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.

We had an inclination that the ongoing Brembo master cylinder recall would hit the Husqvarna FS450 supermoto in the USA, after seeing a note for it in the European market, and today we get confirmation that this is the case.

For those not in the loop, this news centers around a defect with the Brembo PR15 and PR16 line of master cylinders, which can see their polymer pistons fracture during severe use. Should the piston fracture, the master cylinder may stop working, thus causing the front brakes to fail. 

Because of this, a bevy of motorcycle brands have had to recall their high-performance motorcycle offerings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So far, we have seen recalls from Aprilia, Ducati, KTM, MV Agusta, and now Husqvarna.

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Attention owners of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR motorcycles from the 2016 thru 2018 model yeas, as news has come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that roughly 4,000 of these machines might have issues with their gearboxes.

According to the recall, a high impact force can cause the transmission gears to break during shifting – specifically the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears in the gearbox.

First discovered in the Thai market, Kawasaki found upon further investigation that the strength of these gears was not sufficient, and could break under excessive force. As such, two warranty claims in the US have already been made for this issue.

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Yup. You read that headline correctly, and thus here is our second recall notice of the day, and as you might expect, it is an interesting one.

Harley-Davidson is having to recall over 174,000 motorcycles because their brake components may form deposits internally if the brake fluid is not replaced after a prolonged period of time, i.e. beyond the two-year maintenance schedule specified by Harley-Davidson.

In total, 31 Harley-Davidson models are affected by this recall, namely the Touring, CVO Touring, and VSRC models that have ABS brakes equipped.

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Triumph Thruxton Recalled for Engine Stalls

02/07/2018 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Triumph Thruxton line is getting recalled today, for an issue that can cause the engine to stall. The recall affects 2,824 Thruxtons (both base model and R models), built for the 2016 through 2018 model years.

Specifically, the engine stall occurs when the throttle is opened or closed quickly, while the clutch lever is pulled in. Updating the bike’s ECU fixes this problem, according to Triumph, and helps stabilize the engine idle speed in this situations.

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The Brembo master cylinder continues to affects motorcycle brands with high-performance machines in their lineup, and now Husqvarna is part of the massive recall as well.

Though not listed by Brembo in its initial press statement as an affected OEM, Husqvarna does seem to have one model of motorcycle that uses the faulty master cylinder design: the track-only Husqvarna FS450 supermoto.

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Recall: Indian Roadmaster

01/29/2018 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Indian Motorcycle Company is recalling 7,392 units of its Roadmaster motorcycles, from the 2015 to 2017 model yeas. The recall stems from an issue with the wiring harness in the trunk, which is prone to water.

Because of the sealing plugs on the harness not sealing properly, it is possible for the brake light to short-circuit and to remain on, even when the brakes are not engaged.

To remedy the situation, Indian will notify affected Roadmaster owners, and Indian dealers will replace the trunk wiring harness with an updated harness that contains sealing plugs in the connectors, free of charge.

This recall is expected to begin January 30, 2018. Owners may contact Indian customer service at 1-877-204-3697, and reference Indian’s number for this recall, which is I-18-01.

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Now the fourth motorcycle manufacturer (1, 2, & 3) to issue a recall because of issues with its fitted Brembo brake master cylinder, KTM has the dubious task of informing 2,361 KTM 1290 Super Duke R (2015-2018) and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT (2016-2018) owners.

Like the other recalls before it, this one stems from certain 15mm and 16mm radial-pump brake master cylinders that have been fitted as an OEM part to a slew of high-performance motorcycles.

Because of a manufacturing defect, the plastic piston on these master cylinders – made from a polyphenylene sulphide polymer – may crack and brake under heavy load, severe ABS engagement, and/or during a tip-over.

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Recall news from Suzuki Motor of America, as Suzuki is recalling certain 2017-2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000 motorcycles, for an issue with its electronics and drivetrain. This problem affects roughly 3,100 motorcycles.

According to recall documents, the chain on the GSX-R1000 may break when upshifting between first and second gear. This occurs if the rider fails to engage second gear, and a neutral condition gets created, which may cause very high engine RPM.

If the rider then shifts into second gear, without disengaging the clutch, the motorcycle’s chain may stretch or break, which is an obvious safety hazard.

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Of all the words that you never want to see in a recall announcement, “explode” probably ranks pretty high on that list.

But, this is exactly what we saw for this recall that affects the 2009-2016 Honda Gold Wing models equipped with an airbag, as the “air bag inflator may explode,” according to the recall headline.

This recall is of course part of the ongoing set of recalls that affect vehicles equipped with Takata airbags – of note, the new 2018 Gold Wing Tour Airbag model does not use a Takata-made airbag.

In total, this recall only affects 960 units (2009-2010 and 2012-2016 model years), though this is the third time that Honda has had to issue a recall for its Gold Wing models, because of Takata.

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Brembo Master Cylinder Recall Hits MV Agusta

01/15/2018 @ 10:16 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The massive Brembo master cylinder recall continues to take its toll on the motorcycle industry, with MV Agusta now the latest manufacturer to issue a recall for the faulty braking piece.

Issuing a notice that affects 27 units in total, MV Agusta’s recall applies to 2015 and 2016 MV Agusta F4 RR and MV Agusta F4 RC motorcycles.

As you would expect, MV Agusta will notify affected F4 owners, and MV Agusta dealers will replace the piston on the front brake’s master cylinder, free of charge.

Concerned F4 owners may contact MV Agusta customer service at 1-215-781-1770. MV Agusta’s number for this recall is 18RC01.

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