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.

Take a Lap Around the Isle of Man TT on the BMW HP4

06/20/2017 @ 10:59 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

With five podium-finishes at this year’s Isle of Man TT, Peter Hickman is the man to watch in future TT fortnights, as the 30-year-old is showing tremendous talent and progress with his racing.

Helping Hickman to those finishes in the superbike classes (Superbike TT, Superstock TT, and Senior TT) was the BMW HP4, the Bavarian brand’s carbon-fiber-everything liter-bike that was just unveiled earlier this year.

A talented rider, an amazing machine, and one of the most iconic race tracks in the world? That sounds like the recipe for an epic onboard video.

Grab a stopwatch before you click play though, and see how much time Hickman’s front wheel spends in the air. It’s impressive.

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XXX: The BMW HP4 Race & Its Carbon Fiber Sexiness

11/08/2016 @ 6:50 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS


If you are like us, you can’t get enough of the BMW HP4 Race, which debuted today in Milan, at the 2016 EICMA trade show. Featuring a carbon fiber frame, carbon fiber wheels, and carbon fiber bodywork, not to mention a bevy of premium-spec components, the BMW HP4 Race is the track bike of your wet dreams.

BMW Motorrad plans on making the HP4 Race a production model too, with an expected release date somewhere in the second-half of 2017. Quantities will be limited, and each BMW HP4 Race will be hand-built. So basically, we are telling you that the price tag will be not be cheap.

So for many of us, photos are as close as we are going to get to this supreme beauty. Luckily, we have some ridiculously large photos for you to drool over. Enjoy!

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BMW HP4 Race Gets a Carbon Fiber Chassis for 2017

11/08/2016 @ 2:53 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS


We already had a pretty good idea what to expect from BMW Motorrad at the 2016 EIMCA show, but it is good to see that the Germans can still surprise us – and what a surprise it was, indeed.

Sort of a “one more thing” moment in Milan, the BMW HP4 Race was teased to the assembled EICMA press – giving us a look at their ultra-premium version of the BMW S1000RR Superbike, and it drips in carbon fiber.

Of course what really sets the BMW HP4 Race apart is the fact that it uses a twin-spar carbon fiber frame, making it, and the recently debuted Ducati 1299 Superleggera, the only production motorcycles with such a feature.

Details beyond what we can see are very scarce from BMW Motorrad, though we do know that we can expect the BMW HP4 Race to debut in the second-half of 2017. The name suggests that the bike might not be homologated for street use, but time will have to tell on that.

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Last year, BMW made the Bosch MSC “cornering ABS” system available as a retrofit for the BMW HP4, branding the advanced safety feature as ABS Pro. Now BMW is making the ABS Pro safety package available as a retrofit to a number of BMW model that came with an ABS unit.

Most excitably, the upgrade kit can be used on the 2012-2014 BMW S1000RR, with the 2015-2016 BMW S1000RR kit in development as well. The addition of the ABS Pro on the 2015 S1000RR will include the “Race” riding mode, as well. The slip threshold and brake pressure gradient have been set at a higher level for use on roads with high friction coefficients compared to the “Rain” and “Sport” modes.

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BMW HP4 Gets ABS-Supported Brakes for Cornering

07/21/2014 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS


Stability control for motorcycles is the new rage right now, after the Bosch MSC system was announced, and made available for the KTM 1190 Adventure.

It seems BMW Motorrad is the next manufacturer to receive this new anti-locking brakes system that works while leaned over, and the BMW HP4 is the first Bavarian machine to get the upgrade.

BMW Motorrad is calling the Bosch MSC system “ABS Pro”, and it functions by adjusting the inputs to the brake calipers based on the acceleration, roll, and yaw of the motorcycle.

This avoids accidentally tucking the front-end of the motorcycling while trail braking, and also eliminates the bike standing up when the brakes are applied while in a moderate lean.

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Video: BMW R1200GS vs. BMW HP4 on the Track

06/04/2013 @ 12:21 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS


I am just wrapping up my thoughts on the new liquid-cooled 2013 BMW R1200GS, but before I post up the ride review, I thought I would share this little gem of a video that BMW Motorrad USA showed us at the US media launch for the R1200GS. Filmed at the Circuito de Almería in Spain, a new BMW R1200GS gives chase to a BMW HP4, and interesting results ensue.

