Introducing the MOTR Podcast

Today we are announcing the third podcast that Asphalt & Rubber is involved with, the Motorcycles on the Record Podcast…or as we like to call it: the MOTR Podcast. The concept is pretty simple, as the MOTR Podcast is designed to compliment our popular Two Enthusiasts Podcast production. For those who don’t listen to it aleady, on the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson take an outside perspective on what is happening in the motorcycle industry. So, to contrast that with the MOTR Podcast, this new show will provide an insider’s view of what’s going on in motorcycles, with a focus on interviews and discussions with the industry’s leading figures.

Say Hello to the New Triumph Speed Triple RS

Back in 1994, Triumph created the streetfighter segment with the Speed Triple. But, the bike of 20 years ago is very different from the one debuting today, however the basic ethos remains: an aggressive sport bike for the city streets. In this time span though, the streetfighter segment has changed. Brands like KTM and Aprilia rule the roost, with high-horsepower bikes that come competently packed with high-tech electronics. Hoping to stay relevant with the same basic 1050cc platform, the British marque shows us now the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS – which boasts over 100 “new” parts just in the engine alone. The changes are subtle to the outgoing model though, but the highlights do stand out.

2018 Alta Motors Redshift MXR Officially Debuts – More Power, More Torque, Less Weight, and “Overclocking”

Here it is. After we broke the story that Alta Motors would be debuting an R-spec machine for its motocross line, we get our first glimpse of the 2018 Alta Motor Redshift MXR. A souped-up version of the 2018 model, which already gets some upgrades over last year’s bike, the Redshift MXR boasts some impressive features, in the pursuit of a no-compromises MX race bike. As such, Alta is quoting a stout 50hp and 42 lbs•ft of torque for the Redshift MXR, while the “wet” weight of the machine has been reduced by 8 lbs, to 259 lbs ready-to-ride. Recharge times have also been reduced, to just 1.5hrs on a 220v system – a savings of 30 minutes over the standard model.

Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle Coming in 18 Months

Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich dropped more than a few bombs during today’s earnings report, first saying that the Bar & Shield brand would close its Kansas City factory and consolidate production around its York, Pennsylvania plant. The American brand isn’t stopping the news there though. Offering a carrot of good tidings, Harley-Davidson reports that it will make its first production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months, effectively bringing its Livewire concept into production. The Livewire was a purpose-built concept done by Harley-Davidson in order to gauge the market reaction to the Bar & Shield brand going electric. Offering limited test rides, Harley-Davidson got positive responses to the Livewire experience, and the project has been internally green-lit ever since.

Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand. That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating. The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

Hervé Poncharal Talks About Replacing Jonas Folger

It is hard to envision a worse time to lose a rider for the season. Jonas Folger’s announcement that he was withdrawing from the 2018 MotoGP season to focus on his health was a hammer blow for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Just weeks before the start of testing for the new season, and long after riders good enough to race in MotoGP have signed contracts, Tech 3 team boss Hervé Poncharal is left looking for a replacement. It is a massive task, especially as Poncharal is refusing to break any contracts to take a rider. “You would be amazed to hear how many phone calls I have had, and who from,” he told us. “There were some interesting names, honestly, but priority for me, the basis for me is that I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract.”

Honda and Forever 21 Create Clothing Line for Millennials

An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women. “Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”

What You Need to Know About the Ducati Panigale V4 S

Is the Ducati Panigale V4 S the most anticipated motorcycle of 2018? If you are a diehard sport biker, the answer is probably yes, though a number of significant models are debuting this year, from several manufacturers. Still, in terms of ground-changing machines, the Panigale V4 has to rank high up on the list, as it is Ducati’s first proper four-cylinder motorcycle to go into mainstream production. I am writing to you today from Valencia, Spain – where we just finished a day of riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is better known as the final stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar. So, let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

What You Need to Know About the 2018 Honda Gold Wing

We just finished riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour in Austin, Texas – a day early I might add…because it’s snowing…in Texas. Still, clocking close to 200 miles on Honda’s sixth generation of this venerable touring machine has provided us with some interesting insights into the next Wing. A bike designed for long-distance riding, we have gathered our thoughts on the new Honda Gold Wing Tour, in a short and sweet format, so you can sound informed at your next bike night or internet forum. Overall, the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour is a smart update to an iconic motorcycle, and it brings the Gold Wing name inline with the current state of technology. As we found on the road,  the new Gold Wing is an improvement over its predecessor, but that comes with a caveat or two.

