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.

Say What??! – Tech3 and Yamaha Will Part Ways in 2019

If you thought the 2019 MotoGP Silly Season was already in high gear, a bombshell announcement has just put it into overdrive. Today, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team announced that from 2019, they will be parting ways. Tech3 will no longer be a satellite Yamaha team. The split brings to an end an association of nearly 20 years with Yamaha. They first started in 1999 with Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque in 250cc, before switching to the premier class with the same pair in 2001. Tech3 has been a loyal partner for many years, giving up one seat to a factory-backed rider on a number of occasions, as occurred with Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Pol Espargaro. However, there had been a few signs of tension over the past few months.

Trademark Hints at Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle

Has Harley-Davidson just tipped its hand regarding its upcoming electric motorcycle? It would seem so, according to the latest trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registering the name “Revelation” with the USPTO, Harley-Davidson has set aside the trademark for two uses: 1) batteries for vehicles, and 2) drivetrains for electric motorcycles and vehicles. Other publications are running this story as the “Revelation” name being the moniker for Harley-Davidson’s production version of the Livewire electric motorcycle concept, but the actual trademark makes a very clear alternative to that narrative.

Ducati is to test the latest version of their Desmosedici GP12 engine next week at Mugello. Ducati team manager Vitto Guareschi said that Franco Battaini is to start testing the bike, complete with the new engine, next week, in preparation for handing the machine over to Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi for a final test on the Monday after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. If that test is successful, then both factory Ducati riders will have the new engine available as part of their allocation from Laguna Seca, the race directly after Mugello.

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Ducati Corse’s OLED Dash

04/09/2012 @ 7:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

It is sort of a weird accolade, but Ducati has been at the front of motorcycle dash technology and innovation implementation. Introducing a TFT liquid crystal display (LCD) on the Ducati Diavel, the Italian has continued its progression forward with an OLED dash on the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Delivering a noticeably brighter and crisper display over its TFT counter-part, the Ducati OLED dash is one of those items that doesn’t necessarily do a job better than its predecessor (it reads the bike’s speed and other vitals just the same as the pervious unit), but the added quality and user experience is one of those touches that makes a Ducati, well…a Ducati.

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Unveiling the 2012 Ducati Desmosedici GP12 online today, Ducati not only gave us our first glimpse at the Ducati Corse team livery, but the Italian race team also “disclosed” the technical specifications of its MotoGP race bike. Of course the details are rather plain and vague, as not to give too much away, but there are some interesting things to point out. Producing 230+ hp and weighing 157 kg (346 lbs) dry, the GP12 is no slouch on paper.

Retaining the same 90° piston configuration, the V4 desmodromic motor has clearly been rotated backwards, as was rumored. This change is evidenced by the singular and solid radiator grill at the front of the fairings, and would allow Ducati Corse to move the engine’s center of mass back and forth in the chassis to a greater degree. Speaking of chassis, the 90% new factory GP12 features an aluminum twin-spar frame, which was designed by Ducati Corse and rumored to have been built by FTR.

This Desmosedici GP12 “Phoenix” chassis design will be exclusive to the Ducati Corse factory team in MotoGP for several races, with satellite teams likely to get the updated chassis design about a third of the way into the season. This means that satellite Ducati riders, like Karel Abraham, will use the Desmosedici “GP0” design that debuted at the Valencia test after the conclusion of the 2011 season. It has certainly been a long road for Ducati in MotoGP this past season, and now we will see if all the hard work will pay off for the Italian company. Technical specifications and a couple videos are after the jump.

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You may have been misled by some eager journalists today and yesterday, if you saw a Ducati Corse livery-clad Ducati Desmosedici GP12 that some sites were passing off as the first shots of the “90% new” GP12. With the alleged new GP12 looking surprisingly similar to the aluminum-framed “GP0” that was tested at Valencia, Valentino Rossi’s mechanic has now Alex Briggs confirmed that the photos taken were not of the all new “GP12 Phoenix” that the factory team will race this season. While the Ducati lords can taketh away, they can also giveth, and Valentino Rossi himself has posted the first photo of the factory Desmosedici GP12, and the bike is clearly different.

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On what typically would be the formal unveiling of Ducati’s next GP race bike, Ducati Corse General Manager Filippo Preziosi stood alone on the stage at Madonna di Campiglio, and instead talked briefly about the “totally new” GP12, while fielding questions from the assembled press. Releasing very little information about the team’s off-season progress, Preziosi shared very few concrete details about the new Ducati Desmosedici GP12 (you could also read that sentence to mean that the assembled press failed to press for more detailed information concerning the GP12…it really could go either way). From what information could be gleaned from Preziosi, we now know that that the new GP12 is comprised of roughly 90% new parts when compared the previous iterations of the MotoGP contender.

