Erik Buell’s Newest Project Is an Electric Street Bike

Erik Buell, we have missed thee. It has been almost a year since we last reported on the demise of Erik Buell Racing, but it has been over two years since we talked about the man himself. What has Buell been up to? Well, from the look of things, making a pivot into the electric motorcycle arena, it seems. Teaming up with New York City boutique bike brand, Vanguard Motorcycles, as well as Formula E car supplier, SPARK Racing Technologies, Buell is part of the new VanguardSpark venture. For its debut, VanguardSpark has two machines on offer. The first is an electric motorcycle (above), called the VanguardSpark Commuter. It’s a simple design, which we don’t find terribly appealing, though one should always reserve some judgments when only looking at a concept machine.

This Week’s “Ducati for Sale” Rumor

The Volkswagen Group got a new CEO last week, and in less than seven days, that news has already sparked renewed rumors in the German automobile conglomerate divesting itself of Ducati Motor Holdings. For those who have been following Ducati’s saga, there was much talk last year of Volkswagen selling off a number of its other brands, all under the reasoning that the German company would need to raise capital to cover its mounting Dieselgate liabilities. The logic for that reasoning wasn’t sound, but the actions were certainly there, with Volkswagen tendering offers from a number of would-be suitors. There was a fly in the ointment though: Volkswagen’s labor unions, who control half of the VW Group’s board seats, and were vehemently opposed to any brand divestitures.

Battery “Thermal Events” Lead to Zero Recall & Buy-Back

Zero Motorcycles is reporting a very serious defect with its 2012 model year bikes, specifically affecting the Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DSP (Police) models. The recall concerns Zero’s battery architecture for the 2012 model year, which may cause cells to fail, and thus create a runaway “thermal event” (read: catches on fire) within the battery pack. In total, this recall affects 218 motorcycle units – the entire volume of Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DPS motorcycles that were sold for the 2012 model year. In its recall documents, Zero cites three instances (one in Hong Kong, and two in the USA) where the battery packs on the affected 2012 model bikes have failed and lead to a thermal event.

Benelli’s Grom-Killer Debuts for the US Market, A Review

For years, Benelli has lain dormant, at least in the US market. That changes with the Chinese owned, but Italian-run, firm releasing the first of many street bikes for American consumption. It kicks things off with the 2018 Benelli TnT 135 ($2,499). US importer, SSR Motorsports, hosted a quick day ride that began atop Southern California’s Ortega Highway, and concluded in Newport Beach. Renowned for its twists and turns, Ortega Highway is an amusing, but also very high-traveled ribbon of blacktop that links the bustling inland and beach communities. This stretch of roadway is known for accidents as well – would the tiny TnT be able to keep up with “always in a hur

UK Salary Data Shows Gender Gap at Triumph

The United Kingdom has a new law, requiring companies with 250 or more employees to report to the authorities the earnings of its workers, by gender. The topic has been a sticking point in the British news cycle right now, with woman across the company showing median earnings that are 12% lower than men, which is a sizable gap in income equality. Where does the British motorcycle industry falls into place in all this? Well as Visordown initially reported, that is more difficult to say, as it appears that only Triumph Motorcycles meets the reporting criteria, amongst motorcycle manufacturers. Technically, it is two brands that meet reporting criteria for gender pay gap, as Triumph Motorcycles Limited and Triumph Designs Limited split their duties for the British marque.

What Caused Jorge Lorenzo’s Crash at the Qatar GP?

After a poor start, which saw him drop from ninth on the grid to thirteenth at the end of the first lap, Jorge Lorenzo was making steady progress through the field at Qatar. His lap times were starting to come down to match, and on some laps even beat, the pace the leaders were running. As the halfway mark approached, and less than four seconds behind the leaders, Lorenzo started to believe he was capable of salvaging a decent result from a difficult start. That all ended on Lap 13. The Spaniard crashed out of the race at Turn 4, when his front brake failed and he had to drop the bike in the gravel. “I just felt that the level of the front brake was getting closer to my fingers and I didn’t have brake,” Lorenzo described the incident afterwards.

