Strangely enough, we have talked about trade wars several times before, here on Asphalt & Rubber, as the Trump administration has been keen to use this tool in its toolbox, often with effects that reach into the motorcycle industry. The first time around, we talked about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) affected the motorcycle industry, namely Harley-Davidson, and how the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement would likely be a negative effect for US motorcyclists. We have also had to talk about how fighting over beef imports could lead to possible tariffs on small-displacement European motorcycles in the United States, a tariff that would seriously hurt Piaggio/Vespa scooter sales and KTM dirt bike sales.
Valentino Rossi finally put an end to the speculation today at the MotoGP pre-race press conference, and announced that Ducati Corse will use an aluminum chassis during the Aragon GP this weekend. First tested last week on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12, the FTR-built aluminum frame has improved the front end feeling for the Desmosedici, an issue that has plagued the Ducati all this season. Rossi will first use the new aluminum parts during Free Practice tomorrow, though the team hasn’t confirmed their use in the race just yet.
While Ducati might not be getting a two-wheel drive system in MotoGP anytime soon, the Italians are apparently in the process of running a parallel program to its MotoGP racing effort that explores the concept of Ducati Corse switching to an aluminum twin-spar frame. Uncovered by French journalist Thomas Baujard of the French magazine Moto Journal, Ducati Corse has apparently enlisted the help of a third-party chassis manufacturing and engineering firm to construct a prototype aluminum chassis. Not wanting to start from zero, Ducati hopes that with aid from a third party, the Italian company can come up to speed on the twin-spar design.
The Mission R electric superbike by Mission Motors is one of those motorcycles that looks great by itself in a photo, and then looks even better once you see it in person. Up-close it is easier to appreciate the finer details that went into making the Mission R, like the all-carbon “fuel tank” and battery enclosure, the chrome-moly trellis frame, and of course the single-piece billet aluminum swingarm that was produced by Speedymoto. Machined down to single-sided perfection, Speedymoto started the Mission R’s swingarm from a single piece of aluminum billet that weighed 80 lbs, while the finished product weighs only 18.8 lbs with the slider for the chain tensioner/wheelbase adjuster installed.
Marchesini has released spec on its 2009 product catalog. Already known for having some of the most stiff and rigid rims in the industry, and for developing wheels made from molten magnesium and carbon fiber, Marchesini raises the bar now with their offering of forged magnesium wheels. Their new production process uses Finite Element Method (FEM), which is a multidirectional way of forging magnesium, developed in the aeronautical industry. Refined by use in MotoGP, Marchesini is offering two lines for 2009: Komp: A forged aluminum wheels designed for road use and available in various colors. Komp R: A dedicated to racing wheel that offers a weight saving of 25% – 35%. The Komp R wheel sell in both the standard 17″ wheel size, as well as that slightly more race friendly 16.5″ variety. Espada: A forged aluminum wheel that is built specifically for 125cc bikes. Komp Motard: Also a forged aluminum, this one as you probably guessed already,…