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.

CARB Docs Show No Changes for 2018 BMW S1000RR

08/30/2017 @ 1:48 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Documents filed with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) show that no changes will be coming for the 2018 BMW S1000RR, with the emission levels for the popular superbike shown to be the same as those for the 2017 model.

This means that it is unlikely that we will see a new S1000RR model debut at EICMA later this year, despite seeing spy photos of a restyled S1000RR a month ago.

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Watch the BMW HP4 Race Do Its Thing

04/23/2017 @ 10:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

BMW Motorrad is one of the few brands still growing in this motorcycle economy, even in the United States, which is facing another year of doubtful sales increases. That’s no easy task.

Not so easy is also improving upon the BMW S1000RR superbike – a machine that tops the lists of many motorcycle publications, near and far. When you ride the BMW S1000RR, it is easy to see why the Bavarian Bullet is so popular.

The BMW S1000RR is beating the Japanese brands at their own game, offering a 1,000cc inline-four superbike with near-200hp peak horsepower figures, anemic measurements on the scale, and a full-suite of electronics…all with aggressive pricing.

How do you improve on this design? Well, a carbon fiber chassis is certainly one way to start; a WorldSBK-spec 212hp engine certainly helps; and factory-set electronics don’t hurt nothin’ either. In other words, you make the BMW HP4 Race.

There are so many reasons why we should heap praise on BMW Motorrad for building the 2017 BMW HP4 Race, but instead we are just going to let this video from the German brand do the talking.

Does anyone know what the 3asy pricing on the HP4 Race is looking like? What if I use my kidney as a down payment? No, seriously…asking for friend.

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Mega Gallery: BMW HP4 Race

04/19/2017 @ 10:04 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

The BMW HP4 Race has finally dropped, the Bavarian brand’s extreme superbike offering that drips in carbon fiber pieces. A track-only liter-bike for true enthusiasts, the BMW HP4 Race sees a potent 212hp engine packed into featherweight 377 lbs wet body.

Of course to hit those weight goals, BMW Motorrad employed extensive use of composite materials to shed weight from the already robust BMW S1000RR superbike. As such, the frame, bodywork, and wheels are made from carbon fiber, including the self-supporting tail section.

BMW doesn’t reveal too much on how it has boosted the power from the 199hp found on the S1000RR’s inline-four power plant, though the result is an increased redline to 14,500 rpm (up from 14,200 rpm).

Keeping inline with its ~$85,000 price tag though (BMW Motorrad hasn’t released pricing figures yet, unfortunately), the BMW HP4 Race comes with top-of-the-line brakes and suspension pieces. It also has a robust electronics package that features the usual suspects of three-letter acronyms.

There is plenty to drool over on the BMW HP4 Race, so we have 64 high-resolution photos of the machine, waiting for you after the jump. Enjoy!

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Here Is the Base Model 2017 Honda CBR1000RR

11/07/2016 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

17YM CBR1000RR Fireblade

When it came time to unveil its new revised superbike, Honda wisely debuted its premium and homologation models first, at October’s INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany.

With EICMA now here, we can finally see the bike that most enthusiasts will find in their garage, the base model 2017 Honda CBR1000RR.

So as expected, the base model 2017 Honda CBR1000RR uses lower-spec suspension and braking components than its SP sibling, but thankfully it retains all of the other engine, chassis, and electronic upgrades that we have already seen.

This includes the CBR1000RR’s new magnesium casings, titanium fuel tank, five-spoke wheels, and internal engine modifications. In total, this means that the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR makes 190hp and weighs 432 lbs at the curb.

As for the changes, suspension is handled by Showa 43mm large-volume BPF forks at the front, and with the Show Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) shock in the rear, while braking is done by four-piston Tokico calipers up front, as well.

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2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R – A Two-Pronged Approach

10/04/2016 @ 5:12 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS


No, that extra R in GSX-R1000R isn’t a typo – Suzuki is releasing two versions of its superbike at INTERMOT today, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R being the higher spec model for track enthusiasts.

