Introducing the MOTR Podcast

Today we are announcing the third podcast that Asphalt & Rubber is involved with, the Motorcycles on the Record Podcast…or as we like to call it: the MOTR Podcast. The concept is pretty simple, as the MOTR Podcast is designed to compliment our popular Two Enthusiasts Podcast production. For those who don’t listen to it aleady, on the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson take an outside perspective on what is happening in the motorcycle industry. So, to contrast that with the MOTR Podcast, this new show will provide an insider’s view of what’s going on in motorcycles, with a focus on interviews and discussions with the industry’s leading figures.

Say Hello to the New Triumph Speed Triple RS

Back in 1994, Triumph created the streetfighter segment with the Speed Triple. But, the bike of 20 years ago is very different from the one debuting today, however the basic ethos remains: an aggressive sport bike for the city streets. In this time span though, the streetfighter segment has changed. Brands like KTM and Aprilia rule the roost, with high-horsepower bikes that come competently packed with high-tech electronics. Hoping to stay relevant with the same basic 1050cc platform, the British marque shows us now the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS – which boasts over 100 “new” parts just in the engine alone. The changes are subtle to the outgoing model though, but the highlights do stand out.

2018 Alta Motors Redshift MXR Officially Debuts – More Power, More Torque, Less Weight, and “Overclocking”

Here it is. After we broke the story that Alta Motors would be debuting an R-spec machine for its motocross line, we get our first glimpse of the 2018 Alta Motor Redshift MXR. A souped-up version of the 2018 model, which already gets some upgrades over last year’s bike, the Redshift MXR boasts some impressive features, in the pursuit of a no-compromises MX race bike. As such, Alta is quoting a stout 50hp and 42 lbs•ft of torque for the Redshift MXR, while the “wet” weight of the machine has been reduced by 8 lbs, to 259 lbs ready-to-ride. Recharge times have also been reduced, to just 1.5hrs on a 220v system – a savings of 30 minutes over the standard model.

Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle Coming in 18 Months

Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich dropped more than a few bombs during today’s earnings report, first saying that the Bar & Shield brand would close its Kansas City factory and consolidate production around its York, Pennsylvania plant. The American brand isn’t stopping the news there though. Offering a carrot of good tidings, Harley-Davidson reports that it will make its first production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months, effectively bringing its Livewire concept into production. The Livewire was a purpose-built concept done by Harley-Davidson in order to gauge the market reaction to the Bar & Shield brand going electric. Offering limited test rides, Harley-Davidson got positive responses to the Livewire experience, and the project has been internally green-lit ever since.

Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand. That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating. The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

Hervé Poncharal Talks About Replacing Jonas Folger

It is hard to envision a worse time to lose a rider for the season. Jonas Folger’s announcement that he was withdrawing from the 2018 MotoGP season to focus on his health was a hammer blow for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Just weeks before the start of testing for the new season, and long after riders good enough to race in MotoGP have signed contracts, Tech 3 team boss Hervé Poncharal is left looking for a replacement. It is a massive task, especially as Poncharal is refusing to break any contracts to take a rider. “You would be amazed to hear how many phone calls I have had, and who from,” he told us. “There were some interesting names, honestly, but priority for me, the basis for me is that I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract.”

Honda and Forever 21 Create Clothing Line for Millennials

An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women. “Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”

What You Need to Know About the Ducati Panigale V4 S

Is the Ducati Panigale V4 S the most anticipated motorcycle of 2018? If you are a diehard sport biker, the answer is probably yes, though a number of significant models are debuting this year, from several manufacturers. Still, in terms of ground-changing machines, the Panigale V4 has to rank high up on the list, as it is Ducati’s first proper four-cylinder motorcycle to go into mainstream production. I am writing to you today from Valencia, Spain – where we just finished a day of riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is better known as the final stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar. So, let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

What You Need to Know About the 2018 Honda Gold Wing

We just finished riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour in Austin, Texas – a day early I might add…because it’s snowing…in Texas. Still, clocking close to 200 miles on Honda’s sixth generation of this venerable touring machine has provided us with some interesting insights into the next Wing. A bike designed for long-distance riding, we have gathered our thoughts on the new Honda Gold Wing Tour, in a short and sweet format, so you can sound informed at your next bike night or internet forum. Overall, the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour is a smart update to an iconic motorcycle, and it brings the Gold Wing name inline with the current state of technology. As we found on the road,  the new Gold Wing is an improvement over its predecessor, but that comes with a caveat or two.

