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.

Benchmark by Walz Hardcore Cycles

01/01/2013 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Regular readers will know that I am not a big chopper guy, but every now and then one comes along that tugs enough on this sportbiker’s heart strings that I feel compelled to post about it. Such is the case with the Benchmark by Walz Hardcore Cycles, whose close proximity to the F1 course in Hockenheim, Germany certainly must play a factor.

I am fairly confident that the Öhlins superbike suspension, carbon fiber wheels, carbon/ceramic disc brakes, and debadged Akrapovic exhaust can aren’t going to really make the difference on this low-slung S&S-powered motorcycle, but they certainly do add to the bike’s sporty lines.

The streamlined sporty-chopper look has always worked well on me, and the Benchmark is no different with its brushed aluminum metal bodywork and carbon fiber accent pieces. I can’t say that I am a fan of the Ducati Monster headlight though, a design element that kills the donor machine for me.

With pricing that starts at €124,900 (€149,900 for the bike shown here), there is a hefty dose of sticker shock that comes with the Benchmark as well. So, we doubt one will find its way into your garage anytime soon, but for now it is something nice to look at, even if the chopper thing isn’t your bag of two-wheeled fun.

Wunderlich BMW R1200S Concept by Nicolas Petit

12/17/2012 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

If you don’t follow the work of Nicolas Petit, you should. The French designer has been inking some of the most striking motorcycle concepts in the industry, and the best part is many of them are coming to life thanks to BMW accessories provider Wunderlich.

Refusing to let go of the thesis provided BMW HP2 Sport, Petit envisions BMW’s new semi water-cooled boxer engine (first seen on the 2013 BMW R1200GS) as providing the basis for a new sport bike in the HP2’s vein, complete with a single-sided swingarm, dual undertail exhaust, and Öhlins suspension.

It might be a tough sell now that the BMW S1000RR and BMW HP4 have hit dealership floors, but there is something really quite elegant in Petit’s design, and we imagine there are more than few weekend riders who wouldn’t mind such a unique machine with a boxer’s punch.

Moar Photos of the Pierobon X60R

12/17/2012 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Last year, our Christmas was ruined with the sighting of the Pierobon X60R sport bike. A small Italian company based in Bologna, for those who aren’t in the know, Pierobon has ties to some big projects in MotoGP & WSBK.

Known for their trellis chassis designs, the Pierobon X60R is the company’s two-wheeled flagship (be sure to checkout the Pierobon F042 street bike). We lusted after the X60R last year, you wanted one under your Christmas tree, and we all had to learn how to live our lives with disappointment afterwards.

Discontent to call things done, Pierobon has revised the X60R over the past year, with the most noticeable change being the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO air-cooled v-twin lump. Putting a little bit more pep in the bike’s step, Pierobon has also revised the chassis, namely the X60R’s swingarm.

Derived from the company’s GP designs, the chain-side of the swingarm has been fully enclosed, presumably for increased rigidity. Pierobon has also increased the size of the oil-cooler radiator to help with heat transfer on the more powerful motor.

Bottpower BOTT XR1 is Finally Ready for Street Track Duty

12/15/2012 @ 6:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

For almost two years now, we have been waiting for Bottpower to finished its BOTT XR1 custom motorcycle. Starting with an air-cooled v-twin motor from a Buell XB, the BOTT XR1 is the perfect intersection of old-school flat tracking and high-tech street shredding — we’re not sure if we should strap on a steel shoe, or get some fresh knee pucks. Available as a stand alone machine from Bottpower, the Spanish firm also plans on making a kit for XB owners.

Built with an ample amount of carbon fiber, Bottpower used the stock eight-piston Buell 1125R Brake system (with ISR levers for the front brake and clutch). For the rear suspension an Öhlins shock has been implemented, while the under-slung exhaust is from Torque Hammer. The flat handlebar is by Easton, while the gauges are from Motogadget. If don’t have a street tracker on your holiday wish list, we suggest a revision. Tasty photos after the jump.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Tricolore by Motovation

10/01/2012 @ 7:56 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

We have to admit, we’re sort of a sucker for the tri-color paint scheme on the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore, and it broke our hearts seeing one of these $28,000 bikes hit the dirt during our track day this weekend. Classy and understated, the Italians constantly remind us that less is more, but why should the Panigale get all the fun? The folks at Motovation Accessories seemingly agree, and have dressed up their Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring in the Tricolore’s paint — naturally, we likey.

