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.

Our Top 5 Bikes from the 2017 One Moto Show

02/13/2017 @ 11:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

Over 17,000 people flocked to the northern end of Portland this year, braving the cold interior of a vacant building with their plaid shirts, in order to drink PBR, listen to loud music, and look at the occasional motorcycle. Yes, it us that time of year for The One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon.

More than just a much larger venue, The One Moto Show continues to gain traction with vendors and sponsors, all the while attracting more and more bike-curious attendees through its doors.

Main-lined into the zeitgeist that we recognize as two-wheeled hipsterdom, “mainstream” motorcyclists can roll their eyes while shuffling through the PDX masses, but you cannot deny the pulse the show keeps with younger motorcyclists.

As such, there were more than a few pillars of the motorcycle industry circulating in the show’s ranks – all incognito, of course – trying to understand how the next generation interacts not only with motorcycles, but also with each other.

Over 150 bikes were on display for those in attendance – I heard a figure as high as 170 motorcycles were hidden throughout the multiple rooms and floors of the show’s venue – and a couple trends struck me over the course of the show.

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Alta Motors Redshift ST Street Tracker Concept

01/25/2017 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler49 COMMENTS

The One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon is just a couple weeks away, an event where hipsters and custom bike builder will come together to celebrate all things two-wheeled. One of the show’s sponsors this year is electric startup Alta Motors, and they will be debuting a street tracker concept to the masses.

The concept bike is built off Alta’s Redshift platform, with changes made to the bodywork (made via rapid prototyping), lowered suspension, and an LED headlight, along with the addition of 19″ carbon fiber BST wheels shod in flat-tracking rubber.

As a concept, the Redshift ST still has some evolving to do before it can be a production model, but it shows that Alta Motors is considering adding something to its lineup that resonates with a younger, more urban crowd (The One Moto Show being a prime spot to test those waters).

More importantly perhaps, the Redshift ST could a model to Alta’s lineup that has a seat height below 32″ – a key dimension when it comes to making motorcycles accessible to a wider variety of riders, both in terms of physical height and experience level.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #39 – Live in PDX

11/30/2016 @ 12:25 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS


Episode 39 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is a celebration of one year of motorcycle podcasting, and to celebrate our birthday, we figured we should do a live show in our hometown of Portland, Oregon.

The good folks at MotoCorsa were kind enough to host the 40 brave souls that braved the PNW weather to listen to Quentin and myself blather about motorcycles.

It was good fun, and we covered topics like the recent MotoGP test in Valencia, the business issues that comes with running a race track, and how “race” ABS works and how it’s evolving.

We finish the show with a Q&A session from the audience, with questions about racing, race tracks, new bikes, and how to pronounce Spanish words being the topics of choice.

We are extremely grateful for the turnout at our first live show, and hope to bring the format to other cities in the coming months. We are also thankful for all our listeners who couldn’t make it to Portland, but continue to listen to the show each week. Hopefully, we can meet you all soon.

Until then, 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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Ride in Peace, Michael Czysz

05/07/2016 @ 11:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS


It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Michael Czysz, who finally succumbed to his years-long battle with cancer today.

Michael is known best in our two-wheeled circles for starting the MotoCzysz C1 MotoGP project, which eventually morphed into the Isle of Man TT winning electric motorcycle race team of the same name.

However, Michael’s accomplishments outside of the motorcycle industry are perhaps even more impressive, as he was a prominent designer for the rich and famous through his Architropolis design firm.

I think it is Michael’s vision for ingenuity in the design world that fueled his work with motorcycles, as Michael’s machines featured a number of innovations of his own creation, which surely flowed from his creative personality.

While we mourn his departure, it is perhaps fitting to realize that Michael left us just a few weeks before the start of the 2016 Isle of Man TT, as a large portion of Michael’s legacy stems from taking the MotoCzysz team to four consecutive TT Zero race wins at the Isle of Man TT – his innovative motorcycles setting record laps in each attempt, no less.

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When it comes to the western states and motorcycling, California gets all the credit. But, Oregon has a thriving motorcycling community all of its own, especially in Portland — albeit, things can get a little weird up here, with influences like Moto Corsa, See See Motorcycles, Dirt Quake, and now Asphalt & Rubber.

On the vein of keeping PDX out of the norm, and reaffirming that there are no bad days on a motorcycle, we hear good news that the much-loved Alley Sweeper ride is back on for 2015.

For the uninitiated, the Alley Sweeper is an urband enduro of sorts, which takes place on the unmaintained alleyways within the Portland city limits. It’s part ride, part parade, part critical-mass….and usually more fun in the mud.

