Introducing the MOTR Podcast

Today we are announcing the third podcast that Asphalt & Rubber is involved with, the Motorcycles on the Record Podcast…or as we like to call it: the MOTR Podcast. The concept is pretty simple, as the MOTR Podcast is designed to compliment our popular Two Enthusiasts Podcast production. For those who don’t listen to it aleady, on the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson take an outside perspective on what is happening in the motorcycle industry. So, to contrast that with the MOTR Podcast, this new show will provide an insider’s view of what’s going on in motorcycles, with a focus on interviews and discussions with the industry’s leading figures.

Say Hello to the New Triumph Speed Triple RS

Back in 1994, Triumph created the streetfighter segment with the Speed Triple. But, the bike of 20 years ago is very different from the one debuting today, however the basic ethos remains: an aggressive sport bike for the city streets. In this time span though, the streetfighter segment has changed. Brands like KTM and Aprilia rule the roost, with high-horsepower bikes that come competently packed with high-tech electronics. Hoping to stay relevant with the same basic 1050cc platform, the British marque shows us now the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS – which boasts over 100 “new” parts just in the engine alone. The changes are subtle to the outgoing model though, but the highlights do stand out.

2018 Alta Motors Redshift MXR Officially Debuts – More Power, More Torque, Less Weight, and “Overclocking”

Here it is. After we broke the story that Alta Motors would be debuting an R-spec machine for its motocross line, we get our first glimpse of the 2018 Alta Motor Redshift MXR. A souped-up version of the 2018 model, which already gets some upgrades over last year’s bike, the Redshift MXR boasts some impressive features, in the pursuit of a no-compromises MX race bike. As such, Alta is quoting a stout 50hp and 42 lbs•ft of torque for the Redshift MXR, while the “wet” weight of the machine has been reduced by 8 lbs, to 259 lbs ready-to-ride. Recharge times have also been reduced, to just 1.5hrs on a 220v system – a savings of 30 minutes over the standard model.

Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle Coming in 18 Months

Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich dropped more than a few bombs during today’s earnings report, first saying that the Bar & Shield brand would close its Kansas City factory and consolidate production around its York, Pennsylvania plant. The American brand isn’t stopping the news there though. Offering a carrot of good tidings, Harley-Davidson reports that it will make its first production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months, effectively bringing its Livewire concept into production. The Livewire was a purpose-built concept done by Harley-Davidson in order to gauge the market reaction to the Bar & Shield brand going electric. Offering limited test rides, Harley-Davidson got positive responses to the Livewire experience, and the project has been internally green-lit ever since.

Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand. That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating. The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

Hervé Poncharal Talks About Replacing Jonas Folger

It is hard to envision a worse time to lose a rider for the season. Jonas Folger’s announcement that he was withdrawing from the 2018 MotoGP season to focus on his health was a hammer blow for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Just weeks before the start of testing for the new season, and long after riders good enough to race in MotoGP have signed contracts, Tech 3 team boss Hervé Poncharal is left looking for a replacement. It is a massive task, especially as Poncharal is refusing to break any contracts to take a rider. “You would be amazed to hear how many phone calls I have had, and who from,” he told us. “There were some interesting names, honestly, but priority for me, the basis for me is that I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract.”

Honda and Forever 21 Create Clothing Line for Millennials

An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women. “Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”

What You Need to Know About the Ducati Panigale V4 S

Is the Ducati Panigale V4 S the most anticipated motorcycle of 2018? If you are a diehard sport biker, the answer is probably yes, though a number of significant models are debuting this year, from several manufacturers. Still, in terms of ground-changing machines, the Panigale V4 has to rank high up on the list, as it is Ducati’s first proper four-cylinder motorcycle to go into mainstream production. I am writing to you today from Valencia, Spain – where we just finished a day of riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is better known as the final stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar. So, let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

What You Need to Know About the 2018 Honda Gold Wing

We just finished riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour in Austin, Texas – a day early I might add…because it’s snowing…in Texas. Still, clocking close to 200 miles on Honda’s sixth generation of this venerable touring machine has provided us with some interesting insights into the next Wing. A bike designed for long-distance riding, we have gathered our thoughts on the new Honda Gold Wing Tour, in a short and sweet format, so you can sound informed at your next bike night or internet forum. Overall, the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour is a smart update to an iconic motorcycle, and it brings the Gold Wing name inline with the current state of technology. As we found on the road,  the new Gold Wing is an improvement over its predecessor, but that comes with a caveat or two.

Brembo Issues Statement on Its Master Cylinder Recall

Just over a week ago, we broke the news that a massive recall was coming to motorcycles equipped with a particular Brembo master cylinder. Since then, we have seen recall notices from Aprilia and Ducati (affecting roughly 10,000 motorcycles in the USA) with more recalls expected from other brands. Because recalls in the United States typically come from the motorcycle manufacturer and not the part supplier, mum was the word from the folks at Brembo, though there were a number of questions regarding these recalls that weren’t answered in the NHTSA documents. Today, Brembo has finally decided to speak about the recalls that are underway in the United States, and presumably will be occurring in other markets as well.

Check the weather, because hell might have frozen over. Confirming rumors from late last year, John McGuinness has switched from Honda to Norton for his 2018 Isle of Man TT campaign.

The move is a bit of a surprise, as McGuinness has made his career as a diehard Honda rider, which has lead to 23 TT race wins at the Isle of Man.