The Ducati Panigale V4 Looks Good Wearing Termignoni

For a long time, the name “Termignoni” was synonymous with “Ducati exhaust”, with the popular scarico-maker being a constant fixture in the Ducati Performance parts catalog. So prevalent was the brand, that if you see a turn-of-the-century (21st century, that is) Ducati clacking down the street with its dry clutch, chances are the exhaust you are also hearing was made by Termignoni. But that has changed in recent years, with Slovenian marque Akrapovič supplanting Termignoni in Ducati’s good graces. To find out why, all one had to do was examine the products themselves – where Termignoni’s pieces were poorly fabricated and over-priced, Akrapovič was infinitely better built and often cheaper.

Honda CBR1000RRW Debuts for Endurance Duty

What you are looking at here is the bike that Honda hopes will win the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race this year. It is called the Honda CBR1000RRW. It is not all that different from the WorldSBK-spec model, the one that Leon Camier and Jake Gange are competing with currently (and that PJ Jacobsen is helping develop), save for some interesting changes. For starters, the Honda CBR1000RRW dumps its Cosworth boxes, and instead runs the Magneti Marelli electronics package that Jacobsen is using in WorldSBK. Also, there are some obvious bodywork changes, namely where the exposed front spars of the frame would be, which are now covered by a silver painted panel.Then of course, there are the mechanical changes for endurance duty, like quick-change wheel pieces and functional lights.

Honda CB300R Coming to USA with Retro-Modern Looks

One of the surprise pleasures at last year’s EICMA show was Honda’s family of “Neo-Sports Café” street bikes, which brought a retro-modern look to Big Red’s approach road bikes. While the new Honda CB1000R tickled our fancy the most, we were delighted to see that the theme extended all the way to the Japanese brand’s small-displacement platform, the Honda CB300R. An attractive and affordable entry-level bike, the Honda CB300R looks like it was designed in Europe, rather than Nippon, which is probably why the 286cc commuter is doing so well in the European market. Seeing that success, American Honda has confirmed the CB300R as an early 2019 model for the US market – available in July 2018.

Motorcycling’s April Fools Round-Up for 2018

Another year, and another April Fools Day is done and dusted. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news they wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint. My colleague David Emmett had a nicely done story about the MotoGP World Championship. For my own part, I took advantage of the long-con approach, and fit a story into our ongoing series about the upcoming Suzuki Hayabusa, which seems to have no shortage of weekly rumors about this bike’s supposed features and technical specifications. How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

Do You Have 20/20 Vision?

01/11/2012 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Because motorcycles can move from lane to lane with ease, and even vary their position in a single lane with regularity, motorcyclists are sadly hard to spot when automobile drivers are accustomed only to looking out for larger slow-to-move cars that take up an entire lane’s width. Yes, as motorcyclists we impose a special duty on automobile drivers, a duty which more often than not gets pushed back onto us. This then requires motorcyclists to ride defensively. It requires us to assume a cage doesn’t see us, and is gong to move into our lane.

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Ducati: Ads That Make You Go Hmm…

10/12/2011 @ 9:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Ducati North America sent me a note explaining that these ads were not a part of corporate-initiated ad campaign. Their best guess is that they are spec-creative, or something done by the company’s Ecuadorian distributor.

Talking in generalities, Ducati is one of the better companies in the motorcycle industry when it comes to handling its market communications, and in an industry that’s generally abysmal at making creative advertisements, you can make of that praise as you will. Of course every now and then Bologna produces a dud campaign, and well…through each others’ failures, we can hopefully make progress. It’s not that the concept being used here is a bad one, it’s just not readily apparent (it’s also averaging below a 2.5/10 rating on Ads of the World right now).

Trying to make a statement about how owning a Ducati motorcycle is as fantastic of an accomplishment as becoming invisible, turning into other objects, walking through walls, and levitating, we’re not sure that the comparison, though clever, is readily apparent when these photos stand on their own on a page. Better pitched in the idea room than executed on the paper, after the third advertisement or so it finally hits you (the walking through walls one was the “ahh-ha!” moment for us). But as for a clearly communicated message, there is a bit left wanting here from Ducati and its ad agency, The Grey Group…that and the teapot thing is just damn silly. More examples after the jump.