Expected visually to look similar the GP12’s of the past, the finalized GP12 will have an aluminum perimeter-style frame, carbon fiber swingarm, and a better balance with the motor placement. Declining to state the angle of the cylinder heads, Preziosi added some more fuel to the fire and speculation that the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 will not have a 90° cylinder arrangement. At the very least, the GP12 will allow for greater adjustment with the engine placement specs, as well as the overall geometry of the motorcycle. This should help Ducati Corse develop the GP12 over the course of the season, and set it up better for each race circuit. However, Preziosi did caution that the team was trying to compress two years worth of R&D into three months, a daunting task to say the least.

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After the secrecy concerning Ducati Corse’s test of the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at Mugello this week, we were surprised to see that the Italian racing team even bothered to submit a press release for the event, which saw both Franco Battaini and Valentino Rossi take laps on a new version of the GP12. Speculated to have an aluminum twin-spar chassis (courtesy of FTR), the photos from the event do suggest a change in the chassis design, though what is actually under the fairings will be debated heavily over the rest of the week.

Making no mention of an aluminum chassis, improved front-end feel, or improved lap times, the statements (press release after the jump) from Ducati Corse and Valentino Rossi are incredibly vague, though perhaps they leave some interesting things to be read between the lines.

The fact that Rossi tersely described the test results without mentioning any improvements to the Desmosedici’s front-end is an interesting point to consider, especially after the nine-time World Champion had a crash on his third lap, binning the GP12 in the exit of the Scarperia-Palagio section of the Mugello track.

Considering that the feel from the GP11/11.1 has been the center-point throughout the 2011 season, we would have expected some indication on how the “good fight” was been waged in the Corse camp. Though spartan in  his words, one can discern some meaty notions from what Rossi didn’t say in his statement after riding 82 laps on the new GP12. Check the press release out after the jump, and leave your conclusions in the comments.

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Photo: 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199’s Headlights

06/27/2011 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS continues to be Ducati’s favorite channel to leak teasers of its upcoming Superbike, the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199. Promising to be a revolutionary design for the Italian brand, we know already that the bike will shed roughly 20 lbs from the 1198 model, while adding 20hp to its peak horsepower figure. This astonishing power increase comes from the “Superquadrata” v-twin motor, which features an overly-square cylinder design, that should rev to peaky power delivery delight (if you’re into that sort of thing).

From this latest photo we see that the new 1199 (we’ve been enjoying the rumors that the new Superbike would be called the Xtreme) borrows from the 916’s squinty highlight design, while adding the 1098/1198’s more pronounced air intake structure. The Ducati Superbike 1199 will be fed that healthy dose of oxygen through a stressed aluminum airbox/headtube design, à la its MotoGP frameless technology, and for which we’ve already seen patents of the design.

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Ducati Corse continues to battle a war on two-fronts: both by trying to market itself out of an otherwise disastorous MotoGP season, and also to rapidly develop and search for answers to the lackluster Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The latest news out of Bologna now leans more towards this latter effort (or is it the prior?), as Ducati Corse has announced that it will bring a version of its 2012 chassis to Assen for Valentino Rossi to use in the Dutch TT.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, as they’re calling it, features a modified motor, and will debut Ducati’s next-generation gearbox: the Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST). Ducati hopes bringing out the new chassis, which has already been given the nod by both Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden, will not only help turn around the season’s results, but also expedite development for the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Along with a new carbon chassis, the GP11.1 features an inverted swingarm design, which sees the rear shock mounted higher-up with a special rear-subframe assembly.

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To considerably less fanfare, Nicky Hayden took the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 today at Jerez, which for MotoGP fans means more photos of Ducati’s 1,000cc class prototype motorcycle. Ducati didn’t make a video of Nicky’s adventures on the GP12, but the race team got some valuable input from the American racer, who put in 61 laps for Ducati Corse once the circuit dried from high humidity. “When I woke up this morning, the sky was really gray and the track was completely wet,” said Nicky Hayden. “I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t think we’d be able to do anything because it wouldn’t have made sense to waste a day testing in those conditions.”

“The situation got better and better though, and after lunch, I was able to put on my leathers. I couldn’t wait to ride, and it was worth the wait. It’s an honor to be able to participate in the first track test of the GP12 because it doesn’t happen very often that you get to ride a bike on the track for the first time: it’s a special feeling. Everything went well, and we didn’t have a single problem: the motor is really nice to use, and I had a lot of fun riding the bike. I hope I gave some useful feedback to Filippo and the boys. I know they’ll be working on this bike while we go back to focusing on the next race, because this season just started.”

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First Shots: Rossi Rides the Ducati Desmosedici GP12

04/08/2011 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Under some sunny and warm skies at Jerez, Valentino Rossi got to meet the Desmosedici GP12 for the first time today. In total Rossi slagged the GP12 across the Andalusian circuit for a total of 50 laps saying, and was seemingly pleased the the new machine.

“I’m happy,” said Valentino Rossi after the test. “I like the GP12. In my opinion, it’s more enjoyable, more fun to ride. It was the first time we had it on the track, so we had some work to do, but the engine is nicer. It’s a lot of fun, and you can do some nice slides. It’s the bike we’ll ride next year, so it was very important—and also very nice—to be among the first to take it on the track.” Photos, video, and more are awaiting you after the jump.

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