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Ducati resumes motorcycle production at Bologna plant in Italy

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

Production at Ducati’s Bologna factory been reorganized. From an eight-hour shift, the working shifts have been converted to two seven-hour shifts in order to allow a minimum number of people.

Premium bike maker Ducati has announced a steady resumption of production at its Borgo Panigale factory in Bologna, Italy starting today. With the Covid-19 outbreak, the Italian superbike manufacturer had temporarily suspended production at the said plant on 13th March to reorganize production schedules. The company said in a press statement that the gradual improvement in health conditions has allowed the government to enable companies, whose activity is primarily aimed at exports and for firms for which prolongation of the suspension would risk losing the country additional market shares, to resume production.

Ducati says that masks will be mandatory for everyone working inside the factory, regardless of the social distancing. Ducati says that it will be an extremely difficult year but starting up again is still a beginning. The company says that it has a lot of orders for the Streetfighter V4, Multistrada GT and the Panigale V2. The brand adds that the first phase of return will only involve a portion of workers that work on the production lines. The workshop staff will begin first followed by engine assembly workers and starting tomorrow, motorcycle assembly workers will begin working.

The brand also says that the use of smart working will remain mandatory for the employees and only for those who are not in a position to carry out their work from home will be allowed to enter the factory. That said, all resources employed in the commercial, marketing, IT, personnel management, finance, purchasing and logistics areas will be working remotely. Ducati has announced that the production at its Bologna factory been reorganized. From an eight-hour shift, the working shifts have been converted to two seven-hour shifts in order to allow a minimum number of people to be inside the plant at the same time.

Moreover, the canteen will also be active but only with one seat for every four chairs. Ducati says that the technicians that are engaged in R&D activities who cannot do their work from home were already at work as allowed by the specific ATECO code. That said, the engineers of the engine test rooms along with those who carry out motorcycle tests and employees who carry out laboratory testing are all present at Borgo Panigale. The company claims that the delivery of Ducati motorcycles along with the development of new products is very much in place as all designers, project managers, and those in the calculation department will be working remotely.

Laconia Motorcycle Week mulls August back-up date due to COVID-19

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by Paula Tracy from https://www.seacoastonline.com

LACONIA – On Monday night, Laconia City Councilors will be asked to approve the 97th Progressive Laconia Motorcycle Week for Aug. 22-30 if it cannot be held June 13-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charlie St. Clair, executive director for the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said he is hopeful the request will be approved.

“It’s too important an economic event for it to be canceled,” said St. Clair, who is also a Democratic state legislator.

He said if the rally is postponed until August and the pandemic is not greatly improved in summer, he would look to find a date and hold it into the fall.

“We would not expect the numbers to be what they normally are,” he said, estimating 300,000. “But who knows, maybe everyone will be chomping at the bit.”

Gov. Chris Sununu is in the driver’s seat ultimately. He is concerned about health and safety as well as the economic consequences. Sununu said this week he wants to hold out as long as possible before deciding. He has held out, as well, on closing or modifying the use of campgrounds, which many bike week enthusiasts rent out from across the country, along with hotels, motels and house rentals.

The visitors would require, gas, groceries, and restaurants, which currently allow for only take-out under the emergency orders due to the pandemic.

Sununu said he spoke with Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer and discussed the matter on Thursday.

Laconia Bike Week is the oldest and third largest motorcycle rally in the nation. The largest is in Sturgis, South Dakota, Aug. 7-16. The Sturgis City Council will vote June 15 on whether to hold the rally this year.

Lake George, New York, which holds a motorcycle event the week before Laconia Bike Week, has decided to push the event into July this year due to the coronavirus.

Enthusiasts annually come to the rally from across New England, the New York, New Jersey metro areas and Quebec and other parts of Canada. The border is closed until at least the end of May and if that is extended, that would be another setback for Bike Week in June, St. Clair observed.

Riders and enthusiasts come to socialize, see each other’s motorcycles, attend competitions, tour the various regions, attend concerts and outdoor parties. The epicenter is always Weirs Beach where the chrome lines up bike to bike along the boardwalk and there is a virtual tent city that pops up selling anything and everything a biker might want.

