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.

Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Hertrampf

12/16/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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As soon as Bologna debuted the Ducati 1199 Panigale, the speculation was rife on if/when the Italian brand would bring streetfighter and supersport-class machines to market. We have already seen the Ducati 899 Panigale, which isn’t quite race-legal, though packs the superbike’s design philosophies into a more affordable package with a smaller engine displacement.

As for the Streetfighter, the debut of the Ducati Monster 1200 seems to confirm suspicions that Ducati has no plans to continue with a performance-based street naked. With the demise of the Streetfighter 1098, one can only wonder how much longer the Streetfighter 848 will remain in Ducati’s lineup. Surely when the smaller displacements of the Monster line move to water-cooled engine, the we will see the removal of the 848, much to our chagrin.

This still leaves us with some “what if’s” though, as some believe the monocoque “frameless” chassis design of the Panigale makes a streetfighter variant all but impossible. We would have to say that when the fairingless photos of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera that came out this year, our eyes searched for ways to tailor the Panigale’s naked body into some sort of Streetfighter, though it looks like some Germans have gone a step further.

Ducati 1199 Superleggera Tricolore Nero by Tessoart

12/11/2013 @ 3:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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As we look back in hindsight, the Ducati 1199 Superleggera has to be one of the more compelling bikes to come out of 2013. A motorcycle built with the unilateral approach of making the lightest sport bike possible, the Superleggera doesn’t disappoint from a technical point of view.

However, judging from some of the reactions of its debut, some readers would have liked to see Ducati stray away from the Corse inspired livery, which had already been featured on the Ducati Desmosedici RR — Ducati’s previous halo bike.

We understand that sentiment, after all not everyone is into the more-orange-than-red “Flouro Rosso” paint job that Ducati’s racing machines now wear in the premier class. That is where the Ducati 1199 Superleggera Tricolore Nero by Tessoart comes into play.

A continuation of the Tricolore Nero paint job for the Panigale, which we showed earlier this year, Tessoart shows us that maybe Ducati made a mistake in its color choices for the “super light” Panigale. After all black is supposed to be slimming, right?

And More Photos of the Suzuki Extrigger Electric Concept

11/27/2013 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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A brand better known for trotting out the same “timeless” designs each year, Suzuki seems to be finally waking up from its recession-induced slumber, and debuted two intriguing motorcycle concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.

We already showed you today more photos of the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion street bike concept (please Suzuki, build this bike), and the Japanese OEM has shown a shining for the budding electric segment as well.

The Suzuki Extrigger electric concept is an interesting machine, as its form factor is very similar to the Honda Grom. Using the same electric motor as the company’s Suzuki E-Let’s scooter, we can assume that the Extrigger is packing the same unimpressive figures of 2hp and 11 lbs•ft of torque as the E-Let, though Suzuki does say that the Extrigger weighs a paltry 137 lbs, which is alluring.

More Photos of the Turbo-Powered Suzuki Recursion

11/27/2013 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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Forced-induction was the trend du jour at the Tokyo Motor Show, with Kawasaki showing off a supercharged four-cylinder engine and with Suzuki debuting its turbocharged Recursion concept.

While Team Green is being tightlipped with what exactly its up to (all we know is that the supercharged motorcycle engine has been developed completely in-house), Suzuki is more keen with teasing its machine.

Releasing some more photos of the Suzuki Recursion, this bike is looking like a winner to us, with its water-cooled 588cc twin-cylinder engine that features an intercooled turbocharger.

Suzuki says the engine package is just shy of 100hp at 8,000 rpm, with peak torque coming in at 74 lbs•ft at 4,500 rpm. The Suzuki Recursion is also quoted as being 384 lbs dry.

Fluid Ducati Superleggera Concept by Gannet Design

11/26/2013 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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You would be hard-pressed to improve upon the design of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, as the “superlight” superbike has equal helpings of design and technical beauty.

