The Fruits of Carmelo Ezpeleta’s Grand Plan for MotoGP

Sometimes decisions are a long time in the making. Tech3’s decision to leave Yamaha and sign with KTM may have been made in the space of a few months, but the genesis of that choice, the process that made it all possible is ten years in the making. If MotoGP hadn’t switched from 990cc to 800cc at the start of the 2007 season, if the ban on tobacco sponsorship in sports hadn’t been enforced from 2005, if the financial system hadn’t collapsed under the weight of tranches of “ninja” loans, Tech3 would be a Yamaha satellite team for the foreseeable future. Whether they wanted to be or not. How did MotoGP get to a place where Tech3 could switch to KTM? To make complete sense of the story, we have to go back to the end of the last century.

Here’s How to Race a $20,000 KTM RC390 R in the USA

In case you haven’t noticed, the Supersport 300 class is heating up, and perhaps most interestingly with virtually zero machines with a 300cc displacement…but that is a subject for another time. This has put pressure on KTM to remain at the pointy end of business in the small-displacement category, which has lead the Austrian company to the release of a homologation special for the 300cc class. As such, say hello to the 2018 KTM RC390 R sport bike. A street legal motorcycle, the KTM RC390 R aims to sharpen the points where the entry-level KTM RC390 is a bit dull, namely by using better suspension and new intake trumpets that widen the powerband, but also with a new triple clamp, clip-ons, and levers.

The Future of Fast, A Review of the Alta Redshift MXR

I always joke with industry folk that “it’s called Asphalt & Rubber for a reason,” as I am a dyed in the wool street bike guy. So when Alta Motors invited A&R to ride the new Alta Redshift MXR, I knew there were better people for the job than I. This is where heterosexual life partner Carlin Dunne comes into the mix. On top of being one of the fastest men ever up Pikes Peak on two wheels, as well as the fastest electric motorcycle to compete in The Race to the Clouds, Carlin is an accomplished off-road racer – both with and without a motor between his legs. So, we sent Carlin down to Southern California to ride Alta’s newest machines, and with already a bevy of time in the saddle on electric motorcycles, I can’t think of a better person’s opinion for these electron-powered off-road racers.

What A Trade War Means for Motorcycles

Strangely enough, we have talked about trade wars several times before, here on Asphalt & Rubber, as the Trump administration has been keen to use this tool in its toolbox, often with effects that reach into the motorcycle industry. The first time around, we talked about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) affected the motorcycle industry, namely Harley-Davidson, and how the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement would likely be a negative effect for US motorcyclists. We have also had to talk about how fighting over beef imports could lead to possible tariffs on small-displacement European motorcycles in the United States, a tariff that would seriously hurt Piaggio/Vespa scooter sales and KTM dirt bike sales.

KTM and Tech3 Team Up in MotoGP for the 2019 Season

It was a shock to hear that the venerable Tech3 team would be leaving the Yamaha family, come the 2019 MotoGP season, after all Tech3 boss Hervé Poncharal cut his teeth with Yamaha. But, once the news of his move sunk in, we are not surprised to hear that he is headed to KTM for the 2019 season, as was officially announced today (and rumored for well over a week). That is right, for the 2019 MotoGP Championship, the Tech3 team – one of the most regarded satellite teams in the GP Paddock – will be racing the KTM RC16 MotoGP race bike, with full-factory machines from Austria. That last caveat is likely the tipping point and main reason for Poncharal’s switch, with Tech3 long having to put-up with having the leftovers from the Yamaha Racing factory squad.

What If Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors Had a Baby?

With the news that Harley-Davidson has invested an undisclosed sum in electric motorcycle manufacturer Alta Motors, the following concept might seem like a no-brainer. That is because the folks at Carbon Projects invisions the partnership between the two American brands as lending itself to the creation of an electric street-tracker model. Taking the heritage-focused roots of Harley-Davidson, and applying them to Alta’s Redshift platform, the resulting model is quite a looker, if we do say so. Of course, we should remember that Alta has already shown a street tracker concept of its own, displaying the Alta Motors Redshift ST concept at last year’s One Moto Show, in Portland, Oregon.

This Week’s Suzuki Hayabusa Rumor, Redux

In this installment of “This Week’s Suzuki Hayabusa Rumor,” we again take a look at the motor of this venerable sport bike. The rumor going around the interwebs right now is that the 2019 Suzuki Hayabusa will feature a “semi-automatic” gearbox. Side-stepping the part where saying a gearbox is semi-automatic is  a lot like saying someone is “semi-pregnant” (you either are, or aren’t), the rumor stems from a patent filed by Suzuki that shows a gear-shifting mechanism with the foot-shifter that doesn’t require a clutch. If this sounds a lot like an up/down quickshifter system, then you score extra bonus points today for being a rational human being, but you would be very wrong about what this whole rumor should actually be about.

Harley-Davidson Invests in Alta Motors

Harley-Davidson has announced its strategic investment in Alta Motors, which will see the two American companies co-developing two new electric motorcycle models. As one can imagine, the news has big ramifications for both brands. For Harley-Davidson, it means having access to cutting-edge electric vehicle technology, and a technical partner that can help them navigate the coming shift to electric drivetrains. And for Alta Motors the news is perhaps even more impactful, as Harley-Davidson brings not only a key monetary investment into the San Francisco startup, but the deal likely provides access to a variety of assets for Alta, namely purchasing power with parts supplier, access to a worldwide dealer network, and instant credibility with other future investors.

