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After The Ninja And The Z, Is The Kawasaki Vulcan H2 Next?

By | General Posts

by Sabrina Giacomini from https://www.rideapart.com

The God of Fire is getting a boost.

In 2015, Kawasaki introduced its first modern-day supercharged motorcycle, the Ninja-based H2. Four years later, the Z H2 hypernaked followed. What will happen next? After all, developing a new engine takes time, R&D, and funds, so when a new block is created, it makes sense for manufacturers to take full advantage of its potential. So, will Kawasaki simply stop there or will find other applications for its forced induction mill?

The answer to that could be the latter. Rumors from Japan suggest that Kawasaki could be about to shake things up in the power cruiser segment, supercharger style.

According to Japanese site Young Machine, there is apparently a Vulcan H2 in the works at Kawasaki. The model would, of course, use the same 998cc supercharged inline-four as its Ninja and Z siblings.

The speculations about a Vulcan H2 are connected to the rumor that Kawasaki is planning to overhaul its Vulcan lineup altogether. Considering the manufacturer would likely have to rethink the chassis to accommodate the supercharged engine, timing the new H2’s development with a lineup upgrade all makes sense.

Thai site MotoRival produced a render of what they imagine the Vulcan H2 would look like. Silhouette wise, the design seems inspired by the Vulcan S with the single-rider saddle, tear-drop tank, and elongated handlebar but the headlamp cluster is clearly borrowed from the Z H2 which creates a weird blend of modern and more classic lines.

This is only speculation as Kawasaki has neither confirmed or denied the rumor. According to Indian Autos Blog, if the manufacturer really is working on a (super)powercruiser, chances are we won’t see it for another couple of years. Whether you like powercruisers or not, the notion of a supercharged model is admittedly something we can be curious about.

Harley-Davidson to offer US dealers smaller selection of motorcycles

By | General Posts

by Reuters from https://nypost.com/

Harley-Davidson is reopening its factories this week at lower production rates and sending dealers a narrower range of motorcycles, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The US motorcycle maker, which closed its US plants in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, may not ship any additional new motorcycles this year to about 70 percent of its 698 dealers in the country, the report said.

The company did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

Harley would reopen its plants in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and accelerate production in phases that would be limited to bestselling models and palette of colors and without customizable features for the rest of the year, the report said.

The company has failed for years to increase sales in the US, its top market, which accounts for more than half its motorcycles sold.

As its tattooed, baby-boomer consumer base ages, the Milwaukee-based company has found it tough to attract new customers. To make matters worse, the pandemic has further dented demand as Americans stay at home.

In April, then-acting Chief Executive Jochen Zeitz, who has since taken a permanent role at Harley, told investors about plans to cut costs and “de-emphasize” some of its unprofitable international regions.

Jochen and team have been working on a new five-year strategic plan here to revive sales, which the company plans to reveal in the second-quarter earnings update.

Harley has also moved the launch timing of new models to the early part of the first quarter from August to better align with the start of the riding season. That provided some boost to its US retail sales in the first quarter.

Harley’s annual dealer meet, usually held in August, will now take place early next year.

Harley to sell fewer models, simplify factories

by Bob Tita from https://www.marketwatch.com/

Harley-Davidson Inc. is reopening its factories this week at lower production rates and sending dealers a narrower range of motorcycles, steering away from more expansive plans to stop a yearslong sales slide.

Milwaukee-based Harley’s U.S. assembly plants and most of its dealers closed in March as part of a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. As many of the company’s 698 U.S. dealers were making plans to reopen, Harley’s director of product sales, Beth Truett, told them in a memo earlier this month that about 70% of them likely wouldn’t receive any additional new motorcycles this year.

“We are using this time to course correct and rewire the company in pursuit of making Harley-Davidson one of the most desirable brands in the world,” Ms. Truett said in the memo, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Harley’s strategy reversal shows how some companies are pivoting amid the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, reviewing operations or products that may not work amid an uncertain recovery.

