Tag Archives: Motorbikes

Honda patent suggests electric Fireblade

The latest patent application drawings from Honda seem to indicate the Japanese company is planning an electric Fireblade.

But don’t get too excited or outraged yet!

Most traditional motorcycle manufacturers have toyed with the idea of electric motorcycles for years.

Some have produced electric scooters, mobility scooters, trials bikes and trail bikes.

However, none has yet come to the market with a full-sized electric motorcycle, except for Harley’s LiveWire.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycleHarley LiveWire

Honda also filed has an extraordinary number of patent applications in the past couple of years.

None of these has yet come to the market either.

Honda patent blitz

Honda Goldwing GL1800 airbag radicalsHonda’s scooter airbag

Electric Fireblade

We wouldn’t bet on an electric Fireblade, unless they are planning on taking over the supply of race bikes from Energica for the FIM Moto-e World Cup.

Honda’s electric plans seem more tailored to scooters, mobility scooters and small commuter bikes.

Also, the use of the Fireblade outline in the drawings could simply be artist expediency as several other patent application drawings have included Fireblade outlines.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Ducati debut Scrambler 1100 Pros

As tipped last week, Ducati has debuted two new Scrambler 1100 Pros that finally dispense with the ugly looping brake cable.

There are two models, the Sport having fully adjustable Öhlins suspension. (Full tech specs at the end of the article.)

Here they are in action in Miami. (We’re a bit concerned the female’s ride doesn’t have the Öhlins setup!)

New Pros

The neater cabling on the Pros is a welcome addition as is the Icon-style short rear fender and remote mudguard/plate holder.

Flagship 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100Current 1100 Scrambler with looping cable

That looping cable was originally designed to be reminiscent of their original 1970s Scrambler 450 with high and wide off-road bars.

1972 Ducati Scrambler 450 museum1972 Ducati Scrambler 450

Now, the bars are black, narrower and shorter, with the Sport edition getting low-slung flat bars and Café Racer-style bar-end mirrors.

The other major change is the twin-stacked right-side mufflers. We can see the Sport edition up close and it looks great with a brushed titanium-look finish.

Ducati debut Scrambler 1100 ProsSport cans

We don’t get a close-up look at the 1100 Pro cans which seem to have an aluminium finish.

Scrambler 1100 Pro comes in two-tone “Ocean Drive” (silver with an orange pinstripe) and black steel trellis frame and rear aluminium subframe.

Scrambler 1100 Sport Pro features matt black paint with black gloss “1100” on the tank.Ducati debut Scrambler 1100 Pros

LCD instruments and other details, dimensions and tech secs seem to be the same as the current 1100 models.

The bikes will be available at the end of March in most markets and “very late in the year” in Australia with pricing released closer to the date.

Current 1100 Scrambler prices range from $19,790 to $22,990 for the Sport edition with Öhlins suspension.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 Pro and Sport ProDucati debut Scrambler 1100 Pros

Engine: Engine: 1079cc, L-Twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled
Bore x stroke: 98 x 71 mm
Compression: 11:01
Power: 63kW (86hp) @ 7500rpm
Torque: 88Nm (65lb ft) @ 4750rpm
Economy: 5.2 l/100km
Emissions: CO2 120g/km
Transmission: 6-speed, wet clutch
Sport suspension: Öhlins fully adjustable 48mm USD fork; Öhlins monoshock, pre-load and rebound adjustable
Standard suspension: Marzocchi fully adjustable 45mm USD fork; Kayaba mono shock preload and rebound adjustable
Wheels: 10-spoke alloy, 3.50″ x 18”; 5.50″ x 17”
Brakes: 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc M4.32 callipers, 4-piston, axial pump; 245mm disc, 1-piston floating calliper; Bosch Cornering ABS
Wheelbase: 1514mm (59.6in)
Rake/trail: 24°.5/111mm (4.4in)
Total steering lock: 33°
Fuel: 15 litres (3.96 US gal)
Dry weight: 189kg (417lb)
Wet weight: 206kg (454lb)
Seat: 810mm (31.9”)
Length: 2190mm (86”)
Height: 1330mm (52.4”)
Width: 895mm (35.2”)
Wheelbase: 1514mm (59.6”)
Standard equipment: Riding Modes, Power Mode, Ducati Safety Pack (Cornering ABS + DTC), RbW, LED light-guide, LED rear light with diffusion-light, LCD instruments with gear and fuel level indications, Steel tank with interchangeable aluminium side panels, Machine-finished aluminium belt covers, Under-seat storage compartment with USB socket
Warranty: 24 months unlimited mileage
Service and valve check: 12,000km (7500mi)/12 months

Ducati debut Scrambler 1100 Pros

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Triumph and Bajaj to build small bikes

Triumph Motorcycles has finally signed a deal with Bajaj Auto India to build small-capacity bikes in India after more than five years of negotiation.

