U.S. motorcycle sales increased 6.7% over the first quarter of 2012.

The Motorcycle Industry Council reports U.S. motorcycle sales increased 6.7% over the first quarter of 2012.

According to the MIC’s latest quarterly report, American consumers purchased 109,425 motorcycles in the three months ending March 31, 2012, compared to 102,547 units the year before.

The MIC also reports ATV sales have increased for the first time in years, increasing 5.0% to 50,107 units. ATV sales have been fading as consumers looked to side-by-side instead. The MIC does not report side-by-side sales however.

Off-road motorcycle sales continue to decline, with dealers selling 6,697 units over the quarter. Dual-sports, street bikes and scooter sales however continue to rise, though the industry still has a ways to go to reach the levels seen before the economic downturn.

2012 Q1 Figures from the Motorcycle Industry Council
Type 2011 Q1 2012 Q1 Change % Change
ATV 47,702 50,107 +2,405 +5.0%
Dual Sport 6,697 7,549 +852 +12.7%
Off-Hwy 18,725 17,473 -1,252 -6.7%
On-Hwy 70,879 77,103 +6,224 +8.8%
Scooter 6,246 7,300 +1,054 +16.9%
Motorcycle
Sub-Total
102,547 109,425 +6,878 +6.7%
Grand
Total
150,249 159,532 +9,283 +6.2%

[Source: MIC]

http://www.mic.org/members/membership/2012-MIC-Member-Directory.pdf

 

Cool Helmets

Motorcycle helmets
The third in our Silodrome Selection series, a weekly round-up curated by Silodrome editor James McBride. Above: The Bullitt Helmet Concept by Chad Hodge, University of Cincinnati industrial design graduate.

If you ride a motorcycle, you’ll know there’s discord between full-face and open-face advocates. Proponents of full-face lids disavow anything that doesn’t provide complete protection, and often quote studies like the 1981 Hurt Report—which suggested that 34% of motorcycle accidents involve an impact in the chin, mouth or nose area.

The open-facers fire back with gusto. Motorcycle riding is dangerous and, to a degree, that risk needs to be accepted by the rider. Who should be free to wear whatever gear he or she wants, as long as they understand the potential for injury.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I have both full and 3/4 helmets, and I’m tolerant of people’s safety choices. (Except for cowboys who wear bandanas whilst hammering down the highway at 80mph: Those people are halfwits.)

This selection of eight full-face helmets represents the collection I’d like if I had the necessary space. Not to mention the ability to convince the Mrs that helmets make far better living room decorations than a three-years-old’s finger paintings. Or those crystal Swarovski animals with the creepy little eyeballs.

Tachibana motorcycle helmet
Tachibana GT-750 Grand Prix A design instantly reminiscent of the classic Bell Star II. For those who want a properly retro full-face helmet to match their bike, the Japanese Tachibana is probably the best choice. The only problem is the difficulty you might encounter when trying to buy one: There aren’t many international suppliers, so you may have to order directly from Japan. Which means it’s very important to get your sizing information correct. And in case you’re wondering if it’s a ‘novelty’ helmet, the ¥30,000 ($320) GT-750 has been certified with the Japanese SG safety rating, which is similar to both the ECE and the DOT ratings. [Buy]

Shoei Neotec motorcycle helmet
Shoei Neotec Like Arai, Shoei owners are passionate advocates of the brand. The quality of Shoei’s lids is widely respected, but it’s a surprisingly small company—with just over 500 employees. This is the $750 Neotec modularhelmet, designed for long tours. It has ample venting, a built-in sunvisor and an impressive noise-reduction system. [Buy]

Icon 1000 motorcycle helmet
Icon 1000 Variant Battlescar The Variant series has become hugely popular since its release last year. The helmets are an interesting hybrid of motocross and street design, with a little Halo Master Chief influence thrown in for good measure. As with Icon’s other helmets, this one scores heavily on safety. It’s ECE, DOT, SG and SAI certified, making it a good choice for the safety-conscious. The $400 Variant also boasts a ‘Hydradry’ wicking liner and a very wide yet distortion-free shield, complete with an anti-fog coating. Making it perfect for heavy traffic, inclement weather, and off-road riding. [Buy]

Schuberth S2 motorcycle helmet
Schuberth S2 This German company is best-known for making the helmets worn by F1 drivers Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. And Schuberth has worked closely with Schumacher to create helmets for his automotive andmotorcycle racing activities. From a technological perspective Schuberth is ahead of the game: the $750 S2 was developed in a wind tunnel, and is fitted with two antennas and optional communications equipment. Handy if you need to make calls on the go. [Buy]