Former Chief Executive Matt Levatich had planned to offset declining sales of the big, expensive bikes favored by Harley’s core baby boomer customers with dozens of new models by 2027, many of them smaller, cheaper and aimed at foreign markets. Mr. Levatich stepped down in February under pressure from shareholders threatening to initiate a proxy contest for board seats after Harley closed its fifth consecutive year of falling U.S. sales.

He has been replaced by Jochen Zeitz, a longtime Harley board member, former CEO of German athletic-apparel company Puma SE and founder of a new contemporary art museum in Cape Town, South Africa.

On an earnings call last month, Mr. Zeitz said expanding the motorcycle lineup and chasing new markets diverted attention from Harley’s more profitable models and made factories too complex. He said the production revamp is warranted by deteriorating demand for motorcycles. New models that would have made their debut this summer will roll out early next year instead, he said, on a new schedule of releases before the peak spring buying season begins.

By having fewer motorcycles in the market, Harley said it is trying to appeal to customers of premium-priced brands with limited availability. That approach is common among makers of sports cars and some luxury products that keep manufacturing volumes well below demand for them.

“Our strategy to limit motorcycle product in the showroom is purposefully designed to drive exclusivity,” Ms. Truett said in her memo.

Harley is reopening its plants in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania this week and said it would accelerate production in phases. The motorcycles that Harley will start making again this month will be limited to bestselling models in a limited palette of colors and without customizable features for the remainder of the year, Ms. Truett wrote.

Some U.S. dealers said the production cuts will sap further sales at dealerships that were closed for nearly two months. “You’re not going to catch up,” said Zoli Dudevsky, owner of a Harley dealership near Cleveland.

Some dealers said they have enough new motorcycles to cover a month or two of sales, but that those stocks would be depleted sooner if demand rises. Several said customer traffic at their reopened showrooms has been better than they expected, in part because motorcycle riding is an alternative to other types of recreation discouraged under social-distancing rules.

“We’ve noticed a lot of people getting bikes out of storage that haven’t been running in years,” said John Lyon, a dealer in Vermont.

George Gatto, owner of two dealerships in the Pittsburgh area, said he isn’t expecting any new motorcycles from Harley until August, when the company plans to deliver two motorcycles to one of his dealerships. The company is urging dealers to sell more used motorcycles, a market that Harley executives in the past regarded as detracting from sales of new models.

“If Harley is taking all the new bikes away from me, I’ll have to make that up with used,” Mr. Gatto said.

Mr. Gatto said he is trying to acquire more used motorcycles, but so are other dealers. Prices for used Harleys purchased at auctions have risen by about 20% in recent weeks, he said. Dealers who need new bikes to fill orders say they will have to buy them from other dealers, in some cases at a premium.

Harley projects that dealers’ stocks of new motorcycles will fall by 65% by year’s end, Ms. Truett’s memo to the dealers said. “Dealers should plan for an extremely tight year from an inventory perspective,” she wrote.

Benelli SRK 600 street fighter spied undisguised

By | General Posts

by Nithyanandh Karuppaswamy from https://www.rushlane.com

Chinese-owned Italian motorcycle brand Benelli is in the process of strengthening its middle-weight sportsbike portfolio

Several months ago, a sharp looking street fighter with 600 badge was spied in China, sparking speculations that it was the next generation TNT 600i. However, in November 2019, Benelli unveiled the new gen TNT 600i which looked more like a facelift of the current version and had nothing in common with the previously spotted prototype.

The sportier version of the 600 has now emerged online again, this time with SRK 600 moniker. It looks like Benelli SRK 600 is a premium alternative to the TNT 600i with additional features.

Visually, the Benelli SRK 600 is up there with contemporary street fighters with a sporty headlamp, complete with aerodynamic cowl. The new motorcycle also features edgy fuel tank with sharp extensions and a stubby cantilevered tailpiece with contoured seat and a minimal taillight.

As far as the hardware is concerned, the Benelli SRK 600 appears to inherit its TNT sibling’s components. The new street fighter is underpinned by a trellis frame which is supported by a sturdy inverted telescopic front fork and an eccentrically mounted rear monoshock. The alloy swingarm also looks pretty similar to the unit seen on the new TNT 600i. The 17-inch alloy wheels, thick rubber, twin front discs and a single rear disc are also identical to those of the TNT.

