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.

2014 Honda CBR650F — More of a Good Thing

11/08/2013 @ 1:15 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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We didn’t get the Honda CBR600F here in the States, so it seems unlikely that we will get that bike’s successor, the 2014 Honda CBR650F. Taking the popular road bike platform, and slapping an obvious 50cc of additional engine displacement, Honda’s mantra for 2014 is clear: more is better.

We already saw that the Honda CBR300R added 37cc to Big Red’s baby CBR, and the Japanese OEM has done a similar treatments with its new NC750 platform as well. As they say, there is no replacement for displacement, but the 2014 Honda CBR650F is more than just a re-worked street bike — it is a brand new machine from the wheels up.

2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally – Three Cylinders of Hoon

11/07/2013 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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We wouldn’t call it a new model from Yamaha, but one of the new releases from the tuning fork brand at the 2013 EICMA show is the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally.

A collection of bolt-on pieces for your Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 for us Americans), the Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally started life as dealer-made bike in Europe, but Yamaha liked it so much it has become an official option when buying the new three-cylinder street bike.

A pretty aggressive working over on the otherwise conservative MT-09, the Street Rally includes new fuel tank shrouds, side number plates, and fork covers, which give the MT-09 a more supermotard look.

The Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally is also trimmed in a “Tech Graphite” paint scheme; and lastly, headlight covers, knuckle guards, along with wider footrests and a slimmer seat complete the package.

2014 KTM RC200 & KTM RC125 — The More the Merrier

11/07/2013 @ 7:36 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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For the American market, its all about the 2014 KTM RC390 and its single-cylinder sport bike format. But for the rest of the world, especially emerging markets, the talk of the 2013 EICMA show is focusing on the KTM RC200 and KTM RC125 — the smaller siblings in KTM’s “Race Competition” line.

Like the RC390, the RC200 and RC125 share engine designs with their Duke model counterparts. Both bikes feature the same aggressive styling as the KTM RC390, courtesy of Kiska Design, and are ideally situated for markets with tiered licensing programs and heavily segmented small-displacement categories. For us, we just think these motorcycles look hot.

2014 Honda CBR300R – Small-Displacement Warfare

11/07/2013 @ 5:11 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The battlefront in the small-displacement motorcycle war is heating up, as Honda has responded to last year’s debut of the Kawasaki Ninja 300 with its own 300cc sport bike, the 2014 Honda CBR300R. Departing from the looks of the Honda CBR250R, the Honda CBR300R instead gets its styling from the Honda CBR500R that debuted last year at this time.

Finally giving us some details since its preview last month, we now know what Honda has added another 37cc to its entry-level spot, as the Honda CBR300R has a 286cc single-cylinder engine, which makes 30hp and 20 lbs•ft of torque.

Honda says the CBR300R has an improved throttle response, and will come with ABS as standard. From the way the Japanese are talking, the Honda CBR300R is set to replace the Honda CBR250R worldwide, which means we will see this bike in the United States.

Up-Close with the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800

11/06/2013 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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MV Agusta’s big announcement at the 2013 EICMA show was of course its new sport-tourer, the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800. Based around the Italian brand’s 800cc three-cylinder engine, the Turismo Veloce is a big step for MV Agusta, though one taken cautiously both in terms of progress and design.

Borrowing heavily from the firm’s F3 and F4 sport bikes, the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce feels like its stuck in the Varese company’s past, though in many ways it is MV Agusta’s future.

We are sure that the sport-tourer is just the first of many line-extensions for MV Agusta that will borrow from the same common elements found in all the current MV Agusta motorcycles, but the real highlight of the Turismo Veloce 800 is that it debuts a number of new technologies for MV Agusta, which have all been packaged into the MVICS 2.0 system.

Despite the impressive advancements made with the MVICS 2.0 system, as with all MV Agusta motorcycles, the real connection with the machine is a visual one, and the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 certainly makes an impression.

2014 Kawasaki J300 — A Maxi-Scooter from Team Green

11/06/2013 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Scooters aren’t really our thing here at Asphalt & Rubber — I mean sure they’re fun to ride, just as long as no one sees you on one, right? That’s the joke at least, but the reality is that the more people we gett on two-wheels in America, the better; and today’s maxi-scooters are essentially just really comfortable motorbikes anyways.

That’s what makes the 2014 Kawasaki J300 such a big announcement at the 2013 EICMA show, as Kawasaki is finally offering a scooter built for the European market, and is now offering its first maxi-scooter.

Bimota BB3 — Italian Design, German Performance

11/06/2013 @ 7:53 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Today marks a formal new beginning for Bimota, as the boutique Italian firm has recently been acquired by Daniele Longoni and Marco Chiancianesi. Helping to commemortate that event, Bimota debuted at the 2013 EICMA show its new S1000RR-powered Bimota BB3 sport bike.

Using the 999cc four-cylinder superbike motor found on the BMW, the Italians quote 190hp for the Bimota BB3, the same as what the Germans have been able to coax from the S1000RR. Weight is 394 lbs dry, also the same as the BMW S1000RR, so on paper the two bikes appear to be quite similar. In person though, they are anything but.

2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE — That’s Hot

11/05/2013 @ 11:23 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Unless you are into the cruiser thing, Triumph’s press event at the 2013 EICMA show was a fairly timid affair, with talk about the company’s future growth, its plans for emerging markets, and the high-fives over 2013’s business dealings being the soup de jour.

However, we were tickled by one of Triumph’s more minor announcements, the 2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC SE. Really just a cosmetic reworking of the British brand’s middleweight adventure-tourer, the bright red frame and subtle “Volcanic Black” paint scheme were enough to capture our blogger ADD.

Officially Official: 2014 KTM RC390

11/05/2013 @ 6:37 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Even though the 2014 KTM RC390 leaked ahead of its EICMA debut, the KTM stand at the Fieramilano was packed full of attendees who were eager to get a glimpse of the single-cylinder sport bike from Austria.

The logical progression from the KTM 390 Duke, the RC390 shares many of its brethren’s features and specifications, though has a uniqueness all of its own.

2014 Kawasaki Z1000 – So Much Sugomi

11/05/2013 @ 5:37 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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We have seen the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 leaked and teased ad nauseam ahead of the 2013 EICMA show, but now we finally have the official photos and specifications of the Kawasaki’s new street-naked.

For the new year, Kawasaki says that the new Z1000 has a revised ECU setting, along with different camshaft timings and oval exhaust connectors between the header pipes.

Other improvements like connected cylinders (less pumping loss) and a new airbox design, help the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 reach 140hp (104.5 kW) and 82 lbs•ft of torque from its 1,043cc inline-four engine.