Unions End Partnership Agreement with Harley-Davidson

Two labor unions have ended a partnership agreement with Harley-Davidson, citing differences with how the Bar & Shield brand handles staffing issues at its factories (Harley has been accused of replacing hourly union workers with temporary seasonal workers). The move comes after a meeting on Monday, which saw leaders from the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM), United Steelworkers (USW), and Harley-Davidson President & CEO Matt Levatich unable to agree on how to handle staffing issues going forward. While the disagreement ends an accord that has existed between the unions and Harley-Davidson for the past two decades, it does not affect the collective bargaining agreement that the unions have with Harley-Davidson, which has been incorrectly reported elsewhere.

US House of Representatives Passes Self-Driving Car Bill

Say what you will about American politics, but the US House of Representatives has passed the “SELF-DRIVE Act” (H.R. 3388) – a bipartisan bill that would open up autonomous vehicle regulation for manufacturers. The big advantage of the SELF-DRIVE Act is that it would supersede the varying and ad hoc state rules that manufacturers must currently adhere to while developing their autonomous platforms. The bill would also do away with some safety standards put in place for vehicles with drivers, such as where the steering wheel and foot pedals must be located. Lastly, the SELF-DRIVE Act would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to research and develop a way of conveying to consumers the level of automation a vehicle possesses.

Is the MV Agusta Brutale 800 the Best Bike on the Market?

In early 2016, I was fortunate enough to ride the revamped and Euro4 version of the MV Agusta Brutale 800. On paper, the Brutale 800 lost power and gained weight, but the reality is that MV Agusta improved upon already one of its best-selling machines, in subtle and clever ways. Now a year-and-a-half later, the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is finally available in the United States, and I have been reunited with one of the best street bikes on the market. Spending almost all of last month with this motorcycle again, it is clear that not much has changed from a rider’s perspective, though internally improvements have been made to some of the weaker elements of the design, like the sprag clutch and valve train. While not much has changed with this year’s edition of the MV Agusta Brutale 800, I am mostly fine with that.

Lin Jarvis Talks Rossi’s Injury, Replacement, & Training

What happened when Valentino Rossi crashed? How serious is his injury? When will he be back? Who will replace Rossi, if he doesn’t return at Aragon? And what does Yamaha think of Rossi’s training methods? Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis spoke to a small group of journalists at Misano on Saturday morning, to answer these questions and much more. Jarvis knew about the accident very shortly after it had happened. “I knew before he got to the hospital,” Jarvis told us. “Albi [Tebaldi] called Maio Meregalli as soon as he got the news that Vale was on the way to the hospital. Maio called me straight away.” The good news was that Rossi’s injury was not as bad as the last time he broke his leg, at Mugello in 2010. “It’s much less serious,” Jarvis told us, “but probably just as irritating.

Aprilia Debuts Augmented Reality Helmet for MotoGP

While the launch of the Ducati’s Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine and leaked photos of the Ducati Panigale V4 dominated the news on Thursday, Aprilia Racing was quietly changing the sport of motorcycle racing, as it debuted an augmented reality helmet that its mechanics will wear in MotoGP. Aprilia has partnered with DAQRI and Realmore to make the augmented reality helmet come to fruition – DARQI is making the hardware, while Realmore is responsible for the software. As followers of augmented reality (AR) tech may already have guessed, Aprilia Racing’s AR helmet will allow its mechanics to visualize and share information, overlaid on what is occurring in the pit box. Aprilia Racing sees two major scenarios where using augmented reality could be of benefit.

More Leaked Photos of the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4

Apparently today is Ducati Day, as news continues to come from Italy about the Ducati Panigale V4 and its Desmosedici Stradale engine. Ducati has already spilled the beans on the new 210hp V4 engine it has been developing for its next superbike, but now we also get more spy photos of the Panigale V4 that will carry it. These latest spy photos show quite clearly the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 that will debut later this November, at the EICMA show in Milan. Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali confirmed the Panigale V4 name today, and for our A&R Pro members, we have gone into a lengthy analysis as to why Ducati is choosing to keep the styling and name of this machine so similar to the previous model.

Ducati Reveals the 210hp Desmosedici Stradale Engine

Hello and welcome to a new era of Ducati motorcycles, which is starting with a very special engine. Named the Desmosedici Stradale, this road-going version of the company’s MotoGP power plant is what is going to power Ducati’s next superbike, the Ducati Panigale V4. Debuting today in Misano, at a special event ahead of the San Marino GP, the mystery around the Desmosedici Stradale engine has finally be revealed, to the tune of 210hp (@ 13,000 rpm) and 88.5 lbs•ft of torque (@ 12,250 rpm). Dropping details on the 90° V4 engine with desmodromic valves, we now know that Ducati will continue to play the displacement game with its superbike, as the street version of the Panigale V4 coming with a 1,103cc displacement.

