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About half of KTM’s 1,500 full-time employees will be shifting to part-time positions between May and August of this year says the . KTM said the measure would apply to all categories of employees, including white-collar employees as well as manual laborers. The move effectively eliminates two months of production, but retains the company’s workforce and manufacturing capacity in hopes of an economic rebound next year. 

The move comes after KTM’s announcement a few months ago in January, which said the Austrian company would lay off 150 workers in its leasing division, and 150 core employees by April this year. KTM chief Stefan Pierer  added that the company was planning to decrease production by 25 %, but said he expected business to get slightly better next year. On the positive side of the news, Pierer also claimed the motorcycle industry was in better shape to survive the recession than the car industry since more people would opt for motorcycles during a recession.

Source: Austrian Time via Hell for Leather

You may remember the NY Times article that we mentioned a few days ago that was critical of the company’s current status and direction. In response to the NY Times article, Harley-Davidson is running the above ad in an attempt to provide a counter-argument to the criticism that the company is on shaky ground.

It should come with little surprise that Harley-Davidson is again playing on Patriotic themes and rhetoric that shifts the focus from the fact the company has serious issues ahead of it, and to date not clear plan on how they are going to overcome them. In addition to this ad, a message was sent out to all Harley-Davidson employees, read it after the jump.

In a post titled “TTXGP”, Motoczysz, the American MotoGP hopeful, has posted up on the company’s blog what appears to be a message hinting at a shift in the company’s focus to developing an electric motorcycle.

“It became very apparent to me that I was working to catch up in an era coming to an end – maybe I should set off and try to lead in an era arriving” -MC

It seems Motoczysz will be abandoning their efforts for a new electric bike. Now the speculation will be what parts of the C1 prototype will make it into the electric GP contender.

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Results are in from the MotoGP IRTA Test at Jerez this past weekend, and it was Casey Stoner who lead the entire weekend and came out the M Award winner. Despite this, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were closer than these times suggest. Jorge Lorenzo, in particular, made a big step forward, and looks like he could run with Rossi, Stoner and Pedrosa this season, though he is still not ready to challenge for the title. At least, that’s what he says. Unsurprisingly, the best times for most people were set during the BMW M Award session, but the lack of qualifying tires this year, combined with the fact that that 45 minute session was disrupted by both the weather and James Toseland’s crash meant  that there was not so much in it. 

 

According to Mark Wells, Senior Partner at Xenophya Design, the goal of the EV-0RR was to create an evocative and exciting concept that would inspire sponsors to buy into the electric sportbike concept.

The electric bike is slated to compete in the Time Trial Extreme Grand Prix being hosted at the Isle of Man on the 12th of June this year. The EV-0 RR features a monocoque chassis, supported by its carbon-fiber fairings, a single-sided front and rear suspension, and twin electric motors.

The engineers behind the EV-0RR claim it will have the power, weight, and speed of a 600cc sportsbike, which makes this a serious electric replacement to the standard gasoline-powered sportbike.

Could Ducati be building a street cruiser to compete against the likes of Harley-Davidson? That’s the rumor behind the so-called Ducati Vyper, which was started by a statement made by Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali, who revealed that Ducati is looking to branch out into a wider market. The 1400cc 170hp prototype is said to be already in running form, and has started preliminary tests at the Bologna factory.

The Vyper will feature a stroked version of the company’s Testastretta engine, and house it in Ducati’s signature steel-trellis frame. A 240 rear tire mounted onto a beefy hollow-section swing-arm is also believed to be on the new machine. Luca from Bar-Design has made some exclusive renders of the Ducati Vyper for Asphalt & Rubber, and if the original looks anything like this, we might just be believers in the Italian chopper concept.

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Yamaha Tech 3 team have erected a wall dividing the garages of Colin Edwards from that of James Toseland. As we reported earlier in the year (), the two riders had a falling out after swap in crew chiefs occurred. Following the conclusion of the 2008 MotoGP season, James Toseland was granted Colin Edwards’ crew chief Gary Reynders, an incident that Edwards was opposed to and has stopped the teammates from working together.

 

The New York Times ran a great article this week about the challenges facing Harley-Davidson, both from the current economic depression, and more generally as the quintessential Harley rider gets older in age.

In summation, Harley-Davidson dealers around the US and overseas are seeing sales drop dramatically as people scale back their expensive purchases, and as the access to credit becomes increasingly difficult.

There’s no real surprise there, and any hardcore fan will be quick to tell you that Harley will be back on top once this financial turmoil is over. However, looking farther down the road at Harley-Davidson’s long-term business position, there is additional trouble brewing as well.

Baby boomers account for the majority of Harley sales, and they are getting older. The NY times ends there with its commentary, but we think there’s more to the story on Harley-Davidson and the American bike market in general. 

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For the tests in Jerez, Ducati will be providing Nicky Hayden with a new set of foot pegs for his GP9. After studying track data, Borgo Panigale has revealed that the 2006 World Champion touches the rear-brake of the GP9 with his foot without noticing it. At Honda, Nicky’s propensity to hit the rear-brake had also been discovered, and was attributed to his past in dirt track riding. With these new foot pegs, we’ll see if the Kentucky Kid can gain a few tenths of a second without even trying.

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