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.

Say What??! – Tech3 and Yamaha Will Part Ways in 2019

If you thought the 2019 MotoGP Silly Season was already in high gear, a bombshell announcement has just put it into overdrive. Today, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team announced that from 2019, they will be parting ways. Tech3 will no longer be a satellite Yamaha team. The split brings to an end an association of nearly 20 years with Yamaha. They first started in 1999 with Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque in 250cc, before switching to the premier class with the same pair in 2001. Tech3 has been a loyal partner for many years, giving up one seat to a factory-backed rider on a number of occasions, as occurred with Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Pol Espargaro. However, there had been a few signs of tension over the past few months.

Trademark Hints at Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle

Has Harley-Davidson just tipped its hand regarding its upcoming electric motorcycle? It would seem so, according to the latest trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registering the name “Revelation” with the USPTO, Harley-Davidson has set aside the trademark for two uses: 1) batteries for vehicles, and 2) drivetrains for electric motorcycles and vehicles. Other publications are running this story as the “Revelation” name being the moniker for Harley-Davidson’s production version of the Livewire electric motorcycle concept, but the actual trademark makes a very clear alternative to that narrative.

Honda Motor Europe just announced its road racing squad for the 2018 season, welcoming Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston to team. The duo should be a strong lineup for Honda, and it is fairly big news to see Hutchy with Big Red for next season.

The bigger news though is that today’s announcement leaves us asking what happened to John McGuinness, the 23-time race winner at the Isle of Man TT being absent from Honda’s racing announcement.

Missing the 2017 TT because of injuries he sustained at this year’s North West 200, doubt had been cast over McPint’s road racing future.

Always chasing the high-water mark left behind by 26-time TT race winner Joey Dunlop, McGuinness has to contend with a new generation of fast racers, his age and health, and a troublesome racing package in the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

This leaves the question, are we just marking time before we hear a retirement announcement? Or, is something else afoot?

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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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Peter Hickman, The Makings of a Future TT Star

06/19/2017 @ 8:05 am, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

Four years ago, Peter Hickman was a mid-pack British Superbike rider whose career was looking for a spark. He found that spark at the Isle of Man TT. Fast-forward to current time, and Peter Hickman has already established his road racing credentials prior to this year's Isle of Man TT.

With victories at the Ulster Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix, Hickman had shown that he has the speed, but five podiums at this year's TT has cemented his reputation as a front-runner on the roads.

Success hasn't come easy to the three-time British Superbike race-winner though, and after claiming a second place finish in this year's Senior TT race, he made it clear how much this TT had meant to him.

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If you took a straw poll from road racers, the Ballagarey corner would likely rank highest on the list of places found on the Isle of Man TT race course that scared these otherwise two-wheeled warriors.

The corner has such a reputation, that the name “Balla-Scary” has been coined to describe this fast section of the track, situated between the 3rd and 4th milestones. In 2010, Ballagarey claimed the life of racer Paul Dobbs, and a day later Guy Martin escaped a fiery crash there as well.

While every TT rider surely knows the reputation of Ballagarey, at this year’s Isle of Man TT, it was James Hillier who found a new respect for that part of the Mountain Course, having a huge moment on his Kawasaki superbike, during the Senior TT race. You can watch this miracle save, after the jump.

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Watch Ian Hutchinson’s Terrifying Crash at the TT

06/12/2017 @ 11:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson might have a broken femur bone right now, but all-in-all he is a pretty lucky man. Crashing during the Senior TT at the 2017 Isle of Man TT, the 16-time TT race winner had a horrific off while coming over the mountain section of the famed road racing course.

It is suspected that Hutchinson suffered from a punctured front tire, which caused the crash. That revelation though probably does little to change the fact that Hutchinson will once again have to recover from a serious injury to his left leg.

Hutchinson is expected to fully heal from his broken femur, though one has to wonder if he can ever truly recover from this crash at the 27th Milestone. You will understand what we mean, after you watch the embedded video.

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IOMTT: The Final TT Race Day with Tony Goldsmith

06/11/2017 @ 1:10 am, by Tony GoldsmithADD COMMENTS

IOMTT: Pokerstars Senior TT Results

06/09/2017 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The final race of the 2017 Isle of Man TT, the Pokerstars Senior TT is the competition that every rider wants to win. The “Blue Ribbon” event of race week, the six-lap Senior TT is the crown jewel to the TT fortnight.

Once again, a TT race was framed around two riders: Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop. Hutchinson came into the Senior TT with two race wins on his tally, one from the Superbike TT and one from the Superstock TT.

Riding on the BMW S1000RR, Hutchinson has a race-proven machine under him, and he has been riding in the form of his life. Contrast that with Michael Dunlop, who has been doing the donkey work in developing the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R as a formidable TT racing machine.

Dunlop comes into the Senior TT with only one win – earned during the Supersport TT Race 1 – with the jump to the GSX-R1000R still not panning out like he would have hoped.

With this in mind, we head into the Senior TT – a race, once again, defined by two riders.

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IOMTT: SES TT Zero Results

06/09/2017 @ 7:59 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 2017 Isle of Man TT will go down as a tough year for the electric bikes racing in the SES TT Zero race. With few laps around the course because of weather, and with record-holder John McGuinness stuck on the sidelines with injury, the speeds haven’t been what we were expecting.

Bruce Anstey filled in for McGuinness on the Team Mugen bike, and was only able to post a 113 mph lap in qualifying – well off the 119 mph pace that McGuinness set in 2015.

With the 2017 SES TT Zero race being Guy Martin’s best hope for a TT race win, there was a bit of intrigue heading into the race, though it was clear that Martin’s head was still stuck on his crash in the Superbike TT race.

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The Isle of Man TT has gone full circle. From the biggest race in the world, to a struggling to survive annual, and now it is back on top seeing record numbers of fans worldwide.

In this story, Asphalt & Rubber talks with Paul Phillips, the TT & Motorsport Development Manager for the Isle of Man Government, about the revival of this iconic fortnight of racing.

At the turn of the century, the Isle of Man TT was at a crossroads. The most unique and historic event on the motorcycle racing calendar was under pressure with a lack of coverage and dwindling interest in the event.

With the TT now back at the height of its power, the event has drawn in a new generation of fans and the future looks brighter than ever.

Paul Phillips has been largely credited with being central to the renaissance of the Isle of Man TT, as the Manxman has overseen the revival of the TT to the biggest fortnight of the British biking calendar.

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Superstock TT & Lightweight TT with Tony Goldsmith

06/08/2017 @ 10:55 pm, by Tony GoldsmithADD COMMENTS