But the world has dramatically changed due to the pandemic, which has killed more than 50 and sickened more than 1,600 in New Hampshire alone.

The Laconia Motorcycle Week Association Board of Directors held a teleconference meeting March 26 and decided it would make the call to postpone no later than April 30.

St. Clair wrote to have the event would be “a huge boost for the morale of not just motorcycle enthusiasts but everyone in the region.

“Not only that, but we have also all been cooped up inside for well over a month,” he added. “What better way to tell the world we’re returning to normal when we hear the familiar June roar of motorcycles returning to Weirs Beach?”

Wary of public transport, coronavirus-hit Americans turn to bikes

By General Posts

from https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a surge in bike sales across the United States, according to a major manufacturer and a half dozen retailers interviewed by Reuters.

“I’m 51 and healthy, but I don’t want to get on the subway,” said John Donohue, a Brooklyn-based artist who bought a bike two weeks ago. Donohue, who doesn’t own a car, says he’s not sure when he’ll be comfortable on mass transit again.

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a surge in bike sales across the United States, according to a major manufacturer and a half dozen retailers interviewed by Reuters.

Many of the purchases are by people looking for a way to get outside at a time of sweeping shutdowns and stay-at-home orders aimed at containing the virus: Even the worst affected states are allowing people out to exercise.

Still, a portion of the sales, especially in urban areas, are to people like Donohue who also want to avoid the risk of contagion on buses or subways.

He plans to use his new 24-gear hybrid for journeys such as regular visits to a printing shop across town that he normally travels to by subway. A key feature, he said, was the bright red panniers he added to carry his artwork.

To be sure, bikes remain well down the list of U.S. commuting preferences.

About 870,000 Americans, on average, commuted to work by bicycle in the five years through 2017, or about 0.6% of all workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate was higher in urban areas, at about 1.1%, and about 20 cities with at least 60,000 residents had rates of about 5% or more.

A more recent survey, though, showed a higher percentage of U.S. workers using a bike to get to work. Private research firm Statista Inc.’s 2019 survey showed 5% rode their own bike, while another 1% used a bike share service, an increasingly common option in larger cities.

Running Out Of Stock

The government has declared bicycles an essential transportation item, so many bike shops remain open despite the widespread business shutdown. Many, though, have modified how they operate, no longer letting buyers test bikes and handing them over on the curb rather than inside the store.

According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, roughly three-quarters of U.S. bike sales are through big box stores. While many of the outlets of large specialty sporting goods chains are closed, general merchandisers like WalMart Stores Inc, the largest seller of bikes, remain open. Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.

Kent International Inc., which imports bikes from China and also makes them at a plant in South Carolina, said sales of its low-priced bikes had surged over the past month.

Kent is already out of stock on five of its top 20 models and expects that to rise to 10 by the end of the month, chief executive and chairman Arnold Kamler said. He noted supplies were flowing in from China, which has reopened much of its manufacturing base over the past month.

Kamler said sales at most of the major retailers he supplies were up 30% last month and are up over 50% so far in April, with the surge in demand forcing him to change shipping arrangements.

He normally imports bikes to ports on both the East and West Coasts. But with many retailers asking for more bikes, he’s now directing all shipments into West Coast ports, then transporting them across the country. That adds to freight costs, he said, but can cut weeks off delivery times.

Low Prices

Mark Vautour, who manages a bike store near the Boston University campus, said he had sold bikes to anxious commuters – including at least one medical worker who wanted an alternative to using the subway.

“We’ve joked for years that trains are like a petri dish,” Vautour said.

Mostly, though, his sales have been children’s bikes, “because parents don’t know what to do with their kids.”

One indication that people are buying bikes for more utilitarian uses like commuting is that many of the purchases are low-priced bikes, several bike retailers said.

Joe Nocella, owner of 718 Cyclery & Outdoors in Brooklyn, said his normal “sweet spot” was bikes that sell for $1,500 to $2,000, used by city dwellers for touring.

