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.

Say What??! – Tech3 and Yamaha Will Part Ways in 2019

If you thought the 2019 MotoGP Silly Season was already in high gear, a bombshell announcement has just put it into overdrive. Today, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team announced that from 2019, they will be parting ways. Tech3 will no longer be a satellite Yamaha team. The split brings to an end an association of nearly 20 years with Yamaha. They first started in 1999 with Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque in 250cc, before switching to the premier class with the same pair in 2001. Tech3 has been a loyal partner for many years, giving up one seat to a factory-backed rider on a number of occasions, as occurred with Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Pol Espargaro. However, there had been a few signs of tension over the past few months.

Trademark Hints at Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle

Has Harley-Davidson just tipped its hand regarding its upcoming electric motorcycle? It would seem so, according to the latest trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registering the name “Revelation” with the USPTO, Harley-Davidson has set aside the trademark for two uses: 1) batteries for vehicles, and 2) drivetrains for electric motorcycles and vehicles. Other publications are running this story as the “Revelation” name being the moniker for Harley-Davidson’s production version of the Livewire electric motorcycle concept, but the actual trademark makes a very clear alternative to that narrative.

What You Need to Know About the Triumph Speed Triple RS

The original factory streetfighter, the Triumph Speed Triple latched motorcycling’s punk movement in 1994, and never looked back. Riding the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS in Almería, Spain, Asphalt & Rubber got to see first-hand how these updates build upon Triumph’s street-hooligan reputation, and whether the Triumph Speed Triple RS is a worthy alternative to the bevy of robust machines already in this category. The result? The 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS is a smart update to the British brand’s streetfighter, and though it falls short of the high-water mark in the space, it offers some strong bang-for-the-buck hooning, which makes it very appealing. Let me explain.

First Look at the Triumph-Powered Kalex Moto2 Race Bike

The 2018 season will be the last year that Honda powers the Moto2 World Championship, with the intermediate grand prix series set to use Triumph’s 765cc three-cylinder engine from 2019 onward. This should be cause for quite a shakeup in Moto2, with the British brand making a stronger effort in recent time to be part of the racing scene. That effort will be ancillary though, because the real magic in the Moto2 class comes from the various chassis-builders. As such today, we get to see the first completed Moto2 machine for 2019, and it shouldn’t surprise us to see that it is a Kalex. The German company has dominated the Moto2 Championship with its machines, save for one special year where an unstoppable Marc Marquez blew away the competition on his Suter race bike.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Lineup Recalled Because Gears Might Break from High Impact

Attention owners of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR motorcycles from the 2016 thru 2018 model yeas, as news has come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that roughly 4,000 of these machines might have issues with their gearboxes. According to the recall, a high impact force can cause the transmission gears to break during shifting – specifically the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears in the gearbox. First discovered in the Thai market, Kawasaki found upon further investigation that the strength of these gears was not sufficient, and could break under excessive force. As such, two warranty claims in the US have already been made for this issue.

While we are happy to report the rebirth of the Cagiva brand, and the pending launch of MV Agusta’s new Brutale 1000, we do have some bad news to report from Italy, as this will be the last year of the MV Agusta F4 superbike, for quite some time.

While the Italian brand plans to debut three new models from its four-cylinder platform over the next three years, the company’s superbike offering will be the last to be revitalized.

As such, the Brutale 1000 will debut this year as a 2019 machine, a “neo-classical” bike will debut next year as a 2020 machine, and a new “F4” will debut a year after that, as a 2021 model year bike.

This news is about to get worse, before it gets better, so let me explain further.

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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.

Yes, the Apollo came before it – all ~1.9 models that were produced – and the Desmosedici RR was also a MotoGP-inspired V4 motorcycle, but those were only available to a select few, with a total of 1,500 units ever made.

The Ducati Panigale V4 and its progeny, however, are here for everyone…and Ducati has taken quite a gamble in producing this “New Opera” – as the tagline goes.

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.

It is a new track for me to ride, and I have to give Ducati credit for picking a venue that doesn’t play just to the strengths of its new motorcycle. A short and technical course, the Valencian circuit is fun and rewarding to ride, but it is also a torture-rack test for a motorcycle’s handling prowess.

It would have been really easy for Ducati to take us somewhere, say like Mugello, where a fast and flowing circuit could hide any flaws in the Panigale V4 chassis design, while in-turn it could also hightlight the superbike’s claimed 214hp.

But here we are in Spain, getting to ride the first entry into this next chapter of Ducati superbike history, so let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

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MV Agusta Says New Four-Cylinder Bike in 2018

12/18/2017 @ 12:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We have been teased with near four-cylinder models from MV Agusta before, but after today’s announcement, the follow-up story that MV Agusta will launch its new four-cylinder platform in 2018 seems actually plausible.

Something we were expecting at this year’s EICMA show, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni has already shared that we can expect to see a 1,200cc four-cylinder Brutale in the near future.

We say this because its naked street bikes are MV Agusta’s best-sellers, so we expect the new Brutale to be given the nod over a new F4 superbike, in terms of priority, primarily because of financial reasons.

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Don’t call it a comeback, Troy Bayliss has been here along, as the Australian never really hung up his racing leathers.

Partaking over the years in numerous one-off and short-term racing endeavors, the 48-year-old Australian is looking for a little bit more two-wheeled action in his life though, and accordingly has his eyes on a proper championship go.

