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.

MotoGP: Bradl on a Factory-Supported Honda Thru 2014

11/14/2012 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

HRC has announced that it has signed Stefan Bradl as a “factory-supported” rider through the 2014 season. The move is surely a reward for Bradl, who easily claimed MotoGP’s “Rookie of the Year” distinction, and perhaps more importantly, showed extreme talent aboard the Honda RC213V.

Said to already have been using a factory-spec frame (Dani Pedrosa’s rejects) for the latter part of the season, it is not clear how much this announcement will change Bradl’s true support from HRC, but it certainly can’t hurt the young German’s chances. Bradl will stay within the LCR Honda team in 2013 & 2014.

Tuesday Summary at Valencia: Of Debuts, Jealousies, & the Confounded Weather

11/13/2012 @ 7:10 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

If there is one subject that is getting mind-numbingly tedious to have to write about in motorcycle racing right now, it’s the weather. Almost every race this year has lost at least one session to difficult conditions, and we had hoped that the 2013 season might start off a little better. No such luck.

After a dry, clear night, the first rain showers arrived shortly before 10am, when the track was due to open for the test. By the time the track opened, enough rain had fallen to make it slick, greasy and extremely difficult to ride. That put an end to almost everyone’s carefully laid plans, leaving large groups of people wandering around and alternating between looking to the skies and carefully examining the track.

A few brave souls ventured out on to the track – including Valentino Rossi, at a few minutes after ten, the earliest he has ever taken to the track during testing since I’ve been following MotoGP, Rossi notoriously ill-disposed to mornings (as, I must admit, am I) – but for the most part, silence prevailed.

This was perhaps toughest on the TV commentators. Because of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, the first couple of hours of the test were streamed live on the MotoGP.com website, as well as broadcasted on both Italian and Spanish TV.

There was virtually nothing to show, though, except images of crowds milling in pit lane, riders wandering around chatting, some in leathers, some not, and endless repeats of slow-motion shots from the few bikes that had turned a lap in the morning, leaving commentators racking their brains for subjects to discuss, leading at one point to a surprisingly long discussion about fruit, and the riders who eat it.

Tuesday at Valencia with Scott Jones

11/13/2012 @ 2:42 pm, by Scott Jones1 COMMENT

MotoGP: First Shots of Rossi Back on the Yamaha YZR-M1

11/13/2012 @ 1:48 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Here’s one for the Rossi fans, the first photo of Valentino Rossi on-board the 1,000cc Yamaha YZR-M1 at the Valencia test (snagged by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 mechanic Steve Blackburn).

Apparently, the weather is being less than co-operative in Spain, with sprinkles of rain being reported, but that didn’t stop The Doctor from getting on-board “his” bike.

After the jump, there are 17 photos of Rossi’s maiden voyage back on the Yamaha YZR-M1 — all courtesy of photographer extraordinaire, Scott Jones.

Monday at Valencia with Scott Jones

11/12/2012 @ 11:33 pm, by Scott JonesComments Off

Valencia MotoGP Test Preview: Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Ducati, & The Future

11/12/2012 @ 5:24 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

The sense of expectation in the air at Valencia is wound so tight it hums. Tomorrow morning, some time after 10am, some of that expectation will start to dissipate as we get the first glimpses of answers that have preoccupied MotoGP fans for the past few months.

Two things we hope to see: a glimpse of the past and a glimpse of the future. After two long, hard years, the army of Valentino Rossi fans will be hoping to see something they haven’t since 2010, or maybe even 2009: a flowing, comfortable, aggressive Valentino Rossi at one with the machine underneath.

That was something he never showed while riding the Ducati, the figure in the Rossi replica helmet sitting on the Ducati always looking more like a club racer had sneaked into the back of the Ducati garage to take the bike out for a spin, terrifying himself in the process. Rossi looked stiff, awkward, uncomfortable, his back arched like a cat negotiating a dog-infested yard.

MotoGP: Dovi Meets the Desmo

11/12/2012 @ 11:01 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Tomorrow is like Christmas for motorcycle lovers, as Tuesday is the first official day of the EICMA show in Milan, and it is also the first day of the post-season MotoGP testing at Valencia. With more than a few riders swapping seats for next year, one of the most anticipated transitions is Andrea Dovizioso to the Ducati Corse factory team.

The third wheel at the Repsol Honda team in 2011, Dovi made the jump to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage for 2012, with the hopes of auditioning for a seat on the factory Yamaha YZR-M1 next season. A certainly Valentino Rossi ruined that plan, so Dovi did the next best thing…he took Rossi’s seat at Ducati.

With the Ducati Desmosedici labelled as a career-ending machine, the GP11/GP12 nearly did The Doctor in, making the move by Dovizioso a brave one. Apparently trusting the words of Ducati’s new owner Audi, we will get our first glimpse of Dovi on the Ducati tomorrow, but for now we get our first photos of the pair’s preliminary introduction.

Josh Hayes to Test Yamaha YZR-M1 at Valencia

10/04/2011 @ 8:23 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

AMA Pro Racing Champion Josh Hayes will get a chance to swing a leg over some MotoGP machinery later this year, as the American rider will get to ride with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad at the post-season test in Valencia. Taking place immediately after the final 2011 MotoGP round in Valencia, Hayes will ride Colin Edwards’ 800cc Yamaha YZR-M1, as the Texan Tornado will presumably be released from his Tech 3 duties so that he can begin testing his CRT bike at the first 2012 season test. The ride is joint-promotion by both Monster and Yamaha USA, and it also sees Josh Hayes’ better half, Melissa Paris, riding Bradley Smith’s Tech 3 Tech 3 Mistral 610 Moto2 race bike at the Spanish test.

Videos From Behind the Scenes as Rossi Meets the GP11

11/19/2010 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Well looks like the party is over, as Dorna has sent us a cease and desist.

What was it like watching Valentino Rossi swing his leg over the Ducati Desmosedici for the very first time behind closed garage doors? Well thanks to someone in the Ducati pit box who had either a small camcorder or smartphone with video enabled, we can finally see what that experience was like, and what sort of atmosphere surrounded the moment.

Taking a total of six videos of the historic occasion, we can experience the first reactions of Rossi and crew as he gets ready to complete Italy’s motorcycling wet dream. Videos after the jump, and be sure to check out the first official images of Rossi riding the GP11 at Valencia, and the behind the scenes photos from Rossi’s favorite photographer Gigi Soldano.

Rossi’s First Date with the Ducati – As Seen By Gigi Soldano

11/10/2010 @ 4:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi’s personal photographer Gigi Soldano was on hand for Rossi’s debut on the Ducati Desmosedici this week during the MotoGP test at Valencia. Granted unfettered access to what goes on behind-the-scenes in the Ducati garage, Soldano combined his magic behind the lens with the events that unfolded in front of him, and lucky for us, he shared them with the world on his blog today.