Has Ducati’s Success Flat-Lined?

The saying goes that one time is a fluke, two times is a coincidence, but three times…three times is a trend. Looking at Ducati’s last three years of sales (2012-2014), which spans only a 2% margin of growth, by definition one has to conclude that the Italian company is experiencing sales stagnation. Granted each of the last three years have been record years for the Italian motorcycle company’s sales figures, but each year has been a nudging over the last. Is all of this a sign that Ducati has lost its magic, seemingly during the leadership transition from Gabriele del Torchio to Claudio Domenicali? Or is there growth to be had from the Italian brand, now that it is owned by Audi AG? We examine that thought in more detail, after the jump.

Analyzing the MotoGP Michelin Tire Test

The departure of Bridgestone and the arrival of Michelin as the official tire supplier to MotoGP is an extremely delicate operation, in terms of marketing, tire development, and motorcycle set up. This posed problems for the Michelin test, held on the fourth day of the Sepang MotoGP test. After the factory test riders had tried the Michelins at the first Sepang test, it was the turn of the MotoGP regulars. With major money on the line, the PR gag-order was enforced rigidly, and observed religiously. No official times were released, nor made unofficially available by the teams. A range of times have seeped out from journalists present, but given that only a few laps were timed by a few people out of practice with using a stopwatch, those times can be taken as guidelines only.

Colin Edwards Part of MotoAmerica’s TV Team

MotoAmerica has announced its lineup of TV announcers for the series’ telecast on CBS Sports Network, and the trio is a mix of familiar faces. Motorcycle racing veteran Jonanthan Green will be calling the races from the booth (many World Superbike fans will recognize his voice), and the man helping Green analyze the race should sound familiar as well, as it will be MotoGP star and two-time WSBK Champion Colin Edwards. While the boys are in the booth, Crisy Lee will continue her role as pit lane reporter, something she did with AMA Pro Road Racing under the DMG administration. While CBS may have to hold its hand over the censor button on Colin’s microphone, we think that fans will be pleased with the Texas Tornado’s addition, and the insight he will bring as a veteran racer.

Ride Review: 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 & R1M

The original R1 design focus was primarily for the street, however that has all changed for 2015, with Yamaha’s Engineer’s instructed to design a bike mainly for the track.
Thus, the 4.5km Brabham circuit provided a world-class test track for the 100 journos who descended from all over the globe to experience the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M for the first time. The diverse range of 18 corners, including one of the fastest turns in Australia, approached at nearly 300kmh, was perfect to test all the attributes of a new motorcycle. Our test group had some quick guys including Josh Brookes, Steve Martin, and Cam Donald, so there was no hanging about.

2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 ABS Comes to America for $14,399

A late announcement to the Suzuki motorcycle lineup, the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 comes with the banner headline of adding anti-locking brake system (ABS) and a bold new “Suzuki Racing Blue” graphics package (BNG) to the venerable superbike. The added safety of ABS is at least a welcomed change to the now seven-year-old model version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000. Meanwhile, the graphics package is designed to make a link between the GSX-R1000 and Suzuki’s MotoGP race bike, the Suzuki GSX-RR — even though the street bike pre-dates its racing counterpart all the way back to when Suzuki was last entered in the premier class.

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.

Dakar Rally – Stage 8: Despres Gives Yamaha First Stage Win

01/13/2014 @ 4:22 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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Today’s stage for the 2014 Dakar Rally, a 486 km sprint from Salta, Argentina to Calama, Chile, gave riders quite a view as they glided across parts of the largest salt flat in the world, and up the Andes Mountains as they enter the Chilean section of the rally.

After taking third on yesterday’s stage, Cyril Despres of France took today’s stage win putting up a 5:23:20 on his Yamaha YZ450F Rally, with Joan Barreda of Spain coming in second at 2:09 behind him. This pushes Despres up one position into 9th place overall.

“The idea isn’t really to go looking for stage victories but to try and get back to the front of the rally,” Despres said. “Today, by making up the difference on the tracks between myself and the first riders, I won the special and that’s always a pleasure.”

