Friday, 11 September 2015

AIMExpo 2015

AIMExpo - America's "INTERMOT"?

THE American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) at Orlando, Florida, continues to build momentum as it heads towards its third year (October 15-19, 2015).

Now the only 'mainstream' motorcycle and wider powersports industry expo in the United States (since the closure of Advanstar's Dealer Expo), the AIMExpo formula is new to the United States. It is the first motorcycle industry expo to bring a European INTERMOT style combined OE and aftermarket exhibitor culture to the US market, and the first expo to offer those exhibitors the best of both worlds in business terms - a combined industry and public attendance (October 15th & 16th are trade/dealer only days - the weekend is additionally open to riders).
The reaction to this unique-to-America formula has been overwhelmingly positive, with attendance last year building on year one and expected to grow again this year as acceptance of the concept becomes widespread among the OE motorcycle manufacturing community. In a short time AIMExpo has built an impressive list of motorcycle manufacturer exhibitors, including the likes of Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, BMW, Kymco, CF Moto, Zero, CanAm/BRP and Arctic Cat - many of whom are operating outdoor display and test ride opportunities as well as indoor exhibits.

Critically, as AIMExpo deepens its OE manufacturer roots, it will deepen the importance of the show to dealers - the OE involvement could prove to be the magic key that unlocks national dealer attendance; in the past regionalism has been a big criticism and perceived flaw of the traditional trade show formulas in the United States.
With more than three months to go, the total number of exhibitors had surpassed last year's figure with over 500 companies booked in total. The AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) will again be hosting their annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony at AIMExpo, and a whole slew of attendance-driving enthusiast-facing initiatives are set to capitalise on timing that sees the event staged on the same weekend as the long-established and popular Biketoberfest Rally at Daytona Beach, Florida, which is just an hour's ride north east of Orlando.
Those enthusiast-facing initiatives include an AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building affiliate round - the all new Championship of the Americas - which gives any US expo a big draw for bike builders, trade and consumer attendees; in the case of being based in Florida, for the first time it also gives trade visitors from central and south America a viable business nexus for the first time.
The winner of the Championship of the Americas will receive expenses paid entry to the 2016 AMD World Championship at INTERMOT in October 2016 and the chance to compete against many of Europe's greatest custom bike designers and engineers.

Electric and alternate-powered motorcycles

Electric and alternate-powered motorcycles
in the EU

By ACEM Secretary General Antonio Perlot

An alternative offer with considerable advantages
IN recent years, the motorcycle industry has started developing new electrically and hydrogen-powered models, as well as hybrid vehicles. They emit little or no carbon monoxide and dioxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides or particulate matter; operate in a smoother manner and consequently have very low sound emissions.

From the user’s point of view, these electric vehicles can be easily charged at home or work, without special charging infrastructure.
Moreover, mopeds, motorcycles and quadricycles running on these ‘alternative fuels’ have substantially lower prices than electric cars, which makes them potentially affordable to a wider range of people, and as a result of their reduced weight and mass, they are a perfect candidate for electrification.
Also, they can take full advantage of the key features of mobility in urban environments: trips in high-traffic density zones, short travelling distances, and limited availability of parking spaces.

… but still very much a niche market
In spite of these comparative advantages, market update remains limited.
According to ACEM’s estimations, only between 1% and 2% of all L-category vehicles (i.e. powered-two and three- wheelers and quadricycles) registered in Europe in 2014 were electric models. It is true that some countries are witnessing an increase in the number of electric vehicles. In the Netherlands, for example, registrations went up from 4,090 units in 2010 to 5,123 units in 2014. In Spain, registered vehicles increased from 165 in 2010 to 1,053 in 2014.
Notwithstanding this, the absolute figures remain at niche levels for now. The fact that some national administrations do not yet distinguish between internal combustion engine and electric engine vehicles in their official statistics is symptomatic of the situation in this segment of the market. 

The key barrier to market uptake: charging infrastructure
According to the European Commission, limited charging infrastructure is a major limiting factor in the large scale adoption of electric vehicles, in particular for cars. This is one of the reasons why in 2013, the Commission proposed the Clean Power for Transport package with very ambitious objectives for charging points all over the EU to be achieved by 2020.
However, probably as a result of the delicate situation of public finances in many European countries, the European Transport Ministers rejected the principle of binding targets and proposed a more flexible framework without quantitative objectives. In any case, for the European Commission this issue is still on the table, as its recent Communication on an Energy Union suggests. 

