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.

Yamaha MT-09 SP Brings Some European Bling

11/08/2017 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Yamaha FZ-09…pardon us…the Yamaha MT-09 is a top-seller for the Japanese brand, mixing a solid motorcycle, with decent features, all for a reasonable price.

Hoping to appeal to riders more “up-market” though, Yamaha has a conundrum, and the hope is that the Yamaha MT-09 SP is the solution.

Taking its potent three-cylinder street bike, Yamaha has taken the MT-09 and added an Öhlins rear shock and fully adjustable front forks to the package – which are not from Öhlins, I might add.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The Yamaha MT-09 SP follows in the same vein as the Yamaha MT-10 SP.

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If you think that the 2018 Honda CB1000R is a fetching motorcycle, then we’ve got some more good news for you, because Honda Motor Europe has debuted at EICMA two more bikes with its “Neo Sports Café” aesthetic: the Honda CB125R and the Honda CB300R.

As you can discern from the names, the Honda CB125R and Honda CB300R are street bikes that shares a lineage with the Honda CB1000R, albeit in 125cc and 300cc packages, respectively.

As such, the 2018 Honda CB125R is basically a redesigned CBR125R (a model not available in the US market), while the 2018 Honda CB300R is a repurposed to create the Honda CBR300R.

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FIM Creates Helmet Crash Test for Race Helmets

10/17/2017 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The FIM is getting into the helmet certification game, creating a new protocol – as part of the FIM Racing Homologation Programme (FRHP) – to test helmets that are worn in FIM-sanctioned motorcycle races.

Previously, the FIM had relied upon domestic testing criteria, such as DOT standards in the United States, ECE standards in Europe, and SG/JIS standards in Japan.

With those standards varying in how they test motorcycle helmets though, the FIM Technical and Circuit Racing Commissions saw a need to create a single unifying helmet crash test protocol that will be used at any event the FIM sanctions, starting in the year 2019.

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Yamaha XSR700 Brings the Hip to the USA for 2018

09/21/2017 @ 6:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Announced today at the AIMExpo, Yamaha is bringing the XSR700 to the US soil, as the tuning fork brand sees an opportunity for the twin-cylinder heritage model in the land that brought hipsters their skinny jeans.

The choice must have been an easy one for the folks at Yamaha Motor USA, with the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-07 selling well here in the United States, and the XSR900 already being critically acclaimed by the US moto media.

Adding the Yamaha XSR700 to the 2018 model lineup seems like an obvious no-brainer for Yamaha, and we are happy to see it finally coming to the United States of America.

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No, the beard and skinny jeans crowd aren’t abandoning their broken down Honda CB’s and flocking to the crazy looks of the Kawasaki Z900, but Team Green does seem to have a heritage-inspired version of their four-cylinder street bike coming down the pipe.

Teasing the Kawasaki Z900RS in a short YouTube video, it seems that the Japanese brand is taking the stout Z900 and styling it for the mercurial tastes of younger riders.

This could be an interesting move for Kawasaki, and while the Z900 isn’t the bike that immediately comes to our minds as being appropriate for this venture, one has to remember the success that Yamaha has seen doing a similar maneuver with the FZ-09, turning it into the XSR900.

Using motorcycle designs as platforms for multiple machines is nothing new, but we have seen the Japanese brands using this strategy with growing success each year.

As such, the upcoming Kawasaki Z900RS could be a very intriguing machine to see, once it drops. Stay tuned.

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Pure & Simple, Here is the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure

10/04/2016 @ 2:36 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2017-bmw-r-ninet-pure-05

Ever since we saw its name published in the California Air Resources Board documents, we have been speculating what could be “pure” about the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure motorcycle. Today, at INTERMOT, we get that answer.

We might be mildly disappointed that the BMW Lac Rose Concept is not one of the two new models for the trade show in Germany, though it shouldn’t surprise us to see that BMW is taking another styling exercise with its R nineT platform – albeit a more simple one, this time around.

One of two new bikes based off the air-cooled BMW R nineT platform for 2017, the BMW R nineT Pure is supposed to harken back to a more classic time for motorcycles.

An extension of the heritage line that BMW is creating with the R nineT, the Pure and Racer two sides of an older coin.

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2016 Honda CB500F Gets Much-Needed Facelift

11/16/2015 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

2016-Honda-CB500F-03

When the Honda CB500F first debuted, it was a welcomed addition to Honda’s lineup, as the Japanese brand was really filling out its 500cc/A2 offerings, but the bike itself was hardly something to get excited about, especially in the looks department.

That seems to have changed now, with the release of the 2016 Honda CB500F at the EIMCA show in Milan, as the street “standard” is looking a lot more aggressive and edgy with its new haircut.

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Benelli Leoncino Makes Its Return at EICMA

11/13/2015 @ 1:19 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

benelli-leoncino

Benelli piqued our interest when it said that a legend was returning, and now we know what machine the Italian brand was referring to: the Benelli Leoncino. A historic name for Benelli, the Leoncino (Italian for “lion cub”) was the model that defined the Italian company after World War II.

Like many motorcycles during that time period, the Leoncino offered Italians an affordable way to get around town, when many families could not afford a car, nor could the Italian infrastructure support four-wheeled mass transport.

As a result, many of Italy’s iconic names go their start in this manner (the same can be said of Japan’s motorcycle brands), so the hyper is certainly worthy of a legend’s return. The model teased of course, is a different story.

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Here are the First Photos of the 2016 Honda CB500F

11/09/2015 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Media Advisory: 2016 Honda CB500F Preview Images

Here is your first look at the 2016 Honda CB500F, which like its other Honda brethren, will get a bit of makeover for next year. American Honda is teasing the new model now, but says it won’t release more information until the EICMA show in Milan, on November 17th.

We don’t think Honda will stray too far from the current Honda CB500F, with most of the modifications being cosmetic refinements that enhance the street-standard’s appeal to riders.

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Victory Empulse TT — A Rebadged Brammo Empulse R

07/28/2015 @ 10:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Victory-Empulse-TT

When Polaris acquired Brammo’s electric motorcycle business, and left the startup to be its electric drivetrain guru, much was talked about what would come to the electric motorcycle manufacturer. So, when a Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike showed up at the Isle of Man TT in Victory Motorcycles livery — let’s not forget the Brammo employees in Victory t-shirts — a bit of Polaris’ game was tipped.

Therefore it is perhaps without surprise that today we bring you the Victory Empulse TT, which is basically a rebadged Brammo Empulse R street bike.

There are some improvements to the Victory Empulse TT over the Brammo Empulse, namely a larger battery pack (+10% for 10.4 kWh nominal), a narrower rear tire (180 is now a 160), a new seat, and most importantly, a rubber cush drive for the rear wheel.

We won’t waste words hyping a motorcycle that has effectively already been on the market for several years, but we will point out two things: 1) Brammo Victory has improved upon an already competent design, and 2) the addition of the cush drive could change our luke-warm opinion of the Empulse R.

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