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.

World Superbike Finally Gets Online Video Streaming

01/23/2014 @ 1:39 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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I know that I have seen more than a few loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers lament the lack of an online video feed for World Superbike races, and that they hoped that the takeover of the premier production motorcycle racing class by Dorna would add this feature, which is already available with the MotoGP Championship.

Well today, my good friends, that day has come. Dorna has revamped WorldSBK.com, and with those changes comes the WSBK VideoPass feature.

From the limited description given by World Superbike, the WSBK VideoPass sounds pretty much exactly like its MotoGP counterpart, with video streams from the practice, qualifying, and race sessions being made available, along with exclusive behind the scenes footage and interviews.

Kawasaki to Compete in 2014 World Superbike Evo Class

01/21/2014 @ 1:12 pm, by Bryan Delohery3 COMMENTS

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Just a month before the start of the 2014 FIM World Superbike Championship, Kawasaki has announced it will also be competing in the Superbike EVO class, a new sub-class in the Superbike category for 2014, in addition to the regular Superbike class.

This new class will follow the updated 2014 rules of the FIM Superbike class for chassis, brakes and suspension components, while adhering to the FIM Supertock class rules for engines and electronics. This means each rider will only be allowed three engines per season, versus eight per rider in the Supersport class.

The Kawasaki Racing Team, based out of Spain, will be competing with the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, piloted by David Salom, alongside the World Superbike champion Tom Sykes and his teammate Loris Baz.

Salom is scheduled to have practice sessions with Sykes and Baz at the Jerez Circuit in Spain on February 5th and 6th, then again on the 17th and 18th.

FIM Hints at Homologation Rule Changes for WSBK

01/17/2014 @ 10:25 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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With the recent announcement that Alstare and Bimota are to join forces, and headed to go race in the World Superbike Championship, many wondered how the boutique Italian brand would meet the homologation requirements, established for WSBK racing, with the Bimota BB3 superbike.

A similar eyebrow was raised when Erik Buell Racing announced its intention to switch from AMA Pro Road Racing to World Superbike, as the OEM clearly didn’t have the manufacturing capacity to produce the requisite number of motorcycles according to the FIM’s timetable.

Well those questions seemed to have been answered, as the FIM has released a statement — well more a statement promising a future statement — that hints at future rule changes for homologation requirments.

Erik Buell Racing Establishes European Operations

01/14/2014 @ 9:35 pm, by Aakash Desai2 COMMENTS

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Erik Buell Racing has its sights set on the other side of the Atlantic. To expand brand awareness and distribution on the continent, they have opened up an office in Alkmaar, Netherlands. The move is also aimed at promoting their participation in the 2014 FIM World Superbike Championship with riders, Geoff May and Aaron Yates.

With Hero MotoCorp holding a near 50% stake in EBR, it also seems like a move for Hero to expand its marketing and distribution of it’s own products to the European market.

With Hero intending to bring its bikes to the North American market in 2014, an expansion in the European market, if successful, could solidify its brand recognition in the Western world, especially amongst younger riders or commuters looking for a cheaper pair of wheels to get around.

Bimota Taps Alstare for Race Development and Support – Badovini & Iddon Will Ride World Superbike EVO Entries

01/13/2014 @ 3:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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When Alstare split from Ducati Corse in World Superbike, there was some speculation as to where the Belgian-based racing team would land, and it would seem the trip hasn’t been a far one.

Linking up with the recently acquired Bimota brand, Alstare has signed a five-year agreement to collaborate with the Italian brand, and will serve as the worldwide racing department for Bimota — with a key focus on developing Bimota’s Moto2 and WSBK racing platforms, the latter centering around the recently launched Bimota BB3.

Alstare’s technical expertise will also be responsible for developing Bimota’s future sports and supersport models, while the firm’s communications and marketing experience will serve as Bimota’s race marketing department.

In total, the essence of the deal sees Alstare playing a vital role in Bimota’s business plans, from developing new models, honing race bikes, finding sponsors, and working with the press. With so much of Bimota’s business being outsourced to the Belgian racing firm, one has to wonder what duties are left for the brand’s Italian base.

WSBK: Althea Racing Returns to Ducati – Will Field Niccolò Canepa with an EVO Entry in 2014

12/19/2013 @ 5:16 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

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The Althea Racing team is to switch back to Ducati from Aprilia for the 2014 World Superbike season. After their split with Ducati over development of the Panigale at the end of 2012, the Italian team are to return to the Bologna factory fold and race the Panigale in 2014.

They will do so on a different footing to their previous relationship with Ducati, however. Next season, Althea will race the Panigale 1199 R as an EVO entry in WSBK, the subclass set up to allow a more affordable entry into World Superbikes.

AMA Resolves Scheduling Conflict with its Mid-Ohio Round and the Laguna Seca World Superbike Round

12/17/2013 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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There are days where we truly wonder about the future of AMA Pro Road Racing. Like the rest of the motorcycle industry, America’s premier motorcycle racing series was devastated by the recession and tough economy; that is factor external to the series, and no one could fault AMA Racing for facing some challenges because of it.

However beyond the tough economy, the national-level series has perpetrated so many unforced errors upon itself that when it comes to its management, you sometimes have to wonder if there is anyone awake at the switch.

Take the latest gaffe from AMA Pro Racing: the scheduling of the Mid-Ohio round during the World Superbike weekend at Laguna Seca. We can only imagine the surprise of riders, teams, and sponsors when they realized that the recently announced Mid-Ohio round was in full-conflict with World Superbike’s stop at Laguna Seca, a round that the AMA has typically been the support class of.

Aaron Yates and Geoff May to Race in WSBK with EBR

12/05/2013 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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In October when Erik Buell Racing announced that it would be making the move into the World Superbike Championship, the American sport bike company wasn’t saying much about its racing program.

Geoff May soon intoned his participation with the team, confirming his presence in WSBK to Greg White on Greg’s Garage, though May’s teammate was unknown at the time.

That mystery seems to be over, as World Superbike media front-man Michael Hill has released a list of confirmed entries for the 2014 World Superbike season, with Yate’s and May’s names listed for the Erik Buell Racing entry.

Welkom Back: World Superbike Returns to South Africa

12/02/2013 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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After a three-year hiatus, the World Superbike Championship is returning to South Africa for the 2014 season. Welkom’s Phakisa Freeway is currently slotted on the provisional calendar to host WSBK on October 19th, assuming the track can pass FIM homologation, and the event organizers, GAS Sports, can secure the necessary finances.

Set to host both the Superbike and Supersport classes, South Africa will be the penultimate round in the 2014 World Superbike Championship. A venue that has provided close racing in the past, Phakisa Freeway is a welcomed addition to WSBK, and helps bring the series out of its European-centric stupor.

2014 World Superbike Provisional Calendar Released

11/30/2013 @ 12:31 pm, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

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At long last, the FIM and Dorna have released a calendar for the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2014. The calendar features fourteen World Superbike events, but it is still very much a provisional list, with three of the fourteen still subject to contract, and the final race still marked as to be confirmed, with neither the location nor the country known.