Video: On-Board with Kenny Noyes at the Superprestigio

01/13/2014 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you’re like us, you’re still buzzing over this weekend’s Superprestigio flat track event. Flat track racing is always a great spectacle, but as the name of the site suggests, it’s not something that comes across our radar too often. However, put together a competition amongst some of the best GP and SBK riders in the world, and you have our attention.

While the spotlight this time around was on American Brad “The Bullet” Baker (the current Grand National Champion) and his showdown with MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez (who organized the Superprestigio event), it was easy to forget that another American was a top contender: Kenny Noyes.

A former Moto2 racer, Noyes has perhaps spent too much time in Spain to be recognizable to some American fans, but the young and talented rider not only has some impressive GP results to his name, but he also currently runs the Noyes Camp, a dirt track school at the Motorland Aragon facility.

Finishing third in the Super Final at the Superprestigio event, Noyes brings us some on-track footage from the two-wheeled melee. If you think rubbing is racing, we think you will enjoy this video.

Dakar Rally – Stage 7: Barreda Chips Away at Coma

01/12/2014 @ 11:38 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Stage Seven saw the riders of the 2014 Dakar Rally back in the saddle, after having Saturday off as their lone rest day. If the riders thought their re-entry was going to be easy, they were wrong, as Stage Seven marks the first part of another marathon stage — a stage where only the riders can service and repair their machines after the stage’s end. Today also marks the first time that The Dakar has been held in Bolivia, the 28th country to host the iconic race.

First out of the gate, Alain Duclos suffered a navigation error, and lost nearly 20 minutes on the course finding the right route. The mistake cost the Sherco rider his third overall position, as he falls to fourth overall, behind KTM’s Jordi Viladoms.

Halfway through the Dakar Rally now, and Marc Coma has a good cushion over the rest of the field. His advantage isn’t insurmountable though, and today Joan Barreda took his first chip at his fellow countryman’s lead. The HRC rider stole four minutes from his KTM counterpart, with Barreda now 38 minutes back from Coma overall. The deficit isn’t enough to concern Coma yet, but if Barreda can keep up the pressure he might stand a chance for the overall win.

Cyril Despres also had a productive day, as the Frenchman finished third on the stage. This moved him into tenth overall, and while Despres’ bid for the 2014 Dakar Rally is surely done (it would seem the Yamaha PR team has already packed things up, as their site hasn’t updated since their disastrous Stage Five), Despres’ first term on the Yamaha YZ450F Rally could still see him finish in the Top 5. Undoubtedly, a strong pace over the remaining stages on helps build his campaign for the 2015 rally raid.

Video of the 2014 Superprestigio Races

01/12/2014 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Did you miss yesterday’s Superprestigio dirt track races? Did you miss Brad “The Bullet” Baker put the smack down on Marc Marquez? Did you miss a venerable list of some of the best road racers in the world mixing it up on the dirt during their off-season? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Thankfully the promoters of the Superprestigio event, DTX Barcelona, really get this whole internet thing. Not only did they make sure the races were live on Spanish TV, but they made a live stream available so those outside of the region could see the event on Saturday.

Thanks to an intrepid motorsport enthusiast, now we have the entire day’s event on YouTube, just in case you had something too important to do on Saturday than to watch the race. Enjoy a short video with just the final race and another video with the whole day’s event as well.

Superprestigio Dirt Track Race Results – Brad Baker Wins as Marc Marquez Crashes Out

01/11/2014 @ 7:47 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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Brad Baker walked away as winner of the Superprestigio flat track race at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona on Saturday night. After a hectic evening’s racing in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd, Baker shook off a challenge from Marc Marquez to take a comfortable win, adding the Superprestigio final win to the win in his Open category.

The event saw riders compete in two categories, the Open class, containing the cream of European flat track racers – still an almost entirely amateur sport – and AMA Grand National champion Brad ‘The Bullet’ Baker, and the Superprestigio class, consisting of current and former Grand Prix and World Supersport riders.

Baker blasted through his heats with ease, winning the Open final almost completely unchallenged, and qualifying for the Superfinal, between the top four in the Open class and the top four from the Superprestigio class.

Marc Marquez had dominated most of the Superprestigio races, the four-race final format allowing the 2013 MotoGP champion to make a couple of mistakes along the way. He ended up winning the Superprestigio final, passing into the Superfinal with Tito Rabat, Kenny Noyes and Aleix Espargaro.

