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  • Harley does the Italian Job, to buy Ducati from Audi?

    With Dieselgate making 2016 Volkswagen’s (VW) annus horribilis, yet another rumour has emerged about the sale of Ducati, this time to Harley-Davidson. The deal is said to cost 1.67 billion USD (RM7.16 billion), reported Reuters, citing unnamed sources.

    Harley-Davidson is reported to have engaged financial consultants Goldman Sachs to conduct due diligence, with an offer being made as early as July. However, the report stated the sale of Ducati might not be finalised before the annual EICMA motorcycle show in Milan in mid-November, because VW wants to find the right buyer.

    Several parties have expressed interest in purchasing Ducati, including motorcycle manufacturers Eicher Motors, owner of the Royal Enfield of India brand, Hero Motocorp – formerly Hero Honda of India, and capital investment firms Permira and CVC Capital. The sale of Ducati will allow VW to free up working capital, something it needs to settle the penalties imposed by Dieselgate.

    In 2016, Ducati – owned by VW group’s Audi – reported a sales revenue of 593 million euros (RM2.84 billion), coming from the sale of 55,451 motorcycles as well as branded merchandise. This is an increase of 1.2% over its 2015 sales figures.

    Harley-Davidson previously ventured into Italy in 1960, when it purchased a 50% share in Aermacchi from aviation firm Aeronautica Macchi, culminating in a full buy-out in 1974. During 1961 to 1978, the Varese, Italy, plant produced the M-65, M-65S, Rapido and SS-250 two-stroke 250s, as well as the four-stroke 350 cc Sprint, ceasing production when the facility was sold to Cagiva.

  • 2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Pro launched – sets sights straight on the BMW 1200 GS Rallye

    With an eye on the large-displacement overlander motorcycle market – a segment currently dominated by the BMW Motorrad GS-series dual-purpose machines, Ducati has launched the 2017 Ducati Multistrada Enduro Pro. As an extension of the current Multistrada Enduro, the Enduro Pro takes aim directly at the 1200 GS Rallye, currently the favoured weapon of choice for rider who eschew highways and paved roads, preferring their fun to be more muddy and dusty.

    Carrying the Euro 4 compliant 1,198 cc Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) V-twin that puts out some 152 hp at 9,500 rpm and 128 Nm of torque at 7,500 rpm, the Enduro Pro’s power plant is fed by twin 56 mm elliptical throttle bodies with Bosch EFI and ride-by-wire.

    Coming in a very winsome matte-effect Sand colour scheme with textured surface finish on the front and tank cover, the Multistrada Enduro Pro also features a two-tone seat cover with the sub-frame and engine covers painted in black. Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres are fitted as standard, rolling on a 3 x 19-inch tubeless alloy spoked wheel in front, with a 4.50 x 17-incher in the rear.

    Naturally, the Multistrada Enduro Pro comes with Ducati’s Skyhook Suspension Evo, which uses a pair of semi-active Sachs suspension units front and rear with 200 mm of travel. The front end is held up by 48 mm fully adjustable upside-down forks with electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment, while the rear is suspended by a fully adjustable monoshock with electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with pre-load being set electronically.

    A full suite of electronic riding aids comes with the Enduro Pro, including power delivery and ride modes – the modes being Enduro, Touring, Sport and Urban. Also standard is cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) as well as Vehicle Hold Control (VHC) to ease uphill starts.

    Putting the “Pro” in the Multistrada 1200 Enduro Pro is a Ducati Performance brush bar by Touratech, fitted with LED lights, a low screen for standing on the footpegs riding and the road-legal Ducati Performance exhaust by Termignoni. The standard equipment package also includes cruise control and the Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), which uses Bluetooth connectivity to connect the bike to the rider’s smartphone.

    No word as yet from Ducati as to pricing or availability of the 2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Pro in the local market. For Malaysia, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro retails for between RM137,999 to RM157,999, while the base model Multistrada 1200 goes for RM114,999, sans Skyhook and LED lighting.

  • FIRST LOOK: 2017 Kawasaki Z900 ABS Special Edition

    When Kawasaki Malaysia announced the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 ABS, in base and special edition versions, it was detailed that the new four-cylinder naked sports machine would be better that its predecessor, the Kawasaki Z800, in all aspects. Priced at RM49,158 for the base model, and the Z900 SE version we reviewed at RM50,959, with prices including GST, but excluding registration, insurance and road tax, the Kawasaki Z900 ABS has raised the bar for this market segment by a long way.