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Nissan Responds Over Juke Commercial Controversy

09/09/2011 @ 11:32 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

After an outpouring of criticism of its Nissan Juke commercial, it looks like someone at the Japanese company has yanked its videos of the motorcycle-eating CUV from the internet. With the videos on YouTube and Vimeo now set to “private” and requiring a password to watch, it would seem that Nissan wisely doesn’t want you to see one of its latest promotions of the Juke, where a computer animated version of the Nissan Juke turns the tables on the “predatory” motorcycles, and hunts them down by running-over the motorcyclists. The pièce de résistance to this motorcyclist massacre is that the Juke’s motorcycle-inspired center console is in fact a trophy from one of the CUV’s many kills from the video. We seriously couldn’t make this up if we tried, and yet that very storyboard somehow made its way through an ad agency pitch.

Getting a proper roasting here at Asphalt & Rubber, we can only imagine that the frustration vented by motorcyclists in our comments showed a glimpse into the emails that Nissan recieved from the advertisement. Luckily one of our readers here at A&R shared with us the response they got from Nissan Canada, the branch responsible for the online Nissan Juke campaign in question. The reply confirms that the videos are in the process of being removed, though we’re not sure the duration of the campaign, nor its “super-natural” fell has much relevancy to the situation, and it certainly does not ease the fact that Nissan is showing an automobile maliciously run-over motorcyclists.

Considering that many of the members of the motorcycle community can share a common story about how a negligent or road-raged driver has nearly run them of the road (or worse, succeeded in that endeavor), we stand behind our position that Nissan probably could have picked a better way to make references to motorcycling-inspired design elements than what the company produced in this “trophy” storyline. A copy Nissan Canada’s response, with redacted names, is after the jump.

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Sprint Features Mission Motors in TV Commercials

08/30/2011 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

On my way to the Indianapolis GP this weekend, I was sitting in coach (because that’s how we roll here at A&R) on Delta flight 147 to Atlanta (direct flights are for wusses), passing the time on the 5 hour flight by watching the airline’s 15 or so TV channels ($6 for an in-flight movie??! Who are you kidding Delta?). Suffering through mostly daytime soap operas, I opted to to watch the news stations instead. While the day’s headlines were mostly about the impending apocalypses that were hurricane Irene and the retirement of Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO, the segment I found the most interesting were the commercials (this should say something about CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News).

Somehow managing to stay conscious long enough through the advertisements, I hear a Sprint spokesman quickly say “what if we design an electric motorcycle?” Surprised to hear such a non sequitur on TV, I looked up in-time to briefly see a CAD drawing of a motorcycle, whose frame quickly reminded me of the Mission R (with and without its clothes). With the rest of the commercial talking about some Samsung tablets, I remembered that Mission Motors uses a Samsung Tab for the prototype Mission R dash (photo after the jump). Could it be the Sprint was hocking Mission Motors in a TV ad?

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The straw vote in the A&R office is that the jury is still out on the recently unveiled Husqvarna Nusa 900R. We like that BMW is setting up Husqvarna to be the more edgy on-street brand in its two-wheeled house, and the maxi-motard is a safe street entry for the otherwise dirt-based company. A narrow, fairly light, and peppy twin should be fun to blast from stoplight to stoplight, lane-split between traffic-packed cars, and generally just hoon about town. Price of course will be an issue for the Nuda 900R, as its components don’t suggest a cheap price tag, of course we don’t think Husqvarna (read BMW) is too concerned with that issue, as they’re likely focusing on the more exclusive side of the market continuum.

Speaking of select target markets, the looks are not the most generally palatable, with our office’s spectrum of reception ranging from drool-worthy praise to motions of people hanging themselves with their belt (and not in that good auto-erotica asphyxiation sort of way). One thing we can agree on, as far as promo videos go…this one doesn’t really achieve any of the goals we’d think Husqvarna would set out for its first street bike.

