Ducati has announced the first of its 2011 motorcycles, the new version of the 848, now christened the 848 EVO. The EVO designation denotes that its a refinement of an existing model, rather than anything really new. But that isn’t meant to sound dismissive, as the Italian manufacturer has created some added value.
First, performance increases over last year, with 140HP and 72.3 ft-lbs of torque, compared to last year’s 134HP and 70.8 ft-lbs. Second, chassis upgrades are included, with a standard steering damper and the brakes being upgraded to Brembo monobloc racing calipers.
Hard to believe that, just a few years ago, an Inline-4 literbike claimed 140HP as a respectable output. Now, Ducati’s putting that out in a mid-sized twin.
I’ve received some new pictures of the ATK-badged cruiser and Sportbike that the Utah-based company is getting ready to put on the showroom floors of some select Harley-Davidson dealers.
Both of the bikes will come in 250cc and 650cc configurations.
There’s been a lot of talk of a new Ducati model coming up for 2011. Maybe a big, new Monster. Or something. Apparently that talk has some basis in fact, because we’re now seeing both spy shots–whether from interested bystanders or directly from Ducati PR isn’t clear–and an interesting concept sketch of “Project 803″. That sketch is on the right, and is clickable for a hi-res image.
The PR department at Ducati is responding to all the rumors of a new bike with this statement:
As many you may have noticed, there has been quite a bit of activity in the past few weeks surrounding a supposed new Ducati model. I wanted to take this opportunity and send you a note saying indeed we do have a surprise in store for this year’s EICMA show. Our R&D department is working around the clock to complete development of this radical new motorcycle, for which time to complete final design and engineering elements will surely come down to the wire.
I’m sending this letter today in order to inform you of our communication plan. Since many details of the bike (big and small) are still being sorted out; I have elected not to forward information or photography until the rolling prototypes come close to resembling what the final product will look like.
Stay tuned for further information from the Ducati Press Department; and I can assure you the final bike will impress all with the design, performance and technology everyone has come to expect from Ducati.
It looks like at Italian V-Max. And that “Testastretta 11 degree” engine says it probably comes off the 1198. So, an 1198 V-Max. Nice.
For 2011, Triumph will be releasing at least one new adventure bike. We have no idea what the specs are, although it seems that it will be using something smaller than the 1050cc triple in the Tiger, so, just as a guess, I’d imagine it will be based on the 675. Triumph has, however, released a fantastically shot, artistic video preview, which reveals precisely nothing about how the bike will look, or what its major components will be. Except that it has two headlights.
The bad economy and poor sales forecasts for 2010 led Suzuki to suspend sending any new 2010-model bikes to the US, in lieu of reducing the inventories of 2009 models. But, this afternoon, Suzuki announced that, for 2011, they’ll be back on our shores, and they previewed the first wave of what they’ll be bringing with them next year.
First up, new versions of the Boulevard M109R and M109 Limited power cruisers–in my opinion, some of the most beautifully-designed, modern-looking cruisers in existence. Next, the Hyabusa is back, although with what appears to be mainly mild cosmetic changes. The V-Strom is also back with a new 2011 model, as well.
Welcome back, Suzuki!
Back in November, I wrote that US dirt-bike maker ATK and Korean conglomerate S&T inked a deal for ATK to assemble ATK-branded street bikes at some select Harley-Davidson dealerships. It’s a dealer-level deal, and has nothing to do with the Motor Company itself, just some dealers put together by ATK’s CEO Frank White.
This week, we get an update, with ATK and S&T formalizing a deal for 33,000 motorcycles over the next four years. The models below are the ATK-assembled and badged bikes whose parts will be brought in from Korea:
There will be two 250cc models, a sportbike and cruiser, and two similar 650cc models.
According to Frank White’s statement in the ATK Press release:
White is quick to explain that The Harley- Davidson Motor Company does not endorse or support this joint venture in any way. White states; “Nevertheless, our new products fit the current Harley-Davidson dealer need and move to offer both the dealer, and more importantly, the retail customer, a complete staircase of V-twin based products, which only acts to complement the current Harley-Davidson product line-up.”
“The approach is simple; get new and younger riders to go into the Harley-Davidson dealerships,” explains White. “We want to capture those customers who are initially looking for a smaller displacement motorcycle, at an affordable price, and then over time these new riders will develop the aspiration for a traditional Harley-Davidson.”
HD may not have any part of this deal, but I’ll bet they’re watching it closely.
While most motorcycle manufactures are mired in the sales doldrums due to the worldwide economic recession, BMW is bucking the trend.
The BMW Motorcycle segment clearly exceeded last year’s sales in the first three months of this year: Sales were 20.9% higher at 20,840 units (17,232). In March 2010, 11,541 motorcycles – an increase of 26.8% – were delivered to customers (prev. yr . 9,100).
And in some countries, such as the UK, sales are setting records, with 1,539 motorcycles sold in March, up 50% over the same month in 2009.
Via Paul Crowe, I see that Cleveland CycleWerks has plans for some really exciting beginner/commuter bikes designed and slated for release very soon.
First up is my favorite, the Misfit. It’s a 250cc thumper that appears to be priced somewhere around $2400.