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Alright Hipsters, You Win This Round…

01/03/2015 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS


The One Show could be best described as equal parts lumberjack initiation party, bad tattoo exhibition, and 12-step program for the “I’m 18 and angry at my father” — it’s just that hipstertastic.

If you look past the Bialetti espresso cans, the very Portlandian motorcycle show brings the interesting premise that if you only had one motorcycle to fullfil your tw0-wheeled needs, what would it look like? The results to that question are as varied as the people who submit their work.

Taking place February 13-15th, in Portland, Oregon, it should be a good time out (we enjoyed last year’s snow-filled event)…especially considering the attached promo video.

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Broventure 2014 – Day One: Getting Out of Dodge

09/06/2014 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS


For the next four days, I’ll be on the road, riding and writing another Broventure for you all to enjoy. The plan is for our trip to take us through Oregon, Washington, and Idaho — through some of the best mountain roads in the Pacific Northwest.

If you’ve been following the Asphalt & Rubber social media accounts, you may have seen that I’ve been putting together a slightly modded Ducati Hypermotard SP for this trip (skid plate, radiator guard, heated grips, luggage rack, and Pirelli Scorpion tires), as our route includes both twisty asphalt roads and mild/moderate off-road trails.

I’ve always been a fan of the new Hypermotard, and I’ve been curious to see how it goes as a smaller ADV option to the more “purpose-built” Ducati Multistrada 1200. I have no delusions however about the bike’s small fuel tank and fairly uncomfortable seat — sometimes you have to roll a hard six.

Speaking of the magic number, six of us in total will be going on the trip, half of the group I haven’t met before; but all of us seem to be connected in multiple ways, and everyone shares the same passion for bikes and getting out of Dodge, and onto the open road.

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Event Report: Dirt Quake USA

06/27/2014 @ 4:06 pm, by Sean Smith7 COMMENTS


It’s Sunday morning and after we hit the ATM, I ask Ash to check the event website and see what time tech inspection is. In my head, its sometime around 11:15, and no bikes are to be started before 12:00 on Sunday (at the request of a local church).

Ash reports that the web site says tech inspection is from 9-10 and that the rider meeting was at 10:15. Shit. I text Thor Drake (my boss from See See Motorcycles,who is sponsoring the event), it’s 10:24. We’re in Longview, driving a borrowed Mazda B2500 that has a terrible miss, which only gets worse with more throttle.

We arrive at the scene in Castle Rock, WA. There are people in shorts riding all manner of choppers, Thor is dressed in white 12 o’clocking a slice of Sizzle Pie that Bjorn Drake affixed to a Honda ATC200, something to do with some advertising deal, but no one cares. It’s awesome.

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The Ducati 1199 Superleggera is finally here, Ducati’s exclusive 500 customers are starting to receive their bikes, and Ducatista around the world are acting like its Christmas in May. We can’t blame them; after all, the Superleggera is a rolling showcase of what the engineers at Borgo Panigale can do with a street-legal machine.

Our friends at Moto Corsa were lucky enough to get three fine specimens in the first wave of deliveries — the Portland, Oregon shop will receive nine Superleggeras in total — a pretty sizable sum when you consider that less than 200 will make their way across the pond to US soil.

Naturally Arun and his cohorts took the opportunity to examine up-close what $200,000 worth of carbon fiber, titanium, and aluminum looks like. Even better, they documented the experience, for our viewing pleasure of course.

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By the time you read this, I will hopefully be on my way out of Portland, Oregon — having just attended The One Motorcycle Show. I say hopefully because the Polar Vortex dumped a bunch of cold fluffy white stuff on the ground on Friday, and the Portlandians have been calling it a snowmageddon ever since they slowly began littering the streets with stranded vehicles.

The weather may have been wreaking havoc on the highways and in town, Portland is after all where Volvo station wagons go to die, but it didn’t keep the hordes of motorcycle fans away from the show — in fact, some intrepid souls even road their way to the packed two-floor exhibit.

As one can expect from the Portland motorcycle scene, the atmosphere was hipster-chic, and laden with PBR cans, form fitting jeans, and epic beards.

Not exactly our cup of tea here at Asphalt & Rubber (I wore my best plaid shirt in an effort to blend with the natives, but was easily called out for my blasé attitude towards free-trade coffee), but that’s just fine — we like motorcycles just as much as the next guy or girl, and that’s what it is all about. Right?

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept behind The One Motorcycle Show, the idea is pretty simple and centers around the idea of that one motorcycle that fits all your tw0-wheeled needs and lusts.

It is about bikes that incorporate maybe the best aspects of all the other motorcycle you have ever owned, and represents everything about your two-wheeled life. Needless to say, the resulting builds had some interesting crossovers in style.

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