    The 2017 Z900 makes 10% more ponies than the Z800, to the tune of 123.3 hp at 9,500 rpm and 18% more torque, 98.6 Nm at 7,700 rpm. Weight also saw a major reduction, the Z900 going on a diet that lets it weigh in at 210 kg, down from the Z800’s 231 kg.

    Other major changes include adjustable suspension front and rear, along with four-pot Nissin brakes, a trellis frame and lightweight swingarm. The full review of the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 can be read here.

  • VIDEO: 2017 the final year for Ducati Panigale 1299?

    A teaser video has appeared from premier Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, showing what appears to be a final edition Panigale, set to be unveiled on July 7 at the World Superbike race in Laguna Seca, US. It is pretty much the superbike world’s worst kept secret that Ducati will be replacing the V-twin Panigale superbike with a V-four, based on the Desmosedici engine it currently campaigns in MotoGP.

    The demise of the V-twin Panigale is pretty much due to Euro 4 rules, as the current 1299 Panigale does not come under compliance, and there are no signs Ducati is willing to do so. As the US does not have any regulation approaching the stringent rules of Euro 4, it could be that this machine is intended for the US market only.

    Based on the latest iteration of the Panigale, the Panigale S Anniversario, the last Panigale would likely carry the Superquadro V-twin displacing 1,285 cc and producing a claimed 205 hp. A host of advanced electronics can be expected on the bike, including Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO and Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO.

    These rider aids are coupled with Bosch cornering ABS, the Ducati Quick Shifter (DQS) Engine Brake Control (EBC) – all of which we tested on the Ducati 959 Panigale previously – and the Ohlins Smart EC semi-active suspension. It will also be expected that carbon-fibre will be found in liberal doses on the final edition Panigale, perhaps even with the carbon-fibre frame found on the Ducati 1299 Superleggera.

    From what little can be seen from the press image, the Panigale depicted will feature an Italian tricolore (tri-colour) red, white and green paint job, and will probably be offering in a limited numbers of units. More will be revealed at the launch on July 7, so keep checking back in.

    GALLERY: 2016 Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario

  • Katja Poensgen and Miracle Mike – one lady racer, one Indian Scout and a 1:1 power to weight ratio

    What if I told you there is a girl I know who could whoop your arse around a corner? What if I told you it was entirely possible to take an American cruiser, and tune it to produce a 1:1 power to weight ratio?

    Don’t believe me? The mad geniuses at Swiss custom shop Young Guns Speed Shop did it to a 2016 Indian Scout cruiser. More telling, German ex-250 GP racer Katja Poensgens rode the Scout – dubbed “Miracle Mike” – to a top place finish at the Punk’s Peak race, held during Wheels and Waves in Biarritz, France.

    Young Guns is the brainchild of Fabian Witzig and Nik Heer of Switzerland, who took the 100 hp and 97.7 Nm torque, 1,130 cc, liquid-cooled V-twin from an Indian Scout and tuned it to run in Punk’s Peak. The engine was removed from the Scout, and sent to tuning house Swissauto, with the brief being that the engine should keep up with modern 200 hp superbikes.

    Adding nitrous into the mix, the mill was then modded to produce 185 hp at the back wheel, or an estimated 200 hp at the crank. With the engine work taken care of, Miracle Mike was then put on a severe weight loss regime, ending up 50 kg lighter, for an all-up weight of 198 kg.

    The standard Indian Scout fuel tank was gutted, and replaced with a narrower custom alloy clone to house the electronics and wiring loom, while the fuel tank was relocated to below the seat and nearer the back wheel, to lower the bike’s centre of gravity. The rear sub-frame was replaced with a custom fabricated piece designed after a KTM dirt bike.

    A custom exhaust system was fabricated, and mated to an Akrapovic exhaust end-can to make the proper sounds. Ohlins suspension front and rear was also installed, all the better to go round corners with reports

    Unsprung weight at the back end was reduced with the stock Indian Scout rear hub laced to a lightweight Excel Supermoto rim. Up top, the Ohlins front forks were fitted to a modified LSL upper triple tree, with LSL handlebars fitted.

    Since the Indian parts catalogue is not exactly designed with an eye to racing, Young Guns fabricated their own rear-sets, which drives an electronic quickshifter. Metzeler Racetec rubber was also fitted, with the front wheel taken off a BMW Motorrad R NineT.

    So, who says American cruisers can’t race? With the demise of Victory Motorcycles, and sadly never getting the chance to turn a wheel in anger on the Victory Octane, we hope someone in Polaris headquarters is reading this, because a balls-out, 200 hp, flat-track style American motorcycle that can blitz proper sportsbikes would be, simply put, amazing.

