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More doom and gloom for the motorcycle industry, as Ducati Motor Holdings sales are slumping for the 2018 model year. Selling 32,250 motorcycles so far this year, the Italian brand is short 7.4% the volume it sold this time last year. To translate unit sales into fiat currency, the 32,250 motorcycles sold equals €448 million in revenue going into Audi’s coffers. Of note, Ducati’s revenue contribution to Audi AG accounts for 1.4% of the automaker’s total revenue. For the second quarter of this year, Ducati sales were down 8.9% compared to Q2 2017. This means that 20,319 Ducati motorcycles were sold in Q2 2018, compared to the 22,300 sold in Q2 2017. All segments for Ducati are down, except for its “Sport” category (SuperSport and Superbike models), which is up 29%.

Every year the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) releases data about motorcycle fatalities in the United States. The results are never that surprising, and despite some fluctuations year-to-year, the basic takeaways are always the same. Motorcyclists are way more likely to die (28x more likely per mile traveled) than automobile drivers and passengers; fatal motorcycle crashes are more likely to involve alcohol than other vehicle fatalities (25% vs. 21% for passenger cars); and motorcycle fatalities closely correlate to new motorcycle sales. The figures are of course important, but reporting the results is an exercise in playing a broken record, over and over again. Except for one statistic that caught our eye this year: motorcycle fatalities as a percentage of overall vehicle fatalities.

If you haven’t heard of the Trump administration’s plan to impose sizable tariffs on steel and aluminum (25% and 10%, respectively), then you have done a remarkably good job of ignoring current political events.

Trump’s plan caught many by surprise, and the details of the tariffs are still forming, but one thing is clear: it doesn’t bode well for Harley-Davidson.

Like most manufacturers, an increase on raw steel and aluminum will mean an increase in costs, but Harley-Davidson also has the dubious honor of being part of the European Union’s focus for retaliation.

This is because the EU says it will tax motorcycle imports from the United States, in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Surprisingly, Harley-Davidson has been quiet about all these maneuvers in the political space…until now, that is.

The Asphalt & Rubber traveling circus doesn’t stop, and after spending less than 12hrs at home after the Honda Gold Wing launch, I’m back at it…this time in Valencia, Spain for the Ducati Panigale V4 international press launch.

Arguably the most anticipated motorcycle to debut for the 2018 model year, the Panigale V4 is a huge step for Ducati, mostly because of the Italian company’s radical departure from its iconic v-twin power plant configuration, in favor of the 90° V4 engine configuration.

Now with four-cylinders of fury, this 1,103cc, 214hp, V4 machine is set to tackle the superbike market, but will it live up to the hype? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out.

To do so, Ducati has us riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is just outside of Valencia and home to the final round of the MotoGP Championship. A fun and flowing track with a little bit of everything, Valencia should be a good spot to see how the Panigale V4 truly handles.

We will have five track sessions, four of which will be on the Ducati Panigale V4 S, and of which will be on the 226hp Ducati Panigale V4 Speciale.

With a bevy of electronic upgrades and plenty of features, we will need all the time that we can get to in order to play around with Ducati’s flagship model, and see how it goes.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Ducati Panigale V4 S right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Ducati Panigale V4, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Ducati personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtag #PanigaleV4.

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.

Hello from Texas Hill Country, just outside of Austin, Texas. In addition to soaking up some of that prairie life, I am out here to ride the 2018 Honda Gold Wing.

For this model year, the iconic touring bike gets an all-new design, making it the sixth generation of the Honda Gold Wing, which has a focus on being more compact, refined, and built for today’s modern touring rider.

As such, roughly 90 lbs of fat have been trimmed off the ol’ Wing, thanks largely to a more compact engine design and what Honda calls a “double wishbone” front end (you might call it a Hossack suspension design).

In total, there are five variations of the new Gold Wing. The Honda Gold Wing Tour is the design you will most likely recognize, as it comes with integrated trunk and passenger chair, it in turn has three flavors: standard, DCT (dual-clutch transmission), and the airbag model returns to the lineup as well.

Replacing the Honda Gold Wing F6B is what Big Red simply calls the Honda Gold Wing. It has a more bagger look, with the trunk/passenger chair removed. It comes in two flavors, standard and DCT.

A hallmark technology for Honda now, this is the third generation of Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, which has considerable refinements over the previous generation, especially in its Gold Wing application, and features seven speeds for optimal cruising.

With snow and ice expected in Texas this week, our ride plans have changed a bit, but we still should be able to give the new Gold Wing a couple hundred miles of testing, riding through the hill country, outside of Austin.

For bonus fun, Honda has brought some of its 2017 models as well, so we should be able to give a good comparison between the two generations of this incredibly popular motorcycle (roughly 800,000 of them have been sold worldwide, and most of those were in the USA).

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Honda Gold Wing models right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Honda Gold Wing, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Honda personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtag #2018Goldwing.

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.

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.

Good news sport bike fans, Kawasaki USA in its infinite wisdom has decided to bring the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE to the United States for the 2018 model year. Debuted at this year’s EICMA show, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE takes the potent superbike and most notably adds Showa’s new semi-active suspension to the package. Other perks include the seven-spoke forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, found already on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, as well as an up/down quickshifter. Like what you hear? Well brace yourself…If you want a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE in your garage, you are going to need to shell out $21,899 MSRP for it. That sticker price represents quite the premium over Team Green’s race homologation machine, the ZX-10RR, which goes for $18,899.

Hello from Ventura, California where today I will be riding the two bikes from Noale’s street lineup, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 and the Aprilia Shiver 900.

More evolution than revolution, for the 2017 model year Aprilia has revised the Dorsoduro and Shiver them with a 896cc engine – increasing the stroke from the previously 750cc 90° v-twin lump.

This gives both models a modest power bump and torque gain, while bringing the two street bikes into compliance with Euro4 emission standards. While at it, Aprilia has also updated both machines, leaving no stone unturned in the process in making them better motorcycles.

As such, virtually every aspect of the Aprilia Dorsoduro and Aprilia Shiver have been updated, most notably the electronics, which now include a traction control system, along with new ABS and ride-by-wire hardware and software pieces.

Hopefully, this means that these two rather bland machines from Aprilia have become the potent weapons we always hoped they would be.

To test that thought, we will be riding one of my favorite roads in the world, Highway 33, which stretches from Ventura to Ojai, and into Lockwood Valley – ending at Interstate 5. A good set of twisties, it should be the happy hunting ground for these two motorcycles.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900 models right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride these affordable street shredders, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Aprilia personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.