XXX: The 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 World Endurance Race Bike is Pure Sex…with a Headlight

The long-winded “Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Racing” team is ready for FIM Endurance World Championship action this year, especially with the all-new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle. The new R1 offers state-of-the-art electronics, as well as near-200hp from its crossplane four-cylinder engine, and the French team is looking to capitalize on those improvements in the EWC for 2015. Yamaha France took the 2014 title in a convincing fashion, so it will be interesting to see what riders David Checa, Kenny Foray, and Mathieu Gines can accomplish with their new toy. We’ve got a bevy of high-resolution photos for you, after the jump.

Not-A-Review: 2015 MV Agusta Motorcycles

As promised, here is the second part of our trip down to Fontana, California to meet with MV Agusta USA, go over the company’s new business plan for not only America, but also worldwide, and to ride the current crop of their 2015 machinery. I should preface right out of the gate that this is not a review in regards as to what you’ve come to expect from Asphalt & Rubber. I am not-so-cleverly calling this a “not-a-review” assessment of MV Agusta’s 2015 models. I say this because we had a very limited amount of time on each bike, as there was roughly 10 machines to divide our attention amongst. Think of this article as not far from someone test riding a bunch of motorcycles at a dealership, with similar duration and limits put in place…except that this someone rides motorcycles for a living.

Analyzing The Ducati Desmosedici GP15

Anyone watching the presentation of Ducati’s 2015 MotoGP bike will have learned two Italian phrases: “Emozionante” and “tanto lavoro”. Both were extremely apt. Getting from where Ducati was to where it is now with the Desmosedici GP15 had needed “tanto lavoro”, a lot of hard work, and they still have “tanto lavoro” ahead of them. The results were “emozionante”, a fantastic word nearer to exciting than emotional. But both exciting and emotional were apt phrases. The sense of eagerness was palpable among Ducati staff at Bologna on Monday. For good reason, the GP15 presented in a long, loud, and rather meandering show is radically different from what came before.

Some Thoughts on MV Agusta & A Story About Two Letters

MV Agusta USA recently invited a slew of journalists down to Fontana, California in order to talk about the company’s new business plan, and to ride its current lineup of motorcycles on the infield course. This article is “Part 1″ of that experience, as I wanted to separate my thoughts on MV Agusta, MV Agusta USA, and the general motorcycling climate into one story, and then have my “not-a-review” of the machines for another article. Got it? Ok, let’s go. It is probably easiest to start with where MV Agusta is as a company. MV Agusta has a started a new three-year business plan, which sees the company pushing into a full-range of motorcycles, pushing outside of its Italian boundaries, and pushing out of the “luxury” brand segment.

Photos: Ducati Desmosedici GP15

The Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is a machine that has been long in the making. It represents Gigi Dall’Igna’s next step forward for the wayward Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and it is the dubious honor of holding the hopes of Ducati fans around the world, who see the machine as the silver bullet that will return Ducati to the forefront of racing prowess — no pressure. The most obvious change that can be seen on the GP15 is the re-routing of the exhaust, with the undertail pipes collecting on the right-hand side of the machine, rather than coming in from both sides and meeting in the middle. Can you spot any other changes in the high-resolution photos after the jump? Let us know in the comments.

Politics & Corruption: Why There Isn’t a Race in Indonesia

If anyone needed any further proof that Indonesia is important to the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the fact the Repsol Honda team chose Bali as the location to launch their 2015 MotoGP project should remove any doubt. But if Indonesia is so important to the manufacturers, and to MotoGP, why is there not a race there? Over the course of the MotoGP test at Sepang, I had a few conversations with people on the subject. On the record, the story was always the same: we need a suitable track, and as soon as one exists we will be happy to go there. Off the record, however, they were much less optimistic.

