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.

Yamaha MT-125 – Europe Gets Another MT

05/07/2014 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Need a small-displacement naked bike for your urban commute? Yamaha has something for you then, as the tuning fork brand has announced the Yamaha MT-125 for the European market today. Based off the Yamaha YZF-R125 platform, the MT-125 is essentially the R125 stripped of its fairings.

Featuring the same steel delta box frame, and 124.7cc single-cylinder thumper as the Yamaha R125, the big changes to make the MT-125 are the obvious ones, namely the “MT” styling that we have seen on the Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 to us Americans) and the Yamaha MT-07.

2014 Yamaha YZF-R125 Debuts for Europe

02/18/2014 @ 12:06 pm, by Bryan Delohery7 COMMENTS

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Yamaha chose this year’s MCN London Motorcycle Show to announce the release of an updated version of the Yamaha YZF-R125 sports bike, which is scheduled to hit dealers in the Europe this April.

For 2014 the performance numbers remain largely unchanged from the 2013 model, still claiming 14.75 hp at 9,000 rpm, and just over 9 lbs•ft of torque at 8,000 rpm.

As a small displacement sports bike targeted for young riders and learners, Yamaha decided to upgrade stability and stopping power by coupling an upside-down front fork, a new radial front brake caliper design that clamps down on a 292 mm floating disc, along with a redesigned rear suspension linkage.

More Photos of the Honda MSX125

01/22/2013 @ 12:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Judging from the response we got on Asphalt & Rubber, there is a lot of buzz regarding Big Red’s new monkey bike, the 2013 Honda MSX125. A small-in-stature motorcycle with a single-cylinder 125cc thumper that puts out 9.7hp, the Honda MSX125 is designed to be a world-market machine that is both fun and practical in nature.

We don’t know how practical the MSX125 might be on the roads here in the United States (it makes a lot more sense in the tighter, pot-hole riddled, car-less roads elsewhere though), but man it sure looks like a fun small-displacement motorbike. Maybe the marketing is working on us? More photos after the jump.

Honda MSX125 Will Make a Monkey Out of You

01/09/2013 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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If there ever was a motorcycle that earned the word “cute” is its best descriptor, the Honda Monkey might be it. A diminutive and fun motorcycle, it was hard to look good on Honda’s old Z-series bikes, though the machines themselves still carry their own unique flavor of cool to this day.

Fast-forward fifty-years later, and Honda is bringing the Monkey back, this time in the guise of the 2013 Honda MSX125. Manufactured in Thailand, the Honda MSX 125 (MSX = Mini Street X-treme 125), the 125cc, 9.7 hp, four-stroke, two-valve, single-cylinder, fuel-injected fun machine will be a Spring 2013 model in markets around the world (no word on North America though).

The ultimate pit bike for us Anglo-Saxons, the Honda MSX125 also serves as a practical and durable machine for markets where potholed asphalt is a luxury where roads rarely exist. With the seat just a touch above 30 inches off the ground (30.1″ to be exact), the new Honda Monkey is a friend to the short man (or woman) as well.

Aprilia RS4 125 Video – Who The Hell is This Bike For?

11/24/2010 @ 10:51 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

The folks in Noale have a video out now (watch it after the jump), promoting the 2011 Aprilia RS4 125 – the four-stroke 125cc street bike that is a spitting image of the Aprilia RSV4 superbike. With 16hp coming out of that tiny single-cylinder motor and cool styling from its larger sibling, the Aprilia RS4 125 seems like the perfect beginner bike for some teenager in Europe, but we have our reservations about how the bike will sell here in the United States. A classic example of how ideas don’t always carryover, Aprilia seems hellbent on bringing this 125cc bike to a market that demands twice that displacement for practical street bikes.

2011 Aprilia RS4 125 Comes to America

11/02/2010 @ 5:16 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

American youths can rejoice to the news that the 2011 Aprilia RS4 125 will be coming to the United States for 2011. The four-stroke 125cc beginner bike may only have 15hp, but it has been done-up to look like the RSV4, and that’s what matters right? Replacing the RS125, the RS4 125 is supposedly just a Derbi in sheep’s clothing, but considering both brands come from the Piaggio mother ship, we fail to see why that would be an issue to a 16-year-old who has somehow managed to convince his/her parents to buy them a motorcycle. The liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC motor comes with electric fuel-injection, and is mated to a six-speed gearbox. Weight is 264 lbs with a full 3.8 gallon tank of gas. Technical Specifications after the jump.

2011 KTM 125 Duke – The Bike Bajaj Built

10/09/2010 @ 1:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Finally officially debuted at Intermot, KTM took the wraps off its 2011 KTM 125 Duke, a single-cylinder street bike geared towards young riders. While KTM has always included off-road machines in its line-up that are aimed at getting younger riders to ride orange, the company until now has left a gapping hole in its on-road offering for the same demographic. With Bajaj taking a 35% stake in KTM, the Indian company has not only given the Austrian company the capital it needed to expand its line, but is also rumored to be the major driving force behind the 2011 KTM 125 Duke.

Lambretta Returns to 125GP Racing for 2010

02/01/2010 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

After a 60 year hiatus, Lambretta is finally returning back to the 125GP racing stage. Entering as Lambretta Reparto Corse, the team has already confirmed Marco Ravaioli as one of their two riders. The move seems to be primarily to help get the iconic Italian brand back into the public limelight as Lambretta is set to start production of its first new range of scooters since the 1970’s.

According to Lambretta, the team will hold a racing department in Bologna at the workshops of Engines Engineering, despite Lambretta being based out of Milan. Nicola Casadei will serve as the team’s Sporting Director, while Giancarlo Cecchini will develop the bike’s rotary valve engine, which is expected to show up in new Lambretta designs.

KTM Withdraws from 125GP Racing

10/06/2009 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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After previously leaving 250GP racing and the Dakar Rally, KTM has announced its withdrawal from another race series: 125GP. Choosing instead to focus its 2010 racing efforts on the RC8‘s upcoming World Superbike debut, KTM cites financial difficulties as its reason for leaving the GP scene. KTM will continue to be involved with the Red Bull Rookies Cup, which features talented young riders racing around on spec KTM 125cc race bikes.

Megelli: 125cc Hotness You Won’t See Stateside

07/03/2009 @ 2:12 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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In Europe, 125cc bikes and scooters are possibly more prevalent than the 600cc+ bikes we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the United States.

Due in part to the cost of insurance and fuel, as well as cultural difference, we’ll have to look over the latest creations from British firm Megelli, and know this is a line of motorcycles we’ll unfortunately never get to feast our eyes upon in person.