The British manufacturer announced the deal in 2017 but has only now formally commenced their “exciting, long term, non-equity partnership” in Pune, India.

Triumph joins other motorcycle manufacturers as diverse as BMW and Harley-Davidson to make bikes in India for the world.

There is no word yet on when these small-capacity bikes from 200-750cc will come to Australia.

Bajaj Auto Dominar 400Bajaj Auto Dominar 400

We don’t believe it would dent the perceived value of the brand since they have been making most of their bikes in neighbouring Thailand for several years now.

In fact, it should help keep a lid on prices and give Triumph more much-needed learner-approved motorcycles. Currently their only LAMS bike is the Street Triple S 660.

Official statementTriumph Bonneville 900 Street Scrambler

Here is the official statement form the two companies on the launch of the deal:

This is a unique moment, where two world-class companies that are passionate, as well as product focused, are coming together to build a brand new range of mid-capacity motorcycles.

The partnership will see the two companies with their respective strengths in large and small capacity motorcycles collaborate to design, engineer, and manufacture a range of mid-capacity motorcycles.

The iconic Triumph brand will seek to further expand its global reach, with the partnership offering a new mid-sized sector opportunity and, importantly, a new entry point to several high-volume emerging markets, including India and other Asian markets.

The strategic partnership will benefit both parties with Bajaj becoming one of Triumph’s key distribution partners in crucial new markets for the Triumph brand around the globe.  Going forward Bajaj will take over Triumph’s Indian distribution activities, at a date yet to be confirmed, leveraging the great expertise that Bajaj has in this region. In their other key overseas markets, where Triumph is not currently present, Bajaj will represent Triumph and offer the new mid capacity bikes as part of the full Triumph line-up.  In all other markets where Triumph is present today, the motorcycles developed together from this partnership will join the current Triumph product portfolio and be distributed by the Triumph led dealer network worldwide. This will truly unlock the potential on a global scale.

The Triumph-Bajaj collaboration will combine strengths in design, technology, cost-competitive manufacturing and an intimate knowledge of key target markets to deliver a range of winning products and business success.

The partnership will build new engine and vehicle platform in the mid-capacity range (200- 750cc) and offer multiple options to address different segments in this class. The proposition will be aspirational and affordable with a targeted pricing starting under INR 2 lacs (about $A4100) in India. This will create a new entry point to the Triumph range around the world, and ensure Triumph can compete in important large segments of the global motorcycle market, and attract new customers to the brand.

Triumph Motorcycles CEO, Nick Bloor, said: “This is an important partnership for Triumph and I am delighted that it has now formally commenced.  As well as taking our brand into crucial new territories, the products that will come out of the partnership will also help attract a younger, but still discerning, customer audience and is another step in our ambitions to expand globally, particularly in the fast-growing markets of South East Asia, but also driving growth in more mature territories like Europe.”

Bajaj Auto Dominar 400Bajaj Auto Dominar 400

Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj Auto India, said: “The Triumph brand is an iconic one the world over. So, we are confident that there will be a huge appetite in India and other emerging markets for these new products. We look forward to working alongside such a famous motorcycle company and to leveraging each other’s strengths and expertise to make the relationship a success for everyone.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Video hints at Ducati Scrambler 1100 Pro

Ducati could be launching a Scrambler 1100 Pro and possibly a Scrambler 1100 Pro Sport in Miami on Monday (27 January 2020), judging by this video.

The video is not on the official Ducati or Scrambler Ducati YouTube channels, so we’re not sure of its veracity.

However, late last year, Ducati filed documents with the US emissions agency for a “Scrambler 1100 Pro” and “Scrambler 1100 Pro Sport” with the same 1079cc, L-twin motor with 62kW and 88Nm.

These were expected to be released when the Italian company unveiled its blitz of 2020 models in October, but the only new Scrambler was the Icon Dark.

Ducati Scrambler Icon DarkIcon Dark

However, they did also unveil two artist impressions for a Motard 803cc version and a Desert X with Dakar Rally styling and powered by the 1100cc engine.