The importance of common standards
Another important area of work is harmonisation. Experts from the public and private sectors working together at CEN-CENELEC, the European body responsible for technical standardisation, have defined a standard to harmonise plug-ins for electric L-category vehicles. Although not legally binding yet, this new standard for type 3A plugs sent a clear signal to economic operators.
The European Commission should certainly consider making this standard mandatory through its inclusion in the Directive on the Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure. This would facilitate the free movement of products within the EU internal market and would increase their acceptance among consumers, providing further possibilities for charging in public spaces. 

Creating the adequate fiscal environment
It is also important to remember that a sensitive combination of fiscal and tax incentives would also be required in order to create an adequate environment for the uptake of vehicles running on alternative fuels.
Although some European governments have launched rounds of subsidies to incentivise sales of low or zero-emissions vehicles, powered-two and three wheelers are not always eligible.
This is why in several European countries there is still an unequal playing field between electric mopeds, motorcycles and quadricycles, and other electric means of transport such as cars or buses.
Notwithstanding this, in some countries the situation is starting to change. In the UK, for example, our colleagues from the MCIA have successfully made the case for electric motorcycles and scooters to qualify for subsidies under a new scheme announced by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Unlocking the potential of innovation
Co-operative, publicly funded research can be a valuable complement to in-house industry research in the area of e-mobility. In this respect, the European Green Vehicles Initiative (EGVI), a public private partnership funded by both the European Commission and industry, is being instrumental in promoting “smart, green and integrated transport” in Europe.
A concrete example of this: earlier this year, the European Commission decided to allocate €5-8m to the RESOLVE project, an initiative, led by ACEM manufacturers KTM and Piaggio, which will develop new prototypes of vehicles with innovative powertrains.
Projects like RESOLVE illustrate the importance of creating synergies between partners and are an excellent example of co-operation between industry and policy makers. Additional research would be needed in different areas, which would greatly benefit from further European support. And this is one of the key topics we will discuss during our next 2015 annual conference in Brussels.

Summing up…
The models that the motorcycle industry has launched onto the European market, as well as those under development, will certainly contribute to transforming our transport systems and to improving their environmental footprint.
However, whether the share of electric vehicles increases or not will depend mostly on two elements: consumers’ choices and the policies that will be put in place by decision makers.
For the time being, and quite likely for years to come, internal combustion engines will continue to play an important role in transportation.

SWM Motorcycles

SWM rolls again

FOLLOWING its debut at EICMA in November last year, one of the legendary names of post-war off-road motorcycle sport is now firmly on the come-back trail.

SWM RS 650 R

Under the guidance of renowned ex Cagiva, Aprilia and Husqvarna motorcycle engineer Ampelio Macchi as CEO, and with the financial backing and volume production expertise of China's Shineray Group, July saw the first new Italian SWM model roll off a production line in the 23,000 sqm former BMW/Husqvarna production facility on a 45,000 sqm site near Varese, north of Milan.
Originally founded in Milan in 1971 by Piero Sironi and Fausto Vergani, SWM (Speedy Working Motors) was a leading Trials, Enduro, Motocross and off-road brand in the 1970s and 1980s, achieving considerable race success and building a devoted following in Italy and internationally.

Ampelio Macchi, CEO (left), has brought the SWM brand back in the former BMW/Husqvarna factory space near Varese thanks to backing from China's Shineray Group

They started with small capacity Sachs engined enduro bikes and began making Rotax engined trials bikes in 1977. This was the era of other historically strong brands such as Ossa, Bultaco, Montesa and others, many of which hit trouble one way or another.
In the case of SWM the end came in 1984; fast forward thirty years to the 'Milan Show' last year and a new company bearing the historic name introduced six street and off-road bikes with engine sizes between 300 and 650cc.
Following a formal unveiling at the "Valli Bergamesche" event, the Italian round of the WEC (World Enduro Championship) at Rovetta (Bergamo, Italy) in June, the first to roll off the production line in July was the RS 650 R, a DOHC 4-valve liquid-cooled fuel injected 600 cc single cylinder 4-stroke enduro in a steel single beam double cradle frame with upside-down front forks, Sachs rear shock absorber, fixed disc/floating caliper brakes, 21" front and 18" rear wheels, electric start and 6-speed wet-sump gearbox.
Based on an evolution of the Husqvarna TE 610 enduro, with the same brakes and suspension set-ups, the compression of the Husqvarna engine has been increased and the single cylinder bored out to 600cc. SWM will use the Husqvarna engine for all the off-roaders it makes.
The production plan anticipates some 2,500 to 3,000 units for 2015 initially, with an SM 650 R due later in the summer, an RS 300 R, RS 500 R and SM 500 R at the end of September, with the return of the SWM "Classics" - the Silver Vase and Gran Milano 440s - by the end of October. The present workforce of around 60 is expected to grow to some 110 people, and 125cc models are planned in the near future.


