2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC

Triumph has released the first official picture of the new adventure bike they’ve been touting, the Triumph Tiger 800 XC.

2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC
2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC

Still no specs or details, other than that this is the off-road version that has a 21″ front wheel with knobbies.  The more street-oriented version will have a 17″ front wheel and street tires.  other than that, we’re still waiting on all the tech specs for these two models of the new Tiger.

Like all modern enduros, it has a beak, too, a la the BMW R1200GS.  I still don’t know what BMW did to get that passed into law.

Suzuki News

After taking a leave of absence from American shores last year due the economic downturn, Suzuki is back in a big way for 2011.  In addition to the redesigned Gixxers I covered last week, Suzuki is bringing a new, fully-faired model of the Bandit to the US for 2011.

2011 Suzuki GSX1250FA
2011 Suzuki GSX1250FA

Introduced last year in Europe as the GSX-1250FA, Suzuki has done much the same thing with the Bandit that Kawasaki did with the Z1000, which is to transform it from a naked bike to a sporty, fully faired one–without the more tortuous ergonomics of the GSX-Rs, albeit with a little extra weight thrown in, too. But the main idea is to build a sportbike that can tour, like the Ninja 1000.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC Inline Four
Bore x Stroke: 79.0 x 64.0mm
Displacement: 1255cc
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Fueling: EFI
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain
Front Suspension: 43mm fork, 5.1 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Single shock, adjustable for preload, 5.4 inches travel
Front Brakes: Dual 310mm disc, four-piston calipers Rear Brakes: Single 240mm disc, single-piston calipers
Fuel Tank: 5.0 gallons
Wheelbase: 58.5 inches
Seat Height: 31.7 inches / 32.5 inches
Curb Weight: 567 pounds
MSRP: $11,599

In addition, Suzuki has unveiled the 2011 Cruiser line-up, of which, two new things stand out for me.  The big-bore M109, with it’s unique, attractive, and modern styling cues now has a much more modern cockpit, with the instrumentation being tucked inside the cowling, rather than handlebar mounted.

M109R Instrumentation
M109R Instrumentation

The M109 is one of my favorite cruisers, in terms of styling, mainly because it looks like a cruiser that actually designed in this century, rather than back when Elvis was in the Army. The big 1800cc mill that poweres the thing isn’t bad, either.

Another standout item is that the new version of their smaller, 800cc cruiser, dubbed the C50T, comes fully set up for touring, with bags, windshield,and even a passenger backrest.

2011 Suzuki C50T
2011 Suzuki C50T

I suspect, however, that a small bike like this might get a little cramped with two-up riding over long distances.  It’s a nice option for the single rider who wants to tour, without breaking the bank, though.

2011 Ducati Diavel (Project 0803)

It appears that the Project 0803 bike is ready for production, and, based on what the Italian press are saying, Ducati has settled on the name “Diavel” for this model.

2011 Ducati Diavel
2011 Ducati Diavel

This is supposedly the power-cruiser competition for Yamaha’s–or Star’s–V-Max. In any event, it’s finally been seen in the wild, in a production-ready version. There’s no word on specs, etc., so, for that, we’ll probably have to wait until Ducati officially unveils it next month in Milan at the EICMA motorcycle show.

Quadro 4D Concept

One of the more interesting concepts that will be shown at the EICMA show in Italy this year are what appears to production-ready prototypes of a new scooter concept from Quadro Technologie, a new arm of Marabese Design. Marabese was the designer for the Piaggio MP3 scooter, but now they’ve gone one step beyond that with a 4-wheeled concept. The video makes it look very interesting.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2OJa-vWEaE

Essentially, what you have here is a 4-wheeled vehicle, but with each wheel independently suspended, allowing it to lean like any other scooter or motorcycle.  What you get from that combination is a much more sure-footed vehicle, with loads more traction, and more abilioty to take bad road conditions in stride.  At the same time, the ability to lean makes cornering safer by balancing the forces of gravity and inertia–unlike a normal trike, where cornering can be a bit riskier business.

I can certainly see the advantages this offers for a commuter bike.  Keep an eye on this technology.

Honda returns to EICMA

Honda didn’t show up at last year’s EICMA show in Italy, citing the world economic crisis.  This year is going to be quite the reverse.  Honda has announced that it will not only be returning to EICMA, but it will be debuting eight motorcycle models at the show as well.

There’s no official word on the bikes that will be unveiled, but one of the most likely candidates will be the new VFR1200 model that is slated to replace the ST1300, which has long been Honda’s flagship sport-tourer.  The new model of the VFR will probably include both the dual-clutch transmission, and the cylinder management system that has been touted by Honda for the last year.

Harley stays in Wisconsin

I guess the tough talk about scouting for new production locations worked.