“Now the average bike has turned to $500 to $800,” he said.

Those lower prices are one reason many bike retailers are struggling, despite strong sales.

Andrew Crooks, chief executive of NYC Velo, a three-store chain in the New York area, said the drop in average selling prices meant revenues had fallen at a time when he was still paying rents, salaries and other costs.

“So we could keep our doors open and still end up with a business that’s not viable,” he said.

Still, some new buyers say they are switching to bikes for the long term.

Having been stuck at home in Baltimore, Kaitlyn Lee bought a $550 bike this weekend so she could get outdoors safely and avoid public transport when she gets a job.

Lee will finish a graduate degree in public health at the University of Maryland this spring and has applied for jobs at the Centers for Disease Control and the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Her plan is to commute by bike to a future job, if possible.

“I mean, it’ll never completely vanish,” she said of the coronavirus. “Rather we will learn how to live alongside of it, just like with other viruses.”

Harley-Davidson lays off staff, cuts salaries, amid coronavirus outbreak

By General Posts

from https://www.reuters.com

April 15 (Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc said on Wednesday it had temporarily laid off most of its global production employees and implemented salary cuts in a bid to lower costs as the coronavirus pandemic has hurt its business.

The announcement comes weeks after the motorcycle maker withdrew its earnings forecast for this year, saying pandemic-induced disruptions could dent its ability to supply and sell motorcycles.

Harley’s shares were down 6.9% at $18.02 in afternoon trading.

As part of the cost cuts, its chief executive officer and board of directors will forgo their salaries, the company said, though it didn’t say for how long.

Salaries of the executive leadership would be cut by 30%, while most other salaried employees would see a reduction of between 10%-20% in their paychecks.

Outside the United States, it will take similar actions.

Harley said salary reductions will be reassessed at the end of the second quarter.

The company said it will also not hand out merit increases for 2020 and will freeze hiring. (Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Is It Safe To Ride My Motorcycle During The Outbreak?

By General Posts

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

The fun type of social distancing.

UPDATE: Note that there could be lockdowns and “stay at home” orders in your city or your state as the situation evolves and we don’t recommend you overlook them because “riding is seemingly safe”. We’re not your mom, but we recommend you follow your local authorities’ recommendations.

Some readers also pointed out that I didn’t discuss about the possibility of crashes since the question was focused on the virus but I thought it was a good point to touch on. Going for a ride has its risks, whether it’s coming in contact with the virus or getting into a crash. The streets are quieter but it doesn’t mean there’s no risk of making a mistake or of being hit by someone.

Remember that medical facilities and staff are strained at the moment. While riding is relatively safe from a contagion perspective, there’s still the usual risk of an incident that could require you go to the hospital—and this is not a good time to go to the hospital. Keep that in mind.

As we wrote already, the better we cooperate, the smarter we go about this,the sooner we’ll get to go back out there without restrictions. Stay safe everyone!

Is it safe to ride during this outbreak? Are my full-face helmet, gloves, and other apparel able to protect me? Are motorcycle riders risk-free? Just question to exercise our riding knowledge. – Ancarlos

Hi Ancarlos! Thank you for asking your question, I’m pretty sure you’re not the only one wondering about that. Please note, however, that though we like to think we know a lot of things at RideApart, we’re also not doctors. If you have any real concerns or are considered a potentially vulnerable patient, asking someone who is an actual doctor is the one way you’ll get reliable answers. This goes for anyone reading this.

I can, however, give you a few pointers. As “social distancing” is on target to become Merriam-Webster’s 2020 term of the year, riding a motorcycle checks a lot of those “distancing” boxes. See, the great thing about riding a motorcycle is that you get to do it alone and it isolates you in a certain way—provided you don’t head out in a group. After all, everyone else around you is over six feet away, right?

The riding itself doesn’t technically pose a problem but the small things we do when we get on and off the saddle might. Where riding a bike might present a risk of exposure is when you stop in crowded places like at a gas station or in coffee shops, for example. Fuel nozzles are pretty nasty, to begin with, and considering the current situation, they could be carriers for the bug.

