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.

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Despite its huge dimensions, not to mention a 30 liter fuel tank, the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure never looks big or bulky. In fact, it is only when you mount the hard luggage that you can tell this bike can really cover long distances. Apart from a dorky little exposed wire from the heated grips near the throttle, the fit and finish is very high-end, especially the integrated curved lighting in the tank — it is quite a sight. At first glance the Super Adventure doesn’t have the massive personality and stance of its German rival, the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but that is in part due to the white color scheme and the absence of the typical beak as a front mudguard. KTM is going about things differently, and that is something that appeals to many riders…including us.

Akrapovič Morsus Custom Motorcycle

05/09/2011 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Akrapovič is known for making some of the finest sport bike exhausts on the market, with its carbon and titanium artistry gracing many a bike in the AMA, World Superbike, and MotoGP paddocks. Now we learn from our friends at OmniMoto.it that our favorite Slovenian motorcycle exhaust maker is getting into the custom chopper scene, and helping promote the company’s launch of cruiser-styled exhausts is the modern-styled Akrapovič Morsus custom show bike.

Built in collaboration with Dreamachine Motorcycles, the Akrapovič Morsus features an S&S 113 CI (that’s 1,852cc for the mertic-inclined) motor that pumps out 114hp through its modified Akrapovič exhaust pipe. The Morsus design appeases our modern-leaning design sensibilities, but true to its ethos, it’s the Akrapovič exhaust that really makes us drool over this bike. There’s something about an underslung side-venting pipe that makes us happy, and the Akrapovič Morsus is no exception to the rule. Photos and more after the jump.

Big Dog Motorcycles Shuts Its Doors

04/05/2011 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

More bad news from the business sector this week, as reports are starting to come in that Big Dog Motorcycles has shut its doors after being taken over by the company’s creditors. With the banks halting the production line, this is effectively the end of one of the largest (if not the largest) custom motorcycle builders in the world. Cyril Huze broke the news on his blog on Monday that the company had closed its doors, but Big Dog President Mike Simmons denied that news on Monday.

However Big Dog dealers have since confirmed that company owner Sheldon Coleman has contacted them, informing them of the bank’s take over, and that the business and production would be ceasing. Coleman is reportedly planning on starting a new company that would supply parts to current Big Dog owners.

Radical Ducati Raceric

04/05/2011 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

As we look at the latest creation from Radical Ducati, a Spanish custom shop whose name you should know by now if you’re a regular A&R reader, there’s always something about their design that just grabs you and sucks you us into the motorcycle (check the RAD02 Imola Café Racer, , Café Veloce, and Mikaracer). We don’t agree with all the choices they make (of course that might be why we’re blogging, and they’re building), but Radical has certainly created a distinct look that you can spot a mile away. Combine that with some superb photography (they always throw in a couple artsy shots for us it seems), and it shouldn’t be a big surprise as to why their work makes it onto our pages so regularly.

The Radical Ducati Raceric was built way back in 2010 (check out this Facebook album with older photos), which technically doesn’t make it a new creation from the Spaniards, but the folks at Radical Ducati did enlist Paolo Grana to take some more shots of the bike, and that’s good enough for us. Radical did-up both monoposto and biposto seat for the Raceric, and in these news shots we see only the biposto version. Half the fun with the bikes from Radical Ducati is spotting which parts came from which Ducati models. The photos are after the jump, shout out what you see in the comments.

Pierobon F042 hstreet

04/04/2011 @ 7:32 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

It seems only fitting that a company that takes a Ducati Monster motor, and puts it in its own proprietary frame should also hail from the Italian city of Bologna, as is the case here with Pierobon. Making a bevy of parts to add to your Ducati of choice, Pierobon also makes complete bikes, and has recently done up its F042 hstreet for your motorcycling consumption.

Showing off Pierobon’s aluminum trellis frame, the Pierobon F042 hstreet also features the ability to mount any of the current two-valve v-twins from Ducati (we’d suggest the peppier 1,100cc version, but wouldn’t judge anyone for going after a 796cc or 696cc motor).

While each bike is made to order, you can expect to drop at least €19,980 on a Pierobon F042 hstreet if you want one in your garage. For the more adventurous and mechanically inclined, the frame can be bought as a stand-alone part for the tidy sum of €3,680. Not exactly ridiculous prices for something that looks this good. Photos after the jump.

