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.

For the 2018 model year, we see one of our favorite bikes in the Ducati lineup getting the 1260 update. We are of course talking about the 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak.

The Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak takes its name from one of America’s oldest racing venues, and as a result it is the sportiest version of Ducati’s adventure-touring machines.

Now fitted with Ducati’s Testastretta DVT 1262 engine, the Multistrada 1260 S Pikes Peak makes 85% of its torque below 3,500 rpm on the v-twin engine. That is a good thing, because Ducati says the bulk of Multistrada owners rarely get above 6,000 rpm on their machines.

This makes the 1,262cc engine the perfect candidate for low-revving excursions, like the ones you would take down a dusty fire road. For the sports-focused Pikes Peak model, the choice is a little bit more curious, but we won’t scuff at the 158hp on tap.

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For the 2018 model year, the Ducati Multistrada gets a bevy of updates, and thus becomes the Ducati Multistrada 1260. As the name change suggests, the new Italian ADV machine features the 1,262cc DVT engine, previously found only on the Ducati XDiavel.

The changes for the 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 extend beyond just the motor though, and if you look closely, you will see that Ducati’s engineers have made several tweaks and changes to the Multistrada 1200’s steel trellis chassis.

Of course, what people are really going to talk about is the much anticipated Testastretta DVT 1262, which makes 158hp in its Multistrada 1260 form.

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Variable Valves Coming to the BMW R1200GS?

07/25/2017 @ 4:25 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

While the current crop of BMW R1200GS model motorcycles are being recalled for issues with their front suspension, the future of the venerable GS line continues to evolve, as Motorrad Magazine is reporting that the boxer-twin engine that powers the R-series will be getting variable valve timing (VVT).

Motorrad is also reporting that the engine displacement will also see a bump, up from 1,170cc to 1,250cc for the next-generation of R-series machines, which should mean that the water-cooled motor should get a healthy (and much needed) bump in power, to help compete in this hotly contested segment.

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A Short Review of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000

04/27/2017 @ 4:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler53 COMMENTS

Finally returning to the sportbike segment, Suzuki enters the 2017 model year with a brand new GSX-R1000 superbike – and when we say “all new” we truly mean it. This is because the only thing that the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 carries over from its predecessor is the logo on the fuel tank.

With much to like about the previous generation machine, new doesn’t necessarily mean better. So, to see how the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 goes around a race track, we headed to America’s premier racing facility, the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. 

For our purposes, COTA is the perfect pressure test for a motorcycle like the Suzuki GSX-R1000. If you didn’t keep up with our live blogging from the event, we had a perfect day in Texas to see what the new GSX-R1000 has to offer.

Host to America’s sole MotoGP round, COTA has been built with long stretches that test straight-line speed; it has quick-transitioning esses that test handling, fast sweepers that test the motorcycle’s feedback to the rider; hard-braking zones that test the stability of the entire rolling chassis; and there is plenty of elevation and camber for the electronics to handle.

Put through the demanding gauntlet that COTA offers a motorcycle, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 proved that the Japanese brand hasn’t forgotten how to make a potent superbike. But what about regaining its crown, as the King of Sportbikes? Continue reading to find out.

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Yamaha YZF-R15 Gets Updated with Variable Valves

03/31/2017 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

What you see here is the very unassuming 2017 Yamaha YZF-R15, a 155cc single-cylinder sport bike that was designed with the Asian market in mind – as such, the bike will debut in Indonesia in April 2017, and the rest of the ASEAN market later this year.

Hold on before you click through though, as while the R15 might be too small by our Western market standards, the new Yamaha YZF-R15 packs some interesting technology, namely Yamaha’s variable valve actuation (VVA).

Because of this technology, Yamaha says that the 2017 model of the YZF-R15 achieves a 18% increase in power output (19hp in total), and a 4.7% increase in fuel efficiency, all from its 3% engine displacement increase and with the VVA technology.

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The All New 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Finally Debuts

10/04/2016 @ 4:01 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS


We have had to wait nearly an entire year for Suzuki to finalize and release its new superbike, after first teasing us at the 2016 EIMCA show with it. But today at INTERMOT, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is finally ready for primetime.

Because Suzuki already teased us the new GSX-R1000 a year ago, much about the machine is already known. But, for a proper plot twist, there will in fact be two variations of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 for 2017, with a higher spec 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R debuting as well.

