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.

Are You the Erik Buell Racing 1190RX?

07/25/2013 @ 3:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS


On its Facebook page right now, Erik Buell Racing is teasing a two-seater bike, which looks suspiciously similar to the EBR 1190RS homologation-special racing machine.

With EBR teasing the names of three future machines on its website: the RX, SX, and AX, those who are capable of putting two-and-two together can deduce that the Milwaukee-based company is getting ready to bring another version of its 1190cc street bike to market, complete with a pillion.

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Photos: A Future AMA Star in the Making

05/10/2012 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

One of the banes of any photographers existence is when someone walks right into the middle of your shot. There seems to be two schools of thought on how to deal with such an incident, with some preferring to let nature take its course, and wait for the intruder to leave the frame, while others prefer the scream/temper-tantrum school of thought that may or may not include throwing a gear bag in a fit of rage.

Where a photographer falls on that spectrum seems to be a function of how much time he or she spent setting up the shot, how much Red Bull had been consumed that morning, and whether it was another photographer who decided to start working with reckless abandon for his fellow photojournalists. However, there are some incidents where when someone walks into your shot, it is a welcomed addition. Snapping photos of the American flag-clad Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, I had such a moment, which I think touches the inner-child of all of us.

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Erik Buell Racing had a good weekend at Sears Point, with Danny Eslick riding the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS to its first podium in Race 1, with Team Hero. Making an encore podium in Race 2, Geoff May also put the EBR 1190RS on the third step, this time for Team Amsoil/Hero. With the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS benefiting from Sear Points emphasis on handling instead of horsepower, the EBR has made up a ton of ground in just a short amount of time.

While the EBR 1190RS race bikes were on the track, their $40,000+ street-legal counterparts were on display outside of the Erik Buell Racing garage. Rocking an American flag livery, I naturally took pictures of this show bike. Eye catching to say the least, nothing says “Made in ‘merica” better than a red, white, and blue color scheme, especially when it is laid over carbon fiber. And while I want to love this bike because of its nuances and outside-of-the-box technical design, I don’t.

Trading patriotism for originality, Erik Buell Racing is still pushing the same worn-out Americana marketing plan that Harley-Davidson built for the sport bike company way back when. With two podium victories, a gorgeous product, and a story that is an encapsulation of hard work overcoming adversity, you would think that the folks from East Troy could put away the cheap parlor trick of using Americana to sell motorcycles. One gorgeous bike in its own right, but a played out theme as well. What happened to being innovative guys? Photos after the jump.

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The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

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Video: EBR Nation Part 3 – “Made in America”

08/10/2011 @ 7:38 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has another installment of its “EBR Nation” video set, with part three of the YouTube series focusing on EBR’s “Made in America” credential. Unlike the previous videos (Part 1 & Part 2), it’s hard to get behind this one, as Buell and his crew go back to the well with their “it’s made in America, so you should buy it” philosophy/sales pitch. The short clip starts out well enough, with Buell saying “over the last few years there was a feeling that the dream of America is getting away from us.” Whether you believe that is actually true or not, there certainly has been a movement expressing this very idea after watching the credit market collapse, and seeing someone like Buell trying to make something out of the ashes of the recession is a bit inspiring.

What isn’t inspiring is the same reused tagline that because something is built in the USA it is somehow automatically better that the competition. This sort of continued thinking its precisely what put Buell out of business the first time around, and like the reused action shots for this video (you may have seen many of these quick-cuts in Parts 1 & 2, and a couple are even used twice in Part 3), you get tired of hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again with no result.

The whole idea behind Erik Buell Racing was that it was a company that could flourish from outside Harley-Davidson’s thumb, and the whole purpose of the EBR 1190RS was that it was supposed to be an American superbike that we could appreciate on the merits. The fact that all of this is being done by Americans, in America, is all the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Rant over. The video is after the jump.

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Video: EBR Nation Part 2 – “Fingertips”

07/27/2011 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Erik Buell Racing has the second part to its strobed-out EBR Nation video series (previously titled “The Making of the EBR 1190RS”), and we see the videos go from previously a more narrative take to a more promotional role (that’s marketing for yah). Like the Prologue, “Fingertips” has Geoff May talking about the bike, with a few sound bites from Erik Buell himself sprinkled in for good measure.

