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.

Update on the MV Agusta F3 – Available Fall 2011

02/24/2011 @ 9:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

After unveiling the MV Agusta F3, the Italian company’s new three-cylinder supersport model, at the 2010 EICMA show with virtually no concrete specifications, MV Agusta has been quiet about its new motorcycle ever since. Expected to arrive as a 2012 model, the wait from unveiling to production has been excruciatingly long for those who fell in love with the F3’s take on Massimo Tamburini’s classic design.

Since its launch, the only progress we’ve seen is Castiglioni’s quoted target price steadily rising, so MV Agusta wants to make sure would-be buyers (and the press) remain intrigued by the model the newly liberated company is counting on for its future profitability. As such, MV Agusta has sent out a press release giving a status update on the 2012 MV Agusta F3, and the news bodes well for Italian motorcycle fans, as it suggests things are ahead of schedule in Varese.

KTM 200 Duke Caught Testing

02/09/2011 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Is this the KTM 200 Duke? The folks at OverDrive.in were fortunate enough to encounter in Pune what looks like a pre-production KTM Duke destined for the Indian market. Taking the photo above, OverDrive wasn’t certain if this was the KTM 125 Duke that the Austrian company launched at Intermot this year, or if it was a larger displacement version that’s been rumored to be coming from the minds of Bajaj & KTM.

Luckily the guys at IndianCarsBikes.in were able to get Rajiv Bajaj on the line and ask him about the photo, and the son of the Bajaj empire confirmed that what we see here is the 200cc KTM 200 Duke that will be an India-only model. Reportedly a deal hatched between KTM and Bajaj, the Indian market will get a slightly larger version of the new Duke, which will be liquid-cooled, have DOHC, and be positioned on the premium side of the market equation.

Corser Sits Out Testing After Crash at Phillip Island

02/04/2011 @ 10:23 am, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

Troy Corser was forced to sit out the second day of testing for BMW Motorrad at Phillip Island after a crash Wednesday left him heavily bruised. The team was testing at Phillip Island after skipping the official World Superbike test at Portimao in favor of warmer climes, first at Eastern Creek and now at Phillip Island in Australia. Though the team said the test was satisfactory, any crash major enough to force a rider to sit out a day of testing can be worrisome. He is apparently fine, but had “painful bruises” that kept him from riding effectively.

That crash left Leon Haslam to do the bulk of testing for his new team. “We were still focusing on electronics and worked on a setup for this race track,” Haslam explained. “This was important as in three weeks time we are going to have our first races of the season here. We have already found a good base to work on. I am happy; we made some good progress. My lap times were quite good for these hot conditions. Of course we still have some work to do before the season starts but I am happy with the progress we made so far. The bike improved a lot in the last month.”

For Hire.

02/02/2011 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Video: Rossi Riding the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP

01/31/2011 @ 6:47 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

More eye candy for Ducatisti and Valentino Rossi fans, as Ducati has released a video of Rossi’s test at Misano on board the 1198 SP. Testing his shoulder’s fitness level, Rossi admitted to being in considerable pain during the test, which doesn’t bode well for the Italian as the 2011 season rapidly approaches. Before Rossi will take to the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 under the lights of Qatar, MotoGP is slated to run at Sepang this week. With such little time passing since this test on the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP, we imagine the outing at Malaysia will still be painful for the Italian, as he tries to further hone in the GP11 for racing duty.

WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao

01/28/2011 @ 9:13 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

Posting the fastest time of the official World Superbike test in Portugal, Jakub Smrz was the fastest man at Portimao. A feat in its own right, Smrz’s accomplishment is compounded by the fact that the Portuguese track saw three days of continuously changing weather. In a climate that kept the bikes off the track, and the riders bored in the garages, Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty rounded out the fastest three riders at Portimao, with times set also on Wednesday afternoon. The first day was fair, though conditions worsened greatly overnight, making Thursday morning entirely unappealing for test laps. Luckily, Friday dried out through the afternoon, but no one was able to best Smrz’s early mark of 1:43.503 during the testing sessions.

All too often winter testing provides plenty of data for the teams and riders, but not nearly enough for journalists and fans who wish to prognosticate. While teams might focus on a certain sector during one lap and another the next, they hide their own flaws and keep their best performances to themselves. Combined with poor weather conditions, a rider sitting out to recover from surgery (Chris Vermeulen), and an entire team testing at another location, the WSBK winter test leaves very little actual story to tell before the start of the racing season.

Spy Shots: Brammo Empulse RR Testing at Thunderhill

01/28/2011 @ 4:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Yesterday was a sunny day in the San Francisco/Bay Area, with weather in the mid-60’s. Just recently getting my bike back from a tune-up, I was itching for a ride and decided to pack things up early for the day, and go for a quick jaunt up to Thunderhill Raceway to gatecrash Brammo’s latest testing session with the Empulse RR electric race bike (close-up shots from Laguna Seca last year here).

Using my best ear-to-ear smile at the front gate, I rode into the paddock to see Brammo’s Director of Product Development Brian Wismann shaking his head upon my arrival, and muttering something about someone posting the session’s schedule online. Always a good-sport, Wismann graciously allowed me to stick around for the remaining day’s sessions, while Brammo’s CEO Craig Bramscher definitively removed me from his Christmas card list (you’ll still get a card from me though Craig).

Rossi Tests Shoulder Riding on a Ducati 1198 at Misano

01/26/2011 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi was back in the saddle today, testing his shoulder at the Italian Misano track ahead of the official MotoGP test scheduled at Sepang next month. Barred from turning a wheel on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 because of the MotoGP winter testing ban, Rossi had to make do with a WSBK-spec 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP to test his fitness levels.

Rossi’s fitness for the upcoming season is a large variable for Ducati, as the race team will need Rossi’s input at Sepang to not only further setup the GP11 for the nine-time World Champion, but his input is likely to find its way into all the Desmosedici’s on the MotoGP grid (Hector Barbera was just recently quoted as saying as much).

If his shoulder is still not up to racing levels, Rossi may not be able to fully diagnose what he needs from the GP11, setting Ducati Corse back a few steps from the rest of the competition. A statement from Rossi and a slew of hi-res photos await you after the jump.

FIM Releases 2011 WSBK Entry List, Begins Official Testing

01/26/2011 @ 9:19 am, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

The FIM released the provisional 2011 World Superbike entry list just days before the first official test of the season kicked off in Portugal this morning. Twenty riders are entered for the entire season, with Team Pedercini yet to finalize their second rider. Five Britons, five Italians, three Spaniards, two Australians, two Frenchmen, one Japanese, one Irish, and one Czech rider are currently entered for the thirteen rounds in the WSBK championship.

Chris Vermeulen Leaves Testing In Sepang Early – Will Also Miss Portimao Test

01/13/2011 @ 1:21 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

Chris Vermeulen is back home in Australia after participating in only one shortened day of riding during the Kawasaki WSBK test at Sepang this week. While the rest of the WSBK riders for both Paul Bird Racing and Team Pedercini will complete the scheduled test, Vermeulen was forced home to continue with his physical therapy.

He tweeted, “My knee reacted a bit after riding just a few laps, was fun back on a bike though!!” According to the team, Vermeulen will remain in Australia until the final Infront test at Phillip Island just before the season opener. He will miss the late January test in Portimao to concentrate on his recovery.