Now I’m not saying that the R1200GS is a more capable track bike than the HP4, a fast rider on any bike is still a fast rider, after all. But, you have to be impressed by the GS here, it certainly wasn’t losing any ground to the HP4 (except maybe on the straight). As for the the nitty gritty, the R1200GS rider clocked a sub-two-minute lap time, an entirely respectable time at the Spanish circuit, which sees WSBK-spec machines lap in the 1:35 range.

BMW Motorrad says the 2013 BMW R1200GS is like the Swiss Army knife of the motorcycle world, and with some on-track chops like this, we might just have to agree. For those that are wondering, it rides nice on the road and trails as well. Video after the jump, and look for the review this week.

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2013 BMW HP4 Priced at $19,990*

10/02/2012 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Possibly the most lust-worthy sport bike of the year, the BMW HP4 has finally been priced by the Bavarians for the North American market. Clocking a $19,990 price tag MSRP, as usual, there is more to BMW’s pricing scheme than meets the eye.

While BMW plays its usual tricks, what is interesting is that despite all the add-ons, the BMW HP4 remains a relatively affordable premium sport bike. Punching just above the Ducati 1199 Panigale’s price tag, the German steed could easily justify its added cost with the inclusion of BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control, a semi-active suspension system.

Available in Q4 2012, the BMW HP4 comes with a variety of packages that significantly boost the HP4’s price into the mid-$20,000 range. We break down the cost of the packages and what you get with them, after the jump (mega photo gallery here).

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BMW HP4 Mega Gallery + Video

09/10/2012 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

The international launch of the 2013 BMW HP4 is now over, and while we may not have been in Spain to bring you our thoughts on the pepped-up S1000RR, BMW was at least kind enough to provide A&R with some more photos of its winky-faced superbike. More than just an updated BMW S1000RR, the BMW HP4 features the German brand’s Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) system, a semi-active suspension system that fine-tunes the HP4’s suspension settings on the fly for the road and riding conditions.

Initial reports on the HP4 appear to be very favorable, though expect the pricing here in the United States to be as extreme as the Bavarian motorcycle’s tech specs. BMW hopes that with the DDC and bevy of aftermarket parts, the HP4 will more than justify its expected $20k+ price tag. Will it be enough to persuade riders away from the Aprilia/Ducati/KTM of their choosing? Check out the 126 photos and two videos after the jump and let us know.

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BMW HP4 – Your Track-Tuned BMW S1000RR

07/27/2012 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

We teased you with the BMW HP4 last week, and now the Bavarians have made their tuned-S1000RR officially official. Starting with the top-selling superbike from the German company, BMW has taken the S1000RR and made it the track weapon of choice. The lightest four-cylinder superstock bike on the market at 373 lbs dry (with ABS), the BMW HP4 is also the first motorcycle to get BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control (DDC), a computer controlled semi-active suspension system.

Getting a number of improvements over the S1000RR, the BMW HP4 maintains the same 193hp peak horsepower figure, but gets a boost from more mid-range torque. As we said, the BMW HP4 is also more svelte than its predecessor, as it sits at 439 lbs / 199 kg at the curb with the fuel tank 90% full — a full 13 lbs lighter when wet, and 26 lbs lighter when dry. Other changes include a revised traction control system, launch control, quick-shifter, and a 200/55 ZR 17 rear-tire size.

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After tweaking the BMW S1000RR for the 2012 model year, it is likely that the liter-bike King will remain relatively unchanged for another year. Though according to SoyMotero, BMW is set to milk the current iteration for bit more value with a more premium model. Teasing out the 2013 BMW S1000RR HP4, zie Germans have finally gotten around to doing some “High Performance” treatment to their only true sport bike. Leaving things relatively unchanged underneath the fairings, the Bavarians have some big changes for the BMW S1000RR HP4, part of which is 20 lbs in less mass.

The big weight savings seem to come from the exhaust system and the addition of forged aluminum wheels. Other changes include revised bodywork, a solo seat, launch control, updated traction control, and wait for it…BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control (DDC), which as far as we know is the first application of computer-controlled active electronic suspension in the motorcycle market. No prices yet, though we would expect a hefty price tag to be announced when the BMW S1000RR HP4 officially breaks cover later this year during the Intermot or EICMA shows.

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