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Video: Stay a Hero, Stay Safe

06/13/2011 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It seems more often than not, the video advertisements we feature here on Asphalt & Rubber are examples of what is wrong with marketing in the motorcycle industry. However every once and a while, we get a gem like this safety campaign for The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, which was done by director Daniel Cox , the maker of a similar car campaign that was quite the rage in the advertising world.

The best part about this ad is that it centers around a little boy who seeS the motorcycle of his father, and wants to share in that experience. In a way, a lot of us are like little boys when we get on our bikes, and there certainly is a captivating element with motorcycles and small children. It just makes the imagery seem more fitting, and then there is of course the whole rolemodel message. It’s good heartfelt stuff, and it’s waiting for you right after the jump.

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Behind the Scenes at a Ducati Diavel Commercial

05/19/2011 @ 6:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

We hear the Ducati Diavel is doing quite well in sales, with many dealers reportedly out of stock with the units. Though some dealers still have bikes in stock, namely the ones that jumped on the Diavel bandwagon early-on, it’s clear now that more people than just us here at Asphalt & Rubber were impressed with Ducati’s take on the performance cruiser category. While Ducati’s deal with the Devil got our overall seal of approval, some of this success surely has to be owed to the heavy media blitz from the Italian brand.

Like with the Multistrada 1200 release, Ducati has put the Diavel front-and-center in its marketing machine. Helping win the hearts and minds of the skeptics, Ducati has put together a short video advertisement of the Diavel, and for extra measure, a behind the scenes making of the clip. If you ever wanted to see how much effort goes into a one minute video spot, here’s your chance. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Mercedes-Benz cameo as well. Original advertisement and the behind the scenes footage after the jump.

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I Think They’re Selling Gasoline…

04/01/2011 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Repsol Honda has debuted a new advertisement to go in-line with the MotoGP Championship stopping in Jerez, Spain this weekend. Drawing on the petroleum company’s sponsored riders in GP racing, we see Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, and Marc Márquez making an appearance for their benefactor. We can only imagine the acting direction that must have been given to the riders for this video: “Marc, you’re the youngest so no talking and only use your hands. Dani, divide a really big number by another really big number while staring off into space. Andrea, you’re hot, so very, very, very hot…do something about it. Casey, you’re a sweaty boy, and everyone knows it.”

While we don’t speak a lot of Spanish here in the A&R office, we imagine the real message here is about teamwork, winning, and using Spanish gasoline…at least that’s what we’re hoping for, and that this is not the making of a motorcycle-themed boy band music video. Honestly though, it’s a pretty cool video with the slow-motion shots, and luckily for Repsol it looks like they have a good chance of being on the podium this weekend to go along with this campagin. Check out the making of this video after the jump, as it looks like there’s some A-quality footage still to be used. Do we smell a sequel coming on?

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“Crash Proof” Motorcycle Hoax Video Revealed

03/15/2011 @ 9:50 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

You’ve likely seen the video where a “crash proof” motorcycle, which has rider detection aids on-board, gets plowed by a truck as it enters the highway. If you haven’t seen this video, well…we just sorta ruined it for you, and we’re going to ruin it some more for the rest of you who thought it was real, as the group behind the video’s making has finally stepped forward, and revealed it was all a hoax to get you thinking about rider safety.

Produced by the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership (TVSRP), as part of the Safer Rider campaign, the locale has been trying to make riders in their 30’s and 40’s aware of the area’s high casualty rate on the roadway. “Our aim was to produce a video that encouraged people to discuss the attitudes and ability involved when riding a motorcycle and for it to spread virally within the motorcycle community,” said Craig McAlpine of TVSRP.

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Video: Ducati Helps Xerox Sell Some Copiers

09/09/2010 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Xerox essentially foots the bill for Ducati’s World Superbike racing adventures, so it’s not surprising that the company, whose name is synonymous with photocopying, would like to capitalize on that relationship. It’s hard to imagine how one can make an intriguing commercial about xeroxing some documents (see what we did there?), which may be why Rochester-based brand is involved with WSBK in the first place, as the company has tapped its relationship with Ducati to help sell some copy machines. The result is an actually semi-engaging ad, but we’re just not sure what Xerox is going to do next year. Video after the jump.

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