A Requiem for Kenji Ekuan & The Kando of GK Design

Industrial design is not a commonly known, much less well understood, profession. To some it suggests arranging equipment inside factories, to others it means some kind of product engineering. In reality it is the search for, and expression of, human satisfaction in inanimate objects that are mass produced. That’s quite a mouthful, and to the average person it may sound like jiberish written for some pretentious coffee table book, but it is the truth. At least, it is one version of the truth as seen by the GK Design Group of Tokyo, Japan. If you ride motorcycles, then you are intimately familiar with the work of this large and internationally respected studio. Since only its second production bike, the indigenously designed YA-1, every Yamaha motorcycle since 1958 has been crafted by GK.

Are You The MV Agusta F4 RC?

What look to be official photos of the MV Agusta F4 RC have leaked out onto the internet, along with a slide from MV Agusta’s media presentation on the machine. The photos give us our first glimpse into Varese’s homologation special, complete with a special two-can exhaust by Termignoni. The leaked slide confirms some of the numbers being thrown around about the F4 RC, namely that it will have 212hp, 81.86 lbs•ft of torque, weigh 175kg dry, and cost €36,900 (we already know that the MV Agusta F4 RC will cost $46,000 in the USA). Information from a leaked slide last year has already told us that MV Agusta has radically overhauled the F4 RC’s engine, designing a new cylinder heard, new crankshaft, new camshaft, as well as adding bigger fuel injectors, lighter pistons, and titanium connecting rods.

Kenji Ekuan, Designer of the Yamaha VMAX Has Died

Mainstream news is mourning the death of Kenji Ekuan today, as the 85-year-old Japanese industrial designer is one of the most influential artists in Japan’s modern era, and is most well-known for his designing of the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. Ekuan’s lesser-known works though include a number of motorcycle designs for Yamaha, including the now 30-year-old Yamaha VMAX motorcycle, which makes his passing even more meaningful to motorcyclists around the world. Kenji Ekuan founded GK Industrial Design after WWII, and his company helped shape the way Japan rebuilt itself after the world war.

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Despite its huge dimensions, not to mention a 30 liter fuel tank, the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure never looks big or bulky. In fact, it is only when you mount the hard luggage that you can tell this bike can really cover long distances. Apart from a dorky little exposed wire from the heated grips near the throttle, the fit and finish is very high-end, especially the integrated curved lighting in the tank — it is quite a sight. At first glance the Super Adventure doesn’t have the massive personality and stance of its German rival, the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but that is in part due to the white color scheme and the absence of the typical beak as a front mudguard. KTM is going about things differently, and that is something that appeals to many riders…including us.

Photos: A Future AMA Star in the Making

05/10/2012 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

One of the banes of any photographers existence is when someone walks right into the middle of your shot. There seems to be two schools of thought on how to deal with such an incident, with some preferring to let nature take its course, and wait for the intruder to leave the frame, while others prefer the scream/temper-tantrum school of thought that may or may not include throwing a gear bag in a fit of rage.

Where a photographer falls on that spectrum seems to be a function of how much time he or she spent setting up the shot, how much Red Bull had been consumed that morning, and whether it was another photographer who decided to start working with reckless abandon for his fellow photojournalists. However, there are some incidents where when someone walks into your shot, it is a welcomed addition. Snapping photos of the American flag-clad Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, I had such a moment, which I think touches the inner-child of all of us.

Up-Close with the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS ‘merica Edition

05/07/2012 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler67 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing had a good weekend at Sears Point, with Danny Eslick riding the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS to its first podium in Race 1, with Team Hero. Making an encore podium in Race 2, Geoff May also put the EBR 1190RS on the third step, this time for Team Amsoil/Hero. With the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS benefiting from Sear Points emphasis on handling instead of horsepower, the EBR has made up a ton of ground in just a short amount of time.

While the EBR 1190RS race bikes were on the track, their $40,000+ street-legal counterparts were on display outside of the Erik Buell Racing garage. Rocking an American flag livery, I naturally took pictures of this show bike. Eye catching to say the least, nothing says “Made in ‘merica” better than a red, white, and blue color scheme, especially when it is laid over carbon fiber. And while I want to love this bike because of its nuances and outside-of-the-box technical design, I don’t.

