Liquid-Cooled Boxer for BMW?

Asphalt & Rubber has an image of what appears to be a new BMW RXX00GS in the wild.  Sure it looks like a R1200GS, but the thing is…the shaft drive is on the wrong side.

BMW liquid-cooled boxer?
BMW liquid-cooled boxer?

BMW’s boxer engines are air/oil-cooled, but the end of the road is surely in sight for air-cooled engines, due to both emissions compliance issues and the consumer demand for a bit more power. So, the best guess here is that this is a GS testing a new liquid-cooled boxer engine.  we don’t know the displacement, or anything else.  We don’t even know if this engine is liquid-cooled, based on the picture.

Still, the rumor is the BMW is water-cooling the boxer, and if this GS with what is obviously a different motor is already testing on the road, the chances are pretty good that it is the water-cooled boxer, and if its in this advanced stage of testing, i.e., running around on a bike in the wild, then we can look forward to a brand new RXX00GS for 2012.

We might know more, but this picture appears to have been taken by a 1930s Kodak box camera, using film that’s over its expiration date.

The “Other American Motorcycle Company” is doing well

Polaris has released their 4th quarter numbers, and It looks like it’s champagne time at their headquarters. Unlike Harley-Davidson, which reported yet another loss in the 4th quarter, Polaris has moved firmly into the black.

Net income for the fourth quarter 2010 was a record $54.5 million, an increase of 24 percent over the same period in 2009. Record sales of $618.4 million for the fourth quarter 2010 increased 31 percent over 2009 fourth quarter sales of $471.8 million.

For the full year ended December 31, 2010, Polaris reported record net income of $147.1 million, or a record $4.28 per diluted share, compared to $101.0 million, or $3.05 per diluted share for the year ended December 31, 2009. This represents a 40 percent increase on a per diluted share basis and a 46 percent increase in net income.

Polaris, of course, makes much more than motorcycles, but Victory certainly did its part in 2010, moving 81,624 motorcycles compared to 52,811 in 2009. That’s a 55% increase in sales, and was the largest sales increase of any of Polaris’ product lines.

Congratulations to Victory, and Polaris, who are showing real strength when most other manufacturers are still scrambling to cut losses.

BMW: They don’t exist yet, but you can buy them

2011 BMW K1600GT
2011 BMW K1600GT

Since BMW announced the new straight-6 K1600GT and K1600GTL models, they’ve become one of the most hotly-anticipated motorcycles of 2011.  So much so, that BMW has announced that they will take pre-sale orders for them, starting today.  All you have to do is go to the BMW web site and fill out this pre-sale form. Just so we’re clear, you’re entering the pre-sales program for a motorcycle that isn’t actually in production yet. They also have another form to fill out if you just want to receive updates about the bikes from BMW.

It takes quite a lot of confidence to start taking pre-sale orders for a bike you haven’t actually built yet, but it seems that BMW’s confidence is warranted. BMW Motorrad USA announced their 2010 sales results today.  Somehow, in a year of economic recession, plunging motorcycle sales, and despite making about the highest-priced motorcycles one can buy, BMW did…good.

BMW Motorrad reported a 12.3% increase in motorcycle sales in 2010.

The German manufacturer shipped 98,047 units in 2010 compared to 87,306 motorcycles in 2009. BMW reported growth in almost every market including a 4% increase in the U.S. despite a double-digit downturn for the industry.

Leading the sales charge for BMW was the S1000RR, their new–and conventional–literbike, which sold 10209 units to become BMW’s highest-selling model.

Pierre Terblanche moves to Norton

Ducati’s Pierre Terblanche, designer of the beautiful Ducati Supermoto, is moving to Norton Motorcycles in the UK to design bikes.  Since Norton currently produces only the 961 Commando, I think we can assume that the reborn British maker has some other models in the works.  If I was guessing, I would say the Norton rotary-powered NRV588 is the prime candidate for Terblanche’s design magic.

If so, he could do a lot worse than to come up with an update of the classic John Player Special version of the Norton Commander F1.

1991 Norton Commander F1 John Player Special

One of the most beautiful bikes ever made.

Speaking of Honda…

…A&R reports that:

Honda Motor Co. is all set to unload a choice piece of property in Kern County this year (Southern California residents should find this statement funny), as the company has put up for sale the Honda Proving Center of California (HPCC). Consisting of a total of 4,255 acres (give or take a few), the proving ground facility consists of a 7.5 mile oval, a 4.5 mile track of winding city roadway, skid pad, MX/SX track, support facilities, offices, warehouses, and plenty of desert terrain just to name a few of the highlights.

So, if you’ve got the money, and are looking for your own private race track, here’s your chance.

2011 Ducati Diavel Diamond Black

Via A&R, it seems that Ducati has been listening to prospective owners about what they’d like to see in the new Diavel.  As a result, Ducati has moved towards the Dark Custom movement with a new model of the Diavel called the Carbon Black.

2011 Ducati Diavel Diamond Black
2011 Ducati Diavel Diamond Black

Instead of bright paint and chrome, Ducati has gone to matte colors and black anodized metal. Additionally, they’ve dropped the white color from the line-up completely, in favor of this new black model.

To my eye, it’s certainly more attractive.

JD Power Motorcycle Competitive Information Study

JD Power released their Competitive Information Study on motorcycles today.  Among the highlights is this:

The population of motorcycle buyers is aging, with the average rider age increasing from 40 to 49 years since 2001—an indication that many owners may soon exit the market. Additionally, the percentage of first-time buyers has declined for a second consecutive year, making it more critical now than ever for manufacturers to focus on attracting new customers.

