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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #74 – Triumphant

04/02/2018 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 74 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it covers a busy schedule at the 2EP HQ. 

First off, we talk about Harley-Davidson’s investment in Alta Motors, and discuss what the future holds for these two American brands. The conversation shifts from the future, to the past, and also examines Harley-Davidson’s management of Buell and MV Agusta, which makes for an interesting contrast.

The conversation then turns to two pieces of equipment that we see shaking up the motorcycle apparel space: the Dainese D-Air Misano jacket and the Sena Momentum helmet. Both of these pieces are bringing new technology to the industry, and we’ve had a chance to spend some miles on both of them.

The show then covers what it’s like to ride the Triumph Speed Triple RS and Triumph Tiger 800 XCA, as Jensen was in Spain and Moab (respectively) riding these two British bikes.

We finish too with another quasi-review, as Carlin Dunne was down at the Alta Motors Redshift MXR launch, riding Alta’s new electric dirt bike and relaying his thoughts back to Asphalt & Rubber.

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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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #73 – Prince Albert

03/26/2018 @ 8:50 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 73 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it was worth the wait, as it’s a good one.

An omnibus of topics, we start out with some racing items from the MotoGP and Isle of Man TT paddocks, with a focus on newly crowned “MotoGP Legend” Randy Mamola, and a surprise announcement from John McGuinness.

We the turn our attention to Harley-Davidson’s bizarre brake fluid recall, and speculate what the Bar & Shield brand is up to. The iconic American brand was also present in Portland’s One Moto Show, which we discuss as well.

The conversation then shifts to the continually changes in the motorcycle media landscape, which has seen no shortage of movements in recent months.

The show concludes with a deep-dive into the issue of umbrella girls in racing, as the Formula One series has banned the practice from the 2018 season onward. We’re sure the conversation will stir some debate amongst the two-wheeled community.

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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Harley-Davidson Speaks Out About Tariff Plan

03/07/2018 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you haven’t heard of the Trump administration’s plan to impose sizable tariffs on steel and aluminum (25% and 10%, respectively), then you have done a remarkably good job of ignoring current political events.

Trump’s plan caught many by surprise, and the details of the tariffs are still forming, but one thing is clear: it doesn’t bode well for Harley-Davidson.

Like most manufacturers, an increase on raw steel and aluminum will mean an increase in costs, but Harley-Davidson also has the dubious honor of being part of the European Union’s focus for retaliation.

This is because the EU says it will tax motorcycle imports from the United States, in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Surprisingly, Harley-Davidson has been quiet about all these maneuvers in the political space…until now, that is.

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What A Trade War Means for Motorcycles

03/06/2018 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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.

This week a new specter is on the horizon, as the Trump administration is eyeing tariffs on both steel and aluminum, at 25% and 10% a pop - respectively.

Naturally, the increase in the cost on importing raw metals into the USA is going to have an adverse effect on manufacturing-based businesses, but not all of these companies are affected equally when tariffs are imposed.

So, let's take a look at what this really means for the American motorcycle industry.

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With the news that Harley-Davidson has invested an undisclosed sum in electric motorcycle manufacturer Alta Motors, the following concept might seem like a no-brainer.

That is because the folks at Carbon Projects envision the partnership between the two American brands as lending itself to the creation of an electric street-tracker model.

Taking the heritage-focused roots of Harley-Davidson, and applying them to Alta’s Redshift platform, the resulting model is quite a looker, if we do say so.

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Harley-Davidson Invests in Alta Motors

03/01/2018 @ 4:00 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We bring you big news this first day of March, as Harley-Davidson has announced its strategic investment in Alta Motors, which will see the two American companies co-developing two new electric motorcycle models.

As one can imagine, the news has big ramifications for both brands. For Harley-Davidson, it means having access to cutting-edge electric vehicle technology, and a technical partner that can help them navigate the coming shift to electric drivetrains.

And for Alta Motors the news is perhaps even more impactful, as Harley-Davidson brings not only a key monetary investment into the San Francisco startup, but the deal likely provides access to a variety of assets for Alta, namely purchasing power with parts supplier, access to a worldwide dealer network, and instant credibility with other future investors.

For the immediate future though, Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors foresee their collaboration including two new electric motorcycles, which will be branded under the Harley-Davidson name. 

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #71 – Chapless Apps

02/23/2018 @ 1:43 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 71 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is our first recording in 2018, and the show is an absolute classic. It is also the first show where I’ve left in all of Quentin’s constant throat-clearings, just so everyone knows why it takes forever to edit this things (not really, I’m just lazy).

The show catches us up on some recent industry news, namely a bevy of stories from Harley-Davidson, including the closure of the York plant and the upcoming electric motorcycle from the Bar & Shield brand.

We also talk a bit about Triumph’s recently revamped motorcycles, as well as the results from this year’s edition The Dakar race in South America. We then get into some blasphemy, and discuss why the Britten V1000 might be the most overrated motorcycle in two-wheeled history.

The show finishes with a look a Honda’s partnership with Forever 21 and what it could mean for the US motorcycle industry.

It’s an entertaining and interesting show, with a plenty of topics that we think will spur some conversations in the comments section. So, bring a bulletproof vest, and brace for impact.

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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Has Harley-Davidson just tipped its hand regarding its upcoming electric motorcycle? It would seem so, according to the latest trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Registering the name “Revelation” with the USPTO, Harley-Davidson has set aside the trademark for two uses: 1) batteries for vehicles, and 2) drivetrains for electric motorcycles and vehicles.

Other publications are running this story as the “Revelation” name being the moniker for Harley-Davidson’s production version of the Livewire electric motorcycle concept, but the actual trademark makes a very clear alternative to that narrative.

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In August 2016, Harley-Davidson got into some deep water with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for roughly 340,000 “super tuners” that were sold, which ran afoul of the emission standards for on-road vehicles.

For its misdeeds, Harley-Davidson was slapped with a $12 million fine, along with an agreement to spend $3 million on efforts to mitigate air pollution. It should be noted, that all of this occurred on the heels of Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” scandal – and timing is everything.

However in July 2017, news came out that Harley-Davidson wouldn’t have to pay the $3 million in pollution mitigation, as the Bar & Shield brand saw some mercy from the Trump Administration’s new EPA.

That didn’t sit so well with 10 states, and the District of Columbia.

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Yup. You read that headline correctly, and thus here is our second recall notice of the day, and as you might expect, it is an interesting one.

Harley-Davidson is having to recall over 174,000 motorcycles because their brake components may form deposits internally if the brake fluid is not replaced after a prolonged period of time, i.e. beyond the two-year maintenance schedule specified by Harley-Davidson.

In total, 31 Harley-Davidson models are affected by this recall, namely the Touring, CVO Touring, and VSRC models that have ABS brakes equipped.

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