Roof motorcycle helmet
Roof RO21 Panther The French company produces slightly unusual-looking helmets with a strong following in western Europe—although they’re not so well-known in the US. The curvaceous Roof Panther was designed with a ventilation-first approach, making it ideal for warmer climates. Costing £249, it’s available in seven sizes and four colors—with add-on visors available for customization. [Buy]

Bell Revolver EVO motorcycle helmet
Bell Revolver Evo As far as DOT-certified modular helmets go, the $200 Revolver Evo by Bell is one of the best examples I’ve come across. You can ride with the front up or down, making it a convertible of sorts. And it comes with an internal flip-down sunvisor for those occasions when you ride over the brow of a hill and cop a face-full of direct sun. [Buy]

Arai Corsair motorcycle helmet
Arai Corsair-V Arai helmets seem to have an almost pathological following. They’re worn by MotoGP racers and Formula 1 drivers, and the company has come out on top in all thirteen J.D. Power motorcycle helmet ‘Satisfaction Studies.’ The Corsair-V (‘Mamola-3′ model shown above) is built to the Snell M2010 safety certification which, depending on who you talk to, is either far better or nowhere near as good as DOT/ECE. [Buy]

Ruby motorcycle helmet
Les Ateliers Ruby Castel The €930 Castel is the French company’s first foray into the world of full-face protection. The design seems to split opinion, with a minority hating it and most people wanting to sell an organ to buy one. Each Castel has a carbon fibre shell, a Nappa lamb leather interior and front mounted vents—and can also be customized with a series of OEM visors. You can choose between yellow, black, grey and white—though there isn’t yet a fire-engine red option. Which I really think Ruby should add. [Buy]

Gilera Milano Taranto

Gilera Milano Taranto

Posted: 02 Feb 2013 09:30 AM PST

Gilera motorcycle
Before and after WWII, Italy was a haven for street racing. One of those races was the Milano Taranto, reportedly the longest of all the street races and with the added danger of nighttime running. The only entry requirement was a driver’s license and a motorcycle ready to race: a far cry from today’s heavily regulated competitions.

Gilera motorcycle
Gilera motorcycles were favored by many riders in those days, and in 1956 the final Milano Taranto was won by Pietro Carissoni in a Gilera 500 Saturno. The beautiful machine we’re looking at here is a smaller racer from the same year, a ‘Milano Taranto’ spec version of the Gilera 175.

Gilera motorcycle
It was restored by Hugo Gallina of Vintage Italian Restoration: “Back in 1958, my father owned a 175 Super Sport,” says Hugo. “The same basic motorcycle, but a street version. It was the first bike I sat on as a young kid—my father lifted me from the floor and sat me on top of the tank, and I remember burning my right foot with the exhaust header!”

Gilera motorcycle
Hugo never forgot that bike, and now, more than 50 years later, he has his own Gilera 175. It took a few years to restore it, but as these images show, it was worth the effort.

The perfect vintage steed for a leisurely weekend ride in the country, don’t you think?

Images courtesy of Jose Gallina.

Gilera motorcycle

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Motohangar Yamaha SR500

Motohangar Yamaha SR500

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

Motohanger SR500
Every now and then, a bike comes along that captures the state of the neo-custom scene right at this moment in time. This is one of those bikes, from the Virginia-based workshop Motohangar. It’s not a big-budget build and it’s not a fire-breathing monster, but it’s exactly the kind of bike that is attracting legions of younger riders back into the motorcycling scene.

The starting point was a 1979 Yamaha SR500, a long-time staple of the Japanese custom scene. Old SRs are increasingly popular in the US, and good examples are affordable. (Yamaha has noticed this, apparently, and may export the latest SR400 to the States.)

Motohanger SR500
“This wasn’t a commissioned build,” says Motohangar’s Pat Jones. “The bike’s more for our own personal use, and to showcase our design aesthetic.” It’s an attractive aesthetic: bare metal bodywork, a hand-made leather seat and a low-profile tail unit.

Motohanger SR500
The SR400 has been thoroughly overhauled throughout. It’s sitting a little lower than stock at the front, and Motohangar have fitted new rear shocks to tighten up the handling.

Other upgrades include stainless steel braided brake lines and a vintage headlight and taillight, both modified to accept modern bulbs. The wiring has been stripped to the bare minimum, and the original wheels have been refurbished and powdercoated.