Available later in mid-2017, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R takes the already robust package that is the Suzuki GSX-R1000, and adds to it an up-and-down quickshifter, launch control, and cornering ABS feature set.

The suspension has also been upgraded, with the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R getting the very noticeable Showa Balance Free forks (note the gas cartridge on the fork bottom), and the Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion rear shock, which is an interesting piece of kit, since Showa says the design does away with the need for separate high-speed and low-speed compression adjustment.

The last item of difference, besides the price of course, is that the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R includes a lighter triple tree top clamp.

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It’s the worst kept secret in the motorcycle industry right now, Honda is finally updating its superbike offering for the 2017 model year – replacing the now extremely long-in-the-tooth Honda CBR1000RR.

The interesting part of that news of course is whether that new superbike will go by the name CBR or RVF, as there is a bit of a debate regarding what kind of engine will power the Honda.

Despite whether it is an inline-four machine like the CBR1000RR, or a V4-powered beast like Honda’s MotoGP bike, the new superbike will have big shoes to fill.

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XXX: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R KRT Edition

10/08/2015 @ 9:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS


The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is a pretty big “refresh” for the WSBK-winning superbike, much more so than we expected. With a revised engine, chassis, and electronics suite (including the addition of an IMU), it’s probably easier to list what hasn’t changed, than what has.

Of course, Kawasaki is trying to stay as competitive in the marketplace as it is on the race track, and the latest 10R finds a happy medium in that pursuit with the limited.

Coming with all the updates on the base model, the KRT Edition adds what you would expect: race-team inspired graphics. We would use the pejorative “bold new graphics” statement here, but it actually applies…in a positive way.

For $300 extra on top of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R’s $16,000 price tag, we can see a few WSBK enthusiasts opting for the premium paint job. Just in case you happen to be one of those people, we have a bevy of high-resolution photos for your viewing pleasure.

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It may be evolution, instead of revolution, for the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in the 2016 model year, but Team Green has made sure to make sure that this model refresh is more than just “bold new graphics” and minor tweaks. The updated 10R is a serious beast, with a fresh WSBK scalp on its belt.

Trying to draw a parallel between Jonathan Rea’s World Superbike Championship victory, and Kawasaki’s latest superbike offering, the new Ninja ZX-10R is replete with features that come from Kawasaki’s production-racing efforts. This is no ordinary model refresh.

The changes to the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R include a revised and more powerful motor – 207hp with ram air and 83 lbs•ft of torque on the European-spec model, though we expect those figures in the USA to be less. Curb weight is set at a competitive 454 lbs.

Other goodies include lightweight titanium exhaust, a revised chassis, more aerodynamic fairings, upgraded Showa Balance Free suspension, Brembo M50 monobloc calipers, a five-axis Bosch IMU, and a revised electronics package.

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Suzuki GSX-R1000 Red & Black Commemorative Edition

08/09/2015 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS


Suzuki already has a classic blue and white commemorative livery for its GSX-R line of motorcycles, but today at the Indianapolis GP, the Japanese brand debuted another commemorative edition of the Suzuki GSX-R1000, this time in red & black.

While the blue and white livery has become the more traditional colors for Suzuki and its GSX-R sport bikes, it was the red and black GSX-R750 machines of Yoshimura Suzuki that dominated the Suzuka 8-Hour in 1986, the first year of the bike’s debut.

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These images are very likely not of the hopefully-soon-to-be-released Suzuki GSX-R250 & GSX-R1000 sport bikes, as their purveyor, Japanese magazine Young Machine, has a fairly horrible track record with these sort of things…but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore them.

After all, here we see two very attractive offerings, which we hope the folks at Hamamatsu will take a long look at, as the Suzuki GSX-R1000 rendered here would be an attractive update to a name that was once the superbike to beat.

The rendering exercise from Young Machine also shows that a quarter-liter sport bike from Suzuki should be directly related to its liter-bike brethren, not only to strike the aspirational nerve of riders, but also to justify the added expense and limited return on the company’s superbike offering.

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