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.

Report: KTM Abandons Electric Scooter Project

10/15/2014 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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KTM seems to have a tumultuous relationship when it comes to electric vehicles. The Austrian company was the first OEM to announce an electric product, back in 2011.

Then in 2013, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer announced that the timing wasn’t right for electrics…and then promptly debuted the company’s E-Speed electric scooter, several days later.

KTM has since revamped its electric dirt bike program, showing three new Freeride E models at EICMA (MX, Enduro, and Supermoto).

So maybe then it’s without surprise that word is going around that KTM is canning its E-Speed project, ahead of its expected 2015 debut.

Mahindra Building a Plant in Michigan for Electric Scooters

05/22/2014 @ 5:07 pm, by Aakash Desai5 COMMENTS

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Two wheeler division of Indian heavy industry conglomerate, Mahindra, plans on building $3000, 30-mph electric scooters for the North American market right in good ‘ol Michigan.

The scooter, called GenZe, will feature a luggage compartment, under-seat phone and laptop chargers, an LCD display that is essentially a smartphone instrument panel, and a potentially innovative seat that supports you in a sitting and standing position.

The GenZe website is actually pretty attractive, and Mahindra’s PR firm/team goes through great lengths to tell us why the GenZe is the solution for the ills of failing urban transportation infrastructure. Noticeably absent are any real specifications about the thing—like range, power, weight, etc.

Yamaha Tricity – A Three-Wheel Leaning Scooter with CVT

03/25/2014 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Yamaha is trickling out its Thailand-built models, and while we wait for the debut of the Yamaha YZF-R25 250cc sport bike, the tuning fork brand has an interesting new scooter for the world market: the Yamaha Tricity.

A three-wheeled leaning scooter, the Yamaha Tricity features a 125cc motor with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Designed to sell primarily in Thailand, the Tricity is a fairly premium and feature-packed scooter for that market, and Yamaha hopes to sell over 10,000 of them in Southeast Asia, Japan, and Europe.

Yamaha YZF-R25 Launch Outed by Website Metadata

03/24/2014 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It is a brave new world when it comes to the internet and motorcycle companies, and I have no problem saying that Asphalt & Rubber has broken a number of stories simply because we bring a different set of skills to the table when it comes to sniffing out a lead: namely we’re a bunch of nerds, who spend far too much time with computers.

Motorcycle OEMs are still coming to grasp with this internet thing and how the opening of information has changed the landscape, and that is where Yamaha got itself into trouble today. Just hours ahead of their launch, we can confirm that Yamaha is ready to drop the Yamaha R25 250cc sport bike and the Yamaha Tricity three-wheel scooter.

This isn’t exactly new information — it has even been hotly tipped by a number of publications, including A&R — but where the information comes from certainly is: Yamaha’s website metadata.

Yamaha YZF-R3 and More to Debut Next Week?

03/17/2014 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Yamaha has setup a teaser website, complete with countdown clock, for a new motorcycle(s) that should break cover next week. With just over eight days on the clock, at the time of this writing, we won’t have to wait long as we speculate to what Yamaha is brewing for us.

The general consensus so far is that we will see the Yamaha YZF-R25 and Yamaha YZF-R3 twin-cylinder sport bikes, which should come in either 250cc or 300cc formats, depending on which country we are talking about. Yamaha teased us with the YZR-R25 concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, and recent trademark filings in the United States and Europe have tipped off the YZF-R3 model.

From Yamaha’s teaser video we get a quick line drawing and head-on render of a sport bike, which looks very close to the R25 model we saw in Tokyo, which helps fuel the small-displacement sport bike fire further. Also seen in the video is some sort of urban maxi-scooter, along with its presumably accompanying engine. More details as we get it.

BRD Working on an Affordable Electric Scooter?

02/19/2014 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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I was just in the BRD Motorcycles office the other day, and managed to get a glimpse of a near-production version of the startup’s RedShift supermoto/motocross platform. A more refined version of the prototype I rode in December 2011, though fundamentally and visually a very similar machine, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are eagerly awaiting the release of these lites-class bikes.

Unfortunately for my brief tour, the BRD team took away my phone, and gave me only vague responses to my questions about the RedShift in exchange. I can’t fault them on either account — the San Franciscan company doesn’t mess about with the “spy photo” nonsense, and would rather comment on realities, rather than push marketing hype.

CEO Marc Fenigstein did say that the company would have some announcements very soon though, which I would presume to be about additional company funding, which in turn leads to more concrete delivery dates of production bikes. Of course, time will tell on that.

However, one of those announcements might have been leaked out in one of the company’s job postings though: a cheap, powerful, affordable electric scooter for 2015.

Hero RNT 150 Diesel Scooter Concept – Our Kind of Crazy

01/30/2014 @ 10:54 am, by Aakash Desai10 COMMENTS

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Coming from left field but hitting it squarely in the “awesome” section, Hero recently unveiled a 150cc diesel engine powered motorcycle called the “RNT”. The oil burner, with its square lines, flat surfaces and 1980’s Sci-fi aesthetics looks fantastically practical and more like a scooter than a motorcycle.

The RNT concept weighs about 300 lbs, has a top speed of 44mph, and a tank capacity of 1.5 gallons. At that weight, the Hero RNT 150 is quite pudgy compared to your typical 150cc scooter but the potential benefits of the increased efficiency and range of the Diesel might make up for that.

To top it all off, the concept features two wheel drive. It’ll be interesting to see if and how Hero goes forward with this concept.

Ducati CEO Denies Scooter Plans

12/30/2013 @ 2:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With the internet buzzing yet again about rumors of Ducati planning to build a scooter model, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali has also once again had to dismiss any truth to the matter. Talking to MCN about the matter, Domenicali said simply that “A scooter is not in the foreseeable future for Ducati.”

Domenicali went on to explain that small-displacement machines were not in the cards for Ducati and the brand’s foreseeable future, with the Italian motorcycle company electing instead to focus on niches with the larger displacement categories. It is no secret that Ducati is looking to introduce a scrambler-style model for the 2015 model year, and other models are presumably in the works as well.

Epic Scooter Split — Best JCVD Parody Yet?

12/30/2013 @ 10:12 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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After a week of watching Netflix with our loved ones, Asphalt & Rubber is finally back to the moto-news grind. If you’re anything like us, your egg is still a bit nogged, your pants don’t fit nearly as well as your pajamas did, and Monday came like the Queen of the Harpies to torment your soul in damnation. For those of you still on holiday, we hate / secretly envy you.

That’s ok though…we can do this. But, to get back into the spirit of things, here is something a little light-hearted: an epic parody, of Jean Claude Van Damme’s epic split. We have nothing but tremendous respect for JCVD and his magical inseam, but we have to give these bros some credit for their feat as well.

After all, this might end up being the one time that you want your friends to see you riding a scooter.

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It’s Not a Matter of If, But When Ducati Builds a Scooter

12/13/2013 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

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The rumors about a Ducati Scooter for the next model year are hitting the internet hard lately, and that is perhaps unsurprising. Ducati’s sales stalled in the third quarter of this year, and the Italian motorcycle company at this point in time is simply trying to finish 2013 on par with its 2012 success.

There is also the fact that Audi AG now owns Ducati Motor Holding, and would like to see the ~44,000 unit company bump its figures into the six-figure territory, and help its German owner take a certain Bavarian brand head-on in the two and four-wheeled industries.