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.

Say What??! – Tech3 and Yamaha Will Part Ways in 2019

If you thought the 2019 MotoGP Silly Season was already in high gear, a bombshell announcement has just put it into overdrive. Today, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team announced that from 2019, they will be parting ways. Tech3 will no longer be a satellite Yamaha team. The split brings to an end an association of nearly 20 years with Yamaha. They first started in 1999 with Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque in 250cc, before switching to the premier class with the same pair in 2001. Tech3 has been a loyal partner for many years, giving up one seat to a factory-backed rider on a number of occasions, as occurred with Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Pol Espargaro. However, there had been a few signs of tension over the past few months.

Trademark Hints at Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle

Has Harley-Davidson just tipped its hand regarding its upcoming electric motorcycle? It would seem so, according to the latest trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registering the name “Revelation” with the USPTO, Harley-Davidson has set aside the trademark for two uses: 1) batteries for vehicles, and 2) drivetrains for electric motorcycles and vehicles. Other publications are running this story as the “Revelation” name being the moniker for Harley-Davidson’s production version of the Livewire electric motorcycle concept, but the actual trademark makes a very clear alternative to that narrative.

If you are going to race at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, you might want to bring something a little bit more peppy than a stock Ducati Hypermotard – not that the Italian street bike isn’t tons of fun, but its now-rated 110hp is going to be robbed blind at it approaches the 14,000+ foot summit.

That is where Michael Woolaway’s latest project for Deus Ex Machina comes into play, as Woolie has taken the Hypermotard, dropped massive amounts of power into its chassis, and then stripped every last bit of unnecessary weight off the machine.

With 200hp on tap, and a paltry 345 lbs measured when fully fueled and on the scales, Woolie’s Pikes Peak Hypermotard is the ultimate in function before form. Of course, the minimalist technical requirements play into Woolie’s bare-bones design as well.

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Want to watch the fastest motorcycle run ever up Pikes Peak? At this year’s Race to the Clouds, Chris Fillmore took his KTM 1290 Super Duke R on a record-setting ascent to the mountain summit, with an impressive time of 9:49.625.

More impressive though is the fact the Fillmore broke the record on his rookie debut to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

If you have less than ten minutes to spare, you can watch Chris Fillmore’s run up the mountain. It’s extra enjoyable, because the Pikes Peak organizers thought that the first three minutes of the video should include a voice-over interview with Fillmore at the mountain’s summit, rather than letting us listen to that KTM purr.

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Traditionally if you wanted to watch the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, you would have to wake up around 3am in the morning, freeze your butt off in your car for a couple hours while you waited in line at the gates, and then jockey for position somewhere reasonably unsafe on the race course to watch the cars and bikes fly past.

With poor cellphone reception, spotty video coverage, and no strong media deals, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has floundered when it comes to engaging race fans in the digital age. Add into it more restrictive fan zones, and the viewing experience has certainly diminished, thus taking away from this once iconic race.

However for the 95th running of the “Race to the Clouds”, America’s only true road race has a new media partner, Matchsports, who will live-stream the event with 22 cameras, for racing fans. This has the potential to be a huge win for the struggling series…assuming it works this time.

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Pikes Peak Gets EMT Motorcycles from Ducati

06/14/2017 @ 11:22 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is rapidly approaching, and the iconic “Race to the Clouds” continues to mature, despite this year being its 95th running.

Helping mitigate the safety issues that come with racing on the mountain’s 156 turns is Ducati North America, which already supports racer mentoring with the Squadra Alpina program. Now, Pikes Peak is taking another step forward.

Again with the help of Ducati North America, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will have emergency first-responders on motorcycles.

This is a page taken straight out of the Isle of Man TT, where traveling marshals move by sport bike between checkpoints, and are often the first medical personnel on the scene of a crash.

Accordingly, the two Ducati Multistrada 950 EMT motorcycles will be ridden by Dr. Gary Klein, a long-time race physician and safety team lead for the PPIHC, and Duxton Milam, a 20-year EMT and veteran flight medic with the National Guard.