The driving force behind this build was Motohangar’s latest cohort, Johnny Brindley. (Hence the ‘B’ in the hand-painted ‘MH500B’ nomenclature on the tank.) “He’s a good friend who was looking to learn about bikes and needed a place to work on them,” says Pat. “He’s since become a part of Motohangar, and adds to a lot of our design ideas.”

Motohanger SR500
To clean up the front end, the bar-mounted electric controls—including the key switch—have been relocated to under the seat. The engine has been treated to K&N filtration and a custom header hooked up to a period Yoshimura silencer. (“They’re from an 80s sport system,” says Pat. “This one is more commonly found on the DOHC Honda 750s and other similar bikes from that era.”)

Motohanger SR500
It’s a great showcase for Motohangar’s work—a rideable and reliable custom that also looks like a million dollars. Check out our coverage of previousMotohangar bikes, and follow the company’s news via their Facebook page.

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M&M Customs Honda CB550

M&M Customs Honda CB550

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

Honda CB550 cafe racer
It’s getting harder and harder to impress with a Honda CB custom these days. But this very sharp 1974 CB550, from the Kentucky shop M&M Customs, proves there’s still life in the old dog.

M&M (not to be confused with the Japanese shop with a similar name) is run by Mike McFadden. Like all the best custom builders, Mike is a detail freak—and his cafe racer, nicknamed ‘El Dora,’ is a fine showcase for his skills.

Honda CB550 cafe racer
Mike spotted the Honda in his local classifieds, offered for sale by a teenager who’d been using the machine as a vintage motocrosser. The bike checked out fine, so Mike handed over the cash and started work.

Honda CB550 cafe racer
The first step was a complete tear-down. Mike does everything himself, from engine rebuilding to paint work, and he decided to make this custom a “vintage racer with a cafe influence.” To boost power, Mike installed Keihin CR carburetors and coils and ignition from Dyna. The pipes were also made in his shop, by blending the stock head pipes together to form a 2-into-1 setup on both sides.

Honda CB550 cafe racer
Mike replaced the worn-out rear shocks with Hagons, and fitted Loaded Gun rearsets to custom mounts. Then he cut off the entire rear subframe, and changed the lines of the bottom tubes to give a more modern-looking aesthetic.

A Dunstall-style tank adds a retro vibe, matched to a seat and tail section from Dime City Cycles that also hides the battery and a lot of the wiring. Some fettling was required to line up the tail section with the new tank, so Mike modified the tail to his liking.

Honda CB550 cafe racer
“The whole thing was flowing well and I just couldn’t bring myself to muck up the lines with a bolt on tail lamp,” he says. “Thus the ‘Urinal Trap’ brake lamp was born. If you look at it (below) you can see where the idea came from…”

Honda CB550 cafe racer
And the #18? It’s in support of Mike’s relative Nick McFadden, an up-and-coming 15-year-old who has just won the 2012 WERA 600cc Superstock National Challenge Championship. I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing more of the McFadden family in the years to come.

Head over to the M&M Customs website to see more of Mike’s super-stylish builds.

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1968 Egli-Vincent racer

1968 Egli-Vincent racer

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

Egli-Vincent
In just over a week, Bonhams is set to auction a jaw-dropping selection of cars and motorcycles at the Grand Palais in Paris. One of the highlights is this 1968 Egli-Vincent 998cc racing motorcycle, which has an estimate of US$36,000—47,000.

This machine is notable on two counts: the Egli frame is genuine, and the bike is incredibly fast. Shortly after it was built, the English magazine Motor Cycletested the Vincent, which “in less than half a mile was easily exceeding 120mph. This was the first time an un-streamlined model had notched such figures on test.”

Egli-Vincent
The bike was built by sidecar racer Pete Gerrish, who bought the frame from Fritz Egli himself. Gerrish installed an engine from one of his sidecar racers—described as ‘part Lightning, part Shadow’—and the bike promptly won its first race, at the Cheltenham circuit.

Egli-Vincent
Since then, it looks like it’s been modified for road use. (There’s a 5” Smiths speedometer and a matching rev counter.) If your bid is successful, you’ll also get some very desirable spares—including a Vincent cylinder head and primary drive cover, an original Fritz Egli fuel tank and an original, period fairing.

Egli-Vincent
A piece of history, or a fully-loaded Harley CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide? I know what I’d take.

Via Megadeluxe. More about the auction on the Bonhams website.

