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.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Gets Closer to Production Form

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

MV Agusta’s Moto2 Race Bike Predictably Looks Awesome

After a 42-year hiatus, MV Agusta is returning to the Grand Prix Championship. This iconic Italian motorcycle brand will not be competing in MotoGP however, and instead MV Agusta will make its return in the Moto2 category. Partnering with the Forward Racing team, MV Agusta aims to take advantage of the rule changes for the 2019 season, which will see a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine replacing the 600cc Honda four-cylinder engine that is currently in use. This change in the spec-engine rule will likely upheave the Moto2 Championship, and MV Agusta wants to be part of that sea change. As such, the bike you see in the photos here will be the machine that launches MV Agusta’s assault on the GP paddock.

Recall: Indian Scout

07/12/2018 @ 8:32 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Indian Motorcycle Company is recalling a bunch of 2017-2018 Indian Scout motorcycles right now, which includes the Scout Sixty and and Scout Bobber variants.

All told, 4,185 motorcycles are affected by a recall that concerns the anti-locking brakes system (ABS), which may have air left in the system after the assembly process.

Since air in the brake lines can impact a motorcycle’s braking ability, Indian has decided to recall the affected machines, in order to ensure rider safety.

Continue Reading

President Trump’s trade war is about to see another player in the motorcycle industry jump ship from American soil, and this time it is heavyweight Polaris Industries.

According to a report by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Polaris is considering moving some of its production capacity to Europe, eyeing a production facility in Poland that would build units for the European market.

The move is a direct response to the retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union on motorcycle imports, which itself was a response to the Trump Administration’s taxing of steel and aluminum imports.

Continue Reading

Today is the day. Today is the day that the European Union begins taxing the importation of motorcycles from the United States into Europe.

A retaliation to the Trump administration’s tariffs on aluminum and steel, the EU will now impose a 25% tariff increase on all motorcycles, 500cc and up, coming from the United States.

This means that the new tariff provisions will affect both Harley-Davidson and Indian, but will not affect Zero Motorcycles, as electric motorcycles are not included in the trade war provisions.

Continue Reading

When the potent Indian Scout FTR750 debuted for flat track racing duty, fans of the American brand clamored for a street model.

Indian listened, giving us the Indian Scout FTR1200 concept late last year, with much rumor that the concept bike was the prelude for a full-fledged production model.

That rumor is now no more, as Indian confirmed this weekend at the Wheels & Waves event in France that we will see a production street-tracker model, named the Indian FTR 1200.

Continue Reading

Polaris Is Now Part of the Fortune 500

05/22/2018 @ 5:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Fortune 500 is a list of America’s largest companies, and is a constant barometer on the state of the American business landscape. In its 64 years of existence, the Fortune 500 has been an exclusive club, and its newest inductee is one from the powersports industry: Polaris Industries.

Ranked at #496 on the list, the addition of Polaris means that the influence (and decline) of the US motorcycle and powersports landscape will be seen on a much larger national stage.

Mostly it is just a cool milestone for Polaris, and proud bragging point for the company’s executives at the next country club gathering.

Continue Reading

Indian Recalls Bike That Might Start on Their Own

04/19/2018 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

One of the weirder recalls we have ever seen at Asphalt & Rubber, Indian is recalling 3,341 motorcycles because they could potentially start on their own.

The issue stems from the bikes’ right-hand control cluster, which can become corroded over time. If a bike’s wireless key is nearby, this can lead to a situation where the motorcycle can initiate the startup procedure without action from the owner.

Obviously such a situation can lead to several potentially dangerous scenarios, with carbon monoxide poisoning at the top of the list.

Continue Reading

Recall: Indian Roadmaster

01/29/2018 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Indian Motorcycle Company is recalling 7,392 units of its Roadmaster motorcycles, from the 2015 to 2017 model yeas. The recall stems from an issue with the wiring harness in the trunk, which is prone to water.

Because of the sealing plugs on the harness not sealing properly, it is possible for the brake light to short-circuit and to remain on, even when the brakes are not engaged.

To remedy the situation, Indian will notify affected Roadmaster owners, and Indian dealers will replace the trunk wiring harness with an updated harness that contains sealing plugs in the connectors, free of charge.

This recall is expected to begin January 30, 2018. Owners may contact Indian customer service at 1-877-204-3697, and reference Indian’s number for this recall, which is I-18-01.

Continue Reading

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #66 – EICMA

11/21/2017 @ 8:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 66 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we cover all the new motorcycles that caught our eye at the EICMA trade show in Milan, Italy.

There are a bevy of new models that we discuss in the show, with bikes from BMW, Ducati, Aprilia, Indian, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, KTM, and Husqvarna all tickling our fancy.

Some of the highlights include talking about the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX; the three-wheeled Yamaha Niken; the 226hp Ducati Panigale V4 Speciale; the very attractive Honda CB4 Interceptor concept; KTM’s two 790 bikes, and BMW’s substantial updates to its GS models.

A bit light on sleep, and certainly over-caffeinated, we think you will find the conversation to be a bit…peppy. Nevertheless, we think you will enjoy this latest edition of the podcast.

One last note for our Californian listeners, we will be doing a live show at the Dainese D-Store in San Francisco on December 13th, at 6:30pm (the show mentions an incorrect time, as schedules have changed since we recorded the show). We hope to see you there!

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.

Continue Reading

The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

11/14/2017 @ 12:04 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year's work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season.

Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA.

So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week's big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry.

For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences. Don't worry, I'll break them down for you, though it might take a while.

To continue reading this story, you need to have an A&R Pro subscriber account. If you have an A&R Pro account, you can login here.

Recall: Indian Motorcycles

11/08/2017 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Indian Motorcycles is recalling 2,096 motorcycles because they may have been fitted with a European-spec headlight, rather than an American-spec one.

The issue affects the following 2017 and 2018 models: Chief, Chief Classic, Chief Dark Horse, Chief Vintage, Chieftain, Chieftain Classic, Cheiftain Dark Horse, Chieftain Elite, Chieftain Limited, Springfield, and Springfield Dark Horse.

Because the European headlights fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment,” a recall has been issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Continue Reading