Erik Buell’s Newest Project Is an Electric Street Bike

Erik Buell, we have missed thee. It has been almost a year since we last reported on the demise of Erik Buell Racing, but it has been over two years since we talked about the man himself. What has Buell been up to? Well, from the look of things, making a pivot into the electric motorcycle arena, it seems. Teaming up with New York City boutique bike brand, Vanguard Motorcycles, as well as Formula E car supplier, SPARK Racing Technologies, Buell is part of the new VanguardSpark venture. For its debut, VanguardSpark has two machines on offer. The first is an electric motorcycle (above), called the VanguardSpark Commuter. It’s a simple design, which we don’t find terribly appealing, though one should always reserve some judgments when only looking at a concept machine.

This Week’s “Ducati for Sale” Rumor

The Volkswagen Group got a new CEO last week, and in less than seven days, that news has already sparked renewed rumors in the German automobile conglomerate divesting itself of Ducati Motor Holdings. For those who have been following Ducati’s saga, there was much talk last year of Volkswagen selling off a number of its other brands, all under the reasoning that the German company would need to raise capital to cover its mounting Dieselgate liabilities. The logic for that reasoning wasn’t sound, but the actions were certainly there, with Volkswagen tendering offers from a number of would-be suitors. There was a fly in the ointment though: Volkswagen’s labor unions, who control half of the VW Group’s board seats, and were vehemently opposed to any brand divestitures.

Battery “Thermal Events” Lead to Zero Recall & Buy-Back

Zero Motorcycles is reporting a very serious defect with its 2012 model year bikes, specifically affecting the Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DSP (Police) models. The recall concerns Zero’s battery architecture for the 2012 model year, which may cause cells to fail, and thus create a runaway “thermal event” (read: catches on fire) within the battery pack. In total, this recall affects 218 motorcycle units – the entire volume of Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero DPS motorcycles that were sold for the 2012 model year. In its recall documents, Zero cites three instances (one in Hong Kong, and two in the USA) where the battery packs on the affected 2012 model bikes have failed and lead to a thermal event.

Benelli’s Grom-Killer Debuts for the US Market, A Review

For years, Benelli has lain dormant, at least in the US market. That changes with the Chinese owned, but Italian-run, firm releasing the first of many street bikes for American consumption. It kicks things off with the 2018 Benelli TnT 135 ($2,499). US importer, SSR Motorsports, hosted a quick day ride that began atop Southern California’s Ortega Highway, and concluded in Newport Beach. Renowned for its twists and turns, Ortega Highway is an amusing, but also very high-traveled ribbon of blacktop that links the bustling inland and beach communities. This stretch of roadway is known for accidents as well – would the tiny TnT be able to keep up with “always in a hur

UK Salary Data Shows Gender Gap at Triumph

The United Kingdom has a new law, requiring companies with 250 or more employees to report to the authorities the earnings of its workers, by gender. The topic has been a sticking point in the British news cycle right now, with woman across the company showing median earnings that are 12% lower than men, which is a sizable gap in income equality. Where does the British motorcycle industry falls into place in all this? Well as Visordown initially reported, that is more difficult to say, as it appears that only Triumph Motorcycles meets the reporting criteria, amongst motorcycle manufacturers. Technically, it is two brands that meet reporting criteria for gender pay gap, as Triumph Motorcycles Limited and Triumph Designs Limited split their duties for the British marque.

What Caused Jorge Lorenzo’s Crash at the Qatar GP?

After a poor start, which saw him drop from ninth on the grid to thirteenth at the end of the first lap, Jorge Lorenzo was making steady progress through the field at Qatar. His lap times were starting to come down to match, and on some laps even beat, the pace the leaders were running. As the halfway mark approached, and less than four seconds behind the leaders, Lorenzo started to believe he was capable of salvaging a decent result from a difficult start. That all ended on Lap 13. The Spaniard crashed out of the race at Turn 4, when his front brake failed and he had to drop the bike in the gravel. “I just felt that the level of the front brake was getting closer to my fingers and I didn’t have brake,” Lorenzo described the incident afterwards.

