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.

BMW R1250 Global Sport Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/23/2018 @ 10:33 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

BMW basically created the adventure touring category, popularizing the segment with its Gelände Straße motorcycles. Ever since, the German brand has created more and more “GS” bikes to help diversify its lineup for the tastes of riders, and also to defend its position from other brands.

Here, designer Oberdan Bezzi imagines a different kind of GS – a grand sport. Living somewhere between a scrambler and a maxi-motard, Bezzi’s creation sees the use of an air-cooled 1250cc boxer engine, wedged into a light adventure-sport format.

It is an intriguing idea (and design), and it pokes an obvious hole in BMW’s current crop of motorcycles. We didn’t think the Bavarian brand could use another boxer-powered motorcycle in its lineup, but Bezzi’s Global Sport makes a good case for such a machine.

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Triumph Just Put the Desert Sled on Notice

03/17/2018 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Triumph is sending a major wakeup call to its colleagues down south in Bolonga, as the revamped 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 just broke cover in spy photos, and the bike looks to be a direct competitor to the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled.

Abandoning its previously frumpy British roadster-with-knobbies design, the new Triumph Scrambler 1200 looks the part, and seems focused on actually going off-road, like a good scrambler should.

It is a big surprise from the British brand, and a bit of a new direction for Triumph, but clearly the Brits have been feeling the post-authentic pressure from Ducati, and are thus responding in kind.

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Just the other day, I was lamenting to a Ducati person about how the Desert Sled should have been the first model from the motorcycle makers Scrambler sub-brand…since, you know, it goes off-road quite well.

Built for the hard hits and jumps that come with taking a production street bike scrambling through the woods, the Desert Sled pretty much lives up to its name. But, if you really want to do the business, some changes need to be made.

This is where Alex Earle comes in the picture, with his Ducati Desert Sled “ADV Alaska” Prototype. A designer for Audi by day, Earle is known better in motorcycling circles for his street-tracker inspired custom Ducatis. You’ve probably seen them before.

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Yesterday we broke the news about a massive recall that is affecting a number of sport bikes with Brembo master cylinders. The first wave of that recall included Aprilia’s two offerings, the Aprilia RSV4 superbike and the Aprilia Tuono 1100 streetfighter.

Today, we get our first official word of another manufacturer that is involved with this massive Brembo brake recall, and it is Ducati. With six affected models, spanning four model years, Ducati North America is recalling roughly 8,000 units because the piston in their master cylinder may crack.

If you recall our previous coverage, the issue stems from the plastic piston in the master cylinder possibly cracking after hard use. If this happens, the master cylinder can stop operating, which can lead to front brake failure. This is an obvious safety concern

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In addition to showing us the production-ready Husqvarna Vitpilen 701, the Swedish brand also teased us with its dark side, debuting the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 as a concept model.

A neo-retro take on the flat tracker aesthetic, this “black arrow” street tracker was designed to boast both minimalistic and sophisticated lines to motorcyclists around the world.

Centered around the same 690cc single-cylinder engine as the Vitpilen 701, the two bikes are a sort of ying and yang to where the Husqvarna brand is headed with its street bikes.

They share common design elements, like the round headlight, exposed pod air filter, fuel tank shape, and muted color palette.

Likely to be a 2019 model, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 concept is very close to what we can expect to see on dealership floors, if the debuted Vitpilen 701 can be believed.

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To compliment the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen becoming a production model, Swedish marque Husqvarna will show a new concept bike at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. Unsurprisingly, that bike will be the Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen.

We know this because Husqvarna had not-so-subtley teased the new model on its Instagram account: giving us the name, size, and numerous detail shots of the motorcycle concept.

As such, we know that the Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen will carryover many of the design elements found on the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen. Like the other Svartpilen models though, the 701 Svartpilen will be a scrambler-styled bike, complete with Pirelli MT60 RS tires.

Given its preamble in Milan, we can expect that Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen to be a 2019 model year motorcycle…that is, if Husky can get its act together, as we are long overdue on the two 401 models becoming available, after their release at the 2016 EICMA show.

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Ducati Scrambler 1100 Debuts in Three Flavors

11/05/2017 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We already got a good look at the 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 ahead of this year’s EICMA show, but now we have all the details on Ducati’s new heritage motorcycle. Surprisingly, it’s not just one motorcycle, but in fact three flavors of the Ducati Scrambler 1100 have debuted.

As such, there is the new Ducati Scrambler 1100, the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special, and the more premium Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport for the 2018 model year.

All three machines are built around Ducati’s venerable air-cooled v-twin engine design, which comes in a 1,079cc format and makes 84hp and 65 lbs•ft of peak torque.

The top of the food chain model for the Scrambler Ducati family, the Scrambler 1100 models all come with Bosch’s cornering ABS as standard, dual 320mm brake discs up front, which are mated to Brembo 4.32 calipers and a hydraulic master cylinder.

Ducati has also added 10-level traction control to the new Scrambler 1100 model, as well as a ride-by-wire throttle and an LED headlight. With an 18″ wheel up front, and a 17″ wheel in the back, the Ducati Scrambler 1100 series continues to sport the Pirelli MT60 RS tires.

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Here is the Ducati Scrambler 1100

11/03/2017 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati’s media event for the 2017 EIMCA show is just under a day away, but photos of the Italian company’s 2018 model year bikes are starting to leak on social media. As such, here is your first look at the Ducati Scrambler 1100, one of five all-new motorcycles from Borgo Panigale.

As you can see, the Ducati Scrambler 1100 is exactly as our sources said it would be, and it features the air-cooled, 1,087cc, v-twin engine that Ducatisti know and love, wedged into larger chassis and platform than the original Scrambler model.

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Ducati Scrambler 1100 Set to Debut at EICMA

10/27/2017 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Ducati says that it has five new models for us at this year’s EICMA show. Yesterday we broke the news that there would be a Multistrada 950 Enduro, as well as the Ducati Multistrada 1260 (powered by the XDiavel’s Testastretta DVT 1262 engine).

We also know from CARB filings that there is a Ducati 959 Panigale Corse in the works; the Italian brand has already shown us the revamped Monster 821; and of course, we know that there will be the not-so-secret Ducati Panigale V4 showing in Milan.

But what about the Scrambler Ducati sub-brand? Well, it too will be seeing an addition to the family, in the guise of a larger machine. Get ready to say hello to the Ducati Scrambler 1100.

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CCM Spitfire Scrambler Looks Just as Tasty

06/05/2017 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

British marque CCM Motorcycles is getting some much-deserved press for its new 600cc “Spitfire” street bikes, which use a single-cylinder thumper from SYM.

The company’s roadster model has already caused quite a stir, and now CCM is showing off its scrambler variant, which features of course knobby dual-sport tires.

The bulk of the platform remains the same of course, as such the CCM Spitfire Scrambler uses the same tubular chassis as the roadster, which is made of T45 carbon steel, though there are noticeable off-road touches that set the scrambler apart from its roadster counterpart.

Still, the Spitfire Scrambler is simple in its bespoke design, offering a back-to-basics approach for riders who want a fun street bike, without all the bells and whistles that come on today’s modern machinery.

Only a limited number will be produced, with pricing said to be around the $10,000 range.

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