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.

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.

The sad fact is, you likely won’t ever ride a MotoGP bike in your lifetime. Even the best of us, those who become professional motorcycle racers, have such a slim chance of riding these ultralight fire-breathing race bikes, which make north of 250hp.

When you start doing the math on the number of people who have ridden a MotoGP machine, the number is certainly less than the number of people who have been into space (533 have reached Earth’s orbit, by our last count), and this is fairly remarkable.

So with that woeful fact in mind, today we bring you an experience that is likely the closest you will get to riding a MotoGP bike, courtesy of some basic VR technology.

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More on How the Yamaha Niken Three-Wheeler Works

03/07/2018 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I find the Yamaha Niken to be the most intriguing motorcycle (and I use that word loosely) to debut for the 2018 model year. It is probably the model I most look forward to riding this year, from all of those that debuted at this year’s EICMA show (riding the Ducati Panigale V4 S didn’t suck, however).

What Yamaha calls a leaning multi-wheel (LMW) vehicle, this three-wheeler promises more stability than a traditional motorcycle, while still providing the rider the same amount of fun.

Take one look at the Niken though, and you can tell that the Yamaha engineers were quite busy in making it all work as planned. An elegant solution, this is not. But, the Niken is still fascinating from an engineering perspective.

Thankfully, Yamaha has taken the time to explain more clearly just all the technology that has gone into making the Niken lean, steer, and move like a motorcycle…despite having an extra wheel on the front-end.

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I can tell you from personal experience that Casey Stoner is not one to mince words.

The two-time World Champion’s direct and sometimes confrontational approach to interpersonal conversations was at times difficult for MotoGP fans to get behind, but on the brightside, one always knew exactly were they stood in Stoner’s opinions.

Maybe that is why it is interesting to hear Stoner talking about the latest superbike from Ducati, the Panigale V4. Riding it around Valencia, the same venue where we tested the Ducati Panigale V4 S earlier this year, Stoner gives his fairly insightful thoughts on the 1,100cc machine.

The short version? The Australian was quite impressed with the new V4, though admittedly it still wasn’t up to the standards of his former MotoGP ride.

One can hardly blame Casey though, he does have a slightly different perspective than most, which is why he is one of our favorite GP riders of all time. Though, we should point out, he is technically a Ducati employee, so maybe that skews the perspective as well…

On a side note and for those keeping track, photos of this pre-launch test were “leaked” ahead of the Panigale V4’s debut at EICMA.

Looking at this video now, it seemingly confirms our suspicion that Ducati leaked the photos itself, as they are exact image captures from the video footage used here. Such is how the sausage gets made.

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This Is the Luckiest Crash I Have Ever Seen

02/27/2018 @ 9:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I have seen a few nasty crashes in my day, and not all of them have had positive outcomes. So, when I say that this is the luckiest crash that I have seen in motorcycle riding, it should carry some weight.

This video comes from motorcycle vlogger Hammy Moto, and it is taken as he rides down a Southern California freeway. For reasons that aren’t clear from our point-of-view in the video, Hammy Moto’s Kawasaki Z1000 begins to have a violent headshake, before finally crashing while near a tractor-trailer.

What happens next is where things get crazy, as Hammy Moto and his bike go sliding across the asphalt, right under the trailer. Popping out the other side, Hammy Moto narrowly misses all the wheels on the trailer, and walks away with just a little road rash to show for the experience.

It is a one-in-a-million occurrence to miss being run-over by the semi in a situation like the one shown. Dudeman is lucky to be alive. Always wear you gear.

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The Miracle That Is Cornering ABS, Explained

02/15/2018 @ 11:27 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Cornering ABS, it’s the hot new thing on motorcycles rights now. So important is this braking technology, one industry CEO explained it to me in the following terms: in terms of safety, it does to the front wheel what traction control has done for the rear wheel.

I won’t make the bold statement that IMU-powered (that’s inertial measurement units for the uninitiated) braking systems make it impossible to tuck the front wheel of a motorcycle, but they do make it exceedingly difficult to do so, especially by use of the brakes.

Not surprisingly then, we see a number of motorcycle brands offering this technology now, usually on their more premium models. KTM was the first do so, getting an exclusive from Bosch, one of the leaders in this space.

