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.

We interrupt this EICMA show coverage for an adjustment in semantics, as Yamaha Motor USA has informed as that going forward into the 2018 model year, the company’s lineup of “FZ” motorcycle models will go by the designation “MT” – thus aligning themselves with the rest of the Yamaha markets worldwide.

The FZ designation – used on the FZ-10, FZ-09, and FZ-07 – was always a curiosity when Yamaha started using “MT” back in 2005, though it likely stems from the name-recognition found with the very popular Yamaha FZ-1 at the time.

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Yamaha XSR700 Brings the Hip to the USA for 2018

09/21/2017 @ 6:23 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Announced today at the AIMExpo, Yamaha is bringing the XSR700 to the US soil, as the tuning fork brand sees an opportunity for the twin-cylinder heritage model in the land that brought hipsters their skinny jeans.

The choice must have been an easy one for the folks at Yamaha Motor USA, with the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-07 selling well here in the United States, and the XSR900 already being critically acclaimed by the US moto media.

Adding the Yamaha XSR700 to the 2018 model lineup seems like an obvious no-brainer for Yamaha, and we are happy to see it finally coming to the United States of America.

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Part of Yamaha’s 2016 EICMA show program includes a nod to the future, teasing us today with the Yamaha T7 concept. Picking up the torch where the Yamaha XT600Z Ténéré left off, the Yamaha T7 concept uses the same 270° parallel-twin engine found in the Yamaha MT-07/FZ-07 street bike.

Yamaha has wrapped that stout twin-cylidner engine in a brand new chassis that is suited for dual-spot riding, and hopes to focus its efforts on offering a middleweight adventure-tourer that is high on off-road brapping, and low on electronic wizardry.

This should appease those who complain about ADV bikes being too road focused and sophisticated for true adventure riding, and Yamaha hopes to use the T7 concept to develop a bike that meets this ethos, and is suitable for production, but also capable of proper rally raid riding.

As such, the Yamaha T7 is a fully functional prototype, and it is being developed with help from the Official Rally Team in France, Yamaha R&D in Italy, and GK Design in The Netherlands.

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Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

04/20/2016 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS


There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles.

As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride.

With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Using a similar chassis and the same motor as the MT-07 (that’s the FZ-07 for us Yanks), the Yamaha Tracer 700 adds a longer swingarm (+50mm), larger fuel tank (+3 liters), revised suspension settings, manually adjustable windscreen, a new seat and headlight, as well luggage options.

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FZ-07 Powered Yamaha Super Ténéré Spotted

04/14/2016 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS


It looks like Yamaha is getting ready to bring an updated Tiny Ténéré to market (photos here), giving ADV riders a new middleweight option in the Yamaha lineup. This is because spy photos from Europe show what looks like a adventure-tourer, powered by the 689cc FZ-07 parallel-twin engine.

If we do see a Yamaha XT700ZE enter the market, it would be a welcomed compliment to the 1200cc Yamaha Super Ténéré, and help the Japanese brand compete in the increasingly competitive ADV market, especially against brands that already have a ~800cc adventure model available.

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2016 Yamaha XSR700 – Hip Meets Modern Tech

07/22/2015 @ 1:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS


Yamaha’s new FZ/MT platform has been a home run for the Japanese brand, with both the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-07 selling well, here in the United States (the bikes sell around the rest of the world as the MT-09 and MT-07).

So how does Yamaha build on that success? How do they reach riders who aren’t looking for the modern naked aesthetic? Well, you give them what they want.

Meet the 2016 Yamaha XSR700. Underneath that retro-standard exterior resides the basic makings of the FZ-07. It’s the same 700cc parallel-twin engine with its 270° crankshaft mated to a new lightweight aluminum chassis.

The Yamaha XSR700 is the production version of Yamaha’s recently unveiled “Faster Sons” concept, and is an obvious offering to the hipster motorcycle crowd that has come to adore the work of Japanese bike builder Shinya Kimura, who made the concept bike.

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Yamaha Motor USA has confirmed to Asphalt & Rubber that the Yamaha MT-07, the twin-cylinder cousin to the MT-09, will be coming to the United States after all, and like its three-cylinder counterpart, the budget-conscious naked bike will get a renaming, known henceforth as the Yamaha FZ-07.

Yamaha has a real trend going with its MT/FZ line, with its three similarly styled bikes (don’t forget about the Yamaha MT-125) bringing some serious bang-for-the-buck to new and seasoned riders alike. For the American market, the Yamaha FZ-07 comes with an MSRP of $6,990, and will be available in July of this year.

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Yamaha FZ-07 Coming to Canada, Et Tu USA?

03/18/2014 @ 10:02 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS


Our friends to the north are reporting that the Yamaha MT-07, the two-cylinder compatriot to the Yamaha MT-09 triple, is headed to Canada. Canada Moto Guide is reporting that the now called Yamaha FZ-07 will be available in Canada come the spring time, and will sport a $7,299 MSRP (CAD).

Like the FZ-09, the FZ-07 is a real value motorcycle from Yamaha. 74hp and 50 lbs•ft of torque, the Yamaha FZ-07 features a 270-degree crank, on a 689cc parallel-twin lump, and tips the scales at 395 lbs wet weight, with 3.69 gallon fuel tank.

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