Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST. The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away. While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

Americas Top Öhlins Dealer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Daniel Laine Kyle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – known best for his speed shop, Kyle Racing – pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government earlier this week, after it was found that Kyle had been hiding cash-based purchases made at this business. Dan Kyle Racing is known best for being the largest Öhlins suspension dealership in the United States (if not the world), as the company offered aggressive pricing on the Swedish-born suspension, and was one of the first Öhlins dealers with an online presence in the early days of the internet. According to the plea agreement made between Kyle and the US Attorney’s Office, Kyle pleaded guilty to tax fraud and structuring currency transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements in the US Tax Code.

The 2017 Saroléa SP7 Is Ready for the Isle of Man TT

The focus for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT may center around Team Mugen’s dual entry with John McGuinness and Guy Martin, but one should not overlook this very attractive entry from Belgium. Saroléa is back for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, continuing with its state-of-the-art carbon fiber chassis goodness and retro fairing design. On board will once again be Dean Harrison, who will be gunning for a podium-finish on the 2017 Saroléa SP7. If looks alone could get you across the finish line, then Saroléa would have our vote. The Belgians have always been in the running for a strong result though, finishing 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. Maybe this year will be “their year” at the TT.

India Is Now the World’s Biggest Motorcycle Market

Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Motorcycle Patents

I am really excited about the Suzuki brand right now. Out of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the recession affected Suzuki the most, probably more than many people realize, but the Hamamatsu brand is poised to bring out some exciting machines in the coming few years. Could we finally see a turbocharged Suzuki this year though? The rumor mill is pointing to yes…but just pointing, and the reason is because of patents. Much of this internet rumors stems from a flood of patents that have been found, where Suzuki is patenting technology related to turbo-powered engines in motorcycles, or because of other patents that make reference or inference to being part of a turbocharged motorcycle.

No, Royal Enfield Isn’t Buying Ducati

I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

Spy photos from Austria have caught KTM testing a rather interesting motorcycle – one that does not run on a petroleum-based fuel, but rather it has an electric drivetrain at its core. This isn’t the first time that KTM has experimented with an electric motorcycle, of course, with the KTM Freeride E being available in select markets. However, the machine seen here is a pretty big step forward for the Austrian brand, from its modest electric dirt bike. Using the chassis of a KTM 390 Duke to house the battery, inverter, and motor, KTM’s electric street bike (we’ll call it the KTM E-Duke for now) looks like a rolling mess, but is what you would expect from a project in its early stages of development.

For the Geeks, Your Luke Skywalker HJC Helmet Is Here

I am a solid Star Wars geek, but not in the dress-up and go to a convention sort of way – if you know what I mean. But, this new lid from HJC might have me singing a different tune, as it mimics Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing “Red 5” fighter helmet, in a DOT legal ¾ helmet format. That’s just cool…in a really un-cool sort of way. Based off the budget-friendly HJC IS-5 helmet, this Luke Skywalker replica will cost roughly $180 when it comes out (at a date still to be determined). Additionally, 10 versions of the lid will be signed by Mark Hamill, and auctioned for charity (UNICEF and the Starlight Children’s Foundation), if your geekdom takes you in such a direction (and you have a four-figure wallet).

Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

The Rise and Fall of Danny Kent

“Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with,” Peter Bom, Danny Kent’s former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent. Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom’s three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.

OEMs Are Trying to Block “Right to Repair” Laws

01/27/2017 @ 3:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber readers should be familiar with how attempts have been made to use the Digital Millennium Right Act (DMCA) as means of limiting how you can work on your vehicles, including your motorcycle.

These attempts first started in 2015, and were pushed heavily by John Deere and the automobile lobby. Thankfully, last year the the Librarian of Congress allowed exemptions for vehicles to be applied to the DMCA, which will be in effect for the next two years.

Now, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) – a group that represents the interests of motorcycle manufacturers in the United States – is putting pressure on state legislatures and encouraging them to block “Right to Repair” bills that would codify the exemptions made to the DMCA. 

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Continental Developing V2V Platform for Motorcycles

12/07/2016 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Motorcyclists probably recognize the name Continental for its work in the tire industry, but the company has its fingers in a number of key elements in the motorcycle industry.

Continental is the third largest automotive parts supplier worldwide, and there is a good chance that more than a few parts on your motorcycle (ABS, dash, suspension, etc) comes from the German brand.

So, we shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that Continental is developing what it calls “swarm intelligence” for motorcycles, through the Continental eHorizon platform. If you have no idea what that means, it’s cool. More simply put, Continental is trying to make Waze for motorcyclists.

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Marzocchi Bought by Italian Automotive Company VRM

01/05/2016 @ 2:19 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Suspension brand Marzocchi has been saved from liquidation, as Tenneco is set to sell the Italian company to VRM – an Italian automotive company from the Bologna province of Zola Predosa.

Last year, Marzocchi seemed destined for the chopping block, as Tenneco seemed set on shutting down the business, and its 70 employees, rather than selling the company.