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2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak

11/16/2015 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS


I have a soft spot for the Pikes Peak models to the Ducati Multistrada 1200 line. Perhaps it’s because I have spent many a cold morning on Pikes Peak, photographing the race version of these machines. Or perhaps it’s that I’m drawn to the Ducati Corse livery, which drips carbon fiber and Rosso Corsa.

Either way, here we are, talking about the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak motorcycle – the latest model from Ducati to get the special livery from “The Race to the Clouds”, which also comes with Öhlins suspension, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and a Termignoni exhaust.

If you have seen the previous Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak models, this is perhaps not something that moves the dial on your rev-limiter too far, but the newly updated Ducati Multistrada 1200 certainly looks good with the Pike Peak package.

It seems that the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak will be available in both Europe and North America, thus bringing more awareness to Ducati’s racing efforts on the 14,000+ foot mountain.

More photos are after the jump. Bring your drool-rag with you.

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Carl Sorensen Has Died While Practicing at Pikes Peak

06/25/2015 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS


Tragic news comes to us today from Colorado, as racer Carl Sorensen died during today’s practice session for the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

With the motorcycles on the top section of the mountain, Carl crashed in a fast left-hand turn, known to have a bump on the racing line, near the summit.

Carl’s last run would have been one of the final runs up the course for the day, as the bikes were closing-in on their end time. Conditions reported to Asphalt & Rubber were that it was very cold at the Devil’s Playground staging area, with the road thawing from a measured 32°F to 42°F by the end of the sessions.

Thursday marks the third day of sanctioned practice for the motorcycles entered in Sunday’s racing event, with qualifying being tomorrow, on the lower section of the course (Pikes Peak practice sessions are divided into three course segments, with one motorcycle group and two car groups rotating through the course during practice week.

Familiar with the PPIHC race course, Carl finished last year’s hillclimb an impressive 16th overall, and 10th in the competitive “Open” class on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. For this year’s race, he made his move into the middleweight class, riding on a Ducati 848 Superbike.

A loyal A&R reader, and an avid motorcycle racer, Carl is survived by his wife and son, and will be sorely missed by all his family, friends, and racing compatriots. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by Carl’s passing.

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Ronin-Oishi-Yoshio-Travis Newbold-05

When we first saw Magpul’s custom Buell motorcycle, called the Magpul Ronin, we were smitten. Thankfully, the Colorado gun accessory firm spun the project into its own company, with 47 Ronin motorcycles to be produced.

You may have seen the Ronin on our pages here at Asphalt & Rubber, or in person at shows like The One Show in Portland or The Handbuilt Show in Austin, and if you did, you probably noticed the supreme workmanship that’s gone into these bikes.

So maybe it’s a bit worrying that a Ronin plans to partake in the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which is being held June 28th. The bike question is a special machine too, it is Ronin #1 — named Oishi Yoshio, after the samurai leader of the same name from the “47 Ronin” story in Japanese history.

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The 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb may be over three months away, but the historic American road race released its official entry list this week, with some interesting participants for 2015’s Race to the Clouds.

So far with 78 motorcycle entries confirmed, our attention was piqued with the entry of a 2015 Kawasaki H2 sport bike by Japan’s Takahiro Itami — an unsupported race entry according to Kawasaki USA.

Bringing things more locally, Colorado-based Ronin Motorcycles has an entry with one the company’s 47 heavily modified Buells, with Pikes Peak class-winner Travis Newbold at the helm.

Coming straight from the Isle of Man TT, Rob “The Bullet” Barber will compete in the electric class with The Ohio State University’s Buckeye Current team.

Other entries of interest include a Ducati 1299 Panigale S by Eric Foutch, a still to-be-determined ride for Cycle World’s road test editor Don Canet, and a TOBC Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 for Asphalt & Rubber contributor Shelina Moreda.

While Pikes Peak has several “To Be Determined” motorcycle entries still to disclose, noticeably absent from the entry list are many of the race’s recent top-finishers.

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