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.


The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R might just be an “update” to the WSBK Championship winning superbike, but Team Green has put enough new tech and features into the machine to get us pretty excited about its debut.

Boasting a revised chassis and motor, more electronics, more aerodynamic fairings, Kawasaki not only surprised us, and the rest of the motorcycle media, with its the midlife model refresh, but we think Kawasaki surprised even themselves with the machine, making a bike that potential-R1 buyers will definitely have to consider when they make a trip down to their local dealership.

Team Green has changed so much on the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R that we will let them list all the changes in the video, after the jump. If you can get past the techno music and hyperbole, it is actually pretty interesting.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


Let the rumors fly as to what Kawasaki has up its sleeve, because Team Green has registered “Ninja R2” with the US Patent and Trademark office, as well as similar offices internationally.

The trademark application is fairly broad in what the name can be used for, but knowing Kawasaki’s product line, a new motorcycle can be expected from the “Ninja” name.

What that motorcycle could be, is up for debate. Some draw a line between the “Ninja R2” name and the recently revived “Ninja H2” model, and thus see another supercharged machine to come from Kawasaki. Others hear the whispers of a small-displacement sport bike, perhaps one with a stratospheric rev-limit (our pick).

Continue Reading

Video: Kawasaki Ninja H2R’s Electronic Controls

10/17/2014 @ 9:38 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS


With great power, comes great responsibility…I’m fairly certain I read that in a comic book somewhere. The adage carries over to the Kawasaki Ninja H2R though, as any 300hp supercharged machine needs some snappy electronics to keep all that power in line. It’s something we talked about yesterday, when we got up-close with the H2R at the AIMExpo.

Seemingly reading our thoughts on that matter, Kawasaki has released a terse video on the H2R’s electronic controls. The video essentially confirms that the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, and presumably the Kawasaki Ninja H2 street bike, will come with anti-locking brakes (KIBS), traction control (KTRC), launch control (KLCM), quick shifter (KQS), engine braking control (KEBC), and an electronic steering damper (ESD).

Continue Reading

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Ninja H2R

10/16/2014 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS


Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you live from the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida today and tomorrow, covering the new bikes that are debuting on North American soil. We’ve already seen the new Yamaha YZF-R3 released here, as well as the Alta RedShift electric motorcycles (formerly BRD Motorcycles).

While both bikes are impressive, and are massively important to the American motorcycle scene, the buzz remains about the Kawasaki Ninja H2R. The AIMExpo is the first venue for Americans to get a glimpse of Kawasaki’s hyperbike, and the H2R sits like a praying mantis, waiting to strike you with its supercharged charms.

Naturally, we had to get a closer look…and bring you a bevy of high-resolution detail shots from the trades how floor. Enjoy!

Continue Reading


In case you didn’t know, this is the 30th anniversary of the Ninja motorcycle line from Kawasaki. To commemorate the occasion, Big Green has already debuted the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 30th Anniversary Edition and 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 30th Anniversary Edition motorcycles, and today the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS 30th Anniversary Edition joins them.

Like its sport bike brethren, this special ZX-14R comes with a special livery, which will be available to only 300 lucky owners (each unit is specially numbered). Finished in a “Firecracker Red” with “Metallic Graystone” paint, along with gold pinstriping and gold brake calipers, you can be certain that the changes are purely skin deep for this special model.

Continue Reading

2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 30th Anniversary Edition

05/08/2014 @ 5:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS


Like its liter-bike compatriot, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R gets a special 30th Anniversary livery upgrade for 2015. Like the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, the changes to the ZX-6R are only skin deep, and meant to celebrate the Ninja’s 30 years of being on the market. Accordingly, the 30th Anniversary changes include the following for the Kawasaki ZX-6R:

  • A special 30th Anniversary Ninja ZX-6R ABS model features Lime Green/Pearl Stardust White paint, green pinstripe decals on the wheels, and 30th Anniversary badges on each side of the fairing
  • The standard Ninja ZX-6R model is available Metallic Matte Carbon Gray/Flat Ebony

That special 30th anniversary exclusivity will cost you an extra $300 over the regular model, and if you want Kawasaki’s anti-locking brakes system (ABS), be prepared to shell out another $1,000 for it.

Continue Reading


There aren’t too many product lines in the motorcycle industry that can claim a thirty-year heritage, and with the whimper of marketing coming from Kawasaki, you would hardly know that the Ninja has been on the scene for three decades now.

To fix that problem, the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has been released early to help Team Green celebrate the Ninja’s birthday. However, don’t get your hopes too high, the changes for 2015 are only skin-deep, and are comprised of the following:

  • A special 30th Anniversary Ninja ZX-10R model features Lime Green/Pearl Stardust White paint and 30th Anniversary badges on each side of the fairing
  • The standard Ninja ZX-10R model is now painted in Metallic Matte Carbon Gray/Flat Ebony

Continue Reading

Happy 30th Birthday to the Kawasaki Ninja

02/12/2014 @ 12:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS


The Kawasaki Ninja line began life with the Kawasaki GPZ900R (the Ninja 900 to its friends) in 1984. Now 30 years later, Kawasaki is celebrating three decades of Ninja motorcycles, a model name that has become synonymous with the sport bike segment.

While the Ninja 900 began as Maverick’s daily ride in the movie Top Gun, the model sparked what would later become the superbike wars amongst the Japanese manufacturers.

The Ninja name has grown in time to become the Ninja ZX-10R superbike, refined itself to become the Ninja ZX-14R sport-tourer, and also grown into the small-displacement offerings of the Ninja 250R and Ninja 300, with many models in between.

A Ninja also just recently won the World Superbike Championship — not bad for a Gen-Xer. So we bid Happy Birthday to the Ninja, and hope for another 30 years of awesome green bikes with the Ninja name emblazoned upon them. Got a story about your Ninja? Leave it in the comments.

Continue Reading