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.

More on How the Yamaha Niken Three-Wheeler Works

03/07/2018 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I find the Yamaha Niken to be the most intriguing motorcycle (and I use that word loosely) to debut for the 2018 model year. It is probably the model I most look forward to riding this year, from all of those that debuted at this year’s EICMA show (riding the Ducati Panigale V4 S didn’t suck, however).

What Yamaha calls a leaning multi-wheel (LMW) vehicle, this three-wheeler promises more stability than a traditional motorcycle, while still providing the rider the same amount of fun.

Take one look at the Niken though, and you can tell that the Yamaha engineers were quite busy in making it all work as planned. An elegant solution, this is not. But, the Niken is still fascinating from an engineering perspective.

Thankfully, Yamaha has taken the time to explain more clearly just all the technology that has gone into making the Niken lean, steer, and move like a motorcycle…despite having an extra wheel on the front-end.

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Yamaha has already doubled-down on its leaning multi-wheeler (LMW) concept, bringing us both the Yamaha Tricity scooter and the Yamaha Niken.

Now it seems that the Japanese brand is ready to bring us a hat trick of these machines, with Yamaha CEO/President Yoshihiro Hidaka tipping that the folks from Iwata have more multi-wheel leaners coming down the pipe.

To give us more insight though, a slide accompanying Hidaka-san’s speach should a blurred out model, sitting in-between the Tricity and Niken model, perhaps indicating that a mid-sized LMW is coming to us soon from Yamaha.

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We have already seen the Yamaha Niken at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tuning Fork brand putting a name to its leaning three-wheeler, but little was said about this radical machine.

Now ready to talk about the future of sport riding at the EICMA show in Milan, Yamaha sees a future where riders will want the added stability and handling that comes from a leaning multi-wheeled vehicle.

At the core of the Yamaha Niken is an Ackerman steering design, which uses two sets of upside down front forks, held along a parallelogram brace that attaches to the front of the motorcycle.

This allows the Yamaha Niken to corner with serious lean angle, up to 45° degrees according to the Japanese brand. Of course, with the two 15″ wheels at the front, this cornering is done with a lot more confidence that a normal motorcycle at such a lean.

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Those bastards at Yamaha actually did it, they actually did it…the Yamaha MWT-9 leaning trike concept has been made into a production model. As such, say hello to the new 2018 Yamaha Niken.

Powered by the familiar 900cc three-cylinder engine found on the Yamaha FZ-09, that is all that is familiar about Yamaha Niken, as this isn’t your ordinary motorcycle.

This is because the Niken is based on a leaning-chassis design with three wheels, as it explores a different type of motorcycling fun.

Yamaha isn’t saying too much about the model, though it does appear to be coming to the United States. What the tuning fork brand has relayed to us is that the Yamaha Niken will use 15″ wheels up front, with dual-tube upside down forks.

The Niken is long too, just a touch over 7 ft. long (2,150mm), while staying just under 3 ft. wide (885mm). Debuting today at the Tokyo Motor Show, we expect more details on the 2018 Yamaha Niken to emerge at the EICMA show in Milan, in two weeks’ time.

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Yamaha’s New Leaning Car Concept…The Future?

10/13/2017 @ 11:49 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Remember the Yamaha Tesseract? The four-wheeled concept is about as close to a motorcycle that something with four wheels can get. And now, the Tuning Fork brand is building upon that idea, but with a fully enclosed vehicle concept that picks up where the Tesseract left off.

Called the Yamaha MWC-4, this four-wheeled concept brings the idea of the Tesseract’s leaning chassis and multi-wheel design into a more practical form for everyday use, and it’s debuting at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

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Video: The Lazareth LM 847 Is A Runner

09/09/2016 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS


We have never seen something quite like the Lazareth LM 847, a Maserati-powered leaning four-wheeler that was imagined by some of the craziest minds in France right now.

Making a modest 470hp from its 4.7-liter V8 engine, and tipping the scales are roughly 880 lbs, as you can imagine, there is a lot going on with this unique machine.

Interestingly enough though, there seems to be a strong future for machines like the Lazareth LM 847, with HondaKawasaki, and Yamaha also looking at leaning multi-wheel vehicles.

We doubt that the Japanese brands will produce something as ostentatious as Lazareth did here, but that’s part of what makes the LM 847 so intriguing…isn’t it?

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The minds at French builder Lazareth are truly mad as a hatter, and Asphalt & Rubber has published several of their more eccentric designs here on our pages. Lazareth’s latest build takes the cake though.

The Lazareth LM 847, which debuted today in Geneva, features the 4.7-liter, 470hp, V8 engine out of a Maserati automobile, with a leaning quad chassis built around it.

We generally loath making comparisons of a manufacturer’s design to another’s, but here Lazareth does seem to be stealing from the best.

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Yamaha MWT-9 Headed to Production?

02/22/2016 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS


For most motorcyclists, the Yamaha MWT-9 isn’t exactly their cup of tea, as the three-wheeler has too many wheels, and it looks like it wandered off the set of next Predators movie. For a select few though, the Yamaha MWT-9 looks like a good time with the wind in your face.

Leaning multi-wheel vehicles have been heating up from the OEMs, especially from the Japanese manufacturers. The whole point behind them is to tap into a demographic that isn’t looking for something that resembles your typical motorcycle fare.

According to Britain’s Visordown publication, the Yamaha MWT-9 is headed into production, likely to debut within a year or two.

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We have been talking a lot lately about the Yamaha MWT-9, the three-wheel leaning FZ-09 concept that debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show; and we have also talked a bit about the Yamaha “Sports Ride” concept, a sport car that Yamaha was also showing off in Tokyo.

So hoping to leave no stone unturned, Yamaha has created something that takes from the highlights of both of those concepts – the Japanese call it the Yamaha OR2T, a four-wheel leaning motorcycle…thing.

The Yamaha OR2T is about as close to the Yamaha Tesseract, which debuted in 2007, that we have seen in the living flesh; and honestly, it looks pretty damn awesome.

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Yamaha MWT-9 Leaning Trike Concept Debuts in Tokyo

10/28/2015 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS


As expected, Yamaha has a leaning multi-wheel concept at the Tokyo Motor Show for us to chew on. Without further ado, let us introduce to you the Yamaha MWT-9 leaning trike concept.

The key to understanding the MWT-9 is the number three. Three wheels to grip the road, three cylinders to power the engine, and three Predator movies to get the aesthetic jussssst right. Three groups of three makes nine, and blammo, you have the MWT-9.

In seriousness though, there is a lot to take in with the Yamaha MWT-9, once you get past its alien/insect/whatever-that-is look.

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