Yamaha +14 percent unit sales in Europe for first half of 2015

Yamaha has announced its financial results for the second quarter and first half of its current financial year (ending December 31st 2015).

Global net sales of motorcycle products were 518.2 billion yen (an increase of 36.8 billion yen/7.6% compared with the same period in the previous fiscal year), and operating income was 18.6 billion yen (an increase of 7.4 billion yen/65.8%).
Unit sales increased in developed markets thanks to the effect of new product launches such as the 'YZF-R1' and the 'MT-09 TRACER', with sales in North America and Europe increasing 28% and 14% respectively over the same period in the previous fiscal year. The motorcycle business segment moved into profitability thanks to structural reforms and the effects of the new product launches.
Unit sales in emerging markets such as Vietnam and the Philippines increased (where the 'Exciter' and 'Nozza Grande' are selling strongly), but decreased due to the markets softening in Indonesia and Brazil.
Net sales revenue increased thanks to sales of products in the higher price range in emerging markets and the effect of new products. Operating income also increased with factors generating increased income, such as the effect of sales increases, cost reductions and yen depreciation absorbing negative factors such as increases in development costs and currency depreciation in emerging markets.
Yamaha's total consolidated financial performance across all sectors of the business for the first half year saw net sales of 821.1 billion yen, an increase of 65.1 billion yen (+8.6%) compared with the same period the previous fiscal year. With regard to income, the profit structure of each business segment continued to improve, and operating income for the half-year was 69.7 billion yen, an increase of 20.6 billion yen (+41.9%) compared with the same period the previous fiscal year. Ordinary income was 74.4 billion yen (an increase of 25.3 billion yen/51.5% against the same period the previous fiscal year), and net income for the first half-year was 52.1 billion yen (an increase of 19.9 billion yen/61.7%).
For the full fiscal year ending December 31, 2015, Yamaha forecast that factors generating increased sales and income in its motorcycle and other business units in developed markets, and the motorcycle business segment in Vietnam and Taiwan, will sufficiently offset headwinds elsewhere for its forecasts for 2015 to remain unchanged. Namely that net sales will be around 1,700 billion yen, operating income around 120.0 billion yen, ordinary income will be 123.0 billion yen, and net income 76.0 billion yen.

Polaris Industries

Polaris Q2 revenue +11 percent

POLARIS Industries Inc. has reported record second quarter net income of $100.9 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2015, an increase of four percent from the prior year’s second quarter net income of $96.9 million. 

Earnings per share were a record $1.49 per diluted share for the second quarter of 2015 compared to $1.42 per diluted share for the second quarter of 2014.
Sales for the second quarter 2015 totalled a record $1,124.3 million, an increase of 11 percent over last year’s second quarter sales of $1,014.0 million.
“In addition to reporting record second quarter sales and earnings, there are numerous positive undertones to our results this quarter. Motorcycle demand, notably including Slingshot, remains exceptionally high", stated Scott Wine, Polaris’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Motorcycle sales increased 57 percent to $162.1 million for the second quarter of 2015 compared to same period last year, due to continued strong demand for Indian motorcycles and the new Slingshot roadster. Victory, Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot North American retail sales increased over 80 percent during the second quarter of 2015 driven by Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot retail sales, while North American industry midsize and heavyweight motorcycle retail sales were flat compared with the second quarter of 2014.
Demand for the Indian Scout, Roadmaster and the new Indian Dark Horse drove an over 100 percent increase in retail sales for Indian Motorcycle during the quarter. Victory retail sales in the second quarter of 2015 were lower than the prior year largely due to poor product availability of the new Victory Magnum and Magnum X-1.
International sales to customers outside of North America totalled $162.9 million for the second quarter of 2015, down four percent from the same period in 2014, driven by weak currencies.
The EMEA region’s sales declined 12 percent in the 2015 second quarter, partially offset by a 32 percent increase in Latin American sales and a 15 percent increase in sales in the Asia/Pacific region. Gross profit increased five percent to $319.4 million in the second quarter of 2015.