Brembo Issues Statement on Its Master Cylinder Recall

Just over a week ago, we broke the news that a massive recall was coming to motorcycles equipped with a particular Brembo master cylinder. Since then, we have seen recall notices from Aprilia and Ducati (affecting roughly 10,000 motorcycles in the USA) with more recalls expected from other brands. Because recalls in the United States typically come from the motorcycle manufacturer and not the part supplier, mum was the word from the folks at Brembo, though there were a number of questions regarding these recalls that weren’t answered in the NHTSA documents. Today, Brembo has finally decided to speak about the recalls that are underway in the United States, and presumably will be occurring in other markets as well.

Just the other day, I was lamenting to a Ducati person about how the Desert Sled should have been the first model from the motorcycle makers Scrambler sub-brand…since, you know, it goes off-road quite well.

Built for the hard hits and jumps that come with taking a production street bike scrambling through the woods, the Desert Sled pretty much lives up to its name. But, if you really want to do the business, some changes need to be made.

This is where Alex Earle comes in the picture, with his Ducati Desert Sled “ADV Alaska” Prototype. A designer for Audi by day, Earle is known better in motorcycling circles for his street-tracker inspired custom Ducatis. You’ve probably seen them before.

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Is a Baby Africa Twin Coming from Honda?

12/08/2017 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Brits over at MCN have an interesting story right now, whereby Honda is considering making a middleweight version of its Africa Twin adventure-tourer.

Really, that thought isn’t so shocking, and if this year’s EICMA show was any indication of things, it’s that the middleweight ADV segment is of particular interest to motorcycle manufacturers right now.

One look at Honda’s lineup, and it is obvious that Big Red is missing something that can go head-to-head with bikes like the BMW F850GS and Triumph Tiger 800 (I’m willfully excluding the Japanese brands here), and the soon-to-come KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha Ténéré 700.

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BMW Debuts Revised F750GS & F850GS Models

11/07/2017 @ 10:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The middleweight ADV segment is hot in Milan right now, with a bevy of models in this category debuting at this year’s EICMA show. For BMW Motorrad, its a two-pronged effort, showing the updated BMW F750GS and BMW 850GS models.

This space has always been a big crowded in the BMW motorcycle lineup, with the F700GS and F800GS having considerable overlaps. For 2018, the Germans explain how they see the F750GS and F850GS as differing.

Accordingly, the BMW F750GS is designed for riders who prefer a travel enduro that has a low seat height, good power, and plenty of bang for the buck.

Conversely, the new BMW F850GS boasts more power and torque, is more feature-heavy, and is designed with extensive off-roading in mind.

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We were the first outlet to bring you photos of the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype, but now this 799cc trail-shredding machine is out in the wild, and we can share with you more specs, details, and higher resolution photos.

The first point is the obvious, the KTM 790 Adventure R will not be a 2018 model, but instead will debut for the 2019 model year.

It shares a parallel-twin engine with the KTM 790 Duke, which also debuted today at the EICMA show in Milan. The 105hp engine is a fully stressed part of the steel-tube chassis, which means there should be excellent weight savings for the 790 Adventure R.

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Moto Guzzi V85 – A New Platform, A New Enduro

11/07/2017 @ 5:30 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A quirky bike in its own right, the Moto Guzzi Stelvio had a strange cult following behind its bulky adventure-touring frame. As such, it was missed when it disappeared from Moto Guzzi’s lineup.

Well, now it’s back…sort of.

