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.

Brough Superior SS100 Finally Begins Production

06/23/2016 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS


Back in 2013, I was at the EICMA show in Milan, and watched the Brough Superior SS100 makes its world debut. The rebooted British marque had a stunning bike to show-off, and an intriguing game plan to re-enter the motorcycle industry, which included a Moto2 race bike.

Almost two and a half years later now, some things have changed, but the big news is that the Brough Superior SS100 is finally going into production, with three finishes: traditional, racing full black, and titanium.

Available later this year, and already certified for sale in Europe, the Brough Superior SS100 can be yours for a cool €50,000.

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Jeremy McWilliams is to make a return to Grand Prix racing at the ripe old age of 50. The Northern Irish racer is to ride the Brough Superior Carbon 2 Moto2 machine at Silverstone as a wildcard.

It will be McWilliams’ first Grand Prix since 2007, when he rode the ill-fated Ilmor, which was withdrawn after just one race due to a failure to raise sponsorship. Since then, McWilliams has been active in both the US and Ireland, racing in the XR1200 championship, which serves as a support race to the AMA, and racing on the roads in Northern Ireland.

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Despite some early promise, there has been much complaining of a lack of innovation from chassis builders in Moto2. the bikes have followed the same basic layout as all modern race bikes since the late 1980s: aluminium twin spar chassis and conventional suspension arrangements.

The only real interest has come from wildcards. At Le Mans, the French Promoto Sport team raced their Transfiormer chassis, with some solid results. Beyond that, the bikes have been pretty much identikit.

At Silverstone this year though, another interesting wildcard will get its first public running. The British round of Moto2 will see the Brough Superior make its debut in a competitive race, after making an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year.

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XXX: Brough Superior SS100

11/09/2013 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS


I’m still mulling over own my thoughts about what bike was the highlight of the 2013 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, but for sure on the short-list is the Brough Superior SS100. Like its predecessor from nearly 90 years ago, the new SS100 is a rolling piece of art, and is also matched with some innovated pieces of tech.

One of those motorcycles you have to see in person to fully appreciate, it is a shame that only a few hand-built specimens will make it onto the roadway, since everyone should get a chance to see this motorcycle. The detail work on the Brough Superior SS100 is superb, from its 88 twin-cylinder engine, to its titanium Fior-style front-end.

You can easily spend hours staring at this machine, and find new nuances to drool over…we sure did. To help you live that same experience that we had in Milan, we have 53 high-resolution photos of the beautiful Brough Superior SS100 waiting for you after the jump. Enjoy.

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The legendary brand of Brough Superior is making a resurgence, as the British marques debuted today at the 2013 EICMA show its first all-new street bike in decades, the Brough Superior SS100.

A bit of high-tech meets old school, the Brough Superior SS100 draws heavily from the classic lines of the original Brough Superior SS100 before it, though the modern-day machine incorporates some clever innovations and contemporary pieces.

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Brough Superior Debuts Familiar Moto2 Race Bike

09/06/2013 @ 7:15 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS


When you hear the name “Brough Superior” mentioned, the image that condures in your mind surely is not one of a Moto2 race bike, but that might change. Debuting at the Petersen Museum its intentions to race in the Moto2 Championship, Brough Superior unveiled a new race bike that might look familiar to avid Asphalt & Rubber readers.

Rebranding the Taylormade Carbon 2 Moto2 bike that we explored back in July, which answered David’s call for chassis innovation to return to GP racing, it would seem that Brough Superior’s own return to proper racing is being accomplished with the pocketbook.

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Last Brough Superior SS100 Made to be Auctioned

08/17/2011 @ 5:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

As we gear up for our Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance coverage this weekend, we’ve got old classic motorcycles on the brain this week at Asphalt & Rubber. So fittingly enough we learn today that the last Brough Superior SS100 ever to be made from the Nottingham, England factory is about to be put up for auction this week as well.

Made famous by T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia owned seven Brough Superiors in his lifetime, and even died riding an SS100), the Brough Superior SS100 is a historic and iconic piece of two-wheeled history. With only 71 examples of this motorcycle known to still be in existence, this particular SS100 up for acution is not only rare, but being the last of its ilk, is fairly special as well.

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Here we have a 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport, complete with saddle bags. Built from 1925 to 1940, the SS100 was one of the most famous motorcycles to come out of George Brough’s Brough Superior.

Powered by a 980cc v-twin motor from JA Prestwich, each bike came with a signed guarantee that the bike had been timed, and reached over 100 mph over a quarter-mile. Pictures after the jump.

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