Frak Me: Starbuck’s Classified Moto KT600 Custom

08/27/2012 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber may be known for the over-enjoyment of a certain sci-fi dynasty that started in 1977, but we are group of equal opportunity geeks/nerds/virgins here, and have just as much room in our hearts for the toaster-fraking good times that were provided by the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series.

While we stayed up late at night, wondering if Kara “Starbuck” Thrace was in fact a Cylon, it turns out that Katee Sackhoff, who played the rebellious Viper pilot on the hit show, was instead probably dreaming of her next two-wheeled toy: Classified Moto’s KT600.

Ducati Multistrada Biuta by Carlo Roscio

06/18/2012 @ 6:59 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

It is hard to believe that the “Biuta” began life as Ducati Multistrada, as it really looks nothing like the air-cooled Terblanche-penned bike. Getting more of Streetfighter meets Monster look and feel than the lines of the Multi, the Biuta is one hot looking machine, no matter which flavor of Desmo you prefer. Made by Carlo Roscio and his brother, the two brothers from Pavia, Italy spent over two years getting the Biuta right — and get it right they did.

Not too ostentatious, and not too sublime, the reincarnated 2003 Ducati Multistrada 1000DS looks great in powder blue, and has a tasteful mix of parts that allures to both the form & function crowds. We particularly like the custom Zard exhaust and side-mounted radiator, though we would hate to have to be the one to make all those many, many perfect welds. The only thing we don’t like? The far-too-tiny photos found after the jump.

More Photos of the Confederate X132 Hellcat

05/15/2012 @ 2:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

The Confederate X132 Hellcat is the latest creation from the boutique southern motorcycle brand, and continues the Hellcat lineage’s custom-roadster aesthetic. Like any machine produced by Confederate, the real beauty of the new Hellcat comes down to the bike’s detail finishes, which for the X132 includes a motor casing that was built out of two pieces of billet 6061 aircraft grade aluminum.

Officially spec’d with “sufficient” power and torque figures, the  2,163cc v-twin motor on the X132 is more than eye-catching, and should propel you down the road just fine with its estimated 132 peak horsepower and 150 lbs•ft of torque.

With Confederate only expected to make 162 units of the X132 Hellcat, as usual the name of the game is exclusivity. Pricing has jumped from the initial $44,550, and now is $49,500, with another price increase of roughly $5,000 expected after July 4th. Fifteen more photos of the Confederate X132 Hellcat are after the jump for your viewing pleasure.

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.

Update on the Bottpower BOTT XR-1

02/07/2012 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

It is sad to say, but the Harley-Davidson XR1200X is just about the only thing from the Milwaukee brand that intrigues me. And what kills me the most is that Harley-Davidson could really add something more to its product line up if it just explored the flat-tracker aesthetic in greater detail with its brand. Instead of bringing to market twenty or so variations on the same cruiser shape, Harley-Davidson could really bolster its brand with younger riders if it simply tapped into the street-tracker/scrambler movement that is percolating underneath the “looks like a Power Ranger” street scene.

Wake up Milwaukee, because the emo-teenger, full of high school angst, has matured into the “college is for pussies” hipster scene, which is comprised of an eclectic group of people that have been collectively displaced out of the 1940’s and into the new millennium + 10 years. Building a brand off the 1% rebel perception, I don’t know why its such a hard concept for Harley-Davidson to understand that it can latch onto these new-age bohemians, and create a similar bond with them as it did with the Baby Boomers so many years ago. After all, there is already great symmetry between the two cultures, as both Harley-Davidson and the hipster elite seem forever-fixated on a period in time that is far enough removed from our parents’ generation to be considered cool again.

What the hipsters wouldn’t like of course is the Bottpower BOTT XR-1. A racier and more custom version of the Harley-Davidson XR1200X (The BOTT XR-1 is actually based off a Buell motor), Bottpower has done such a good job making the Buell look Alana Blanchard hot that the Voltron generation will forget all about the reasons their didn’t like the Bar & Shield brand in the first place, and instantly liquidate their pre-IPO Facebook stock in order to make room for Bottpower’s work in their marina-view apartments. Needless to say, I like what’s going on here.