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.

Jack Miller Breaks Leg in Training Accident

10/02/2017 @ 11:18 am, by David EmmettADD COMMENTS

The 2017 season has claimed another training victim. This time, Jack Miller is the victim of misfortune, the Australian breaking his right leg while out trials riding in Andorra.

Miller was relatively fortunate, in that he suffered the injury at very low speed, putting his foot down trying to save the front-end from washing out. However, his foot got stuck, causing the tibia to fracture just below the knee.

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Valentino Rossi’s test to see if he is fit enough to compete at Aragon was brought forward a day. The poor weather expected for Tuesday and Wednesday forced Rossi to take to the track at Misano on Monday afternoon, according to reports from well-informed local paper Rimini Today.

The Italian paper reports that Rossi did four laps of Misano, before being forced to pull in due to the rain. Conditions were far from ideal, however, the track still having some damp patches from the poor weather the area has suffered.

Yamaha Racing states that Rossi rode a Yamaha YZF-R1M at the track, and Rimini Today suggests that The Doctor rode four laps on the machine.

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Michael van der Mark may be flying to Aragon to replace Valentino Rossi at the fourth Spanish round, but it is still not 100% certain that the Dutch Yamaha WorldSBK rider will get to make his MotoGP debut aboard Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha M1.

According to reports in various Italian media, Valentino Rossi is to test his fitness on a Yamaha R6 at Misano this week.

Just 18 days after breaking the tibia and fibula of his right leg, and having surgery to insert titanium pins into the bones to fix them, Rossi will attempt to ride an R6 to gauge whether it will be worth his while flying to Spain for the Aragon round of MotoGP. 

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Successful Surgery for Valentino Rossi

09/01/2017 @ 1:57 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Movistar Yamaha team has updated us on Valentino Rossi’s condition, as the MotoGP underwent surgery on his right leg earlier today.

Rossi was first examined at the Ospedale Civile di Urbino, where he was initially diagnosed, then he was transferred to the Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona, where the surgery was performed.

The team reports that the operation was a success, and that the doctors implanted metal pins (locking intramedullary nails, to be precise) into Rossi’s leg to hold the bones together.

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Movistar Yamaha has issued another press release about the condition of MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi, confirming that the nine-time World Champion has broken the tibia and fibula bones on his right leg.

As such, Valentino Rossi will undergo immediate surgery to correct the fractures. The condition of the 38-year-old racer will be updated Friday morning, but it seems likely that this news dashes Rossi’s MotoGP Championship hunt for this season.

This is because a displaced fracture is a serious injury, as it means that Rossi has broken his bones in several places, and the pieces of the those fractured bones are not set correctly to heal on their own.

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Movistar Yamaha Confirms Valentino Rossi Injury

08/31/2017 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

After reports from Italy told of Valentino Rossi breaking his leg in an enduro training accident, we have been waiting for confirmation of that news from an official source.

Now getting on top of this evolving story, the Movistar Yamaha team has confirmed that the nine-time World Champion has been involved in a training accident, and that he was taken to the Ospedale Civile di Urbino for a medical check-up.

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Valentino Rossi Fractures Leg in Training Accident

08/31/2017 @ 12:59 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Reports from Europe are saying that Valentino Rossi has broken his leg while training on an enduro bike.

Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport, says that the nine-time World Champion has sustained a “suspected fracture of the tibia and fibula” and that Rossi is expected to go into surgery tonight to repair the injury.

We should caution that these reports have not yet been confirmed, with Yamaha yet to comment on the injury, but if true they could have dire consequences for Rossi’s bid to be the 2017 MotoGP World Champion.

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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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Broken Leg, Ribs, and Back for John McGuinness

05/12/2017 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Crashing during the superbike practice at the North West 200 on Thursday, John McGuinness was reported to have suffered a broken right leg. But now getting an update on his condition, we can see that his injuries are far worse than was initially thought.

While Honda Racing has withdrawn from the rest of superstock and superbike races at the North West 200, because of concerns regarding a mechanical issue causing the McGuinness’ crash, these injuries also cast significant doubt over John McGuinness competing in this year’s Isle of Man TT.

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