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.

Watch Al Jump Over Two Motorcycles

01/23/2015 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Apparently there is this guy named Al, and he’s really good at jumping over things. He’s so good at jumping over things, he goes by the name “Al the Jumper” — obviously.

Al has some pretty crazy ideas too, and that means he finds himself jumping over some pretty radical things — like in this case, where he jumps over two motorcycles that are speeding at him.

It’s an exercise in detailed planning, accurate execution, relentless training, and of course massive huevos. Happy Friday!

Dougie Lampkin Has a Day at the Red Bull Racing HQ

05/01/2013 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Watching freestyle trials riders is an exercise in understanding what most motorcyclists imagine they could do on two-wheels when they dream at night, but could never really hope to achieve in a million years during the waking hours.

Brimming with a skill set of patience, balance, and balls, riders like 12-time World Trials Champion Dougie Lampkin entertain us with their antics in confined spaces, on urban landscapes, and wiith gravity-defying front wheels.

So what happens when Lampkin visits the headquarters of Red Bull Racing? Well the obvious of course: wheelies, stoppies, burnouts…and that was just in the front courtyard.

Things start getting interesting though when Lampkin nips a bite to eat in the café, takes a look inside the F1 team’s giant kiln, and then later decides to jump a priceless Formula 1 race car. All in day’s work for a wanderlusting trials rider — we’ll just keep on dreaming.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Rok Bagoroš

02/14/2013 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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I was informed by our favorite Slovenian stunt rider, Rok Bagoroš, that today is apparently Valentine’s Day — the much feared day of forced romance.

For those in the motorcycling community opting not to call today Anna Howard Shaw Day, February 14th is really a day best spent with your special someone — that v-twin or inline-four in your life that really makes your heart race each time you are around her.

To help show your appreciation for everything she does throughout the year, gifts are always welcomed of course, and what girl doesn’t like a new pair of shoes? Some Bridgestone or Pirellis perhaps?

Maybe your special someone is into some more…hardcore, in which case we recommend getting some fresh kneepucks and maybe a chain or two (properly tensioned of course).

Lastly, don’t forget your leather suit, and always practice safe motorcycling.

Answering the Question: “Does the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype Wheelie?”

11/14/2012 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

SPOILER ALERT: Yes it does. Remember that audio clip we posted last week of a then unknown KTM revving its motor in what sounded like a tunnel or warehouse? Well now we have the video to that special moment, and naturally of course “The Beast” was in a bunker, probably in Austria, and the part of some larger government experiment to make super-humans…or something like that.

A mixture of dubstep, octane, and honest hooliganism, the clip has a little bit of something for everyone. Watch the video after the jump, checkout the photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype, read the rest our damn-fine coverage of the 2012 EICMA motorcycle show, and grab a beverage of your choice. It is a Wednesday after all, and that’s the only reason you need to motocelebrate.

Video: Ken Block Gymkhanas San Francisco — Awesomeness Tenuously Linked to Motorcycles

07/10/2012 @ 1:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber readers are an eclectic group of men and woman, and I am not going sully the romance we have going on here by lying to you guys with some sort of convoluted web of reasoning as to how a nearly team minuted Ken Block / DC Shoes / Ford Focus video is related to motorcycles — because well frankly, it’s not. Yeah sure, there is a 12 second Travis Pastrana cameo tucked-away in there somewhere, and that might be enough material to spin-doctor the snot out of this puppy, but here’s the deal:

First, the video is awesome in that 12-year-old boy discovering bottle rockets sort of way. Second, the video is set in my home town, and we all know how militant I can be about the Golden State, whose border I draw somewhere just south of Ojai. And third, the video is an example of great marketing, and it is such an easy example of what can crossover into motorcycles, it pains me that we here in the two-wheeled world haven’t answered back with something even better. Enjoy after the jump.

Do You Have 1st Amendment Right to Do a Burnout?

06/11/2012 @ 10:03 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Choosing to forgo a legal career and instead blog about motorcycles for a living, I of course have to comment on an interesting case that is about to hit a federal court in South Carolina, which concerns whether motorcyclists have a constitutional right to perform a burnout on their motorcycles. Before we all have a collective eyeroll on legitimizing squidly behavior on city streets, consider the central fact of this case is that the behavior in question was not preformed on a public road, but instead on private property.

The issue here stems from a biker hangout know for its burnout competitions, as Suck Bang Blow of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina found its permit for hosting biker parties to include an interesting outright ban on motorcycle burnouts for the 2012 rally season. This differs a bit from previous years, as past permits from Horry County simply limited the hours and locations that such activities could occur (from noon to 9pm, at the back of the building).

