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.

Gone Riding: MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso SCS

06/10/2018 @ 10:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Out riding bikes, because that’s what we do, for this edition of “Gone Riding” it is the last three letters of the name “MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800 SCS” that you want to pay most attention to.

Those three letters stand for “smart clutch system” and they represent the new semi-auto clutch technology that MV Agusta has developed with Rekluse for its street-going motorcycles, and it is the main reason that we are in Varese today, riding the Italian brand’s up-spec sport-tourer.

The Lusso line of the Turismo Veloce 800 features integrated panniers and semi-active suspension over the base model, and of course the SCS in the name adds the new clutch design, with its attractive clear clutch cover. The special clutch also adds €700 to the price tag, over the regular Lusso.

We have already had some seat time on the base model, a few years ago, and found the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 to be a capable and fun sport bike that was comfortable for longer trips, though we would have liked a few more ponies coming out of the three-cylinder engine.

Getting to see this motorcycle again, our focus today will be on the changes that have been made with the new clutch and the move to Euro4 emission standards, as well as the more premium elements that come with the Lusso name.

Per our new review format, I will be giving you a live assessment of the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 SCS right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there he will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso SCS, 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 MV Agusta personnel on-hand. 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 #TurismoVeloceSCS

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Gone Riding: Yamaha Niken

05/21/2018 @ 7:13 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Today, we get ready to ride one of the most intriguing motorcycles that has ever been released – the Yamaha Niken. This leaning three-wheeler caught our attention last year, not only for its crazy looks, but also for its interesting tech.

It seems that all the manufacturers are exploring what the future holds for motorcycles, and some of that future involves a move away from the traditional two-wheeled format. As such, bikes like the Niken are an exploration of what is possible when you eschew established norms.

Using an advanced parallelogram front-end for its two forward wheels, the Niken is basically a Yamaha MT-09 from the headstock back, with the peppy three cylinder engine providing a familiar power plant to an otherwise unfamiliar machine.

To give us a sense of this radically new machine, we have sent motorcycling’s favorite wild man, Adam Waheed, to go ride the Yamaha Niken in Austria and report back to us.

Per our new review format, Adam will be giving you a live assessment of the Yamaha Niken right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there he will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Niken, before even Adam’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Yamaha 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 #Yamaha #Niken

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Gone Riding: In South Africa with Pirelli

04/10/2018 @ 9:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Another day, another trip to Africa – the Asphalt & Rubber frequent flyer miles account is strong this year. As such, we are coming to you from South Africa, were we will be among the first to ride the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tire – the Italian company’s new high-performance street/track tire.

Replacing the original Diablo Rosso Corsa tire that debuted in 2010, the DRCII is a tire that is designed for modern high-performance motorcycles, many of which have advanced technologies like cornering ABS and IMU-powered traction control.

Pirelli says that the DRCII is the first multi-zone compound tire for the Italian brand, with two compounds and three zones on the front tire, and 3 compounds and five zones on the rear tire.

To take these tires for a spin (pardon the pun), Pirelli has two rides planned for us. For our street ride, we will be riding the roads near Kruger National Park (including the famous “Road 22”), which is the largest game reserve in Africa, and features perhaps the best riding in the country.

For the track portion, we will head to the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, which once was a stop on the World Superbike calendar. Recently renovated, riding this famous track should be a real treat, and a great place to showcase the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires.

So with that said, feel free to pick my brain about the new Pirelli tires, the bikes I’ll be riding (check posts on social media), and what it is like to visit South Africa, Kruger National Park, and the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.

As always, you can follow our thoughts on the tires via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #PirelliNation, #PirelliMoto, #PirelliDiabloRossoCorsaII, & #RossoCorsa2.

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Gone Riding: Benelli TnT 135

04/05/2018 @ 5:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We have covered extensively the rise of the small-displacement motorcycle segment here at Asphalt & Rubber, and today we are swinging a leg over a bike that is probably well off your radar, the Benelli TnT 135.

Benelli is better known for its larger sport bikes in the US market, with the Italian brand making an exodus from our two-wheeled lexicon at the turn of the century.

Now under ownership by China’s Qianjiang Group, Benelli is better known for its smaller motorcycles, which sell better in emerging markets than they do in the United States.

American importer SSR Motorsports is hoping to change that, and today we have sent motorcycling’s favorite wild man, Adam Waheed, to go ride the Benelli TnT 135 in SoCal and report back to us on this unique brand and motorcycle.

Per our new review format, Adam will be giving you a live assessment of the Benelli TnT 135 right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there he will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the TnT 135, before even Adam’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Benelli 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 #TnT135

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Gone Riding: In Morocco with Bridgestone

03/20/2018 @ 11:50 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Apologies if things have been a bit sparse here the last few days, as I’ve been making yet another trans-Atlantic crossing…my third in just seven days.

The trip has been worth it though, as I have been fortunate enough to ride in Morocco with Bridgestone the last few days, testing out the new Battlax A41 adventure-touring tire, and the Battlax T31 sport-touring tire.

Because of the schedule, we are going to have to Tarantino this “Gone Riding” post a little, and do thing in reverse, but there is plenty to talk about.