So, motorcyclists are getting older every year, and new entrants to the sport are down for the last two years.  These are bad trends for the industry as a whole, of course.

The key for manufacturers and dealers is to deliver on the best customer service practices they can.  For the manufacturers, this means a laser-like focus on build quality, and delivering a solidly reliable product.  For the dealers, pro-active communication with customers, and quality service are key.  Missing out on any one of these seems to have a sharply negative effect on customer satisfaction, and on the chances of return business. Manufacturers and their dealers really do have to work hand in hand–now more than ever–to ensure a seamless and satisfying customer experience.

Those that don’t may find that surviving the current economic doldrums increasingly difficult.

The full JD Power press release is below the fold.

Continue reading “JD Power Motorcycle Competitive Information Study”

ATK Police E-Bike

ATK, the Utah-based dirt-bike manufacturer has been in the news a fair bit recently, with the deal to assemble and badge Hyosung motorcycles at their Utah manufacturing facility, and sell them in select Harley-Davidson dealerships. The idea is to create entry-level motorcycles for new riders that the Harley dealers can, in the fullness of time, convert to HD customers.  We’ve written about it a fair amount here, and the most recent national coverage of that deal is at Motorcycle USA.

Unveiled today is an all new plan, previously closely held by the company, the create an electric motorcycle for police use.

After building gas bikes for 25 years, Salt Lake City based ATK USA plans to enter the electric motorcycle market with the ATK-Le (Law Enforcement). ATK has built an electric supermoto and dualsport based on their successful ATK 450, which they plan to sell to police and authority customer agencies, or departments. ATK had previously supplied a rolling chassis to build the Electric Moto prototype I covered last December. I loved it for its traditional 12-inch travel Ohlins suspension, Talon/Excel wheels, and premium spec combined with a race proven aluminum chassis. No deal was struck with Electric Moto so ATK is now building the bike on its own. However, they don’t believe electric motorcycles are ready for mass consumption by civilians, at least not yet. They think the simplicity and quiet nature of electric drive makes it perfect for urban patrol duty.

ATK already has a top-flight fleet sales team, and it will be interesting to watch how this pans out, in terms of getting police agencies interested in a zero-emissions alternative to gas off-roaders.

The company is going public with the news now, because as ATK CEO Frank White tells me:

We have been working on this stealth project for some time now and are now going public with it because we need to shake out some more vendors and suppliers who are involved on the battery powered side of the biz.

This is more interesting news from ATK, as, over the past 14 months or so, they’ve been aggressively looking to expand their dirt-bike business into new markets.

2010 Sport Touring Shootout Gen III FJR?

Motorcycle USA has published its annual sport-touring shootout, but sadly, this time, two of the top contenders aren’t even being tested.  Instead, the shootout is limited to just three bikes: The Kawasaki Concours14, The Triumph Sprint GT, and the Honda VFR1200F.  The final results were…interesting, and I can’t say I agree, as the winning bike has some serious touring shortcomings.  But I won’t spoil the surprise any more than that.

What I found more interesting was that both BMW and Yamaha refused to make their sport-touring bikes available.  The BMW refusal to supply a K1300GT is understandable, as it’s a dead motorcycle, with the new K1600GT I-6-engined bike already announced as a replacement.

The lack of an FJR1300 in the line-up, however, makes me go, “Hmmmm.”  I take it that this means that Yamaha is about to release a Gen III FJR, or an FJR replacement bike.  Now, that really does interest me, because as an FJR rider on a daily basis, I really do like that motorcycle.  But Yamaha has kept the performance pretty much the same for almost a decade, while BMW, Honda, and Kawasaki have all produced more horsepower-charged mounts. So, I’m fascinated to see what Yamaha has planned for the third generation of what used to be the gold standard of sport-tourers, but now is the most underpowered of them, except, of course, for the Triumph Sprint GT.

There’s been tons of speculation about what the Gen III FJR might be.  Everything from an updated FJR1300 as hinted at by Cycle World:

2011 Yamaha FJR1300 Mockup
2011 Yamaha FJR1300 Mockup

To the rumored FJR1400 reported by the (not always reliable) French site, Moto Revue:

2011 Yamaha FJR1400 Mockup
2011 Yamaha FJR1400 Mockup

Both of these mockups are obviously computer-generated, and may or may not have anything to do with the actual motorcycle Yamaha actually produces.  Of the two imaginary motorcycles, though, I prefer the imaginary motorcycle on the bottom.

Huh.  This post ended up being about something entirely different than what it started out being about.

2011 Ducati Diavel

The first official image of the 2011 Ducati Diavel has been released by the manufacturer.

2011 Ducati Diavel
2011 Ducati Diavel

You really do need to click on the image to see the full-sized version.  Because what you can’t really see in the small pic above is that the rear section hides a little trunk in there.

About the only detail we know so far is that the Diavel uses the same Testastretta 11° 1200cc engine used in the Multistrada 1200.  In the MTS, that engine outputs 150HP, but this is, remember, essentially the same 1198cc L-Twin that powers the 170HP 1198 sportbike, although the 1198 has a 41° Testastretta.  In any case, the key takeaway is that the Diavel will put out at least 150HP.  That’s less than the massive grunt of the V-Max, but 50% more power than the V-Rod.

And I bet it’ll be considerably lighter than both.