  • 2017 Scrambler Ducati Mach 2.0 and Full Throttle unveiled at Wheels and Waves show in Biarritz

    Using the Wheels and Waves event in Biarritz, France as a backdrop, Ducati unveiled two new versions of the Scrambler Ducati – the Mach 2.0 and the Full Throttle with new graphics, during the weekend of June 14 to 18. Graphics for these lifestyle machines are by renowned American designer Roland Sands, who has had a hand in creating custom versions of the Ducati Panigale 1299 S and X Diavel.

    The Mach 2.0 takes its name from the 1965 Ducati Mach 1 250, a version of the Scrambler 250 of the same era. The Mach 2.0 comes with low-slung, tapered aluminium handlebars, and features a dedicated Flat Track Pro seat, black exhaust and cylinder head covers, plus cafe racer-style brushed cooling fins.

    As for the Full Throttle, in 2017 it comes with a new “Shining Black” tank and front mudguard. This is combined with a new fuel tank side-panel featuring a distinctive black chequerboard pattern on yellow stripes.

    Both retro-styled machines arrived at Biarritz after leaving Ducati’s headquarters in Borgo Panigale, Italy on June 12, travelling together with a Volkswagen California Ocean and a Volkswagen Amarok. The Amarok was converted into a mobile radio station broadcasting the Radio Ducati Scrambler live podcast.

    In Malaysia, the Ducati Scrambler range features the 400 cc Scrambler Sixty2, which retails for RM49,999. The bigger Ducati Scramblers carry an 803 cc air-cooled V-twin that comprises of the Urban Enduro, Classic and Full Throttle at RM62,999 and the Scrambler Icon at RM52,499.

    Introducing MACH 2.0!

    A BRAND NEW SCRAMBLER! MACH2.0 live unveil from #WheelsandWaves!

    Posted by Scrambler Ducati on 14hb Jun 2017

  • REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Z900 – Zed’s not dead, baby

    The “Z” designation has always been important for Kawasaki, marking the first of its street-going sportsbikes, going all the way back to 1973. Kawasaki motorcycles have always been known for performance, and Z-series machines remain popular with local riders, for its cost-to-performance ratio.

    For close to four years, the Z800 did sterling service for Kawasaki, with its 111 hp, four-pot power plant, satisfying riders of all stripes. But, Kawasaki set out on a quest to make the Z800 better for everyone, and with the 2017 Kawasaki Z900, it appears as if it might have succeeded.

    Now, the author is not going to deny he has a penchant for naked sportsbikes, having cut his teeth on a Suzuki GS550E over three decades ago, and counted both a Kawasaki GPz and KZ in the stable at one point or another. But how do you make what was a fairly competent sportsbike better?

    To show us that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, Kawasaki Motors Malaysia invited us to the fourth, and largest, of its new model launches for 2017, the Kawasaki Z900. Carrying the ‘Z’ moniker means the Z900 has some pretty big shoes to fill, considering the illustrious history of some of its predecessors.

    After its launch in earlier this year, Kawasaki Malaysia touted the Z900 was in every way much improved over the Z800. So, with a mix of highway and B-road riding, we set off to see what is new and different about the big new Z.

    Read the review after the jump.

  • KTM opens ASEAN assembly plant in the Philippines

    As part of its expansion into Asia, and more specifically ASEAN, Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM has formed KTM Asia Motorcycle Manufacturing – a joint-venture with Adventure Cycle Philippines, owned by industrial giant AC Industrial Technology – to build a plant in the Philippines capable of producing 10,000 motorcycles annually. The plant, located in Laguna, will produce the KTM 200 and 390 Duke naked bikes, as well the full-fairing RC 200 and RC 390 sportsbikes.

    It is planned that initial production will be 6,000 units, before the production line is ramped up to reach five-figures at a later stage. The establishment of the plant is to meet demand for KTM motorcycles both in the Philippines and throughout ASEAN, as well as China, which is the world’s biggest motorcycle market.

    “It seems like a frequent message from us but the opening of this new plant at Laguna and in the Philippines is another fantastic example of how we are managing to take the KTM brand to new corners of the world and touch fresh markets and riders; it’s a really exciting time of progression for the company,” said KTM chief sales officer Hubert Trunkenpolz.

    In Malaysia, KTM motorcycles are assembled at KTM’s first overseas CKD plant in Jitra, Kedah by Eurotech Manufacturer. The plant currently assembles the KTM 250 and 390 Duke, the RC 250 and 390, as well as the dual-purpose KTM Adventure 1050.