Unions at Harley-Davidson Wisconsin factories have agreed to seven-year labor agreements that will keep the company’s production operations in The Motor Company’s home state. The new labor contracts, which call for a reduced workforce, will take effect in in April 2012.

The unions’ workforce will be trimmed by 325 full-time jobs, with those positions now being filled only on an as-needed basis.

In the stead of lost full-time union positions, H-D will source a part-time workforce as needed. In its press release announcing the new labor agreement Harley-Davidson described the new part-time status: “The production system includes the addition of a “casual” workforce component – unionized employees who work as required, depending on seasonal needs and to provide coverage for vacations and other absences.”

I’m sure the workers aren’t particularly happy about the new contract, but I suspect they’d have been less happy if Harley had decided to move production to some other state–probably one with right-to-work laws.

Buell’s Plans

I’ve communicated with the people at Erik Buell Racing to see if they could give up any more information about the 1190RS street bike, their schecule for producing it and making it available, etc.  Their response is essentially as follows:

Currently there is no information available from us on the 1190RS, other than that it is in development. What surprises us is how many people are already publishing specifications, business plans and limitations, and more. Even though the information they have is incorrect. Not sure what to do about that other than to let time take its course and as the facts are released then people will know them. There is much information that simply cannot be released yet.

In other words…nothing.

As far as the speculation goes about EBR’s “specifications, business plans and limitations, and more”, well, all you can really say is that this sort of thing inevitable happens when you’re unwilling–or unable–to provide any solid information.  Under the press of deadlines, reporters will often publish something that they hear from someone who they trust, who has been reliable in the past with inside info…and it’s still wrong.

About all you can do is ignore it, and release information as you’re able.

Yesterday I got an official press release from EBR that specifically mentioned the 1190RS again, saying once more that it is “under development”. Other than that, it looks like we’ll have to wait until February for hard and fast–and reliable–news about Buell’s plans.

There is this, however:

Erik Buell Racing 1190RS
Erik Buell Racing 1190RS

Click for the hi-res version.  I’m hoping that won’t be the production exhaust.

Is this the bike that saves MV Agusta?

Italians seem to be pretty happy that MV Agusta is back in Italian hands, “where it belongs” according to Italian motorsport enthusiasts. Sadly, though, while Harley-Davidson gave MV a reprieve from an untimely death, it remains to be seen whether that temporary reprieve turns into a permanent salvation.  Hiring Massimo Bordi, who did fantastic work making Ducati successful, as MV’s new CEO is a good first step, but some of MV’s old problems are still there. Before the Harley purchase, MV produced fantastically expensive bikes in very small numbers.  Reliability problems were an issue, and troublesome one, as MV Agusta dealers were few and far between.  The slightest mechanical problem might keep an MV off the road for weeks or months while some arcane part was produced and shipped from Italy.

2011 MV Agusta F3 Spy Shot
2011 MV Agusta F3 Spy Shot

But that may be changing.  In an interview with the Italian web site Il Solo 24 Ore (Italian), MV’s new owner–or is that re-owner–Claudio Castiglioni, opens up about the bike he hopes will save the company.

Pictured at left is the brand new MV Agusta F3.  According to Castiglione, the F3 is powered by a 675cc triple, just like the Triumph Daytona 675.  This bike will come in a base model, as well as an upgraded “sport” model.

Where things get really interesting is that Castiglioni quotes a base model price of €9,000 ($11,520 at today’s exchange rate), and a price of around €10,500 ($13.440) for the sport edition. The actual price in US terms probably won’t reflect straight exchange rate calculations, however, so, we might see a price of around $10,000 here in the US.  They’re also planning an as yet unnamed Brutale-like model of this bike, which will probably go for somewhere in the vicinity of $9,000, pleasing the fans of naked bikes.

At that price point, the F3 seriously undercuts the $12,995 sticker price for the base model of the Ducati 848, and even puts it in direct competition with the Triumph Daytona’s MSRP of $10,000. With pricing at that level, Castiglioni hopes that MV can sell 10,000 of these bikes next year.

Having said that, it’s still an open question whether MV even has the capacity to produce 10,000 supersports in the next year. If they can–and they can sell them–then MV stands a good chance of not returning to it’s pre-2009 state of slowly running into the ground.

MV Agusta really DID screw Harley

When Harley-Davidson announced that MV would be sold back to Castiglioni, they didn’t mention the price of the sale. As a publicly traded company, however, you can’t actually keep that a secret.

Via the Wall Street Journal, according to the company’s 8-K filing, the sale price was 3 Euros. But get this:

In the filing Harley said it “contributed 20 million Euros to MV as operating capital” that was put in escrow and is available to the buyer over a 12-month period. The buyer is Claudio Castiglioni, who, with his brother Gianfranco, ran MV Agusta for years before selling it to Harley two years ago for about $109 million.

So, H-D paid $109 million for MV, they then had to pay $162.6 million in write-downs to cover MV’s bad debts, and then they had to pay Castiglioni another $20 million to take it back.