But, things started to get interesting last year, when in December McGuinness wasn’t named as one of Honda’s road racing riders. To further fuel the fire, McPint was seen on social media checking out the Norton SG7.

Now officially official, John McGuinness will campaign on the Norton in the Superbike TT and Senior TT races at the 2018 Isle of Man TT. Boom goes the dynamite.

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Honda Motor Europe just announced its road racing squad for the 2018 season, welcoming Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston to team. The duo should be a strong lineup for Honda, and it is fairly big news to see Hutchy with Big Red for next season.

The bigger news though is that today’s announcement leaves us asking what happened to John McGuinness, the 23-time race winner at the Isle of Man TT being absent from Honda’s racing announcement.

Missing the 2017 TT because of injuries he sustained at this year’s North West 200, doubt had been cast over McPint’s road racing future.

Always chasing the high-water mark left behind by 26-time TT race winner Joey Dunlop, McGuinness has to contend with a new generation of fast racers, his age and health, and a troublesome racing package in the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.

This leaves the question, are we just marking time before we hear a retirement announcement? Or, is something else afoot?

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Macau Grand Prix Cut Short by Tragic Fatality

11/18/2017 @ 3:56 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 51st running of the Macau Grand Prix got underway today under auspicious conditions, the race organizers finding a narrow window in the rain to let the motorcycles out on the road course.

That would prove to be a fateful move however, as the race would last only six of its twelve laps, with tragedy striking and red flags flying.

A crash in Fisherman’s Bend caused the race’s early conclusion, and in its aftermath we have learned that British rider Daniel Hegarty lost his life in the unfortunate incident.

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Watch The Fastest Kangaroo Up Pikes Peak

07/03/2017 @ 10:36 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The old adage in racing is that you get slower once you have a child. Being from Australia and all, I don’t think our friend Rennie Scaysbrook (of Cycle News fame) got that memo.

Just days before he would head off to Colorado for the 95th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Rennie and his wife Annabelle gave birth to their first child, Harvey James Scaysbrook.

Having just joined the noble ranks of fatherhood, it would be a short introduction, as Rennie would have to leave Baby Harvey right away and compete in the 95th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

For his work on the mountain, Rennie joined an exclusive club of a different kind, posting a solid 9:57.712 time on his 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R – thus becoming one of just a few motorcyclists who have broken the 10-minute barrier at the Race to the Clouds.

With that time, Rennie was the second-fastest man on a motorcycle at Pikes Peak this year *cough* first loser! *cough*, as his teammate and Pikes Peak rookie, Chris Fillmore, would go on to break the standing motorcycle record with an even more impressive 9:49.625 time.

We already showed you Fillmore’s lap, but we think Rennie’s give a better perspective of what it is like to race up the 156 turns of Pikes Peak.

As an aside, we were pretty stoked to see Rennie break the 10-minute mark at Pikes Peak this year, and of course the A&R team gives a big congratulations to the Scaysbrooks for their bouncing baby boy. Let’s hope he gets his racing skills from Dad, but his looks from Mom!

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #56 – Nicky Bobby

06/29/2017 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 56 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast gets us back into our normal format of talking about motorcycles, and whatever rabbit holes present themselves along the way.

Before we get to that part though, we take a somber moment to remember Nicky Hayden, who passed away just a couple weeks before the recording of this episode.

We had recorded a special episode just about Nicky, the day that he passed, but it didn’t feel right to publish it. Our emotions were too raw.

Modestly philosophical during the show now, we also discuss the passing of Davey Lambert, who on the day of this recording succumbed to his injuries sustained at the Isle of Man TT. Two more racers would later die at the TT, Jochem van den Hoek and Alan Bonner. We hold all these racers in our thoughts.

Getting back to our normal selves, we discuss a bit of news, namely Harley-Davidson’s new factory in Thailand, and what that says about the state of the motorcycle industry. We also talk some racing action, as Andrea Dovizioso had just won the Italian GP at Mugello.

The show wraps up with some discussion about supermoto racing, as I participated in the Cascadia Supermoto round held here in Oregon, near Portland.

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.

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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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Take a Lap Around the Isle of Man TT on the BMW HP4

06/20/2017 @ 10:59 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

With five podium-finishes at this year’s Isle of Man TT, Peter Hickman is the man to watch in future TT fortnights, as the 30-year-old is showing tremendous talent and progress with his racing.

Helping Hickman to those finishes in the superbike classes (Superbike TT, Superstock TT, and Senior TT) was the BMW HP4, the Bavarian brand’s carbon-fiber-everything liter-bike that was just unveiled earlier this year.

A talented rider, an amazing machine, and one of the most iconic race tracks in the world? That sounds like the recipe for an epic onboard video.

Grab a stopwatch before you click play though, and see how much time Hickman’s front wheel spends in the air. It’s impressive.

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Peter Hickman, The Makings of a Future TT Star

06/19/2017 @ 8:05 am, by Steve EnglishADD COMMENTS

Four years ago, Peter Hickman was a mid-pack British Superbike rider whose career was looking for a spark. He found that spark at the Isle of Man TT. Fast-forward to current time, and Peter Hickman has already established his road racing credentials prior to this year's Isle of Man TT.

With victories at the Ulster Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix, Hickman had shown that he has the speed, but five podiums at this year's TT has cemented his reputation as a front-runner on the roads.

Success hasn't come easy to the three-time British Superbike race-winner though, and after claiming a second place finish in this year's Senior TT race, he made it clear how much this TT had meant to him.

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