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.

Production Begins on the Alta Redshift SM Supermoto

08/22/2017 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

News from San Francisco tell us that Alta Motors has begun production on its electric supermoto, the Alta Redshift SM. We have been waiting a long time for this powerful electric supermoto to come to reality, ever since we rode the prototype model waaaay back in 2011.

The Redshift SM is Alta’s second model, as the motocross-focused Redshift MX started shipping to customers in late-2015, and was the company’s first electric motorcycle out of the starting blocks. The first street-legal model from Alta, the Redshift SM will cost a pricy $15,495 MSRP.

Rumors of street-legal enduro model, and possibly even a street-tracker bike have been coming from San Francisco as well, as Alta is ramping up its production after closing a $27 million round in funding earlier this year.

Today’s news means that Alta dealers and pre-order customers can expect Redshift supermotos on showroom floors around Labor Day.

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Not-A-Review: Alta Motors Redshift MX

09/06/2016 @ 2:59 pm, by Quentin Wilson40 COMMENTS


For a long time now, Asphalt & Rubber has been following the progress of Alta Motors (formerly BRD Motorcycles), as they have worked to make a lites-class comparable electric motorcycle.

With the Redshift MX motocross and Redshift SM supermoto bikes now shipping from the company’s San Francisco facility, the motorcycle community can finally see in the flesh what I have been calling one of the most competent electric motorcycles yet produced.

I have no problems saying I have had a hearty drink of the Alta Kool-aid. I was impressed with the Redshift SM prototype that I rode back in 2009, and the finalized form of the Redshift has only matured further from its strong start. 

I don’t want you simply to take my biased word for it though, so for today’s post, I have enlisted the help of my Two Enthusiasts Podcast co-host, Quentin Wilson. For those who don’t follow the show (shame on you), Quentin is a former chassis mechanic for the Graves Yamaha AMA team and the MotoCzysz MotoGP project. 

He is also an accomplished racer, generally go-fast guy, and has a fair bit of electric motorcycle riding experience as well. It also helps that he is familiar with the woodsy trails we have here near Portland, as we were riding Alta Motors’ motocross machine for the first time, at the Browns Camp OHV Area.

Quentin is like me though: we see electric motorcycles not as an answer to saving the environment, though that is a nice side effect, but instead as a superior method of making motorcycles not only faster, but more rideable.

With those two aspects in mind, I asked Quentin for his thoughts on the Alta Motors Redshift MX, after a couple hours of trail riding.

As you will see, Quentin’s usual ride is a Christini Honda CRF250X, which is an unusual bike in its own right, but fits into the 250cc class that Alta Motors is targeting right now with the Redshift series.

It is an interesting contrast, to be sure, but we think you will enjoy it. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks too for my more measured review on the Alta Motors Redshift SM. -JB

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Alta Motors Makes First Redshift Customer Delivery

12/17/2015 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS


It has been a long time coming for Alta Motors (the electric motorcycle company formerly known as BRD) to bring its electric motorcycles to market, but that day has finally arrived.

Alta Motors has delivered its first motorcycle to a customer yesterday, with Eric Gauthier and Jeannine Smith of Suspension Performance taking delivery of their new Redshift MX.

“We’ve been quietly driving towards this moment for over 8 years in pursuit of creating the best motorcycles money can buy,” said Marc Fenigstein, Co-Founder and CEO of Alta Motors.

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After several months of testing and refining the BRD RedShift electric motorcycle, pricing and technical specifications from BRD Motorcycles has just graced our inbox. Wanting to make sure the BRD RedShift SM & RedShift MX lived up to the company’s hype, BRD has been reluctant to quote exact figures and prices until the San Francisco startup was confident it could back up those announcements with actual product performance. True to our prediction at the time of the BRD RedShift SM’s launch, the MX version will come with a $14,995 price tag, while the SM supermotard will tack on an extra $500 for a $15,495 MSRP.

Making 40 peak-horsepower, the BRD RedShift touts 250cc bike specs, especially with its 260/265 lbs (SM/MX) curb weight for street use (headlight and switchgear). In racing trim, both the SM & MX shed an additional 10 lbs. Because of the interest being generated in the police-style model (RedShift PD), BRD will make the model available with its more robust tail section, hard luggage, and more powerful electrical system for powering electrical components. These added components add an additional 35 lbs to the RedShift’s base weight, though the PD model is expected to be the company’s best selling model, as public and private fleet vehicles are increasingly pressured to include electrics into their vehicle pools.

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Video: Behind the Scenes with the BRD RedShift

09/21/2011 @ 5:51 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Dropping us an email from across The Bay, the guys at BRD sent us this cool video by Sam Erickson, which follows the BRD team as they got ready to launch the BRD RedShift electric supermotard. Following the San Francisco company over July & August, we get a glimpse of the finally design and assembly of the Redshift, along with the bike’s launch in San Francisco (bonus points if you can spot my face during the unveiling).

We’ve been following BRD pretty closely the past few months, and while we can’t share too much of what we’ve seen and heard (rumors of a helium-filled front wheel are probably only slightly exaggerated), CEO Marc Fenigstein tells us that Monday next week will see the startup release the BRD Redshift’s final technical specifications, along with the retail pricing. As for the video, it’s well very well done, and captures the small team at BRD hard at work bringing ICE parity to the EV space. Check it out after the jump.

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After launching its electric equivalent of a 250cc four-stroke supermotard, A&R spent a little quality time with the BRD RedShift SM at its future production facility in San Francisco. That’s right, not only is BRD hoping to tackle gas bikes head-on (we hear they only want to race in gas events), but the company, thanks to some clever design work, will be producing its electric motorcycles in the otherwise expensive SF/Bay Area. Instead of using a chassis architecture that would require hand or machine welds (the latter being far more expensive to setup for small production), BRD is using a combination of a casting and milling build process to create a motorcycle frame that is dependent more on machine operation, than worker labor. This means labor costs will be low, and production is limited only by how many milling machines the small startup can keep running at anyone one point in time.

Looking at the photos, you will have a hard time finding a weld on the RedShift’s frame, as the four pieces that make the main chassis are designed to be bolted together. Replacing what would normally be a single-cylinder thumper, BRD’s bright orange 5.2 kWh battery pack is exposed for aesthetics, and in conjunction with the powder blue and avalanche white bodywork, the overall livery hints at the Gulf Racing color scheme, without screaming it. At 40hp and tipping scales allegedly at the 250 lbs mark in its current form (we hear word it actually weighs less than 250 lbs at present), BRD thinks there’s more weight to be lost in the bike as the company refines the motorcycle for production.

The BRD RedShift SM is wearing prototype wheels from OZ Racing in these photos, which are made from forged aluminum, and reportedly are so light as to be practically buoyant. Overall the fit and finish of BRD’s pre-production model looks very nice, and as long as the SF company can keep that kind of build quality in its final product, it should be off to a strong start. Due to hit the streets before the KTM Freeride makes it stateside, it will be interesting to see if Zero can put out an offering next year to match the claimed performance specs from the RedShift. Similarly, it will be interesting to see if the Brammo Engage will make its debut with its six-speed gearbox by that time as well.

At a rumored $15,000 a pop, the price tag is hefty compared to gas equivalents, but that hasn’t kept orders from flooding BRD”s offices the morning after the RedShift’s launch last week in San Francisco. For those craving more photos of the BRD RedShift SM, we have 24 hi-res shots waiting for you after the jump.

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