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.

The popular Kawasaki Z900 continues to get the attention of the folks at Team Green, first with the teasing of the Kawasaki Z900RS vintage street bike model, and now for our European readers, an A2 version of the Z900 is available for beginning riders.

This means that for the 2018 model year, a 70kW (93hp) version of the Kawasaki Z900 will be available to A2 license holders, and Kawasaki has gone to great lengths to make sure it keeps the looks and character of its full-power sibling.

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2016 Benelli Leoncino Brings Back the Lion Cub

11/18/2015 @ 2:25 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS


Benelli is not a brand we usually talk about with great reverence, as the Italian company has steadily lost its luster since its acquisition by China’s Qianjiang Group.

Benelli’s motorcycles were never known for being terribly reliable, and unfortunately the artful designs that they exuded have slowly eroded away over time.

The big announcement for Benelli at the 2015 EICMA show is the new Benelli Leoncino, the “lion cub” model that’s rooted in Benelli’s post-WWII history.

This modern take on the classic Benelli Leoncino is an attractive scrambler model, which makes 47hp from its 500cc parallel-twin engine.

This also means that the Benelli Leoncino a well-suited A2 license machine in Europe, and its wire-spoked wheels are 19″ in the front and 17″ in the rear, and should make the Leoncino surprisingly adapt at light off-road use.

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Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 – 400cc of Hipster

11/16/2015 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS


The eagerly awaited 2016 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is the small-displacement machine we have been waiting for from Ducati, and it has finally dropped at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. The Scrambler Sixty2 joins the Scrambler Flat Track Pro as one of the two new Scrambler Ducati models for 2016.

Accordingly, the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 takes the basic Scrambler chassis and re-sleeves the machine’s air-cooled v-twin for 400cc of displacement, with a 72mm x 49mm bore and stroke (compared to the 88mm x 66mm bore and stroke on the 803cc models).

The result is a bike that Ducati says is better suited for new riders with its 41hp and 368 lbs dry weight. That’s only a 7 lbs reduction from the the 803cc models, so the Scrambler Sixty2 is still a bit heavy, but the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 does fit into Europe’s A2 license format, so there’s that.

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Here are the First Photos of the 2016 Honda CB500F

11/09/2015 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Media Advisory: 2016 Honda CB500F Preview Images

Here is your first look at the 2016 Honda CB500F, which like its other Honda brethren, will get a bit of makeover for next year. American Honda is teasing the new model now, but says it won’t release more information until the EICMA show in Milan, on November 17th.

We don’t think Honda will stray too far from the current Honda CB500F, with most of the modifications being cosmetic refinements that enhance the street-standard’s appeal to riders.

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Finally, Here is the Husqvarna 701 Enduro

10/27/2015 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS


We already blew the cover on the Husqvarna 701 Enduro last month, but now the Swedish brand is officially showing the big enduro to the general public. As expected, the 701 Enduro will be the off-road compliment to the 701 Supermoto, with the two machines sharing the same 690cc single-cylinder platform.

This means that the Husqvarna 701 Enduro will make 67hp, have dual-spark ignition, and use a SOHC setup. The 701 machines also have ride-by-wire with selectable engine maps, ABS as standard, as is the ATSC slipper clutch.

For bonus points though, it is possible to get the Husqvarna 701 Enduro compliant for A2 licensed riders, which should help some less experienced riders get onto this big bike when it debuts in Europe (yes, it’s coming to the USA and Canada too).

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For 2016, we know that Honda will bring its big “adventure-tourer” the US market, known to Europeans as the Honda Crosstourer, and introduced to Americans as the Honda VFR1200X. For the 2016 model year, the Crosstourer gets some minor updates, as does its 700cc sibling the Honda NC700X.

So if you’re keeping score, that leaves one more machine to get a modest update for 2016…yup, Honda CB500X, we are talking about you!

A Goldilocks-busting lineup of street-focused ADV machines, the 2016 Honda CB500X rounds out Honda’s lineup with a lightweight and nimble machine that is also good for the A2 licensing countries.

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2016 Honda CBR500R Debuts with Modest Changes

10/15/2015 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2016 Honda CBR500R

Not quite “bold new graphics” territory, but the Honda CBR500R will get mostly cosmetic changes for the 2016 model year, as the machine made its world debut at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida today, as expected.

The most noticeable change comes to the fairings, which get a more aggressive design that Honda says improves airflow over the rider. LEDs will replace the incandescent bulbs on the headlights and taillights, which is an interesting upgrade to make, though a welcomed one.

Other changes include a new exhaust can design, an adjustable front brake lever, improved feel through the gearbox, and a larger fuel tank. We saved the best new feature for last though: a wave ignition key, for smoother function. Welcome to Flavor Country, people.

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2014 Honda CB650F — A2 License Optional

11/08/2013 @ 4:44 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS


Of course where there is a new Honda CBR650F at the 2013 EICMA show, there is a new Honda CB650F as well. Based on its fully-faired sibling, the 2014 Honda CB650F features the same brand new chassis and motor that is found on the 2014 Honda CBR650F sport bike.

Accordingly, peak horsepower is 86hp with the CB650F tipping the scales at 454 lbs at the curb (458 lbs for the ABS-equipped model).

Like the CBR650F, the CB650F is geared for younger riders, and accordingly Honda will have an A2 license machine available that will make 47hp and have ABS as a standard option.

Other features and characteristics are in-line with the 650cc CBR model, making the CB650F a practical street naked, that has some design chops as well. Would you rock it?

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2013 KTM 390 Duke – AYBABTU

11/13/2012 @ 4:48 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Officially official now, there isn’t much about the 2013 KTM 390 Duke that we don’t already know ahead of the opening of the EICMA show. Built in India by KTM minority shareholder Bajaj, the KTM 390 Duke is a 373cc single-cylinder bike that shares the same chassis as the KTM 125 Duke & KTM 200 Duke.

Suitable for Europe’s A2 licensing system, the largest baby Duke competes well against bikes like the Honda CBR500R and Kawasaki Ninja 300, and thus finishes out the Austrian’s bid to control the small-displacement market.

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The Dutch folk at Nieuwsmotor have snuck their way onto the EICMA showroom floor, snapped photos of the KTM 390 Duke kiosk, and posted the images to their blog — giving us the first proper viewing of the Austrian brand’s 373cc street-thumper. Like the 2013 Honda CBR500R, the  2013 KTM 390 Duke is setup for the A2 licensing tier in Europe, and accordingly makes 43hp @ 9.500 rpm and 26 lbs•ft of torque @ 7,250 rpm.

Complete with ABS and built in India by minority shareholder Bajaj, the 2013 KTM 390 Duke is slotted to enter the US market next year, and should be aggressively priced against the competition. For already-motorcyclists and would-be motorcyclists in the market for a cheap, but potent, small-displacement machine, next year is going to be a very good year.

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