Has Ducati’s Success Flat-Lined?

The saying goes that one time is a fluke, two times is a coincidence, but three times…three times is a trend. Looking at Ducati’s last three years of sales (2012-2014), which spans only a 2% margin of growth, by definition one has to conclude that the Italian company is experiencing sales stagnation. Granted each of the last three years have been record years for the Italian motorcycle company’s sales figures, but each year has been a nudging over the last. Is all of this a sign that Ducati has lost its magic, seemingly during the leadership transition from Gabriele del Torchio to Claudio Domenicali? Or is there growth to be had from the Italian brand, now that it is owned by Audi AG? We examine that thought in more detail, after the jump.

Analyzing the MotoGP Michelin Tire Test

The departure of Bridgestone and the arrival of Michelin as the official tire supplier to MotoGP is an extremely delicate operation, in terms of marketing, tire development, and motorcycle set up. This posed problems for the Michelin test, held on the fourth day of the Sepang MotoGP test. After the factory test riders had tried the Michelins at the first Sepang test, it was the turn of the MotoGP regulars. With major money on the line, the PR gag-order was enforced rigidly, and observed religiously. No official times were released, nor made unofficially available by the teams. A range of times have seeped out from journalists present, but given that only a few laps were timed by a few people out of practice with using a stopwatch, those times can be taken as guidelines only.

Colin Edwards Part of MotoAmerica’s TV Team

MotoAmerica has announced its lineup of TV announcers for the series’ telecast on CBS Sports Network, and the trio is a mix of familiar faces. Motorcycle racing veteran Jonanthan Green will be calling the races from the booth (many World Superbike fans will recognize his voice), and the man helping Green analyze the race should sound familiar as well, as it will be MotoGP star and two-time WSBK Champion Colin Edwards. While the boys are in the booth, Crisy Lee will continue her role as pit lane reporter, something she did with AMA Pro Road Racing under the DMG administration. While CBS may have to hold its hand over the censor button on Colin’s microphone, we think that fans will be pleased with the Texas Tornado’s addition, and the insight he will bring as a veteran racer.

Ride Review: 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 & R1M

The original R1 design focus was primarily for the street, however that has all changed for 2015, with Yamaha’s Engineer’s instructed to design a bike mainly for the track.
Thus, the 4.5km Brabham circuit provided a world-class test track for the 100 journos who descended from all over the globe to experience the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M for the first time. The diverse range of 18 corners, including one of the fastest turns in Australia, approached at nearly 300kmh, was perfect to test all the attributes of a new motorcycle. Our test group had some quick guys including Josh Brookes, Steve Martin, and Cam Donald, so there was no hanging about.

2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 ABS Comes to America for $14,399

A late announcement to the Suzuki motorcycle lineup, the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 comes with the banner headline of adding anti-locking brake system (ABS) and a bold new “Suzuki Racing Blue” graphics package (BNG) to the venerable superbike. The added safety of ABS is at least a welcomed change to the now seven-year-old model version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000. Meanwhile, the graphics package is designed to make a link between the GSX-R1000 and Suzuki’s MotoGP race bike, the Suzuki GSX-RR — even though the street bike pre-dates its racing counterpart all the way back to when Suzuki was last entered in the premier class.

Would You Buy This $280,000 Motorcycle?

We have seen a lot of limited-run motorcycles here at Asphalt & Rubber — some have been intriguing, and some have been…well, not. With exclusivity of course comes a price tag of sizable proportions, but it is rare that we see a motorcycle break into six-figures, let alone pass the quarter-million dollar mark. But here we are with the Yacouba Feline. We have featured the work of Yacouba Galle before, as the French designer has done a bit of work in the industry, including a bolt-on design kit for the MV Agusta Brutale, which he calls the Bestiale (a name that might make Anglophones cringe a little). Unlike the Bestiale though, the Feline is a full-on motorcycle, not just a kit…and if you like what you see, it is going to cost you a mint.

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.

Yet Another Yearly Sales Record for BMW Motorrad

01/19/2015 @ 12:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

bmw-retro-logo

We already know that BMW Motorrad broke last year’s sales record…in November, so it is no surprise then that we report that 2014 was another sales record for the Bavarian brand.

Selling 123,495 units last year in total, this means that BMW Motorrad is up another 7.2% in sales — strong and steady growth for the German company, with December selling 7,032 units (+10.9%).

“We can look back on a successful year. For the first time in company history, BMW Motorrad sold more than 120,000 vehicles,” said Stephan Schaller, President of BMW Motorrad

“This is an increase of 7.2% compared to the already outstanding result of the previous year and is the fourth year of record sales in a row. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all our customers for the trust they have placed in BMW Motorrad.”

BMW Motorrad USA Posts Strong 2014 Sales Figures

01/06/2015 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2014-BMW-R1200RT-design-03

BMW Motorrad USA has finished the books on 2014, and the American subsidiary is able to report one of its best sales years in the past decade. Up 5.4% over 2013’s sales figures, BMW Motorrad USA saw strong sales from is S-Series of bikes (S1000RR and S1000R), which were up 80% with 254 units.

The R-Series was another strong performer, up 17% with 477 units sold. The 2014 BMW R1200RT was BMW Motorrad USA’s best-selling motorcycle as well, despite the tourer’s suspension issues, which kept the bikes sidelined for several months.

