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.

Watch Al Jump Over Two Motorcycles

01/23/2015 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Apparently there is this guy named Al, and he’s really good at jumping over things. He’s so good at jumping over things, he goes by the name “Al the Jumper” — obviously.

Al has some pretty crazy ideas too, and that means he finds himself jumping over some pretty radical things — like in this case, where he jumps over two motorcycles that are speeding at him.

It’s an exercise in detailed planning, accurate execution, relentless training, and of course massive huevos. Happy Friday!

Video: Guy Martin Rides the Britten V1000

01/20/2015 @ 1:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Guy Martin has had some amazing rides in his life, but we imagine this one will stick out for quite a while.

Testing the Britten V1000, ahead of the John Britten Memorial Tribute in Christchurch, Martin’s name gets added to the very small list of priviledged individuals who have ridden John Britten’s masterpiece.

The road racer has some high-praise for the now nearly quarter-century-0ld design, and makes note of how the Britten V1000 is both similar and different than superbikes of the 1990’s and superbikes of today.

Your moto-jealously starts right after the jump.

Black Beauty Lives – Two Britten V1000s Will Hit the Track

01/12/2015 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Arguably one of the most impressive motorcycles ever created, the Britten V1000 has also one of the most interesting stories. Designed and built by John Britten, an engineer from New Zealand, the V1000 had elements and ideas way ahead of its time in 1996 — such as carbon fiber wheels, frameless chassis, and Hossack front suspension.

The results were promising. The Britten V1000 won the Battle of the Twins at Daytona (1994), was 1st and 2nd in the New Zealand National Superbike Championship (1994), and set the fastest top speed at the Isle of Man TT (1993).

Unfortunately in 1995, John Britten passed away, and his loss was felt by a country and an industry. With only a handful of V1000s made, most motorcycle enthusiasts have had to glimpse these pieces of two-wheeled history standing still on a museum showroom. Not this year though.

Yamaha Races “The Dakar” on Paper

01/01/2015 @ 5:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Yamaha’s papercraft projects are perhaps the most unique marketing pieces to come from any of the motorcycle manufacturers, and they are also some of the most impressive. Focusing on the upcoming Dakar Rally, Yamaha has made a set of papercraft rally raid machines, complete with riders and scenery.

As usual, the whole set is downloadable in PDF form (you can make both the 1995 Yamaha XTZ850R and 2014 Yamaha YZ450F), for you to try your hand at the tedious style of artwork. Be forewarned though, the models are extensive…including even a complete frame, knobby wheels, and other details.

You’ll need A4, an exacto knife, glue, and a steady hand before you download the model sets. If any reader attempts this model set, please send us your results in picture form.

Video: Dubstep + Flat Track + Slow-Mo

10/27/2014 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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If I’m doing my math right, it’s Monday back home. Time to get the week started. Time to start the countdown to the next weekend. If you cringed at the thought, we have something to help get you through the rest of the day. Dubstep, meets flat track racing at the Springfield Mile, meets slow-motion cinematography. It’s not going to win at Sundance, but it’s highly mesmerizing…and flat track is just damn cool.

Video: Husqvarna FS 450 – Just Take Our Money

09/12/2014 @ 12:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Husqvarna as a brand is seeing new life within KTM, albeit currently as dressed up KTM and Husaberg models. Still, Husky fans have to be happy to see the once Swedish brand living with some stability in its life. Nixing bikes like the Husqvarna Nuda, as well as the Husqvarna Moab and Husqvarna Baja concepts, the Husky reboot has been absent of on-road machines.

The Husqvarna FS 450 doesn’t really change that reality, as the supermoto comes in race-only trim (it’s really just a KTM 450 SX-F with the appropriate SM modifications), but the FS 450 certainly is a good start in that direction.

Supermotos might be the most fun you can have on two wheels, and Husqvarna’s video makes us hope that a ‘tard finds its way to the US market, with lights and turn signals preferably.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

09/06/2014 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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I’ve been riding track days for almost as long as I’ve owned a motorcycle. It’s something that goes hand-in-hand with my motorcycle experience, and probably is the reason why Asphalt & Rubber has such a sport bike / racing slant when it comes to our story-mix. So, I know all too well the trials and tribulations of taping up a bike before heading to the track.

Some track groups don’t require tape, as long as you pull the fuses to your headlight, tail light, and turn signals. Some track groups recognize that the plastic used on these lighting systems is brittle, can easily shatter, and thus need some tape over them for the unthinkable. Regardless, I guarantee that if you do enough track days with anything but a dedicated track bike, you will learn the hassle of taping a headlight at some point in time.

When it comes time to doing this right of passage, there are two schools of thought: 1) duck it and fuck it, and 2) razor blade artistry. The prior involves just slapping tape (usually horrid blue masking tape) in one easy but sloppy job, while the latter means painstakingly applying perfectly measured strips of matte black gaffer tape, and then trimming the excess with a razor blade. One theory is quick and easy, while the other can mean attractive track photos, but hours of your life lost.

That’s not the case anymore though, dear track day enthusiasts. Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process.

MotoGP Riders Step-Up for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

08/21/2014 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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You would have to live a life devoid of social media — raising some interesting issues about how you’re on Asphalt & Rubber in the first place — not to know about the Ice Bucket Challenge videos that occurring to help raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The campaign is pretty straight forward: someone nominates you to dump a bucket of ice water on your head, you post up a video of you accepting the challenge, and then you nominate a three other people to take the challenge themselves within 24hrs — or, you can opt for the drier and warmer alternative, and donate $100 to the ALS Association.

It’s all good clean wholesome fun, and it really doesn’t matter if you cut a check or take a dunk, the ALSA benefits either way from the money and/or increased exposure. A clever pieces of marketing, the Ice Bucket Challenge has reportedly increased donations to the ALSA nearly ten-fold, and it’s not uncommon to see celebrities getting in on the fun, even in the MotoGP paddock.

First up was Jorge Lorenzo unsurprisingly, as the Spaniard has often used his fame to help charities. After taking an ice bath, Lorenzo challenged fellow Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi, current MotoGP points-leader Marc Marquez, and recent race-winner Dani Pedrosa, well…the results are after the jump.

Video: Rider Nails the Landing After a Nasty Crash

08/19/2014 @ 10:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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The upside to having rampant insurance fraud with motor vehicles is the increased use of dashboard cameras, at least that’s our selfish take on the situation currently in Russia. If that’s truly the case, then the crowning achievement of that philosophy is surely the following video.

Going far too fast for the flow of traffic, our protagonist finds himself quickly cut-off by a car that is changing lanes. What happens next is entirely predictable, yet incredibly not. We don’t want to give it away, just watch it after the jump…no pun intended. Thanks for the tip Taco Ben!

Kawasaki USA Rebrands “Good Times Protection Plan”

08/19/2014 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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Kawasaki USA announced today that it is rebranding its tragically named extended warranty program from the “Good Times Protection Plan” to “Kawasaki Protection Plus” for reasons we feel are too obvious to elaborate upon.

However, the real astonishing story here is that for the past 28 years, Kawasaki has made its dealers say with a straight face “Good Times Protection Plan” to would-be buyers, who were looking for more protection for…umm…what was between their legs.

Ahh, I remember in college when I had a “good times protection plan” — though you either had to buy a pack at the grocery store, or suffer through the line at Student Health to get them for free. That and other penis jokes await you in the comments section. Don’t plan on seeing Kawasaki advertise on A&R anytime soon after this.