Last week, Ducati announced its 2019 sales figures and ended with the vague announcement that they would add another Scrambler model to its fleet “in the coming months”.

That signified only one model and as much as many would like to see the Desert X, the video seems to suggest it will be the Scrambler 1100 Pro.

However, the video ends with “JUST PROs” which indicates two models.

We see one model with gold Ohlins forks as in the main photo at the top of this article and likely an Ohlins rear shock.

Ducati already has a Scrambler 1100 Sport model with Ohlins suspension.

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport highlight venom blitzScrambler 1100 Sport

However, in one frame we notice a second bike which has standard black forks, so there could be two models.Video hints at Ducati Scrambler 1100 Pro

We also notice early on in two other shots what appear to be hydraulic cables coming from the tops of the Ohlins forks, so it could have electronic suspension adjustment.

Meanwhile, we can see that the throttle, clutch and brake cables have been tidied up!

It is interesting that the video dwells on the gear shifter for a few seconds. Could it also have a quickshifter?

Video hints at Ducati Scrambler 1100 ProQuickshifter?

The only other changes we can see is a possible carbon-fibre front guard on the Ohlins-equipped model and double exhausts mounted high on the right rather than either side under the seat.

Video hints at Ducati Scrambler 1100 ProUgly double “soda cans”!

Unfortunately, Ducati persist with ugly “aluminium soft drink can” mufflers, probably because most people swap them for aftermarket models such as Termignonis.

Maybe the Scrambler aficionados can spot more changes from the current Scrambler 1100s.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Triumph Alpine and Desert Explorers ahead of update

Triumph Motorcycles has added two special-edition models to its Tiger 1200 line-up – Desert and Alpine – indicating a major change in the range for next year.

It’s been a long time since the 1200 model had major changes, especially in the engine and it is now lagging behind models such as the BMW R 1250 GS, Ducati Multistrada 1260 and KTM 1290 Adventure.

For a start we expect a bigger capacity just as Triumph did when it went from the Tiger 800 to Tiger 900 models.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally ProTiger 900 GT Pro and Rally Pro

Over the past few years, Triumph has dropped the “Explorer” tag from the Tiger 1200 name, updated the electronics and ergos, and reduced weight about 10kg, but the price also shot up by as much as $2600.

And just as the Tiger 900 dropped the confusing model names (XRx, XCx, XRt, XCa) for the more simply Rally and GT, we expect the same will happen when the big Tiger is upgraded.

Alpine and Desert models

New Triumph Explorers ahead of update Desert AlpineTiger 1200 Desert Edition.

But back to the new limited-edition models which will see out the last of the 1200 models.

Triumph says the  edition is “inspired by epic adventures taken across the most inhospitable deserts in the world, from the Sahara, to the Kalahari and beyond”.

The Alpine is “inspired by the epic alpine adventures riders have made across one of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountain ranges in the whole world”.

New Triumph Explorers ahead of update AlpineTiger 1200 Alpine Edition.

Ok, enough of the hyperbole!

They are based on the XRx and XCx models, but with an Arrow titanium exhaust, an up/down quick shifter, plus special paint, badges and graphics.New Triumph Explorers ahead of update

There is no word from Triumph Motorcycles Australia on when they will arrive or the price, but we can expect another hike, although less than the cost of fitting the extra gear.

Expect to pay about $1000 more than the current prices of $24,200 (XRx) and $25,600 (XCx).

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Ducati V4 Superleggera has super power

Ducati’s planned V4 Superleggera is expected to be one of the world’s most powerful street-legal super bikes with 167kW (224hp) at 15,250 revs.

Throw on the optional Akrapovic full racing exhaust system and power is boosted to 174kW (234bhp), even beating the supercharged Kawasaki H2 at 171kW (230hp).

That compares with the Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory at 162kW (217hp) and new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade with 160kW (212hp).

Super lightDucati V4 Superleggera super power

A leaked photo (above) and details show the largely carbon-fibre bike will weigh just 152kg which is 20kg less than the V4R, hence the term superleggera (super light).

The Superleggera’s Desmosedici Stradale R V4 engine is a big jump up from the “standard” V4 with (155kW/208hp, 124Nm) and V4S/R (top of page) with 159kW (214hp).

However, it is expected to have a super cost as well at $US100,000 (about $A145,000).

Superleggera will be produced in a limited edition of 500. We expect they will only be available here on order.

It will also feature MotoGP livery, exotic components (top-shelf Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension) with all-LED lighting.

