The Only Motorcycle Statistic That’s Worth a Damn

Every year the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) releases data about motorcycle fatalities in the United States. The results are never that surprising, and despite some fluctuations year-to-year, the basic takeaways are always the same. Motorcyclists are way more likely to die (28x more likely per mile traveled) than automobile drivers and passengers; fatal motorcycle crashes are more likely to involve alcohol than other vehicle fatalities (25% vs. 21% for passenger cars); and motorcycle fatalities closely correlate to new motorcycle sales. The figures are of course important, but reporting the results is an exercise in playing a broken record, over and over again. Except for one statistic that caught our eye this year: motorcycle fatalities as a percentage of overall vehicle fatalities.

Up-Close with the Krämer HKR EVO2 R

If I said that there was an 81hp track bike that weighed less than 280 lbs ready to race, would that be something you’d be interested in? If so, say hello to the Krämer HKR EVO2, a purpose-built track bike from Germany. Built around KTM’s 690cc single-cylinder engine, which is found in KTM 690 Duke and Husqvarna’s 701 series of bikes, the Krämer HKR EVO2 features a bespoke steel-trellis chassis, custom bodywork, and a host of top-shelf components. The real tasty part about the Krämer HKR EVO2 though is the attention to detail and the purposefulness of its design – take for instance the 12-liter XPE plastic fuel tank that doubles as a subframe, which has integrated crash sliders, and a sighting hole for easy adjustment of the rear shock damping.

Motorcycle Sales in Europe Show Strong Growth

Motorcycle sales in the United States might be tanking, but things are looking fairly positive across the pond in Europe, as the ACEM reports a 4.7% increase in motorcycle sales for Q1 2018, for a total of 203,853 units sold in the first three months of this year. The increase in sales is due to key markets like France (+9.1%), Germany (+1.9%), and the UK (+7.4%) showing good growth, compared to Q1 2017. However, not all the European countries are showing increases in motorcycle sales, with the Czech Republic (-17.3%), Poland (-28.7%), and Austria (-18.9%) pulling the sales growth figure down considerably. Not all segments are growing too. While the big bikes are seeing sales increases, European sales for mopeds are down considerably for Q1 2018 (40.2%), to the tune of a 24,996 unit sales decline over last year.

This Week’s Honda V4 Superbike Rumor

I have to admit, this rumor is more than a week old, as Japanese magazine Young Machine breathed new life into the Honda V4 superbike rumor mill about a month ago. And of course, the reality is that this rumor is much, much older than this tiny fraction of time. If you know your motorcycle news history, talk of a Honda V4 replacement for the CBR1000RR line has existed for almost two decades now…but hey, a broken clock is correct twice a day, right? So what is new from the Land of the Rising sun that we haven’t heard before? The big eye-catching component to this story is that Honda has/had a two-stage upgrade path for the CBR1000RR, of which we are about to see the second phase.

Official: Alta Motors Racing at the 2018 Erzberg Rodeo

We broke the story yesterday, but today the news is officially official: Alta Motors will race in the 2018 Ezerberg Rodeo, which is part of the Red Bull Hard Enduro series. The most grueling and difficult single-day event in motorcycle racing, the Erzberg Rodeo sees 1,500 entires whittled down into what is usually a single-digit summation of race-finishers – and not every year sees a racer cross the finish line – that’s how tough this race is. Racing for Alta Motors will be Ty Tremaine and Lyndon Poskitt, two riders with a lot of off-road experience. For those who don’t recognize those names, Tremaine is currently racing with Alta in the 2018 AMA EnduroCross series, meanwhile Poskitt has previously competed in a number of enduro events, including the Ezberg Rodeo, and most notably just soloed the 2018 Dakar Rally to completion. 

Come Drool Over SERT’s All New Endurance Race Bike

The winningest team in the FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team is the standard by which other endurance teams are measured…and that is a measuring stick that has seen a lot of use in recent seasons. This is because the FIM EWC is a hot bed for competition right now, with a bevy of factory-backed teams capable of winning on any race weekend. This has made it tough for SERT, and its riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson, and Gregg Black, who currently sit sixth in the 2018 FIM Endurance World Championship standings. For this season, SERT hopes that a new racing platform will make the difference, as the French team has finally jumped onboard with the current-generation Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Johann Zarco Signs Two-Year Deal with KTM

One of the biggest dominoes of the 2018 MotoGP Silly Season has just fallen into place. Today, KTM announced that they have signed Johann Zarco to a two-year contract for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. That Zarco would leave the Monster Yamaha Tech3 squad had been widely anticipated, the only question being which factory team he would end up in. The Frenchman was an extremely hot property, after displaying blistering speed on the satellite Yamaha M1 in 2017. Zarco had offers from Suzuki, Repsol Honda, and KTM, though only Honda and KTM were in the frame for the Frenchman. Zarco and his management were still unhappy with the way Suzuki had treated the Frenchman, after the Japanese factory failed to honor a pre-contract Zarco had signed ahead of the 2017 season, choosing Alex Rins instead.

