We have already published about the sizable sales trouble that Yamaha is encountering in the United States, seeing its last 12 months of sales drop 19% compared to the 12 months prior.
We have also talked about Yamaha’s plans to move its headquarters from California to Georgia, taking the brand away from the epicenter of the motorcycle industry, and off to cheaper waters for operations.
Today, we continue our news about Yamaha Motor USA, talking about the company’s role in American road racing, as Yamaha is set to shake up its involvement in the MotoAmerica Championship.
On Wednesday, we told you about Yamaha’s struggling sales in the US market
for its large displacement machines, with several bikes from several categories showing lackluster results over the last 12 months. We told this story first, because it frames a series of future stories about Yamaha Motor USA, and today is a continuation of that narrative.
As such, Asphalt & Rubber has learned that Yamaha plans to move its corporate headquarters out of Cypress, California – the epicenter of the motorcycle industry – and relocate to the other side of the country, setting up shop just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The primary driver for this move? Costs.
Things are not well at Yamaha Motor USA, and over the coming days you are going to read a number of reports from us about Yamaha and its US operations.
Before we dive into the multitude of issues that the Tuning Fork brand faces here in the United States though, we wanted to first talk about Yamaha’s crashing sales, because that best frames the company’s entire situation, and is the basis for the other stories that concern the brand.
Now halfway through 2018, Yamaha sales big bike sales (500cc and up) are down a staggering 19% for the last 12 consecutive months, compared to the same previous 12 months before that.
To put that figure into perspective, the big bike market in the USA is down roughly 8% over the same time period, though that figure is due mostly to Harley-Davidson, which accounts for half of the American bike bike market.
It was just six months ago that we broke the news about Harley-Davidson investing in electric motorcycle maker Alta Motors, and now in that short timeframe that story has seemingly made a 180° turn.
Our sources tell us that Harley-Davidson has all but removed itself from its joint motorcycle project with Alta, and backed out of its involvement in the San Francisco startup.
For Alta, this means losing the backing of a strategic investor, as well as the resources that Harley-Davidson wields in the motorcycle industry when it comes to purchasing power and vehicle development.
For the Bar & Shield brand, this raises interesting questions about Harley-Davidson’s electric roadmap, which the company revealed just one month ago – not so subtly with a concept sketch that clearly showed the use of an Alta Motors battery pack.
If you read publications from our colleagues in Europe, then you will know that Honda must surely have plans for a new CBR600RR for the 2019 model year. The proof that they offer is that the recent CARB filings by American Honda show a CBR with a significant weight drop for next year.
First spotted by our friends at Nieuwsmotor, the CARB filings quote a 10kg (22 lbs) weight difference between the listed Honda “CBR600RA” and Honda “CBR600RR” motorcycles, which makes it seem like a lighter and more focused supersport is on the way.
It is an interesting dream – and a funny one for European journalists to spot, since the CBR600 series is all but dead in Europe. But what is the reality of this discovery?
In a few months, Triumph is going to show us its new big boy Scrambler model, another motorcycle that will join Triumph’s heritage motorcycle lineup.
We know quite a bit about this new model, firstly that it will be called the Triumph Scrambler 1200. As you might expect, the Triumph Scrambler 1200 is set to take on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled in this segment, a bike which should be getting an 1,100cc variant later this year as well.
Said to be a capable full-sized dual-sport, we expect the Scrambler 1200 to be fitted with the high-torque version of Triumph’s 1,200cc parallel-twin engine, which makes 80hp and 77 lbs•ft of torque.
Two model variations are also expected. One will be road-going, and have cast wheels and street-focused rubber. The other will have spoked wheels and knobby tires.
We didn’t hear too much about “Project 1309” from World Ducati Week 2018, which is surprising considering what the past has shown us about Ducati’s secret reveals, but the Bologna brand was once again giving a teaser to fans in Misano.
In the past, World Ducati Week has been the place where Ducati showed us the first Scrambler model, and last year the event debuted the return of the Ducati SuperSport. This year, it is another new bike. A new Diavel, to be precise.
Set to compliment the current XDiavel model, the new Diavel features the same 1,262cc DVT engine with variable valve timing, but puts it into the more sport Diavel riding platform.
Do you want further proof that the supersport segment isn’t dead? I mean, besides the fact that both Suzuki and Kawasaki have plans to released new 600cc sport bikes later this year, for 2019?
Our Bothan spies have been hard at work in Noale, and they bring us word of a project brewing at Aprilia: a two-cylinder supersport model, that should debut for the 2020 model year.
The concept for this new model is pretty simple: take the class-leading Aprilia RSV4 superbike (which is also set for an update in 2019), lop off the rear cylinders, thus making it a parallel-twin engine. Boom goes the dynamite.
Triumph Motorcycles America has experienced a shakeup at its top management level, as Matthew Sheahan is out as Chief Operating Officer of the North American subsidiary.
The official line from Triumph is that Matthew Sheahan quit his post, though sources within the company tell Asphalt & Rubber that the American COO was fired from his role with the company.
When the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled debuted, I said that this was the scrambler model the Bologna should have released first. Built actually to go off-road, it is the real scrambler in Ducati’s Scrambler lineup.
Now, I have a feeling that in a few months’ time I’m going to be saying this phrase again about a different bike, as there are some rumors floating in the Bothan Spy network that an 1,079cc version of the Desert Sled is set to debut for the 2019 model year.
This supposed Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled 1100 (try saying name that three times fast) will add to the Scrambler 1100 lineup from Ducati, adding some off-road prowess to a family of bikes that is really just a reworked Ducati Monster 1100.
Sometimes, it seems like motorcycle manufacturers are intentionally tanking the supersport segment. For proof of this, I look at the electronics available, on this supposedly cutting-edge segment.
Something as ubiquitous as traction control is still slow to come to the supersport space, while it remains a standard feature on virtually every new street bike model. The concept is so foreign in this segment that less than half of the available supersports on the market have a traction control option.
One of those brands is MV Agusta, which was the first motorcycle marque to bring TC to the supersport class. Now, the Italian brand is ready to raise the bar another notch further, bringing the power of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to supersport riders.