Friday, April 29, 2016

MV Agusta, Mercedes-AMG to separate, MV to scale back production, slash R&D budgets, reduce headcount


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In terms of sales, MV Agusta are doing better than ever before. And yet, a severe liquidity crunch is hitting the company's operations really, really hard. The partnership with Merc-AMG seems to be over already

Despite selling close to 9,000 motorcycles in 2015 (a 30% increase over the previous year!), MV Agusta are again in big financial trouble and the Italian company's President, Giovanni Castiglioni is currently struggling to keep things going. With a current debt of approximately 40-50 million Euro, MV Agusta are in a slightly weird situation right now - business has never been better for them, and yet they do not have the cash to keep things afloat.

Back in 2014, Mercedes-AMG had acquired a 25% stake in MV Agusta, and this was then seen as a big step forward for MV, in terms of bringing financial stability and security for the small Italian company. Within a short span of two years, however, the partnership has run into rough weather and already, according to Il Giorno, MV and Mercedes-AMG are preparing to go their own separate ways. "We are negotiating a buy-back of shares," said Giovanni, speaking to Il Giorno.

Given their current lack of liquidity and mounting pressure from suppliers for repayment of outstanding amounts, MV Agusta are looking at reducing their workforce by up to 200 people, as well as scaling back production from last year's 9,000 units to just 6,000 this year. Money spent in R&D will, reportedly, be cut from 15 million Euro to 7 million, while MV's racing budgets will be slashed from 4 million Euro to just 600,000 Euro.

"Unfortunately, Mercedes-AMG has not turned out to be the strategic partner as I had thought. I am now working to bring new investors in the company. In the meantime, we are carrying out a plan that aims to generate cash and then restructure the debt," says Giovanni. He's definitely not ready to give up though. "There have been Asians and Americans, and now the Germans. But who always remains, and over the years has invested 120 million euro in MV Agusta, is the Castiglioni family. We want to go back to being the Ferrari of motorcycles," he adds.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

2016 KTM RC 390 gets a bigger exhaust system, now meets Euro 4 regulations

2016 KTM RC 390 2016 KTM RC 390 2016 KTM RC 390
2016 KTM RC 390 2016 KTM RC 390 2016 KTM RC 390
With minor upgrades, the 2016 KTM RC 390 is better than ever before, and is still the raciest in its segment

KTM has unveiled the 2016-spec RC 390, which has now been revised in order to meet Euro 4 emissions norms. The earlier bike's svelte exhaust system, which was neatly integrated into the fairing/bellypan, has now been replaced with a much bigger unit that incorporates a catalytic converter in the muffler. This new exhaust, which actually doesn't look bad at all, ensures that the new RC 390 spews out a significatly reduced amount of noxious gases. KTM also claim that there has been no loss in the RC 390's performance levels in the move to Euro 4.

The 2016 RC 390's 373cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder engine, which weighs just 36 kilos, now gets ride-by-wire throttle management and pumps out a rather useful 44bhp. The bike also gets a slipper clutch, a bigger, 320mm brake disc at the front, span-adjustable levers, bigger rear-view mirrors and more generously padded rider and passenger seats. The 390's steel-tube trellis frame and cast aluminium swingarm remain unchanged, and the bike remains the best handling sportsbike in its segment by a fair margin. For those who want to go racing, KTM have also developed a go-faster, track-ready version, the RC 390 CUP. More details of the CUP bike, here.

Prices and availability details for the 2016 KTM RC 390 will be announced soon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Stan Evans goes NOKTURNAL

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Stan Evans shot these photos in the winter of 2015. The portraits were shot in studio and action on location at the LA River. All the effects are practical and the only retouching done was to blend the layout for print

Remember Stan Evans, our favourite motographer? We've featured Stan's work earlier here on Faster and Faster (see here and here), and now the man's been at it again. This time, it's about shooting in the dark and the results, as you can see in the pics above, are pretty spectacular. Here's what Stan has to say about his latest photoshoot and his thoughts on various types of motorcycles:

On his latest photoshoot
Every once in while I feel the need to try something different with motorcycle photography. To be honest, I like pushing myself even though perfectly backlit sunset shots on sweeping roads will never lose their appeal. Nighttime always intrigues me because it brings a new set of rules. With lights, gels and exposure, I can control what people see. I can throw light where I want or fade it off into the darkness. It becomes the subtle difference between capturing a moment and creating one.

The movie Aliens had a profound effect on me as a child and I found myself studying James Cameron and HR Giger works to see how it affects perceptions. I like the idea of conceptualizing, and coming from an advertising background it’s only natural to mix action and products in an effort to get people excited to ride. Motorcycle art is probably too strong of a word because I hate the notion of standing still. Motorcycles bring a sense of urgency. Straddling the thin line between life and death should make you feel the most alive!

