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In our round-ups of the EICMA show of Milan, I am not sure if we have saved the best for last, but we certainly have saved the most important for last. There has been no shortage of news from MV Agusta this month already, and the Italian brand ran a skillful guerrilla campaign in Milan this year - a show that takes place in the company's own backyard.

In this month alone, MV Agusta has announced a €40 million investment, a new CEO, a new four-cylinder platform, and a bevy of special edition models. Recently too, the iconic motorcycle brand has entered into the Moto2 World Championship, withdrawn from the World Superbike paddock, and positioned itself as the ultra-premium offering in the two-wheeled space.

So, what does this all mean? Well...we certainly have a lot to talk about.

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Next up on our analysis of the EICMA show in Milan are the Japanese brands: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha.

You can usually count on the Big Four to bring out some popular new bike launches and intriguing concepts to EICMA, and this year...well...the Japanese brands phoned it in, for the most part.

Before we get into Jensen's complete feeling of disappointment, I first have to apologize because I failed you as a publisher. Much of the disappointment that comes from the INTERMOT and EICMA shows comes from the implications of the Euro5 emissions standards. As a publication, we should have prepared you  better for this reality, and we didn't.

There is very little incentive right now for a motorcycle OEM to release a new model. Euro5 comes online for new models in 2020, and for existing models in 2021, which means that many of the motorcycle brands are holding onto their new bike launches for those model years.

As such, the 2019 model year is very much a "development year" for the industry. This doesn't change the fact that the Japanese brands had a weak showing in Milan, especially compared to the Europeans, but at least it explains why...for the most part.

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Sometimes, I wonder why brands debut their machines at the EICMA, or any trade show for that matter, but especially the one in Milan.

Asphalt & Rubber published close to 50 new bike stories from Milan, and we still have a few more minor announcements to get out the door, so imagine for a minute that you are the marketing manager for a brand which  is trying to stand out in that crowd.

This EICMA marked the first year where we really saw some brands abandoning the rat race of EICMA, choosing to release their new models ahead of the show, in order to generate some buzz, and dominate the headlines for a day or two. 

And, no one executed this strategy better than Aprilia.

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Done and dusted, the EICMA show in Milan is the biggest trade event in the motorcycle industry, and each year we see dozens and dozens of machines debut in Italy, with much fanfare.

With the bevy of new model releases that occur though, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. So, we are going to break down the big headlines and moments from this new bike season for you, starting with one of our most talked about brands: Ducati.

Ducati traditionally starts off the EICMA festivities, hosting a pre-event somewhere in Milan days before EICMA. The day of this launch seems to get pushed back further and further each year, as other brands have jockeyed for position, and so this year's pre-event event was held on the Sunday before EICMA.

To its credit, Ducati does EICMA right, and the Italian company has honed to perfection the balance between of hosting a live event for gathered press and VIPs that is also suitable and entertaining enough to be broadcast live on Italian TV and across the internet.

The EICMA show unveiling might be geared now for mainstream consumption, but for those in the industry there are still some valuable inferences to learn from what is said...and what isn't said.

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Over the course of 228 races, Tom Sykes made himself into a Kawasaki legend. It's easy to look at the last four years and to only see the success that Jonathan Rea has achieved on the green machine, but before 2010 the Japanese firm was struggling. Chris Walker's win in the wet at Assen was a bright spot that punctuated ten years of failure.

From the turn of the millennium, until Sykes joined, the team had three wins, a home double at Sugo in 2010 by wildcard rider Hitoyasu Izutsu and Walker's famous result. These weren't lean times for Kawasaki - this was a famine. With only 19 podiums in the ten years prior to his arrival, it's remarkable what the Englishman has achieved with the team.

“It’s the end of a great era,” reflected Sykes. “It’s been a great time, and I feel that we’ve done a great job together. We've all grown up a lot together. We had the chance to be three-times world champions and I’m very, very fortunate to be able to say that I’m a world champion.”

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The INTERMOT show is done and dusted, and we have had some time to chew on the models that we saw in Cologne, Germany...or didn't see, as the case might be. The second largest trade show in the motorcycle industry, one can wonder though whether the INTERMOT show is the second most important.

Having two major shows on European soil, with INTERMOT coming every other year, creates a Sophie's Choice for motorcycle manufacturers. EICMA might draw the crowds and the press, but it is also a maelstrom of new models, and it is easy for a bike's launch and debut to be lost in the chaos.

To that vein, INTERMOT provides an opportunity for manufacturers to see the forest for the trees. It is less pressure, with most manufacturers choosing to debut more minor releases at the German show, but this makes it ripe for some surprises as well. For 2018, things were no different.

