The High Fives Heard in Milwaukee

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson’s Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka. No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well. Milwaukee even impressed with its more “core” offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be “a real motorcycle” in our eyes…we think.

Ducati’s Project 1309 Reveals a New Diavel Coming

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. This means tucked in feet on rearsets, rather than the XDiavel’s foot-forward controls.

VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Hoping to pressure Harley-Davidson into keeping its production in the United States, President Trump this weekend tweeted words of encouragement to riders who planned to boycott the American motorcycle brand.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that Harley-Davidson has increasingly found itself at odds with the White House, primarily over President Trump’s trade negotiations and agreements.

The tension started with the United States withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, and reached a boiling point when President Trump imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Now with Harley-Davidson signaling its plans to move into new segments and create a new business plan for the 21st century, the Trump Administration is increasing the pressure for Harley-Davidson to maintain the status quo.

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Episode 83 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk mostly about Harley-Davidson’s big fat new bike road map announcement.

Before we get to that though, we talk some news: Triumph North America losing its COO, MV Agusta’s new Moto2 race bike, Aprilia’s rumored parallel-twin sport bike, and emission concerns in Europe & Japan, as well as California.

The conversation then turns to news from World Ducati Week 2018, as well as a recap from the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race in Japan.

From there, we talk about Harley-Davidson – its ADV bike, its streetfighter, its custom model, and its electric lineup. We also talk about the company’s business plan going forward, and what we see in Harley-Davidson’s future.

There is a lot of ground to cover in this show, but thankfully we had plenty of caffeine to help us through it. Enjoy!

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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The High Fives Heard in Milwaukee

08/08/2018 @ 1:23 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson's Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka.

No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well.

Milwaukee even impressed with its more "core" offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be "a real motorcycle" in our eyes...we think.

Let us too not forget that the iconic American brand is poised to lead the motorcycle industry with the first full-size, production, electric motorcycle from an established OEM. Stodgy, old, conservative Harley-Davidson will be an industry-leader this time next year, with its Livewire machine. Crazy.

Sprinkled into the news was a look at Harley-Davidson's lineup of electric vehicles, which creates a pathway for non-riders to become diehard Harley-Davidson enthusiasts.

Harley-Davidson talked about its plans abroad; its desire to make entry-level / price-point motorcycles; its goal to add more riders, from more diverse demographics; its plans to add another engine platform that would range from 250cc to 500cc in displacement, and power bikes for the American, European, and developing markets.

Oh yes, there were certainly high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week, but it wasn't because everyone was talking about all of this information that Harley-Davidson sprung on the motorcycle industry.

Instead, there were high fives in Milwaukee last week because no one was talking about Harley-Davidson's shrinking Q2 sales, or the fact that the company's stock price dropped 0.5% on the news.

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The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much).

The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed.

All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future.

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In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept.

There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over.

For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept.

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Harley-Davidson Streetfighter Model Coming for 2020

07/30/2018 @ 10:02 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Harley-Davidson has ambitious plans for the 2020 model year, releasing a number of concept teasers today for new motorcycles. These plans include an adventure-touring model, some electric models including e-bikes, a new roadster “custom”, and perhaps our favorite, a streetfighter model.

Based around the same modular engine design, which will have a variety of displacements (500cc to 1,250cc), the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter will get the 975cc version of the liquid-cooled v-twin engine.

Perhaps the most lithe machine we have seen from the Bar & Shield brand, the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter looks the part, albeit in a very Harley-Davidson way.

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Harley-Davidson Debuts ADV Concept Bike

07/30/2018 @ 9:26 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

For as long as Asphalt & Rubber has been in business, we have never seen Harley-Davidson debut an actual new motorcycle.

Rehashing the same design ethos over and over again, Harley-Davidson’s “new” bikes each year fail to stray very far from their predecessors. This notion changes today, however.

Releasing a number of concepts for future machines, the Bar & Shield brand is showing signs of life. The concepts include electric motorcycles, e-bikes, a new roadster, a streetfighter, and even an adventure-tourer.

We will take a look at these machines in turn, but first up, let’s look at Harley-Davidson’s biggest surprise to us, its ADV bike, which is called the Harley-Davidson Pan America.

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A Revelation is coming…and by that, I mean Harley-Davidson’s awkwardly named electric motorcycle, which is due to debut in roughly one year’s time from now.

The Bar & Shield brand stunned the motorcycling masses when it brought out its Project Livewire demo bikes, showing that the iconic American brand was seriously considering an electric motorcycle model.

Now, Project Livewire is to become the Harley-Davidson Revelation, and the folks in Milwaukee are looking for some help in bringing that bike to market, posting a number of job opportunities online for those who want to work on the electric bike.

Along with the more typical roles that one would see at a motorcycle company — e.g. chassis engineers, infotainment designers, suspension gurus, etc — Harley-Davidson is also looking for some folks to fill its EV ranks.

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The American motorcycle industry continues to soften, as Harley-Davidson has reported its Q2 2018 sales were down 6.4% in the United States.

That loss translated into a noticeable drop in Harley-Davidson’s total sales, which were down 3.6% for Q2, though it should be noted that international sales were in fact up, 0.7% over the same time period.

This translates into 46,490 Harley-Davidson motorcycles sold in the USA for Q2, with 78,428 bikes sold in total around the world. For the first half of the year though, sales results for Harley-Davidson are looking even worse.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #81 – Sex Panther

07/17/2018 @ 11:23 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 81 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it is a marathon show – right at 2.5 hours in length. Because of that duration, we cover a huge range of topics, the first of which is a little news about Harley-Davidson, and the growing American trade war.

From there, we move to Jensen’s recent trip to Italy, where he rode the new MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso SCS, which features a new auto-clutch for sport bikes, made in partnership with Rekluse.

Jensen’s travels then took him to Milan, where he visited Pirelli’s world headquarters and testing facility, which was a unique experience in seeing how tires are evaluated and produced.

Lastly came a trip south to Sicily, to visit the Metzeler/Pirelli R&D testing facility, where Jensen rode the entire Metzeler tire range up a volcano…no seriously.

Back home in the USA, Quentin was doing a bit of racing, as he lined up on the grid in OMRAA’s 250 Ninja Cup. He then played on the other side of the wrench in his travels to Pikes Peak, spinning wrenches for Michael Woolaway, who raced a custom Ducati Hypermotard up the Colorado mountain.

At the same time, Jensen was in Laguna Seca for the World Superbike weekend, and the following Pirelli track day. There, Jensen got to ride two very unique motorcycles: the Kramer HKR EVO2 and the BMW HP4 Race. A short review: they did not suck.

Since Quentin recently also got a chance to ride the Kramer, the two trade notes on the show about this interesting single-cylinder motorcycle, and how much fun it is to ride smaller-displacement motorcycles on the track.

Like we said, it’s a marathon show, but we think you will find all the topics not only interesting, but the stories entertaining.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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