Calling the noise from the burnouts a nuisance, the county has banned all burnouts within its borders, stating it has the right to do so under state law (presumably that reasoning stems from basic nuisance analysis in tort law). SBB disagrees however, and after winning an emergency injunction, has taken the case to federal court. Arguing that burnouts are a protected form of speech that display male machismo (our words, not theirs), the biker bar hopes that federal judges will find that the act of performing a burnout is an action protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Julien Dupont Testing the Audi E-Bike

05/03/2012 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Stunting motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and sisters-in-law, the name of French trials rider Julien Dupont should be a familiar one to A&R readers by now. Similarly, the name of German car manufacturer Audi should also ring a bell, as the Auto Union’s recent $1.1 billion acquisition of Ducati Motor Holdings is certainly still fresh in every motorcyclist’s mind. A sign of maybe things to come, auto manufacturers have been working on something they call “last-mile transportation” which focuses on the use of short-distance urban transportation.

Cities like London are starting to impose congestion taxes, in an effort to curb road congestion in dense urban areas, as well as boost funding for roadway infrastructure. Despite the “drill at home” effort here in the US, the price of gas is surely only going to increase over the coming decade. Putting all this together, the long-term prospect of personal transportation is going to have to change dramatically over the next few generations, and car manufacturers know it.

Hoping to change with the times, we have seen car manufacturers and even motorcycle manufacturers dabble with the concept of branded motorcycles, scooters, and other sorts of low-impact transportation devices. One such endeavor from that train of thought is the Audi E-Bike. An exceptionally good looking piece of kit, the bike features a moped-like electric drivetrain, in addition to the traditional human-powered system. Carbon everything, LED headlight & taillight, frame-embeded dashboard, etc.

Oh, and that Dupont fellow? Well, someone has to make riding an electric bicycle look cool, right?

Rok Bagoroš’s New KTM 690 Duke Stunt Bike

04/24/2012 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

You may remember Rok Bagoroš from his two-wheeled escapades on the KTM 125 Duke, but the 23-year-old Slovenian stunt rider has just graduated to KTM’s big-boy hooligan machine: the KTM 690 Duke. With the Austrian manufacturer making a special KTM 690 Duke to suit the needs of Bagoroš, the folks at Kiska have also given the new Duke a nice personalized and edgy look to the bike to fit Rok’s style.

“There’s a BIG difference between the two bikes,” says Rok. “The bike has five times more power then the Duke 125 and any mistake can result in a crash, as I’ve already discovered. The bike has amazing power but I’m slowly getting it under control. I have to remember that this is my first big stunt bike and so I have to learn how to handle the extra power and convert it into spectacular tricks that will be fun to do and thrilling for the fans.”

While Rok gets used to his new toy, we will just have to lament the fact that KTM is still not bringing this bike to the United States. Enjoy the photos and video after the jump, it is likely as close as you will get to the KTM 690 Duke on USA soil.

Julien Welsch + Knobby Tires + Triumph Street Triple??!

04/11/2012 @ 6:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

If you want to end your Wednesday on a high-note, look no further than this video of Julien Welsch (Facebook & Twitter). Riding his Triumph Street Triple through woods enduro-style (yes, with knobbies and all), the famed stunt rider makes this fish-of-water look like its has lungs for gils.

Throw in some great photography, a dubstep soundtrack that doesn’t make you want to bang your head against the wall, & some epic riding, and well…for three minutes and twenty-nine seconds you won’t have anything bad to say about the French (je plaisantais mes amis!). In other news, somewhere in Leicestershire, a Triumph engineer is quietly sobbing.

Video: BRD Proves Electrics Can Hoon Too

02/13/2012 @ 5:46 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BRD Motorcycles continues to make progress with the company’s first electric motorcycle: the BRD RedShift. Asphalt & Rubber thoroughly enjoyed our time on BRD RedShift SM prototype when I rode it around the Infineon karting track, which makes me confident that the San Franciscan company’s small legion of wait-listed buyers will be pleasantly surprised by the electric motorcycle’s pep when it becomes available later this year.

Producing now a quick video of the BRD RedShift SM hooning around San Francisco, it could be that the guys at BRD want to build a little buzz about the RedShift before the company goes to Indianapolis to woo potential dealerships at the Indy Dealer Expo. Or maybe, the over-aged children at BRD couldn’t help but have a little fun between their 25hr work days. Either way, stunt rider Ryan Moore finds a way to put his creative and electronically-powered stamp on all the fine neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Bonus points for the pan-around shot in front of the Broadway strip clubs guys…not that we’ve been there.