Trading patriotism for originality, Erik Buell Racing is still pushing the same worn-out Americana marketing plan that Harley-Davidson built for the sport bike company way back when. With two podium victories, a gorgeous product, and a story that is an encapsulation of hard work overcoming adversity, you would think that the folks from East Troy could put away the cheap parlor trick of using Americana to sell motorcycles. One gorgeous bike in its own right, but a played out theme as well. What happened to being innovative guys? Photos after the jump.

The Eleven of 2011 – A Year in Review

01/02/2012 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come.

Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. However, some of the less obvious picks (and we are sure there will be suggestions for alternatives in the comments), stem from the theory that 2011 saw moments whose importance has yet to be fully appreciated at this point in time. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

Video: EBR Nation Part 3 – “Made in America”

08/10/2011 @ 7:38 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has another installment of its “EBR Nation” video set, with part three of the YouTube series focusing on EBR’s “Made in America” credential. Unlike the previous videos (Part 1 & Part 2), it’s hard to get behind this one, as Buell and his crew go back to the well with their “it’s made in America, so you should buy it” philosophy/sales pitch. The short clip starts out well enough, with Buell saying “over the last few years there was a feeling that the dream of America is getting away from us.” Whether you believe that is actually true or not, there certainly has been a movement expressing this very idea after watching the credit market collapse, and seeing someone like Buell trying to make something out of the ashes of the recession is a bit inspiring.

What isn’t inspiring is the same reused tagline that because something is built in the USA it is somehow automatically better that the competition. This sort of continued thinking its precisely what put Buell out of business the first time around, and like the reused action shots for this video (you may have seen many of these quick-cuts in Parts 1 & 2, and a couple are even used twice in Part 3), you get tired of hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again with no result.

The whole idea behind Erik Buell Racing was that it was a company that could flourish from outside Harley-Davidson’s thumb, and the whole purpose of the EBR 1190RS was that it was supposed to be an American superbike that we could appreciate on the merits. The fact that all of this is being done by Americans, in America, is all the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Rant over. The video is after the jump.

Video: EBR Nation Part 2 – “Fingertips”

07/27/2011 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Erik Buell Racing has the second part to its strobed-out EBR Nation video series (previously titled “The Making of the EBR 1190RS”), and we see the videos go from previously a more narrative take to a more promotional role (that’s marketing for yah). Like the Prologue, “Fingertips” has Geoff May talking about the bike, with a few sound bites from Erik Buell himself sprinkled in for good measure.

One of May’s more interesting comments is that the EBR 1190RS handles so well, that you’d have to go down to bikes half its displacement to find similar handling characteristics. Worthy praise for sure, though it’s probably a bit too soon on the heels of the Daytona Sportbike fiasco under Harley-Davidson’s reign.

There’s unfortunately little information to learn from the segment, which is a shame considering how few riders will actually get to experience the 100 hand-made 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles that will be produced (assuming EBR hits its production goals). Hopefully when Buell tips his hand more on the RX, SX, and AX models it’ll mean more attainable motorcycles for riders with mortal-sized wallets. Made for the true Buelltisti, you’ll get your East Troy fix after the jump.

Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

07/11/2011 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Mid-Ohio is a great destination if you’re looking to do a track day (we’d recommend riding with these guys), and Mid-Ohio is an even better place to leave if you don’t have a motorcycle with you. However, once a year, the Buckeye State redeems itself by playing host to an AMA Pro Racing weekend. The AMA Superbike races at Mid-Ohio were extra special this year, as KTM debuted Chris Fillmore on its factory-backed KTM 1190 RC8 R Superbike, bringing the Austrian company into a more active relationship with the American Motorcyclist Association.

Also making its first racing debut was the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Superbike, the race version of Erik Buell’s latest street machine (or is it the 1190RS the street bike version of Buell’s latest race bike?). However which way you read that development process, this weekend was the first time Geoff May got to flog the EBR 1190RS in anger on a track with other racers present.