That hasn’t stopped Ulfert Janssen of Gannet Design though, as the German designer has inked an interesting take on Ducait’s 1199 platform, which he calls the Fluid Ducati Superleggera.

Janssen’s renders have some interesting elements to them, though we suspect that the Ducatisti are already sharpening their pitchforks. What do you think?

Looks Like the Yamaha PES1 Electric Street Bike Is a Runner

11/20/2013 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Last week when Yamaha debuted its electric street bike concept, the Yamaha PES1, we thought it looked like a well-though out concept machine that gave the tuning fork brand some street cred for thinking about a future with electric motorcycles. After all, the Japanese company was light on details, and certain parts of the bike seemed a bit more Star Trek than reality. Turns out we were wrong.

Releasing a video of the Yamaha PES1 testing on the track, it’s clear that the concept is fully-functional (just like Data), which means Yamaha has set its phasers to stun with this 100kg machine. From the cuts of this quick YouTube flick, Yamaha seems as serious as a Borg cube with its electric project, which only adds to the intrigue on when they could debut a proper production model.

Maybe with the rumors about Honda being behind the Mugen Shinden project, Yamaha didn’t want Big Red to get too far ahead in the EV game. Whatever the case may be, we like it…even more than Klingon gagh.

Kawasaki J Concept – A Green Outlook on the Future

11/20/2013 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Sometimes we like our concept motorcycles to be funky, and the Kawasaki J Concept certainly delivers in that department. Debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show a vision on what the future of motorcycling could become, the Kawasaki J is an electric trike/quad with a variable riding position/chassis configuration.

Not too dissimilar from the Yamaha Tesseract, the J Concept is an interesting exercise in design and technology proposals, and could be the future of leaning-trikes and similar vehicles. What are your thoughts?

Yamaha R25 Concept — Your Christmas Has Been Ruined

11/20/2013 @ 7:45 am, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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Feeling the pressure to develop a 250cc sport bike for developing markets, Yamaha has finally released some details on the upcoming Yamaha R25, and we like what we see so far. A two-cylinder machine with racing in its blood, Yamaha’s concept is like a mini Yamaha YZR-M1 — devoid of lights and mirrors — and features racing livery with an Akrapovic exhaust to match.

The Yamaha R25 concept is an encouraging sign from Yamaha, even if what we are looking is a concept bike rather than a production-ready model.

But still, Yamaha’s approach in styling the Yamaha R25 to visually look like a miniature M1 is going to payoff huge dividends in Southeast Asia, where the bulk of the models are going to be sold, and where Rossi and Lorenzo have massive droves of fans. For us in the western world, well this bike just looks hot. We want one already.

Yamaha PED1 Concept — Electrics Are About to Get Dirty

11/12/2013 @ 10:57 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The off-road counterpart to Yamaha’s electric Yamaha PES1 concept street bike, the Yamaha PED1 concept is the second electric motorcycle concept that Yamaha intends to debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. Like its on-road sibling, the PED1 features a monocoque chassis, along with a DC brushless motor, automatic/manual transmission, and a swappable lithium-ion battery pack.

The core of the Yamaha PED1 appears to be exactly the same as the Yamaha PES1, which one could easily be chalked up to a Yamaha designer reusing renders for each bike. However, the repurposing of the core components showcases a strong element of electric vehicles: their ability to use truly modular designs.

Yamaha PES1 Concept – Another OEM Considers Electrics

11/12/2013 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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The Tokyo Motor Show is next week, and while we expect Honda to debut the Honda Gold Wing F6C at the show, it looks like Yamaha is set to make some waves as well. Teasing four concept motorcycles, two have caught our interest. First up is the Yamaha PES1 concept, which is an electric sport bike with a DC brushless motor and lithium-ion battery.

Yamaha is light on details, and we can imagine that the concepts are meant more to illustrate that the tuning fork brand is “thinking about” electrics, as is the vogue with OEMs at the moment. However, the design is interesting, especially with Yamaha suggesting that the battery pack, called the Yamaha Smart Power Module, is swappable on the sub-100kg machine.