The Ducati Panigale V4 Looks Good Wearing Termignoni

For a long time, the name “Termignoni” was synonymous with “Ducati exhaust”, with the popular scarico-maker being a constant fixture in the Ducati Performance parts catalog. So prevalent was the brand, that if you see a turn-of-the-century (21st century, that is) Ducati clacking down the street with its dry clutch, chances are the exhaust you are also hearing was made by Termignoni. But that has changed in recent years, with Slovenian marque Akrapovič supplanting Termignoni in Ducati’s good graces. To find out why, all one had to do was examine the products themselves – where Termignoni’s pieces were poorly fabricated and over-priced, Akrapovič was infinitely better built and often cheaper.

Honda CBR1000RRW Debuts for Endurance Duty

What you are looking at here is the bike that Honda hopes will win the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race this year. It is called the Honda CBR1000RRW. It is not all that different from the WorldSBK-spec model, the one that Leon Camier and Jake Gange are competing with currently (and that PJ Jacobsen is helping develop), save for some interesting changes. For starters, the Honda CBR1000RRW dumps its Cosworth boxes, and instead runs the Magneti Marelli electronics package that Jacobsen is using in WorldSBK. Also, there are some obvious bodywork changes, namely where the exposed front spars of the frame would be, which are now covered by a silver painted panel.Then of course, there are the mechanical changes for endurance duty, like quick-change wheel pieces and functional lights.

Honda CB300R Coming to USA with Retro-Modern Looks

One of the surprise pleasures at last year’s EICMA show was Honda’s family of “Neo-Sports Café” street bikes, which brought a retro-modern look to Big Red’s approach road bikes. While the new Honda CB1000R tickled our fancy the most, we were delighted to see that the theme extended all the way to the Japanese brand’s small-displacement platform, the Honda CB300R. An attractive and affordable entry-level bike, the Honda CB300R looks like it was designed in Europe, rather than Nippon, which is probably why the 286cc commuter is doing so well in the European market. Seeing that success, American Honda has confirmed the CB300R as an early 2019 model for the US market – available in July 2018.

Motorcycling’s April Fools Round-Up for 2018

Another year, and another April Fools Day is done and dusted. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news they wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint. My colleague David Emmett had a nicely done story about the MotoGP World Championship. For my own part, I took advantage of the long-con approach, and fit a story into our ongoing series about the upcoming Suzuki Hayabusa, which seems to have no shortage of weekly rumors about this bike’s supposed features and technical specifications. How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #74 – Triumphant

04/02/2018 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 74 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it covers a busy schedule at the 2EP HQ. 

First off, we talk about Harley-Davidson’s investment in Alta Motors, and discuss what the future holds for these two American brands. The conversation shifts from the future, to the past, and also examines Harley-Davidson’s management of Buell and MV Agusta, which makes for an interesting contrast.

The conversation then turns to two pieces of equipment that we see shaking up the motorcycle apparel space: the Dainese D-Air Misano jacket and the Sena Momentum helmet. Both of these pieces are bringing new technology to the industry, and we’ve had a chance to spend some miles on both of them.

The show then covers what it’s like to ride the Triumph Speed Triple RS and Triumph Tiger 800 XCA, as Jensen was in Spain and Moab (respectively) riding these two British bikes.

We finish too with another quasi-review, as Carlin Dunne was down at the Alta Motors Redshift MXR launch, riding Alta’s new electric dirt bike and relaying his thoughts back to Asphalt & Rubber.

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. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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What A Trade War Means for Motorcycles

03/06/2018 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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.

This week a new specter is on the horizon, as the Trump administration is eyeing tariffs on both steel and aluminum, at 25% and 10% a pop - respectively.

Naturally, the increase in the cost on importing raw metals into the USA is going to have an adverse effect on manufacturing-based businesses, but not all of these companies are affected equally when tariffs are imposed.

So, let's take a look at what this really means for the American motorcycle industry.

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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 envision 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.

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Harley-Davidson Invests in Alta Motors

03/01/2018 @ 4:00 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We bring you big news this first day of March, as 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.