Next is a nice little bobber called the Heist, another 250cc bike with a price tag around $3k. I like the peanut tank. The hardtail would take a little getting used to, though.
The Hooligan is a motard offering. It probably looks nice, but its hard to tell with the horrific CCW watermark plastered all over the picture.
There are some other models in the works, including a cafe racer styled bike, a muscle bike, as well as another hardtail.
Assuming the build quality of these Chinese-manufactured bikes is up to par, CCW may have found a nice niche to sell into.
A&R presents part 2 of How to Save Harley-Davidson. Folowing on their marketing advice, they start by pointing out the problem with Harley’s product line.
35 motorcycles, 7 model lines, 4 chassis, 3 motor families, & 1 market segment, that’s Harley-Davidson’s product line by the numbers. Where many large production motorcycle companies might have 30 or so motorcycles that span the entire gamut of motorcycling’s different sub-markets, Harley-Davidson has put all of its eggs in the heavy cruiser market. This singular pursuit of one market segment has not only been the cause for Harley’s success, but also a significant contributing factor to the company’s recent downfall, which has led to a recently rumored leveraged buyout. [One of the reasons for Harley's stock price increase over the last few weeks is rumors of an impending private-equity buyout.-- Ed.]
As the old idiom goes, one should not put all their eggs in one basket, which is exactly the faux pas being committed here by Harley-Davidson in its product offering. Businesses, especially public ones, should always have an eye on sustained long-term growth, and a key element to that goal is a well-diversified position in their appropriate industry. Taking this lens and applying it to Harley-Davidson, one can immediately see a portfolio that has been extensively mismanaged by focusing on only one segment of the total motorcycle industry: the heavy cruiser market.
What this has effectively created is a motorcycle company that looks like Alfred Hitchcock’s take on Baskin Robins: 31 flavors, but they’re all Rocky Road.
If you count the new Trike, Harley really has 5 motorcycle models, although one of the Models, the Sportster, has two engine sizes, albeit they use the same engine with different cylinder bores. Essentially, those five bikes come in 35 factory option packages.
As A&R points out, what Harley doesn’t have is any sort of light, performance oriented machine, like a cafe racer or scrambler. I would go a step further and say they also don’t have any sort of lighter, entry-level cruiser.
Even if HD has no interest in getting into modern sport-oriented bikes–and there’s nothing wrong that attitude–they don’t even offer a lighter, smaller-engined entry-level cruiser. Their”entry-level” offering is a 600-lb, 1200cc Sportster. And whatever else it may be, the Sporty is by no means an entry-level motorcycle.
They already have the basic tools and expertise to build smaller, more performance oriented cruisers, and entry-level bikes. But they’ve invested so much of the company in catering to the baby boomers, they arean’t offering bikes that appeal, by and large, to new entrants into motorcycling, or to riders that want even a small amount of get-up-and-go in their rides.
That’s been a fantastic strategy for the past 30 years, and it’s served the company well. There’s only one problem with their strategy of selling to the Baby-Boomers. The Baby-Boomers are starting to die. So, it’s not a market with a lot of growth potential moving forward.
Erik Buell Racing has a facebook page with pics of the the new 1190RR being prepped for shipment to a racer in Germany. It’s a nice looking bike.
Erik Buell can’t build streetbikes until February 2011, according to his non-compete clause with Harley-Davidson, so you won’t see one of these screaming up the street any time soon. But, clearly, there are things going on at EBR that might betoken some future streetbike model. And I’m sure that there are a number of people who’d like to speak to Eric Buell about opportunities as soon as they are legally able.
What I find really interesting here is that motorcycle didn’t just materialize out of whole cloth. I mean, all du respect to Eric Buell as a motorcycling genius or whatever, but I find it hard to believe that the 1190RR’s motor just materialized out of thin air between the time Harley dumped Buell and now. It hasn’t even been a year yet. So, it seems to me that this was a concept that had to have been on the drawing board prior to the Buell shutdown.
Jebus Cripes, that decision still doesn’t make much sense to me. Imagine what the response would have been to an American sportbike in the same performance class as a Ducati 1198 or Aprilia RSV4. For a company that became a textbook business school marketing case study for the way they sold the Harley “lifestyle” to the baby boomers, they are slack-jawed morons when it comes to marketing to the younger biking community. I mean, just look at this Harley ad.
That’s your baby-boomer wet-dream right there. Old men getting married to under-18 girls. Great image to put in your advertising, MoCo. Classy.
Not that anybody believes a 17 year-old girl would f*ck that hairy pervert.
But, that’s Harley-Davidson for you. They are so focused in on the baby-boomers that they just don’t seem to have a clue about how to reach out to anyone younger. They can build all then trikes they want, to keep their geriatric customer base riding along for a few more short years, but without learning how to hook up to younger riders, they are going to face trouble in another 10 years or so.
And they already had a brand in Buell that they could have built into a sportbike–and maybe a racing–powerhouse…and they just threw it away.
Jensen Beeler at A&R has kicked off a 3-part series on what Harley-Davidson needs to do to prevent the company from dying along with their aging demographic. He starts off with the same premise I wrote about last summer, but really drills down into the details. It’s a fantastic piece about H-D’s ongoing marketing failure. Read the whole thing.