The four down-tubes confirm that the 600 cc inline-four cylinder engine has been carried forward as well. On board the 2020 Benelli TNT 600i, the sweet sounding motor produces 81.6 hp and 51 Nm of torque. Transmission is a 6-speed unit. Considering that the SRK 600 will be positioned above the TNT 600i, we expect the motor to dish out a slightly higher power output. The SRK ditches the underbelly exhaust for a short canister which terminates just below the swing arm.

From the spyshots, we can also observe that the Benelli SRK 600 is equipped with color TFT instrument panel, a flat handlebar, alloy brake and clutch levers. We expect the sportsbike to offer riding modes and a few electronic systems like multi-stage traction control and ABS.

The Benelli SRK 600 is expected to make its world premiere at EICMA 2020 in November provided the even is not cancelled. We expect the motorcycle to make it to India a few months later. Benelli’s immediate focus in India after this lockdown period would be to upgrade its existing portfolio to BS6 emission standards before ushering in new products.

Harley-Davidson appoints Jochen Zeitz as President & CEO: New plan to redefine brand

By | General Posts

by Rahul Kapoor from https://www.financialexpress.com

With Matt Levatich stepping down, Harley Davidson had appointed Jochen Zeitz to lead the brand in the interim. But Zeitz has now been appointed as the president and CEO for the Milwaukee based motorcycle manufacturer.

Harley-Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle brand has elevated interim President and CEO Jochen Zeitz as the new President and CEO of the company. Zeitz was appointed into the interim position after the former head of the brand Matt Levatich stepped down after a dismal sales performance of the brand that it witnessed in recent years. Zeitz who is currently the chairman of the board of Harley-Davidson brings his experience as the CEO of the sports apparel and goods brand Puma to the role. He also has plans to restructure the company and also redefine Harley Davidson.

In a press statement, Zeitz said “Over the next few months, we will re-wire the business and redefine a new 5-year strategic plan later this year. I will then oversee the implementation of these changes and re-ignite Harley-Davidson as one of the most revered and iconic brands in the world,”

Zeitz is working towards an all-new brand strategy called “The Rewire” that would allow Harley-Davidson to enter new markets and segments as well. The plan is said to develop further in the coming months which will incorporate key products, and initiatives from the current ongoing strategy for the brand, but with a key focus on markets and products that can help drive profits and growth.

Harley-Davidson has found the last few years to be difficult in terms of unit sales. This has been more prominent in its home market – the USA as the modern consumers have moved away from heavyweight cruisers to adventure touring models or ADVs. Zeitz has been on the board of directors of the Harley-Davidson since 2007 and has served as the chairman and CEO of Puma from 1993 to 2011, and CFO from 1993 to 2005.

Get Up Close and Personal with the Uber-Fast Ducati Superleggera V4

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

At the begininng of the year, Italian bike maker Ducati announced the launch of yet another racing-derived motorcycle, the Superleggera V4, the “most powerful and technologically advanced production Ducati ever built.”

Planned as a limited production run of 500 units, the new model is waiting for the production lines to start rolling at full speed after the closures dictated by the health crisis. To keep us entertained until that happens, Ducati released this week a short video showing in HD detail some of the parts that go into the V4.

The new video is part of the series Ducati started a few months ago (all available below this text) detailing the incredible machine. This time, the little over one minute clip gives us a closer look at the bike parts made from titanium, magnesium and carbon fiber, from the wheel rims to the Akrapovi exhaust system.

Superleggera V4 is an evolution of the Panigale V4. It packs a 998 cm3 Desmosedici Stradale R engine good for 224 hp in road-legal configuration, but there is also the option of adding a special racing kit that increases that power to 234 hp.

During testing at the Mugello circuit in in Italy, the bike managed to complete the course in 1:52:45 minutes. That’s remarkably fast for a road legal bike, and just a couple of seconds shy of the time achieved on the same track by the Panigale V4 R SBK, a race bike that won the 2019 Italian Motorspeed Championship.