Brembo Issues Statement on Its Master Cylinder Recall

Just over a week ago, we broke the news that a massive recall was coming to motorcycles equipped with a particular Brembo master cylinder. Since then, we have seen recall notices from Aprilia and Ducati (affecting roughly 10,000 motorcycles in the USA) with more recalls expected from other brands. Because recalls in the United States typically come from the motorcycle manufacturer and not the part supplier, mum was the word from the folks at Brembo, though there were a number of questions regarding these recalls that weren’t answered in the NHTSA documents. Today, Brembo has finally decided to speak about the recalls that are underway in the United States, and presumably will be occurring in other markets as well.

Gone Riding: Triumph Speed Triple RS

02/18/2018 @ 11:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I just saw that it is snowing back home in Portland, so a very sunny hello from Spain, where we have flown to ride the new Triumph Speed Triple RS.

An update over the previous model, Triumph is boasting over 100 new pieces for the engine alone (along with a power bump to 148hp), but one quick look at this venerable streetfighter and it is obvious to see that it is evolution over revolution here for the Speed Triple.

That is not to say that Triumph hasn’t brought some meaningful updates to its awkwardly styled – yet beloved – machine, which should help the Speed Triple RS stack up very nicely against the very competitive models in the streetfighter segment.

The inclusion of IMU-powered traction control and brakes (RS model only) is the first major change made to aid that effort. The electronics suite is similarly robust with a ride-by-wire throttle, different power modes, and a 5″ TFT dash – keep things felling modern.

Helping earn the “RS” badge is OEM-spec Öhlins suspension, as well as an Arrow exhaust. Carbon fiber bodywork also comes on the RS model.

To test the new Speed Triple RS, Triumph has a two-fer for us today, riding on the streets of Spain, and then heading to the Circuito de Almería.

I’ve heard good things about Almería, so the day’s riding should be a perfect example of what one does with a dank-whoolie monster, such as the Speed Triple RS.

I was a big fan of the outgoing model, so I have high hopes for the 2018 edition, especially now that it stacks up better against the competition on the spec-sheet. The streetfighter segment is incredibly fierce though, and Triumph has some stiff competition, which means grading will be tough and merciless.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Triumph Speed Triple RS right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Triumph Speed Triple RS, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Triumph personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags: #Triumph & #SpeedTripleRS

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Gone Riding: Ducati Panigale V4 S

01/20/2018 @ 9:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Asphalt & Rubber traveling circus doesn’t stop, and after spending less than 12hrs at home after the Honda Gold Wing launch, I’m back at it…this time in Valencia, Spain for the Ducati Panigale V4 international press launch.

Arguably the most anticipated motorcycle to debut for the 2018 model year, the Panigale V4 is a huge step for Ducati, mostly because of the Italian company’s radical departure from its iconic v-twin power plant configuration, in favor of the 90° V4 engine configuration.

Now with four-cylinders of fury, this 1,103cc, 214hp, V4 machine is set to tackle the superbike market, but will it live up to the hype? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out.

To do so, Ducati has us riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is just outside of Valencia and home to the final round of the MotoGP Championship. A fun and flowing track with a little bit of everything, Valencia should be a good spot to see how the Panigale V4 truly handles.

We will have five track sessions, four of which will be on the Ducati Panigale V4 S, and of which will be on the 226hp Ducati Panigale V4 Speciale.

With a bevy of electronic upgrades and plenty of features, we will need all the time that we can get to in order to play around with Ducati’s flagship model, and see how it goes.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Ducati Panigale V4 S right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Ducati Panigale V4, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Ducati personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtag #PanigaleV4.

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Gone Riding: Honda Gold Wing

01/15/2018 @ 5:23 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Hello from Texas Hill Country, just outside of Austin, Texas. In addition to soaking up some of that prairie life, I am out here to ride the 2018 Honda Gold Wing.

For this model year, the iconic touring bike gets an all-new design, making it the sixth generation of the Honda Gold Wing, which has a focus on being more compact, refined, and built for today’s modern touring rider.

As such, roughly 90 lbs of fat have been trimmed off the ol’ Wing, thanks largely to a more compact engine design and what Honda calls a “double wishbone” front end (you might call it a Hossack suspension design). 

In total, there are five variations of the new Gold Wing. The Honda Gold Wing Tour is the design you will most likely recognize, as it comes with integrated trunk and passenger chair, it in turn has three flavors: standard, DCT (dual-clutch transmission), and the airbag model returns to the lineup as well.

