Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
Need to catch up on what’s been going on in the world of motorcycling over the last week? Here’s your five-minute briefing.
1: Electric bikes escape Government subsidy cut
The Government has announced that subsidies offered to buyers of electric cars are to be reduced by November 9th, while those for part-electric hybrids will be removed altogether.
But the good news for bike buyers is that there’s no change to the grants available to buyers of battery-powered two-wheelers.
Currently, pure electric cars with zero CO2 emissions are eligible for a grant of 35% of their value to a maximum of £4500. By November 9th, that maximum drops to £3500. Meanwhile hybrids with emissions below 50g/km and able to travel at least 10 miles on electric power alone, currently eligible for a 35% subsidy up to a maximum of £2500, will no longer benefit from any assistance at all.
However, there’s no such cut being made to electric motorcycle subsidies, which are already significantly less generous. You can only get a grant to pay for 20% of the cost of an electric bike, up to a maximum of £1500. And the bikes themselves must come from the approved list of vehicles, capable of covering at least 31 miles between charges.
At the moment, that list includes:
2: Alta Motors hits trouble
Just a few months ago American electric bike firm Alta appeared to be on the crest of a wave. Harley-Davidson, on the cusp of making its entry into the electric bike market with the upcoming LiveWire that’s due on sale next year, announced a tie-in with Alta back in March, appearing to give the San Francisco-based EV firm a huge boost.
But by August it looked like that deal was on the rocks, and now reports from America say that Alta has sent staff home and ceased production while bosses try to secure a new round of funding.
US blog Asphalt & Rubber, which has been a close follower of the Alta saga from its earliest days, says: Alta Motors has ceased business operations, effective immediately, sending the company’s staff home as the electric motorcycle manufacturer looks for future funding.
Talking to an anonymous source, Asphalt & Rubber has been told that Alta Motors is in the midst of a strategic wind down, as it looks for an outside acquisition or investment.
However, with an acclaimed range of electric motocross, enduro and supermoto bikes and with larger, mainstream manufacturers showing an ever-increasing interest in electric bikes, it seems likely that Alta, or at least its technology, could still attract a buyer or a backer.
3: Triumph keeps on teasing
The seemingly never-ending saga of Triumph’s upcoming Scrambler 1200 is finally approaching its denouement which will see the bike unveiled at a live event at ExCeL London on the evening of Wednesday, October 24.
In fact, it’s something that anyone can attend, with free tickets being offered on a first-come, first-served basis here.
In the meantime, the firm has created another teaser video – its fifth – for the new bike. You can see that here. It doesn’t actually show us much, but promises the “1st generation of a beautiful new generation, for the road, for genuine adventure, for full-on scrambling, the real deal…”
Of course, if you’d like to see the bike they’re talking about and can’t wait until the unveiling, you see our spy shots and read all about it here.
4: 2019 Yamaha R1M order books opening on 29th October
Every year there’s something of a rush as buyers scramble to get their hands on the limited supply of high-spec Yamaha YZF-R1M machines, and the ordering system for the 2019 version will open on 29th October.
While there aren’t any notable changes to the R1M for 2019, it’s still a bike that’s expected to be in high demand. The £20,199 machine is £4000 more expensive than the normal R1, but relatively slow depreciation means that in the past buyers taking advantage of PCP deals have been able to secure them with monthly payments only a little higher than those for the stock bike.
In comparison to the stock bike, the R1M’s carbon bodywork and Ohlins electronic suspension are the main changes, although there are a host of smaller differences as well.
There’s a countdown timer to the opening of order books for the 2019 R1M at a dedicated website here.
5: Super Duke GT at the TT
Remember, not that long ago, when touring bikes were big, fat and relatively slow things? Those days are long gone, and KTM has gone out to prove it by handing its updated 2019 1290 Super Duke GT to Michael Rutter and letting him loose on the Isle of Man.
OK, so it’s all in the pursuit of a promotional video, but the footage shot on the Island’s roads and at Jurby Motordrome is remarkably good at illustrating the sheer breadth of capability of modern sports-tourers like the KTM.
For 2019, as we reported here, the Super Duke GT gets more power, a up-and-down quickshifter, tweaked suspension and new styling.
Rutter said: “The GT is a world away from what I usually ride, I was amazed by the performance – particularly the engine; the torque and drive is phenomenal. Very impressive. Comfort is a big factor; the seat and bar position were spot-on at speed on track and on the road. For a bike designed to tackle a variety of riding types – having a blast and all-day touring – it works fantastically in all situations, even ridden hard on the fast and bumpy Jurby circuit. Best of all, it has heated grips – a big thing for all year riders and even for summer in the UK!”
See the video here.