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.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS


With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.

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2013 Yamaha FZ8 Getting Minor Update for Next Year

09/13/2012 @ 3:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Yamaha is keeping tight-lipped on exactly what changes will be coming to the 2013 Yamaha FZ8, but the 800cc sport-naked is said to be getting a minor update for the 2013 model year. Introduced to the American market in 2011, the Yamaha FZ8 has had a short two-year model life, and apparently Yamaha thinks the bike needs some refreshing.

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Yamaha FZ8/Fazer 8 Coming to Canada – USA Next?

06/11/2010 @ 7:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Yamaha Canada has just announced that the 2011 Yamaha FZ8 and 2011 Yamaha Fazer 8 street bikes will be available in the Canadian market. Perhaps as a disappointment for some, both models of the new street-naked will come without the option for ABS.

Presumably the Canadian market has now cleared out its back-stock of Yamaha FZ6’s, which the 8-series has been replacing in European markets, and can now begin to offer the new middleweight.

With Canada getting the 8’s in its line-up, all eyes are now on the Yamaha USA to see if/when they’ll bring the bike to the US market. When they do, we can probably look forward to some great commercials, like these gems from the European campaign (that’s sarcasm for those keeping score). Check them out after the jump…did we mention they’re really bad?

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2010 Yamaha FZ8 – Officially Official

03/12/2010 @ 2:31 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After teasing us time and time and time again, Yamaha Europe has taken the wraps off its 2010 Yamaha FZ8 (and it’s cousin the 2010 Yamaha Fazer8). As was expected, the FZ8  is a 779cc naked street bike that borrows its heritage from the FZ1, and replaces the FZ6 in the European line-up.

While the FZ8 looks well and good, Yamaha has proven that a copy of a copy never carries over well. The FZ8 motor is in essence a smaller bored FZ1 motor, which is itself a de-tuned R1 powerplant. As such the Yamaha FZ8 puts out a solid 104hp, which may disappoint many riders. Torque lovers rejoice though, the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 makes an impressive 62lbs•ft of wheel turning power from its 779cc’s.

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Italian Sales Figures Show Insight into FZ8

02/03/2010 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The announcement of the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 left many Americans confused as to why the Japanese company would release a 800cc version of it FZ1 naked streetbike. While Yamaha hasn’t confirmed the FZ8 will be coming to the US in 2010 (all the information to-date has come from Yamaha EU), abroad the battle in the 800cc middleweight slot has become increasingly contentious, and more importantly Yamaha’s presence there surprisingly non-existent.

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2010 Yamaha FZ8 Officially Revealed

01/27/2010 @ 1:56 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After photos of the new Yamaha FZ8 were leaked out on the internet, Yamaha seems to think it’s best to release an official picture of the entire FZ8 in it’s full colorful form. As seen from the earlier black and white photos, the Yamaha FZ8 is based heavily off of the FZ1, which may suggest where its performance features will lie when the final release to the public is made this spring.

Rumors has it that the FZ8 will feature the same stroke as the FZ1, which should provide for impressive torque figures, while power is expected to be closer to the FZ6. No word yet if the FZ8 is making it stateside.

Source: Yamaha

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Caught Naked in Photos

01/25/2010 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

UPDATE: The 2010 Yamaha FZ8 has now been officially released.

In addition to getting leaked photos of what the 2010 Yamaha FZ8R or Fazzer 8 will look like, has also gotten shots of what they believe to be the FZ8 in its final form, i.e. in the nude. The fairing-less motorcycle will be built of the same chassis as the 2010 Yamaha FZ8R, but will sport a different headlight to accentuate the exposed frame and motor more adequately. Photos after the jump.

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Yamaha FZ8R “Fazer” Revealed with Leaked Photos

01/25/2010 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Two months ago we revealed what the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 looked like from the headlight up. Yamaha is again teasing us with only a headshot, but this time it is the 2010 Yamaha FZ8R or “Fazer 8” as Yamaha seems to want to call it, the fully-faired FZ8, that is getting unwrapped. While the photo above is an official photo from Yamaha, has what they believe are leaked photos of both the naked an faired bikes in their final form. Check those photos after the jump.

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FZ8 Forensics Ponder What the FZ6 Killer Looks Like

12/23/2009 @ 1:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

After Yamaha released only a limited view of the FZ8, there has been much speculation about what the new fazzer will have in store for would-be riders. As such in the past week, there have been a couple attempts to decipher what the Yamaha FZ8 could look like by using the all-glorious tool that is Adobe Photoshop.

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2010 Yamaha FZ8 Confirmed – FZ6 Out?

11/23/2009 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS


UPDATE 2: The 2010 Yamaha FZ8 has now been officially released.

UPDATE: Click these links to get the latest news on the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 & 2010 Yamaha FZ8R (Fazer 8)

Rumors of the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 appear to be true, as the Japanese company has just released this teaser shot of the new middle-weight naked bike. Details are non-existent scarce on the FZ8, but it is rumored the bike will be replacing the FZ6 in Yamaha’s 2010 line-up.

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