Replacing the Honda Gold Wing F6B is what Big Red simply calls the Honda Gold Wing. It has a more bagger look, with the trunk/passenger chair removed. It comes in two flavors, standard and DCT.

A hallmark technology for Honda now, this is the third generation of Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, which has considerable refinements over the previous generation, especially in its Gold Wing application, and features seven speeds for optimal cruising.

With snow and ice expected in Texas this week, our ride plans have changed a bit, but we still should be able to give the new Gold Wing a couple hundred miles of testing, riding through the hill country, outside of Austin.

For bonus fun, Honda has brought some of its 2017 models as well, so we should be able to give a good comparison between the two generations of this incredibly popular motorcycle (roughly 800,000 of them have been sold worldwide, and most of those were in the USA).

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Honda Gold Wing models right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Honda Gold Wing, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Honda personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtag #2018Goldwing.

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Gone Riding: Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 & Shiver 900

10/04/2017 @ 8:32 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Hello from Ventura, California where today I will be riding the two bikes from Noale’s street lineup, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 and the Aprilia Shiver 900.

More evolution than revolution, for the 2017 model year Aprilia has revised the Dorsoduro and Shiver them with a 896cc engine – increasing the stroke from the previously 750cc 90° v-twin lump.

This gives both models a modest power bump and torque gain, while bringing the two street bikes into compliance with Euro4 emission standards. While at it, Aprilia has also updated both machines, leaving no stone unturned in the process in making them better motorcycles.

As such, virtually every aspect of the Aprilia Dorsoduro and Aprilia Shiver have been updated, most notably the electronics, which now include a traction control system, along with new ABS and ride-by-wire hardware and software pieces.

Hopefully, this means that these two rather bland machines from Aprilia have become the potent weapons we always hoped they would be.

To test that thought, we will be riding one of my favorite roads in the world, Highway 33, which stretches from Ventura to Ojai, and into Lockwood Valley – ending at Interstate 5. A good set of twisties, it should be the happy hunting ground for these two motorcycles.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900 models right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride these affordable street shredders, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Aprilia personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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Gone Riding: Polaris Slingshot

08/24/2017 @ 8:45 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Hello from Los Angeles, where today I will be “riding” the Polaris Slingshot three-wheeled “motorcycle” (it says so right next to the driver’s seat). 

Polaris’s three-wheeled car-type thing is a bit of mystery when it comes to definitions and legal distinctions – though we are fond of the autocycle designation – but it competes with motorcycles on the dollars-for-grins category, so here we are.

Polaris has a fun route planned up the California coast line for us today, so we should have a good opportunity to see if you should empty out your garage full of bikes, and fit this Miata-sized three-wheeler into your stable.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the 2018 Polaris Slingshot models right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to “ride” this interesting vehicle from Polaris, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Polaris personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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Gone Riding: Aprilia RSV4 & Tuono V4

04/25/2017 @ 7:20 am, by Jensen Beeler65 COMMENTS

Hello again from Austin, Texas and the Circuit of the Americas. Fresh off yesterday’s sessions on the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, we have another day of track riding ahead of us (it’s a tough life, I know).

Switching things up a bit, we will be on the Aprilia RSV4 RR, Aprilia RSV4 RF, Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR, and Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory. That’s a lot of bikes to ride in a single-day format, but we should be able to get some good seat time on each of the new Aprilia models for you.

Our focus for the day will be on the bevy of changes that Aprilia has brought to its V4 platform for the 2017 model year, as the Italian brand looks to continue the evolution of both its RSV4 and Tuono V4 lineups.

The big changes at hand are more power, an updated electronics package, new suspension pieces for the RSV4 RF and Tuono V4 1100 Factory, and upgraded brakes (cornering ABS from Bosch and larger brake discs) on all the models.

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Gone Riding: 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000

04/24/2017 @ 6:13 am, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

Good morning from Austin, Texas. After a long weekend watching some of the fastest racers tackling the 20 turns of the Circuit of the Americas, we are going to try a hand at it today, riding the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

COTA is a perfect test track for a bike like the GSX-R1000, with a mix of long straights, elevation changes, quick transitions, and fast sweepers. Run, turn, stop – that is the mantra behind the Suzuki GSX-R1000, and we will be testing those three attributes.

For the 2017 model year, the GSX-R1000 is an all-new machine – though we are told that fans of the “King of Superbikes” should find this machine to be a familiar soul.