Ducati is expected to start production in April 2020 with deliveries the following month.

Like the V4R, it will have bi-place wings plus extra winglets to increase downforce at 270km/h from 30kg to 50kg.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Electric motorcycles leave giants in lurch

Start-ups making electric motorcycles and scooters are leaving behind the giants of traditional motorcycle manufacturing, according to American motorcycle industry guru Robert Pandya.

“The motorcycling environment, technology, and customer are simply changing faster than our industry is adapting,” says Robert, a former Indian Motorcycle executive and now a senior motorcycle industry consultant.

“Sure there are exceptions, but by and large the same training methods, rider expectations and experiences have dominated the mindset, attention and sponsorship dollars of the major OEM’s (original equipment manufacturer).”

He says the start-ups and non-traditional companies are leaving the motorcycle giants in the lurch on electric motorcycles.

Robert Pandya Indian Scout giantsRobert Pandya

“Very interesting brands like CAKE, Zero and Damon (full disclosure I’m on Damon’s advisory panel) are exploring the future of riding in truly compelling ways that major brands seem to only dabble with,” he says.

Damon Hypersport electric motorcycleDamon Hypersport

“Why for instance is there not already an electric PW-50 style motorcycle from Yamaha?

“What an opportunity!

“Simple speed limiters, geo-fencing and throttle smoothing programs would be such a valuable tool for dealerships seeking to expand local ridership.

“Team Red, Yellow and Green would surely follow – only to the benefit of all of us in the community.”

Giants slow to plug in

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycleHarley-Davidson electric LiveWire in action

Harley-Davidson is the only traditional motorcycle manufacturer to bring a full-size road electric motorcycle to market.

But their LiveWire is very expensive at about $A44,000, compared with start-up producing bikes at about half the cost.

Harley also plan a host of smaller electric motorcycles and scooters as well as electric bicycles.

Harley-Davidson Scooter smallHarley electric scooter

Several other traditional motorcycle giants have talked about producing electric motorcycles but some have only produced electric scooters and off-road/trials bikes.

Meanwhile, small start-ups such as Denis Savic’s Australian Savic Motorcycles are forging ahead with full-size electric motorcycles at affordable prices.

2019 Savic electric motorcycle prototype ordersDenis Savic with Australia’s first electric motorcycle, the Savic

Global slump

The global slump in motorcycle and scooter sales has been exacerbated by the recent sales slide in China and India which is now the biggest motorcycle market in the world.

While their motorcycle growth rate has been huge in recent years, the growing middle class now seem to be aspiring more to cars than motorcycles.

In “mature motorcycle markets” where premium motorcycle brands rule, the sales figures are terrible.

Australia last year suffered its third consecutive year of sliding motorcycle/scooter/ATV sales, with the top category of road bikes alarmingly down by a third over the past four years.

It’s worse in America where road bike sales slumped 19% in the first nine months last year.

There was an increase in motorcycle sales in several European nations last year.

However, it should be noted that the increase is largely due to the huge growth of electric motorcycles and scooters, as well as e-bikes which are counted in official European motorcycle sales figures.

Claudio Domenicali and Ducati e-bikesDucati boss Claudio Domenicali introduces their e-bikes

Interestingly, the US Custom Department has declared electric bicycles are “motor cycles”.

The the line between what is a bicycle, scooter, motorcycle or e-bike is becoming more and more blurred.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Harley-Davidson goes small in 2020

The world’s most iconic big-bike manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, is thinking small for 2020 with the launch of a small-capacity motorbike in China, electric bicycles and an electric scooter.

Baby Hog

Harley-Davidson HD350Harley-Davidson HD350

Last June Harley-Davidson announced plans for a joint venture with China’s Qianjiang to produce a motorcycle under their HD350 project, indicating a 350cc engine.

However, it could be even smaller as they now call it the HD338, presumably powered by the Benelli 338cc twin-cylinder engine from the Benelli 302S as Qianjiang also owns and makes the former Italian brand of motorcycle.

The baby Hog will hit the showrooms in China in June and India by the end of the year.

There is no word on whether it will be exported to any other markets, but we suspect it will be sold throughout Asia.

Harley-Davidson Australia says they won’t be coming here.

They aren’t the only mainstream motorcycle manufacturer with small designs on China.

A month after Harley announced its HD350 plan, Italian manufacturer MV Agusta confirmed they would make 350-500cc bikes and Ducati signed away its naming rights to Chinese scooters.

