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.

Just the other day, I was lamenting to a Ducati person about how the Desert Sled should have been the first model from the motorcycle makers Scrambler sub-brand…since, you know, it goes off-road quite well.

Built for the hard hits and jumps that come with taking a production street bike scrambling through the woods, the Desert Sled pretty much lives up to its name. But, if you really want to do the business, some changes need to be made.

This is where Alex Earle comes in the picture, with his Ducati Desert Sled “ADV Alaska” Prototype. A designer for Audi by day, Earle is known better in motorcycling circles for his street-tracker inspired custom Ducatis. You’ve probably seen them before.

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For the 2018 model year, Ducati is updating the Scrambler Desert Sled with another color option, one that the Italian brand calls “Shining Black”. As boring as that name sounds, it might be the best retro Scrambler paint job that we have ever seen from Borgo Panigale.

We know that up until this point, the Scrambler Ducati brand has been all about its bright green AstroTurf faux lawns, pristine giant yellow container boxes, and post-authentic marketing calls with skateboards, wide-brim hates, and semi-homeless millennials.

But, the new Desert Sled color scheme (we would have called the color “Shag Carpet Sexy” or “Dr. McNasty”) screams back to another part of the 1970s – a time when souping up passenger vans and living in them was an acceptable thing for non-creepy men to do.

Still, we love the effect that is done with the all-black paint, contrasted with the warm red/orange/yellow rainbow colors. It gets us excited about the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled all over again.

Now, the only question is how hard would it be to wedge the Scrambler 1100’s engine in this off-road chassis? Not too hard, we think.

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Ducati Scrambler 1100 Debuts in Three Flavors

11/05/2017 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We already got a good look at the 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 ahead of this year’s EICMA show, but now we have all the details on Ducati’s new heritage motorcycle. Surprisingly, it’s not just one motorcycle, but in fact three flavors of the Ducati Scrambler 1100 have debuted.

As such, there is the new Ducati Scrambler 1100, the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special, and the more premium Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport for the 2018 model year.

All three machines are built around Ducati’s venerable air-cooled v-twin engine design, which comes in a 1,079cc format and makes 84hp and 65 lbs•ft of peak torque.

The top of the food chain model for the Scrambler Ducati family, the Scrambler 1100 models all come with Bosch’s cornering ABS as standard, dual 320mm brake discs up front, which are mated to Brembo 4.32 calipers and a hydraulic master cylinder.

Ducati has also added 10-level traction control to the new Scrambler 1100 model, as well as a ride-by-wire throttle and an LED headlight. With an 18″ wheel up front, and a 17″ wheel in the back, the Ducati Scrambler 1100 series continues to sport the Pirelli MT60 RS tires.

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Here is the Ducati Scrambler 1100

11/03/2017 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati’s media event for the 2017 EIMCA show is just under a day away, but photos of the Italian company’s 2018 model year bikes are starting to leak on social media. As such, here is your first look at the Ducati Scrambler 1100, one of five all-new motorcycles from Borgo Panigale.

As you can see, the Ducati Scrambler 1100 is exactly as our sources said it would be, and it features the air-cooled, 1,087cc, v-twin engine that Ducatisti know and love, wedged into larger chassis and platform than the original Scrambler model.

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Ducati Scrambler 1100 Set to Debut at EICMA

10/27/2017 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati says that it has five new models for us at this year’s EICMA show. Yesterday we broke the news that there would be a Multistrada 950 Enduro, as well as the Ducati Multistrada 1260 (powered by the XDiavel’s Testastretta DVT 1262 engine).

We also know from CARB filings that there is a Ducati 959 Panigale Corse in the works; the Italian brand has already shown us the revamped Monster 821; and of course, we know that there will be the not-so-secret Ducati Panigale V4 showing in Milan.

But what about the Scrambler Ducati sub-brand? Well, it too will be seeing an addition to the family, in the guise of a larger machine. Get ready to say hello to the Ducati Scrambler 1100.

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Recall: Ducati Scrambler

12/29/2016 @ 10:41 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ducati is recalling over 5,500 units of its Scrambler motorcycles for a faulty kickstand pivot nut, which can potentially detach from the motorcycle. The recall affects 2015 and 2016 model year bikes, manufactured between February 17, 2015 and November 11, 2016.

If the pivot nut loosens or detaches, it can cause the kickstand position sensor not to function properly, which can lead to either the motorcycle stalling, or the rider being able to operate the motorcycle with the kickstand still down. Either scenario is potential dangerous.

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Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – Got Roost?

11/07/2016 @ 9:53 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS


As expected for EICMA, Ducati has two new models to add to its Scrambler sub-brand, the first being the 2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled – a long-suspension Scrambler model with some added off-road chops.

The name is of note, giving a nod to the scrambler-style street bikes that competed in events like the iconic LA-Barstow-Vegas races several decades ago.

Picking up on that vintaged past, Ducati has unsurprisingly created its own modern riff on the dirt sled style, and produced a proper scrambler at the same time.

Now with five models in its Scrambler lineup, Ducati finally has a machine that is ready to get its feet properly dirty. We expect this bike to be a big hit with a wide gamut of riders who are looking for back-to-basics dual-sport machines.

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The other addition to Ducati’s vintage lineup, the aptly named Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer adds the last missing piece to Ducati’s post-authentic puzzle: a café racer model.

Following the trend that so many other OEMs have followed, Ducati has wisely used its Scrambler sub-brand for its café racer offering, which features an old-school 803cc air-cooled platform that is easy to own, and cheap to buy.

Tastefully styled, the 75hp machine should be very attractive to retro-focused riders, or those who are simply looking for a basic street bike to add to their garage.

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Ducati Scrambler Café Racer Cometh Soon

10/19/2016 @ 12:26 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS


In addition to bringing the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled to market at the upcoming EICMA show, Ducati will pair its off-road focused scrambler model with a café racer version of the Scrambler, which has cleverly been named the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer.

The models will use the same 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine that we’ve seen already in the Scrambler lineup, and as you would expect, the machine will have the typical café racer aesthetic, with a round headlight and bullet fairing.

As with all of the Scrambler Ducati lineup, you can expect customization to be a big part of the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer’s appeal. Keep an eye out for its debut, November 7th in Milan, Italy.

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Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled Teased for EICMA Debut

10/18/2016 @ 11:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS


We know from filings with the California Air Resources Board that we should expect two new Scrambler models for the 2017 model year – a “DS” model and a “CR” model.

With photos of a long-travel suspension Scrambler circulating, we assumed that the “DS” designation stood for “dual-sport”, but the latest teaser video from Ducati corrects our almost-right assumption.

While Ducati will indeed launch a more off-roady Scrambler model, as we expected, the 803cc machine will be called the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, an homage to the Baja-busting bikes of yore that carried the same name.

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