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.

This year’s IMS kicked off in Long Beach, signaling the start of the consumer motorcycle show season in the United States. The three-day show was a mix of both excitement and disappointment.

On one hand, the show was an opportunity to see many models for the first time in North America.

On the other hand, many of the amazing offerings from EICMA, such as the KTM 790 Duke and 790 Adventure prototype, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701, Yamaha’s futuristic three-wheeler, the Niken, and the Kawasaki Z900RS and H2 SX, were curiously absent at the Long Beach show.

Besides missing motorcycles, there were some missing manufacturers as well. Triumph did not have a factory booth at the show, but rather, used a local dealer to provide a small representation of the British marque’s lineup.

Additionally, Can-Am pulled out of the show completely, with neither a show display, nor demos outside. Conversely, it was great to see the Piaggio Group back at the show with a display of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi motorcycles, as well as Piaggio scooters.

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Just like Steve Martin’s 1977 album, one of the main themes of this years’s International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach was “let’s get small”.

Almost every major manufacturer unveiled a bike in the 300cc category. BMW showed off its G310R standard and G310GS dual sport, Honda showed its CRF250L Rally, Suzuki introduced its GSX-250R, and Kawasaki unveiled its Versys-X 300.

Additionally, Honda had its world introduction of the 300 and 500 Rebels. It’s definitely a good time to be shopping for smaller motorcycles!

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New Honda Rebel 500 & Rebel 300 Models Debut

11/17/2016 @ 8:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler54 COMMENTS


It would be hard to count the number of motorcyclists who got their start in the two-wheeled world on a Honda Rebel motorcycle, with the line going back through decades of time. The number is certainly a large one.

Now, a new generation of rider can begin their two-wheeled journey on a new generation of Rebel, with Honda debuting the all-new 2017 Honda Rebel 300 (above) and 2017 Honda Rebel 500 (after the jump) ahead of the IMS Long Beach show.

The Honda Rebel 500 and Honda Rebel 300 use the same power plants found on the CBR500R (471cc parallel-twin)  and CBR300R (286cc single-cylidner), respectively, repackaging those engines into a cruiser platform that is friendly to new and shorter riders, with a 27″ seat height.

Available starting in April 2017, tentative pricing for the Honda Rebel 300 is set at $4,399, while the Honda Rebel 500 is priced tentatively at $5,999, both sans ABS, though ABS models will be available as well.

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In September of this year, EBR Motorcycles let it be known that the American brand was working on new models for the 2017 model year, in addition to a sub-$10,000 platform that would be available in 2018.

Teasing that we would see something “quick, dark, and low” by the year’s end, we subsequently saw EBR trademark the name “Black Lightning” for use as a new motorcycle model. This certainly got our imaginations turning, wondering what the folks in East Troy had up their sleeves.

Unfortunately, it would seem we alone had our imaginations at work, since EBR Motorcycles has given us a glimpse of its Black Lightning project today, which shows a true lack of inspiration, as it turns out to be an all-black EBR 1190SX that sits about an inch lower than before.

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At the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show

11/25/2015 @ 12:57 pm, by Andrew Kohn19 COMMENTS


The excitement is back! After many years of somewhat somber motorcycle shows, the 2015 Long Beach International Motorcycles Show (IMS) did not disappoint. The crowd was large, the vibe was great, and the manufacturers brought lots of new machines to dream about.

Though EICMA occurred just last week, many of the bikes that were introduced in Milan had their American debut in Long Beach. Not only that, but the manufacturers upgraded their displays with new materials and concepts that made viewing more enjoyable.

The overall feel of the show was one of positive energy and excitement. It felt as though the post-recession doldrums are finally subsiding within the motorcycle industry.

The manufacturers pulled out all the stops for IMS, bringing some of their top executives for media presentations before the show opened to the public.

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Look Closer at the Up-Coming IMS Shows

10/11/2012 @ 6:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

With INTERMOT behind us and EICMA only a few weeks away, we are deep into motorcycle expo season, if you haven’t already noticed. We of course have the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows here in the US, with the first IMS stop being in Atlanta, GA November 2nd-4th.

Helping us gear-up for the expos, IMS has decively dressed-down for the occasion, and is running a promotional campaign that features body-painted contortionists making the shapes of motorcycles. Featuring the work of San-Francisco-based body painter Trina Merry, this is about as close as you will get to seeing naked girls (and men, for that matter) on A&R.

Photos of the finished result and a behind-the-scenes video are waiting for you after the jump.

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The 2012 Honda NC700X is Coming to America

01/23/2012 @ 7:45 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Unveiled for the American market at the New York IMS Show, the Honda NC700X is officially coming stateside for 2012. The more off-road oriented version (6″ of travel up front, 5.9″ of travel in the rear) of the boringly practical 2012 Honda NC700S, the NC700X features Honda’s new 670cc parallel twin motor, which was built with fuel consumption and rideability in mind. The numbers won’t blow your hair back, with Honda’s new urban motor making 47hp and 44 lbs•ft of torque, but at 65 mpg, more practically minded riders will appreciate what the NC700X & NC700S have to offer.

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Husqvarna Baja Concept Breaks Cover

01/20/2012 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Husqvarna continues its push into the on-road market, and has debuted another concept while at the New York IMS show today. Already showing us the Husqvarna Moab Concept in Milan, the folks at Husky have continued the thought process with the Moab, and built a more off-road capable dual-sport, which they are calling the Husqvarna Baja Concept. Another modern-take on retro design, the Baja concept carries over with it many of the Moab’s bigger design features, while sporting a 19″ knobby front tire for better off-road use.

Husqvarna simply states that the concept uses a four-stroke liquid-cooled 650cc single-cylinder motor (same as the Moab), which surely will be sourced from BMW’s G650GS. The Baja is also being fitted with a five-speed wide-ratio transmission, fuel-injection, perimeter frame, and Brembo brakes. The design from Husqvarna looks fairly polished, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some form of the Baja or Moab made it into production (or a fusion of the two).

With the Swedish brand already releasing the Husqvarna Nuda 900, and set to bring the Huqvarna Strada into production sometime this year, BMW’s want-to-be rogue street bike company could have a robust line-up if it brings the Baja and/or the Moab into produciton. We hope they do, because out of all the street bikes we’ve seen from the brand, these two seem the most intriguing, and also happen to better fit the Husqvarna name as well. Photos after the jump.

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2011 Harley-Davidson Blackline

01/21/2011 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Fresh from the International Motorcycle Show’s stop in New York, Harley-Davdison has released a new motorcycle for its 2011 line-up that’s set to be another entry point into the Milwaukee brand. Based off the Softail platform, and a part of Harley’s Dark Custom thought process on design, the 2011 Harley-Davidson Blackline has that hardtail bobber look, and that features a new asymmetrical fuel tank styling and split drag handlebars.

At the core of the Blackline is a rigid-mounted, counter-balanced Twin Cam 96B v-twin motor that makes 89 lbs•ft of peak torque at 3,250 rpm, which is mated to a six-speed transmission. New from the Harley-Davidson parts bin are the split drag handlebars that connect directly to the top yoke, giving a near shoulder-height arm position.

If you’re looking for that old-school bobber look on a Harley-Davidson this summer, when gas prices will surely climb to ridiculous levels once again, the Blackline with its $15,499 MSRP, and 54 MPG highway / 35 MPG fuel economy rating might be the place to start. Photos of noticeably rebellious 20-somethings and press release highlights after the jump.

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