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.

Recall news from Suzuki Motor of America, as Suzuki is recalling certain 2017-2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000 motorcycles, for an issue with its electronics and drivetrain. This problem affects roughly 3,100 motorcycles.

According to recall documents, the chain on the GSX-R1000 may break when upshifting between first and second gear. This occurs if the rider fails to engage second gear, and a neutral condition gets created, which may cause very high engine RPM.

If the rider then shifts into second gear, without disengaging the clutch, the motorcycle’s chain may stretch or break, which is an obvious safety hazard.

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About The Rising Cost of Ducati Superbikes

12/08/2017 @ 12:14 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I was a bit surprised when Ducati announced pricing on the new Panigale V4 model.

I knew the Italian brand would command a premium for the latest edition of its flagship model, but what took me aback was how high the price had climbed ($21,195) in one swoop, even though prices on the Ducati 1299 Panigale have steadily been creeping upward over the past few years.

Part of the blame is surely comes down to simple currency conversion between the euro and dollar, which has also been climbing steadily in the past year (after a sudden and sustained drop for the past three) and is now nearly at its year-long high.

When it comes to the US market though, currency fluctuations are only part of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the pricing programs put together by motorcycle manufacturers.

Motorcycle manufacturers subsidize (and inflate) their prices for the US market, based on the goals of the company, and Ducati is no different.

For European manufacturers too, it is important to understand a fundamental difference in economics: that pricing in Europe reflects a value-added tax (VAT), which is typically close to 20% for motorcycles - an inflation of consumer cost that doesn't occur in the United States.

That being said, in the same breath I should mention that sometimes tariffs come into play for the US market...but that's a whole different story. For now, let's stick to how Ducati superbike prices have climbed over $6,000 in just over 10 years' time.

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Ducati DTC EVO Will Cost $565 MSRP

08/12/2017 @ 11:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A couple days ago, we told you that Ducati would be making the updated electronics package on the 2017 Ducati 1299 Panigale, called DTC EVO, available to 2015 and 2016 Panigale owners.

The software update lets the Panigale take full-advantage of the inertial measurement unit (IMU) that is onboard, letting the traction control not only manage wheelspin, as it does on the 2015 and 2016 models, but also allowing it to control how much rear-wheel slide is allowed, as on the 2017 machine.

While DTC EVO is standard on the 2017 model, the software wasn’t developed in time for the earlier 1299 Panigale models. Thankfully, it is an easy feature to add retroactively. Unthankfully though, Ducati is charging a pretty penny for the update: $565 MSRP.

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If you happen already to own one of the 2017 Ducati 1299 Panigale models, including the recently released Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition and Ducati 1299 Superleggera models, then you already have the latest and greatest electronics suite from the Italian manufacturer, dubbed the Ducati Traction Control EVO (DTC EVO).

But, if you own a 2015 or 2016 Panigale, whether it be a “base” model or “S” model, you have been out of luck when it comes to taking full advantage of your bike’s Bosch inertial measurement unit (IMU)…until today.

Ducati is announcing that it will retrofit its DTC EVO system for older 1299 Panigale machines, so they can take advantage of IMU’s ability to manage sliding the rear wheel, via a revised algorithm.

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On the eve of the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP’s rule making body has allowed a system which was first mooted at the same race last year.

In Assen, the GPC gathered to discuss various minor tweaks to the MotoGP rules, but among them was a major upgrade: permitting the use of dashboard messages by the teams from 2018.

The ability to send messages is piggybacking off the system put in place to aid Race Direction. With spec ECUs and spec dashboards in Moto3 and MotoGP, Race Direction had long wanted the ability to send messages to the bikes on track.

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World Superbike Considering Spec-ECU, Officially

06/15/2017 @ 1:34 pm, by David EmmettADD COMMENTS

With part of the WorldSBK paddock present in Barcelona for the MotoGP race last weekend, the Superbike Commission, the series’ rulemaking body, met at Montmelo to discuss changes to the WorldSBK rules.

Though much of what was agreed in the meeting amounted to a tidying up of the starting procedure, a big talking point was the introduction of a single ECU.

The various members of the Superbike Commission discussed whether a spec-ECU should be introduced for the 2018 season. They did not reach an agreement on the subject at Barcelona, but according to the press release issued by the FIM, they do expect the matter to be settled within the next few weeks. 

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Will WorldSBK Introduce a Spec-ECU?

05/15/2017 @ 11:22 am, by Kent BrockmanADD COMMENTS

Momentum for a technical shake-up in WorldSBK has increased, but the manner to instigate that change is a big question. As such, the Imola paddock was full of rumor and discussion about changes to the technical regulations for 2018.

With Kawasaki and Ducati having shared all but four wins since the start of the 2015 season, there have been calls to grant other manufacturers some avenues with which to improve performance. Discussions between the manufacturers took place once again in Italy to lay down a framework for the future.

No answers were forthcoming but with Yamaha and Honda having brought all-new Superbikes to the series in the last year, and struggled to compete with the front-runners, it is clear that the winds of change may be in the air.

For 2017, Aprilia increased its involvement with the Milwaukee Aprilia bikes built and prepared in Italy. The former title-winning marque has thus far failed to live-up to preseason expectations.

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Recall: Zero Motorcycles S, DS, & FXS

03/16/2017 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Zero Motorcycles is recalling several of its electric motorcycle models for issues with their anti-lock braking system (ABS) hydraulic control units (HCU). The recall affects 61 units from the Zero S, DS, and FXS model lineup.

According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the wrong vehicle model information was loaded into the HCU on the affected machines, meaning that the ABS settings on those motorcycle were not the correct ones for that particular bike.

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More factories racing means more factories testing. The usual one or two-day shakedown test ahead of the first official MotoGP test of the year organized by IRTA has expanded this year to become much more than that.

All six MotoGP factories are present with test riders – Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha – as well as a couple of factories testing Superbike machines ahead of the 2017 season.

The reason? The more factory teams there are, the cheaper the cost per factory to rent the circuit, and the more time they get preparing for next week’s test.

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HyperFocal: 0

Photos of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera leaked this past weekend, and well before that we already knew some of the details about Ducati’s “Project 1408” machine, but none of this detracts from the truly impressive machine that Ducati debuted today in Milan, just ahead of the official start to the 2017 EICMA show.

Like its 1199 counterpart, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera is a limited edition version of the company’s venerable superbike platform, and it focuses on being the lightest, most powerful, street-legal machine that Borgo Panigale can produce.

Upping the ante this time around, Ducati has used a carbon fiber chassis (frame, swingarm, wheels, and bodywork) for the 1299 Superleggera, in addition to an array of other exclusive components and exotic materials.

Also of note is the Akrapovič race exhaust, which looks like it fell right off Ducati’s World Superbike project. When combined with the rest of the race kit, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera makes 220hp, and tips the scales at 162kg (wet). Truly impressive.

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