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.

Turbocharged Suzuki Recursion Going into Production?

News from Japan seems to suggest that Suzuki is making a production version of its Recursion concept. For those that don’t remember, the Suzuki Recursion Concept was based around a turbocharged 588cc two-cylinder engine. The idea was to achieve liter-bike power from a middleweight-sized machine, thus offering enthusiasts high-power but nimble machines to ride. The news that Suzuki is putting the Recursion into production isn’t too far-fetching, though the original source does seem to be the not-always-accurate Japanese publication Young Machine. We will let you measure out how much faith to give that report, but make no mistake that a new era in motorcycle motor design is upon us.

Watch: The Unrideables 2

11/21/2014 @ 3:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

unrideables-2

It’s almost the weekend, which means the end of another grueling work-week for many of our readers. With winter upon us, the release of riding a motorcycle after a long week has been diminished, if not extinguished entirely, which only adds to the no-motorcycle doldrums.

We have a little something for that though: 45 minutes of good ol’fashioned two-stroke awesomeness. The sequel to the much loved The Unrideables documentary, we bring to you The Unrideables Part 2, which picks up from its predecessor and covers the Rainey/Schwantz era of racing. Enjoy!

Ronax 500 – Your Modern 500cc Two-Stroke Track Bike

06/08/2014 @ 4:05 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Ronax-500-launch-06

After teasing us what looked like a direct knock-off of Valentino Rossi’s NSR500 two-stroke GP bike, complete with vague #46 references, the German project has finally taken the wraps off its Ronax 500 GP street bike.

Making 160hp (@ 11,500 rpm) from its nearly square (54.5 x 54 bore and stroke) 500cc V4 engine, the Ronax 500 also boasts two counter-rotating crankshafts inside its all-aluminum engine block.

Fuel-injected for more rideability, Ronax has programmed the Ronax 500 with a sport and rain ignition map. Upgrading the class GP bike design with modern components, an electric starter and four carbon/kevlar mufflers are part of the Ronax 500’s highlights, while carbon fiber fairings, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo brakes complete the package.

Ronax 500 – Don’t Call It a Honda NSR500 Replica

04/23/2014 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ronax-500-two-stroke-v4-03

The folks at Ronax are certainly getting away with not saying much, especially when it comes to their soon-to-be-released Ronax 500 motorcycle. Dressed in a neon yellow cover, limited to only 46 units, and looking suspiciously similar thru the sheet to a Honda NSR500, what Ronax isn’t saying is that its creation is a replica of Valentino Rossi’s last two-stroke race bike (the Honda NSR500), but they are certainly doing everything in their power to convey that very fact.

Since the dawn of the four-stroke era of Grand Prix racing, many old-school GP fans have been left wanting the days of 500cc two-stroke machines, which were known for their razor-thin power bands, lack of electronics, and propensity to launch riders into low-Earth orbit.

The last man to win a GP championship on a 500cc two-stroke machine, Valentino Rossi is of course a crowd favorite – and using his name and history, without actually using it, is a clever (though modestly unethical) way of selling some bikes.

Gas Gas Acquires Husqvarna Engine Designs

03/01/2014 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

husqvarna-two-stroke-engine

It was nearly a month ago that we heard that Spanish firms Gas Gas and Ossa had merged their operations in order to take on the difficult economic climate in Spain. The firms’ business position should be even stronger now, as Gas Gas has acquired the IP from Moto Italia, the holding company of Husqvarna’s remains.

When KTM’s Stefan Pierer acquired Husqvarna through his Pierer Industrie AG company, he did not buy all of the once Swedish motorcycle brand from BMW Motorrad. What wasn’t transferred into the Austrian company’s control was left behind as a new company, Moto Italia, which now will find a new home in Spain with Gas Gas.

The Lineage of Honda’s Grand Prix Motorcycles

11/18/2013 @ 6:37 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

honda-rc211v

For the past twenty years or so, there is one manufacturer who has been above all others in the premier class of grand prix motorcycle racing, and that manufacturer is Honda.

Winning 12 of the last 20 World Championship titles, Honda’s recent domination in 500GP and MotoGP has been a sea change for the series, and the company’s winning total in this modern era of four-stroke and two-stroke machines is double the next nearest OEM, Yamaha (MV Agusta still holds the outright record, with 18 championships from the 1956-1974 period of four-stroke racing).

Part of Honda’s success has been the fact that the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer has been able to attract some of the best riders ever to come to a Grand Prix race’s starting line, champions like Mick Doohan (1994-1998), Àlex Crivillé (1999), Valentino Rossi (2001-2003), Nicky Hayden (2006), Casey Stoner (2011), and now Marc Marquez (2013).

But also part of the equation has been the superb equipment that HRC, Honda’s racing department, produces for its riders, bike likes the Honda NSR500, RC211v, RC212V, and RC213V, which have widely been regarded as the best machines on the grid in each of their respective eras.