I’m sorry, but that’s just hilarious!

But, of course, I’m not a Harley shareholder. They probably aren’t as amused to learn this.

I think we can call it confirmed: Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 (Updated)

I suspect that unemployment in Italy’s technology sector is about to rise very slightly.

Via Asphalt & Rubber, it seems that some excitable webmaster has jumped the gun, and put the downloadable service manuals for the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 and Dorsoduro 1200 ABS online in the maintenance section of Aprilia’s web site. Since Aprilia hasn’t even announced this bike, other than via rumor, and its release probably wasn’t even scheduled until the EICMA show in Milan in November, this is certainly going to take the wind out of the sails of Aprilia’s PR department.

As far as the bike itself, we can’t tell much about its power output, but we now know it sports an 1197cc v-twin engine, and weighs 492lbs wet.

Oh, and, since I suspect that Aprilia will probably yank this off the Internet in due course, here’s my personal copy of the  2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 & 1200ABS User Manual, in English and Dutch.  Enjoy.

Oh, and I think we can confirm that there will, in fact, be a Dorsoduro 1200 for 2011.

UPDATE (8/12/10): Sadly, it won’t be a Dorsoduro that we see on this side of the pond. Aprilia says: “We are extremely pleased with the sales of the Dorsoduro 750 and do not plan on importing the 1200 at this time.”

So, none for the US market at all for 2011.

Honda ST1300 replaced by an ST1200F?

The Spanish Motorcycling web site SoloMoto is touting an exclusive (in Spanish), which is that Honda will replace the venerable ST1300 with a touring version of the new V-4-engined VFR1200F. They state that their information is that a presentation of the new model will be held at the international motorcycle shows in Cologne or Milan (October or November respectively).

They report that the new model will be available with or without bags, as well as with or without the new DCT transmission option.  Compared to the new VFR, this touring model will have higher handlebars and more relaxed seating position, suitable for touring.  Based on the drawings they show, the preload adjustment for the rear suspension will be moved to the right side of the bike, and the front braking system my be different from the current VFR, due to having inverted forks.  They also speculate that the rider’s seat height will be adjustable, and that the windshield will have electrical height adjustment. The new bike also seems to keep the dual-layered fairing of the current VFR.

So, for all you ST1300 lovers, Honda may be providing you with something to love even better.

Let’s just hope that while they’re piling on all these touring amenities, they give us a fuel tank larger than the VFR’s 4 gallons.

Castiglioni completes his rape of Harley-Davidson

It seems like only yesterday that Carlo Castiglioni sold the iconic MV Agusta brand to Harley Davidson.  Now, two years later, he’s bought it back–for less than he sold it to Harley-Davidson.

Along with Giovanni Castiglioni, the company will be headed by Mr. Massimo Bordi, a well known Italian manager. A 62-year-old engineer, Bordi took Ducati to success during the years when that company was owned by the Castiglionis and continued to manage it successfully under the ownership of Texas Pacific Group. Since 2003 Massimo Bordi has been the CEO of Same Deutz Fahr, contributing largely to the success of the company. Massimo Bordi commented that “MV Agusta has full capacity to once again become a major player in the high luxury brand motor bikes, this brand is one of the most recognized worldwide. We will implement a number of reorganization and managerial actions in the near future.

So, essentially, Castiglioni pawned off MV on Harley, so they could dump money into it for a few years, then bought it back as a stronger company for less than he sold it. Why H-D bought it in the first place is still an unanswered question.

Oh, and how hard did Castiglioni screw H-D?  Pretty hard.

Harley-Davidson bought MV Agusta for $109 million back in 2008 (most of which was bad debt), and now just a little over two years later is making a tidy profit of…well, nothing. After wiping the books clean, investing in new infrastructre, and getting MV Agusta back on track with an all new model line-up (with a bike on the way), Harley-Davidson saw a paltry sum of €1 cross its desks.

€1 is about $1.25.

So, Harley paid for the privilege of getting MV back on its feet, paying off the debt, bankrolling a new product line, then essentially gave it back to Castiglioni.  Who is, after all, the guy who was running MV into the ground before Harley-Davidson rescued it.

So, now we’ll get to find out if Castiglioni will run it into the ground again.

Along with Giovanni Castiglioni, the company will be headed by Mr. Massimo Bordi, a well known Italian manager. A 62-year-old engineer, Bordi took Ducati to success during the years when that company was owned by the Castiglionis and continued to manage it successfully under the ownership of Texas Pacific Group. Since 2003 Massimo Bordi has been the CEO of Same Deutz Fahr, contributing largely to the success of the company. Massimo Bordi commented that “MV Agusta has full capacity to once again become a major player in the high luxury brand motor bikes, this brand is one of the most recognized worldwide. We will implement a number of reorganization and managerial actions in the near future.