Since then though, cornering ABS has come to virtually every brand (strangely, none of the American motorcycle brands offer a motorcycle with cornering ABS right now), and we see several players offering systems to these OEMs, with Bosch and Continental leading the pack.

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Triumph All But Shows Us the New Speed Triple RS

02/01/2018 @ 3:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We continue our wait for the updated Triumph Speed Triple, which our sources say will be getting a mild refresh (more power, less weight, electronics, etc), similar to what we’ve seen with the rest of Triumph’s modern sport bike lineup (Street Triple, Tiger 800, and Tiger 1200).

To help tease us into this “new” model, Triumph has enlisted the help of two pretty famous blokes: Carl Fogarty and Gary Johnson.

In their teaser video, the two racers duke it out in some sort of race through an airfield, which is fine and all, but in the process of it, Triumph gives a pretty good glimpse of the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS.

The overall design of the new RS model is pretty close to the 2017 edition, though a couple subtle changes are noticeable. We will get full details next week. Until then…

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A New Triumph Speed Triple is Coming…Finally!

01/25/2018 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I never thought this day would come, a day where Triumph finally updates its venerable Speed Triple. The three-cylinder streetfighter has long held its own, but it has also seen the super-naked category walk away from the British model over the past 13 years of its sloth.

Yes, there have been updates over the past decade or so, but the model hasn’t strayed too far from its original form from 2005. That is set to change however, as a teaser video and CARB filings give us word that a new Triumph Speed Triple is on the way.

Judging from the video that Triumph released, we don’t think that the new Speed Triple will be a revolutionary change. The chassis seems relatively similar to the previous edition, and the overall design seems roughly the same.

Meanwhile, CARB filings show that the engine size will remain 1050cc and that the trim levels will be designated as “R” and “RS”. We can expect more power and other internal changes though, as Triumph chases machines like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R and Aprilia Tuono V4 1100.

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How To Make a Kalex Moto2 Chassis

01/10/2018 @ 1:02 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

If you want to go racing in the Moto2 World Championship, then you better grab yourself a chassis from the German engineering brand. This is because the “Kalex Cup” – as some have come to call it – sees a grid replete with Kalex-framed machines each racing Sunday.

Some of this is a nod to the fine work that Kalex produces, I have yet to see anyone with a wholly negative view of the company’s work. But, a portion of the brand’s dominance is surely due to the conservative nature of motorcycle racing teams.

That is to say that while the Kalex chassis is certainly very good, that does not mean that other worthy alternative do not exist. Racing doesn’t always improve the breed, you see. We digress.

Still, making a racing chassis is no small undertaking, and Kalex is one of the best in the business. Certainly a large part of it is science, but there is a certain art to the process as well.

Thankfully, Kalex has put together a short video showing how they make their Moto2 chassis. It’s pretty interesting to watch.

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The TVS Apache RR 310S Is Finally About to Drop

12/05/2017 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We have been patiently waiting for the TVS Apache RR 310S (formerly known as the TVS Akula 310) to debut in India, though probably not for the most obvious of reasons. Now, with only a matter of hours before it officially debuts, we have some thoughts on the newest sport bike from India.

While we are intrigued by the new motorcycles that debut in India, the TVS Apache RR 310S is a bit more special for Western riders.

Built in collaboration with BMW Motorrad, the TVS Apache RR 310S gives us our first glimpse into what the German brand’s 300cc-class sport bike will look like, which should hopefully debut late-2018.

Based around the same 313cc engine (34hp) that is found on the BMW G310R and BMW G310GS, that TVS Apache RR 310S is expected to be a BMW G310RR wrapped in different bodywork.

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Get Ready for the 2018 Dakar Rally

12/04/2017 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Track days are winding down, the new machines for next year have already been revealed, and the cold of winter is upon us. For the motorcycle industry, this is the low-point of the season.

There is something to look forward to in the off-season, however, and it’s the Dakar Rally.

In just about one month’s time, the world’s top off-road racers will take part in what is called the most grueling motorcycle race on the planet.

The 2018 Dakar Rally is the 40th edition of the iconic rally raid, and once again it will take place far from its namesake, with competitors racing through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.

This year’s route will take racers to the Pacific Ocean, through the Huacachina sand dunes, and beyond, until they finish in Córdoba.

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