Verdict Reached in Alpinestars/Dainese Airbag Patent Case

A verdict has finally been reach in the German patent law dispute between Alpinestars and Dainese, concerning their respective airbag suit technologies. In the ruling, the “Landgericht” court in Munich found that Alpinestars violated two Dainese patents concerning its D-Air technology, and thus issued a verdict that sees Alpinestars forbidden from selling its Tech-Air products in Germany. Alpinestars will also have to pay Dainese restitution for damages incurred from Alpinestars selling Tech-Air products in Germany. The monetary amount of the damages will depend on how much Tech-Air product the Italian firm sold in Germany, which has yet to be determined. After the verdict, both companies issued press releases touting their side of the patent dispute story, with clearly no love lost between the two parties.

Ducati Divestiture Seemingly Stalls Out

For the past few months, talk of Ducati’s divestiture from the Volkswagen Group has grabbed the attention from news outlets and Ducatisti alike, as the future of the Italian motorcycle company seemed uncertain. Internally, a power struggle was a play, with Audi keen to unload Ducati from its books, but lacking the support from upper management in the Volkswagen Group. Talks reportedly hit the skids once it was realized that the Volkswagen labor unions, which control half of the seats on the Volkswagen Group management board, weren’t onboard with divesting Ducati from the holding group. This is probably information that investors would have liked to know, before they spent the time and resources putting together purchase proposals for Audi’s consideration.

Ducati Panigale V4 Spotted in Photo

Later this week, Ducati will debut its Desmosedici Stradale engine, the new 90° V4 engine that will power Ducati’s next superbike (amongst other models). To see Ducati’s next superbike though, we’ll have to wait until November’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy…or will we? This photo is going around the internet, purporting to show the new “Panigale V4” superbike. The photo looks legit, and looks very similar to the spy photos that we have seen of the Ducati’s new superbike machine. The bodywork on the Ducati Panigale V4 mimics very closely the previous generation Panigale (the v-twin model), though there are some obvious changes. It looks like the headlight recesses also channel air around the body, likely to aid in cooling the V4 engine.

What happens when you release the most anticipated, and we’d argue the most important, superbike in the company’s history? Well you have a record month of sales, of course. It should be unsurprising then that Ducati North America posted a 49% sales growth last month, making May 2012 the company’s best month ever sales-wise. Ducati North America pushed 1,782 units in May, for a total of 4,844 units sold in January thru May (up 19% over 2011, and 98% over 2010).

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Ducati North America’s Sales up 10% in Q1 2012

04/16/2012 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Ducati North America’s Sales up 10% in Q1 2012

Posting its seventh consecutive quarter of sales growth, Ducati North America has started 2012 on the right foot, posting a 10.2% sales increase in its first quarter over last year’s figures. Seeing growth in all three of its national markets (Canada, Mexico, & USA), Ducati North America managed to buck the trend all through the recent recession, and now with the economy heating up again, the Italian brand continues to see strong sales growth. Ducati’s apparel and accessories sales were also up in Q1, posting a 98% increase over last year’s figures.

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CAD Drawings of the Ducati Streetfighter 848

04/11/2012 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Overall, our impressions of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 was that the new baby Fighter from Ducati, is a well-improved upon successor to the original Ducati Streetfighter 1098. Helping differentiate the SF848 from the higher-spec, though otherwise identical, Streetfighter 1098 S, the Streetfighter 848 takes the geometry from the Ducati Superbike 848, which means it gets a much-better handling 24.5° rakes. Ducati has also brought over the Testastretta 11° engine, which made its first debut on the Ducati Multistrada 1200, and then found its way onto the Ducati Diavel.

Smoother and easier to operate, the new Streetfighter’s 849cc motor may be down on power compared to its Superbike counterpart (132 hp at its peak, compared to the Superbike 848 EVO’s 140hp), but the SF848 has a much flatter torque curve and a power band that extends into a more useable range for urban and aggressive street riding. When compared to its predecessor, just about the only thing we don’t like about the Ducati Streetfighter 848 is the foot clearance issue with the shotgun exhaust, which limits the movement of a rider’s right foot on the Streetfighter’s peg.

Releasing these CAD drawings at the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 US press launch, maybe some eagle-eyed industrial designers can come up with a solution for this reporter’s kneecap. CAD renders after the jump.

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Ride Review: Ducati Streetfighter 848

04/06/2012 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

An amalgamation of three already existing Ducati models, there is nothing surprising about the Ducati Streetfighter 848. A pick-and-pull creation from the Ducati engineering bay, the Streetfighter 848 draws upon the precedence defined by the Ducati Streetfighter 1098, the Ducati Superbike 848, and the Ducati Multistrada 1200.

A mirror image of the more well-endowed Streetfighter 1098, the Streetfighter aesthetic has been in the public eye since its Milan unveiling in 2008. Like its predecessor, the Streetfighter 848 is based off its Superbike counterpart, and shares the six-year old Ducati Superbike 848’s chassis geometry and namesake. At the heart of the baby Fighter is an 849cc Testastretta 11° engine, and as the name implies, the motor features the same power-smoothing 11° valve overlap architecture that first debuted on the Ducati Multistrada 1200, and has since carried forth with the Ducati Diavel.