As such, Bayliss has announced that he will compete in the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship, riding with the DesmoSport Ducati team, which he co-owns with team manager Ben Henry, with an eye on the series’ #1 plate.

“Initially I did want to see another young guy on the bike, but after I rode it I felt that I needed to contest the championship and try and win myself the elusive Australian Superbike title,” explained Bayliss.

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About The Rising Cost of Ducati Superbikes

12/08/2017 @ 12:14 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I was a bit surprised when Ducati announced pricing on the new Panigale V4 model.

I knew the Italian brand would command a premium for the latest edition of its flagship model, but what took me aback was how high the price had climbed ($21,195) in one swoop, even though prices on the Ducati 1299 Panigale have steadily been creeping upward over the past few years.

Part of the blame is surely comes down to simple currency conversion between the euro and dollar, which has also been climbing steadily in the past year (after a sudden and sustained drop for the past three) and is now nearly at its year-long high.

When it comes to the US market though, currency fluctuations are only part of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the pricing programs put together by motorcycle manufacturers.

Motorcycle manufacturers subsidize (and inflate) their prices for the US market, based on the goals of the company, and Ducati is no different.

For European manufacturers too, it is important to understand a fundamental difference in economics: that pricing in Europe reflects a value-added tax (VAT), which is typically close to 20% for motorcycles - an inflation of consumer cost that doesn't occur in the United States.

That being said, in the same breath I should mention that sometimes tariffs come into play for the US market...but that's a whole different story. For now, let's stick to how Ducati superbike prices have climbed over $6,000 in just over 10 years' time.

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Return of the Honda V4 Superbike Rumor

12/06/2017 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Call it the rumor the refuses to quit. I say this because there has been some form of “Honda V4 Superbike Coming Soon” speculation in the mix for about as long as I can remember.

Mind you, this is something that has been in the ether well before Asphalt & Rubber took form, and news of a Honda V4 superbike seems to pop-up just about every year, usually fuel by some “inside source” at Honda being quoted by a European magazine.

So, it seemed that the debut of the Honda RC213V-S would finally satiate this desire for a proper V4 liter-bike, but the disappoint of the “new” Honda CBR1000RR re-ignited the interest in there being a worthy successor of the Honda RC45.

Since then, there have been rumors and promises of a more affordable version of the Honda RC213V-S offered on the alter of moto-journalism, usually by the same offending sources. If only we could will this story to be true.

Cropping up yet again, this bout of the V4 rumor finds its beginnings in Japan now, with the popular Japanese publication Young Machine, tipping the idea.

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Oh Yes, The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Is USA Bound

12/01/2017 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Good news sport bike fans, Kawasaki USA in its infinite wisdom has decided to bring the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE to the United States for the 2018 model year.

Debuted at this year’s EICMA show, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE takes the potent superbike and most notably adds Showa’s new semi-active suspension to the package.

Other perks include the seven-spoke forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, found already on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, as well as an up/down quickshifter.

Like what you hear? Well brace yourself…If you want a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE in your garage, you are going to need to shell out $21,899 MSRP for it.

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XXX: The Ducati Panigale V4 with Its Clothes Off

11/05/2017 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

While on the exterior, there might seem to be a great deal of similarities between the Ducati Panigale V4 and its predecessor the Ducati 1299 Panigale, stripping away the bodywork shows that the relation is mostly skin deep.

Yes, the “frameless” chassis design remains, and yes the exhaust routing for the four-cylinder machine mimics that on the twin-cylinder bike, but there are noticeable, even critical differences between Ducati’s superbikes, which should translate to meaningful differences on the race track.

The most obvious is how raked back the Desmosedici Stradale engine sits within the Panigale V4 chassis, which measures at 42° from parallel – the same as the Italian company’s V4-powered MotoGP race bike. No coincidence there.

This allows for the “front frame” to become a much longer lever, and attach to the motorcycle in more conventional mounting points. Both of these factors can contribute to making the Panigale V4 handle better on the race track, and provide better rider feedback – a common complaint of the old design.

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The reactions to the new Ducati Panigale V4 debuting at the EICMA show seem to be split, with some Ducatisti excited to see what the new V4 platform can bring to the table, while others are less-enthused about the movement away from Ducati’s v-twin tradition, and the V4’s very similar aesthetic to its predecessor.

Wherever you fall on that spectrum, the Panigale V4 looks the business on paper in terms of power, weight, and electronics. Helping whet our superbike appetites further, Ducati has posted a video of the company’s test riders flogging the 1,103cc machine around the Mugello circuit.

Get ready for the ripping and the tearing, because this is what 214 horses of desmodromic power looks like when its shredding Pirelli tires at speed (we can’t even fathom what 226hp looks like). Love it or hate, this looks like an epic bike to ride.

Oh, we through in some ultra high-resolution shots of the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 S too, just for good measure. You’re welcome.

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Ducati 959 Panigale Corse Debuts for 2018

11/05/2017 @ 3:19 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

What you are looking at is the Ducati 959 Panigale Corse, a special edition version of the Italian brand’s “middleweight” superbike, which is coming for the 2018 model year.

Debuting today, just ahead of the 2017 EICMA show in Milan, the new Ducati 959 Panigale Corse draws an obvious visual line to Ducati’s MotoGP program with its matching livery, but it also comes with a few smart upgrades as well, making it worth more than a second glance.

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