2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré (UPDATED)

After months of speculation and teasers, Yamaha has finally revealed the new XT1200Z Super Ténéré.  It seems like quite a bike.  The 1200cc parallel-twin powerplant puts out…well…we don’t know.  Yamaha hasn’t released HP or torque figures.  But with a compression ratio of 11:1, I’m thinking we’re probably somewhere in the vicinity of 110HP and 80-ish lb-ft of torque.

Like the R1200GS, it sports a full set of aluminum panniers, and other goodies for going on the road–or perhaps off it.

The full specs for the shaft-driven, 574lb, adventure bike are below the fold.

The only question is, will this bike be released in the US, or will it only be available to our cousins in the Old Country?

UPDATE: The folks at Asphalt & Rubber come through in the clinch with the output of the ST’s engine:

With 1,199cc under the hoood, the XT1200Z Super Ténéré is aiming its sights on the class-leading BMW R1200GS and new-comer Ducati Multistrada 1200. The powerplant features a parallel twin motor with four valves per cylinder, and makes 108hp @ 7,250 RPM and 84lbs•ft @ 6,000 RPM.

Pretty much what I thought it’d be.

Continue reading “2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré (UPDATED)”

Aprilia Recalls RSV4s

The Aprilia RSV4 has been one of this year’s most eagerly awaited motorcycles.  It seems like it’s only just hit the showroom, however, and Aprilia is already issuing a serious recall.  Apparently, the problem–which hasn’t yet actually occurred in any of their motorcycles–requires replacing the entire engine.

Following extensive testing and verification, the Italian manufacturer assessed that one component in a small group of engines assembled during a specific time period had failed to meet stringent factory quality standards, resulting in an unacceptable risk of future engine failures. To-date, there have been no warranty claims related to this potential issue in the U.S. market. However, in line with the premium quality standards of Aprilia motorcycles and potential safety implications, the manufacturer and its dealerships are committed to immediate action to ensure complete Aprilia owner satisfaction.

Kudos to Aprilia for recognizing and immediately fixing the problem.  Unlike some manufacturers, for instance, one that hasn’t admitted their bikes have a final drive problem (cough–BMW–cough).

Kawasaki Police C-14?

I wasn’t aware that Kawasaki made the Concours 14 in a police version, but I stumbled across this story tonigh, which says the city of Mesa, AZ will be shelling out a cool half-million to completely replace its current fleet of 1000Ps with C-14s.

Historically, the department has used a Kawasaki 1000 P, which has largely remained unchanged since it was introduced in the 1970s.

“Incidents where there were very serious conditions and collisions could be related to the lack of ABS and poor lighting,” Wessing said. “Those were the major safety downfalls of those motorcycles.”

Technology and safety features, such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS), on the new Kawasaki Concours’, which will replace the 1000 P, mean officers will be able stop their bikes within half the distance.

So, apparently there is a Concours 14P.  I can’t seem to find any images of one, but I have to admit, I’m curious.

Try This with your Road Glide

Kain Saul has converted a Harley-Davidson Xr1200 to Dirt use–including a heavily modified suspension–taken it out into the Australian countryside…and done a back-flip on it.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqgwo_WdyRo

Pretty cool.

And, yes, I do know that Chuck Carothers did the same stunt in Czechoslovakia.  Or the Czech Republic, or whatever the hell it’s called now.  But he didn’t stick his landing and got thrown off the bike.

FAIL!

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BMW S1000RR: Training Aid

Well, I have to say this is interetesting:  Keith Code’s Sportbike/track/racing school has dumped the Ninja in favor of brand new BMW S1000RRs as the training sportbike for their racing courses.

“We are proud to offer our students training on this spectacular motorcycle,” his website proclaims (highlighting the last two words in red), and he’s not the only one to praise the Beemer; hyperbolic raves have been flowing from bike journos since the German bike’s recent introduction at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. Roadracing World says Keith has “no hard feelings” towards Kawasaki, which reportedly discontinued their sponsorship as a cost cutting measure.