Egli-Vincent

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Extemporae Suzuki DR650

Extemporae Suzuki DR650

Posted: 26 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

Suzuki DR650
One of the fastest-growing custom workshops in Italy is Extemporae, based in the Varese region that’s also home to MV Agusta and Husqvarna. The company’s first two builds, a Yamaha TT600 and a XT550, were published in the influential Italian magazine Riders in 2011—and from that point on, there was no looking back.

This is Extemporae’s latest, a 1994 Suzuki DR650. The DR650 is one of those ‘sleeper’ bikes just begging for customization: Like the Honda Dominator, it’s an unsophisticated but effective all-rounder, and lends itself well to a diet and makeover.

Suzuki DR650
For this machine, Extemporae took inspiration from a car: the lightweight, stripped-down Caterham Seven. Hence the Caterham/Lotus-spec green paint and the emphasis on ‘adding lightness’.

Suzuki DR650
Up front, the chassis has been modified to take a 1970s Yamaha 400 tank, and at the back it’s been slimmed down to give a lower line and accommodate a hand-made seat unit.

Suzuki DR650
The bars are from an anonymous 70s dirt track racer, refinished in black. The front fork has been rebuilt and shortened and custom fenders fitted front and rear. The overhauled engine is now hooked up to a cone-type air filter and Extemporae fabricated not only the exhaust system, but also the oil radiator.

Suzuki DR650
“This bike is simple, light, funny and cool,” say Extemporae’s founders, Alex and Paolo. I’ll second that, and hopefully we’ll see more DR650 customs in the future. Keep an eye on Extemporae’s Facebook page to see what they come up with next.

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Santiago Chopper ‘Bucati’

Santiago Chopper ‘Bucati’

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

Buell custom motorcycle by Santiago Chopper
Alain Bernard is one of the most unpredictable builders in the US: You can never guess what he’ll come up with next. The bread-and-butter of Santiago Chopper’s business is trike conversions, but Bernard also turns out traffic-stopping customs on a regular basis.

This is his latest, nicknamed ‘Bucati.’ Believe it or not, the bike is based on the 1998 Buell S1 Lightning, an oddball roadster with a wheezy 1203cc v-twin. But on the plus side, the S1 had a top speed of just over 125 mph (200 kph).

Buell custom motorcycle by Santiago Chopper
Bernard and mechanic Mike Lima have boosted the pushrod lump with 38mm Keihin CR carburetion and a Dyna 2000i ignition. They’ve also modified the frame, grafting a Ducati 1098 subframe and tail unit onto the back. (‘Bucati’…geddit?) The original battery box has been removed, and an oil tank fitted to the left-hand side of the bike.

Buell custom motorcycle by Santiago Chopper
The stock Buell swing arm has been swapped out for a more curvaceous custom-fabricated item. The hand controls are Beringer, and the rearsets are from Chainsickle. But it’s the paint job that jumps out—a monochrome mix of flat and gloss black that speaks softly but carries a big stick.

Buell custom motorcycle by Santiago Chopper
The blocky styling of the original Buell—a curious mix of Sportster and Aprilia Moto 6.5—has given way to a lithe and insect-like stance, accentuated by tiny LED lighting front and rear.

Buell custom motorcycle by Santiago Chopper
It’s an acquired taste, but then again, so was the S1. I’ll take this version.

Images by Erick Runyon of Choppershotz. For commissions, bookings and fine art prints contact Erick here.

Buell custom motorcycle by Santiago Chopper

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Ehinger Kraftrad ‘Snow Racer’

Ehinger Kraftrad ‘Snow Racer’

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

Snow motorcycle
Ehinger Kraftrad is a small German workshop based in Hamburg that builds intriguing vintage Harley-Davidsons. Run by Uwe Ehinger and Katrin Oeding, it’s called
 ‘Kraftrad’ rather than the usual ‘Motorrad’—because Motorrad generally means mass-produced goods. Whereas Ehinger Kraftrad specializes in very limited scale, high quality production.

Snow motorcycle
Uwe Ehinger’s background is in racing, and this classy ‘Snow Racer’ is inspired by 1930s race bikes. The heart of the Snow Racer is a story in itself: it’s a 1946 U model engine fitted with 1936 VLH cylinders, giving a capacity of 80ci. The bottom end has been completely overhauled, with new bearings and refined balancing. The heads are from a 1948 ULH, reworked to improve performance and provide better cooling.

Snow motorcycle
Further mods include tweaked camshafts, a Dell’Orto carburetor, and an unrestricted 30s-style exhaust system. (“It serves more as a directional guide for exhaust fumes than a means for reducing noise,” Ehinger notes wryly.)

