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.

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.

Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva

03/11/2013 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Radical-Ducati-7-Sportiva-06

It has been a while since we posted about those crazy Spaniards at Radical Ducati, but long-time readers will remember fondly the exquisite custom motorcycles that Pepo and Reyes have created from the various pieces of Ducati’s finest.

It is hard to pick a favorite from machines like the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola Cafe Racer, Radical Ducati Café Veloce, Radical Ducati Mikaracer, Radical Ducati Raceric, and Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO, but our moto-lust keeps bringing us back to the Radical Ducati 9½ – a café racer styled motorcycle that uses an ST2 motor, a Monster 900 frame, and a 916 fuel tank and swingarm.

Getting its name from the ST2’s 944cc engine displacement, the 9½’s designation should tip-off where the Spanish firm has gone in its creation with the Radical Ducati 7½ Sportiva. Another water-cooled machine, the 7½ Sportiva ups the ante with the Ducati Superbike 749R taking the honor as its donor bike, while still remaining true to its predecessor’s café racer look and feel.

Ducati Monster S4R Concept by Paolo Tesio

04/25/2012 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

While the Ducati Monster S4R is a special machine in its own right, using a water-cooled four-valve superbike-derived motor, this custom by Paolo Tesio caught our eye as something singularly different from the Italian brand’s fine work. First creating a custom subframe, tail section, and fork guards in CAD, Tesio’s finished motorcycle compliments the original design of the Monster S4R quite well, in a balanced “evolution, not revolution” sort of way.

Complete with an underslung box-style exhaust, the look is clean, different, but still very true to the Monster’s café roots. Our favorite part is perhaps the least functional, as the fork guards give a girder front-end feel, and are tastefully emblazoned with the retro Ducati logo. If there is enough interest, Tesio says he will make a kit available to S4R owners. More tragically small and horribly cropped photos after the jump.

Sbay Jerry – Fine Art Meets Motorcycling

03/13/2012 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

While the United States has always been a center for custom motorcycle fabrication, a biker renaissance is currently underway on Spanish soil. It shouldn’t surprise us that one of the largest and most rabid places for motorcycling is fostering some of the most beautiful motorcycle masterpieces in the world, this is after all the same country that brought us Dalí, Goya, & Picasso.

Of course you have seen Madrid’s Radical Ducati gracing our pages, but some of our most favorite work comes from the folks over at Sbay. Truly two-wheeled artistry, our love affair first started with the Sbay Flying 1800, but we find ourselves in serious motorcycling lust with the firm’s latest creation: the Sbay Jerry.

1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries

01/09/2012 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we don’t feature too many bikes that subscribe to the “modern-take on the retro look” hipster theory of motorcycling. Maybe it’s because we prefer to go fast rather than look cool, or maybe it’s because we don’t own any form fitting denim pants — honestly, it could go either way on that one. That being said, we know what we like, and more importantly when know what we like when we see it, and that pretty much sums up our thoughts on the 1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries.

Beginning life in the mundane, the Honda CB is a crowd favorite with the retro-turned-hipster crowd for making modern takes on the café racer design aesthetic. Don’t get us wrong, we have seen plenty of café racers that we like, and the market segment enjoys a small but militant following of motorcycle enthusiasts. However, rarely does a Honda CB, no matter how much beauty school it has attended, floor you in your seat. This work by Derek Pauletto however, would be the exception to that statement.

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Endurance Racer by Luca Bar

02/03/2011 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

When the Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Racer debuted at EICMA in 2009, it looks like we weren’t the only ones smitten by the bike’s retro yet refined presence. Moto Guzzi’s creation also caught the eye of the purveyor of pixels himself, Luca Bar of Luca Bar Designs, as the Italian designer plans on having a V7 in his garage, albeit with a slightly different look and feel from the stock model.

Basing his design off the endurance racers of the 1970’s, Bar is constructing a streamlined forward fairing for his Guzzi. Of course the process is added by his talented eye for design, which brings us the render you see here. Staying true to the classic lines of the Clubman, we think there might be more demand for such a piece than just the one destined for Bar’s garage.

