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.

Up-Close with the Suter MMX 500

07/10/2017 @ 9:55 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

By my nature, I am a critical person. This isn’t exactly a desirable personality trait, but it serves me well in my chosen profession. Accordingly, I rarely ever use words like “perfect” or “flawless” when describing something. It’s just not in my nature.

From my lens, there is always room for improvement. But, when it comes to seeing the Suter MMX 500 up-close and in person, I had to rethink my usual choice of words. I will sidestep superlatives and simply say that the Suter MMX 500 is a true rider’s motorcycle.

On the Suter MMX 500, there are no electronic rider aids, no ride-by-wire throttles, no kickstands, mirrors, or lights. There is nothing on this machine that doesn’t serve a purpose, and the only acceptable purpose is to go as fast as possible.

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As far as venues go, there might not be a better place on Earth to launch a new motorcycle than Pebble Beach, California – that is, if you are into the whole breath-taking view sort of thing.

The party of course was for Ducati’s last v-twin superbike, the aptly named Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition, which is part Superleggera, part road bike, and part spaghetti dinner.

Clad in a the an Italian tricolore livery, the Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition puts out a potent 209hp, and features some of the best pieces of Ducati’s v-twin superbike lineage – part of a long goodbye to the desmodromic v-twin platform.

Not a limited edition bike, but instead a numbered edition machine, Ducati plans on making the Panigale R Final Edition models for as long as there is consumer demand for the superbike (and while there are enough numbers to count them by).

For American Ducatisti, owning one will mean a $40,000 commitment, which isn’t such a lofty price tag, if you considered its half the cost of the carbon-fiber-everything Ducati 1299 Superleggera.

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Up-Close with the MV Agusta Brutale 800 America

07/07/2017 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Getting in a little early at Laguna Seca for the World Superbike round, Asphalt & Rubber was treated to an exclusive look at the new MV Agusta Brutale 800 America, the special edition street bike from Varese, Italy that debuted last week.

The darkly lit pictures that MV Agusta showed us last week, and even the ones that we have here, don’t do this limited-edition bike justice, as the colors pop and match perfectly in the sunlight.

I was actually surprised at how different the bike looked in person, as the machine really comes together when you see it first-hand, and not on a computer screen.

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Up-Close with the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6

03/27/2017 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen Beeler75 COMMENTS

The 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 is more than just “bold new plastics” as one A&R commenter said, with traction control, ABS, new suspension, and R1-esque bodywork being added to the supersport machine – among other changes.

Still very much “evolution” rather than “revolution” for the Japanese manufacturer, the Yamaha R6 however is a very striking machine, visually, and that’s what we wanted to share with you today.

Yamaha isn’t shy that the R6 gets its look from its older sibling, the YZF-R1, with both bikes sharing a number of visual elements: MotoGP-inspired air intake, koi fish headlights on the fairing, vented tail section, and sinister LED marker lights – just to name a few.

The effect though is perhaps the most dramatic change to the venerable supersport, as it takes the 12-year-old design for the YZF-R6 and gives it a modern look and feel.

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Up-Close with the Ducati 1299 Superleggera

11/10/2016 @ 1:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1299 Superleggera is easily the bike of the 2016 EICMA show, and it is the first production motorcycle with a carbon fiber chassis.

On top of that accolade, the 1299 Superleggera is the lightest and most powerful superbike ever created by Ducati, making 220hp and weighing 162kg at the curb, when the track-only race kit is installed.

Every detail of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera serves the purpose of making the motorcycle faster, and each piece has been shaved to find ever ounce possible in weight savings. It helps too that the Ducati 1299 Superleggera is a looker too.

As such, we have some up-close photos of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera, for those who cannot experience the machine in the flesh. Enjoy!

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Up-Close with the KTM 790 Duke Prototype

11/09/2016 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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One of the machines that caught our eye at this year’s EICMA show in Milan is the KTM 790 Duke Prototype. Powered by an all-new 800cc parallel-twin engine that’s being developed by the Austrian brand, the KTM 790 Duke adds an interesting dimension to the Duke line of street bikes.

