenring, Rossi has received word that he can participate in, and race at, the German GP. This means Rossi can turn a wheel in Friday’s practice sessions, and further assess his readiness for MotoGP racing. Should Rossi take to the Yamaha YZF-M1 by Saturday, he will have gone from injury to competition in just six weeks’ time, an incredible feat.

Although he completed 46 laps at Brno this week, Rossi still reported pain in his leg and shoulder, along with being tired from the testing sessions. With fans and MotoGP keen to see the nine-time Champion is keen to get back to racing, we can imagine there’s little that will stop Rossi from riding on Sunday, thus giving Wataru Yoshikawa a reprieve from his duties.

Rossi Ready to Race at Sachsenring – Needs Chief Medical Officer’s “Ok” in Order to Race

07/14/2010 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi announced today that he is fit enough to race at the German GP this weekend. Crashing only six weeks ago, Rossi has undergone a miraculous recuperation process, which saw the Italian rider utilizing a hyperbaric chamber to expedite his body’s recovery process. After a painful testing session at Misano, Rossi looked to be in far better physical shape a couple days ago at Brno.

Riding a WSBK spec Yamaha R1 at near Superpole pace (and faster than James Toseland), Rossi looked ready for Sachsenring this weekend, but postponed his scheduled annoucement on Monday to today. Seeing now that he has the fitness to race again, Rossi hopes to ride the Fiat-Yamaha M1 once again. Howver, Rossi will first have to get the green light from the MotoGP Chief Medical Officer before he can race, but that’s more of a formality than a material concern.