Hevik ergonomic Arizona and Dakota gloves

Italian apparel specialist Hevik's new glove designs are said to "combine safety, great design and ergonomic comfort with an unparalleled price-performance ratio" according to the company. They are described as "combining a classic look with a fashionable retro twist whilst offering functionality, comfort and great protection".

Dakota (left) and Arizona gloves

Lightweight and flexible, made from soft leather with inserts in stretch denim, their fine surface and upper perforations provide ventilation.
Designed for both urban and touring motorcyclists, the gloves include polycarbonate protection on the knuckles and reinforcement padding on the palms. Leather cuffs include a hook and loop fastening closure.



LighTech to launch R1 range at AIMExpo

LEADING Italian parts manufacturer LighTech has recently announced a full line of aftermarket accessories for the 2015 Yamaha R1.
The company will use the Florida based AIMExpo in October to display this new range to US dealers and consumers for the first time, and will then show them and many more items from their popular programme of high quality parts in Europe at EICMA, Milan, in November.

Owner Fabrizio Furlan told IDN that "in line with our usual ultra-high quality product standards, these products have been designed to both complement and extend the performance of this new bike model. Aesthetically these new accessories are of the highest design, and most parts are available in four colour choices of Black, Cobalt Blue, Red and Gold".
The range consists of rearsets, chain adjusters, gas caps, reservoir covers, brake and clutch levers, carbon rear arm protector and engine covers, frame sliders and license plate holders. 

Founded in 1997 as a new specialty for Fabrizio Furlan's family metalworking business, these days Lightech manufactures over 7,000 Ergal alloy products in a choice of colourways, over 400 titanium products and a host of other accessories.
LighTech has more than 2,500 authorised dealers all over the world, selling to over 40 countries and employing 18 people at its 2,500 and 1,500 sq m factories near Treviso, Italy.


Team Metisse

Hi-tech X-Pad Racer frame sliders

GERMAN 'specials' builder and parts and accessory designer Team Metisse has launched new X-Pad Racer frame sliders.
Using the patented Metisse Impact Absorber System (M.I.A.S.), owner Horst Edler told IDN that "as many protector manufacturers have changed their slider production to using cheap injection moulding, we at Metisse have gone the opposite way.

"Our X-Pad Racer frame sliders are CNC machined from solid billet POM-plastic, which, for us, is the best and only way to produce a perfect and exclusive product." Finished with anodised fittings, there are 25 colour options of X-Pad Racer protectors available with applications for over 20 motorcycle models.

Made in Germany, Polyoxymethylene (POM - also known as acetal) is an engineering thermoplastic that is used in precision parts requiring high stiffness, low friction and high dimensional stability - making it an excellent material for motorcycle protectors.
In the X-Pad Racer design the visco-elastic impact absorber (blue in the picture) is supported by six stainless steel springs. The result is a fine attack movement and progressive damping, transforming hard impacts into much softer energy.
Model-specific bracketry make fairing modifications unnecessary in most applications, and the 200-plus models that X-Pad Racer sliders are available for include recent models such as the BMW S1000XR/R/RR and Suzuki GSX-S1000.



Save 5.5kg on R1 with SC race exhaust

ITALIAN exhaust manufacturer SC-Project's research and development department has used its technologies developed for the Yamaha Forward Racing MotoGP Team to create a high performance exhaust system for the new 2015 YZF-R1 and M models. 

The new system, which utilises titanium and carbon fibre in its construction, is built around a CR-T silencer that is TIG welded to full titanium conical joints. The central collector pipes are longer than stock and were developed in MotoGP. There are housings for the two original lambda sensors, but the catalytic convertor is eliminated.
The use of CNC machined titanium means SC-Project are able to claim a 5.5kg weight reduction over stock. The semi-full system is designed for race use, so is not road legal and needs an aftermarket fuel controller to gain the full performance benefits, which the company describe as "impressive increase in power, also in the mid-range and torque".