KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Gets Closer to Production Form

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

MV Agusta’s Moto2 Race Bike Predictably Looks Awesome

After a 42-year hiatus, MV Agusta is returning to the Grand Prix Championship. This iconic Italian motorcycle brand will not be competing in MotoGP however, and instead MV Agusta will make its return in the Moto2 category. Partnering with the Forward Racing team, MV Agusta aims to take advantage of the rule changes for the 2019 season, which will see a 765cc Triumph three-cylinder engine replacing the 600cc Honda four-cylinder engine that is currently in use. This change in the spec-engine rule will likely upheave the Moto2 Championship, and MV Agusta wants to be part of that sea change. As such, the bike you see in the photos here will be the machine that launches MV Agusta’s assault on the GP paddock.

The Harley-Davidson “Custom” Is the First Cruiser We Like

In case you missed the new, Harley-Davidson dropped a number of new model concepts on us today, all which are to go into production by the 2022 model year. We have already shown you the ADV concept, as well as the Streetfighter concept. There are a bevy of electric bikes to see as well, along with an e-bike program, but right now we want to focus your attention on the Harley-Davidson Custom, a modern take on the Sportster platform. It might be the first cruiser that we have actually lusted over. For the loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers on this page, that statement should certainly say something about how much we are digging this potent v-twin concept. Using the 1,250cc version of Harley-Davidson’s new modular engine, the Custom takes a number of cues from Harley-Davidsons of the past and future.

Triumph Begins the Big Scrambler Tease

08/09/2018 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

In a few months, Triumph is going to show us its new big boy Scrambler model, another motorcycle that will join Triumph’s heritage motorcycle lineup.

We know quite a bit about this new model, firstly that it will be called the Triumph Scrambler 1200. As you might expect, the Triumph Scrambler 1200 is set to take on the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled in this segment, a bike which should be getting an 1,100cc variant later this year as well.

Said to be a capable full-sized dual-sport, we expect the Scrambler 1200 to be fitted with the high-torque version of Triumph’s 1,200cc parallel-twin engine, which makes 80hp and 77 lbs•ft of torque.

Two model variations are also expected. One will be road-going, and have cast wheels and street-focused rubber. The other will have spoked wheels and knobby tires.

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What are you doing for the next 4 hours and 45 minutes? Take a break from your office-drone life and come watch the hardest single-day motorcycle event in the world.

That’s right, the entire Erzbergrodeo is up on YouTube (complete with a livestream chat feed), for your dirty-biking pleasure and two-centric practice of schadenfreude.

This year was the 24th running of the Erzbergrodeo, and this hard enduro hare scramble lived up to the hype once again. Only 23 riders finished this year’s race in the four-hour time limit (out of the 1,500 entrants and 500 qualifiers), and the clear winner didn’t emerge until the end of the course.

The “Iron Mountain” proved once again to be a great equalizer in rider skill and machine setup, which is why so many people flock to this old iron mine in Austria.

Over the years, thanks largely to the support of Red Bull, the Erzbergrodeo has become one of those iconic motorcycle races that lives a live of its own. Each year we see more top riders flocking to Erzberg, and this year saw the debut of the race’s first electric competitor: Ty Tremaine with Alta Motors.

We don’t want to give too much away, for those who don’t know the result and want to come into the stream clean, but it’s a worthwhile watch. Grab a beverage (or ten), turn off the phone, and enjoy!

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Harley-Davidson Debuts ADV Concept Bike

07/30/2018 @ 9:26 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

For as long as Asphalt & Rubber has been in business, we have never seen Harley-Davidson debut an actual new motorcycle.

Rehashing the same design ethos over and over again, Harley-Davidson’s “new” bikes each year fail to stray very far from their predecessors. This notion changes today, however.

Releasing a number of concepts for future machines, the Bar & Shield brand is showing signs of life. The concepts include electric motorcycles, e-bikes, a new roadster, a streetfighter, and even an adventure-tourer.

We will take a look at these machines in turn, but first up, let’s look at Harley-Davidson’s biggest surprise to us, its ADV bike, which is called the Harley-Davidson Pan America.

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A Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled 1100 on the Way?

07/20/2018 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled debuted, I said that this was the scrambler model the Bologna should have released first. Built actually to go off-road, it is the real scrambler in Ducati’s Scrambler lineup.

Now, I have a feeling that in a few months’ time I’m going to be saying this phrase again about a different bike, as there are some rumors floating in the Bothan Spy network that an 1,079cc version of the Desert Sled is set to debut for the 2019 model year.

