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.

That Suzuki Katana 3.0 Concept Though…

11/15/2017 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

One of the less-publicized motorcycles on display at this year’s EICMA show was this Suzuki Katana concept, which has since been making the rounds on social media.

Rightfully so, we would say, as the “Katana 3.0” is a very intriguing idea into how Suzuki can revitalize one of its most iconic names.

A creation by the folks at Motociclismo, with the help of designer Rodolfo Frascoli and Engines Engineering, the Katana 3.0 concept isn’t the “official” concept that many had hoped for from Suzuki.

However, the fact that Suzuki hosted the concept inside its EICMA display is a sign that the Japanese manufacturer is certainly listening to the feeback the bike generates.

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You would have to be living under a rock not to notice the heritage theme that has taken the motorcycle industry by storm.

That being said, Suzuki’s hibernation, as we like to call the company’s complete withdrawal from the two-wheeled space during the recession, is a lot like living under a rock.

Finally seeing the daylight, the Japanese brand is a bit late to the post-authentic retro game, and finds itself having to scramble to stay relevant. That is to say, this is how we read the fact that Suzuki has only one new machine for 2018: the SV650X.

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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 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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This Is Surely the Suzuki SV650X, A Café Racer

10/26/2017 @ 6:19 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We are pretty confident that Suzuki has some interesting motorcycles for us at this year’s EICMA show. This is not one of them.

Part of the “me too” movement that the Japanese manufacturers are going through in order to have heritage motorcycles in their lineup, the 2018 Suzuki SV650X is exactly what you think it is: the company’s popular street bike, dressed in a vintage aesthetic.

There isn’t anything wrong with that, per se, as we have seen some great builds using the same formula, like the Yamaha XSR900 and more recently the Kawasaki Z900RS and Honda Neo Sports Café concept.

However, we know exactly what we are getting with the Suzuki SV650X, and it’s not pretty. With the concept already getting unveiled at the Tokyo Motor, we expect its debut for the Western markets to happen in Milan, Italy. Look for it next week.

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Retro-Styled Kawasaki Z900RS Debuts in Tokyo

10/25/2017 @ 2:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

As expected, at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Kawasaki unveiled a new retro-syled model based off its popular Z900 street bike, thus creating the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS.

As the core of the bike is the same four-cylinder, water-cooled, 900cc engine that is found on the Kawasaki Z900, but Team Green has completely revamped the styling to have a more heritage look and feel to the “RS” model.

Peppy motorcycle meets trendy aesthetics, the Kawasaki Z900RS truly lives up to its “Retro Sport” moniker. Equipment includes LED lighting, new spoke-looking wheels, and a revised exhaust design.

The paint scheme is meant to mimic the design found on the 1972 Kawasaki Z1, one of the Japanese brand’s more classic motorcycles, while appealing to the features that modern motorcyclists rely upon.

Set for sure for the European market, it will be interesting to see if Kawasaki brings the Z900RS to the USA. We would expect so, but stay tuned for more information.

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If we had to guess at a unifying theme for this year’s new bike launches, it would have to be “what is old is new again” as several brands are working on modern-engineered retro-styled motorcycles for the Tokyo and Milan expos.

Big Red is throwing its hat into the ring for this game as well, teasing what it calls the “Neo-Sport Café” on its YouTube channel. The videos center around Honda’s design and engineering team working on a new motorcycle, which will debut next month at the EICMA show in Milan.

In the teaser videos, we see a retro-looking motorcycle, with modern flares, such as an LED headlight, single-sided swingarm, and bazooka shaped exhaust can.

And then of course, there is the name” Neo-Sport Café and Honda’s description that it is true to “the spirt of the café racer.

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A Better Look at the Upcoming Kawasaki Z900RS

10/11/2017 @ 6:43 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

For the 2018 model year, Kawasaki is working on a modern motorcycle, dressed like a vintage standard. As such, the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS takes the popular and potent Z900 streetfighter, and gives it a visual work-over for a whole new demographic.

You don’t have to wear skinny jeans and a man-bun to like it though, the Kawasaki Z900RS looks like a stunner, and we know this because Team Green has been giving us something close to the full monty, with its teaser video series.

Expected to debut later this month (just after Honda debuts its new Gold Wing motorcycles), and ahead of November’s EICMA show, the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS helps build out Kawasaki’s heritage lineup, of which it has exactly zero models – unless you count the Vulcan Classic cruiser.

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New Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster Teased for 2018

09/18/2017 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Are you ready for another flavor of Triumph Bonneville? We hope so, because the British marque is teasing a new model: the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster.

Set to debut on October 3rd, Triumph’s social media channels are boasting that the new Speedmaster will have “classic custom style” and “class leading capability” – along with “British attitude” which either means a stiff upper lip, or passive-aggressive social graces…we can’t be sure.

In seriousness though, we can assume from the name and attributes that the new Speadmaster will be getting the same liquid-cooled upgrades that we have seen come to the Bonneville line in past few model years, following in the footsteps of the Thruxton and Bobber.

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Triumph Boasts Big Sales Increases for Q1 2017

04/07/2017 @ 1:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

Triumph Motorcycles America is reporting today a healthy 15% gain in its sales over Q1 2017, compared to the same time period from last year.

Triumph doesn’t breakout its sales figures by model, but we can expect that most of those gains come from the company’s “heritage” lineup, which has seen the addition of five new post-authentic motorcycles for the 2017 model year.

Of course, anyone who has followed the Triumph brand in the United States will greet this news with an ounce of skepticism, as the British marque has earned itself a reputation for being less than forthright with its sales figures.

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