On why he chose the Ducati Panigale for this shoot
Actually it wasn’t the bike so much as the person I chose. I’m drawn to shooting interesting characters and I actually happened across Adey Bennett one day riding the Angeles Crest. My friend actually told me that he did all these superbike videos on the net I really had no clue who he was but you don’t see many black guys over 6 feet tall on an Italian superbike. So I figured there a story there and asked him about shooting. Turns out we had some mutual friends and he was into trying something different.

2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 is the perfect sport tourer-lite for newbies

2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700
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2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 2016 Yamaha Tracer 700
Okay, so it's not very exciting to look at and the spec sheet is a bit ordinary, but the Yamaha Tracer 700 should be the ideal sports-tourer for newer, younger riders looking for an affordable machine

Yamaha have unveiled their new Tracer 700 sport-tourer that's based on the MT-07 and is a relatively simple, affordable machine which is also suitable for younger, less experienced riders. Powered by a 689cc parallel-twin that produces 75bhp and 68Nm of torque, the Tracer 700 isn't exactly an R1, but according to Yamaha, its engine's 270-degree crank delivers an uneven firing interval, which contributes towards strong acceleration and improved levels of traction.

While based on the MT-07's chassis, the Tracer 700's frame has been tweaked for sport-touring duties and has been optimised for two-up riding with luggage. The bike gets a longer swingarm, revised suspension settings (with 130mm travel front and rear) and dual 282mm front discs with 4-piston calipers for optimum braking power. ABS is standard.

The Tracer 700's 17-litre fuel tank should give it an acceptably long range (Yamaha have not quoted any fuel economy figures) though its ready-to-ride weight of 196kg seems to be a bit on the higher side. About 160-170 kilos would have made the Tracer a bit peppier. The windshield is manually adjustable and the stepped dual seat looks about right for comfortable long-distance riding. Yamaha are offering a range of useful accessories for the Tracer 700, including hard and soft luggage and a higher windscreen. Available colours include red, black and blue and the bike will be in Yamaha showrooms by July this year. For those who're new to motorcycle touring, this looks to be the ideal package...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster XL 1200CX offers cheap thrills, looks handsome


2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster
We like the new Harley Roadster XL 1200CX. Looks cool, should be a lot of fun to ride. Sometimes, that's enough

Harley-Davidson have announced the launch of the 2016 Roadster XL1200CX. “Since its introduction in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proved capable of constant reinvention, and the Roadster writes a new chapter in that story,” says Harley's Director of Styling, Brad Richards. “We’ve watched our customers take the Sportster in so many different directions. The Roadster is a mash-up of styling genres, but the intent was to build a rider’s motorcycle, a Sportster that’s lean and powerful and connects the rider to the road,” he adds.

According to Harley, the 2016 Roadster model joins the H-D Dark Custom lineup, with a minimalist design inspired by classic racing motorcycles, current trends in stripped-down naked custom bikes, and a profile reminiscent of racing Sportster motorcycles from the 1950s and 1960s. “We wanted to give the Roadster some DNA from the high-performance KHR models of the mid-50s, and later Sportsters tuned for the drag strip,” says Richards. “Those bikes had fenders cut to the struts, a small fuel tank, and were stripped to their bare essentials to achieve a singular performance purpose,” he adds.

The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster is powered by an air-cooled, fuel-injected, 1200cc pushrod V-twin that pumps out 101Nm torque and delivers 20kpl in terms of fuel efficiency. The bike rides on 19-inch front and 18-inch rear cast-aluminium wheels. Twin preload-adjustable rear shocks and a 43mm USD front fork comprise the suspension, ABS is standard, the fuel tank takes 12.5 litres and the bike weighs 259 kilos with all fluids etc. Available colours include black, red and silver. Prices start at £9,695 / €15,835.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Yamaha 04GEN concept scooter is stunningly beautiful

Yamaha 04GEN concept scooter Yamaha 04GEN concept scooter
Yamaha 04GEN concept scooter Yamaha 04GEN concept scooter
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The Yamaha 04GEN is the coolest scooter we've seen in a long time

Last week, Yamaha unveiled the new 04GEN concept scooter at the 2016 Vietnam Motorcycle Show, in Ho Chi Minh City. According to Yamaha, this concept scooter “evokes the image of women with an air of dignified elegance and grace in mind and body.' Er, yeah, sure. We also think it looks good. Compared to regular scooters, where body panels hide the engine and chassis almost completely, the Yamaha 04GEN used semi-transparent panels which only partially cover the bike's internals, showcasing its beautifully-engineered structure. We also like it's plush brown leather seat and smartphone instrumentation. Yamaha have positioned design as a central pillar for all future product development and if they really do launch an actual production scooter based on the 04GEN, it'll definitely give the Vespa 946 something to think about.

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