Sbay Flying 1800 Custom Cafe Racer

11/29/2010 @ 6:17 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Here’s to starting Monday morning off right as we bring you the Spanish-made Sbay Flying 1800 custom café racer from Sbay Motor Company. If cruisers from a certain American manufacturer could look like this, we imagine that talks of an aging demographic would cease to exist as the Flying 1800 has ample doses of eye-candy, sportiness, and innovation.

Between the 3.7 gallon carbon fiber tank that is hangs below the oil-holding frame and above the motor, the rear taillight that integrates into the tail section like a Ducati GP9/GP10, and the tasteful use of copper pipes that we liked so much on the Confederate Fighter, there’s plenty to get you drooling on this bike as it borrows from some of the best ideas in motorcycle design.

Ducati 350 Café Racer – Proof That Less is More

11/24/2010 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Christian Klein’s Ducati 350 Café Racer might be a work of art, and it’s certainly an example that you don’t have to make an elaborate motorcycle to make something visually stunning. Using a Ducati 350 Scrambler motor, Klein has ported and polished the single-cylinder lump, and then fabricated a custom steel frame to make his creation. Klein was meticulous in his construction, taking several years to perfect his machine. The attention to detail has paid off though, and we especially like the custom made exhaust that wraps around the rear shock, and comes to a minimalist conclusion under the rider’s handmade seat. Photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati Café Veloce

11/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Seeing how popular the work of Radical Ducati has been on our site, both with the Radical Ducati 9½ and Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we thought we’d bring you another one of the Spanish group’s fabulous creations: The Radical Ducati Café Veloce. Based off a Ducati Sport Classic, the Café Veloce features the same DS 1000 air-cooled two-valve motor, and steel tube frame as the now discontinued Ducati, but grows upon the Sport Classic’s cafe inspired lines.

Tastefully refining the Café Veloce into a sleeker and more dynamic package, Radical Ducati has created the Café Veloce to be devoid of Ducati’s more bland touches to the GT1000. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re smitten with the Café Veloce, even if it’s not usually the kind of thing we’d go for in our own garage. Photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati 9½

10/25/2010 @ 12:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

From the guys at Spanish firm Radical Ducati comes the 9½, a Ducati ST2 motor wedged into a Monster 900 chassis, making an Italian beauty that’s part cafe racer, part streetfighter. Drawing inspiration form Ducati’s single-cylinder race bikes from the 1970’s, the 9½ is not only a looker, but is comprised of parts from Ducatis long forgotten past (but perhaps more memorable bikes, if you can handle that oxymoron).

If you look closely you’ll see pieces from not only the ST2, Monster 900, but also from the Ducati 916 Superbike (swingarm and rear-wheel), and 999 Superbike (fuel tank). Some other Radical parts enter the mix as well from its RAD series, and the result is a retro-esque bike that looks scintillating, classy, light, and fast. Keep your eyes trained for more bikes from Radical Ducati, we expect we’ll see some more great pieces (like this Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola) from the firm as they continue their Desmo mash-up. Bunch o’photos after the jump.

How to Save Harley-Davidson – Step 2: Shift Your Product Lineup into New Segments

04/07/2010 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler66 COMMENTS

35 motorcycles, 7 model lines, 4 chassis, 3 motor families, & 1 market segment, that’s Harley-Davidson’s product line by the numbers. Where many large production motorcycle companies might have 30 or so motorcycles that span the entire gamut of motorcycling’s different sub-markets, Harley-Davidson has put all of its eggs in the heavy cruiser market. This singular pursuit of one market segment has not only been the cause for Harley’s success, but also a significant contributing factor to the company’s recent downfall, which has led to a recently rumored leveraged buyout.

As the old idiom goes, one should not put all their eggs in one basket, which is exactly the faux pas being committed here by Harley-Davidson in its product offering. Businesses, especially public ones, should always have an eye on sustained long-term growth, and a key element to that goal is a well-diversified position in their appropriate industry. Taking this lens and applying it to Harley-Davidson, one can immediately see a portfolio that has been extensively mismanaged by focusing on only one segment of the total motorcycle industry: the heavy cruiser market.

What this has effectively created is a motorcycle company that looks like Alfred Hitchcock’s take on Baskin Robins: 31 flavors, but they’re all Rocky Road.