Just the Facts: March 2020

Welcome to another all-news episode of Chasing the Horizon – it’s Just the Facts for March 2020!

Spy photo of the BMW R 18 Bagger from Ride Apart.

We can’t not address the elephant in the room – it’s the novel coronavirus known as covid-19. It started in Wuhan, China, late last year and has spread around the world in a hurry. Italy in particular is suffering devastating effects, with more fatalities from the disease than China has had so far. It’s just terrible and the pandemic is rapidly becoming a global humanitarian crisis. Please follow the guidelines set out by your country’s health and safety experts; in the US, that’s the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Covid-19 is affecting the motorcycle industry – which still hasn’t recovered fully from the 2008-09 recession. Here’s a bit of what’s going on in the motorcycle world due to the pandemic.

MotoGP was quick to jump out with cancellations (Qatar) and postponements (Australia, USA, Thailand), followed soon after by World Superbike. The Isle of Man TT for 2020 is cancelled outright, which will have a detrimental effect on the island’s economy.

Patent application drawing of the BMW R 18 Bagger.

BONUS LINK: World Superbike has made the entirety of the 2018 Assen Round available available for free on their website. Check it out!

In addition to cancelled and rescheduled races, motorcycle production is shutting down in Europe and the United States; I assume other countries will follow soon as well. The Pierer Mobility Group is going on a “company vacation,” Ducati shut down despite trying to prevent infection among their employees, and Harley-Davidson announced they’re ceasing production in all their US facilities while maintaining health benefits for furloughed employees.

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Chasing the Horizon is sponsored by Dunlop Motorcycle Tires.

Speaking of Harley-Davidson, they had a huge management shakeup. CEO Matt Levatich was ousted at the end of February, replaced temporarily by Jochen Zeitz, who sits on the company’s board.

BONUS LINK: Read HD’s press release on the situation.

Dash of the new Harley Bronx.

One of Harley’s investors, Impala Asset Management, chose the circumstances to initiate a proxy fight (whatever that is) in an attempt to get two people of their choosing on Harley’s board. No word yet on if they’ll be successful, but I doubt it.

BONUS LINK: Jalopnik says Harley isn’t interested in changing.

You might have a vague recollection of one of Harley’s most forward-thinking motorcycles, the V-Rod, which was unfortunately and unceremoniously dropped in 2017. Harley isn’t sitting still despite what’s going on with upper management, and we’re looking forward to the launch of the 975CC, liquid-cooled Bronx streetfighter, hopefully some time this summer, as a 2021 model along with the Pan America.

Harley Bronx streetfighter, 975CC, expected out later this year.

We might also be seeing the release of BMW’s R 18 bagger sooner rather than later if spy photos from Ride Apart are to be believed. A near-future release could well be supported by patent applications recently filed as well.

No electric motorcycle news this month – I’ll dig some up for you in April.

We’ll see you out there somewhere on the road – or off it! Ride safe… and wash your hands.