One of the more overlooked announcements this week is perhaps one of the bigger ones we have seen in a while, as Suzuki Motor Corp has announced the creation of a new manufacturing plant in Hamamatsu, Japan. The new factory combines engineering, development, engine production, and vehicle assembly into one location, which will streamline operations, increase efficiency, and reduce production costs on Suzuki’s Japanese-made motorcycle models. Over 40 acres in size, the new factory is massive, and it sits in the Miyakoda district of Hamamatsu. Part of a five-year consolidation plan, the new factory replaces an engineering and development facility in Ryuyo; an engine production plant in Takatsuka; and a motorcycle assembly line in Toyokawa.
If you want to go racing in the Moto2 World Championship, then you better grab yourself a chassis from the German engineering brand. This is because the “Kalex Cup” – as some have come to call it – sees a grid replete with Kalex-framed machines each racing Sunday.
Some of this is a nod to the fine work that Kalex produces, I have yet to see anyone with a wholly negative view of the company’s work. But, a portion of the brand’s dominance is surely due to the conservative nature of motorcycle racing teams.
That is to say that while the Kalex chassis is certainly very good, that does not mean that other worthy alternative do not exist. Racing doesn’t always improve the breed, you see. We digress.
Still, making a racing chassis is no small undertaking, and Kalex is one of the best in the business. Certainly a large part of it is science, but there is a certain art to the process as well.
Thankfully, Kalex has put together a short video showing how they make their Moto2 chassis. It’s pretty interesting to watch.
If you were in the market for a motorcycle that’s the size of a medium-sized car, we have bad news for you, as the recently debuted Yamaha Star Venture will be delayed in its coming to market. Yamaha strategically made this announcement at the start of a three-day weekend, assuring the news would be buried once the American market returned from the Labor Day holiday on Tuesday. It is not clear why Yamaha will delay the production of the Star Venture – Yamaha only offers an explanation in its press release that it “needed modification to the production process” at the factory in Japan – but the delay will mostly affect customers who purchased the bike through Yamaha’s “Priority Delivery Program”.
News from San Francisco tell us that Alta Motors has begun production on its electric supermoto, the Alta Redshift SM. We have been waiting a long time for this powerful electric supermoto to come to reality, ever since we rode the prototype model waaaay back in 2011.
The Redshift SM is Alta’s second model, as the motocross-focused Redshift MX started shipping to customers in late-2015, and was the company’s first electric motorcycle out of the starting blocks. The first street-legal model from Alta, the Redshift SM will cost a pricy $15,495 MSRP.
Rumors of street-legal enduro model, and possibly even a street-tracker bike have been coming from San Francisco as well, as Alta is ramping up its production after closing a $27 million round in funding earlier this year.
Today’s news means that Alta dealers and pre-order customers can expect Redshift supermotos on showroom floors around Labor Day.
The ASEAN market is a huge concern right now in motorcycling, with Southeast Asia proving itself to be a growth center for the motorcycle industry. This year we have already seen Harley-Davidson opening a plant in Thailand, following a move Ducati made a couple years back.
Those moves come not only because of the large riding populations that these countries hold, but also because of the burdensome tariffs that these countries impose on motorcycles.
Following suit now is KTM, as the Austrian company has announced a new production plant in the Philippines, which will service that local market, and the ASEAN region.
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.
If you have had your eye on a Norton V4 superbike recently, you might not have to wait as long for it to arrive, as the British marque has secured £3 million from the Santander Corporate & Commercial bank. The debt investment will allow Norton to triple its production rate on the V4 SS and V4 RR models, and also allow for the company to hire 40 new employees for the job. Additionally, according to Norton this will allow the company to increase its production volume to 1,500 motorcycles per year. “Having developed and pre-sold a huge number of bikes, we needed the funding to be readily available to pay for tooling, stock and people to allow production to move from 40 bikes per month to in excess of 130 bikes with effect from summer 2017,” said Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles.
News out of Milwaukee is that Harley-Davidson will be laying off roughly 200 workers, as the company adjusts its workforce to reflect expected motorcycle production volumes for the coming year. This news is directly associated with the current slowdown in Harley-Davidson sales, and as such, the layoffs will affect primarily production line workers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the layoffs will occur at multiple Harley-Davidson production facilities: 117 employees at the York plant, 35 at the Tomahawk plant, and a handful at the the engine plant in Menomonee Falls. This isn’t the first time that Harley-Davidson adjusted its workforce volume to match its production needs, though the layoffs do suggest that Harley-Davidson feels that its projected reduction in production numbers is likely to be a long-term situation.
Honda’s flagship factory, in the Kumamoto Prefecture, is now back to normal production levels, after its slow recovery from earthquake damage sustained earlier this year.
Honda says that its large motorcycle production lines are now ready to go back to work, meaning the production at the Kumamoto factory is now back to its normal levels, though mini-vehicle parts production has been transferred to Honda’s Suzuka factory.
It’s been a long-time coming, but customer bikes are starting to roll out of the Alta Motors production facility outside of San Francisco. That’s music to the ears of many patient and eager owners, and we’re pretty excited about it too.
This is because the Alta Motors Redshift SM is a designed to compete against any 250cc supermoto on the market, and the same can be said of the Californian company’s MX model as well, when it comes to motocross duties.
So far, every indication points to the Redshift living up to that promise (A&R will know first-hand, soon enough). Until then though, we’re chewing on this time-lapse video that Alta Motors posted to YouTube.
It’s interesting to see how the Alta Motors crew assembles their production electric motorcycles; but perhaps what is most striking, is the relatively clean and simple design that makes the Redshift come to life.
For a bike powered by batteries and liquid-cooled, there are almost no visible wires or hoses. See for yourself, after the jump.
After seeing the region devastated by earthquakes, the Honda factory in the Kumamoto Prefecture is slowly coming back online. The Kumamoto factory (seen above, before the earthquake) has been offline since April 14th, though resumed minor operations on May 6th.
Honda says it has finally completed removal of debris from its most affected facilities; and as of June 6th, the company has partly resumed production of its main motorcycle models.
This is of particular note for American motorcyclists, as it means that Honda can once again being producing the Honda Africa Twin adventure-tourer, which was mid-production for the US market at the time of the earthquakes.