The Superfinal had been billed from the beginning as a battle between Marc Marquez and AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker, and that is exactly what ensued.

The contrasting styles of the two men made for a fascinating duel, but the more ragged style of Marquez meant that in the end, he came off worst. Marquez leaned on Baker as he passed underneath, and Marquez found himself crashing out.

How To Watch the Superprestigio Dirt Track Event Live

01/10/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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So you live in the US, have heard about the awesome Superprestigio indoor dirt track race in Barcelona, and you want to watch Marc Marquez, Alvaro Bautista, Maverick Vinales, and Brad Baker go at it, but don’t know how?

Never fear, Cycle World has sprung into the breach and pulled a rabbit out of the hat. The event will be streamed on the Cycle World website, from 9am Pacific. You can find a link to the stream here

Tip of the hat to Mark Gardiner of Motorcycle USA, for persuading Brad Baker to fly across the Atlantic to take on the challenge.

Remembering Kurt Caselli

12/03/2013 @ 10:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The motorcycling community is still morning the loss of American off-road racer Kurt Caselli, who tragically died while competing in the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000.

A beloved competitor, and rising star in the rally racing world, Kurt’s absence is felt by many, but during our time of mourning we also remember the light that he was as a person.

Paying tribute to him, KTM has put together a thoughtful video that remembers Kurt, as told by the people who knew him best at KTM. It’s cool if you cry a little. We did.

Thinking of Off-Roading a Ducati Hypermotard SP?

07/26/2013 @ 3:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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When a press bike shows up at your doorstep, the miles on the odometer betray the sights and stories the bike could tell about its relatively short existence thus far.

At just nearly 2,000 miles, our little Ducati Hypermotard SP in the normal world would have stories of high-fives at the Ducatisti bike nights, hours spent in the parking lot outside of the local Starbucks, and maybe some tall tales of a wheelie or two.

But sort of on-par with dog-years, press-bike miles act as a multiplying factor, when in regards to the maturing of the machine. So with our machine at 2,000 miles, well that’s a bike that has really been around the block. Burnt clutches, blown fork seals, and chewed-up tires — those all likely describe this little SP’s first stop on the magazine tour bus, so multiply accordingly dear reader.

It is rare though that you really get to see/hear what the machine has gone through before it gets to you, but a quick check of the license plate in the video after the jump confirms that this “pretty impressive machine” has found its way into our hands. As far as we can tell so far, the description fits.

Video: KTM Freeride E in Action

06/18/2012 @ 9:17 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The KTM Freeride E is quite the buzz in the electric world, as it is the first proper electric motorcycle to be announced by an OEM. As it did with its street-bike debut with the RC8, KTM is set to test the market’s waters first with a limited production run of 100 units in 2012, likely to pre-select KTM owners/dealers. Assuming a favorable review, the Austrian brand would then presumably ramp-up production of its €10,000 electric dirt bike.

With 30hp peak & 10hp continuous, the KTM Freeride E boasts four-stroke 125cc specs, albeit on the heavy side with a 204 lbs curb weight. Running time is said to have a 20 minute ride time in the hands of a professional, the KTM Freeride E is rated to last 45 minutes in the hands of an amateur…whatever that means. While the world at large will likely have to wait another year before it can truly asses the KTM Freeride E, we do have at least our first glimpse in the bike’s performance.

Touratech’s Husqvarna Nuda-X-Cross

06/08/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

I imagine that for some, despite the business case to the contrary, a Husqvarna should always play well in the dirt, which seems to be the mantra with the folks over at Touratech. Taking Husky’s first true-born road bike, and baptizing it with mud, the Touratech Nuda-X-Cross looks perfectly capable going where the sidewalk ends.

Shod with a set of knobbies, some purpose-built bodywork from Touratech’s line, and a new attitude, we dig what the ADV-touring parts company has done with Swedish brand’s latest offering. Not just a looker, Touratech intends on racing two Touratech Nuda-X-Cross bikes in the grueling Erzberg Rodeo, held in the Austrian Alps. Even that makes our street-bound hearts skip a beat. More photos after the jump.