Our routes have been based out of Ouarzazate (productions like Gladiator and Game of Thrones have been filmed here), and it is a high-desert terrain with red rocks and plenty of sand and wind.

With two different tires, I have been on a host of bikes as well. On the Battlax A41, it was the BMW 1200GS Rallye, KTM 1290 Adventure S, and the Honda Africa Twin; while for the Battlax T31, it was the Suzuki GSX-S1000F, BMW R1200R, and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

Feel free to pick my brain about the new Bridgestone tires, the bikes I have been on, and what it is like to visit Morocco and the Ouarzazate region.

As always, you can follow our thoughts on the tires via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #BattlaxA41 & #BattlaxT31

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Gone Riding: MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR

03/13/2018 @ 12:14 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Hello and good morning to a cold but dry Varese, Italy – the home of MV Agusta and just a stone’s throw away from Milan and the Dolomite mountain range.

Today we are riding the Euro4-spec MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR, and our course will be a street ride, around the region’s Lago Maggiore – a large lake not too far from the MV Agusta factory.

The current MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR isn’t exactly a new model, but it is one that has gotten lost in the shuffle with the Italian brand’s lengthy history of financial troubles

Historically one of the best-selling machines in the MV Agusta lineup, the Brutale 800 RR is a bike that I have been looking forward to riding for quite a while now, after I was first impressed with the changes made to the Euro4-spec Brutale 800 a few years ago.

The big difference between the Brutale 800 RR and the Brutale 800 is the engine, with the RR making 140hp from its three-cylinder power plant, an increase of roughly 30hp over the base model.

As you can imagine, the torque curve is considerably further up the rev range on the RR as well, which should make for a sportier ride. It’s not all roses though, and hopefully MV Agusta has been tackling my list of complaints to an otherwise awesome machine.

Will the Brutale 800 RR be just as fun to ride as the Brutale 800? That’s what we are hear to find out…well, that and whether its worth the $3,800 price difference ($18,498 MSRP here in the USA) over the base model.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Brutale 800 RR, before even my own proper review is posted (Italian cell service permitting). As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the MV Agusta 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 #MVAgusta & #Brutale800RR

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Gone Riding: Alta Motors Redshift MXR

02/28/2018 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

One of my more favorite phrases to tell people is that it is called Asphalt & Rubber for reason, as I am very much a sport bike / street bike sort of guy. That is why I sent hot-shoe Carlin Dunne down to SoCal today to ride the brand new Alta Motors Redshift MXR motocross bike.

Revised with a bevy of improvements over Alta’s original Redshift MX model, the MXR is designed to be a proper race bike. So, we had Carlin pack some extra postage stamps, with explicit instructions go send it.

With 50hp packed into a 259 lbs body, the Redshift MXR has some promising specs, but beyond the spec-sheet, the electric dirt bike brings a new twist to riding an MX course, namely with promises for better hookup and more traction.

How does it work in the wild though? Well, we are going to ride it and find out.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Alta Redshift MXR 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 Redshift MXR, before even Carlin’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Alta 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 #RedshiftMXR

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Gone Riding: Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

02/25/2018 @ 9:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Riding bikes is what we do, and the dude abides, so I am out here in Moab, Utah swinging a leg over the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa – the British brand’s fully loaded middleweight off-road focused adventure-touring bike.

Kitted with extra goodness, the XCa is the more premium counterpart to Triumph’s other off-road 800cc model, the Tiger 800 XRx…and if you are confused by Hinckley’s alphabet soup, don’t worry, you are not alone.

To be clear, the Tiger 800 XCa is the fully-loaded off-road model, complete with a 21″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel. It includes also things like a heated seat and grips, an aluminum radiator guard, and LED lighting, 

New for the 2018 model year is a bevy of updates, namely a revised dash and smoother three-cylinder engine. Triumph says that there are over 200 changes to the Tiger 800, though you would have a hard time seeing them. This truly a model refresh, not a new machine.

Still, these are welcomed updates to the class-leader, and I have high hopes for riding the XCa on Moab’s dusty and dirty trails – the previous edition was a very capable off-roader, after all.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa 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 Tiger 800 XCa, 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.

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The original factory streetfighter, the Triumph Speed Triple latched motorcycling’s punk movement in 1994, and never looked back.

Now for the 2018 model year, the British brand is updating its venerable streetfighter – dragging the Speed Triple into the digital age with a bevy of electronic updates. and other technical improvements.

With more power (148 hp), more torque (86 lbs•ft), and less weight (467 lbs wet), it is evolution, not revolution for the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple, which comes in two varieties, the S model and the RS model.

Triumph claims over 100 changes have occurred inside the Speed Triple’s 1050cc three-cylinder engine cases, most of them to help the triple rev-up quicker and to achieve its higher redline of 10,500 rpm (+1,000 rpm higher than the previous model).

Riding the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS in Almería, Spain, Asphalt & Rubber got to see first-hand how these updates build upon Triumph’s street-hooligan reputation, and whether the Triumph Speed Triple RS is a worthy alternative to the bevy of robust machines already in this category.

The result? The 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS is a smart update to the British brand’s streetfighter, and though it falls short of the high-water mark in the space, it offers some strong bang-for-the-buck hooning, which makes it very appealing. Let me explain.

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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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