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.

Slow-Mo Supermoto for Your Friday Pleasure

10/26/2012 @ 5:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a supermoto so I can go sliding through corners, launching off jumps, and lofting epic wheelies all-day long with reckless abandon.

You see Santa, sport bike track days here in Northern California are very expensive, and let’s not even begin to talk about how much a “whoopsies” can cost on today’s Yamahonda GXS-R1’s.

I’ve been a good boy this year, and always wear my gear when out riding, so please Santa can you find room on your sleigh for a supermoto for me this year. I promise to feed it fresh racing slicks every weekend.

Photos from the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

08/16/2012 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber is already off the mountain, and onto Indianapolis, but I am still wrapping up my coverage of the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The second-oldest motorsport race in the United States, Pikes Peak gets a bit less fanfare than America’s oldest race, the Indianapolis 500 (apropos to my current locale). In general, the hill climb is a campy affair that is full of privateers, with that statement being even more relevant in the motorcycle class. More of a car event, than a bike one, it is the two-wheeled riders who are the real heroes in my mind, as stakes for any crash on the mountain is met with higher stakes, as well as trees, jagged rocks, and long drops.

Ducati is ever-present at the mountain, and brings with it another level of media attention for the motorcycles. The hope this year was that the Italian brand would not continue to race itself to the clouds, as Triumph was expected to arrive in force as well, with rider Joe Kopp giving Carlin Dunne and Greg Tracy a run for their money. This hope failed to materialize, with the 1205cc class hosting four Ducatis in total: the two backed Multistradas, as well as two Streetfighter entries. Now with the fully-paved course to the top, there was a lot of speculation regarding what sort of entries we would see this year in the motorcycle classes, though PPIHC put the kibosh on that fairly quickly, slotting the proper road bikes in the “Exhibition Powersports” class.

Watching the bikes file through, one after another, during the practice sessions, it is clear Pikes Peak is a still a dirt bike race masquerading itself as a road course event. Supermotos and flat trackers rule the entry list; but more so, it is the style of the riders that gives it all away. Foot out with the bike pushed down and under was the status quo, with the occasional rider coming through with a knee out and the bike leaned over. I will probably explore this idea further later, but you can’t help but feel that Pikes Peak is in a transitional state. Stymied in its history, it will be curious to see if the event can evolve into something else. The road certainly has.

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.

I Love the Nightlife. I’ve Come to Boogie.

01/25/2012 @ 5:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Us Danes, we’re a strange breed. From the culture that taught you how to rape and pillage, Scandinavia is making yet another contribution to the motorcycling world with this latest video. Featuring Danish Supermoto Champion Andreas Mikkelsen, we get a RoToR camera-esque perspective (this rig is actually home made) on the Dane’s practice session at the Als Supermotard Club in Denmark. It’s videos like this that are slowly eroding my will-power to resist getting into supermotard riding. Also, I don’t know who was in charge of the music selection on this thing, but my hat is off to him/her. I love the nightlife. I’ve come to boogie.

Video: This is How You Thank Your Sponsors

12/12/2011 @ 10:19 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Winning the French Supermoto National Championship, Sylvain Bidart and the Luc1 team have a lot to be thankful for this year, and they of course couldn’t have achieved their victory without the help of their sponsors. So the French team put together a video, with some more-than-strategic product placement for the team’s main sponsors: Honda, Michelin, Ixon, & Intermarché. Is it a nine minute rolling advertisement for these brands? Absolutely. Did we watch it six times and giggle like little girls? Maybe…yeah, yeah we did.

But after riding the BRD RedShift SM Prototype and watching clips like this one (note the RotoR camera footage), it’s hard not to go buy a dirt bike and some 17″ wheels this very second. Serious fun on two wheels is being had here, and with our local karting tracks only charging $40 for a supermoto track day, the sport hits our wallet in all the right places. Hrrrmmm…

Video: Riding the BRD RedShift SM

12/09/2011 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

During our chance to ride the BRD RedShift SM prototype, Wes Rowe was on-hand to document the event with photos and video. Sidelined by legal technicalities at Infineon Raceway (damn lawyers), Wes still managed to grab enough footage from outside the fenced-in perimeter of the karting track, and made this short promo video of the BRD RedShift SM. A day choked full of journalists, investors, racers, and extremely curious petrol heads, my time on the RedShift was short, but very intriguing.

