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Jensen Beeler

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That motorcycle sales are down because of the coronavirus lockdown seems like an obvious thing to state. Just for clarity though, American motorcycle sales through the first four months of the year are down 9% compared to last year.

Truthfully, that number is far less than we were predicting here at Asphalt & Rubber, and there is a good reason for that. While the COVID-19 scare has decimate on-road sales (-23%) and scooter sales (-24%), this has not been the case for off-road motorcycles sales totals, which are up 30%.

Even dual-sports seem to be buoyed by having a tire in the dirt, with sales reported to be down only 5% during the same time period.

Looking deeper into the dual-sport numbers though appears to give an insight on this odd dichotomy between street and dirt sales in the motorcycle industry.

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Continuing our live chat video series on YouTube with members of the motorcycle industry, on Monday, June 1st at 10am PDT / 7pm CEST, Asphalt & Rubber will be sitting down with Peter Halldin, one of the co-founders of MIPS.

For those who missed our recent story about MIPS, the Swedish company is at the forefront of helmet rotational impact research, and has been developing safety solutions for helmet brands in the motorcycle, cycling, equestrian, and snow sports industries for the past 20 years.

I was so impressed by what Peter and his team had to say on the subject when I visited MIPS in Sweden last year, that I immediately changed what helmets I wore when I got back to the US. As such, I am very excited to share this news and information with our Asphalt & Rubber readers and viewer.

This little gem, the Nito N4, has been burning a hole in our to-do list for far too long, ever since we saw it at the EICMA show in Milan last year. It’s not a big fancy superbike, and it’s not even a proper supermoto.

Instead, the 15hp Nito N4 is just an attractive people-mover that extends the Italian brand’s offering of urban-use two-wheelers.

On that vein, Nito says that the N4 is good for over 90 miles of range, can reach a top speed of 90 mph (150 km/h), and tips the scales at 385 lbs.

The long, long wait is almost over. The 2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 finally has an arrival date for the United States, and that date is very soon indeed.

If you are one of the many that has been waiting for the Yamaha Ténéré 700, then you will be happy to know that the affordable ADV bike slated to hit US dealerships on the first week of June (that’s next week!).

Episode 146 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this one was recorded right after the news that Jack Miller would be making the jump up to the factory Ducati Corse MotoGP team.

As such, this show sees David Emmett, Steve English, and Neil Morrison on the microphones talking about the current state of the rider markets in the MotoGP and WorldSBK Championships, in this time of COVID-19.

Motorcycle helmets and innovation are three words I would not often put together in a sentence – at least, not in an affirmative use. This is because the motorcycle industry is incredibly slow to change, and furthering that regard, helmet manufacturers are at the pinnacle of resistance when it comes to technological progress.

For proof of this, look no further than the modern motorcycle helmet design, which has gone unchanged for over 50 years, and still offers the same basic concept: a hard exterior shell made from plastic or composites, a layer of styrofoam for impact absorption, and a comfort layer for the rider’s head.

In the same duration that motorcycle helmets have remained static in design, we have seen man walk on the moon; the proliferation of personal computers, the internet, and smartphones; and even the Boston Red Sox have overcome the Curse of the Bambino and become World Series champions, not once, but four times.

But yet, we have continued to build helmets the same tired way.

This isn’t because motorcycle helmets have reached some sort of peak design. Instead, this stagnation comes primarily from two factors: first, there is no driving force pushing for increased motorcycle helmet safety and effectiveness (sorry, hardline free market economists); and second, it is incredibly cheap to make a motorcycle helmets in their current forms.

There is however, a day coming when the motorcycle industry will have to reckon with a sea change regarding what goes on our heads when we ride a motorcycle, and that day is coming sooner rather than later.

This next, next big thing in motorcycle helmet technology is the implementation rotational energy mitigation designs and devices, of which at the forefront is the Swedish brand MIPS.

The news has been rumored for several weeks, but now it is finally official, as Jack Miller will move from the satellite Pramac Ducati team, and join the factory Ducati Corse MotoGP team for the 2021 season.

The news almost certainly means the departure of Danilo Petrucci from the team, though it remains to be seen if Ducati will also retain the services of Andrea Dovizioso for next season, as the Italian is said to be scouting other offers.

Good bets would be placed on Dovizioso remaining in the squad through next season though, which means Miller can count on the veteran Ducati as a teammate for the 2021 championship.