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.

Say What??! – Tech3 and Yamaha Will Part Ways in 2019

If you thought the 2019 MotoGP Silly Season was already in high gear, a bombshell announcement has just put it into overdrive. Today, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team announced that from 2019, they will be parting ways. Tech3 will no longer be a satellite Yamaha team. The split brings to an end an association of nearly 20 years with Yamaha. They first started in 1999 with Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque in 250cc, before switching to the premier class with the same pair in 2001. Tech3 has been a loyal partner for many years, giving up one seat to a factory-backed rider on a number of occasions, as occurred with Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Pol Espargaro. However, there had been a few signs of tension over the past few months.

Trademark Hints at Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle

Has Harley-Davidson just tipped its hand regarding its upcoming electric motorcycle? It would seem so, according to the latest trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registering the name “Revelation” with the USPTO, Harley-Davidson has set aside the trademark for two uses: 1) batteries for vehicles, and 2) drivetrains for electric motorcycles and vehicles. Other publications are running this story as the “Revelation” name being the moniker for Harley-Davidson’s production version of the Livewire electric motorcycle concept, but the actual trademark makes a very clear alternative to that narrative.

Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you from Varese, Italy this week, as we get ready to ride the Euro4-spec Brutale 800 RR.

Before we ride tomorrow though, we had a chance to sit down with MV Agusta boss, Giovanni Castiglioni, and pick his brain on a variety of subjects (keep an eye on the MOTR podcast for the full interview).

Revealing a few company secrets to us, as all good Italian CEOs do, Castiglioni has provided more insight on the company’s new four-cylinder platform, which will begin to debut this year, likely at November’s EICMA show, but possibly before then.

Described to us as “like Leon Camier’s bike, but without fairings”, the new Brutale 1000 will be the first of three models using the Italian company’s four-cylinder platform.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #66 – EICMA

11/21/2017 @ 8:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 66 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we cover all the new motorcycles that caught our eye at the EICMA trade show in Milan, Italy.

There are a bevy of new models that we discuss in the show, with bikes from BMW, Ducati, Aprilia, Indian, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, KTM, and Husqvarna all tickling our fancy.

Some of the highlights include talking about the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX; the three-wheeled Yamaha Niken; the 226hp Ducati Panigale V4 Speciale; the very attractive Honda CB4 Interceptor concept; KTM’s two 790 bikes, and BMW’s substantial updates to its GS models.

A bit light on sleep, and certainly over-caffeinated, we think you will find the conversation to be a bit…peppy. Nevertheless, we think you will enjoy this latest edition of the podcast.

One last note for our Californian listeners, we will be doing a live show at the Dainese D-Store in San Francisco on December 13th, at 6:30pm (the show mentions an incorrect time, as schedules have changed since we recorded the show). We hope to see you there!

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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The KTM 790 Adventure R Prototype in Action

11/20/2017 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I am always kind of amazed that when KTM shows its hot new bikes at a trade show like EICMA, the Austrian brand does such a bad job sharing the media it creates. Such is the case with the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype.

As such, only a handful of studio shots were released to the public upon the bike’s debut in Milan, Italy. But yet, KTM has clearly gone through the trouble of doing photo shoots with the middleweight ADV machine, and still the “Ready to Race” brand isn’t spreading the love.

Fortunately, we do have a couple photos of the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype, lifted from KTM’s Facebook page, and they do entice.

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Bigfoot. Nessie. Roswell…these are the great myths of our time. In the motorcycle industry, we can add another one to the list: a scooter from Ducati. It has been often talked about in enthusiast and media circles, and it has often been denied by Ducati’s higher-ups.

Today we get some news from Ducati that a scooter is on the way, and more, as Edouard Lotthé (Managing Director of Ducati Western Europe) confirmed not only a Ducati scooter project, but also Ducati’s electric future, in an interview with France’s Moto-Station.

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It is good to be Valentino Rossi. Not only do you have nine world championships to your name, legions of yellow-crazy fans, but you also get pretty nice gifts from your friends.

Take “Mya” for example – a special Yamaha XJR1300 custom flat tracker that the folks at VR|46 built for their fearless leader.

Now, when you think about bikes that should be the basis for a custom project, the Yamaha XJR1300 doesn’t exactly come to mind. It probably doesn’t help that this decades-old model is only Euro3 compliant, and set to sunset at the end of this year.

The XJ1300 certainly doesn’t strike us as the appropriate starting point for a flat track bike either, especially with its 530 lbs weight figure.

That all being said, the VR|46 crew have done a pretty good job of spiffing up the old girl.

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That Suzuki Katana 3.0 Concept Though…

11/15/2017 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

One of the less-publicized motorcycles on display at this year’s EICMA show was this Suzuki Katana concept, which has since been making the rounds on social media.

Rightfully so, we would say, as the “Katana 3.0” is a very intriguing idea into how Suzuki can revitalize one of its most iconic names.

A creation by the folks at Motociclismo, with the help of designer Rodolfo Frascoli and Engines Engineering, the Katana 3.0 concept isn’t the “official” concept that many had hoped for from Suzuki.

However, the fact that Suzuki hosted the concept inside its EICMA display is a sign that the Japanese manufacturer is certainly listening to the feeback the bike generates.

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A Few Photos of the ARCH Method143

11/14/2017 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Color us intrigued by ARCH Motorcycle’s third installment to its lineup, the very exclusive ARCH Method143.

Powered by an air-cooled 143ci (2,343cc) v-twin engine, the Method143 varies from ARCH’s usual fare of power cruisers, as it is more of an upright roadster in format.

Of course, it has only the best components, including Öhlins suspension (FGRT series front forks and TTX rear shock) and carbon fiber BST wheels. Also, the chassis is made from a carbon fiber MonoCell frame, with other parts made from CNC’d aluminum.

Only 23 units will be made of the ARCH Method143, and as you can see from these detail photos, those will be a lucky 23 individuals.

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The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

11/14/2017 @ 12:04 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year's work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season.

Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA.

So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week's big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry.

For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences. Don't worry, I'll break them down for you, though it might take a while.

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Yamaha MT-09 SP Brings Some European Bling

11/08/2017 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Yamaha FZ-09…pardon us…the Yamaha MT-09 is a top-seller for the Japanese brand, mixing a solid motorcycle, with decent features, all for a reasonable price.

Hoping to appeal to riders more “up-market” though, Yamaha has a conundrum, and the hope is that the Yamaha MT-09 SP is the solution.

Taking its potent three-cylinder street bike, Yamaha has taken the MT-09 and added an Öhlins rear shock and fully adjustable front forks to the package – which are not from Öhlins, I might add.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The Yamaha MT-09 SP follows in the same vein as the Yamaha MT-10 SP.

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ARCH KRGT-1 Power Cruiser Gets Updates for 2018

11/08/2017 @ 7:22 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

ARCH Motorcycle’s first model, the KRGT-1, is getting a host of updates for the 2018 model year. The big changes come in the form of ergonomic refinements, and modifications to the bodywork.

Other changes include updated front suspension, in the form of Öhlins FRGT series forks, and an ARCH proprietary rear shock; updated ISR Brakes with an optional ABS module; and Euro4 compliance for riders on the other side of the pond.

At the center of the ARCH KRGT-1 remains a 124ci (2,032cc) air-cooled v-twin engine, which is held in a steel frame with an aluminum subframe. Wheels are five-spoke carbon fiber pieces from BST.

Forward controls are standard on the ARCH KRGT-1, though mid-controls are available as an option, as well. 

We can expect to see the 2018 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1 early next year, available in the USA and Europe.

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