Introducing the MOTR Podcast

Today we are announcing the third podcast that Asphalt & Rubber is involved with, the Motorcycles on the Record Podcast…or as we like to call it: the MOTR Podcast. The concept is pretty simple, as the MOTR Podcast is designed to compliment our popular Two Enthusiasts Podcast production. For those who don’t listen to it aleady, on the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson take an outside perspective on what is happening in the motorcycle industry. So, to contrast that with the MOTR Podcast, this new show will provide an insider’s view of what’s going on in motorcycles, with a focus on interviews and discussions with the industry’s leading figures.

Say Hello to the New Triumph Speed Triple RS

Back in 1994, Triumph created the streetfighter segment with the Speed Triple. But, the bike of 20 years ago is very different from the one debuting today, however the basic ethos remains: an aggressive sport bike for the city streets. In this time span though, the streetfighter segment has changed. Brands like KTM and Aprilia rule the roost, with high-horsepower bikes that come competently packed with high-tech electronics. Hoping to stay relevant with the same basic 1050cc platform, the British marque shows us now the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS – which boasts over 100 “new” parts just in the engine alone. The changes are subtle to the outgoing model though, but the highlights do stand out.

2018 Alta Motors Redshift MXR Officially Debuts – More Power, More Torque, Less Weight, and “Overclocking”

Here it is. After we broke the story that Alta Motors would be debuting an R-spec machine for its motocross line, we get our first glimpse of the 2018 Alta Motor Redshift MXR. A souped-up version of the 2018 model, which already gets some upgrades over last year’s bike, the Redshift MXR boasts some impressive features, in the pursuit of a no-compromises MX race bike. As such, Alta is quoting a stout 50hp and 42 lbs•ft of torque for the Redshift MXR, while the “wet” weight of the machine has been reduced by 8 lbs, to 259 lbs ready-to-ride. Recharge times have also been reduced, to just 1.5hrs on a 220v system – a savings of 30 minutes over the standard model.

Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle Coming in 18 Months

Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich dropped more than a few bombs during today’s earnings report, first saying that the Bar & Shield brand would close its Kansas City factory and consolidate production around its York, Pennsylvania plant. The American brand isn’t stopping the news there though. Offering a carrot of good tidings, Harley-Davidson reports that it will make its first production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months, effectively bringing its Livewire concept into production. The Livewire was a purpose-built concept done by Harley-Davidson in order to gauge the market reaction to the Bar & Shield brand going electric. Offering limited test rides, Harley-Davidson got positive responses to the Livewire experience, and the project has been internally green-lit ever since.

Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand. That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating. The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

Hervé Poncharal Talks About Replacing Jonas Folger

It is hard to envision a worse time to lose a rider for the season. Jonas Folger’s announcement that he was withdrawing from the 2018 MotoGP season to focus on his health was a hammer blow for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Just weeks before the start of testing for the new season, and long after riders good enough to race in MotoGP have signed contracts, Tech 3 team boss Hervé Poncharal is left looking for a replacement. It is a massive task, especially as Poncharal is refusing to break any contracts to take a rider. “You would be amazed to hear how many phone calls I have had, and who from,” he told us. “There were some interesting names, honestly, but priority for me, the basis for me is that I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract.”

Honda and Forever 21 Create Clothing Line for Millennials

An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women. “Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”

What You Need to Know About the Ducati Panigale V4 S

Is the Ducati Panigale V4 S the most anticipated motorcycle of 2018? If you are a diehard sport biker, the answer is probably yes, though a number of significant models are debuting this year, from several manufacturers. Still, in terms of ground-changing machines, the Panigale V4 has to rank high up on the list, as it is Ducati’s first proper four-cylinder motorcycle to go into mainstream production. I am writing to you today from Valencia, Spain – where we just finished a day of riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is better known as the final stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar. So, let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

What You Need to Know About the 2018 Honda Gold Wing

We just finished riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour in Austin, Texas – a day early I might add…because it’s snowing…in Texas. Still, clocking close to 200 miles on Honda’s sixth generation of this venerable touring machine has provided us with some interesting insights into the next Wing. A bike designed for long-distance riding, we have gathered our thoughts on the new Honda Gold Wing Tour, in a short and sweet format, so you can sound informed at your next bike night or internet forum. Overall, the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour is a smart update to an iconic motorcycle, and it brings the Gold Wing name inline with the current state of technology. As we found on the road,  the new Gold Wing is an improvement over its predecessor, but that comes with a caveat or two.

Brembo Issues Statement on Its Master Cylinder Recall

Just over a week ago, we broke the news that a massive recall was coming to motorcycles equipped with a particular Brembo master cylinder. Since then, we have seen recall notices from Aprilia and Ducati (affecting roughly 10,000 motorcycles in the USA) with more recalls expected from other brands. Because recalls in the United States typically come from the motorcycle manufacturer and not the part supplier, mum was the word from the folks at Brembo, though there were a number of questions regarding these recalls that weren’t answered in the NHTSA documents. Today, Brembo has finally decided to speak about the recalls that are underway in the United States, and presumably will be occurring in other markets as well.

Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

01/30/2018 @ 2:48 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand.

That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating.