Owning the new Superleggera V4 will be an experience in itself. Each of the 500 people to buy them will receive special engine calibration for the racing exhaust, a RaceGP display (similar to the one on the Desmosedici GP20), a Brembo braking system, and to top them all off a premium leather suit with integrated air-bag and a carbon fiber helmet.

Separately, customers will also get the chance to test the factory Panigale V4 R seen on the circuits of the Superbike World Championship and the Desmosedici GP20

 

Weekly Dimebag Chopper Feature

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Dedicated to our friend Goodtime Charlie on Bikernet.com

by Adam Croft

Adam Croft was kind enough to send us this very tough looking classic chopper built by Dan Starkey & Friends. Every custom aspect reminds us of open roads and the freedom to build something super cool for the summer ahead.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FEATURE ON BIKERNET

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Aprilia RS660 Supersport spotted testing undisguised

By | General Posts

by Pradeep Shah from https://www.financialexpress.com

Aprilia RS660 will soon be making an official entry to the markets soon and the latest spy shot reveals a lot of interesting details

Aprilia’s middleweight supersport – the RS660 has been snapped testing doing test runs, image courtesy Aprilia Forum. What is even more interesting is the fact that the middleweight Aprilia was snapped alongside a Honda CBR650R, possibly due to performance comparison and some other aspects. The RS660 test mule that has been snapped looks production-ready and can be seen devoid of any camouflage on the body. The bike can be seen with well-finished body panels. As there is no test equipment mounted on the motorcycle, this further confirms that the bike is ready to enter production soon. The global debut of the Aprilia RS660 was earlier slated to take place on 9th May but the same has now been postponed with the Covid-19 crisis.

At the 2019 EICMA, the Aprilia RS660 concept was showcased for the first time which left a lot of visitors awestruck. This is all thanks to an impressive design language including the all-LED headlamp cluster upfront with sporty looking LED DRLs that should make the bike looks majestic and predatory in the dark. Moreover, what makes the RS660 quite interesting and worth waiting is its low kerb weight of just 169 kg and hence, one can expect an exciting power-to-weight ratio which should make it a great weapon for the racetracks. Now coming to the powertrain, the Aprilia RS660 is powered by a 660cc, parallel-twin motor that is good for producing a peak power output in the region of 100hp.

The bike also gets an impressive electronics package that includes a six-axis IMU along with wheelie control, traction control, quick shifter and five riding modes as well. India launch of the Aprilia RS660 is most likely and that should take place soon after its global debut. The RS660 is seeming a worthy middleweight supersport and in the current scenario, it will lock horns against the likes of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R in the segment. Also, can you see it as something that can be a worthy alternative to the highly-respected Triumph Daytona? Well, only time will tell.

2020 Suzuki GSX-R150 unveiled in Taiwan with new colours

By | General Posts

by Abhinand Venugopal from https://www.rushlane.com

Suzuki Motorcycle has updated the GSX-R150 single-cylinder faired motorcycle for the Taiwanese market. The 2020MY Suzuki GSX-R150 remains mechanically similar to its previous version but receives new colour schemes. The entry-level sports motorcycle is popular in many South Asian markets. It may never come to India as our market has already got the Suzuki Gixxer and Gixxer SF models as compelling alternatives.

If it were indeed available here, the GSX-R150 would have directly locked horns with Yamaha Motor India’s YZF-R15 V3.0. Its output is slightly higher than that of the Yamaha but if there was a beauty contest, the R15 would surely annihilate the GSX-R150. Either motorcycle is somewhat at the same level when it comes to equipment.

The 2020 Suzuki GSX-R150 continues to have conventional telescopic forks alongside a preload-adjustable monoshock from Showa. It rides on 90/80 (F) and 130/70 (R) section tyres shod on 17-inch wheels. Braking duties are carried out by 290mm front and 187mm rear discs, with dual-channel ABS. The sports motorcycle weighs 136kg and its seat height touches 785mm.

