FIM Creates Helmet Crash Test for Race Helmets

The FIM is getting into the helmet certification game, creating a new protocol – as part of the FIM Racing Homologation Programme (FRHP) – to test helmets that are worn in FIM-sanctioned motorcycle races. Previously, the FIM had relied upon domestic testing criteria, such as DOT standards in the United States, ECE standards in Europe, and SG/JIS standards in Japan. With those standards varying in how they test motorcycle helmets though, the FIM Technical and Circuit Racing Commissions saw a need to create a single unifying helmet crash test protocol that will be used at any event the FIM sanctions, starting in the year 2019. The FIM isn’t rocking the boat too much though, and will still us an oblique crash test for its testing methodology.

Photos of Suzuki’s New MotoGP Aeros

If you watched the Japanese GP this weekend, then you have already seen that the ECSTAR Suzuki MotoGP team has updated its aerodynamic package for the season, adding a more radical design to the Suzuki GSX-RR, in the pursuit of better lap times. The new aeros take some visual inspiration from what we have already seen from Ducati Corse, adding a complex shape that mimics a winglet design, while staying within the letter of the law of MotoGP’s current winglet ban. Unlike some of the designs that we have seen, namely the ones from Honda and Ducati, Suzuki’s doesn’t appear to have the capacity for modular changes – that is to say, the aerodynamic package doesn’t appear to be adjustable for different conditions.

Motobot vs. Valentino Rossi – Who is Faster?

Two years ago, Yamaha set out on an ambitious adventure: to create a motorcycle riding robot that can ride a motorcycle as fast as one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, Valentino Rossi. Besides being a solid PR stunt, the development of Motobot brings with it some seriously powerful technology and insights into one of motorcycling’s great mysteries: rider dynamics. With a machine the is capable of replicating human inputs on real-world motorcycles, Yamaha can improve its breed, both on the street, but also on the race track. Now, the Japanese firm (with help from its Californian subsidiary) is just about ready to show us the results of its head-to-head matchup between Motobot and Valentino Rossi, but first it wants you to guess the results.

Say Hello to Your New Pet Yamaha MOTOROiD

Yamaha has a bevy of tech that it plans on displaying at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, and one of the more intriguing world premieres is the Yamaha MOTOROiD concept. A futuristic take on the motorcycling condition, Yamaha’s MOTOROiD seems to be part motorcycle and part pet dog, with the two-wheeler able to recognize its owner and interact with them, like a living creature. This is because the Japanese brand boasts that it will use artificial intelligence to bring people new experience of “Kando” – the Japanese word for the simultaneous feelings of deep satisfaction and intense excitement that we experience when we encounter something of exceptional value. The concept is certainly an interesting take on how humans interact with their motorcycles.

A Short Review of the 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900

For the 2018 model year, Aprilia is updating two long-time members of its lineup, creating in the process the Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900 motorcycles. Today we will focus on what it is like to ride the Shiver 900, though many of our thoughts about this updated roadster are similar to those we published about the Dorsoduro 900 yesterday – you can read those here. While previous iterations of the Aprilia Shiver 750 were fairly forgettable, the overhaul that has been given to the Aprilia Shiver 900 makes the peppy roadster one worth considering. Dare we say, it surprised us. The engine is of course revised, and is now Euro4 compliant, but Aprilia has added a more robust electronics suite, as well as new hardware pieces and chassis updates.

A Short Review of the 2018 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900

It is tough work reviewing two motorcycles in one day, but that is exactly what we did this past week in Ventura, California – as Aprilia USA had us riding the new Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900 motorcycles. Coming to the United States for the 2018 model year, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 gets a much-needed update for its tenth birthday, with Aprilia overhauling the affordable maxi-motard with some needed upgrades and modern touches. In addition to a revised and bigger engine, which is now Euro4 compliant, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 gets a modest electronics suite added to it, as well as new hardware. The overall design of the bike hasn’t changed much, which is perhaps a good thing, as the Dorsoduro has always been a visually appealing motorcycle.

MotoAmerica’s Shelina Moreda Is the Newest CoverGirl

Outside of an exploratory time in college, I will admit to a certain amount of naiveté when it comes to women’s makeup, but I do know a few things about motorcycle racing, and a little bit more about the motorcycle industry as a whole, which is why today’s news is a pretty big deal. Motorcycle racer and motorcycle school instructor Shelina Moreda has been named the newest CoverGirl, as the American cosmetic brand is looking to broaden its reach with women, which in turn also helps the motorcycle industry broaden its reach with women. Moreda is known best for racing in the MotoAmerica paddock, along with stints abroad, racing in China, Japan, Qatar, and Spain.

