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.

We had an inclination that the ongoing Brembo master cylinder recall would hit the Husqvarna FS450 supermoto in the USA, after seeing a note for it in the European market, and today we get confirmation that this is the case.

For those not in the loop, this news centers around a defect with the Brembo PR15 and PR16 line of master cylinders, which can see their polymer pistons fracture during severe use. Should the piston fracture, the master cylinder may stop working, thus causing the front brakes to fail. 

Because of this, a bevy of motorcycle brands have had to recall their high-performance motorcycle offerings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So far, we have seen recalls from Aprilia, Ducati, KTM, MV Agusta, and now Husqvarna.

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The Brembo master cylinder continues to affects motorcycle brands with high-performance machines in their lineup, and now Husqvarna is part of the massive recall as well.

Though not listed by Brembo in its initial press statement as an affected OEM, Husqvarna does seem to have one model of motorcycle that uses the faulty master cylinder design: the track-only Husqvarna FS450 supermoto.

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Get Ready for the 2018 Dakar Rally

12/04/2017 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Track days are winding down, the new machines for next year have already been revealed, and the cold of winter is upon us. For the motorcycle industry, this is the low-point of the season.

There is something to look forward to in the off-season, however, and it’s the Dakar Rally.

In just about one month’s time, the world’s top off-road racers will take part in what is called the most grueling motorcycle race on the planet.

The 2018 Dakar Rally is the 40th edition of the iconic rally raid, and once again it will take place far from its namesake, with competitors racing through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.

This year’s route will take racers to the Pacific Ocean, through the Huacachina sand dunes, and beyond, until they finish in Córdoba.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #66 – EICMA

11/21/2017 @ 8:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 66 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we cover all the new motorcycles that caught our eye at the EICMA trade show in Milan, Italy.

There are a bevy of new models that we discuss in the show, with bikes from BMW, Ducati, Aprilia, Indian, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, KTM, and Husqvarna all tickling our fancy.

Some of the highlights include talking about the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX; the three-wheeled Yamaha Niken; the 226hp Ducati Panigale V4 Speciale; the very attractive Honda CB4 Interceptor concept; KTM’s two 790 bikes, and BMW’s substantial updates to its GS models.

A bit light on sleep, and certainly over-caffeinated, we think you will find the conversation to be a bit…peppy. Nevertheless, we think you will enjoy this latest edition of the podcast.

One last note for our Californian listeners, we will be doing a live show at the Dainese D-Store in San Francisco on December 13th, at 6:30pm (the show mentions an incorrect time, as schedules have changed since we recorded the show). We hope to see you there!

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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The Three Big Trends That We Saw at EICMA

11/14/2017 @ 12:04 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 2017 EICMA show has come and gone, and with it our glimpse at the new motorcycles that will arrive for the next model year, and beyond. EICMA week has always been my Super Bowl, as it culminates the year's work, and also sets the tone for the upcoming riding season.

Beyond just my limited world though, EICMA sets the trends and the expectations of the motorcycle industry. There is no trade show in our two-wheeled microcosm that has a larger influence than EICMA.

So, while all the new models that we just saw are the week's big headlines, it is really the trends and movements that will dictate the future of the motorcycle industry.

For this round of the EICMA show, three major trends presented themselves in Milan, along with a few more notable occurrences. Don't worry, I'll break them down for you, though it might take a while.

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Mega Gallery: Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

11/07/2017 @ 8:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We have had to wait two years to see it come into production, but the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 will finally be available to motorcyclists in March 2018. As an added bonus, the street-going machine stays true to its concept design, which wowed the crowd at last year’s EICMA show.

This year in Milan, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 is all the talk of EICMA, and while “Best in Show” at EICMA almost exclusively goes to an Italian marque, the real winners are surely coming from Austria, as both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 and KTM 790 Duke look like winners.

A duality from Mattighofen, KTM and Husqvarna approach motorcycles from two opposite spectrums. KTM lives in the extreme, with an edgy focus on its “Ready to Race” mentality. Conversely, Husqvarna is subtle and sophisticated…maybe even understated.

It is that understatement that has been the driving force behind the success of the brand’s Vitpilen and Svartpilen motorcycles, with both the “white” and “black” arrows showing unique design languages.

For the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701, the 690cc single-cylinder engine is wrapped in a modern take on an old design. As such, this neo café racer makes 75hp, 53 lbs•ft of torque, and is made tame by a traction control system.

Still, this new Husky must be an odd duck around the office, as Husqvarna is very terse on its basic specs and features, instead focusing on the design of this café racer. Such is the state of a bike that sells on emotion and lifestyle, rather than outright performance.

We imagine then that if you’re here, you can to ogle some photos. We have kept the 90+ photos attached to post in such an annoying large format that we will probably have to pay Amazon quite a bite extra this month for all the bandwidth.

If you want to help foot the bill, might we suggest an A&R Pro account?

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In addition to showing us the production-ready Husqvarna Vitpilen 701, the Swedish brand also teased us with its dark side, debuting the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 as a concept model.

A neo-retro take on the flat tracker aesthetic, this “black arrow” street tracker was designed to boast both minimalistic and sophisticated lines to motorcyclists around the world.

Centered around the same 690cc single-cylinder engine as the Vitpilen 701, the two bikes are a sort of ying and yang to where the Husqvarna brand is headed with its street bikes.

They share common design elements, like the round headlight, exposed pod air filter, fuel tank shape, and muted color palette.

Likely to be a 2019 model, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 concept is very close to what we can expect to see on dealership floors, if the debuted Vitpilen 701 can be believed.

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To compliment the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen becoming a production model, Swedish marque Husqvarna will show a new concept bike at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. Unsurprisingly, that bike will be the Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen.

We know this because Husqvarna had not-so-subtley teased the new model on its Instagram account: giving us the name, size, and numerous detail shots of the motorcycle concept.

As such, we know that the Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen will carryover many of the design elements found on the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen. Like the other Svartpilen models though, the 701 Svartpilen will be a scrambler-styled bike, complete with Pirelli MT60 RS tires.

Given its preamble in Milan, we can expect that Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen to be a 2019 model year motorcycle…that is, if Husky can get its act together, as we are long overdue on the two 401 models becoming available, after their release at the 2016 EICMA show.

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On its Instagram account, Husqvarna is teasing the fact that its next Vitpilen model is finally going prime time. That’s right, the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen will be unveiled tomorrow at EICMA as a production.

This shouldn’t be too big of a surprise for anyone following the Swedish brand (or who read our EICMA preview story), but considering the reception that the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen concept got at last year’s show, we would expect the Husqvarna stand to be pretty crowded in Milan.

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2017 EICMA Motorcycle Show Cheat Sheet

11/05/2017 @ 11:12 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The EICMA motorcycle show in Milan is the biggest motorcycle event in the world, and each year a bevy of manufacturers come to Milan to show next year’s production machines, as well as the two-wheeled concepts of the future.

For 2017, things are no different, and we expect see dozens of new machines for the 2018 model (here’s a list of all the new models we expect to see in Milan), as well as a few concepts and prototypes for 2019 and beyond.

Since there will be a barrage of article over the next few days, and we don’t want you to miss a single new motorcycle, we have created a single page to consolidate the different stories that we will be covering this week. Right here!

Go ahead and bookmark this link, and check back often, as we will be reporting 24/7 all week on this year’s EICMA show.

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