The following is what’s being called the Moto Guzzi V85 concept. It’s a loud enduro model that picks up where the Stelvio left off, and it also boasts a new 850cc engine platform from the Italian brand, which with its 80hp, will sit between the V7/V9 family of bikes, and the big 1400 cruisers.

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The name of the game for Triumph’s 2018 ADV bikes is subtlety, but effective updates for the upcoming model year. As such, we have already seen at the EICMA show in Milan that the Triumph Tiger 800 gets modest updates for the 2018 model year.

The 2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 too gets a much needed overhaul, though like the Tiger 800, the changes are hard to spot on the full-size adventure-tourer in the British brand’s ADV lineup.

Triumph is quoting a 22 lbs weight reduction for the new Tiger 1200 though (note the name change too, by the way), along with over 100 other improvements found on the adventure bike.

The biggest improvement comes to the 1,215cc three-cylinder engine, which makes just shy of 140hp in its shaft-drive format – just as it did in 2017.

Hoping to make a splash with adventure riders with its 2018 edition however, Triumph has been sure to pack the Tiger 1200 with a bevy of premium features, starting with WP Suspension’s semi-active suspension pieces.

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2018 Triumph Tiger 800 Breaks Cover with Changes

11/07/2017 @ 12:01 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Triumph Tiger 800 gets a refresh for the 2018 model year – 200 of them, if you believe the British brand, though they are hard to spot with the naked eye.

While not a completely new ADV bike, the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 does get meaningful upgrades to a variety of its core systems, helping it maintain its status as the benchmark in the middleweight ADV category.

Triumph tells us that the 800cc three-cylinder engine has been made more responsive, while peak power remains at 95hp. The Brits have also shortened 1st gear, for better low-speed character. The exhaust has been worked over, as has the new five-position windscreen.

Of course, the feature you will be really happy to hear about is the new “Off Road Pro” mode (XC models only), which lets one turn off the various rider aids, which is ideal for off-road riding, especially if you are a pro. So…that name makes a bit of sense.

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Last year, we were teased with the Yamaha T7 concept, a bike we expected to become a 700cc Yamaha Ténéré adventure machine. A year has passed now, and finally we can see the new Yamaha Ténéré 700 at this year’s EICMA show…or so we thought.

Based on the parallel-twin engine found in the Yamaha FZ-07, the Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid promises to bring a potent middleweight adventure bike to Yamaha’s dual-sport lineup. But instead, it is yet another prototype teaser from Yamaha.

We are Jack’s utter disappointment.

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The Honda Africa Twin gets a sibling for the 2018 model year, as the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports debuted today at Honda’s pre-EICMA launch event.

As expected the Africa Twin Adventure Sports is a more off-road focused version of the Honda Africa Twin, and comes with a robust set of features that make it easier to go globetrotting on the plucky adventure-tourer from Honda.

Like on the now revised 2018 Honda Africa Twin, the Adventure Sports version comes with improvements over the original Africa Twin design.

This includes new foot rests, a new instrument panel, ride-by-wire throttle control with three throttle maps, seven levels of Honda’s traction control system, a new exhaust design, and a lithium-ion battery.

Internally there are some changes as well, like a modified airbox, which improves the mid-range response, as does a lighter balancer shaft. 

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For the 2018 model year, we see one of our favorite bikes in the Ducati lineup getting the 1260 update. We are of course talking about the 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak.

The Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak takes its name from one of America’s oldest racing venues, and as a result it is the sportiest version of Ducati’s adventure-touring machines.

Now fitted with Ducati’s Testastretta DVT 1262 engine, the Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak makes 85% of its torque below 3,500 rpm on the v-twin engine. That is a good thing, because Ducati says the bulk of Multistrada owners rarely get above 6,000 rpm on their machines.

This makes the 1,262cc engine the perfect candidate for low-revving excursions, like the ones you would take down a dusty fire road. For the sports-focused Pikes Peak model, the choice is a little bit more curious, but we won’t scuff at the 158hp on tap.

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