It’s been interesting to see the powerfully positive reviews of the BMW S1000RR in the motorcycling press. And now, having gotten Kieth Code on their side–undoubtedly with valuable consideration changing hands–BMW has a powerful ally in California with Kieth Code using their bikes fore Superbike Training.

Naturally, I would be willing to provide a completely unbiased report on superbike training with the S1000RR…if Mr. Code would invite me up for a training session.

Hint, hint.

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Times Are Tough All Over

The US isn’t the only place where motorcycle sales have been dismal this year.  ACEM, the Motorcycle Industry Association in Europe, is reporting that, as of September, year-over-year motorcycle sales in Europe are down by 27%.  Here’s the ugly, ugly chart:

ACEM Sales 2002-2009 (September)
ACEM Sales 2002-2009 (September)

That’s definitely not the sales results graph you want to see.

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No 2010 Suzukis in the US

Hell for Leather is reporting that Suzuki will not be importing any of their 2010 model motorcycles to the USA.  Due to the slowness of US motorcycle sales, Suzuki has seen their sales decline to 434k motorcycles for the first three quarters of this year, compared to 772k last year.

So, until the current inventory has been absorbed by buyers, no new bikes will hitting the US from Suzuki.

Free Erik? Done.

As of this afternoon, Harley Davidson announced that Erik Buell has left the MoCo, and is opening a race shop.  His new venture, Erik Buell Racing LLC, will specialize in creating race-use only 1125r motorcycles under a lciense from Harley-Davidson.

As such, he will no longer be an employee of Harley-Davidson, and will once again be directly involved in the motorcycle racing world.

The fascinating question is whether or not this is just a stop-gap venture to take up his time until February 2011, when his no-compete contract with H-D expires, and he is free to join up with another motorcycle company to begin building bikes for the rest of us again.

The full press release from Harley-Davidson is below the fold.

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Continue reading “Free Erik? Done.”

Pass the Popcorn

The big difference between current MotoGP and WSB racing is that MotoGP racing is limited to 800cc bikes, while World Superbike runs literbikes.  The reason for the MotoGP switch to 800cc bikes was that the literbikes were just too powerful and dangerous…or some such nonsense…for MotoGP racing.

Well, a few weeks ago, Dorna MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta said on Spanish TV that he wants MotoGP to return to literbikes for the 2012 season.  Which means essentially that MotoGP and WSB would more or less be conducting the same races.

Well, this put WSB boss Paolo Flammini’s panties in a wad.  he doesn’t like the idea one bit, and he’s said so to the Italian motorcycling news web site GPOne.com (in Italian).  He also says,

I repeat what I said earlier: we have had assurances from the FIM President Vito Ippolito that this regulation would not be approved…We are ready to take whatever action is necessary to defend the contract we have with the FIM, which, let us not forget, also covers the 600cc class based on production bikes.

So, Ezpeleta says he wants literbikes, and Flammini says he can’t have them.

I expect someone is going to be deeply disappointed, but only after some hideously interminable court proceedings in Barcelona, Rome, and/or Brussels.

Motorcycle Sales: Dismal

The most recent sales figures for motorcycles don’t look good at all.  The industry is taking a shellacking unlike anything I’ve seen since ’81-82.  As of the third quarter of this year…

…motorcycle sales totaled just 434,370 so far this year, down from 771,950 in the first 9 months of 2008 for a drop of 337,580, which makes overall sales down 44%.

I wish i could say things were going to get better soon, but I don’t believe that to be the case.  For instance, take our current 9.8% unemployment rate.  If we counted employment stats like they did prior to 1973, that reading would actually be 17%.  Those are depression numbers.

And, speaking of the depression, everyone thought things were going to get better and better in 1931.  There was lots of happy talk about the economy, just like there is now. I’d like to think that’s as far as the parallel goes, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

motorcycle sales totaled just 434,370 so far this year, down from 771,950 in the first 9 months of 2008 for a drop of 337,580, which makes overall sales down 44%.

