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.

Honda Trademarks “RC213V-S” in Europe

11/03/2014 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Adding more fuel to the fire, concerning Honda’s long-awaited V4 production superbike, the Japanese manufacturer has registered the trademark “RC213V-S” with the European Union.

As MotoGP fans should already know, next year’s production race bike will be called the Honda RC213V-RS, which should make the more plain “S” designation sound suspiciously like a street-going model.

Not exactly the most glamorous name for a road bike, especially one of this stature, one could not fault Honda for wanting to draw a link between the production model and its GP-racing lineage.

And More Photos of the Suzuki Extrigger Electric Concept

11/27/2013 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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A brand better known for trotting out the same “timeless” designs each year, Suzuki seems to be finally waking up from its recession-induced slumber, and debuted two intriguing motorcycle concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.

We already showed you today more photos of the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion street bike concept (please Suzuki, build this bike), and the Japanese OEM has shown a shining for the budding electric segment as well.

The Suzuki Extrigger electric concept is an interesting machine, as its form factor is very similar to the Honda Grom. Using the same electric motor as the company’s Suzuki E-Let’s scooter, we can assume that the Extrigger is packing the same unimpressive figures of 2hp and 11 lbs•ft of torque as the E-Let, though Suzuki does say that the Extrigger weighs a paltry 137 lbs, which is alluring.

More Photos of the Turbo-Powered Suzuki Recursion

11/27/2013 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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Forced-induction was the trend du jour at the Tokyo Motor Show, with Kawasaki showing off a supercharged four-cylinder engine and with Suzuki debuting its turbocharged Recursion concept.

While Team Green is being tightlipped with what exactly its up to (all we know is that the supercharged motorcycle engine has been developed completely in-house), Suzuki is more keen with teasing its machine.

Releasing some more photos of the Suzuki Recursion, this bike is looking like a winner to us, with its water-cooled 588cc twin-cylinder engine that features an intercooled turbocharger.

Suzuki says the engine package is just shy of 100hp at 8,000 rpm, with peak torque coming in at 74 lbs•ft at 4,500 rpm. The Suzuki Recursion is also quoted as being 384 lbs dry.

Looks Like the Yamaha PES1 Electric Street Bike Is a Runner

11/20/2013 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Last week when Yamaha debuted its electric street bike concept, the Yamaha PES1, we thought it looked like a well-though out concept machine that gave the tuning fork brand some street cred for thinking about a future with electric motorcycles. After all, the Japanese company was light on details, and certain parts of the bike seemed a bit more Star Trek than reality. Turns out we were wrong.

Releasing a video of the Yamaha PES1 testing on the track, it’s clear that the concept is fully-functional (just like Data), which means Yamaha has set its phasers to stun with this 100kg machine. From the cuts of this quick YouTube flick, Yamaha seems as serious as a Borg cube with its electric project, which only adds to the intrigue on when they could debut a proper production model.

Maybe with the rumors about Honda being behind the Mugen Shinden project, Yamaha didn’t want Big Red to get too far ahead in the EV game. Whatever the case may be, we like it…even more than Klingon gagh.

Kawasaki J Concept – A Green Outlook on the Future

11/20/2013 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Sometimes we like our concept motorcycles to be funky, and the Kawasaki J Concept certainly delivers in that department. Debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show a vision on what the future of motorcycling could become, the Kawasaki J is an electric trike/quad with a variable riding position/chassis configuration.

Not too dissimilar from the Yamaha Tesseract, the J Concept is an interesting exercise in design and technology proposals, and could be the future of leaning-trikes and similar vehicles. What are your thoughts?

Kawasaki Debuts Supercharged Four-Cylinder Engine

11/20/2013 @ 1:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The start of the Tokyo Motor Show is today, if you haven’t already noticed, and it looks like the Japanese OEMs have saved their best models for the home court advantage this year, with all four of the Big Four having something special for Tokyo.

Yamaha’s big announcement of course is the nearly-ready-for-production Yamaha R25 concept, a 250cc two-cylinder sport bike that Valentino Rossi says “packs quite a punch.” The tuning fork brand also has its more fanciful concepts to show-off, chiefly the Yamaha PES1 electric street bike and the Yamaha PED1 electric dirt bike.

Suzuki is in the mix as well, with its turbocharged Recursion concept, as well as its electric monkey bike, the Extrigger concept. Both of these motorcycles look like a hoot to ride, for very different reasons of course.

Not wanting to be left out on the forced-induction warpath, Kawasaki has its own blower for the two-wheeled world. Showcasing a supercharged four-cylinder engine at its booth, Kawasaki says it developed the turbine and motor in-house, and hints that we will see this in a motorcycle model in the near future.

Yamaha R25 Concept — Your Christmas Has Been Ruined

11/20/2013 @ 7:45 am, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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Feeling the pressure to develop a 250cc sport bike for developing markets, Yamaha has finally released some details on the upcoming Yamaha R25, and we like what we see so far. A two-cylinder machine with racing in its blood, Yamaha’s concept is like a mini Yamaha YZR-M1 — devoid of lights and mirrors — and features racing livery with an Akrapovic exhaust to match.

The Yamaha R25 concept is an encouraging sign from Yamaha, even if what we are looking is a concept bike rather than a production-ready model.

But still, Yamaha’s approach in styling the Yamaha R25 to visually look like a miniature M1 is going to payoff huge dividends in Southeast Asia, where the bulk of the models are going to be sold, and where Rossi and Lorenzo have massive droves of fans. For us in the western world, well this bike just looks hot. We want one already.

Yamaha PED1 Concept — Electrics Are About to Get Dirty

11/12/2013 @ 10:57 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The off-road counterpart to Yamaha’s electric Yamaha PES1 concept street bike, the Yamaha PED1 concept is the second electric motorcycle concept that Yamaha intends to debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. Like its on-road sibling, the PED1 features a monocoque chassis, along with a DC brushless motor, automatic/manual transmission, and a swappable lithium-ion battery pack.

The core of the Yamaha PED1 appears to be exactly the same as the Yamaha PES1, which one could easily be chalked up to a Yamaha designer reusing renders for each bike. However, the repurposing of the core components showcases a strong element of electric vehicles: their ability to use truly modular designs.

Yamaha PES1 Concept – Another OEM Considers Electrics

11/12/2013 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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The Tokyo Motor Show is next week, and while we expect Honda to debut the Honda Gold Wing F6C at the show, it looks like Yamaha is set to make some waves as well. Teasing four concept motorcycles, two have caught our interest. First up is the Yamaha PES1 concept, which is an electric sport bike with a DC brushless motor and lithium-ion battery.

Yamaha is light on details, and we can imagine that the concepts are meant more to illustrate that the tuning fork brand is “thinking about” electrics, as is the vogue with OEMs at the moment. However, the design is interesting, especially with Yamaha suggesting that the battery pack, called the Yamaha Smart Power Module, is swappable on the sub-100kg machine.

Suzuki EXTRIGGER: An Electric Monkey Bike?

10/29/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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In addition to the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept, Suzuki has also teased its electric-powered EXTRIGGER concept ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show.

The pint-sized Suzuki EXTRIGGER draws some obvious cues from the Honda Grom and it seems impossible not to compare the two machines to each other — they even share a similar mission statement: “to give more people the chance to find out the fun of motorcycle.”

Suzuki has gone a step further than Honda though, with the EXTRIGGER sporting an electric drivetrain — borrowed from the Suzuki e-Let electric scooter . The choice is a well-thought-out one, as the limited range and power that is surely to be expected from a bike like the Grom fits in line with what a machine like the EXTRIGGER can offer a rider as well.