For the immediate future though, Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors foresee their collaboration including two new electric motorcycles, which will be branded under the Harley-Davidson name. 

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Gone Riding: Alta Motors Redshift MXR

02/28/2018 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

One of my more favorite phrases to tell people is that it is called Asphalt & Rubber for reason, as I am very much a sport bike / street bike sort of guy. That is why I sent hot-shoe Carlin Dunne down to SoCal today to ride the brand new Alta Motors Redshift MXR motocross bike.

Revised with a bevy of improvements over Alta’s original Redshift MX model, the MXR is designed to be a proper race bike. So, we had Carlin pack some extra postage stamps, with explicit instructions go send it.

With 50hp packed into a 259 lbs body, the Redshift MXR has some promising specs, but beyond the spec-sheet, the electric dirt bike brings a new twist to riding an MX course, namely with promises for better hookup and more traction.

How does it work in the wild though? Well, we are going to ride it and find out.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Alta Redshift MXR right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Redshift MXR, before even Carlin’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Alta personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #RedshiftMXR

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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. As you would then expect, the electronics have been gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and the MXR claims better thermal management for the battery pack.

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After a massive price drop two weeks ago, Alta Motors is once again on our radar, this time with an upcoming new bike announcement. Teasing a new version of its motocross bike on social media, our Bothan spies tell us to get ready for an “R-spec” version of the Alta Redshift MX.

Boasting more power, less weight, better recharge times, and better heat management, our sources tell us that the Alta Motors Redshift MX R has been honed to meet the demands of professional racers, and those who want to look like them.

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Alta Adds Enduro Model to Its Electric Lineup

10/05/2017 @ 6:37 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The electric motorcycle lineup from Alta Motors quietly grew larger today, with the San Francisco startup adding an electric enduro model to its range. As such, say hello to the 2018 Alta Motors Redshift EX.

The bike is pretty straightforward, as it takes the motocross-focused Redshift MX, makes some chassis changes and adds a license plate, so you can go shredding off-road and on-road alike.

To the finer details, the chassis changes include an 18″ rear wheel, narrower rake and larger offset, a WP rear shock with a custom reservoir, a smaller rear brake, and Metzeler 6 Days Extreme tires.

All of this adds up to a 275 lbs electric motorcycle (which is kind of a thing right now) with 40hp at the rear wheel, and 120 lbs•ft of torque at the countershaft sprocket.

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Production Begins on the Alta Redshift SM Supermoto

08/22/2017 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

News from San Francisco tell us that Alta Motors has begun production on its electric supermoto, the Alta Redshift SM. We have been waiting a long time for this powerful electric supermoto to come to reality, ever since we rode the prototype model waaaay back in 2011.

The Redshift SM is Alta’s second model, as the motocross-focused Redshift MX started shipping to customers in late-2015, and was the company’s first electric motorcycle out of the starting blocks. The first street-legal model from Alta, the Redshift SM will cost a pricy $15,495 MSRP.

Rumors of street-legal enduro model, and possibly even a street-tracker bike have been coming from San Francisco as well, as Alta is ramping up its production after closing a $27 million round in funding earlier this year.

Today’s news means that Alta dealers and pre-order customers can expect Redshift supermotos on showroom floors around Labor Day.

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Alta Motors Raises $27 Million in Fundraising

06/06/2017 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Alta Motors is announcing that it has closed two fundraising rounds, for a total of $27 million capital raised in exchanged for preferred stock in the San Francisco based electric motorcycle company.

The B & C series fundraising rounds were led by Grassy Creek Ventures, with the Series C round joined by Latin American venture capital fund Mountain Nazca, along with motorcycle legend Bob Fox – of Fox Racing fame.

Alta Motors says that the use of funds goes to the expanding the company’s existing manufacturing and R&D facility in Brisbane, CA; refining the company’s vehicle technology; and developing more lightweight vehicles.

From the funding, Alta Motors sees two more board members added to the company’s board of directors: Travis Bradford, Professor of Practice and Director of the Energy and Environment graduate program at Columbia University, and Hector Sepulveda, Managing Partner at Mountain Nazca.

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