Fitting in between the single-cylinder KTM 690 Duke and the v-twin powered KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the KTM 790 Duke with its parallel-twin engine will hopefully provide riders with something neither of the other two machines provides.

Still, we are curious to see how KTM handles such an impacted lineup of street-hooning machines, especially as the 800cc market moves more towards a 900cc format, something the Husqvarna Nuda 900R designers understood. As with the Nuda, thinking outside of the 270° crankshaft angle might be of benefit for KTM.

Looking at the photos from EICMA, the design of the KTM 790 Duke prototype is striking, though we should expect as much from the folks at KISKA, especially after seeing the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype from a few years ago.

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Up-Close with the KTM 1290 Adventure S

10/06/2016 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It doesn’t look like 2017 KTM 1290 Adventure S is coming to the USA, but our European readers will enjoy the street-focused ADV bike, as it straddles somewhere between the touring-focused KTM 1290 Adventure T and the off-road shredding KTM 1290 Adventure R.

The KTM 1290 Adventure S offers a turnkey street bike with ample power (158hp), while the 19″/17″ dual-sport cast aluminum wheels give added off-road abilities.

KTM has also added semi-active suspension from WP, as well as traction control (with an off-road setting) and the Bosch cornering ABS package.

In reality, the 2017 KTM 1290 Adventure S helps the Austrian brand keep a strong hand on the 19-inch wheel portion of the adventure-touring segment, helping keep at bay bikes like the potent Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro and the BMW R1200GS.

With a revised look for the 2017 model year, and all the promise the previous model years have shown, we expect sales to be strong for the KTM 1290 Adventure S.

For our American readers, the photos after the jump may be as close as we get to this machine. Many thanks to our friends at MotoFire for sharing them with us.

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Up-Close with the Victory Electric IOMTT Race Bike

06/10/2015 @ 12:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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In less than 24 hours, the TT Zero race will be underway at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, which means that riders Lee Johnson and Guy Martin (who is substituting for the injured William Dunlop) will be putting the Victory Motorcycles electric race bike through its paces on the 37.773-mile Mountain Course.

If Victory’s entry looks familiar, it should, as it’s based off the Brammo Empulse RR. Brammo has made some improvements to the machine for Victory though, namely a reworked motor, new battery pack, and aerodynamic touches.

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Up-Close with the Kawasaki Ninja H2

11/11/2014 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

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With the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R putting out 300hp from its supercharged 998cc displacement, the 200hp Kawasaki Nina H2 street bike seems positively demure, by comparison.

Of course, any 200hp machine is more than a handful, and we doubt many H2 owners will keep their machines street legal for very long — it’s been explained to A&R that it doesn’t take much work to uncork the H2…we’re just not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though.

Ostentatious might be the best way to describe the new H2. Bringing back forced induction to the sport bike scene is a pretty bold move from Kawasaki, and something we will likely see more of from the Japanese manufacturers. The styling of the H2R was certainly…eye-catching…with all the winglets and dramatic lines, the H2 street bike is only slightly watered-down from that lurid design.

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Up-Close with the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200

11/10/2014 @ 11:08 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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If there’s a motorcycle that launched at EICMA that I wish we had given more coverage to, it would be the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200. The new adventure-sport machine from Ducati is all-new for the next model year, though it would be hard to tell it from the photos. Even our modest collection of “up-close” photos here don’t do justice to the venerable Multistrada.

The face of the Multistrada 1200 has been reworked, with the “beak” softened a bit from its falcon-like profile. The intake inlets are larger in appearance, and the headlight housing is noticeably different with its six LED projectors for the Ducati Corner Lights system  (on the “S” model).

This perhaps makes for an interesting “face” on the motorcycle, and like its predecessor, you will either love it or hate it.

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