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.

2012 Honda Goldwing Gets Minor Tweaks

02/21/2011 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

There must be a new rule in the tourer market segment where “all new bikes” consist of minor revisions to existing machines, as Honda has apparently taken a page out of Harley-Davidson’s playbook, and done an exciting upgrade to the 2012 Honda Goldwing. While rumors were overly-hyped that an all-new Goldwing would be making an American appearance, it appears instead that the Honda engineers have gone on to further improve upon their design of the legendary touring motorcycle.

No longer built in America at Honda’s now defunct Marysville, Ohio plant, the Japanese produced 2012 Honda Goldwing comes with a slightly larger price tag, but boasts some improvements to justify the cost. Revamped bodywork, larger capacity luggage pieces, improved built-in GPS with iPod/MP3 player support, and revised suspension complete the changes for the new Goldwing. It’s hard to impress sport bike guys with a big bike like the Honda Goldwing, but if you’re interested in buying the gold standard (no pun intended) of motorcycle touring, things just got a bit more appealing we imagine.

Motorcycle Lust: KTM/Vyrus Frankenbike

02/19/2011 @ 4:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

This has to be the most impractical motorcycle ever conceived…but we absolutely have to have one. A mixture of the KTM Dakar 450 & KTM Freeride concept, and the Vyrus 987 C3 4V, this Frankenbike not only grabs our attention for its outrageous design, but for its handy work in Photoshop as well. You’d think with the combined forces of KTM‘s proven Dakar winner, Ducati’s stout 1198cc v-twin power plant, and Vyrus‘ hub-center steering chassis design, this would be the last word on all things two wheeled, but as its creator points out, that’s likely not to be the case.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

Here’s One for the MV Agusta Fans

01/20/2011 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

If you’re a lover of all things Italian (MV Agusta‘s in particular), and near the Midland, Michigan area, then you should stop by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art before April 10, 2011. A part of the Midland Center of the Arts, the museum is showing an exhibit on Italian art that includes a gallery full of classic and modern MV Agusta motorcycles, along with photographs of Italian cars, and 17th century Italian sketches.

Showing the merger of form and function, MV Agusta motorcycles easily top our list as some of the finest-looking two-wheeled machines ever made. As much as we slog the Italian company for going to the well on its most recent creation, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, its predecessor the MV Agusta F4, whose lines were penned by the master Massimo Tamburini, has to be the most gorgeous modern motorcycle ever produced by mortal man.

A video of the exhibit is embedded after the jump, along with a gallery of the MV Agusta F3. If any A&R readers go to the exhibit, we’d love to post your photos of the MV’s on display.

The Mission R with Its Clothes Off

01/18/2011 @ 12:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The Mission R, the latest creation to come from San Francisco-based Mission Motors, looks like any typical gasoline-powered sportbike (well, any really good looking gasoline-powered sportbike), and that’s sort of the point behind the machine: an electric motorcycle that can excite petrol-heads and electron nerds alike. Although the Mission R was made to draw mainstream appeal, today we see further proof that any resemblance to modern ICE motorcycles was made to be only skin deep.

Beneath the carbon-laid fairings of the Mission R, we see a hint of the bike’s unique chrome-moly trellis frame that mates to a previously hidden headstock/front sub-frame unit that was made by Speedymoto and designed by James Parker (of GSX-RADD fame). With the Mission R’s mass centralized around the 141hp 3-phace AC induction motor, Parker also had to contend with Mission’s carbon enclosed two-tiered battery pack that comprises the bulk of the race bike’s weight.

Read after the jump as Parker walks us through his process and thoughts on designing the Mission R, and be sure to check out the photo galleries for an up-close look.

Pierre Terblanche Leaves Piaggio for Norton

01/13/2011 @ 9:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

While Norton Motorcycles finds itself currently in the middle of a relaunch period, having recently resurrected the brand at its Donington Park headquarters, being widely rumored to contend in MotoGP for the 2012 season, and just a month ago announcing that it would return to the North American motorcycle market, more changes seem in store for the historic British company. Announced today was the surprise move that sees famed South African motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche moving from Piaggio, where he was working on revamping the Moto Guzzi line, to Norton Motorcycles.

Daniel Simon Talks on the Tron: Legacy Lightcycle Design

12/04/2010 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

We’re eagerly awaiting December 17th here at the Asphalt & Rubber office, as that is the official movie premiere of Tron: Legacy. A mix of computer geekiness, state-of-the-art special effects, The Dude, Olivia Wilde, and of course lightcycles, Tron: Legacy is about as close to an A&R wet dream as you can get.

While we try and contain ourselves from giggling like little schoolgirls, technology news blog TechCrunch got a chance to sit down with Daniel Simon, the designer of the new Tron lightcycle (you might remember Simon from his renowned Cosmic Motors work), and ask him about revisiting the lightcycle design (air flaps!) in Tron: Legacy. That interview and a boatload of Tron: Legacy concept sketches are after the jump.

Snake Road Motorcycle Concept by Bruno Delussu

11/11/2010 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Drawing inspiration from Daniel Simon’s Cosmic Motors series (Simon designed the Tron lightcycle in the up-coming Tron Legacy movie by the way), designer Bruno Delussu has dreamt up the Snake Road motorcycle concept. Set in a nondescript time in the future, the Snake Road uses a fiberglass body to house its internal combustion engine (apparently EV’s still haven’t taken off in Delussu’s future).

Made for fun, Delussu admits there are some deficiencies in the design (the front wheel can’t turn for example), and explains the choice of an internal combustion engine as follows: “Being a motorcyclist myself, I love the sound of a motorcycle engine (reminiscent of a raging lion), so the engine is a traditional internal combustion engine rather then electric, as the new trend would have it (a matter of ecology).”

Honda Crosstourer Concept Also Explained

11/08/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Although Honda likely needed to explain its thought process more fully regarding the 2011 Honda Crossrunner, the Japanese company has also put together a quick video clip with designer Yosuke Hasegawa, and his vision behind the Honda Crosstourer Concept. The more purposeful occasional off-roader, Honda’s Crosstourer Concept takes the V4 motor from the VFR1200F, and mates it to an adventure-based platform.

We imagine the idea is that the Crosstourer picks up where the Crossrunner leaves off, and it is interesting to note how Honda’s naming scheme for both bikes encourages that idea. Cross for crossover concept, the Crossrunner is sportier with its “runner” designation, while the Crosstourer seems destined for more of a “it’s the journey, not the destination” thing with its “tourer” badge. Again don’t take our word for it, watch Hasegawa-san explain his creation after the jump.

Honda Explains the Crossrunner

11/08/2010 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The 2011 Honda Crossrunner 800 was finally debuted at EICMA this year, after teasing us with several sketches of the concept. Designed to be a crossover motorcycle, the Crossrunner 800 sits somewhere between a sport-tourer and an adventure-tourer in our eyes. Sitting high up with its elongated suspension and upright sitting position, the Crossrunner has some component protection, but clearly invisions a sporty priority with its single-sided swingarm and aggressive minimalist fairing.

Of course that’s just our take on the motorcycle, so check out the video above for Honda’s opinion on its own creation (did you know one of the design inspirations was the personal water craft?), and extrapolate your own conclusions. For bonus fun, there is a very well done promotional video awaiting you after the jump.