Alta Adds Enduro Model to Its Electric Lineup

The electric motorcycle lineup from Alta Motors quietly grew larger today, with the San Francisco startup adding an electric enduro model to its range. As such, say hello to the 2018 Alta Motors Redshift EX. The bike is pretty straightforward, as it takes the motocross-focused Redshift MX, makes some chassis changes and adds a license plate, so you can go shredding off-road and on-road alike. To the finer details, the chassis changes include an 18″ rear wheel, narrower rake and larger offset, a WP rear shock with a custom reservoir, a smaller rear brake, and Metzeler 6 Days Extreme tires. All of this adds up to a 275 lbs electric motorcycle (which is kind of a thing right now) with 40hp at the rear wheel, and 120 lbs•ft of torque at the countershaft sprocket.

Ben Spies Making a Return to Motorcycle Racing?

Could we see the return of Ben Spies to motorcycle racing? That’s the talk of the paddock right now, and the former MotoGP racer is helping fuel the fires with his social media posts. Our sources point to Spies gearing up for a return to domestic racing, as he looks to ride in the MotoAmerica Championship (presumably on a superbike), and possibly also as a team owner as well, fielding his own entry. This should come as a surprising but welcomed bit of news to motorcycle racing fans, as the 33-year-old seemingly retired from motorcycle racing after the 2013 MotoGP Championship season, after extensive damage to his shoulders seemed to rule him out of a future of racing motorcycles.

Ducati Will Stay as a Part of Volkswagen

Reports out of Italy are confirming the news that Ducati will remain as a part of the Volkswagen Group, with the German company ceasing its pursuits of divesting the Italian motorcycle company from its ranks. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Ducati’s business situation, as reports of the divestiture stalling out were circulating this time last month. The news seems to come with a bonus, with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali reportedly confirming the news internally (other reports quote Audi CEO Rupert Stadler doing the same as well). With that, Evercore Partners – the investment bank that was hired to solicit bids on Ducati Motor Holding – will stop pursuing brands that may want to see Ducati within their corporate holdings.

Harley-Davidson Will Teach a Whole Town How to Ride

06/02/2017 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Harley-Davidson Will Teach a Whole Town How to Ride

As far as PR stunts go in the motorcycle industry, this one might be the best. This is because this weekend, Harley-Davidson is going to roll into Ryder, North Dakota with the mission to teach everyone there how to ride a motorcycle.

With a population of 84 residents, making riders out of the people of Ryder – do you see what Harley-Davidson did there? – might not be as large of a task as one would think, but it is still an important start into making motorcyclists out of the general population.

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Harley-Davidson Recalls 45,000+ Touring Motorcycles

06/02/2017 @ 12:29 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Harley-Davidson Recalls 45,000+ Touring Motorcycles

If you are the owner of a 2017 touring model from Harley-Davidson, there is a good chance that your bike is in need of a safety recall, as the Bar & Shield brand is recalling 45,589 units from those its sold for this model year.

The recall includes nine 2017 models, the Electric Glide Ultra Classic (FLHTCU), Police Electra Glide (FLHTP), Police Road King (FLHP), Road King (FLHR), Road King Special (FLHRXS), Street Glide (FLHX), Street Glide Special (FLHXS), Road Glide (FLTRX), and Road Glide Special (FLTRXS).

The crux of the recall is that a clamp used to secure an engine oil cooler line may have been improperly installed.

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Harley-Davidson Opening Production Plant in Thailand

05/24/2017 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Harley-Davidson Opening Production Plant in Thailand

Feeling the effects of international trade, and a future without the TPP, Harley-Davidson is reported by the New York Times to be opening a new factory in Thailand – country that places a 60% tariff on motorcycles in Harley-Davidson’s relevant market.

The news comes at the dismay from Harley-Davidson’s workforce, which has just seen its ranks diminished by 118 jobs at its York plant, in Pennsylvania. Despite this, Harley-Davidson says that the move is about growing sales abroad, not losing jobs in the United States.

“This is absolutely not about taking jobs out of the United States,” said Marc McAllister, the Managing Director of Harley-Davidson’s international sales, while talking to the NY Times. “This is about growing our business in Asia.”

Of course, if Harley-Davidson wasn’t having to side-step a 60% tariff to sell motorcycles in Thailand, one has to wonder if the Bar & Shield brand would be building a factory in Thailand in the first place…

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BMW Tops Pied Piper Dealership Rankings

05/01/2017 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

For as long as we have covered the Pied Piper dealership rankings, one brand has stood above all others in customer satisfaction, and that brand has been Ducati.

But for the 2016 rankings, we have a new boss in town, as BMW dealerships have taken the top honors in the most recent Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index.