Harley Davidson Kills Buell, To Sell MV Agusta

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I wish I could say I was surprised this morning to finally see the news made public that Harley-Davidson was going to sell MV Agusta, and shut down Buell’s operations.  But, I wasn’t.

Let’s address the MV Agusta deal first.  I never really understood exactly what the MoCo thought it was getting when it purchased MV and Cagiva.  Turns out I’m not alone in that, since apparently nobody at Harley-Davidson did either.  Cagiva was a financial basket case, and MV–though it had a glorious racing past and venerable reputation–had been reduced to a boutique maker of a small number of motorcycles.

And once HD had finished crowing about buying it, they proceeded to do…nothing.  No press releases.  No earth-shattering changes.  They just let it sort of sit there.  They owned it, but once they did, they didn’t seem to know what to do with it.  So now, they’re selling it at what is probably going to be a deeper discount than they purchased it for, so it seems like it was just a multi-million-dollar bath for Milwaukee.

Oh, well, it’ll make a nice write-off against tax, I’m sure.

As for Buell, I’ve already gotten into some detail in the post linked above as to why the MoCo had completely bungled the management of Buell.

A brief tour of BadWeb, the Buell biker forum, today shows that the Buellers are no more receptive to hearing bad news about the company–nor any more prone to think about it realistically–than they were last month when I wrote that my sources indicated to me that Buell was probably going to be shut down.

It’s full of fantasies about some sort of demonstration to make HD reverse its decision.  There also seem to be a number of analysts who write that this is an insane decision for the MoCo, because losing Buell will destroy Harley.

That’s just fantasy.  Quite apart from the fact that Harley is doing a fine job of destroying itself by confining itself to an aging customer base, the fact is that Harley killed Buell a long time ago through their mismanagement of the brand.  Killing Buell is a symptom of HD’s problem, not the cause of it.

The company says they are doing this to concentrate on their brand, by which I assume they mean continuing to market even more aggresively to their shrinking, aging customer base.  As one industry wag put it to to me today, “How many more 52 year-olds looking for their first bike can they find?”

As far as Buell contributing much to harley financially, well, that’s just absurd.

In 2008, HD’s annual report states that they sold $313.8m in general merch, making up 5.6% of corporate revenues. Buell Motorcycles, on the other hand, made $123.2m in revenues, or 2.2% of corporate revenues. According to the company 10k statement for 2008, Buell accounted for 4,000 of HD’s 222,200 motorcycle registrations. Of the 686 HD dealerships in 2008, more than half of them don’t even sell Buells.

In other words, Buell accounted for 0.2% of HD motorcycle sales, and the MoCo made twice as much money selling orange dog scarves and rhinestone belts for girls than from the sale of Buell motorcycles.

So, the idea that keeping Buell motorcycles will make up for…well…anything at Harley Davidson is so at variance with the actual facts as to qualify as sheer fantasy. Let’s not pretend that Buell has either the user base or financial performance to rank as a serious part of Harley Davidson.

I guess it does show, though, that some people personalize their motorcycle brand very deeply.

I guess my take-away for those people is that sometimes, when people write negative things about your favorite motorcycle brand, it’s not because they hate it.  Sometimes, they write it because it’s true.

Just something to think about.

In 2008, HD’s annual report states that they sold $313.8m in general merch, making up 5.6% of corporate revenues. Buell Motorcycles, on the other hand, made $123.2m in revenues, or 2.2% of corporate revenues. According to the company 10k statement for 2008, Buell accounted for 4,000 of HD’s 222,200 motorcycle registrations. Of the 686 HD dealerships in 2008, more than half of them don’t even sell Buells.

So, the idea that Buell motorcycles will make up for…well…anything at Harley Davidson is so at variance with the actual facts as to qualify as sheer fantasy. Let’s not pretend that Buell has either the user base or financial performance to rank as a serious part of Harley Davidson.