The Ducati Panigale V4 Gets Its First Two Recalls

New model teething issues are always a reality, and it seems that the Ducati Panigale V4 is no exception to the rule. Finding not one, but two issues with the Panigale V4’s fueling system, Italy’s newest superbike is being recalled in the United States. Both recalls seem to affect the full-lot of Panigale V4 models that have made it to US soil thus far this year, which means 692 units (base, S, and Special trim levels) are being recalled for two issues related to the bike’s fuel system. As such, the first recall centers around the breathing system valve plug on the Panigale V4, which might have a fuel leak if the O-ring was damaged during production. Accordingly, the second recall involves the fuel tank cap, which can spray gas when opened, because again of breathing issues within the fuel system.

Are BMW’s Heritage Models Finally Done?

Has BMW Motorrad called it quits for its heritage lineup of motorcycles? That is the rumor at least, and there is some good evidence to support the notion. This is because buried on the 60th turn of BMW’s 260-page annual report for 2017 is the headline: “R nineT family now complete” – a nod that the German brand’s lineup of air-cooled retro-styled motorcycles has reached its zenith and logical conclusion. That makes sense, since there isn’t really a category left of the R nineT family to explore. It has a roadster, a standard, a scrambler, an adventure bike, and a café racer model all in the lineup. No hipster stone has been left unturned. The post-authentic styling trend is over. It’s dead. BMW called it, right? Well…Not so fast.

Up-Close with the 2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF LE

At the Grand Prix of the Americas, Aprilia USA debuted a special new superbike for the 2018 model year, the Aprilia RSV4 RF LE. Limited to only 125 units for North America (100 for the USA, 25 for Canada), the big feature of the 2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF LE is the bike’s fairing winglets, which draw from Aprilia Racing’s aerodynamic progress in the MotoGP Championship. Getting a chance to see the new Aprilia RSV4 RF LE in the flesh while in Texas, we grabbed some up-close photos of this limited edition RSV4, for your viewing pleasure, along with some other details. Aprilia’s wings are an interesting development, and a brave new world for production superbike design. For its part too, it seems that Aprilia isn’t quite sure what to make of the development as well, offering us two narratives for the winglets.

Here is a common joke that you will often hear: "How do you make a small fortune in the motorcycle industry? Start with a large one." Well, the next time you hear the lead-up, here is a new punchline for you: "Sell a limited edition model."

Motorcycle manufacturers have been onto this gag for a while now, offering limited edition, numbered for collectors, pure unobtanium motorcycle models to the well-heeled masses.

There may not be that many people that can afford a motorcycle that costs as much as a modest house, but there enough of these people in the world that selling a couple hundred expensive superbikes a year is a pretty trivial feat - it helps too that many of these enthusiasts are return-customers too.

Take the case of Ducati, as our Bothan spies have provided us with some interesting information about the Borgo Panigale brand. Last year, the Italian company made more money on its special edition superbikes, than the regular models it sells.

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Ducati is returning to Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for 2018, with plans to reclaim its title as King of the Mountain. To do so, Ducati has enlisted the help of former outright record-holder Carlin Dunne, as well as current middleweight record-holder Codie Vahsholtz.

In their assault to the top of Pikes Peak, Dunne and Vahsholtz will be riding modified Ducati Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak motorcycles. Wanting to know more about these beasts, we reached out Ducati North America, to see what light they could shed on the v-twin race bikes.

They came back to us with an interesting list of changes, to make these the fastest Multistradas you have ever seen.

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Andrea Dovizioso will spend another two years in the Ducati Corse squad, signing a two-year contract with the Italian team, and announcing it today in Le Mans for the French GP.

That Dovi would sign again with Ducati is unsurprising, though the news took some time to come to fruition, likely as last-year’s MotoGP Championship runner-up wanted a paycheck more in line with what he was doing for Borgo Panigale.

This disparity comes because Andrea Dovizioso was supposed to be the #2 rider in the Ducati MotoGP team, playing second fiddle to Jorge Lorenzo, however that has not been the reality.