We have seen before all the elements that comprise the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848, and indeed there is nothing revolutionary about Ducati’s latest street-naked, so it begs the question: is the Ducati Streetfighter 848 merely the sum of its parts? Or is it something more? Continue onward as we explore that question further.

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Ducati Streetfighter 848 Mega Gallery

04/04/2012 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Since we are out in the Palm Desert testing the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 today, we figured we might as well post a bevy of photos of the tiny Fighter. Coming with Ducati’s traction control system (DTC), and an 848cc/132hp version of the Testastretta 11° engine, the Streetfighter 848 promises to be more than just a smaller version of the original specimen. Other changes include a refined chassis as well as the infamous Ducati wet clutch, which some say is better than the company’s iconic dry-clutch design (gasp!). While we put the Ducati Streetfighter 848 through its paces today, and see if all these rumors are true, enjoy the 40+ photos we have for you after the jump.

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Gone Riding: Ducati Streetfighter 848

04/04/2012 @ 9:33 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Things will be a little slow on Asphalt & Rubber today, as we are in the Palm Desert testing the new Ducati Streetfighter 848. We’ll be spending most of the day playing with its revised chassis & traction control, and getting used to the baby Fighter’s wet clutch & Testastretta 11° engine. You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via Twitter, and our last five tweets will automatically display here on this post.

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Photos and Video of the Ducati Streetfighter 848

09/29/2011 @ 7:19 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Now that the European press launch of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 is over (we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the US press launch…le sigh), some more professional photos and a video of the new middleweight Streetfighter have hit the interwebs. Of course Ducati is really pushing the revitalization of the Italian yellow paint scheme, but we think the matte black “Dark Stealth” version will turn a few heads, and admittedly, this author wishes his Streetfigher 1098 had the red frame on the Rosso Corsa version of the Streetfighter 848.

At $12,995 MSRP, the Ducati Streetfighter 848 is $1,000 cheaper than the Superbike 848 from which it gains its roots (and shares the $13k price point with the Superbike 848 “Dark”). With the added benefit of Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and a 132hp Testastretta 11° motor with longer service intervals, Ducati has refined the Streetfighter 848 to be more civil for its for its urban hooligan duties, while maintaining an appropriate amount of uncouthed sensibility. 19 photos and a video after the jump.

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Ducati has released pricing and power specs for the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 here in the US, and the fighter’d version of the Superbike 848 is interestingly priced at $12,995 MSRP, the same price as the Superbike 848 EVO “Dark” or $1,000 less than the colored Superbike 848 EVOs, which retail for $13,995. Making 8hp less than the current Superbike 848 EVO, the Ducati Streetfighter 848’s motor makes 132hp and 69 lbs•ft of torque on Ducati’s dynos, just 23hp shy of the current Streetfighter 1098. Additionally, the Ducati Streetfighter 848 will tip the scales at 373 lbs dry (439 lbs wet), the same weight figure quoted for the current Ducati Streetfighter 1098.

As we stated when the Ducati Streetfighter 848 first broke cover, the positioning on the smaller Streetfighter was going to be critical and difficult for Ducati. The Bologna brand not only has to balance the the Streetfighter 848 against the Superbike 848 EVO, but also against the Monster 1100 EVO as well, which retails for $11,995. With the Streetfighter 848 getting lower-spec suspension and brakes compared to the Superbike 848 EVO (along with a presumably smaller airbox resulting in less power), Ducati seems to be hoping that the standard traction control on the SF848 will help distinguish the Streetfighter from its Superbike compatriot, which has no Ducati Traction Control (DTC) option.

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2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848

09/12/2011 @ 10:02 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

After Asphalt & Rubber first announced the bike back in July, the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 has finally made its official debut (with a little teaser help from Nicky Hayden). Expanding Ducati’s Streetfighter brand to now include two bikes (we’ll have to wait a little longer for the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198), the Ducati Streetfighter 848 is certainly not a shocking release. True to the streetfighter movement’s ethos, the Streetfighter 848 is a stripped-down version of the Superbike 848, with a twist.

As we predicted, Ducati has brought over the Testastretta 11° engine configuration for the smaller Streetfighter, meaning not only will the Streetfighter 848 have a wet-clutch, but also a 15,000 mile valve service interval. While Ducati is mum on many of the new SF 848’s details, the Bologna brand says the bike will come with the Ducati Traction Control system (DTC), and from what we can see in the photos, unsurprisingly lower-spec Brembo brakes and Marzoochi forks, instead of the Superbike 848’s monoblocs and Sachs units.

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Nicky Hayden Teases the Ducati Streetfighter 848

09/07/2011 @ 9:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Spending some time at Borgo Panigale factory during the San Marino GP race week, Ducati Corse rider Nicky Hayden couldn’t help but tease the upcoming 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 that was “spied” testing last month. With this photo and tweet, Hayden affirms the news we broke in July, and with the message “Coming soon… #ducati #droppingonmonday” we can infer that Ducati will be taking the wraps off the Streetfighter 848 on Monday next week.

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