Reports of serious financial troubles for MV Agusta have been circulating for days, but it now seems certain that the company has filed for a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. A Chapter 11 effectively freezes debts and grants a period of grace to allow the business to get back into profit and repay debts, unlike a typical bankruptcy where a company goes into receivership and its assets are sold. That should give the troubled manufacturer time to restructure the business and allow it to continue into the future. As one of Europe’s most prestigious brands, MV Agusta has had a rocky history. But in recent times the company seems to have strengthened it’s position in the market with some outstanding motorcycles. The 2016 Brutale 800 was released recently and received excellent reviews, and at the time CEO, Giovanni Castiglioni, said he felt the company was right on track. That makes the reports of serious financial trouble and a debt of almost 40 million Euros even more surprising. Mercedes-AMG has had a long term partnership with MV Agusta since October 2014, and owns a 25% minority stake in the brand. So far, the German luxury performance automobile manufacturer has not commented on the situation. Mercedes-AMG could buy a larger share in MV Agusta, effectively propping the company up but also protecting it’s own interests. MV Agusta’s World Superbike team will continue with business as usual because it is owned and run by a separate company, and is not affected by the manufacturer’s financial situation.
Author: Matt Coopz
Fancy an “automatic” sports bike? If reports floating around are true it could be a reality soon. Honda is apparently developing its Dual Clutch Transmission for use in sports bikes. DCT is currently available in the NC750 series, the Integra scooter, VFR1200F and recently released Africa Twin. It has never been considered a viable option for sports bikes because it’s heavier than a standard transmission. Riders have also shown resistance to the idea of an automatic bike. But because it is seamless, the dual clutch transmission is much faster through gear changes than a standard gearbox, and that could result in a sport bike being able to accelerate faster. Dual Clutch Transmission uses two clutches and automates the clutch and shift operation. It minimises the power gaps and loss of drive that normally occur during shifting with a manual transmission. Gear shifts are controlled by switches on the handlebars, much like the gear shift paddles in many cars. But the dual clutches add up to 10kg to the overall weight of the bike, and Honda is apparently working to reduce that weight. Automatic transmissions were widely criticised in cars in their early days, but the massive improvements in technology has actually made them a better option. It is now widely accepted that modern automatic transmissions in cars are faster than manuals, and we can see the same progress now coming into motorcycles.
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Sometimes we can make our world a little too complex. Technology companies continue to innovate and bring us more ways to stay connected to all the things we feel are important to us. But sometimes I have to ask whether the technology is a step forward or a bad mistake. Samsung is the latest company to display innovative technology for motorcycles. The company has demonstrated a “Smart Windshield” fitted to a Yamaha Tricity 125 scooter. The display in the windshield connects to your smartphone through a Wi-Fi connection and a dedicated app. It can then display GPS and navigation information, which is probably the only useful thing a rider needs when riding. But the system also displays alerts for incoming phone calls, text messages and emails. Samsung is calling it “a new concept in road safety” and a “revolution for young motorbike riders”. The promotional video states that “it connects to your smartphone so you can keep both hands on the handlebars” (really!), and that “the windshield has been transformed into a safety device”. I like Samsung, but I love staying safe even more and would have to say that I hope this is an early April Fool’s joke. Distraction from mobile phones is now the biggest killer on our roads, and motorcyclists are our most vulnerable road user group. So surely making mobile phones more accessible to riders while they are actually riding is a seriously dangerous prospect. For ages we’ve all ridden with the phone tucked away out of sight, and so it should be. If it rings life still seems go on and we can deal with it when we stop riding. The same applies for emails and Facebook notifications. A panel in front of the rider will just encourage them to focus on the phone and not what’s important in front of them. Sorry Samsung, I agree that there is a safety benefit for making navigation information available to riders, but I’d seriously doubt the road safety benefits of receiving other text based information while riding. What can be so important? Maybe I’m wrong – I’d be keen to hear your thoughts?
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Honda has shown off it’s CB Concept Type II for the first time at last weekend’s Osaka Motorcycle Show. The Osaka show is not a major event, but Honda chose this show to give the world a glimpse of its direction with the CB1100. In a press release before the show, Honda announced the CB Concepts showed “a new direction in air-cooled CB models.” It was widely thought (and hoped) the Type II may be a revamped version of the CB1100R concept we first saw several years ago. The single seat CB1100R concept suffered from heating issues in its air cooled engine because of the restricted air flow behind the fairing. Reports were circulating that the issues were being resolved by Honda’s engineers. But the CB Concept Type II is in fact a near production ready retro bike closer in styling to a cafe racer. It does show how the somewhat sedate CB1100 can be turned into a much tougher looking bike and given a boost with some performance parts, but it’s left many of us disappointed. The CB Concept Type II runs 17-inch cast alloy wheels, upside down Showa forks, radial mount Brembo brakes, and Ohlins twin shocks on the rear. The styling sets this bike apart from anything else in the Honda range, and even from the original CB concept we saw last November. The retro styling goes as far as the Pirelli Phantom tyres that were popular in the 80’s. In fact the Type II suggests that Honda is going to market two variants of a new CB1100 – one to appeal to the retro market and one to target those buyers wanting a more traditional look. That would put the Type II up against the BMW R nineT, and the Triumph Thruxton. There’s now plenty of speculation that these two bikes are very close to production, and that the CB Concept Type II is already being track tested. The current CB1100 was originally launched in 2009 but is only available in a few markets outside of Japan, and by expanding the range it would be fair to assume that the bike will be sold into more countries and hopefully Australia.
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Can you imagine a helmet that warns you when cars get too close? US company Intelligent Cranium Helmets is said to be developing a helmet that can. The company’s helmet concept, the iC-R (the “R” stains for Rider Edition), is said to have more electronics and safety technology than ever previously imagined in a helmet. The helmet has twin colour head-up displays that not only display speed and other telemetry from the bike, navigation and phone functions but also show a video stream from twin rear facing cameras. The helmet also has a LiDAR rear collision alert system. LiDAR measures the distance to an object by shining a laser beam on it, and in this case the data is then used to warn the rider of a vehicle closing in from behind. It notifies the rider through a series of coloured LEDs inside the helmet and also with warning sounds and vibrations. The helmet has built-in Bluetooth communications and phone connectivity, and a solar panel to power the electronics. Intelligent Cranium Helmets was started by Ambrose Dodson, who says the idea came to him after watching some motorcyclists riding in front of him in traffic. He realised that to check the blind spots around them they needed to turn their heads to look, and in heavy traffic that meant the riders were constantly taking their eyes off the traffic ahead. The two rear cameras give a field of view of 210° helping to eliminate those blindspots. It sounds far fetched and ambitious, but a press release on the company’s website claims that ICH has entered into development agreements with a solar power company that has the capability to develop the entire power system for the iC-R helmet, and a prototyping company to develop the iC-R shell and other components. A crowdfunding program has also been set up to raise capital.
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