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.

Motus Motorcycles looks to be working on its second motorcycle model, as a naked prototype of the Motus MST has been making appearances on the American brand’s social media channels, including a very tasty video of the bike testing a 4-2-1 Akrapovic exhaust on the dyno (watch it, after the jump).

We reached out to Motus about its latest project, and the company confirmed its interest in making a naked version of the Motus MST sport-tourer, though it is waiting to see the feedback from other Motus owners and potential customers before committing to make the machine.

Still, Motus is teasing some very intriguing performance specs and design elements, which is more than whetting our appetite.

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Fuller Moto’s Custom Motus MSTR Streetfighter

04/22/2017 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The Motus MSTR is a burly beast of a bike. The American-made sport-tourer comes with ergonomics designed to eat up miles of riding, and its 1,650cc V4 engine helps make passing those miles a quite the spirited event.

We have always wondered what the Motous MSTR would be like as a streefighter though – sans the production bike’s sweeping fairings, and with a bit more ‘Merica in its attitude. Now we have a glimpse of that, with Fuller Moto giving the Motus MSTR some customizing love.

If you are a fan of Fuller Moto, then you should find his design on the MSTR both visually appealing and strikingly familiar. The color accents (red, white, and blue…obviously) start with the MSTR’s stock red-painted heads, though don’t stop there.

Just in case there was any question about the Motus / Fuller Moto collaboration being all show and no go, the bike puts some impressive 155+ horsepower figures down to the dyno drum, in the attached video.

If you happen to be in Austin for the MotoGP round, you can catch this Motus down at the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show.

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Mike’s Carbon Fiber Motus MSTR

01/03/2017 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The Motus MSTR is a beast of a machine, it just oozes raw power and torque from its 1,650cc V4 engine; and to compliment all that grunt, the MSTR also comes tastefully wrapped in painted carbon fiber fairings.

But when a composites expert wants one of your motorcycles, painting those carbon fiber body panels might not be the best of choices – it may even be an affront the Gods of Internal Combustion.

When customer “Mike M.” wanted to see show off the weave of the Motus MSTR’s carbon fiber bodywork, he opted for his machine to come sans the livery. We think that was a pretty good choice, and the gods are surely pleased as well.

So, to help get the New Year off to a proper start, and to return to the appreciation of all things two-wheeled, we give you Mike M.’s Motus MSTR motorcycle (how’s that for alliteration?) – we think you will enjoy it.

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Motus Expands Its Dealership Network

04/25/2016 @ 2:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS


Motus Motorcycles continues to grow its dealership presence, especially with the announcement that the American motorcycle outfit has added eight new dealerships to its dealer network.

That addition brings Motus’ total to 22 dealers in the United States with more on the way, the company says.

That’s good news for riders interested in a unique American-built motorcycle, especially those that are familiar with tinkering on push-rod muscle cars.

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Episode 20 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast builds off the previous episode, which covered in-depth the mythos that surrounds Erik Buell, Buell Motorcycles, and Erik Buell Racing. Exploring the differences between fans and fanatics, as they exist in the motorcycling realm, we move from Buell, to other manufacturers with cult followings, before finally landing on MotoGP.

Fresh from the MotoGP round in Austin, we talk about the rise of Rossi fans as a tyrannical force in Grand Prix racing, and how that has permeated through the paddock in various forms. Naturally, a few rabbit holes of side-discussion occur along the way, per usual.

Before all that though, we talk about the Motus Motorcycles project, as I rode the American-built MST and MSTR sport-tourers while in Texas. A very unique motorcycle, the true American machine is a good segue into the topic at hand. We think you will enjoy it.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

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At the Barber Vintage Festival

10/12/2015 @ 4:23 pm, by Andrew Kohn6 COMMENTS


Beautiful weather, rolling green hills, and a world class facility; all punctuated by a crowd of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts. Welcome to the Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park.

This year marks the 11th anniversary of the event and the crowd was as big as ever. Last year, over 65,000 people attended during the three day event and this year didn’t seem any different.

Of course, the highlight of this year’s event was the largest gathering of Britten V1000 motorcycles ever (which we’ll cover in-depth in a separate article), and as always, there was great vintage motorcycle racing by the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA).

Everywhere you looked, there were motorcycles. The amazing thing about this event is the variety. Unlike many events where the focus is on one type of motorcycle, Barber focuses on a little bit of everything.

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Bienville Legacy – From the Mind of JT Nesbitt

10/28/2014 @ 9:28 am, by Jensen Beeler56 COMMENTS


The Confederate Wraith is perhaps one of our most favorite custom motorcycles ever produced, and it happens to be the product of JT Nesbitt’s supreme imagination.

Working now out of his own shop, Bienville Studios, Nesbitt has produced the first of his ultra-premium, tailor-made, American-born motorcycles, dubbed the Bienville Legacy.

Beyond the radical lines, there is the familiarity of things like the Wraith’s carbon fiber girder front-end style, the Motus MST’s V4 engine, and…that is about it.

The rest of the Bienville Legacy motorcycle is unlike anything else on the market, which should surprise no one considering its source (Nesbitt) and the fact that Bienville is setting out to make commissioned bespoke machines for its patrons.

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Motus Sets Two Land Speed Records at Bonneville

10/03/2014 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS


This has not been a good year for speed freaks looking to set land speed records at Bonneville, as the Utah course has been subject to a series of storms, which have either left the salt flats flooded, or the salt conditions unsuitable for record-smashing.

That didn’t seem to stop Motus Motorcycles at the AMA-sanctioned 2014 Bonneville Speed Trials event, as the upstart motorcycle company walked away with two records, in the 1650cc P-PP  (165.81 mph) and (168.69 mph) 1650cc P-PG classes –set respectively by Motus founders Lee Conn and Brian Case.

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It was two years ago that I first caught glimpse of the Motus MST at Laguna Seca (actually, I missed seeing the prototype machine at the track, and had to ambush the Motus crew at Alice’s Restaurant the next day), but now the American motorcycle upstart is ready to debut its production sport-tourer.

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Motus V4 Baby Block Gets $10,220 Price Tag

01/28/2013 @ 2:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS


When American motorcycle upstart Motus Motorcycles first began its undertaking of the Motus MST sport-tourer, the company from Alabama made it clear that its 1,650cc engine would be the centerpiece of the bike’s design. Hoping to build off the tuner culture that developed around push-rod engines in the automotive world, Motus even went as far to say that the Katech-designed KMV4 engine (now without GDI) would be made available as a crate motor for hobbyists.

With the Motus MST nearly ready for public consumption, the American company is making good on its other promise, and has released pricing on its “baby block” engine. At a cool $10,220 of your hard-earned cash, the turnkey 165+ hp V4 motor can be yours (along with the engine’s ECU, ride-by-wire intake, engine harness, and fuse box). A pricy sum for the small peppy engine, pricing on the Motus Baby Block at least puts the $30,000+ price tag of the Motus MST in perspective.

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