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.

MV Agusta Gets €15 Million Loan for New Business Plan

Good turns for MV Agusta, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has secured a €15 million loan from SACE and Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM). The loan, which was issued by BPM and guaranteed by SACE, will go towards MV Agusta’s foreign growth plans, namely the company’s strengthening of its US business, and its push into Brazil and Southeast Asia. The more business-speak version of that statement is that MV Agusta will use the €15 million to implement the company’s 2014-2018 business plan, which has the company expanding its product range and penetrating into “high-potential” markets.

Nissin ABS Brake Defect Creates Waves of Recalls for OEMs

07/31/2013 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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A wave of recalls are reaching the shores of motorcycle manufacturers, as brake maker Nissin has had to recall a number of its ABS units for a misaligned inlet valve, which could allow foregin particles into the fluid of the braking system, which could cause the ABS functionality to fail.

Triumph first discovered the defect, and reported it to Nissin, which in-turn notified its other affected OEMs. So far  5,766 motorcycles have been affected by the recall, comprising a total of four manufacturers (a list of the models is after the jump, with a link to the appropriate NHTSA posting). We will update this list if/when more model recalls are announced.

Bill Warner, The Fastest Man on a Motorcycle, Dies While Attempting 300 MPH in One Mile

07/15/2013 @ 6:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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The motorcycle industry is mourning the loss of Bill Warner today, as the 44-year-old land speed record holder died while attempting to break the 300 mph barrier over the course of a single mile. Racing in the “The Maine Event” at the Loring Air Force Base, Warner’s partially streamlined and turbo-charged Suzuki Hayabusa veered to the right after clearing the one-mile marker, and went off the runway course roughly 2,000 feet later, before ultimately crashing.

According to reports, Warner was conscious and communicative after the crash, but he succumbed to his injuries about an hour and fifteen minutes later at a hospital near Caribou, Maine. It is not clear how fast he was going when he left the course’s runway, but he had been clocked at 285 mph while on the course.

Wanting, Hoping, Praying for Hayabusa

11/21/2012 @ 6:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Fifteen years ago, I fell in love with the Suzuki Hayabusa. A courtship that started well-ahead of my formal indoctrination to two-wheels, the Hayabusa was the capstone of motorcycle performance in my youthful eyes. I lusted after its sleek wind-tunnel tuned lines, and marveled at its outright speed, which at its debut, trumped everything else on the market. Approaching the 200 mph mark with their designs, Japan sold us on a “gentleman’s agreement” between the factories to govern their machines to 186 mph — I call it the pinnacle of technical collusion of the first degree.

It is so much easier to compete against another manufacturer when you don’t actually have to compete against them. The Suzuki Hayabusa could co-exist with the Honda CBR1100XX and Kawasaki ZX-12R in bubble that assured no one bike, on paper, could trump the other, after all…they all went 186 mph in the newly declared speed war. It is debatable whether this self-governing measure by the Japanese OEMs avoided a nanny state imposition of laws and regulations onto the motorcycle industry, but there can be no debate about the stagnation the gentleman’s agreement caused in the marketplace.

Once designated as being hyperbikes, a term that gave a nod to the performance specifications being beyond the superbikes found on the race track, we have watched the cessation of the Honda Super Blackbird (2003 in the USA, 2007 worldwide), and witnessed the Hayabusa and ZX-12R, later the Kawasaki ZX-14R, morph into capital “s” sport-tourers that are a far cry from their original intents.

Whether you caste the current Suzuki Hayabusa as the second-generation of the machine, or simply a massaged version of the first-generation GSX-1300R, it has stood motionless for far too long since its beginnings 15 years ago, and revision in 2008. It is time for the Hayabusa to return to its hyperbike roots, and once again captivate the imagination of little boys, and grown men, with what its possible on two wheels.

2013 Suzuki Hayabusa Gets ABS & Brembo Brakes

10/02/2012 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

It’s hard to believe that for over a decade, the Suzuki Hayabusa has gone relatively unchanged from its original form. Sure, there have been some updates — a nose-job here, a face-lift there, but let’s be honest, the engineer responsible for the Suzuki GSX1300R has mostly just been pushing paper around his desk since the Clinton administration.

That tradition has not come to a close for the next model year, though the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa does get some massaging from the Japanese brand. Updated with an anti-locking brakes system (ABS), the 2012 Suzuki GSX1300R, as it name implies, joins the rest of the GSX-R family in getting Brembo Monobloc calipers.

Ghost Rider Giving Away His 499hp Turbo Hayabusa

01/05/2012 @ 11:06 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

I’m going to date myself here, but I remember when I first got into motorcycles, I watched a video of this guy named “Ghost Rider” storm the streets of Sweden. Weaving through traffic like it was a rolling chicane and evading the cops with reckless abandon, I would find out later that Ghost Rider had made a name for himself by doing something all motorcyclists have wanted to partake in at some time or another, but never had the stones to follow through with.

Releasing a number of DVDs of his street antics, Ghost Rider’s identity has remained somewhat of a secret throughout all this, though locals tell me that everyone knows who the man clad in black is, but because of how Sweden handles its burden of proof, Johan Law has never been able to knock on the Ghost Rider’s door. Whether you think his videos are cool, irresponsible, or both, it look like Ghost Rider’s 499hp turbo-powered Hayabusa streetfighter is going to a new home…and it might be yours.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R Breaks Cover

10/10/2011 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

True to its teaser campaign, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 to our friends abroad) finally got revealed today. Tweaking its hyperbike offering, Kawasaki has confirmed that the ZX-14R (note the added R to the name) will get a displacement bump to 1,441cc, along with a cosmetic overhaul and other basic features. Most notably added to the Kawasaki ZX-14R is the addition traction control, and ride-by-wire throttle control system. Kawasaki hasn’t spilled all the beans about the new ZX-14R, but power is said to be over 200hp at the crank with ram-air.

Kawasaki is already pitting the ZX-14R against Suzuki’s Hayabusa, perhaps in an attempt to re-ignite the speed wars of the 1990’s. While no top speed has been touted, the Japanese company is quoting the Kawasaki ZX-14R as “the world’s fastest accelerating production motorcycle.” A lengthy superlative, but it will be interesting to see if Suzuki responds with an update to the aging Hayabusa, which hasn’t had a meaningful upgrade since its 1999 market introduction.

Bill Warner: The First Man to Go 300 mph on a Motorcycle

07/20/2011 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Racing his 1,299cc turbo Hayabusa to 311.945 mph, Bill Warner (you may have heard of him) became the first man to break the 300 mph barrier while sitting on a motorcycle. Eeeking close to 312 mph, Warner set the speed at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, which has a 2.5 mile concrete runway that serves as the LSR course. With 1.5 miles to hit a top speed, the Loring Timing Association certified Warner’s run, though it would appear that a follow-up pass in the opposite direction was not undertaken, meaning that the speed is not an official FIM land speed record. Don’t let that fact leave you unimpressed though, few riders see a true 200 mph, let alone 300 mph in any direction.