For the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 base model, of course everything is brand new. The inline-four engine on this liter-bike features a variable valve timing (VVT), a first in the superbike segment. Peak power is just shy of 200hp, with Suzuki claiming 199hp and 86.7 lbs•ft of torque.

The crown jewel of the electronics package is a six-axis IMU, which brings a 10-level traction control system, riding modes, cornering ABS, launch control, up-and-down quickshifts to the once “King of Superbikes” (the latter three items being on the GSXR-1000R).

With a wet weight of 441 lbs, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is in the hunt to reclaim that crown, making this a strong return for the Japanese brand in the superbike segment.

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The Massive 2016 MotoGP Rule Update

01/08/2016 @ 2:14 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS


With major changes to the technical regulations for MotoGP in 2016, it has taken some time for the FIM to produce a new and revised version of the rulebook.

The first provisional version was made available today, the new rules bringing together all of the new rules agreed over the past few years into a single set of regulations.

Most of the new rules have already been written about during the year, but putting them into a single rulebook helped clarify them greatly.

The biggest changes are to the technical regulations. The abolition of the Open class means everyone is back on a single set of rules. Or rather, nearly everyone.

There are still two types of manufacturers: manufacturers subject to the standard rules, and manufacturers who have not yet had sufficient success, and therefore have been granted a number of concessions.

Those concessions are more limited than the Open class, though, and relate now only to testing and to engine development. Everyone will have the same amount of fuel, the same tire allocation, and everyone will use the same electronics, the spec hardware and the unified software.

Though many fans are disappointed that there isn’t just a single set of rules, the concessions which remain are absolutely vital to the long-term health of the series.

With Honda, Yamaha, and since last year, Ducati, all subject to a freeze on engine development and limited testing, Suzuki and Aprilia (and KTM, when they join the series in 2017) stand a chance of cutting the gap to the more successful factories.

Without concessions, the smaller factories wouldn’t stand a chance of catching the others, especially not a factory with almost limitless resources like Honda. Indeed, without the concessions granted to Ducati, there is a very good chance the Italian factory would have left MotoGP in 2014, after three long years without results.

The previous era, when the factories all competed under a single set of rules, ended up with just 17 bikes on the grid, and manufacturers showing more interest in leaving MotoGP than in joining. That situation has been completely reversed.

A more intriguing change has been the introduction of clear rules on the safety equipment to be used by riders. Back protectors and chest protectors are now compulsory, and minimum standards have been imposed for helmets, leathers, boots and gloves.

Rider safety equipment will now be much more closely regulated and monitored.

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As we predicted, Suzuki has debuted a new Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike at the EICMA show, though before you get your hopes too high, we should preface that the model is actually the Suzuki GSX-R1000 concept.

Suzuki clearly isn’t ready to bring the GSX-R1000 to market in-time for the 2016 model year, and our sources tell us that the Suzuki GSX-R1000 Concept will in fact be the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, which will debut in the second half of 2016.

That being said, the news is an exciting development from Suzuki, which says that the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 is the lightest and most powerful superbike ever from the Japanese manufacturer. To our eye, it looks to be the most advanced as well.

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Watch Ducati Assemble the New Multistrada 1200

03/05/2015 @ 3:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS


When you think about the assembly process involved in making a motorcycle, it is pretty staggering. Not only do Ducati engineers have the task of making the best motorcycle possible, but they also need to design the machine to be easily built by the factory workers at Borgo Panigale.

Which parts should go on before the next? where a cable should be routed through the frame and bodywork? The planning that must go into building out an assembly line is certainly an undertaking I would not want to have.

So while the latest video from Ducati is perhaps not the most ouvertly entertaining, it is certainly impressive nonetheless to watch Italy’s finest assemblying a 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200.

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2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 – A New Face in ADV

11/03/2014 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS


Confirming the news we broke last month, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 has been reworked for the 2015 model year, getting a major facelift, along with Ducati’s Testastretta DVT engine with variable valve timing.

The new Ducati Multistrada is also fitted with the Bosch MSC “cornering ABS” package, and thanks to its Intertial Measurement Unit (IMU), the Multistrada can brake more effectively and use cornering LED light (DCL) technology.

The IMU also help reduce wheelies, with the Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) system. Like with the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) there are eight-levels of adjustability to the DWC parameters, helping riders dial-in how high they want the front wheel to loft.

Lastly, the IMU helps improve the function of the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS). Our last acronym is ECC, for the electronic cruise control system, which has also been added to the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200.

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