Not everything is familiar though, as the outgoing model was noticably behind the times. As such, the 2017 version features near-200hp performance figures and a state-of-the-art electronics suite, which includes ABS, IMU-powered traction control, and ride-by-wire.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the new Suzuki GSX-R1000, before even my own proper reviews are posted.

As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Suzuki personnel (we have members from both the Japanese and American teams here on-site) that are here with me here at COTA. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #Suzuki & #GSXR1000 for the thoughts of my colleagues as well.

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Gone Riding: 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6

03/22/2017 @ 8:30 am, by Jensen Beeler62 COMMENTS

Good morning from cloudy California. Today’s adventure takes us to one of my favorite race tracks, Thunderhill Raceway Park, to test the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6.

It should be an interesting day, namely since Northern California is getting some much-needed rain, although that makes it tough to test a 120hp+ supersport machine.

On second thought though, maybe these are ideal conditions for the “new” R6 – with its freshly added traction control, riding modes, and anti-locking brake system.

It’s this electronics suite that will be the focus of our testing today, considering that the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 keeps the same frame and engine as its predecessor.

Definitely more evolution than revolution, other changes to the R6 for 2017 include revised suspension and braking components, magnesium subframe, aluminum tank, and bodywork that improves aerodynamics.

Yamaha calls this its “4th Generation” YZF-R6 model, though the spec list is suggesting something closer to a “3.5 Generation” machine…maybe 3.75, if I have had my Mountain Dew this morning and am feeling generous.

Yamaha feels confident that the 2017 model is a “new” bike though, and they even brought a 2016 model to ride, in order to prove the point to us. So, that will certainly be interesting. It looks like Bridgestone W01 full-wet rain tires will be the order of the day, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that things don’t get too moist out there.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have. So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6, before even my own proper review is posted.

As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Yamaha personnel (we have members from both the Japanese and American teams here on-site) that are here with me here at Thunderhill. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #Yamaha #RWorld #R6FirstRide for the thoughts of my colleagues as well.

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We’re Going to Try a New Motorcycle Review Format

03/22/2017 @ 12:55 am, by Jensen Beeler79 COMMENTS

For a long time, I have been unhappy with how we do motorcycle reviews here at Asphalt & Rubber – and if I am being real honest, I have been unhappy with how the industry as a whole deals with motorcycle reviews, especially in this new crazy online world.

Mea culpa, A&R is just as guilty as the rest when it comes to publishing motorcycle reviews. We have been just as lazy as the next publication, as we try to chase elusive pageviews at the end of each bike launch, with timely but flaccid prose (with varying degrees of success, on both accounts, I should say).

Well, I want that to stop. It is dumb, and it is bad for the ecosystem.

So, starting today we are going to try a new motorcycle review format – one that I have been chewing on for several months now. It is a three-pronged approach to bike reviews, which sees us trying to achieve different goals with each of our three postings about the new motorcycles we ride. Let me break them down for you.

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Gone Riding: Yamaha SCR950

08/18/2016 @ 8:01 am, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

2017-Yamaha-SCR950-scrambler-17

Hello from Julian, California which is just a stone’s throw away from Southern California’s Palomar Mountain State Park – a local riding Mecca. I’m out here today with Yamaha USA, riding the Yamaha SCR950 – the Japanese company’s “Made for the USA” scrambler model.

The SCR950 is part of Yamaha’s “Sport Heritage” line, and joins bikes like the XSR900 café racer and Yamaha Bolt C-Spec. That latter model is important, as the Yamaha SCR950 is built off the Bolt platform, adding a number of scrambler-styled design cues to the affordable cruiser model.

It’s worth noting that the SCR950 is the first model by Yamaha that has been developed here in the USA, rather than in Japan. As such, its focus is obviously on the American market. Strangely though, its most comparable competitors are all European.

This is becoming a trend for Yamaha, as we saw with the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-10. The brand from Iwata is making great strides to set itself apart from the other Japanese companies.

We’ve got a full day’s worth of riding to find out. While I’m out on the road, I will try and give you a live assessment of the machine, and answer any questions you might have. So, here’s your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the 2017 Yamaha SCR950, before even my own proper review is posted.

Cellphone reception is pretty spotty here in the mountains, but we’ve got pretty good wifi at the hotel, so I will attempt to answer any questions you post here in the comments and on social media.

As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Yamaha personnel that are here with me in North Carolina. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #Yamaha #SCR950 #SCR950FirstRide for the thoughts of my colleagues as well.

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