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.

Vespa Elettrica – An Icon Goes Electric

11/08/2016 @ 11:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS


When it comes to scooters, no name is better known than Vespa, as the iconic Italian brand is recognizable around the world, with 18 million scooters carrying the Vespa name in cities globally.

It is of note then that Vespa has jumped onto the electric bandwagon, and unveiled its first electric scooter this week at EICMA. As such, we get our first look today of the Vespa Elettrica, which will be for sale in the latter part of 2017.

Not quite ready for production at this time though, Vespa says that it will be working with leaders in the electric drivetrain business to develop the Elettrica, making the scooter shown at EICMA more of a concept than a finalized vehicle.

However, the Italian company promises that the Vespa Elettrica will continue to bring the attributes the brand is known best for – which in our mind hinges mostly on its classic Italian styling. To that goal, we say mission accomplished.

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The 2015 EICMA show is finally over, and of course the guys from the Two Enthusiasts Podcast have something to say about everything that was unveiled in Milan. There is so much to talk about, in fact, that we had to break up the EICMA coverage into two separate shows.

So first up is Episode 9, which is Part 1 of our EICMA round-up. It covers all the happenings from the Italian OEMs: Aprilia, Benelli, Bimota, Ducati, Energica, Moto Guzzi, and MV Agusta.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 (Episode 10), which should debut on Wednesday, and will feature an in-depth discussion on the rest of the OEMs. Yes, that means double the Two Enthusiasts Podcast goodness for this week. Booyah!

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The EICMA show is nearly upon us, so Quentin and Jensen walk us through what bikes are expected to debut in Italy, and what bikes the pair would like to see at the show. It’s a pretty exhaustive overview recording, and thus a little longer than the normal Two Enthusiasts Podcast, but we don’t think you’ll mind.

There’s some good stuff in Episode 8 you won’t want to miss, and it expands on our EICMA show preview story, though pre-dates it. Obviously some news has come out since this show’s recording, but we seem to be pretty good a predicting some things. Take a lesson, and get ready for EICMA starting on Monday.

As always, 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. Cheers!

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Your Definitive Guide to the 2015 EICMA Show

11/13/2015 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS


We are already feeling the early effects of the EICMA show in Milan, Italy – easily the most important trade event for the motorcycle industry.

EICMA is where many of the next year’s new models are released, not to mention the show serves as a platform for much of the yearly business that occurs in the motorcycle industry, especially in Europe.

For us in the media, EICMA is a cross between a marathon and Christmas, a plethora of days where articles surge as we see the launching of so many new models. It can be a lot to take in, but it is always exciting to see what the manufacturers have been working on for the past year(s).

To help you keep track of everything, and to help guide your expectations, we have put together this exhaustive list of all the models we expect to see at EICMA. Let the holiday season begin!

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A&R’s EICMA 2012 Best in Show: Vespa 946

11/16/2012 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

It is no easy feat in picking the very “best” from a wide array of motorcycles, like we have to do here with the 2012 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. How do you compare an adventure-touring bike to a sport bike, and then declare one better than the other? As you can imagine, the comparison is very much an exercise in measuring apples to oranges.

If our metric of choice was simply based on how much buzz was generated here on Asphalt & Rubber, and on the various social media networks as a whole, then the clear winner would be the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype. With a bored-out RC8 R motor that makes 180hp, the KTM surely performs as good as it look, and it looks quite delectable indeed.

Maybe the best bike of the show should go to the now water-cooled Ducati Hypermotard, or its touring variant the Ducati Hyperstrada. Doing away with the air-cooled DesmoDue design of Pierre Terblanche, the 2013 Hypers are a new chapter for Ducati, and just further proof that there are no sacred cows in the Borgo Panigale factory. Speaking of Panigales, we also have to consider the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, of course if that conversation is to occur, then we have to also include the Aprilia RSV4 Factory ABS.

You see it is no easy feat to pick the “Best in Show” at EICMA, and in even our short thought-process above, there are names that are glaringly omitted. What makes the process possible however is when a new model comes along, and clearly outshines everything else — such is the case with the Vespa 946.

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The North American distributor for the Piaggio Group (PGA) has released pricing and availability info for the company’s 2011 range of motorcycles and scooters for the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, and Piaggio brands. While most of the scooters are immediately available, many of the big bikes will come in the first half or middle of 2011. Noticeably absent from the pricing and availability sheet are the 2011 Aprilia Tuono V4 R & 2011 Aprilia RS4 125, but the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory SE ($22,499 MSRP/mid-2011) is listed along with the base model RSV4 R ($15,000/mid-2011). Check after the jump for a full breakdown of prices and availability times.

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Piaggio Group Sales Up 11% in Q1 2010

04/30/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Piaggio Group is reporting an 11.2% increase in its first quarter 2010 sales across its motorcycle and scooter subsidiaries compared to last year’s numbers. The group netted  €2.9 million for Q1, which is noticable increase from its €4.7 million loss in Q1 of 2009. For motorcycle sales alone, the company saw a 12.4% increase unit sales, with the European market leading the charge.

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Brammo Anti-Scooter in 60 Days

09/21/2009 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS


Just a few weeks ago, Brammo began rolling-out their program to sell Enertia electric motorcycles at Best Buy’s along the west coast. Most companies would be content to rest on this accomplishment and catch their breath, but not the folks in Ashland, Oregon.

Maybe it’s all that clean-air they’re breathing, or there’s something in the water; either way, we’re happy to report that in the nexy 60 days or so, you’ll see a new product announcement from Brammo, secretly dubbed “The Anti-Scooter”.

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Carbon Fiber Vespa Scooter at the Milan Design Week

05/08/2009 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS


When one talks about Milan, Italy, it envokes the idea of high fashion, models, runway exhibtions, and the yearly EICMA motorcycle expo. OK, that last one may only occur for the die-hard motorcyclists, but the rest hold fairly true for just about everyone else. The Milan Design Week is a celebration of both artistic and technical design, and this year, Bimota made some waves with its carbon clade DB7 Nerocaronio. But, carbon fiber Bimota’s are a dime a dozen these days.

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