Looking down the pipe, as MotoGP adopts new rules and regulations, the RC213V and RCV1000R appear set to dominate their respective classes as the factory machines will be reduced to 20 liters of fuel for next year, and the open class machines are forced to use both the Dorna-supplied ECU hardware and software.

It would appear that Honda has a firm grasp on the next few years of MotoGP racing, and as a bit of an homage to this company’s fantastic two-wheeled craftsmanship, along with the racers who rode them, we give you wallpaper-sized photos of Honda’s Grand Prix motorcycles, from the 1995 to 2013 seasons.

Watch: The Unrideables

05/13/2013 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

the-unrideables

If you missed the glory days of when Americans dominated Grand Prix motorcycle racing, or simply want to relive the moments from yesteryear, then we have the perfect treat for you this Monday afternoon. A television production by Britain’s ITV4, The Unrideables is a 45-minute trip down memory lane with Randy Mamola, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Gardner, Kevin Schwantz, and many others.

Focusing on the racing from the late-1980’s, we get to hear the riders and journalists of the time recount their victories and defeats on the 500cc two-strone monsters of that era. It is a really well done piece by ITV4, and it is really a shame we can’t get similar programming here in the United States. A big thanks to whomever put it up on YouTube, and thanks to all our tipsters who pointed it out to us.

KTM’s Pit Beirer Talks Moto3 Production Bikes, Cooperation With Kalex, & Two-Stroke Racing

07/12/2012 @ 11:44 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

At the Sachsenring, after the introduction of KTM’s Moto3 GPR production racer, we spent five minutes with KTM’s Head of Motorsports Pit Beirer. We spoke to him about a number of subjects, including the evolution of the factory’s Moto3 chassis, the company’s cooperation with Kalex, and whether two-strokes would be better than four-strokes for racing.

Suter 500 Factory V4 – Thank You for Smoking

05/14/2012 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber is based out of California, so that means smoking is akin to a cardinal sin out here, and on the hierarchy of egregious crimes against humanity, it ranks just slightly under torturing babies with hot pincers (heaven forbid you cause a baby to start smoking). Smoking indoors in outright verboten virtually everywhere, while puffing some nicotine anywhere outside that is near a restaurant, bar, club, ATM, hospital, pre-school, or tobacco shop is liable to cause a citizen to go murder-death-kill on you John Spartan.

The issue is so pervasive here, that it has even extended beyond cigarettes and into the realm of motorcycling, with The Golden State leading the charge on the banning of two-stroke motorcycles. We are now purely a “suck, squeeze, bang, blow” society, and while that suits many motorists just fine, there are some who enjoy the smell of pre-mix in the morning — you know who you are. You enjoy the sound of angry bees following you from apex to off-camber. You think a displacement for “serious riders” starts at around 250cc. You like your engine compression low, and your powerbands narrow. You sir (or madam), are a two-stroke junky, and we have just the fix you need.

Just as MotoGP replaced 500GP, we know see Moto2 & Moto3 replacing the lower two-stroke classes that remained in Grand Prix racing. Leading the charge on this mechanical front are a slew of new companies, most notably the chassis manufacturers, of which Suter is perhaps the most well-regarded. Making the weapon of choice for Marc Marquez in Moto2 this year, the Swiss company already had a sterling reputation before it went racing at an international level, but the firm’s success in the 2010 Championship exposed it to a whole new world of tw0-wheel performance.

Having a bevy of intriguing two-wheeled projects within its walls, the Swiss bike that catches our eye today is the Suter 500 Factory V4: a two-stroke, 500cc, V4, track weapon that puts out over 200 hp and weighs 284 lbs ready to race — no, that is not a typo. We’ll let you take a moment before continuing past the jump for more.

Kwikasfaki by Cabbie

07/29/2011 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Take one Kawasaki H2 750 motor, recently decommisioned from drag strip duty we might add, throw in a plenty of bling parts, for measure include one deliciously white powdercoated frame, and you’ve got one seriously trick bike that is sure to go “kwikasfaki” (295lbs, 135rwhp, 9.3 down the ¼ mile if you’re a numbers person). Oddly enough, that’s exactly what one member on the Custom Fighters forum, named cabbie, did (full build thread here), and the result is Pamela-Anderson-in-a-wet-leotard-on-a-windy-day stunning.

While everyone is busy trying to murder out every piece of their motorcycles with the darkest shades of dark (quick diversion: has anyone noticed how the OEMs are all finally catching onto the styling trend?), cabbie is going the other way with his design: all white everything. The result is a bright and eye-catching bike, and oh…check out those three gorgeous two-stroke exhaust pipes. We’d write more, but we’ve soiled ourselves. More photos after the jump.

Moto3 Officially Killing Two-Strokes in 2012

08/17/2010 @ 11:49 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Meeting this weekend, the GP Commission confirmed the demise of two-stroke GP racing as they finalized plans to start the Moto3 series in 2012. Replacing the 125GP racing class, Moto3 will center around 250cc singe-cylinder four-stroke motor with a maximum bore size of 81mm. The class will be open to multiple engine manufacturers, who will have to make their motors available for €10,000 or less.