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.

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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What Happened to the Triumph Daytona 675?

03/16/2018 @ 2:49 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you go to Triumph’s North American website, you will notice that the Daytona 675 is missing from the lineup. Similarly, the three-cylinder supersport machine is nowhere to be found on the Triumph Motorcycles UK site.

And even an intrepid look at Triumph Japan, Triumph India, and Triumph Brazil websites gives no joy, despite the latter’s still having the now defunct Tiger 1050 model. So what’s the beans?

The answer of course is the Euro4 homologation standard, which came into play for the 2016 model year, and has been killing motorcycle models ever since.

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Gone Riding: Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

02/25/2018 @ 9:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Riding bikes is what we do, and the dude abides, so I am out here in Moab, Utah swinging a leg over the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa – the British brand’s fully loaded middleweight off-road focused adventure-touring bike.

Kitted with extra goodness, the XCa is the more premium counterpart to Triumph’s other off-road 800cc model, the Tiger 800 XRx…and if you are confused by Hinckley’s alphabet soup, don’t worry, you are not alone.

To be clear, the Tiger 800 XCa is the fully-loaded off-road model, complete with a 21″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel. It includes also things like a heated seat and grips, an aluminum radiator guard, and LED lighting, 

New for the 2018 model year is a bevy of updates, namely a revised dash and smoother three-cylinder engine. Triumph says that there are over 200 changes to the Tiger 800, though you would have a hard time seeing them. This truly a model refresh, not a new machine.

Still, these are welcomed updates to the class-leader, and I have high hopes for riding the XCa on Moab’s dusty and dirty trails – the previous edition was a very capable off-roader, after all.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Triumph personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Two Enthusiasts Podcast #71 – Chapless Apps

02/23/2018 @ 1:43 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 71 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is our first recording in 2018, and the show is an absolute classic. It is also the first show where I’ve left in all of Quentin’s constant throat-clearings, just so everyone knows why it takes forever to edit this things (not really, I’m just lazy).

The show catches us up on some recent industry news, namely a bevy of stories from Harley-Davidson, including the closure of the York plant and the upcoming electric motorcycle from the Bar & Shield brand.

We also talk a bit about Triumph’s recently revamped motorcycles, as well as the results from this year’s edition The Dakar race in South America. We then get into some blasphemy, and discuss why the Britten V1000 might be the most overrated motorcycle in two-wheeled history.

The show finishes with a look a Honda’s partnership with Forever 21 and what it could mean for the US motorcycle industry.

It’s an entertaining and interesting show, with a plenty of topics that we think will spur some conversations in the comments section. So, bring a bulletproof vest, and brace for impact.

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. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address:

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The original factory streetfighter, the Triumph Speed Triple latched motorcycling’s punk movement in 1994, and never looked back.

Now for the 2018 model year, the British brand is updating its venerable streetfighter – dragging the Speed Triple into the digital age with a bevy of electronic updates. and other technical improvements.

With more power (148 hp), more torque (86 lbs•ft), and less weight (467 lbs wet), it is evolution, not revolution for the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple, which comes in two varieties, the S model and the RS model.

Triumph claims over 100 changes have occurred inside the Speed Triple’s 1050cc three-cylinder engine cases, most of them to help the triple rev-up quicker and to achieve its higher redline of 10,500 rpm (+1,000 rpm higher than the previous model).

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.

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2018 Triumph Speed Triple Pricing Revealed

02/19/2018 @ 7:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We were supposed to wait another week until we heard pricing for the new Triumph Speed Triple, but the British brand spilled the beans early to the assembled press, at the bike’s international press launch in Almería, Spain.

Revamped for this model year, the new Triumph Speed Triple is really an evolution of the previous model, but adds some important upgrades to the original production streetfighter – namely a robust electronics suite and a more powerful 1050cc engine.

As such, we have prices for the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple S and 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS for the US market, and Hinckley has done a good job of keeping this venerable streetfighter competitive against the field, both in terms of features and costs.

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Gone Riding: Triumph Speed Triple RS

02/18/2018 @ 11:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I just saw that it is snowing back home in Portland, so a very sunny hello from Spain, where we have flown to ride the new Triumph Speed Triple RS.

An update over the previous model, Triumph is boasting over 100 new pieces for the engine alone (along with a power bump to 148hp), but one quick look at this venerable streetfighter and it is obvious to see that it is evolution over revolution here for the Speed Triple.

That is not to say that Triumph hasn’t brought some meaningful updates to its awkwardly styled – yet beloved – machine, which should help the Speed Triple RS stack up very nicely against the very competitive models in the streetfighter segment.

The inclusion of IMU-powered traction control and brakes (RS model only) is the first major change made to aid that effort. The electronics suite is similarly robust with a ride-by-wire throttle, different power modes, and a 5″ TFT dash – keep things felling modern.

Helping earn the “RS” badge is OEM-spec Öhlins suspension, as well as an Arrow exhaust. Carbon fiber bodywork also comes on the RS model.

To test the new Speed Triple RS, Triumph has a two-fer for us today, riding on the streets of Spain, and then heading to the Circuito de Almería.

I’ve heard good things about Almería, so the day’s riding should be a perfect example of what one does with a dank-whoolie monster, such as the Speed Triple RS.

I was a big fan of the outgoing model, so I have high hopes for the 2018 edition, especially now that it stacks up better against the competition on the spec-sheet. The streetfighter segment is incredibly fierce though, and Triumph has some stiff competition, which means grading will be tough and merciless.

Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the new Triumph Speed Triple RS right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Triumph Speed Triple RS, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Triumph personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags: #Triumph & #SpeedTripleRS

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Triumph Thruxton Recalled for Engine Stalls

02/07/2018 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Triumph Thruxton line is getting recalled today, for an issue that can cause the engine to stall. The recall affects 2,824 Thruxtons (both base model and R models), built for the 2016 through 2018 model years.

Specifically, the engine stall occurs when the throttle is opened or closed quickly, while the clutch lever is pulled in. Updating the bike’s ECU fixes this problem, according to Triumph, and helps stabilize the engine idle speed in this situations.

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Mega Gallery: Triumph Speed Triple

02/05/2018 @ 2:35 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Want a better look at the new Triumph Speed Triple that debuted today for the 2018 model year? Don’t you worry, Asphalt & Rubber has you covered.

Revamping the 1050cc platform, the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple S and 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS represent Triumph’s ongoing evolution to its modern motorcycle lineup, with the Street Triple, Tiger 800, and Tiger 1200 models also seeing mild refreshes for 2018.

A bike that literally created the streetfighter segment for production motorcycles, the Speed Triple has fallen behind to offerings like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R and Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR, and its dual-headlight aesthetic being not the only thing that has remained constant on the three-cylinder sport bike.

The British brand hopes to change that with this latest iteration of the Speed Triple, which includes IMU-powered electronics (RS model) and a modest 13hp power increase.

That might be a tall order for this iconic model, but it at least propels the Triumph Speed Triple lineup into the 21st century.

Always a popular machine with street riders, Triumph at the very least has given two-wheeled enthusiasts a reason to consider the Speed Triple S and Speed Triple RS, when considering the purchase of a dank-whoolie monster for their garage.

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Say Hello to the New Triumph Speed Triple RS

02/05/2018 @ 1:52 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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.

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