However with intervention from the local government in Bologna, and its strong labor unions, Marzocchi has been seemingly saved before the new year.

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Marzocchi Will Cease Operations by the End of 2015

08/21/2015 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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It seems any efforts to save Marzocchi have been squashed, as the suspension company’s owners, Tenneco Inc., intend to cease Marzocchi’s world operations and transfer its motorcycle and bicycle business for clients to new providers.

The news not only affects a number of motorcycle manufacturers, but also 127 employees at Marzocchi’s Bologna-based factory, and another 11 employees in North America and Taiwan.

Tenneco announced its intent to shutdown Marzocchi back in July, though the news has been slow to permeate the motorcycle industry.

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The End of Marzocchi Suspension is Nigh?

04/22/2015 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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Reports out of Italy suggest that the Marzocchi brand may soon be no more, after parent company Tenneco made the decision to close the Italian firm’s Bologna factory in Zola Predosa.

The Italain outlets go on to say that motorcycle manufacturers that use Marzocchi as an OEM part have been notified that they will no longer be supplied with the suspension pieces, once the co Marzocchi’s stock of forks has been exhausted from supply.

This news would affect a bevy of brands, including BMW, Ducati, MV Agusta, TM, GasGas, Beta, and AJP.

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MIC Establishes Standard to Test Range on Electric Motorcycle – Self-Policing with a Prelude to OEM Entry

05/04/2011 @ 6:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) has taken it upon itself to establish a new standard on how to gauge the range of electric motorcycles. Since their entry into the market, we’ve seen some interesting performance claims from electric motorcycle manufacturers — some more misleading than others. Doing a little self-policing, the MIC has stepped in and established a universal standard that will attempt to quantify the real-world range of electric two-wheelers.

This news is important for two reasons, with the first being the obvious need of some sort of apples-to-apples comparison between the electric motorcycle brands, and the MIC’s desire to intervene on the nonsense occurring in this space before things get really out of hand.

The other major takeaway from this news is perhaps more subtle, as the MIC’s interest in regulating electrics is incredibly telling of what’s coming down the pipe from the major OEMs. A group comprised of executives from the largest US motorcycle brands, one has to wonder why this organization would be interested in regulating this budding segment in the motorcycle industry, that is unless it was setting the groundwork for OEM involvement in the E2V space…and boom goes the dynamite.

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Talk Amongst Yourselves

02/10/2011 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

There’s something happening on the electric side of the motorcycle industry, but no one is talking publicly about it. It’s a fragile idea, and it feels like even mentioning it could jeopardize its very existence. Because of this, I’ve wrestled with putting words down to discuss the topic, not wanting to be the person to spoil the whole thing.

However, lately so many influential people involved with electric motorcycles have independently brought up the subject with me that this discussion is not only becoming unavoidable, but perhaps airing the idea out in public will facilitate some sort of greater dialogue between the different parties. The concept that I’m referring to is of course consolidation.

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Mission Motors Helps Power Honda to Podium Finish

12/30/2010 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The Mission R electric Superbike is just one of many new projects to come out of San Francisco based startup Mission Motors. Despite the newswires over the past year being noticeably quiet from Mission, the company has been toiling away on more than a few projects, especially after launching its MissionEVT components and services offering.

Showing off its electric and hybrid chops at SEMA this year, we get news that Mission Motors has been working with OEMs to help integrate electrical components into their product offerings. One such example of this is a project Mission Motors undertook with Honda Automobiles, which saw a Honda CR-Z Hybrid upgraded with MissionEVT components, and then raced at the 25hrs of Thunderhill endurance event a few weeks ago.

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MINI Scooter E Concept Unveiled – When OEM’s Come Out To Play

09/23/2010 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After teasing us with some sketches of the MINI Scooter E Concept before the Paris Motor Show, MINI has finally taken the wraps off its two-wheeled excursion. Showing a variety of flavors, MINI has tried to synthesize the unique elements of its automobile brand into scooter form with the MINI Scooter E Concept. Styling and features come straight from the cars, although they don’t share a common parts bin, while the general ethos remains: an individualistic, yet practical, form of transportation that has the urban commuter in mind.

The important part about the MINI Scooter E Concept though isn’t its fun styling or urban-hipster appeal, but instead the fact that OEM’s are coming out of their holes after weathering the recession’s storm, and getting serious about electrics and electric motorcycles. The fact that a small automobile manufacturer is considering an electric two-wheeled vehicle should send a message to the traditional motorcycle OEM’s and electric startups alike.

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MIC Launches Electric Vehicle Task Force

06/29/2010 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) has formed a task force to study the issues surrounding electric motorcycles and other vehicle segments in the powersports industry. While the task force’s participants aren’t being named, almost all the major OEM manufacturers are involved, as well as most of the electric motorcycle producers. While the groups hasn’t finalized its priority list of issues, performance standards and consumer education seem to be top-billed action items for the task force, as group looks to create fair comparisons between the budding industry and entreached ICE market.

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