  • 2018 Yamaha Star Venture announced – 24,999 USD

    For the American market, Yamaha has announced the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture tourer, which brings the uber-tourer game up a notch, surpassing the bar set by the benchmark in this segment, the Honda Gold Wing. Priced at 24,999 USD (RM106,347) for the base model, and 26,999 USD (RM114,855) for the “TC” – traction control – version, the Yamaha Star Venture is a strange mix of traditional and high-tech.

    Carrying a 1,854 cc air-cooled OHV V-twin 4-valve engine derived from the Yamaha XV1900 cruiser, the mill is fed by fuel-injection and features ride-by-wire, which allows for traction control and ride modes as well as electronically controlled cruise control. Yamaha omits any mention of a power figure, but torque is rated at a stump-pulling 171 Nm at 2,500 rpm.

    Power gets to the ground via a six-speed gearbox driving a shaft, and all-up weight for the base model Star Venture is claimed to be 434 kg, while the TC model weighs in at 437 kg. Air for the twin-spark engine is taken from a central intake on the front fairing, which also features an electrically adjustable windscreen.

    The high-tech part of the Star Venture is contained in its infotainment system, displayed on a seven-inch colour touchscreen. This allows for the rider to control many of the systems on the bike, including the audio and navigation systems, vehicle information display, heater and electric screen, as well as the communication systems for telephone, radiotelephone, passenger communication and receiving messages.

    New for Yamaha is the Star Venture’s “Sure-Park”, which uses an electric motor to drive the bike both forward and back at 1 km/h, easing parking manoeuvres. Seat height for Yamaha’s touring machine is set at 695 mm, making it easy for the rider to swing a leg over.

    As can be expected for this level of touring bike, the Star Venture features electrically heated seats, and locking for the trunk and panniers is electronic. ABS is standard on the Star Venture, and the handlebar levers are adjustable for reach, with heated grips.

    In Malaysia, the only real luxury touring machine in this class being offered is the 2017 BMW Motorrad K 1600 GT. This German touring motorcycle retails locally at RM159,900, including GST, but excluding road tax, insurance and registration.

  • 2018 Yamaha YZ450F gets smartphone tuning app

    Aside from driver or rider skill, races are won on engine tuning, fuel mapping and machine setup, and racing motorcycles are no different. For the upcoming motocross race season, Yamaha is introducing the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F MX-GP race machine with the ability to be tuned trackside using a smartphone app.

    Called the Yamaha Power Tuner smartphone app and designed for devices using iOS and Android, the YZ450F rider or mechanic can make quick and easy fuel and ignition mapping changes to suit different riding styles, track conditions and changing weather. Connecting wirelessly with the bike via the communication control unit’s onboard Wi-Fi system, the app allows for recording of riding location, conditions, bike settings and other necessary information.

    Onboard monitoring of variables such as race settings, maintenance and system diagnostics, engine running time and the such can also be accessed via the app. Aside from the amount of detail given to modify the YZ450F’s engine settings, data can also be shared from the Yamaha Power Tuner app with team mates, mechanics and friends, giving greater insight into the inner workings of the motorcycle.

    Other changes made to next year’s YZ450F are an updated cylinder head, piston, cam profiles, cylinder geometry and the such – all designed to deliver more power and controllability. A new aluminium bilateral beam frame has optimised engine mounting to enhance the machine’s balance, while claiming to improve cornering feel and increasing overall rigidity.

    The YZ450F’s distinct rearward-slanted cylinder design features a rear-facing exhaust and forward-mounted downdraft intake system. New cam profiles as well as a new crankshaft and a stronger high-compression “box bridge” piston design with DLC-coated (Diamond-like-Carbon) pin are also new for 2018, with fuel coming through a new 44 mm diameter Mikuni throttle body.

    A lightweight lithium-ion battery is coupled with electric start to give the rider an advantage during mid-race starts when precious time could be lost trying to push-start a stalled machine. Another racing advantage for the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F is the Launch Control System (LCS), that gives quicker, smoother race starts.

    Cooling for the YZ450F is improved by making the radiators larger and located more directly in the incoming air stream. To optimise the YZ450F’s centre-of-mass, the exhaust pipe is a wrap-around design that is moved further forward from the previous generation YZ, and has the added benefit of improving power.

    The 2018 Yamaha YZ450F is expected to be available for order through Yamaha dealers worldwide in August, 2017. A range of racing accessories for the YZ450F as well as other YZ-series motocross machines, developed by Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing (GYTR), will be made available at the same time.


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Last Updated 22 Jun 2017