The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

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After yesterday’s news of BMW Motorrad’s modest 1.3% sales drop for 2017, today we have another brand reporting its year sales: Ducati Motor Holding.

Like BMW, Ducati’s sales figures from last year didn’t move the needle much, with the Italian brand showing only 0.7% gain over the previous sales cycle. In total, Ducati delivered 55,871 bikes to customers worldwide, compared to the 55,451 units it sold in 2016.

This marks Ducati’s eighth year of positive sales growth, but over the past two years we have seen that growth crawling almost to a halt, as the Bologna Brand has run out of new markets to develop, and new segments to pursue.

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BMW Motorrad USA Sales Down 1.3% for 2017

01/11/2018 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

End-of-the-year sales figures are starting to trickle in, now that 2017 is behind us, and BMW Motorrad USA has completed its tally. Selling 13,546 motorcycles in 2017, BMW Motorrad is posting a rare decline in yearly unit sales, down 1.3% last year.

Despite this loss, BMW Motorrad is quick point out that other manufacturers are suffering worse than the German brand, with the industry said to be down 3.2%, while BMW’s relevant competition is said to be down 6.3%.

For those keeping score, that is basically like saying “Yeah sales were bad, but look at how much worse the other guys did” in PR speak.

One should not forget the seven recalls (#1, #2, #3#4, #5#6, and #7 here) that BMW encountered in rapid succession during 2017, including the massive fork recall for the popular R1200GS.

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Triumph Sold Over 63,000 Motorcycles in 2017

01/04/2018 @ 5:24 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The end of 2017 is here, which means that we will start to see the results from the year’s sales cycle (don’t expect good news).

As such, one of the first companies to report in is Triumph, which shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that the British brand closes its books at the end of June (it’s actually surprising that Triumph waited so long in reporting these numbers).

From July 1, 2016 to June 30 2017, Triumph Motorcycles sold 63,404 motorcycles to its dealerships making £498.5 million in revenue in the process. From that, Triumph was able to make £24.7 million, before taxes.

These numbers mean that Triumph has seen a 12.7% increase in unit sales to dealerships over the past financial period. It also means that on the money side, Triumph has seen increases of 22% (revenue) and 48% (income, pre-tax), which isn’t too shabby.

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KTM 790 Duke Will Come as a 2019 Model in the USA

11/07/2017 @ 2:48 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

True to form, KTM North America will not be bringing the new KTM 790 Duke to US soil anytime soon.

Good news though, the American subsidiary is very excited about the KTM 1290 Adventure S coming for the 2018 model year…you know, the big ADV bike that debuted exactly a year ago in Milan.

Surely disappointing more than a few motorcycle enthusiasts in the USA, KTM says that the 790 Duke will arrive in “early fall” of 2018 – you know, when the riding season is over for most of the country – as a 2019 machine.

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Yamaha Motorcycle Sales Up Overall, Down in USA

08/08/2017 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Yamaha Motor has cause for celebration…just not in the United States, as the Tuning Fork brand posted a 6.6% increase in revenue during the first six months of this year, coupled to a 86.8% increase in net income.

These strong financial figures are due to strong unit sales in emerging markets, like Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan. But, they come with the caveat that sales are flat in Europe, and down in the United States.

Yamaha has some good excuses for its performance in these developed markets: blaming environmental regulations for the lackluster sales in Europe (we assume they are referring to the Euro4 emission requirements), and a weak overall demand for motorcycles in the United States.

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Sturgis Attendance Expected to Drop This Year

08/03/2017 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you wanted better proof that the American motorcycle industry is struggling right now, take a look at the expected attendance figures for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is expecting its 77th gathering to be a bit smaller than in past years.

Some of that is to be expected, of course, after 2015 rally’s record year of 739,000 visitors; but for 2017, numbers are expected to be on par with the disappointing performance seen in 2016, which had 463,000 people in attendance.

For comparison, an average year for Sturgis sees 500,000 to 600,000 motorcyclists thronging to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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BMW Motorrad Sales Grow 9.5% in First-Half of 2017

07/20/2017 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The motorcycle industry is generally full of doom and gloom this year, but BMW Motorrad continues to post record sales, as it boasts of a record first-half of the year, with 9.5% growth.

In the first six months of 2017, BMW sold 88,389 units to customers, up from the 80,754 units sold in the first-half of 2016. That growth is attributed mostly to progress made on the European continent, says BMW, which is up 12.9% so far this year.

Those European numbers break down as follows: France: 9,447 units (+21%); Italy: 9,099 units (+15%); Spain 5,573 units (+8%); and UK/IE 5,410 units (+14%).

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Harley-Davidson Q2 2017 Sales Tank 9.3% in the USA

07/18/2017 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Any hopes of the US motorcycle market making gains in 2017 appear to be going out the window, as Harley-Davidson reports that its Q2 2017 sales are down a whopping 9.3% – prompting the Bar & Shield brand to readjust its delivery numbers to dealers in the United States.

Sales worldwide were equally bleak for the American company, with international figures down 2.3% for the same time period. This means Harley-Davidson’s combined worldwide sales numbers are down 6.7% for Q2 2017.

As a result, Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich said that Harley-Davidson would see a reduction in its workforce, though he would not offer specifics on what that could look like for its mostly union workforce.

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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.

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