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.


If you are an American who was hoping to see motorcycle racing on basic cable, we have bad news for you all three major series – MotoGP, World Superbike, and MotoAmerica – will air exclusively on the premium TV network beIN Sports this year.

The deal with beIN Sports mimics similar deals we have seen Dorna cut elsewhere abroad, where the media rights holder of both MotoGP and World Superbike favors deals with premium television companies over basic broadcast stations.

These deals usually mean more money for Dorna, though come with the downside of fewer viewers for the sport of motorcycle racing.

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So far, so good. That seems to be the story from the first day of practice at Le Mans. A full day of dry weather – except for the last few minutes of FP2 for the Moto3 class, where the rain turned briefly to hail, only to blow out again as quickly as it came – means that everyone had a chance to work on their race set up.

With the top four separated by just 0.166 seconds, the top five are within a quarter of a second, and Alvaro Bautista, the man in ninth, is just over seven tenths from the fastest man Dani Pedrosa.

A good day too for the Hondas. Dani Pedrosa was immediately up to speed, as expected. Marc Marquez was also quick in the afternoon, which was less expected. Unlike Jerez and Austin, this was the first time he rode a MotoGP machine at Le Mans, and getting used to hauling a 260 hp, 160kg bike around the tight layout of the French track is a different proposition to riding a Moto2 bike with half the horsepower here.

He took a morning to get used to the track, asked for a few changes to the base set up inherited from Casey Stoner, and then went and blitzed to second in the afternoon, 0.134 seconds off his teammate.

More important than Marquez’s speed is his consistency, however. In the afternoon, he posted seven laps of 1’34, which looks to be the pace to expect for a dry race. Only two men did more, Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo having posted nine laps at that pace, with both men also consistently a tenth or two quicker than the Spanish rookie.

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Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO

05/25/2011 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Our affection for the work by Radical Ducati is getting to the point where we need seek professional help. Not only are we becoming a broken record for our praise of the Spanish firm’s work, but our love affair for their motorcycles is completely one-sided. They don’t return our calls, nor our late night texts. We suspect they’re talking to other weblogs, and we can’t stand the thought of them going around town with a print magazine. Like all schoolyard crushes, this is sure to end in tears, but until then we’ll continue our hardcore crush on their take of Italian motorcycle design.

For our latest infatuation, we show you the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO (2011). We’ve been pretty pumped over this build since we heard about it a couple weeks ago, and now that it’s blown it’s cover, well…we’re revamping our Christmas list. While we appreciate all forms of motorcycles, we’re sportbike folk at heart here at Asphalt & Rubber, so a Radicalized sportbike tickles the pink out of us in ways that café racers cannot. We think you’ll agree when you check out all the photos after the jump.

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Camp Nou is the the Futbol Club Barcelona’s stadium of residence, and has been the destination for more than one rowdy Spanish soccer fan in its lifetime. An iconic figure in the Catalan community, FC Barcelona is also probably one of the most well-known soccer teams worldwide (though anglophones are more familiar with Manchester United), but that doesn’t mean the club can’t do a little marketing now and then.

Showing his support for the Catalan team, Trials World Champion Toni Bou does what does best in this video, and rides his trial bike through, on, and over the Camp Nou grounds. Popping a wheelie while going up the stadium steps, and doing a stoppie all the way back down are just some of the Spaniard’s claims of fame, and probably would go on the list of things our healthcare provider wouldn’t cover. It’s pretty impressive stuff, and  merges two of the biggest sports in Spain into one video. Check it out after the jump.

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Radical Ducati Il Mostro Kit

04/21/2011 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

It should be apparent by now that we loves us some Radical Ducati here at Asphalt & Rubber. And why shouldn’t we be? Those Spanish desmoholics have put out some really impressive motorcycles the past few years, not only putting their small shop on the map, but Spain as a whole as a budding venue of custom motorcycles (check out the work fro Sbay for more Spanish goodness for instance). The process at Radical Ducati is pretty simple, take parts collected from various Bologna motorcycles, mash them up with some creative flare, add-in some custom fabrication, and presto: you have some unique motorcycles that embody the best of Ducati’s designs.

Now typically if you wanted your own Radical Ducati you’d have to fork over a hefty amount of money, and the figure out how to get your masterpiece back to respective your country of origin. While this technically remains true, you can now at least give your Ducati Monster the Radical treatment, as those crazy Spaniards have come out with the Il Mostro customization kit for the Ducati Monster 696, 796, & 1100.

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Dragon TT Atila 1000 R Concept

01/05/2011 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Sometimes after the day is done, we lay in bed thinking about the world around us. Will Sarah Palin run for President in 2012? Will the North Korea continue to escalate matters with South Korea and the de-militarized zone? What would the love child from the alien in Predator and an Yamaha R1 look like after the pair had a lurid one night affair fully of empty promises and awkward moments at breakfast the next day?

These are all important questions for the new year, and we’ve set about to find some answers to them. While we’re not quite sure on how things will pan out with Palin (The GOP directors seem to think she can win) and North Korea (multi-lateral negotiations with China and US seem to be par for the course), we do have a pretty good idea on the Predator/Yamaha progeny: behold the Dragon TT Atila 1000 R.

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According to the folks at Motocuatro, socialite Paris Hilton will be picking up where Antonio Banderas left off, and is set to unveil her 125GP team next Saturday. Officially Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton, the unveiling of the team is to be held at the Hotel ME in Madrid, Spain. It’s not clear at this time where Hilton’s interest in motorcycle racing stems from (perhaps she is taking a page from, and one-upping, Kim Kardashian’s sponsorship of a NASCAR Sprint Cup team), but the Hilton fortune heiress has put together a very strong team, making her entry into the 125 GP very compelling.

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Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer

11/29/2010 @ 6:17 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Here’s to starting Monday morning off right as we bring you the Spanish-made Sbay Flying 1800 custom café racer from Sbay Motor Company. If cruisers from a certain American manufacturer could look like this, we imagine that talks of an aging demographic would cease to exist as the Flying 1800 has ample doses of eye-candy, sportiness, and innovation.

Between the 3.7 gallon carbon fiber tank that is hangs below the oil-holding frame and above the motor, the rear taillight that integrates into the tail section like a Ducati GP9/GP10, and the tasteful use of copper pipes that we liked so much on the Confederate Fighter, there’s plenty to get you drooling on this bike as it borrows from some of the best ideas in motorcycle design.

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Radical Ducati Café Veloce

11/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Seeing how popular the work of Radical Ducati has been on our site, both with the Radical Ducati 9½ and Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we thought we’d bring you another one of the Spanish group’s fabulous creations: The Radical Ducati Café Veloce. Based off a Ducati Sport Classic, the Café Veloce features the same DS 1000 air-cooled two-valve motor, and steel tube frame as the now discontinued Ducati, but grows upon the Sport Classic’s cafe inspired lines.

Tastefully refining the Café Veloce into a sleeker and more dynamic package, Radical Ducati has created the Café Veloce to be devoid of Ducati’s more bland touches to the GT1000. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re smitten with the Café Veloce, even if it’s not usually the kind of thing we’d go for in our own garage. Photos after the jump.

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It doesn’t seem like a topic that really needs that much explaining, but after suffering through this weekend’s MotoGP race coverage here in the United States, it would seem there is some confusion on how to properly pronounce “Lorenzo”, as in Jorge Lorenzo’s last name. Continue reading if you want to see a leviathan description of Spanish language and how it relates to motorcycle racing in an admittedly over-the-top and pretentious sort of way.

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