The Fruits of Carmelo Ezpeleta’s Grand Plan for MotoGP

Sometimes decisions are a long time in the making. Tech3’s decision to leave Yamaha and sign with KTM may have been made in the space of a few months, but the genesis of that choice, the process that made it all possible is ten years in the making. If MotoGP hadn’t switched from 990cc to 800cc at the start of the 2007 season, if the ban on tobacco sponsorship in sports hadn’t been enforced from 2005, if the financial system hadn’t collapsed under the weight of tranches of “ninja” loans, Tech3 would be a Yamaha satellite team for the foreseeable future. Whether they wanted to be or not. How did MotoGP get to a place where Tech3 could switch to KTM? To make complete sense of the story, we have to go back to the end of the last century.

Here’s How to Race a $20,000 KTM RC390 R in the USA

In case you haven’t noticed, the Supersport 300 class is heating up, and perhaps most interestingly with virtually zero machines with a 300cc displacement…but that is a subject for another time. This has put pressure on KTM to remain at the pointy end of business in the small-displacement category, which has lead the Austrian company to the release of a homologation special for the 300cc class. As such, say hello to the 2018 KTM RC390 R sport bike. A street legal motorcycle, the KTM RC390 R aims to sharpen the points where the entry-level KTM RC390 is a bit dull, namely by using better suspension and new intake trumpets that widen the powerband, but also with a new triple clamp, clip-ons, and levers.

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.

Triumph Just Put the Desert Sled on Notice

03/17/2018 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Triumph is sending a major wakeup call to its colleagues down south in Bolonga, as the revamped 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 just broke cover in spy photos, and the bike looks to be a direct competitor to the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled.

Abandoning its previously frumpy British roadster-with-knobbies design, the new Triumph Scrambler 1200 looks the part, and seems focused on actually going off-road, like a good scrambler should.

It is a big surprise from the British brand, and a bit of a new direction for Triumph, but clearly the Brits have been feeling the post-authentic pressure from Ducati, and are thus responding in kind.

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Within the motorcycle industry, Asphalt & Rubber has earned itself a reputation for breaking stories from our so-called “Bothan spies”, as insiders often tip us off to intriguing stories and happenings in the two-wheeled realm.

Just a few weeks ago, we got one of those interesting tips, one that said that Dainese was being put up for sale. So, we called the bossman himself, Dainese CEO Cristiano Silei (an announcement too that A&R was able to break because of our Bothan spies), to see what the story was all about, and indeed if the rumors were true.

The call resulted in a terse answer, and perhaps an expected response, but Silei also provided an interesting explanation of Dainese’s current investment position, and what results the company has seen since its purchase three years ago (another story that our Bothans were first to get the word on).

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In case you haven’t noticed, the Supersport 300 class is heating up, and perhaps most interestingly with virtually zero machines with a 300cc displacement…but that is a subject for another time.

This has put pressure on KTM to remain at the pointy end of business in the small-displacement category, which has lead the Austrian company to the release of a homologation special for the 300cc class. As such, say hello to the 2018 KTM RC390 R sport bike.

A street legal motorcycle, the KTM RC390 R aims to sharpen the points where the entry-level KTM RC390 is a bit dull, namely by using better suspension and new intake trumpets that widen the powerband, but also with a new triple clamp, clip-ons, and levers.

With an MSRP of $8,499 for the RC390 R, the “ready to race” model commands a $3,000 premium over its lower-spec sibling. Of course, if you are really serious about your racing, you will want KTM’s Supersport 300 race kit as well, which will set you back another $11,000.

That’s right, for nearly $20,000, you can race in the “affordable” 300cc race class with KTM.

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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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The big industry trade show in Milan is still a few days away, but our story-breaking Bothan Spies are working hard to be the first to bring you an advanced look at the new motorcycles for the 2018 model year. As such, we have the first photo of the new KTM 790 Adventure.

Sharing a platform with the KTM 790 Duke (another bike that we expect to see in Italy next week), the KTM 790 Adventure uses the same 800cc parallel-twin engine as the smaller Duke, though that seems to be where the similarities end.

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Ducati Scrambler 1100 Set to Debut at EICMA

10/27/2017 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati says that it has five new models for us at this year’s EICMA show. Yesterday we broke the news that there would be a Multistrada 950 Enduro, as well as the Ducati Multistrada 1260 (powered by the XDiavel’s Testastretta DVT 1262 engine).

We also know from CARB filings that there is a Ducati 959 Panigale Corse in the works; the Italian brand has already shown us the revamped Monster 821; and of course, we know that there will be the not-so-secret Ducati Panigale V4 showing in Milan.

But what about the Scrambler Ducati sub-brand? Well, it too will be seeing an addition to the family, in the guise of a larger machine. Get ready to say hello to the Ducati Scrambler 1100.

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In a couple weeks, we will see what new bikes Ducati has coming for the 2018 model year – five new bikes, to be precise – debuting at the 2017 EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

We already have a pretty good idea on what those motorcycles will be, however, as Ducati has already shown us the updated Monster 821, and of course there will be the Panigale V4.

Now we have an idea about two more models from Ducati, as the Italian brand is set to update its adventure-touring lineup, with both the Multistrada 950 and Multistrada 1200 getting some love for the upcoming model year.

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BMW HP4 Race Engine Life Set at 5,000km

08/03/2017 @ 2:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you’re in the market for a BMW HP4 Race – the carbon fiber clad superbike from Bavaria – the $78,000 price tag might not be all that you’re spending on, as BMW Motorrad has a few items in the fine print that you might want to be aware of – the first being the engine life.

According to documents sent to BMW Motorrad dealers in the United States, the 212hp inline-four engine for the BMW HP4 Race comes with an expiration point of 5,000km (roughly 3,100 miles), at which point the entire engine will have to be replaced. Yup, you read that right.

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What started out as a worldwide service campaign for the water-cooled BMW R1200GS models is turning into a massive global recall for the German motorcycle manufacturer, as now the United States has joined the United Kingdom in issuing a recall on the popular ADV machine.

Accordingly, BMW Motorrad USA has issued a “stop sale” to BMW dealers, as documents for a recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are being readied for release.

The recall sees BMW Motorrad dealers inspecting the fixed fork tube on R1200GS models produced between November 2013 and June 2017. If the inspected motorcycle has an excessively large gap between the fork pipe and the seal plug, then the fork cannot be repaired by the dealer, and must be replaced.

If no gap is present (or if the gap is of an acceptable distance), BMW dealers must still press in a sleeve on the fork, before returning the bike back to the owner. With over 150,000 motorcycles potentially affected worldwide, this recall will be a massive undertaking for BMW Motorrad.

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Source Says New Suzuki GSX-R600 in 2019

03/30/2017 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Two weeks ago we shared with you a report done by Australian Motorcycle News, which said that we would see a new GSX-R750 in the next two model years, but the report also suggested that the GSX-R600 would not see an update in that same timeframe.

That caught one of our Bothan spies a bit off-guard, as they are certainly someone who would know the real story and AMCN’s article didn’t jive, so they reached out to our Two Enthusiasts Podcast to give us the scoop, and correct the news (listen to that segment of the show, here).

As such in Episode 48 then, Quentin set the record straight and broke some industry news, saying that we would see an all-new 2019 Suzuki GSX-R600, with Suzuki’s team in Hamamatsu showing commitment to the supersport market.

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