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.

Recall: Can-Am Spyder RT

05/23/2017 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Kind of an odd recall issue to come across our desk, but Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) is recalling a handful (92, to be specific) of 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT trikes because the low-beam setting on the trike’s headlight shoots too high down the road – the issue stemming from a manufacturing error in the headlight assembly.

Besides annoying on-coming traffic, the headlight fails to meet requirements set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), under item number 108: “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and associated Equipment.”

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BRP Looking to Get Into the Motorcycle Business?

08/26/2016 @ 4:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS


Interesting news from our friends to the North, as BRP is rumored to be looking at entering the motorcycle industry with a two-wheeler.

The news comes from the Montreal Gazette, which says that the Canadian company is evaluating a move into the motorcycle business, and is looking for “possibilities and trends” in the two-wheeled realm.

This business venture would seem to be outside of BRP’s Can-Am brand, which already offers a motorcycle, albeit one that has three wheels and more closely resembles an on-road snowmobile.

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The 2017 Can-Am Spyder F3-S Becomes Almost Fun

06/29/2016 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS


Can-Am is finally letting riders get the rear-wheel loose, as the 2017 Can-Am Spyder F3-S gets a “sport mode” for the next model year, which allows riders to drift the three-wheeler around turns.

This is a feature that we saw Can-Am tease on its turbocharged Spyder F3 concept, and we have to say that it is a welcomed addition to the line.

We are still miffed that the 115 three-cylinder engine remains, instead of the 150hp tire-shredder we saw debut at Daytona, but this news is a step in the right direction for the Canadian outfit.

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Turbocharged Can-Am Spyder F3 Concept

02/18/2016 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS


Despite what the DMV says, you might not consider the Can-Am Spyder to be a motorcycle, but the three-wheeler is part of a growing segment of on-road fun machines that have a pretty strong overlap with two-wheeled buyers.

It is not necessarily our cup of tea, but we wouldn’t mind swinging a leg over BRP’s latest creation, a turbocharged Can-Am Spyder F3 concept, which just debuted at the Daytona International Speedway.

The venue comes from Can-Am’s involvement as a title sponsor in the series, so naturally the Canadian brand wanted to spice things up with a special concept.

As such, the turbocharged 1,330 three-cylinder Rotax engine puts out 150hp (considerably more than the stock 113hp figure), and is aided in its breathing by its custom Akrapovič three-into-three exhaust system.

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BRP Sells Its 100,000th Can-Am Spyder

05/04/2015 @ 12:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS


It might be hard to believe, but Can-Am has sold over 100,000 Spyder three-wheelers since the reverse trike first debuted in dealerships in 2008. Some off-the-cuff math here puts Can-Am Spyder sales as averaging 12,500 units a year — an impressive figure for the unique vehicle.

The 100,000th Can-Am Spyder was given to its new owner, a Missouri firefighter by the name of Brahm Wilson, at the Spyderfest 2015 gathering in Springfield, Missouri. Wilson is your typical Can-Am purchasers, an ex-motorcyclist returning to the sport/lifestyle after a hiatus, who wanted something a little different than the standard two-wheeled fare.

His bike is a 2015 Can-Am Spyder F3, which goes after America’s popular cruiser heritage, and mixes a bit of Harley-Davidson with on-road snowmobile to distinguish itself from the other Spyder models.

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Consumer Reports has taken another polling from motorcycle owners, a part of the publication’s continuous assessment on the value of various motorcycle brands and categories.

As usual, the Japanese brands dominated the reliability segment, though that did not automatically translate into the happiest of owners.

Victory Motorcycles takes the cake for keeping its customers happy, which stems from having fairly reliable motorcycles, coupled with good customer service and dealer interactions.

As such, 80% of Victory owners said they would buy a Victory again. Compare that figure to 72% for Harley-Davidson, and 70% for Honda (all other OEMs were below 70%).

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Recall: All 2013 Can-Am Spyder RT

02/26/2015 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS


BRP is recalling all 5,165 units of its 2013 Can-Am Spyder RT “motorcycles” for problems with the engine compartment temperature when idling or in warmer temperatures.

Apparently the engine compartment on the 2013 Can-Am Spyder RT can retain an excess of heat, which in turn could burn the rider or cause the trike to catch fire.

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US Motorcycle Sales Up 4.0% in Q2 2014

08/01/2014 @ 3:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT


The US economy has been slow to recover, and so too has the US motorcycle market. With first-quarter sales down 0.3% this year though, it looked like the US motorcycle market was about to flatline.

Thankfully, that has not been the case in Q2 of 2014, as the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) is proud to report that US motorcycle sales are up 4.0% in the second quarter of this year.

Selling 169,111 units in Q2 2014 (6,585 more than in 2013), motorcycles sales in the US so far this year are now up 2.6%, with 263,833 units sold so far in 2014.

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Who Has the Best Dealer Network in the USA? Ducati

05/05/2014 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS


The Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) has become the motorcycle industry’s gold standard on dealer assessment, especially between brands. Scoring on the PSI is done by a combination of industry sales, as well as mystery shopper experiences, which Pied Piper itself conducts.

Tallying scores for their 2014 report now, Pied Piper has announced that Ducati has come out on top in the Prospect Satisfaction Index rankings, followed by Harley-Davidson (2nd) and Can-Am (3rd). Overall though, motorcycles dealers across all brands improved on their scores from 2012, with 12 of the 17 measured brands getting higher scores than last year.

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US Motorcycle Q1 2014 Sales Flatlined

05/01/2014 @ 2:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS


How Is that rebounding economy treating you? If you work in the motorcycle industry, probably not so well according to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s latest sales report, which highlights sales from the first-quarter of 2014. Down 0.2% (or 118 units) from Q1 2013, the slight decline over last year’s numbers are primarily due to a 10.7% sales drop in scooter sales.

Dual-sport motorcycles were up 3.9% (7,644 units), with on-road bikes holding at 0.9% growth (65,301 units). Dirt bike sales were down 2.7% during the same three-month time period (16,597 units).

In total, 94,524 two-wheel vehicles were sold in the US (94,772 units were sold in Q1 2013) according to the MIC, which tracks Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio Group, Victory, Suzuki, Triumph, and Yamaha.

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