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Ducati Returns to Pikes Peak to Reclaim Crown

05/16/2018 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati is set to return to America’s Mountain, announcing today that it would race in the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with riders Carlin Dunne and Codie Vahsholtz.

Carlin Dunne (who is today’s big birthday boy) is a former record-holder at Pikes Peak, and was the first rider up the 156-turn course in under 10 minutes, while Codie Vahsholtz is the current middleweight record-holder at Pikes Peak.

The return to “The Race to the Clouds” will also serve as a launching point for the Ducati Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak model, which will have to compete with an increasingly faster volley of competition.

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Alpinestars is celebrating its 55th anniversary at this year’s Americas GP, and to help commemorate the event, they have commissioned the creation of a special one-off motorcycle from Michael Woolaway, the prorietor of Woolie’s Workshop and Deus ex Machina in Venice, California.

The bike is based off a Ducati 1974 Ducati 750 Sport, with an old race engine that Woolie found in a crate, wedged into a custom frame that was built by Jeff Cole.

The design is immediately recognizable as one of Woolie’s creations, with its minimalist red bodywork, retro-mod lines, and performance-oriented pieces. 

Speaking at the bike’s unveiling, Woolie described his creation as having the heart of a classic sport bike, with the benefit of modern technology and chassis dynamics.

As such, you will find Öhlins suspension front and back, Brembo braking pieces, Marchesini wheels, and a custom 2-2 Akrapovic exhaust.

Other trick bits include parts by Rizoma, as well as a thumb-brake system on the left-hand side.

If you ever happen to see the creation on the road, look closely at the rider. It’s like Alpinestars CEO Gabriele Mazzarolo.

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Ducati Will Start Making Motorcycles with Radar

04/18/2018 @ 11:35 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati is making an interesting announcement today, boasting that it will bring front and rear radar technology to its motorcycles by the year 2020.

Using radar technology developed with the Politecnico di Milano University, Ducati will use radar not only to detect vehicles in the motorcycle’s blind spot, but also to detect the flow of traffic ahead of the motorcycle, and use that information for an adaptive cruise control system.

Ducati plans a number of other rider alerts as well, with the fore and aft radar units, which will help riders know when there is a fast-approaching vehicle coming from the rear, when there is a risk of head-on collision in front of the motorcycle, and so forth.

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This Week’s “Ducati for Sale” Rumor

04/16/2018 @ 9:19 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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.

Because of the unions, any sale – including Ducati’s – was a non-starter for the Volkswagen executives, though that didn’t keep the warring factions from trying. By the end of last year though, it seemed we had put this issue to bed. 2018, however, is a new year.

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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.

In the past years, Akrapovič has done a proper job of branding as the exhaust of choice for motorcycle exhausts (note the company’s many B2B marketing deals in MotoGP and with OEMs), with Termignoni seemingly all but forgotten…until today.

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Ducati Supersport R Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/30/2018 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When we first heard that Ducati was bringing back the Supersport line, we were excited. The original SuperSport wasn’t exactly the best selling model for the Italian brand, but Ducati created some loyal enthusiasts with the half-faired sport-touring machine.

The new Ducati Supersport does a good job of tapping into the ethos of the old model, but visually it draws too close to the Ducati 1299 Panigale Superbike, rather than the lines of yore.

Here, Oberdan Bezzi plays another one of his “what if” games, drawing an air-cooled Supersport model (based off the current Scrambler platform), complete with the more classic half-fairing design. 

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I can tell you from personal experience that Casey Stoner is not one to mince words.

The two-time World Champion’s direct and sometimes confrontational approach to interpersonal conversations was at times difficult for MotoGP fans to get behind, but on the brightside, one always knew exactly were they stood in Stoner’s opinions.

Maybe that is why it is interesting to hear Stoner talking about the latest superbike from Ducati, the Panigale V4. Riding it around Valencia, the same venue where we tested the Ducati Panigale V4 S earlier this year, Stoner gives his fairly insightful thoughts on the 1,100cc machine.

The short version? The Australian was quite impressed with the new V4, though admittedly it still wasn’t up to the standards of his former MotoGP ride.

One can hardly blame Casey though, he does have a slightly different perspective than most, which is why he is one of our favorite GP riders of all time. Though, we should point out, he is technically a Ducati employee, so maybe that skews the perspective as well…

On a side note and for those keeping track, photos of this pre-launch test were “leaked” ahead of the Panigale V4’s debut at EICMA.

Looking at this video now, it seemingly confirms our suspicion that Ducati leaked the photos itself, as they are exact image captures from the video footage used here. Such is how the sausage gets made.

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