The much anticipated bigger horsepower Superbike was supposed to put Erik Buell Racing on an even playing field with the other manufacturers, as the team had previously been cobbled with its 1125cc homologated Buell 1125R, and accordingly the EBR team tent saw it’s fair share of visitors..

With KTM making its first AMA race outing on its otherwise tried and tested RC8 R platform, and Buell banking on several AMA season’s worth of racing experience to launch its previously un-raced 1190RS Superbike, and interesting contrast comes out from AMA Pro Racing’s latest stop at Lexington, Ohio.

First Shot: Erik Buell Racing 1190RS in Race Trim

07/09/2011 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

This is the first picture we’ve see of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS in its AMSOIL race livery. On-site for the Mid-Ohio round of AMA Superbike, Geoff May will pilot the EBR 1190RS for the first time in a race, as the team (and the public) have been anxiously waiting to see the debut of the new Superbike and its bounty of extra horsepower. Hopefully the 1190RS will keep all its bits together, and bring home a good result for the Erik Buell Racing team this weekend (May has qualified 12th on the 1190RS as of this writing).

Source: My Little Lotus Blossom

Eight Hi-Res Photos of the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS

06/15/2011 @ 2:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Last week Erik Buell Racing debuted the full technical specifications and price tag on the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS superbike with turn signals. With it were 15 photos that were…how do we say this politely…disproportionate to the grand performance figures EBR is boasting for its first street bike. We know there’s some Buell loyality in the Asphalt & Rubber readership (you guys are troopers considering the amount of punishment we give the American brand), so it’s with great pleasure we bring you these eight high-resolution photos of the EBR 1190RS.

For extra kicks, we decided not to downsize some of the larger photos, so you can do whatever you want with them. Like for instance, make life-size print outs and paste them onto your existing bike (with only 100 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles being made, at a hefty $40k MSRP we might add, this option might be as close as many of us get to owning one). Note: if anyone actually does this, please send us a photo. We’ll have to see what sort of penance we’ll have to do here at A&R in order to swing a leg over an 1190RS, until then we eagerly await to hear what the teased RX, SX, and AX models have in store for us. Find the photos after the jump.

How Do You Build an Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

04/16/2011 @ 7:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing finally has its own official YouTube channel, which is sort of strange considering how well the small company has taken to the internet and viral marketing. Sidestepping that oddity, there is of course the issue of what good is there in having a YouTube channel if it doesn’t have a video — not to worry, the folks at EBR have our backs there. We’re not sure if the EBR 1190RS is the great white hope of American sportbikes, but we like Buell’s gumption and grit to start anew in one of the worst economic climates since WWII.

For some weekend eyecandy, feast your eyes on a time lapse video of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motor being built, along with some cool footage of the Erik Buell Racing’s streetbike being tested on the dyno. Only 100 EBR 1190RS street machines will be made, at a price Erik Buell Racing calls comparable to “the price of a top of the line minivan,” which sounds pretty steep for a motorcycle, but will help the Wisconsin company comply with AMA homologation regulations, and race the EBR 1190RS at Infineon later this May.

2011 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Breaks Cover

02/17/2011 @ 7:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

It looks like we didn’t have to wait until tomorrow to see the 2011 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS finally out in the open (and with its clothes on this time). Finally breaking cover, we can see the details of the EBR 1190RS that Erik Buell has been hiding from his fans for all this time. Called the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Carbon Edition, the name implies what material the bike mostly consists of, as this is supposed to be the premium model that will be sold in limited quantities to help get the 1190RS homologated for racing duty.

Only 100 or so models are needed for such a purpose, meaning this will be limited-run, and one expensive endevour for the intrepid few (Buell isn’t quoting prices just yet, but Ducati 1198R prices are being banded about). While the high-cost will keep many Buell fans left out in the cold, cheaper, more production-ready examples of the 1190RS are expected down the line. It seems Erik Buell Racing wants the 1190RS Carbon Edition to be its halo bike, as the company looks to recreate a dealer network, woo investors, and begin racing on a more even playing field with the other 1,200cc racing v-twins and 1,000 racing inline-fours.