BMW S1000XR Priced at $16,350 Base

12/20/2014 @ 10:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

bmw-s1000xr-price

Perhaps the most intriguing motorcycle to come from the Bavarian brand this year, the BMW S1000XR is the German company’s response to the rapidly growing “Adventure-Sport” segment.

Going head-to-head with the Ducati Multistrada 1200, we have been eagerly waiting to see how the BMW staked up against the Italian machine on pricing, and now we have our answer.

BMW Motorrad Breaks 2013 Sales Record, in November

12/16/2014 @ 11:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2013-bmw-r1200gs-water-cooled-engine

Each passing year has seen the roundel brand increase its sales volume, usually with stiff competition from KTM for the title of the largest European motorcycle brand, by volume. This year has been no different.

Though with a few weeks still remaining in the year, BMW is already laying claim to a new yearly sales record, as its November sales have already put the Bavarian brand ahead of its level from 2013.

Newspeak: BMW Removes “Enduro” from Its Lexicon

11/17/2014 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

bmw-enduro

If you go in to your local BMW dealer and ask to look at their latest enduro models, you should brace yourself for a Laurel & Hardy routine, as the e-word is now persona no grata at US dealerships.

Instead, BMW dealers have been instructed to use the word “adventure” instead, newspeaking would-be customers into a segment that BMW literally invented (with a little help from Ewan and Charley).

2015 BMW F800R — Goodbye Winky Face

11/04/2014 @ 3:21 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

2015-BMW-F800R-studio-28

For the 2015 model year, the BMW F800R gets a mild re-working. Most noticeable about the 2015 BMW F800R is the revised headlight, which drops the classic BMW “wink” for a more standard light can. Other changes include a peppier motor, which puts out 90hp (up from 87hp on the previous model), while peak torque remains at 63 lbs•ft.

Off-road riders will enjoy the shorter gear ratios for first and second gear, as well as the new suspension components (USD front forks), dual-front brake discs with radial calipers, optimized ergonomics with a lower seat (-10mm), and improved handlebars and rider foot pegs.

The farings, radiator shields, front mudguard, and wheels have also been changed on the 2015 BMW F800R, while BMW Motorrad has added new color options for next year’s bikes.

As with all BMW models, ABS is standard on the F800R, though Automatic Stability Control (ASC) and Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) are optional items.

2015 BMW S1000XR — Ducati, You Have Been Put on Notice

11/04/2014 @ 12:53 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

2015-BMW-S1000XR-26

One of the motorcycles we’ve been anticipating at EICMA, the 2015 BMW S1000XR has finally debuted. As the name suggests, the S1000XR borrows from the S1000RR superbike’s 998cc inline-four engine platform, and its derived heavily from the S1000R roadster, thus it makes a cool 160hp and 83 lbs•ft of torque.

Like the Ducati Multistrada 1200 it competes against, the BMW S1000XR is seen more of an adventure-sport motorcycle, than an outright tourer. Built to satisfy the go-fast needs of on-road riders, the 502 lbs (wet) S1000XR still has the chops to go where the sidewalk ends, but is more at home pounding pavement.

BMW Motorrad Sales Up 7.6% YTD 2014

10/15/2014 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

bmw-retro-logo

BMW Motorrad continues to put out sales records, quarter after quarter, and the third quarter of 2014 is no different. Selling 9,991 vehicles in September 2014, BMW has sold 100,217 motorcycles so far this year, up 7.6% over last year.

This marks the first time in BMW Motorrad’s history that the German company has cleared 100,000 units in the first nine months of the calendar year.

2015 BMW R1200RS Mega Gallery

10/10/2014 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2015-BMW-R1200RS-action-26

Our last mega gallery from BMW Motorrad’s INTERMOT debut, the 2015 BMW R1200RS borrows from both the R1200RT and S1000RR in its design elements. A rebirth of the RS brand, BWM is again loading-up its lineup with sub-segment models. A sportier sport-tourer in design than the RT, the RS still uses the same water-cooled boxer engine as the RT.

The headlights are positively borrowed from the BMW S1000RR, perhaps to add more language to the RS that this is a sporty two-up ride. BMW has certainly added a bevy of photos of the R1200RS being used two-up, with our dynamic couple wearing leathers while they explore what looks like the Spanish coastline.

It will be interesting to see what the press thinks of the 125hp boxing twin, as our biggest complaint has been its lack of power. A fine enough lump on the R1200GS, we wonder if the wasserboxer will show its weakness more heavily with this sport model. Then again, we suppose the BMW S1000XR is for that power-hungry crowd — which brings us back to BMW’s very crowded two-wheeled lineup.

2015 BMW R1200R Mega Gallery

10/02/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

2015-BMW-R1200RS-105

Though the addition of BMW’s water-cooled engine to the 2015 BMW R1200R was a move everyone saw coming down the pipe, the German company’s extensive style shift on the BMW R1200R was perhaps a move unexpected.

The classic looking roadster of before is now replaced with a more aggressive design — though perhaps not as aggressive as the BMW Roadster Concept that we saw earlier this year.

Still, the new BMW R1200R is a handsome machine that incorporates both mild-touring capability with a fun sporty ride. Since we had a tough time pulling images off BMW’s press site earlier this week, because of all the traffic from INTERMOT, here’s a “mega gallery” of 181 high-resolution images. Enjoy!