As mentioned before, the changes are limited to colour choices. It gets four new paint schemes: Yellow/Black, Red/Black, Black and Suzuki’s iconic Silver/Triton Blue MotoGP livery. The 147.3cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine makes 18.9bhp @ 10,500rpm and 14Nm @ 9,000rpm.

On the other hand, the Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 (now in BS6 format) employs a 155.1cc liquid-cooled motor good for 18.3bhp @ 10,000rpm and 14.1Nm @ 8,500rpm. Both motorcycles are mated to a 6-speed transmission but the Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 boasts of a slipper clutch.

Suzuki Motorcycle India has already updated the Gixxer and Gixxer SF to BS6 specifications at an ex-showroom price of Rs 1.12 lakh and 1.22 lakh, respectively. The motorcycles are powered by a 155cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine that makes 13.4bhp @ 8,000rpm and 13.8Nm @ 6,000rpm. This is mated to a 5-speed transmission. The Suzuki Gixxer SF is more of a sports commuter while the GSX-R150 is a decent starter motorcycle in the sports category.

The Japanese two-wheeler manufacturer has updated most of its products to BS6 norms and is gradually doing the same in the premium segment. As a start, it will be launching the V-Strom 650 XT BS6 adventure tourer on the market soon. India’s automotive industry is not going through the best of times due to COVID-19 and experts predict that buying a vehicle after the ongoing lockdown would be a completely different experience.

Curtiss Hades Electric Motorcycle Looks Amazing

By | General Posts

by Mihnea Radu from https://www.autoevolution.com

We hate regular concept art sometimes – here’s a nice rendering we did and a press release, now give us some money. However, Curtiss Motorcycle Co. has just built a prototype for its electric bike and it’s even more amazing than its sketches.

Seriously, just look at this thing! Look at it, and then scroll to the end of the photo gallery to see the 3D model. The final destination is obviously building a bike that hasn’t existed before, purely electric and looking cool.

Curtiss used to be known as Confederate Motorcycles but in 2017 decided to go all-electric and re-brand itself. Since then, they’ve basically just shown prototypes and concepts.

The Hades promises to be different. It’s being introduced with some amazing specs. The electric motor is supposed to produce something like 215 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque (200 Nm). It’s mounted coaxially with the rear swingarm and drives the rear wheel via a belt.

The battery itself is mounted in that weird rocket-like enclosure under the frame. The rose gold coating is what really sets this apart from other bikes.

The battery is a 399 VDC pack with capacity having been quoted at 16.8 kWh, which would give it a higher capacity than the largest standard battery offering in the Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire (15.5 kWh).

The “prototype” part of what we see here is probably the frame. Based on the concept, it’s probably going to get a carbon fiber chassis for lightness. Sounds exotic, but then this is supposed to be a $75,000+ bike. That sounds like a lot of money compared to the LiveWire, but plenty of people are willing to pay extra for custom fabrication. To their credit, Curtis are reportedly also working on a cheaper version.

If it were our money, we’d skip that funky front end, just have some normal forks and save a few bucks.

Norton Motorcycles ‘will be restored to its former glory’

By | General Posts

from https://www.dailymail.co.uk

New owner set to invest tens of millions of pounds

Norton Motorcycles’ new owner has pledged to double its workforce and launch more products.

India’s TVS Motor, which bought the British brand out of administration for £16million earlier this month, is reportedly set to invest tens of millions of pounds in the luxury motorbike maker in a bid to revive its fortunes.

Sudarshan Venu, TVS’ joint managing director, said 122-year-old Norton, whose bikes have been ridden by Che Guevara and Clint Eastwood, had ‘tremendous potential’.

He said production at its Donington Park site in Derby would be restarted to fulfil outstanding customer orders, but that Norton would require a newer, larger factory within six months to begin its expansion plans.

TVS, India’s third-largest motorbike maker, said it planned to run Norton at arms-length. John Russell, former boss of Harley Davidson, has been named interim chief executive.

Venu said: ‘Norton is an iconic brand.

‘We want to restore it to its former glories, produce the excellent products that it has and delight its loyal fan base.’