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.

Watch Graves Yamaha Build a Superbike from the Frame Up

09/20/2013 @ 6:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

monster-energy-graves-yamaha-yzf-r1-ama-superbike

Time-lapse build videos are always fascinating, and since it’s well into Friday afternoon now, we are of course padding the post count here at A&R with this installment from the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha AMA Pro Superbike team.

In five hours the Graves crew built this Yamaha YZF-R1 race bike from the ground up, but you can see them put it together in just over a minute’s time. If you look close enough, you can even spot the reasons why Josh Herrin & Josh Hayes are running away with the 2013 AMA Pro National Guard Superbike Championship.

Video: A Primer on Crossplane Crankshafts

02/04/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

yamaha-crossplane-crankshaft

Reading through the comments on the Attack Kawasaki CRT bike and its new crossplane crank, it is clear that the concept of what makes an engine have a crossplane configuration, like the one found in the current Yamaha YZF-R1, is still a bit of an enigma for some motorcyclists.

Referring to the way a crankshaft is built, with the four crank pinks at 90° from each other, an inline-four engine with a crossplane configuration fires its four pistons in a different order, and with different intervals between ignitions, than a normal engine with 180° pin positions.

A subject we’ll broach in greater detail at a later time, we thought this video from Yamaha would at least highlight some of the major differences and reasons for using a crossplane crank in a sport bike motor. Enjoy it after the jump.

Yamaha R6 & Yamaha R1 to Get Three-Cylinder Motors?

10/19/2012 @ 11:10 am, by Jensen Beeler53 COMMENTS

Debuting a “crossplane” three-cylinder engine at the INTERMOT show, Yamaha has gotten the word out that it intends on making more inspiring motorcycles, and part of that plan includes the use of triples in its upcoming bikes. Knowing that at least one, if not several future Yamahas will use the hinted-at three-cylinder lump, the Brits over at Visordown have gotten word from their sources within Yamaha Japan that in the coming future, the Yamaha YZF-R6 & Yamaha YZF-R1 will be two of the bikes to receive such modifications.

Your Next Yamaha Might Be a Crossplane Triple

10/02/2012 @ 3:18 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Debuting a three-cylinder concept at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Yamaha is teasing the hypothesis of a tuning-fork brand triple with a crossplane crankshaft.

A technology that was developed in MotoGP for Yamaha YZR-M1, and then handed down to the Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2009, the unique qualities of the crossplane inline-four cylinder motor has been a key component to Yamaha’s potent, yet ridable machines.

Taking that same idea, and then applying it to a three-cylinder engine, Yamaha hopes to create a new motor that will appeal to street riders.

More Photos of How Yamaha Blu Itself

09/17/2012 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Debuted at the San Marino GP, Yamaha’s new Race-Blu livery is set to black & blue the European market when it hits dealers this October (December for the R125). While we still get the tasty Graves Yamaha inspired Team Yamaha Blue/White, you might be longing for the matte grey and vivid primary blue color scheme that Jorge Lorenzo rode to victory at Misano this past weekend.

Coming to the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1, 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6, & 2013 Yamaha YZF-R125, the Race-Blu livery is very fetching, so it is a bit of a shame that we won’t be seeing it here in the USA. Maybe if we Americans hold our breath until we go blue in the face, Yamaha USA may consider it as a mid-model year option (not likely).

Don’t feel blue though, we can still live vicariously through our European brethren. More photos of how Yamaha Blu itself after the jump. There’s gotta be a better way to say that.

MotoGP: Yamaha Racing Goes Blu for Misano & Aragon

09/13/2012 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Yamaha Racing has debuted its “Race-Blu” livery at Misano today. The work of Aldo Drudi (of Valentino Rossi helmet fame), the blue and matte grey paint scheme is the same special color schemes that will be available on the Yamaha YZF-R1, YZF-R6, and YZF-R125 bikes for 2013, seemingly everywhere except the United States.

Yamaha says the livery is a throw-back to its historic racing blue colors of the 1980’s. Factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will also wear special Race-Blu leathers for the races at Misano and Aragon. Will the special livery prove to be as lucky as the Red/White 50th Anniversary livery? Only time will tell.

New Colors Only for the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/12/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Unless Yamaha has some Steve Jobs-esque “one more thing” trick up its sleeve for its 2013 sport bike line, fans of the tuning fork brand should prepare themselves for a color and graphics package-only update to the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 & 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6.

Simply stating that the “2013 YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 come back in a variety of new and exciting colors,” Yamaha’s press release is void of any mentioning of an update to the R1 or R6’s electronics package or other technical add-ons, let alone any revision to the major components of the machines.

With Honda already showing us its re-styled Honda CBR1000RR for 2012, and Kawasaki and Suzuki expected to stay the course with their liter-bike models, it would seem the only guaranteed change in sport bike offerings from the Big 4 for 2013 is the revamped Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, which sees the same chassis outfitted with a 636cc motor and new bodywork. Humpf.

What is perhaps more interesting is that there appears to be no movement from Yamaha or Suzuki in bringing a 250cc class sport bike to the American market — thus leaving all the quarter-liter fun to Honda and Kawasaki. Photos of the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 are after the jump.

Up-Close with Ian Hutchinson’s Swan Yamaha R1 Superbike

06/11/2012 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson may not be a household name here in the United States, but over on the Isle of Man, “Hutchy” is a pretty big deal. Winning five solo-class races in the 2010 season, the English rider’s hot-streak was cut short after a tragic closed circuit racing accident, which saw him sidelined for the 2011 TT fortnight. Suffering another leg injury going into the 2012 racing season, Hutchinson was still physically not 100% as he headed to the TT, with the Swan Racing Team making obvious adjustments to his Yamaha YZF-R1 to accommodate Hutchy’s injured leg.

While Hutchinson would ride through the pain, he was noticeably off the pace during this last TT meeting. While a large component of those results are surely products of his physical state, where were compound by the fact that his practice and racing schedule has been truncated, many also wondered about Hutchinson’s mental state as well. Twice beaten, once shy, one Swan team member explained to me that when you looked into the his eyes as he got on board the bike, there was something there that didn’t exist before in Hutchy’s eyes. “Fear?” I asked. The team member wouldn’t comment further.

Cardboard Yamaha R1 Model is so Awesome It Hurts

06/05/2012 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

For some time now, Yamaha Japan has had some fun downloadable paper craft sheets that make a variety of paper art motorcycles (if you haven’t made a paper YZR-M1 yet, you are really not living life). Taking that thought a step further, Jack Chen from Australia has made a scale 2007 Yamaha YZF-R1 out of cardboard.

Roughly 60% the size of the genuine road-going version, Chen used Yamaha’s sheets as the basis for his masterpiece, and then super-sized the proportions. Skill, patience, and scissor control…you sir are a cardboard motorcycle Jedi, and we salute you. Photos after the jump.

Photos: Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART)

04/18/2012 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Campaigned by Yamaha’s Austrian subsidiary, the Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART) has an impressive history in the FIM World Endurance Championship. Finishing third at the 76th Annual Bol d’Or 24 hour race, YART was the top Yamaha squad on the rostrum, and even upset the Yamaha France’s factory team: Team Yamaha GMT94 Michelin Yamalube.

YART was the 2009 WEC Champion, and over the last 10 years, the Stryia-based squad has finished in the Top 5 eight times. Not quite the pedigree that comes with the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), but YART is a serious contender for the 2012 World Endurance Championship and is already giving the factory Suzuki squad a run for its money. It also so happens, that their 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 is one trick looking race bike — photos after the jump, naturally.