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.

Ducati Elite II Café Racer by Moto Puro

03/05/2014 @ 3:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1199 Panigale is perhaps the pinnacle of technology for sport bikes from Bologna, Italy. With 195 horses of fury, and a positively anorexic dry weight of 367 lbs, the spec-sheet racing for the Panigale is intriguing, if getting around a race track the absolutely fastest way possible is your primary goal.

But what if you enjoy the finer things in your Ducati life as well? In that case, the brains at Moto Puro might have just the thing for your Desmo addiction: the Ducati Elite II.

To build the Elite II, the Dutch builders of Moto Puro took a Ducati 1199 Panigale S, and stripped the machine down to its Superquadro engine and electrical components. From there, those crazy Dutchmen built a café racer style motorcycle, complete with tubeless wire-laced wheels on single-sided swingarm.

Yamaha MT-09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/27/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the concept by Oberdan Bezzi for a Yamaha MT-09 based Ténéré adventure-tourer, but we thought we would up the ante now that the Italian designer has inked a “Worldcrosser” version of the three-cylinder machine as well.

Complete with knobbies, and over 150 lbs lighter than the 1,200cc Super Ténéré, the Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Worldcrosser could also boast a sticker price that is nearly half that of the venerable ADV bike from Yamaha.

It might just be a drawing, but there is something about this concept that really has us excited. To keep the creative juices rolling, there is a café racer version of the Yamaha MT-09 after the jump as well. Could this become the new “go-to” platform for customizers? At $7,990 MSRP, it just might be.

Pierobon Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Krax Moto

02/17/2014 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Do you remember the Pierobon frame kit for the Ducati 1199 Panigale that we showed you back in November? If you’re a loyal reader, you should — it was one of our most popular articles that month.

An answer for those who think that the Panigale’s “frameless” chassis is affected by the same woes as the MotoGP project, Pierobon’s steel-trellis frame replaces the load-bearing headtube/airbox design from Ducati.

While we wait to hear back from the folks at Pieroban about how their creation goes around the race track, the clever Photoshoppers at Krax-Moto have takien the Italian fabricator’s photos, and used them to ink a very impressive streetfighter / café racer concept.

A little headlight here, and little leather seat there — it’s really surprising how little need to be tweaked to make the design work. If the Pierobon folks are sharp, they’ll include Krax Moto’s changes in a kit for customers. Would you take this over a Ducati Monster 1200 S? We would.

BMW R90 Interceptor – The Last RAD Bike

01/20/2014 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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For the past week or so I have been stooped over in a depression, because after hearing the news that Radical Ducati would be shutting its doors after 15 years of incredible custom motorcycle building, I am just not sure if life is worth living. That’s a bit of hyperbole of course, but we are, like many, selfishly saddened to see that Pepo and Reyes will be moving onto bigger and better things.

So, it is with some irony that we bring you the last motorcycle to come from Radical Ducati — ironic because the machine is not one of RAD’s mix-matched Ducati’s, which has given the small Spanish firm such notoriety, but instead the motorcycle is a BMW, with the same unique style and flare. Dubbed the BMW R90 Interceptor, the machine is a joint project between Radical Ducati and MaxBOXER.

Wunderlich BMW R nineT Cafe Racer by Nicolas Petit

01/09/2014 @ 4:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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If you ask us, the BMW R nineT is a pretty big deal for the business of motorcycling, as its modular design allows for the air-cooled standard to be modified extensively and easily. BMW Motorrad designed the R nineT that way so tuners and customers alike could put their own stamp on the machine that celebrates the German motorcycle maker’s 90th year of business.

Whether your taste is along the lines of the heavily modified BMW Concept Ninety, which Roland Sands had a hand in making, or something more stock from the BMW parts catalog, the BMW R nineT can abide. So, it probably shouldn’t surprise us to see that Nicolas Petit has inked another build for German parts maker Wunderlich.

Drawing both a fully-faired and a more bare-boned version of Wunderlich BMW R nineT cafe racer, Petit has once again made a lurid proposition. We think those who love the classic lines of BMW’s past will enjoy these concepts, and if anything Petit’s work shows the versatility in the R nineT’s modular design.

Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer Takes Shape

01/07/2014 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We here at Asphalt & Rubber are big fans of the work that Bottpower is churning out, and whether your particular poison is the Bottpower M211 Moto2 race bike, the Bottpower BOTT 1000 Morlaco street bike, or Bottpower XR1 street tracker, the small Spanish company has a little something for everyone.

Next up for Bottpower is a cafe racer, which is based off the company’s latest creation, the XR1 (track day porn: here). Though the first iteration is almost ready for a customer, so far Bottpower has only given us some renders of the rolling chassis for public consumption.

Like the XR1, a donor Buell XB is used for its engine, brakes, and suspension (the first XC1 will use only a Buell motor however), which makes this machine more of a do-it-yourself kit for the mechanically inclined.

If Bottpower’s other work is any indication, we can’t wait to see how this project comes out. Also, note the custom swingarm, in orange, that Bottpower is building as well. Tasty.

BMW R nineT – 90 Years in the Making

10/16/2013 @ 5:04 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

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Officially official now, BMW Motorrad has taken the wraps off its new BMW R nineT cafe racer motorcycle. Helping the German brand celebrate 90 years of building motorcycles, the nineT is an air-cooled homage to BMW’s rich motorcycling past.

Based around the iconic 1,170cc air-cooled boxer engine that BMW has employed in a number of its best selling machines, the BMW R nineT is good for 108hp and 88 lbs•ft of torque.

With styling said to be based off the legandary BMW R32 from 1923, the nineT has more traditional cafe racer lines, mated to some of BMW’s best technology.

BMW hopes that the production model R nineT will be the basis for more custom builds though, citing the company’s collaboration with Roland Sands for the BMW Concept Ninety project as one such project to use the nineT’s roots for inspiration.

Leaked: Photos of BMW’s 90th Anniversary Café Racer

10/16/2013 @ 1:45 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It looks like BMW’s new air-cooled café racer has made an early, albeit brief, appearance on the internet. Photos of what we have been calling the BMW NineT appeared today on Italian news site La Repubblica, though the writers there called the machine the BMW R Nine. Unfortunately (for us) however, the article has since been taken down by the Italian publication.

With the NineT set to debut later today in Munich, these photos seem to be of the soon-to-be-released production model, and appear to be still shots for the machine’s upcoming press kit.

Spy Shots: BMW NineT Spotted in the Wild

09/25/2013 @ 12:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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At the EICMA show last year, BMW Motorrad announced that it would make another air-cooled model, in order to commemorate the 90 years that the German OEM has been producing two-wheelers.

Expected to be the production version of the company’s LoRider concept, we got our first taste of what BMW had in store for us with the BMW Concept Ninety — which had its retro goodness co-developed with America’s own Roland Sands.

Now seemingly ready for a true production model, BMW Motorrad has been caught testing the BMW NineT street bike inside the Lake Garda region in Italy.

Obviously fitted with the venerable 1,200cc air-cooled boxer twin that has made the GS and RT such steady steeds, the NineT uses classic motorcycle aesthetics, mated to classic BMW design pieces.

Stories of Bike

08/06/2013 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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“Stories of Bike is simply about the sharing stories of riders and their custom bikes. Motorbikes aren’t only a machine from which we derive a basic pleasure in riding, but rather something which connects us to many things: friends, family and our environment both urban and natural…It is these connections, these stories, I wish to share with your fellow riders,” writes Cam Elkin on the Stories of Bike website.

Based down under in Sydney, Australia and feeding of the area’s café racer scene, Elkin has put together a budding web series that focuses on individual motorcyclists and the unique machines they ride. It won’t take you long to realize that there is a clear moto-hipster vibe that’s going on with the Stories of Bike series, which to be honest gets old pretty quick if it’s not your thing (it’s not ours).

But, at the end of the day the video series is all about motorcyclists talking about their bikes, and the stories thus experienced from the saddle — so, what’s not to like about that? Five episodes deep so far, we have to say that the production and storytelling here is some of the best we’ve seen. Enjoy the episodes after the jump — we did, despite the skinny jeans.