One of May’s more interesting comments is that the EBR 1190RS handles so well, that you’d have to go down to bikes half its displacement to find similar handling characteristics. Worthy praise for sure, though it’s probably a bit too soon on the heels of the Daytona Sportbike fiasco under Harley-Davidson’s reign.

There’s unfortunately little information to learn from the segment, which is a shame considering how few riders will actually get to experience the 100 hand-made 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles that will be produced (assuming EBR hits its production goals). Hopefully when Buell tips his hand more on the RX, SX, and AX models it’ll mean more attainable motorcycles for riders with mortal-sized wallets. Made for the true Buelltisti, you’ll get your East Troy fix after the jump.

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The Making of the EBR 1190RS: Part 1 (Prologue)

07/19/2011 @ 1:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

After unveiling the $40,000 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike to the public last year, and recently taking the EBR 1190RS to Mid-Ohio for its AMA Pro Superbike racing debut, the guys at EBR are ready to show some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into America’s newest sport bike.

In what looks to be a several part video series, we’re given the prologue of the making of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, complete with sounds from Buell’s own record label, Rat Pak Records, and some seizure inducing footage (we actually like the production work, but worry about our epileptic readers watching this video…no, really).

So far we have little to go on as to where this “EBR Nation” series is headed, but there is one Geoff May talking some hyperbole about the EBR 1190RS (the latest AMA paddock scuttle-butt says that he will not be with the Erik Buell Racing team next year), and it closes with a fitting message from Erik Buell himself. Check it out after the jump, and check back here for more of these videos as we get them.

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First Shot: Erik Buell Racing 1190RS in Race Trim

07/09/2011 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

This is the first picture we’ve see of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS in its AMSOIL race livery. On-site for the Mid-Ohio round of AMA Superbike, Geoff May will pilot the EBR 1190RS for the first time in a race, as the team (and the public) have been anxiously waiting to see the debut of the new Superbike and its bounty of extra horsepower. Hopefully the 1190RS will keep all its bits together, and bring home a good result for the Erik Buell Racing team this weekend (May has qualified 12th on the 1190RS as of this writing).

Source: My Little Lotus Blossom

Last week Erik Buell Racing debuted the full technical specifications and price tag on the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS superbike with turn signals. With it were 15 photos that were…how do we say this politely…disproportionate to the grand performance figures EBR is boasting for its first street bike. We know there’s some Buell loyality in the Asphalt & Rubber readership (you guys are troopers considering the amount of punishment we give the American brand), so it’s with great pleasure we bring you these eight high-resolution photos of the EBR 1190RS.

For extra kicks, we decided not to downsize some of the larger photos, so you can do whatever you want with them. Like for instance, make life-size print outs and paste them onto your existing bike (with only 100 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles being made, at a hefty $40k MSRP we might add, this option might be as close as many of us get to owning one). Note: if anyone actually does this, please send us a photo. We’ll have to see what sort of penance we’ll have to do here at A&R in order to swing a leg over an 1190RS, until then we eagerly await to hear what the teased RX, SX, and AX models have in store for us. Find the photos after the jump.

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2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS – $39,999 MSRP

06/11/2011 @ 5:25 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has a new website, and with it comes more information about the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike. With only 100 bikes being made, the 175hp v-twin rocket ship weighs only 389 lbs wet (without fuel though), which for the spec-sheet racers should be plenty to drool over. That sort of exclusivity and performance will cost you dearly though, as the the EBR 1190RS is going to hit your wallet for $39,999 (roughly the price of a well-packaged mini-van), and if you want the extra-drool worthy carbon edition, that’ll be another $4,000 added to the price tag.

When the 100 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bikes are sold though, EBR will be able to go racing in the AMA Pro Racing circuit (EBR missed its goal to race at Infineon and now seems likely for Barber, or Mid-Ohio) with the 1190cc race bike. Erik Buell Racing is currently campaigning in the American Superbike series with Geoff May on an 1125RR, which is down on power compared to the other bikes according to the race team.

The $40,000 price tag is going to be quite the hurdle for Buell and his crew, though finding 100 enthusiasts shouldn’t be an impossible task. If $40,000 isn’t your cup of tea for a motorcycle, it would seem Buell and his crew have you covered there, as the company is teasing three new models: the RX, SX, and AX. Let the speculation begin on what those models could be, full tech-specs on the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS and photos are after the jump.

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