Electric bicycles

Harley electric bicycles sharing subHarley electric bicycle

Electric balance bikes for kids are already available in US stores.

They will soon be joined by pedal-assisted electric bicycles for bigger kids.

rude boy bicyclesHarley e-bikes

There is no word on these products coming to Australia yet.

Electric scooter

Harley electric LiveWire ID specsHarley electric scooter concept

We saw their electric scooter concept in Portland, Oregon, last year when we attended the world launch of their LiveWire electric motorcycle.

It was the same as the concept images from last January.

However, a new image (top of page) and patent plans have emerged showing a much more developed scooter with upside down forks and a removable battery.Harley-Davidson Scooter small

A removable battery is a smart move as many electric motorcycles and scooters are now considering them for either battery-swap vending machines or so riders can take them into thier home or office to charge inside.

Comment

We applaud Harley for branching out.

However, we wonder about the economic sustainability of low-margin smaller bikes.

They would need to sell these in very high volume.

If not, then it is just draining research and development funding from their core product.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Carry electric bike battery inside to charge

One of the problems with electric motorcycles is finding somewhere to charge the battery, but a Chinese company believes the answer is in removable batteries you can carry inside to a power point for charging.

Removable batteries could be a way forward for electric motorcycles and scooters with several Japanese and Chinese companies now using or considering them.

Their idea is that they can be swapped at vending machines when they run flat.

Yamaha Gogoro battery swap electric scooterYamaha electric scooter with removable Gogoro battery

However, Shanghai scooter company Niu has unveiled their RQi scooter prototype which has removable two-piece Panasonic lithium battery packs which can be charged up on household mains outlets.

Niu RQi Carry battery inside to chargeNiu RQi portable battery

It makes a lot of sense if the battery packs are light and small enough to carry inside.

We are used to charging our phones and portable devices when we get to work or return home, so one more battery wouldn’t make much difference.

Harley-Davidson’s electric scooter concept also has a removable battery with a handle so you can carry it inside for charging.

Harley electric LiveWire ID specsHarley electric scooter

Niu don’t specific charging time, but they say the two packs would provide range of about 130km in combined city/highway riding.

The RQi scooter, unveiled at the recent Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, is powered by a 30kW mid-drive motor with a top speed of 160km/h.

Other features are TFT dash, traction control, belt drive, 5G connectivity for GPS and anti-theft tracking, and an adaptive headlight that lights up the inside of corners as used by companies such as BMW and KTM.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Honda plans airbags for smaller motorcycles

After the problems Honda had with the massive global recall of dangerous Takata airbags in their Goldwing, the company is now filing for a patent on a smaller airbag suitable for smaller bikes.

Instead of deploying in front of the rider like a big bean bag, it goes straight up to stop the rider being flung over the bars.

While the rider in this video says his airbag suit was a lifesaver, we wonder what effect a vertical motorcycle airbag would have had, preventing him being flung clear of the vehicle.

Airbags trend

Airbags seem to be the flavour of the times for the safety “experts”.

A host of airbag leather race suits is now available, airbags are mandatory in most motorcycle racing and some companies such as DaineseAlpinestars and Furygan, are now releasing aftermarket airbag vests that go over or under a normal jacket.

And Brooklyn start-up Airbag for Bike even has a patent pending for a motorcycle seat that ejects a rider in a crash and then cocoons them in a full-length airbag suit to protect them from injury.

Smaller airbags

As for motorcycles airbags, we can see they may be a safety device in crashes where the rider hits something head-on or is hit from behind, but not glancing blows or being hit from the side.

The Goldwing airbag in the “tank” area is bulky and would only fit big tourers.

Honda Goldwing GL1800 airbag radical Goldwings incentive smaller airbagsHowever, Honda’s new patent is for a much smaller airbag.

It would be suitable on smaller motorcycles as shown in this patent drawing of a scooter published by Visor Down.Airbag Honda

We imagine this will also be a cheaper airbag than the one in the Goldwing.

It’s not the first time Honda has considered adding airbags to smaller bikes.

In 2017, the company exhibited an airbag designed for scooters at the Honda Meeting in Tokyo. (See image at the top of this page.)

The danger of this type of cheaper technology is that safety experts will one day deem it as a mandatory fitment on all bikes just as they have with ABS!

Honda patent blitz

Honda has been having something of a blitz on patents in the past couple of years.

While this idea seems quite reasonable and may make it into some future motorcycles, a lot of the others are less likely.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com