Snow motorcycle
A modified Baker 6-speed transmission was placed in the rigid frame. And then Ehinger developed a custom coupling for the primary drive, with a matching clutch basket. The brakes are also custom: the specialist manufacturer Behringer created one-off hubs for the Snow Racer’s 21” and 19” wheels, and inboard brakes were installed. Then Ehinger fitted a Harley VL fork—equipped with a custom triple tree—and in a moment of inspiration, a modified Yamaha TY80 gas tank.

Snow motorcycle
The Snow Racer is a runner, and not a show bike. Ehinger Kraftrad’s other builds are just as unusual, but like this one, they’re eminently rideable too. Head over to the company’s very stylish website to discover more.

With thanks to Brian Awitan of Imogene + Willie.

Snow motorcycle

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Hammarhead x Moto Guzzi V7

Hammarhead x Moto Guzzi V7

Posted: 21 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

Hammarhead Industries Moto Guzzi V7
James Hammarhead needs no introduction here. One of the USA’s most thoughtful bike builders, he’s the creator of the Jack Pine—one of the most sought-after and usable custom bikes of recent years. This custom Moto Guzzi V7, nicknamed ‘Wayward,’ is Hammarhead’s latest creation: A one-off built with the official sanction of Moto Guzzi USA.

Although this bike is a 2010-model V7 Classic, its genesis can be traced back to the summer of 1975. “Late one evening, a friend of my father’s arrived riding a black Moto Guzzi V7 Sport,” says Hammarhead. “He’d flown in from England, bought the Guzzi in New York City and was headed west. Armed with only a map and a small tank bag, he was beginning a three-month odyssey that became legend in our house.”

Hammarhead Industries Moto Guzzi V7
As Hammarhead grew up and pursued the road himself, he steadily traded up for bigger and bigger adventure touring bikes. “But with each successively more modern motorcycle, the experience seemed slightly diminished. Then on a trip to Southeast Asia, I rode a beat up Honda XL185 for a few weeks. Traveling light with only a daypack and not much of a plan, I found myself back in the game. I began thinking about a Hammarhead bike that could excel at the urban commute—and also break free for fast and light travel.”

The ‘new’ Moto Guzzi V7 seemed ideal as a donor: A simple air-cooled V-twin, with modern electronic fuel injection and niceties such as an electric start. The challenge was to create a minimal motorcycle that remained at home on the long road. “We began the V7 Wayward project by stripping away layers of the bike to reveal the essential form. The bodywork was simplified, and as a result, the chassis could be freed from excess brackets and mounting tabs.”

Hammarhead Industries Moto Guzzi V7
Hammarhead replaced the large stock fenders with alloy units and the ancillary components were cleanly repackaged—with a simple black battery mounted low in the frame. The engine has not been internally modified, but performance benefits from high-flow K&N air filters, a free breathing custom exhaust and remapped fuel injection. Performance fork springs and rear shocks were fitted, and the bike rolls on Avon tires.

Up front, the stock headlight and instrument cluster have been swapped out for a classic 7-inch teardrop shell that carries a 48 mm MMB speedometer. The OEM cluster’s circuit board was retained and modified to output a remote low fuel warning light. To achieve a relaxed yet aggressive riding position, CR low bend bars, a Joker Machine bar end mirror and wide foot pegs were fitted. Hammarhead also cut and modified the rear sub-frame to integrate the rear turn signals and support a compact seat.

Hammarhead Industries Moto Guzzi V7
The tank finish on this prototype is bare steel, sealed with wax but otherwise natural. For real world durability, a small run of production bikes will get tanks with a phosphate wash and shot with PPG Flex N’ Flat clear coat. (Production Versions are likely to use 2013-and-up V7 Stone models as a base, and should be available for $15,500.)

Hammarhead Industries Moto Guzzi V7
The final element is a pair of waxed cotton panniers. Drawing on the design of the HHI Daypack, they’re made from Martinex Wax Army Duck, with a leather-reinforced bottom. “The shape and scale was inspired by the bags of the 1950s,” says Hammarhead. “An L-shaped internal aluminum frame supports the cargo and is hard mounted to the motorcycle at three points.” With a combined capacity of 16 liters, the bags are small by modern standards—but they’ll swallow a laptop, rain suit and workout gear for the weekday hustle. Or the essentials required for a long weekend of travel.

Or add a small tank bag, and never look back.

Head over to the HHI website for more of Hammarhead’s distinctive motorcycles, and follow his news via the HHI Facebook page.

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