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“Who's the greatest” has been a question asked in every sport over the years. Whether it's Muhammad Ali self proclaiming himself, or Tiger Woods being anointed by the masses, a general consensus quickly forms about a pecking order.

In football, it quickly comes down to Pele or Maradonna, Ronaldo or Messi, or another combination from a certain era. In tennis it comes down to dominance over a sustained period, with one era blending into the next of Rod Laver to Bjorn Borg to Pete Sampras to Roger Federer.

Motorcycle racing is similar in a lot of ways with riders typically earning their titles in spurts of sustained excellence.

Superbike racing is however a curious subset. With domestic series feeding into World championships, and some of the brightest WorldSBK stars being offered MotoGP seats after only a couple of years, at the same as riders step across to Superbike racing from Grand Prix for only a handful of seasons at the end of their careers, it's a strange combination of fluidity and constant change.

When you ask a Superbike fan who the greatest is you certainly get more than your fair share of choice.

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Today, I am going to share with you a look behind the curtain - a look at several sides of the motorcycle industry that you don't usually get to see. Our story concerns the Indian FTR1200 street tracker motorcycle, which just debuted in Cologne, Germany at the INTERMOT show...but really, this story started three months ago, back in the United States.

It starts with a leaked photo of the Indian FTR1200, taken from a production event in Los Angeles, which was then sent to Asphalt & Rubber by a loyal reader. This turned into A&R finding its way to Minnesota to ride a prototype of the FTR1200, and us being amongst the first to ride this highly anticipated motorcycle.

An exclusive media event, Indian's plan was to have the largest publication from each critical market present, to give an early evaluation of this ground-breaking machine for the American brand.

While there were sole-representatives from the UK, Italy, Germany, Australia, Asia, etc - because of our efforts, from the United States there would now be two publications. Sorry for partying.

I have no doubt that the coverage from these other publications will read like initial reviews, part critique and part marketing pieces for the Indian Motorcycle Company. That's not a slight to my colleagues, that is just the reality of the situation. How do you evaluate a prototype motorcycle?

"I have no idea what they are talking about," I told an Indian staff member, while our post-ride video reviews/debriefs were being filmed. We had just ridden for a half a day on a motorcycle that we knew nothing about, and now we were expected to stand in front of a camera, and espouse our impressions of it.

Because of the looming weather, our tech briefing was after the ride, which is a frustrating thing when it comes to evaluating a motorcycle. As such, our impressions would be limited and relative. The power felt "good"...the brakes were "ok"...this exhaust looks like the work of a drunk plumber.

With no specs, no prices, no production volumes, no set list of features...what were these journalists talking about in their videos? I still don't know.At $9,000, the FTR1200 could be one of the best motorcycles on the market, but at $20,000 Indian would have clearly missed the mark.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the $13,000 / $15,000 price points for the base and S models, respectively. It feels high...but we will get to that in a minute.

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Just picture it. You are BMW, and you made the S1000RR superbike, the machine that completely changed the game in the liter-bike market.  And now, you are about to crank things to 11, with an all carbon fiber version of this wickedly popular motorcycle.

Perhaps the best track bike ever created, the BMW HP4 Race makes an honest 212hp at the crank, weighs 378 lbs...fully fueled at the curb, and it has all the top-shelf components you can dream of, all of which are bolted onto the carbon fiber frame, carbon fiber swingarm, and carbon fiber fairings.

A thoroughbred. A true race bike, by DNA. The astounding thing about the BMW HP4 Race is that it is more than the sum of its parts, which is saying something because the parts are simply the best that the motorcycle industry has to offer.

I know this because I got to spend a lucky five laps on the BMW HP4 Race at Laguna Seca, courtesy of BMW Motorrad USA, and while that duration is far too short to give any sort of meaningful feedback about this track-only superbike, the BMW HP4 Race is exactly what you think it is:  an S1000RR taken to the next level.

So then, why has the BMW HP4 Race been a colossal failure in the United States? Because it most certainly is.

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Back in April, Kevin Dunworth of Loaded Gun Customs ran into Miguel Galluzzi at the Handbuilt Show in Austin and asked him to come to Los Angeles to serve as a judge for the inaugural Golden Bolt Motorcycle Show.

For those of you who don’t know who Miguel Galluzzi is, let me clue you in. He is the designer of the iconic Ducati Monster, the Moto Guzzi California 1400, and the Aprilia Dorsoduro, just to name a few.

Additionally, he is currently running Piaggio’s Advanced Design Center in Pasadena, California. Not only that, he is a lifelong motorcyclist and a heck of a nice guy.

I had a chance to sit down with Galluzzi for about 15 minutes during the Golden Bolt to talk about motorcycles and the industry in general. His insights were illuminating.

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