For those readers who aren’t that aren’t familiar with Pied Piper, the company’s Prospect Satisfaction Index is sort of the Consumer Reports of a dealership network experience, and acts as a measuring stick for how a brand is performing when it comes to interacting with potential customers.

As such, the PSI takes into account a mixture of “mystery shopper” experiences, along with actual sales success for each brand, thus giving a mixture of subjective and objective measurement for a company’s dealer network.

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On the heels of Harley-Davdison’s lackluster first quarter results of the year, the American brand has announced that it will be laying off 118 employees at its vehicle operations plant in York County, Pennsylvania.

Harley-Davidson says that the staff reductions are coming as part of a “production realignment” and that the layoffs will begin June 23rd, with a completion date around the end of July 2017.

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Harley-Davidson Q1 2017 Sales Down 4.2% Worldwide

04/18/2017 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

Though a couple brands are showing gains, 2017 looks like it will be a tough year for the motorcycle industry – a statement supported by Harley-Davidson’s Q1 2017 sales figures, which are down 4.2% compared to last year, with 70,831 motorcycles sold to consumers.

That figure gets worse when you zero-in on Harley-Davidson’s domestic numbers, with the brand’s motorcycle sales in the United States down 5.7% for Q1 2017. Still, it is important to note that Harley-Davidson maintains a 51.3% marketshare figure in the 601cc-plus category, in the USA.

Compare that to Harley-Davidson’s progress abroad, where on its face things don’t seem to be going too poorly, with sales down only 1.2%.

However, it should be noted that shipments abroad are down considerably, 14.7% to be exact, a sign that bikes aren’t moving as quickly as expected in markets outside of the United States.

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An Asphalt & Rubber reader sent me link recently, outlining how President Trump's pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would adversely affect international sales for Harley-Davidson.

At first I was just going to post a quick synopsis and send you all to read it for yourselves, if you wanted to dive deeper into the meat of the story. But then, I did some digging of my own.

The story, done by Forbes, doesn't connect the dots too well. And while I agree with the author's ultimate point, the reasoning he uses to get there is fairly flawed.

His argument boils down to the fact that the TPP would lower import costs for brands doing business in Asia, and since Harley-Davidson sells 40% of its bikes in the Asian market, it would therefore benefit from the USA becoming a TPP signatory.

The issue of course isn't as cut-and-dry, and requires a bit of digging into what markets would become more favorable for Harley-Davidson, and where the future of the Bar & Shield brand resides. Buckle-up, because here we go.

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Our Top 5 Bikes from the 2017 One Moto Show

02/13/2017 @ 11:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

Over 17,000 people flocked to the northern end of Portland this year, braving the cold interior of a vacant building with their plaid shirts, in order to drink PBR, listen to loud music, and look at the occasional motorcycle. Yes, it us that time of year for The One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon.

More than just a much larger venue, The One Moto Show continues to gain traction with vendors and sponsors, all the while attracting more and more bike-curious attendees through its doors.

Main-lined into the zeitgeist that we recognize as two-wheeled hipsterdom, “mainstream” motorcyclists can roll their eyes while shuffling through the PDX masses, but you cannot deny the pulse the show keeps with younger motorcyclists.

As such, there were more than a few pillars of the motorcycle industry circulating in the show’s ranks – all incognito, of course – trying to understand how the next generation interacts not only with motorcycles, but also with each other.

Over 150 bikes were on display for those in attendance – I heard a figure as high as 170 motorcycles were hidden throughout the multiple rooms and floors of the show’s venue – and a couple trends struck me over the course of the show.

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President Trump was scheduled to visit Harley-Davidson tomorrow, but those plans have since been scrapped because of Harley-Davidson’s worry about protests at the event.

Trump’s trip was supposed to include a tour of Harley-Davidson’s Menomonee Falls factory, where he would then sign several executive orders that relate to manufacturing in the United States.

With protests continuing over President Trump’s taking office, and the subsequent executive orders and personnel changes he has made to the government, reports are swirling that Harley-Davidson has backed away from hosting the 45th president. 

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Harley-Davidson Sales Dropped 1.6% in 2016

01/31/2017 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

As motorcycle manufacturers report their 2016 numbers, we see the continued trend that last year was a tough year for OEMs in the USA. Harley-Davidson reports that its sales dropped 1.6% overall (262,221 units) in 2016, but that number doesn’t paint the full picture for the Bar & Shield brand.

Harley-Davidson sales were down 3.9% in the USA for the 2016 sales cycle (161,658 units), which is a stark contrast to the 2.3% growth Harley-Davidson saw abroad with its international sales.

These losses translated to Harley-Davidson’s balance sheet, with the company posting an 8% decrease in net income, making $692.2 million in 2016. Consolidated revenue remained steady however, at $6 billion.

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