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.

Honda NSF250R Coming to America

08/04/2011 @ 10:04 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

HRC’s NSF250R Moto3 race bike was released under much fanfare at the Catalan GP, as the Japanese company singled out Spain as one of the most important markets for the 249cc four-stroke single-cylinder racing machine. The the Iberian peninsula certainly will have more young riders climbing on board the NSF250R than the USA, but that doesn’t mean those Spaniards will get all the fun. Announcing that the Honda NSF250R will be coming stateside, the NSF250R will be race legal in the USGPRU Moto 3 and WERA Motorcycle Road Racing classes.

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FTR, the Moto2 chassis manufacturer, has released a Q&A with its Moto Director Steve Bones. In the exchange, Bones talks about FTR’s involvement in making a claim-rule team chassis for the Spanish BQR team, who will use the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R motor as the basis for its CRT entry.

FTR’s racing ambitions don’t end there though, as FTR plans to mimic its success in Moto2 by building a Moto3 offering that will likely use the Honda NSF250R four-stroke 250cc motor. Lastly, FTR has been linked to Norton’s MotoGP V4 race bike, with the engineering firm developing the chassis, while Pr1mo handles building the engine for that machine. But some doubt is starting to be generated around that project.

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More Photos of the Honda NSF250R

06/07/2011 @ 8:53 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

There was much ado at the Catalan GP regarding the Honda NSF250R Moto3 bike, likely because the Moto3 class is a big step in a larger movement currently unfolding in MotoGP, and the Spanish market is an important one when it comes to GP racing. With the 125GP class, which Moto3 is replacing next year, full of Spanish and Italian youths looking to become the next Jorge Lorenzos and Valentino Rossis, Honda no doubt wants to make a strong impression to its target market, even taking the NSF250R out for a parade lap with Alex Criville on-board. We doubt any other Moto3 manufacturer will get such a plug from Dorna, but nevertheless, find the photos the event after the jump.

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Honda NSF250R Moto3 Bike

06/02/2011 @ 8:59 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The wait is finally over, as Honda has completely taken the wraps off its 2012 Honda NSF250R Moto3 race bike. Launched at the Catalan GP today, the 250cc four-stroke machine will be one of several options aspiring MotoGP riders will pilot around in the Moto3 Championship. The new NSF250R incorporates a front-intake/rear-exhaust configuratiom, while the cylinder has been tilted back 15° to help concentrate the bike’s mass.

Titanium valves help power throughout the rev range, and the cylinder design reduces friction between piston and cylinder by offsetting the cylinder centerline and applying nickel silicon carbide (Ni-SiC) for the cylinder surface treatment. Matted to the motor is a six-speed gearbox, while the frame is based off the RS125R design, with modifications to suit the power delivered by the four-stroker. Total cost: €23,600, VAT included (Spain). Full technical specs are after the jump.

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HRC NSF250R Moto3 Race Bike to Debut at Catalan GP

05/20/2011 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Honda has done a pretty good job of teasing out its HRC NSF250R, which is set to race in the Moto3 Championship in 2012. Replacing the 125GP, Moto3 class is based around four-stroke 250cc race bikes, and should be a more affordable and leveling playing field for new riders to enter into GP racing. HRC has teased us with images and videos of the new NSF250R, which takes its core cues from the its RS125R predecessor (both current factory Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso won their lower Championships on the Honda RS125R).

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Honda NSF250R Moto3 Race Bike Breaks Cover

02/18/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Honda has finally given us an unshaded photo of its 250cc four-stroke Moto3 race bike, dubbed the Honda NSF250R. Despite the clearer view, there are no real surprises here (this actually looks like the same photo as used before, sans photoshopping), as the majority of the bike is still covered by the primer-painted fairing. Honda says the new NSF250R is designed to be like the RS125R it replaces: high-performaning, lightweight, and compact. This should make the switch from two to four-strokes easier for young riders, and limit the need to adjust riding styles for the new machine.

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Video: Honda NRS 250 Moto3 Contender Teaser

12/27/2010 @ 10:52 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Perhaps as a belated holiday treat, Honda has finally seen it fit to give a better glimpse of its HRC NRS 250 Moto3 contender. With a few quick cuts and some blurry shots, HRC isn’t completely giving away the 250cc single-cylinder GP bike, but the footage does give us a better idea of what the final shape of the Honda will look like, and perhaps more importantly what it will sound like. If you’re a four-stroke fan, you’ll love the video after the jump…two-stroke fanatics, probably not as much.

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Honda NRS 250 Gets a Little Brighter

11/18/2010 @ 12:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Honda continues to taunt us with its upcoming Moto3 contender, the Honda NRS 250. Shedding some more light (that would be literally, not figuratively), on the 250cc four-stroke GP racer, Honda still hasn’t released any details on the machine, but you can expect an 81mm bore and a maximum weight (with rider) of 326 lbs, per the Moto3 regulations that were recently released. Moto3 is scheduled to replace 125GP racing in 2012, but we imagine Honda will divulge info on the NRS 250 well before then. The original and super-enhanced photos of the Honda NRS 250 are after the jump.

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Honda NRS250 Teased – The Moto3 Racer Cometh

10/15/2010 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Honda has begun teasing its NRS250 race bike, which many believe will be the basis to the company’s involvement in the Moto3 racing class that will replace 125GP racing in 2012. NRS stands for “Next Racing Standard”, not to be confused with NSR series of two-stroke machines from Honda (Editor’s note: Great naming convention, right?), and not much is known about the bike beyond these dark photos.

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