Consider bringing a few cleaning wipes or a pair of disposable gloves, just in case you need to fuel up. Even a plastic bag to handle the nozzle is a good alternative to putting your hand directly on it. Once you’re done, be extra safe and wash your hands.

If you do end up using your riding gloves to pick up the nozzle, keep in mind that certain sources suggest that the virus can stay on soft surfaces like clothes (and gear) and its lifespan on different surfaces and materials has yet to be confirmed. If your riding gloves have been in contact with a potentially infected surface, avoid touching your face with them—including that pesky itchy nose!—and throw your gloves in the washer once you’re home. If the gloves are made of leather, you can find a few easy tips to disinfect your leather safely online.

Medical Grade Gear?

To answer your question about gear, keep in mind that motorcycle gear isn’t made from medical grade materials. It’s designed to protect us from bad falls and impacts, not from microscopic bugs. So no, I won’t say that your gear will protect you from the novel coronavirus. It creates a barrier against the elements, that’s true, but it’s permeable, so don’t think that you become invincible by wearing a motorcycle helmet and a jacket.

If you avoid crowds and enjoy the ride by staying on your bike, then you are following the social distancing recommendations. So in summary, yes, riding a motorcycle should be safe—just remember that, as with any form of outing at the moment, there’s never a 100-percent guarantee that you won’t get in contact with the bug. The smarter you go about this, the lower the risks.

You can check out the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations and updates on the situation here. If you present any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who presents them or who has recently traveled, then postpone your ride for a while (14-day self-isolation recommended) for your own benefit and everyone else’s. It’s a small price to pay to make sure a normal riding season (and life) resumes sooner rather than later.

Coronavirus Delays Voxan Motors’ Electric Motorcycle Speed Record Attempt

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by Sebastian Blanco from https://www.forbes.com/

It’s a specific category, but the Venturi Group’s Voxan Motors is working to create the fastest electric motorcycle in the world. Well, the fastest electric motorcycle “propelled by the action of one wheel in contact with the ground, partially streamlined, under 300 kg,” according to the team website.

That specific record is currently held by Jim Hoogerhyde, who rode a Lightning SB220 electric bike to 203.566 mph in 2013, according to Jalopnik. Voxan has set a target of 205 mph for its attempt but the date of the record attempt has been pushed back.

The new world speed record attempt was supposed to happen in July 2020 at the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia, but that has been indefinitely postponed due to the cornoavirus. The Venturi Group, which is based in Monaco, issued a statement today saying that it is following the health directives issued by the Monegasque Government and that: “The development teams responsible for the Voxan Wattman motorcycle, which has just completed its initial on-track testing, are now confined to their homes.” Without being able to get together to work on the bike, the team can’t fine-tune the machine on-track, leading to the postponement.

“The health and safety of my teams is paramount. In view of the current health crisis, I have put in place the necessary measures. All of my staff, whether they are attached to Venturi North America (Columbus, Ohio) or to the headquarters in Monaco, are now working from home,” said Gildo Pastor, president of Venturi Group, in a statement. “We will establish a new calendar of operations as soon as the health situation allows it, and announce the new operational arrangements for this project, which is very important to me personally.”

The bike Voxan was (is) going to use to try and set the new speed record is a tweaked version of its Wattman, originally introduced in 2013. The normal Wattman bike is capable of accelerating from zero to 62 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds thanks to its 203-horsepower all-electric powertrain that produces 147.5 pound-feet of torque. Voxan’s high-performance version of the Wattman has been upgraded to produce 367 horsepower in order to hit that 205 mile-per-hour target.

The Venturi Group acquired Voxan in 2010 and shifted the brand’s focus to use electric motors. Both versions of the Wattman (on-road and high-performance) were designed by Venturi’s long-serving lead designer, Sacha Lakic.

The speed record attempt, whenever it happens, is likely to still be driven by Max Biaggi, a two-time World Superbike champion (2010 and 2012). He officially retired from racing in 2012, but has raced a few times since then.