This supposed Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled 1100 (try saying name that three times fast) will add to the Scrambler 1100 lineup from Ducati, adding some off-road prowess to a family of bikes that is really just a reworked Ducati Monster 1100.

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Big Updates Come to the 2019 Husqvarna FS 450

07/10/2018 @ 9:52 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

While it might not be a radical change to Husqvarna’s race-winning supermoto platform, the 2019 Husqvarna FS 450 just debuted toda,y and it comes with an impressive list of changes for the next model year.

Built off Husqvarna’s new motocross line, the 2019 Husqvarna FS 450 accordingly gets a revised cylinder head, a more rigid chassis, and a number of weight-savings and subtle improvements, all in an effort to make it the best factory supermoto on the market.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #80 – Mac Track

07/06/2018 @ 11:51 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 80 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and it is a lesson in how not to record a podcast, as the first 30 minutes of show were lost to some technical errors.

We recouped though, and the show is even more entertaining the second time around…maybe.

First, we talk about Quentin’s recent stint as an endurance racer, as he participated in a six-hour race at a local go-kart track.

After a lengthy discussion, we turn our attention to other racing events that happen to be going on, namely the MotoGP round at Mugello, the Isle of Man TT, and the Erzberg Rodeo.

The episode is a bit late to get out, so not all the racing news might be current, but we think it is still a pretty interesting show.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

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More Details on the KTM 790 Adventure R Emerge

07/03/2018 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The KTM 790 Duke hasn’t even made it to American soil yet — though, it strangely can race in the production middleweight class at Pikes Peak… — and we are already talking about its off-roading sibling, the KTM 790 Adventure R.

Built around the same 799cc parallel-twin engine found in the Duke model, the Adventure variant takes things to a whole new level for ADV riders.

Promising light weight, plenty of off-road power, and Dakar-inspired chassis components, this should be the adventure-tourer that dual-sport riders have been asking for.

With the production version of the KTM 790 Adventure R set to debut later this year at the annual industry trade shows, most of our appetite has been sustained by the prototype bike, which has been making the marketing rounds.

Adding some details along the way though, we have a slightly better idea of what to expect in a few months’ time.

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Today we get another look at Norton’s 650cc project, now named the Norton Atlas. We have already seen concept sketches for this British scrambler, and now Norton is showing us some engineering renders. This is because the physical machine should debut later this year, at the NEC bike show in November.

Details are still vague and light, but we do know that the 650cc parallel-twin engine will piggyback off the work done for Norton’s V4 superbike. Essentially the using the V4 engine with its rear cylinders lopped off, the parallel-twin engine shares the same head, pistons, valves, etc as the V4 bike.

Several flavors of the Atlas are expected to come to market, with 70hp and 100hp naturally aspirated versions already planned, as well as a supercharged version that is said to clear 175hp.

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India Boss Tips KTM 390 Adventure Debut for 2019

06/19/2018 @ 9:36 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It has been a motorcycle that we have long waited for, but it seems that the KTM 390 Adventure is finally set to debut. Based on the KTM 390 Duke platform, which currently shares itself with the KTM RC390, the new ADV bike targets the small-displacement adventure-touring segment.

This means that at the core of the KTM 390 Adventure model should be a 373cc single-cylinder engine, making roughly 43hp. Multiple spy photos of the bike have been spotted over the years, which show a long-travel machine that should be fairly capable off-road.

“With the 390 Adventure we would be making our long awaited entry into the niche premium dual-sport segment which is a very apt segment for Indian roads,” said Bajaj SVP and KTM India boss Amit Nandi, in a statement reported by several Indian publications.

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This Is the Ducati Scrambler That We Really Want

06/18/2018 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Scrambler Desert Sled concept from the Ducati Design Center is probably the best scrambler that you haven’t heard of – as the motorcycle had a very limited debut at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, around roughly this time last year.

The brainchild of Alex Earle – of Earle Motors fame – the Scrambler DS concept is very modern in its approach, and looks like it could easily do the deed when it comes to getting dirty in the muck.

Highlights include a beautifully machined double-sided swingarm; a large fuel tank up front, with an auxiliary tank in the rear; dual rear shocks and long-travel forks at the front; and a custom Akrapovic exhaust that tucks under the rear fender / fuel tank.

Overall, it is the bike that we wish Ducati would build, as it looks like a Scrambler that could really do some serious off-roading…while also adding to the premium look and feel that has made Ducati such an iconic brand.

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