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.

Buy a WSBK Race Bike, Just in Time for Christmas

12/17/2014 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS


Are you still racking your brain over what to get that special motorcyclist in your life for Christmas (or Chanukah, for our Jewish readers)? Was the Paul Bird Motorsports MotoGP race bikes that are for sale a bit too spendy for your holiday budget?

Then we have a more budget friend proposition for you: the Bimota BB3 WSBK-Spec race bikes that were raced by Team Alstare in the 2014 World Superbike Championship.

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Video: The Sound of the Festive Season

12/20/2013 @ 3:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS


One of the better holiday greetings we have seen come out of the motorcycle industry, Harley-Davidson sends us a Merry Christmas with this cleverly done video. We can’t imagine how many takes it took to get the potato remix of “O Holy Night ” just right, but they nailed it.

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Buone Feste from Ducati

12/17/2013 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS


Holiday light show, dub step, and motorcycles…that’s the sort of Christmas Asphalt & Rubber can get behind, and those are the core elements of this season’s “Buone Feste!” from Ducati. We just hope that this isn’t some CGI, and that there is actually some suburban neighborhood that gets lit up with this masterpiece on a nightly basis.

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KTM’s 12 Days of Christmas

12/13/2013 @ 2:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS


It is that time of year again, where the Christmas season takes over the motorcycle industry, and gives us all a good excuse to get drunk with our moto-loving co-workers. Huzzah!

First up to help us with the holiday cheer are the good folks at KTM USA, who certainly don’t get paid enough to be mining this sort of internet gold, but yet did it all the same for our holiday enjoyment.

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All I Want for Christmas…

12/21/2011 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

…is the smile on this guy’s face. Oh, and maybe a road-going Batman Batpod as well.

Source: Gadgetsin

Carlos Checa’s Ducati Corse Winter Test

12/20/2011 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Last year, Nicky Hayden helped Ducati spread some Christmas cheer, as the American MotoGP rider snuck into the Borgo Panigale office and made some “vrrroommm!” noises on a Ducati Diavel that was on display. For the 2011 Christmas season, Ducati has enlisted a more recent champion to help with its holiday wishes: a certain reigning-World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa.

Playing Santa Claus (note the twinkle in his eye) on his Ducati Multistrada 1200, Checa’s list of the “good Ducatistas” in Bologna certainly seems a bit short when judged from this video, but then again it’s not like the MTS1200 has the unlimited payload like Santa’s sled, but we digress. Merry Christmas, Ducati style.

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Happy Holidays from Asphalt & Rubber

12/25/2010 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Seasons Greetings from A&R. While we stoke the fires on the yule log, everyone at Asphalt & Rubber would like to wish our readers a Happy Holiday. We’ll be taking the weekend off as we gear up for the new year, but should be back in the swing of things on Monday. Whatever your denomination, we hope it’s spent with good friends and family, and that the two-wheeled vehicle in your garage gets some merriment bling as well.

Ducati Corse Needs Hayden for a Special Project

12/17/2010 @ 4:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Needing Nicky Hayden for a special project at Ducati Corse HQ, the Italian company called the former MotoGP Champion into its Bologna office, only to have the place be completely deserted when he arrived. Like a kid in a candy store, Hayden does what we imagine anyone would do in such a situation, and trying out the new Diavel and taking a stroll through the Ducati Museum. Watch all the way through for the feel good ending, and Happy Amadeus everyone! (trust us when we say that’ll make more sense when you watch the end of the video…that Nicky Hayden is one silly son of a bitch).

Source: Ducati

Ducati Hypermotad 796 in Dealerships This Weekend

12/18/2009 @ 2:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS


Ducati North America has announced that the Hypermotard 796 will be in dealerships before the New Year, and some dealerships will have the new motard as early as this weekend (that’s tomorrow, or today if you work in the A&R office!).

If you’re having a hard time finding the right gift for that special motorcyclist in your life, this might be the chance to get them what they really want this year. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a $9,995 lightweight red Ducati Hypermotard 796 with a bow on it. Press release after the jump.

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Season’s Greetings from Yamaha North America

12/14/2009 @ 11:40 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Yamaha-Christmas-CardSomeone in the Yamaha North America Marketing Department is clearly bucking for a promotion.

After producing the extremely funny videos of the Yamaha MotoGP squad working at Yamaha HQ, and the in-depth explanation of the Ben Spies’ Method of motorcycle racing, the coming holidays have inspired Yamaha to make a Christmas card.

Seen in the photo is soon-to-be MotoGP racer Ben Spies, Motocross phenom James “Bubba” Stewart, and the Doctor, Valentino Rossi…along with some of the worst holiday sweaters we’ve seen to date.

Wishing us some holiday cheer, we see the trio bringing their holiday knits to some undisclosed cabin in the woods, complete with Rossi’s “Phillip Island kitten” in-tow.