Vance & Hines and the AMA Pro Racing series have teamed up to create a brand new racing series for the Harley-Davidson XR1200. Granted, the XR is the only Harley that can be said to have any pretensions to being a racing bike…of some kind. A&R has taken the press release of the big announcement, and helpfully translated it, line by line, as follows:
“We have racing in our DNA, Harley-Davidson has racing in their DNA and we are truly thrilled to bring Vance & Hines and Harley-Davidson back into AMA Pro Racing,” Terry Vance, a prolific champion as both rider and team owner, said of the new series. “The XR1200 has proven to be an exciting platform for spec racing in Europe and this class will be a perfect cost-effective platform to showcase new talent on a national stage. Many of the finest motorcycle racers all over the world got their start in the AMA Supertwins class of the 1990s.”
Translated: We’re going to just lie for a minute and then justify this series with some loose mentioning of racing in the company’s past, which an entire generation doesn’t remember because it happened before they were born. First one to mention flat-tracking loses the argument…
AMA Pro Racing Chief Operating Officer David Atlas welcomed the new series, “Adding another element to our events with a series of this caliber will be a great benefit to our sport. The specification of the XR1200 package will put the premium on the rider’s ability and will provide a great new class of racing that has ties to the past.”
Translated: We’re actually telling the truth now. This series will really showcase a rider’s skill, especially while they try and maneuver a 600lbs motorcycle through chicanes with some of Milwaukee’s finest engineering from the 1950’s.
Read the whole thing, it’s priceless.
Oh, by the way, the big purse for the winner is…$2,500. So, building an XR1200 into a race bike will be, like, totally worth it.
Motorcycle Daily takes note of Triumph’s sales strength in the US, while other manufacturers’ sales are slumping. They explain it as follows:
The advantage Triumph has is its heritage of triples and parallel twins. Virtually no other company has this heritage, and Triumph can therefore develop motorcycles that have very little competition in the market. “Competition” here means similar heritage and design.
When Triumph realized the folly of competing with the Japanese in the inline-four cylinder supersport market, and abandoned that format for the 675cc triple, it instantly found success. The triple gave it a different exhaust note, broader power curve, narrower engine and chassis, and, most importantly, a tie to its heritage of building performance triples.
While everyone else is building v-twin cruisers, Triumph cruisers are parrallel twins with a strong heritage that includes Marlon Brando, among other notable reference points.
I’m not sure that the “parallel twin” argument carries much weight. The Big Four all have a number of parallel twins. But the Bonneville, Scrambler and Thruxton definitely have a certain recognizeable heritage, especially to people in their 40′s, like me. We remember those bikes from when we were kids. They were really–outside of the then-monster Harleys–the gold standard of style and power in an era where the 500cc motorcycle was the big boys bike.
Where MD really hits the nail on the head is Triumph’s dominance of the triple powerplant. Other than Benelli, which is hardly a premier marque in the US–Triumph stands alone with a line of three-cylinder motorcycles. Based on sales figures, a number of riders seem to be learning that the Triples have a unique performance advantage compared to the twins or I-4s. Triumphs offer the low-end grunt of a twin, without sacrificing the high-end horsepower you get from an I-4.
They also have a distinctive look. Triumph really has hit it out of the park in terms of styling, whether it’s the retro-cool of the Scrambler, or the smooth modernity of the Sprint ST–with a single-sided swingarm, no less. (Not all of Triumph’s bikes are a hit with everyone in the looks department, of course. The agricultural engine of the Rocket III really divides opinions sharply.)
Triumph also competes aggressively on price. For instance, the 2010 Sprint ST sells for $12.7k, while the big four are pushing their STs at $15K and up. They really are an outstanding value for the money.
John Bloor really has done a fantastic job of bringing this venerable brand back to life.
Now, If he could just get the Sprint fitted with a shaft drive…
Erik Buell Racing has unveiled it’s first brand new racing bike, the 1190RR. the 1190cc 72° V-Twin shaves 30 pounds off of the 1125RR, giving it a dry weight of 360lbs, with engine output sporting a boost to 185HP, and 93lb-ft of torque.
That puts the 1190RR’s specs into WSBK territory. And in that vein, the bike is kitted out to full superbike race spec.
The multiplate-slipper clutched transmission can put that power to the rear wheel in six different gears, via a chain final drive.
It’s also a pretty sharp-looking bike, with a full fairing, instead of the controversial air scoops on the side.
So, I guess the only question remaining about this race bike is…where can you race it. It isn’t homologated for either AMA or WSBK, so that’s right out. And, of course, it’s not street-legal in any way, shape or form.
So, at the moment, even if you do get one, you still have to figure out what you can do with it.
Victory Motorcycles has announced a new, high-powered version of the Vegas. The new bike has a set of Stage 2 cams to pump up the output of its 106ci V-Twin. The special edition Vegas will sport 97HP and 113 lb-ft of torque. Victory will only be producing 100 of them, however, and pricing them at $15,999. Oh, and you have to order it before the end of February, for March delivery.