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.

XXX: 21 Hi-Res Shots of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera

12/29/2016 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Did Santa forget to put a certain carbon fiber superbike under the tree this Christmas? Us too.

Since we aren’t one of the lucky 500 people who will be receiving the Ducati 1299 Superleggera in 2017, we will have to make do with appreciating Ducati’s latest halo bike from a distance.

Ducati officially lists the 1299 Superleggera as making 215hp and weighing 156kg dry, though with the installation of the included race kit that peak horsepower figure pops to 220hp, while the dry weight drops to a near-nothing 150kg. OMGWTFBBQ.

Numbers aside, the truly astounding part of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera is its carbon fiber chassis, a first for a production motorcycle.

Make no mistake, the Bologna firm has been continuously pushing the boundaries of what defines a superbike, and it has been interesting to watch other brands react to their creations.

There might be a lot of talk about the death of sport bikes, but we argue that they have never been more intriguing.

You won’t find any photos of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera at a higher resolution than the ones after the jump. Enjoy!

Continue Reading

More Photos of the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6

10/13/2016 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS


Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will know how much we like our high-resolution photos here at A&R, so we wanted to make sure you could get a good high-res look at the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 that debuted today at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida.

Yamaha has left its class-leading bike mostly unchanged for the next model year, when it comes to the R6 motor and chassis, which might disappoint some. But with the addition of R1-inspired styling, traction control, ABS brakes, and better suspension pieces, we think supersport fans will be pleased with this update.

With the bar now set higher in the 600cc realm, hopefully we will see other manufacturers take up the challenge, and the supersport class will have new life breathed into it.

We’ll have to wait and see on that. Until then, enjoy this modest photo gallery.

Continue Reading

17YM CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2

The current state of the World Superbike Championship rules entirely encourage the adoption once again of “homologation specials” – production bikes whose sole purpose is to be used on the race track.

While none of the manufacturers have adopted a radical approach with their homologation special designs, this year’s INTERMOT show has already seen several such machines introduced, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

For Honda, the differences between the SP and SP2 aren’t terribly radical, but they are more purposeful.

The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2 does come with several visual cues that are different from the CBR1000RR SP model: carbon insert panels, gold striping on the tri-color paint scheme, and the more obvious Marchesini wheels.

The real differences though are under the hood, and in the two race kits that will be available from Honda.

Continue Reading

XXX: 36 Photos of the MV Agusta Brutale 800

11/26/2012 @ 6:05 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

We might question the wisdom of building a stroked-out 798cc version of the three-cylinder MV Agusta Brutale 675, but we cannot disagree with the fact that the machine is a sight to behold. Using the same engine that motivates the MV Agusta Rivale, power for the MV Agusta Brutale 800 comes in at 123hp, with 59.7 lbs•ft of torque at 8,600 rpm, which means the new Brutale 80 won’t be nearly as peaky with its horsepower as the Brutale 675.

Fitted with higher-spec suspension and components, along with the MVICS electronics package, MV Agusta hopes that the Brutale 800 will be the feature-rich alternative to the more affordable naked bike, which is the Brutale 675. However you want to make the distinction between the two models, it is another piece of rolling motorcycle art, better known as MV Agusta. We have 36 photos of it after the jump for you to…enjoy.

Continue Reading

More High-Res Photos of the KTM 390 Duke

11/16/2012 @ 9:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Are you ready for KTM’s little thumper to come to US soil? Likely our runner-up  for Best in Show at EICMA 2012, the Austrians have been teasing the idea of the KTM 390 Duke for far too long. Expected to be here in Spring 2013, the bigger baby Duke sports ABS and 43hp for its 300 lbs hulk (sans gas).

A strong contender in the brewing small-displacement wars, American buyers will have the pleasure of choosing between the Honda CBR250R, KTM 390 Duke, Kawasaki Ninja 300, and Suzuki GW250 next year, with Yamaha expected to enter the quarter-liter market in 2014. Does the 2013 KTM 390 Duke tickle your fancy? We’ve got 13 high-res photos for you after the jump.

Continue Reading

23 Photos of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R

07/01/2011 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Well it didn’t take long for Husqvarna to release some official photos, after showing the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R street bike to the assembled press. The Nuda definitely has a unique look to it, which is already growing on us in a weird way…the name however, well…that’s a different story. Based around the BMW F800GS parallel-twin, Husqvarna has bumped the power plant up to 900cc, making over 100hp with the red-topped lump.

With a 385 lbs dry weight, the Husqvarna 900 should be a potent animal on the street, and promises to be quite the hooligan machine (if you’re into that sort of thing). Until we get a chance to explore our inner-child while on the seat of a Husqvarna Nuda 900R, we’ll have to tide ourselves over with the 23 photos found after the jump.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading