Introducing the MOTR Podcast

Today we are announcing the third podcast that Asphalt & Rubber is involved with, the Motorcycles on the Record Podcast…or as we like to call it: the MOTR Podcast. The concept is pretty simple, as the MOTR Podcast is designed to compliment our popular Two Enthusiasts Podcast production. For those who don’t listen to it aleady, on the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson take an outside perspective on what is happening in the motorcycle industry. So, to contrast that with the MOTR Podcast, this new show will provide an insider’s view of what’s going on in motorcycles, with a focus on interviews and discussions with the industry’s leading figures.

Say Hello to the New Triumph Speed Triple RS

Back in 1994, Triumph created the streetfighter segment with the Speed Triple. But, the bike of 20 years ago is very different from the one debuting today, however the basic ethos remains: an aggressive sport bike for the city streets. In this time span though, the streetfighter segment has changed. Brands like KTM and Aprilia rule the roost, with high-horsepower bikes that come competently packed with high-tech electronics. Hoping to stay relevant with the same basic 1050cc platform, the British marque shows us now the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS – which boasts over 100 “new” parts just in the engine alone. The changes are subtle to the outgoing model though, but the highlights do stand out.

2018 Alta Motors Redshift MXR Officially Debuts – More Power, More Torque, Less Weight, and “Overclocking”

Here it is. After we broke the story that Alta Motors would be debuting an R-spec machine for its motocross line, we get our first glimpse of the 2018 Alta Motor Redshift MXR. A souped-up version of the 2018 model, which already gets some upgrades over last year’s bike, the Redshift MXR boasts some impressive features, in the pursuit of a no-compromises MX race bike. As such, Alta is quoting a stout 50hp and 42 lbs•ft of torque for the Redshift MXR, while the “wet” weight of the machine has been reduced by 8 lbs, to 259 lbs ready-to-ride. Recharge times have also been reduced, to just 1.5hrs on a 220v system – a savings of 30 minutes over the standard model.

Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle Coming in 18 Months

Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich dropped more than a few bombs during today’s earnings report, first saying that the Bar & Shield brand would close its Kansas City factory and consolidate production around its York, Pennsylvania plant. The American brand isn’t stopping the news there though. Offering a carrot of good tidings, Harley-Davidson reports that it will make its first production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months, effectively bringing its Livewire concept into production. The Livewire was a purpose-built concept done by Harley-Davidson in order to gauge the market reaction to the Bar & Shield brand going electric. Offering limited test rides, Harley-Davidson got positive responses to the Livewire experience, and the project has been internally green-lit ever since.

Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand. That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating. The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

Hervé Poncharal Talks About Replacing Jonas Folger

It is hard to envision a worse time to lose a rider for the season. Jonas Folger’s announcement that he was withdrawing from the 2018 MotoGP season to focus on his health was a hammer blow for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Just weeks before the start of testing for the new season, and long after riders good enough to race in MotoGP have signed contracts, Tech 3 team boss Hervé Poncharal is left looking for a replacement. It is a massive task, especially as Poncharal is refusing to break any contracts to take a rider. “You would be amazed to hear how many phone calls I have had, and who from,” he told us. “There were some interesting names, honestly, but priority for me, the basis for me is that I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract.”

Honda and Forever 21 Create Clothing Line for Millennials

An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women. “Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”

What You Need to Know About the Ducati Panigale V4 S

Is the Ducati Panigale V4 S the most anticipated motorcycle of 2018? If you are a diehard sport biker, the answer is probably yes, though a number of significant models are debuting this year, from several manufacturers. Still, in terms of ground-changing machines, the Panigale V4 has to rank high up on the list, as it is Ducati’s first proper four-cylinder motorcycle to go into mainstream production. I am writing to you today from Valencia, Spain – where we just finished a day of riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is better known as the final stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar. So, let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

What You Need to Know About the 2018 Honda Gold Wing

We just finished riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour in Austin, Texas – a day early I might add…because it’s snowing…in Texas. Still, clocking close to 200 miles on Honda’s sixth generation of this venerable touring machine has provided us with some interesting insights into the next Wing. A bike designed for long-distance riding, we have gathered our thoughts on the new Honda Gold Wing Tour, in a short and sweet format, so you can sound informed at your next bike night or internet forum. Overall, the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour is a smart update to an iconic motorcycle, and it brings the Gold Wing name inline with the current state of technology. As we found on the road,  the new Gold Wing is an improvement over its predecessor, but that comes with a caveat or two.

Brembo Issues Statement on Its Master Cylinder Recall

Just over a week ago, we broke the news that a massive recall was coming to motorcycles equipped with a particular Brembo master cylinder. Since then, we have seen recall notices from Aprilia and Ducati (affecting roughly 10,000 motorcycles in the USA) with more recalls expected from other brands. Because recalls in the United States typically come from the motorcycle manufacturer and not the part supplier, mum was the word from the folks at Brembo, though there were a number of questions regarding these recalls that weren’t answered in the NHTSA documents. Today, Brembo has finally decided to speak about the recalls that are underway in the United States, and presumably will be occurring in other markets as well.

A Few Photos of the ARCH Method143

11/14/2017 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Color us intrigued by ARCH Motorcycle’s third installment to its lineup, the very exclusive ARCH Method143.

Powered by an air-cooled 143ci (2,343cc) v-twin engine, the Method143 varies from ARCH’s usual fare of power cruisers, as it is more of an upright roadster in format.

Of course, it has only the best components, including Öhlins suspension (FGRT series front forks and TTX rear shock) and carbon fiber BST wheels. Also, the chassis is made from a carbon fiber MonoCell frame, with other parts made from CNC’d aluminum.

Only 23 units will be made of the ARCH Method143, and as you can see from these detail photos, those will be a lucky 23 individuals.

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Yamaha MT-09 SP Brings Some European Bling

11/08/2017 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Yamaha FZ-09…pardon us…the Yamaha MT-09 is a top-seller for the Japanese brand, mixing a solid motorcycle, with decent features, all for a reasonable price.

Hoping to appeal to riders more “up-market” though, Yamaha has a conundrum, and the hope is that the Yamaha MT-09 SP is the solution.

Taking its potent three-cylinder street bike, Yamaha has taken the MT-09 and added an Öhlins rear shock and fully adjustable front forks to the package – which are not from Öhlins, I might add.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The Yamaha MT-09 SP follows in the same vein as the Yamaha MT-10 SP.

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ARCH Motorcycle is in Italy right now, and they just took the wraps off three bikes, one of which isn’t so much a cruiser, as it is a naked roadster model.

Built using carbon fiber MonoCell chassis technology, a building technique usually reserved for ultra high-end sport cars and Formula 1 racing chassis, the ARCH Method143 features a potent 143ci (2,343) v-twin engine.

Though, instead of the performance cruiser layout the company is better known for, the ARCH Method143 will have mid-body rearsets for the feet, and clip-on handlebars for the hands, making for a very sporty riding position.

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If you think that the 2018 Honda CB1000R is a fetching motorcycle, then we’ve got some more good news for you, because Honda Motor Europe has debuted at EICMA two more bikes with its “Neo Sports Café” aesthetic: the Honda CB125R and the Honda CB300R.

As you can discern from the names, the Honda CB125R and Honda CB300R are street bikes that shares a lineage with the Honda CB1000R, albeit in 125cc and 300cc packages, respectively.

As such, the 2018 Honda CB125R is basically a redesigned CBR125R (a model not available in the US market), while the 2018 Honda CB300R is a repurposed to create the Honda CBR300R.

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We Are in Love with the New Honda CB1000R

11/06/2017 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When we first saw Honda’s Neo Sports Café concept, it was a bittersweet moment. We loved the design. It was bold, but understated. It was a clean and modern take on a motorcycle that each year fades further and further from our attention.

The design was so good, we were sure that the Honda Neo Sports Café concept would never see the light of day, and surely not as the new Honda CB1000R.

It is good to be wrong sometimes, because say hello to the very attractive 2018 Honda CB1000R, which brings the Honda Neo Sports Café concept to life, with very few changes.

If it feels like Honda is zigging while others zag, then you would be correct. While the streetfighter segment continues to be filled with uber-aggressive performance machines, Honda is looking to  take a more sophisticated approach with the new Honda CBR1000R, which plays to the bike’s strengths.

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XXX: The Ducati Panigale V4 with Its Clothes Off

11/05/2017 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

While on the exterior, there might seem to be a great deal of similarities between the Ducati Panigale V4 and its predecessor the Ducati 1299 Panigale, stripping away the bodywork shows that the relation is mostly skin deep.

Yes, the “frameless” chassis design remains, and yes the exhaust routing for the four-cylinder machine mimics that on the twin-cylinder bike, but there are noticeable, even critical differences between Ducati’s superbikes, which should translate to meaningful differences on the race track.

The most obvious is how raked back the Desmosedici Stradale engine sits within the Panigale V4 chassis, which measures at 42° from parallel – the same as the Italian company’s V4-powered MotoGP race bike. No coincidence there.

This allows for the “front frame” to become a much longer lever, and attach to the motorcycle in more conventional mounting points. Both of these factors can contribute to making the Panigale V4 handle better on the race track, and provide better rider feedback – a common complaint of the old design.

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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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If we had to guess at a unifying theme for this year’s new bike launches, it would have to be “what is old is new again” as several brands are working on modern-engineered retro-styled motorcycles for the Tokyo and Milan expos.

Big Red is throwing its hat into the ring for this game as well, teasing what it calls the “Neo-Sport Café” on its YouTube channel. The videos center around Honda’s design and engineering team working on a new motorcycle, which will debut next month at the EICMA show in Milan.

In the teaser videos, we see a retro-looking motorcycle, with modern flares, such as an LED headlight, single-sided swingarm, and bazooka shaped exhaust can.

And then of course, there is the name” Neo-Sport Café and Honda’s description that it is true to “the spirt of the café racer.

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Ducati Monster 821 Gets Updated for 2018

10/17/2017 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati is set to release five new models at this year’s EICMA show, and it is giving us a sneak peak at one of the first of those machines: the 2018 Ducati Monster 821.

The basic mechanics of the previous Monster 821 remain the same, but for the new year, the Italian brand has revised the Ducati Monster 821 to look more like its bigger sibling, the Ducati Monster 1200.

As such, the fuel tank and tail of the Monster 821 have been changed, along with the bike’s exhaust and headlight. Ducati has also added a full color TFT display to the Monster 821, which shows selected gears and fuel status.

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A Short Review of the 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900

10/08/2017 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

For the 2018 model year, Aprilia is updating two long-time members of its lineup, creating in the process the Dorsoduro 900 and Shiver 900 motorcycles.

Today we will focus on what it is like to ride the Shiver 900, though many of our thoughts about this updated roadster are similar to those we published about the Dorsoduro 900 yesterday – you can read those here.

While previous iterations of the Aprilia Shiver 750 were fairly forgettable, the overhaul that has been given to the Aprilia Shiver 900 makes the peppy roadster one worth considering. Dare we say, it surprised us.

The engine is of course revised, and is now Euro4 compliant, but Aprilia has added a more robust electronics suite, as well as new hardware pieces and chassis updates.

As with the Dorsoduro though, the real strength of the 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 is its pricing, which at $9,399 MSRP is very competitive against the other European middleweights. Good news too, the Shiver 900 is a potent motorcycle to ride.

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