Moto Corse MV Agusta Brutale 1133 Evo-CA

03/28/2011 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The MV Agusta Brutale 1078RR is a special bike in its own right, featuring another of Massimo Tamburini’s iconic designs in motorcycling. It’s hard to improve upon such a work, which is perhaps why we see MV Agusta currently recycling its aesthetic as it updates its motorcycle line.

This fact hasn’t stopped Moto Corse from trying its hand on improving upon the Tamburini design though, as the company has put together what it calls the MV Agusta Brutale 1133 Evo-CA: a carbontastic work of both visual bling and go-fast parts.

30 Years of Troy Lee Designs

03/16/2011 @ 2:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Troy Lee Designs is celebrating 30 years of customizing helmets “For The World’s Fastest Racers” this year, and Honda Powersports has made a nice video that talks to Troy about how he came into the sport, his work, and how his business has grown and evolved over the past three decades.

Troy Lee Designs is obviously know for its custom helmets, which have adorned many a racers’ head, and the firm is also responsible for the paint and livery for the Rizla Suzuki team (along with some other creative work for the MotoGP squad). As for Honda’s involvement, there is now the 2011 Troy Lee Designs Supercross Team, which sees rider Cody Seely battling it out on the dirt for TLD with the Honda race package.

Roland Sands Design Ducati Desmo Tracker

03/14/2011 @ 7:42 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Those boys in Southern California are at it again, as Roland Sands Design has taken on building a customer’s Ducati Desmosedici RR into a custom street tracker. According to RSD the lucky owner is Justyn Amstutz, and this zero miles Desmosedici RR is one of three in his stable. With 989cc 200+ hp V4 motor that revs to 16,000 rpm, RSD hopes to take Ducati’s beast of a street bike, and turn it into something that requires a steel boot to ride.

Radical Ducati Mikaracer

02/14/2011 @ 5:55 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The Spanish custom bike scene continues to warm our hearts as Radical Ducati (Happy 10th year anniversary guys!) has just created another v-twin masterpiece. Taking a Ducati Superbike 1098 frame and motor, RAD has worked its touches into this desmodromic dreamboat with its usual flare. It’s easy to spot the Spanish team’s design ideas and inspirations that we’ve seen on some of its other bikes, but the exhaust on this Ducati Mikaracer certainly stands out as something unique and special.

Part GP racer, part street tracker, the asymetrical mounting might have our OCD in a tizzy, but the result is also very striking and sounds oh so good (check the video after the jump). The tail section on the Mikaracer also pops-out, if for no other reason than the fact it looks like it was removed from a giant hornet’s thorax (you almost want to drag the Spanish equivalent of the DMV into the street for ruining things with that license plate and holder though), which is becoming a hallmark feature for RAD’s bikes. Photos, video, and technical/build specs after the jump.

For Sale: Carbontastic Ducati Streetfighter That Will Eat Unattended Small Children

01/26/2011 @ 12:23 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

If you’re in the market for a custom Ducati Streetfighter that has more carbon than a charcoal briquette, then look no further than the Shift-Tech Carbon Streetfighter that’s currently up for sale on eBay. The bike has obvious features like Shift-Tech’s carbon fairings, Öhlins everything, BST carbon wheels, Zard exhaust, and carbon disc brakes, but at the heart of the bike is a worked over 1250cc motor that’s been built to out 162hp at the rear wheel, and will surely make a man out of any little boy.

As you slowly pick your jaw off the table, be sure to check out the auction for all the nitty-gritty build details (there’s a lot of work on this bike). While there is only 12 hours left on the auction at the time of this writing, the “Buy It Now” price of $43,500 makes us suspect that we’ll see this Streetfighter listed again in the near future. Thanks for the tip Josh!

Best in Show at Verona: Stargate by Garage 65

01/25/2011 @ 12:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Verona Motor Bike Expo may not be the largest motorcycle show in Italy, but it certainly attracts some of the most beautiful bikes to be found in the country shaped like a boot. Of course only one bike can be crowned as the very best on display, and with some help from our friends at OmniMoto.it, we can share with you that this year’s honor goes to the spare-no-expense-on-the-chrome-budget build of Viareggio-based Garage 65 and its Stargate custom.

The Tuscan tinkers are no strangers to winning bike build-offs, having won last year the Italian section of the World Constructors Championship with their Kosmodrive motorcycle (we’re sensing a theme here), and have again collaborated with Domenico Moretti to build the Stargate’s unique steel/aluminum frame.