Considering that BRD hopes to be delivering bikes to customers this time next year, the RedShift SM is already a very polished machine. Still true to its prototype name though, we had some technical issues during the test, but because electrics are powered by software, not mechanics, the team was able to clear the blue screen of death, and smooth out the lurching issue we encountered. What would have taken weeks in re-tooling and machining, was accomplished essentially overnight. Is the power of the electric drivetrain sinking in yet people?

Pay no attention to the no-talent internet hack at the 1:20 mark. No one really likes him.

Ride Review: BRD RedShift Supermoto Prototype

12/04/2011 @ 10:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

It is a rare opportunity when a journalist gets to swing a leg over a prototype motorcycle. Virtually assured by definition to have perceivable flaws, effectively all the companies in the motorcycle industry prefer to keep the public and media at arm’s length until they have massaged their work into something that is ready for primetime consumption. Testing the BRD RedShift SM electric supermoto at Infineon Raceway today, we could attribute our good fortune to the fact that BRD Motorcycles (faster-faster.com) does not subscribe to the motorcycle industry’s status quo.

Conversely, we could also just as easily say that the boys at BRD are easily crazy enough to let a couple moto-journalists test the only existing example of what nearly a million dollars in motorcycle technology builds you, and the fact that those journalists are online blogger internet nerd types, well that just proves BRD’s insanity, right?

That notion of craziness comes almost without question though, as you would have to be crazy to think that you can take on the major OEMs in their own backyard. You would have to be crazy to give up the security of your day job to start a new venture in the worst recession since the 1930’s, crazy to convert your successful existing business into a risky startup, crazy to spend your accumulated life savings so every dollar raised goes into the company’s shared vision.

There is something crazy about what is going on with a small motorcycle startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, and as I not-so-prudently signed my life away on the test ride disclaimer today, Asphalt & Rubber got to see what manifestations BRD’s farce had produced since we last saw the BRD RedShift SM in August of this year.

Video: Behind the Scenes with the BRD RedShift

09/21/2011 @ 5:51 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Dropping us an email from across The Bay, the guys at BRD sent us this cool video by Sam Erickson, which follows the BRD team as they got ready to launch the BRD RedShift electric supermotard. Following the San Francisco company over July & August, we get a glimpse of the finally design and assembly of the Redshift, along with the bike’s launch in San Francisco (bonus points if you can spot my face during the unveiling).

We’ve been following BRD pretty closely the past few months, and while we can’t share too much of what we’ve seen and heard (rumors of a helium-filled front wheel are probably only slightly exaggerated), CEO Marc Fenigstein tells us that Monday next week will see the startup release the BRD Redshift’s final technical specifications, along with the retail pricing. As for the video, it’s well very well done, and captures the small team at BRD hard at work bringing ICE parity to the EV space. Check it out after the jump.

BRD RedShift SM Breaks Cover with Gas Parity

08/03/2011 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

We’ve been following the guys at BRD since the beginning of the year, and this scrappy San Francisco company has finally busted out of stealth mode with its first electric motorcycle line: the BRD RedShift. With a goal of meeting or exceeding parity with gasoline-powered two-wheelers, BRD’s first foray into the motorcycle industry is an interesting one, as the RedShift line brings true 250cc four-stroke power to the electric realm. Producing 40hp from the company’s proprietary water-cooled AC motor, the BRD RedShift SM produces more power than a Honda CRF250R while tipping scales at less than 250 lbs in supermoto trim (less than 240 lbs in MX-spec).

The RedShift line is BRD’s first line of motorcycle, and will feature three different purpose-built trims. The Supermoto (SM) model will be BRD’s on-road city bike, while the MX model will be the company’s enduro offering. BRD has also factored fleet sales heavily into its business plan, and will have a vehicle, designated as the RedShift PD, that will be available for government and private fleet usage. Point of sale and warranty work will stem from a standard dealer model, which will be aggressively built out over the coming months, and plays back into the company’s mantra that electric vehicles don’t need to be different from gas bikes, just better than them.

Dani Pedrosa Out for Silverstone – And Then Some?

06/06/2011 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Dani Pedrosa on his blog today announced that he would not compete in the British GP at Silverstone next weekend, instead opting to heal his collarbone further, which he broke a the French GP several weeks ago. Though Pedrosa was on the fence about competing in the Catalan GP, it comes as no surprise that the Spanish rider will sit out Silverstone, now having missed his home race in Barcelona.

What does come as surprising though is the very credible rumors that Pedrosa has re-injured his shoulder while doing some Supermoto training, and because of this incident, may sit out the rest of the season (which may have prompted the blog post itself). Boom goes the dynamite.