Here Comes a New Complaint About Californian Drivers…

If you are riding in California anytime soon, you might want to think twice before blaming the state’s fleet of drivers, as The Golden State just made it legal for self-driving cars to operate without a human behind the wheel. While similar actions have stalled in the US Congress (the SELF DRIVE ACT is stuck in a Senate committee), states have begun to take matters into their own hands, like they did in Arizona. That is right, the dawn of truly autonomous vehicles has just arrived, and it is primed to change the driving landscape as we know it, which by correlation means changes for the motorcycle community as well. Announced on Monday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) approved rules that would make it legal for automated vehicles to operate without a human behind the wheel. 

BMW S675RR Concept by Nicolas Petit

I really like the idea of BMW making a supersport model, to compliment the already potent BMW S1000RR. The category is a tough one though, and it is dominated by the Japanese brands. Maybe, this is why BMW Motorrad is the perfect brand to disrupt the supersport segment. The S1000RR made a killing in the liter-bike space, because it brought European features and performance, at a Japanese price-point. Because of the success that resulted from that formula, maybe the Germans can do the same in the 600cc segment. Putting some pen and paper to this thought, Nicolas Petit has inked together a render of a proposed BMW supersport machine, which he dubs the BMW S675RR.

Ty Howard Flogs the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R

06/01/2011 @ 6:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

KTM-sponsored rider Ty Howard got some track time with the new 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R, and the Texan seems to be very positive about the changes the Austrian company has made to its already potent superbike package. Instead of aiming for more power, KTM’s goal was more rideability (though the Ready to Race brand did manage to squeeze a few more ponies out of the 2011 machine).

Thus, it’s fitting that changes include a new fueling system, new crankshaft, heavier flywheel, and dual-spark ignition. The 2010 KTM 1190 RC8 R is probably our favorite track bike, so we have high hopes for the 2011 edition when we finally get a chance to test one. Check out Ty’s impressions of the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R after the jump.

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2011 KTM Street Bike Price List

02/16/2011 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

For 2011, KTM has added two new models to its street line-up: the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Race Spec & 2011 KTM 990 Adventure Dakar. Helping celebrate 30 years of the Dakar Rally, the 990 Adventure Dakar comes with with the Adventure R’s peppier 115hp motor, and the base model Adventure’s 210mm suspension. The KTM 990 Adventure Dakar also comes with a selectable two-channel anti-lock brake system courtesy of the wicked smart minds at Bosch.

Other highlights in KTM’s 2011 street line is the massive price reduction on the KTM RC8R, which takes over the price point of the now discontinued RC8, making for one very affordable v-twin awesomebike. The 2011 KTM 990 SMT also gets some upgrades, most notably the same two-channel anti-lock brake system courtesy of Bosch. Full price list and availability breakdown after the jump.

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2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Price Slashed to $16,499

02/14/2011 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

KTM must have read our wish list for Christmas (we originally asked for a reduced price and free puppy with every purchase), as not only has the Austrian company improved upon its already impressive KTM 1190 RC8 R v-twin awesomebike, but they’ve considerable slashed the RC8 R’s MSRP. Prices so low, they’re practically giving the bike away, the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will retail for $16,499 — a nearly $3,500 price reduction from the 2010 model (the RC8 R effectively takes over the price point of the RC8, which has been discontinued for 2011).

Making 175hp (with the right fuel), the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R benefits from a dual spark plug ignition setup that features two different spark plugs for different ignition points. Improving not only performance levels, the new spark plug configuration also gives the RC8 R a 12% fuel economy increase, while decreasing emissions. Also new for 2011 is a new crankshaft and flywheel which have increased masses (100g & 1,000g respectively) to smooth out the power pulses of the RC8 R.

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2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R: 175hp…Sorta

11/12/2010 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

If you’ve heard any loud thuds while visiting A&R the past two weeks, it’s been us falling over ourselves over the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R. For 2011, the new RC8 R gets a number of refinements to its already stout package, and for the spec sheets racers the most drool-worthy stat perhaps is the bike’s modest power boost to 175hp, up from its base of 167hp. There’s a kicker to that power figure though, it comes from switching the base engine map, which is designed for 91 octane (AKI rating, which is what we use here in the USA), to a 93 octane map.

It could seem like we’re splitting hairs here, but unless you live next to a race track where gas stations will often carry the 93 octane rated fuel, you’ll be risking pinging KTM’s beautiful 1195cc motor with the lower-rated fuel, and be relegated to using the 170hp engine map while on the street. We don’t know how RC8 R owners will only handle 170hp on the street, hopefully the photos after the jump will help.

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More Photos of the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R

11/04/2010 @ 2:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

If you are like us, you were left wanting more when the first images of the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R leaked ahead of its EICMA debut. It is hard to imagine how KTM could improve upon the RC8 R platform, but the Austrian company did so anyways, upping the performance level to 175hp, while adding some hot new color schemes for 2011. If you have the means to afford one, we highly recommend picking up this v-twin monster – it’s simply superb. Check out the 18 photos after the jump, and bring a washcloth.

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2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Leaks Ahead of EICMA

10/29/2010 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

According to the folks at Hell for Leather, KTM is not only updating the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R with a bevy of eye-catching color schemes (see the drool-worthy gallery after the jump), but has also taken it upon itself to upgrade the Austrian bullet with an additional 7hp or so, bringing the RC8 R’s final total up to 175hp (torque gets a modest increase of 1.5 lbs•ft, totaling in at 93.6 lbs•ft).

Installing a new crankshaft, heavier flywheel, and dual-plug ignition, KTM hopes that the new 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will not only be more powerful than its predecessor, but also smoother and easier to ride. We found the 2010 KTM 1190 RC8 R to be one of the best bikes we’ve ever ridden on the track (we are partial to v-twins though), so the idea that the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will build upon an already exceptional package tickles our fancy quite a bit.

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