KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Gets Closer to Production Form

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

MV Agusta’s Moto2 Race Bike Predictably Looks Awesome

After a 42-year hiatus, MV Agusta is returning to the Grand Prix Championship. This iconic Italian motorcycle brand will not be competing in MotoGP however, and instead MV Agusta will make its return in the Moto2 category. Partnering with the Forward Racing team, MV Agusta aims to take advantage of the rule changes for the 2019 season, which will see a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine replacing the 600cc Honda four-cylinder engine that is currently in use. This change in the spec-engine rule will likely upheave the Moto2 Championship, and MV Agusta wants to be part of that sea change. As such, the bike you see in the photos here will be the machine that launches MV Agusta’s assault on the GP paddock.

The Harley-Davidson “Custom” Is the First Cruiser We Like

In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept. There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over. For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept. Using the 1,250cc version of Harley-Davidson’s new modular engine, the Custom takes a number of cues from Harley-Davidsons of the past and future.

Alta Motors Has Its First Recall

08/11/2018 @ 1:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

A motorcycle company’s first recall is a milestone event, an unwelcome milestone, but an inevitable one nonetheless. That is where startup Alta Motors finds itself today, with its first recall hitting the NHTSA newswires.

Affecting certain 2019 Alta Redshift EXR and 2018-2019 Alta Redshift MXR motorcycles, this recall concerns Alta’s throttle system, which under specific circumstances can fail, and cause an apparent “stall” of the motor.

The issue is software related, however, and the fix is an update to the firmware to the affected motorcycles. The firmware update takes about 15 minutes to perform.

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The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much).

The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed.

All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future.

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It was four months ago that Alta Motors updated its Redshift lineup with the more potent Redshift MXR electric motocross bike, and from that moment we have been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This week it has, as Alta Motors is showing off the Redshift EXR, a road-legal dual-sport for enduro fans, which just became the first electric motorcycle to qualify for the Erzberg Rodeo hard enduro event in Austria.

The formula for the 2019 Alta Motors Redshift EXR is fairly simple, as it takes the current Redshift EX enduro model, and adds the drivetrain upgrades that debuted with Redshift MXR model.

This means more power (50hp), more torque (42 lbs•ft), less weight (273 lbs), and of course the “overclocking” mode for when a trail truly needs to be shredded. The recharge time has also been improved too, down to 1.5hrs on a 240-volt circuit – win, win, win.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #79 – Avocado Toast

06/04/2018 @ 8:31 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 79 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we get a little dirty. Fresh from Eric Bostrom’s flat track school, Quentin tells us a story about sliding the rear wheel, which contrast Jensen’s dirt-bike crashing ways very nicely.

We then take a look at the new Honda CRF450L, which brings a street-legal 450cc dirt bike from a Japanese brand finally back to the US market. This also leads us into a conversation about the Erzberg Rodeo, which Alta Motors will contest in.

Racing is the topic of the day, with more talk about the Dakar Rally maybe moving back to Africa; the MotoGP Championship silly season showing just how silly it can get; and the start of the Isle of Man TT.

It’s a fun episode, with lots of side-stories. It might even make you hungry…hungry for more.

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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Episode 78 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk about an omnibus list of topics. 

As such, the show begins with some racing news, both for the Isle of Man TT and for the World Superbike Championship, with a conversation about Bosch’s safety thruster technology stuffed somewhere in-between those topics.

The conversation then turns to some timely news, namely the continued rumors that Honda is readying a V4 superbike, MV Agusta is building a Moto2 bike, Ducati will return to Pikes Peak, and Alta Motors entering the Erzberg Rodeo.

We then shift gears into a long conversation about the rising trend of motorcycle fatalities, when compared to total on-road vehicle deaths.

The show finishes with a look at how profitable halo superbikes can be for motorcycle manufacturers, and how that could be the future of sport bike sales.

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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We broke the story yesterday, but today the news is officially official: Alta Motors will race in the 2018 Ezerberg Rodeo, which is part of the Red Bull Hard Enduro series.

The most grueling and difficult single-day event in motorcycle racing, the Erzberg Rodeo sees 1,500 entires whittled down into what is usually a single-digit summation of race-finishers – and not every year sees a racer cross the finish line – that’s how tough this race is.

Racing for Alta Motors will be Ty Tremaine and Lyndon Poskitt, two riders with a lot of off-road experience.

For those who don’t recognize those names, Tremaine is currently racing with Alta in the 2018 AMA EnduroCross series, meanwhile Poskitt has previously competed in a number of enduro events, including the Ezberg Rodeo, and most notably just soloed the 2018 Dakar Rally to completion. 

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Dear Alta Motors, Shut Up Already…

05/07/2018 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

…and just tell us that you’re racing in the Erzberg Rodeo. 😯

For the last week, Alta Motors has been teasing a big announcement on social media, an announcement that features enduro racers Ty Tremaine and Lyndon Poskitt, along with the hashtag #hardenduro.

The news that we should hear officially tomorrow, as our Bothan spies tell us, is that Alta Motors is going racing in the hardest single-day motorcycle race in the worldthe Erzberg Rodeo.

Shut out from more traditional competition avenues – like AMA Supercross and Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship – Alta Motors is taking a different tack, and going into the belly beast while they’re at it.

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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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